Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Quote Day

The spirit indeed is willing,
but the flesh is weak.
Matthew 26:41, KJV

So. About yesterday's run. Every time I ventured out the door the rain poured down harder, the thunder boomed louder and I felt more and more like a weak-willed slacker. I'm perfectly willing to run in the rain, but I'm no masochist. I should amend my statement to read: I'm perfectly willing to run in a light rain, but not in a thunderstorm.

I stayed dressed and ready to go, with the intention of leaving at the first hint of a let-up. The rain finally slacked off about 10:30.

I wore long grey pants, the long-sleeved black shirt I wore last Sunday [the one that was too hot], thick socks and the only pair of sneakers I've worn this whole training time. And a purple hat. I felt like a gangsta in the redneck 'hood.

Again, the long-sleeved shirt was too warm. I was okay with long pants, though; I don't care to feel water splashing up on the back of my legs. And I tossed the hat slightly after the first mile. The first 5.5 were fine – a light mist, sometimes a drizzle, but I hardly even noticed. Then it started pouring again.

No choice but to keep moving, and I think I moved faster so I could get in my nice dry car sooner. I need to learn to translate that feeling to "if I moved faster I could get home sooner." Somehow moving faster when it's hot and dry just isn't as manageable.

I missed my target time by about four minutes; I wasn't too disappointed with that. My left ankle is very stiff this morning, and my left shin hurts, as well. That phantom pain again [I hope].

The interesting thing about running in the rain is how exhilarated I felt all afternoon. I was full of energy, felt sharp and light and generally was in an amazingly good mood.

Thank you Jeannie and Mary, for correcting me on losing an hour at the end of DST. Not that I'll use that extra hour for sleeping or anything. Heh.

As of the end of yesterday's run, I've logged more miles this month than any month since I started keeping track [in July]. In fact, at this point I've run .4 of a mile more in October than in September, in 14 minutes less time. I have 20 miles to go this month, if I do my last tempo run on Wednesday the 31st. Since I'm driving all day Thursday and Friday, I think that's my only option.

Four more runs, two easy, one long and one tempo.

I won't be posting again until maybe next Friday morning. If not then, it'll be the day after the race. I'm off for the annual Halloween visit with my daughter and her family. An extra treat this year is that my daughter and I are going to meet Crazy Aunt Purl! The trick will be getting some good pictures.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where does the time go?

I woke up late, late, late this morning. Well, later than usual for me, anyway.

It's not like I have to get up and shower and eat and race off to work. I kind of mosey [that's another word I've heard all my life] down the hallway, make the coffee, feed the dogs and park myself in front of the computer. To play. To read e-mail and blogs and the New York Times. To check my stats. To post something here.

We had buckets o' rain throughout the night and it was quite dark when I opened my eyes at 7-ish. I'm an early riser – it's not unusual for me to be up and at 'em by 5:30 – so 7-ish feels, as I said, late, late, late.

And it's only going to get darker, as the days get shorter and Daylight Savings Time once again goes by the wayside. We set the clocks back, thus losing an hour, November 3.

The night before the half-marathon.

Most likely, it won't be a problem. I've had trouble sleeping the night before the two previous long races I've done, so losing an extra hour should be no biggie. She says, trying to stay positive about it. Heh.

So. Yes, Laura, I will have another chance to run in the rain. This morning, as a matter of fact. Today is Tempo Run Day – one mile warm-up, six miles at the blistering speed of 11:51/mile, one mile cooldown. I found a water-repellant baseball cap and am trying to think of an evil, maniacal mantra to simulate having a pacer, per Wendy's suggestion. Any ideas? I'm leaving in an hour, so if you have something, give it to me soon!

Lori suggested eBay for more of the shorts I like. I checked, didn't find anything, but did a Google search and found them on sale at Activa Sports. Two pair are winging their way to me. Or maybe they're in a truck. Just in time for cold weather! Thanks for the nudge, Lori. I'd looked earlier and gave up too soon. I've never been known for my tenacity.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter might dispute that. Heh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Running in the rain …

didn't happen. By the time I got out to run the rain had quit. Roads were wet, but not enough to create any problems. And I even beat my target time by a teensy bit. Granted I only had to run four miles at a 13:08 pace, but I've been known to miss even that snail's pace.

I didn't think twice about what I would wear if it had been raining, though. I might have looked for a hat with a visor, but probably not, since I don't usually wear a hat when I run. I'd just wear the same running gear I always wear, which is a t-shirt [made out of that high-tech wicking fabric] and shorts. I'd probably leave my glasses in the car.

Last time I visited my daughter we went to a real running store and I bought a pair of shorts that are my absolute favorites. They fit perfectly, they're a beautiful dusty purple color and I really like them. I've bought three or four different pairs since then, none of which measure up. So if you find a pair of shorts that work for you, go back and get more. Of course, when I bought this pair I didn't know they were going to be so spectacular. And these were on sale, so I doubt that there are any left.

I'll be visiting her again soon – the annual Halloween trip – and mentioned that I need to run 10 miles Sunday morning. She walk/runs a five-mile loop, so we're going to do it twice. I'll have a pacer! For the first time during this training session, I'm looking forward to a long run.

When I trained for the Country Music Half last winter, I was eager to get out for every run. Early on I had to use the treadmill because the roads were snowy or icy, and I even looked forward to those. I was testing my endurance and will with every step. I was thrilled when I could run two, and then four, and then six miles without stopping. I could have shouted – and maybe I did – the first time I ran eight continuous miles.

This training has been different. First, it's not the first time I've done it. And for some reason I think that since I've done it once, I'll be able to do it again. Which is probably true.

Second, I'm heavier than I was last time, and this has definitely affected my ability to keep on keepin' on. I've managed to lose a couple pounds in the past week, but have mostly stayed the same for months on end.

Third, my husband was quite the cheerleader before, but hasn't been quite as invested in this round. I'm sure he feels the same way I do: Been there, done that. I mentioned it to him last week, and he felt compelled to come check on me during Sunday's long run. Better late than never!

Fourth, I've really felt like the Lone Ranger. It didn't matter before; in fact, I preferred running by myself. But I would have loved some company this time, so I'm thrilled that my daughter is willing to run with me Sunday morning. Thanks, H!

Which leads me to announce that soon – very soon – there'll be another blog break. I'll be traveling from Saturday through Thursday, home Friday morning and then heading to Raleigh for City of Oaks.

Staying busy: A sure cure for pre-race jitters.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Think the rain'll hurt the rhubarb?

I don't know if that's a Midwestern colloquialism or just a family one, but I've heard it all my life during periods of rain. Around here? Not so much. Regarding the rain, I either hear, "Boy, we can sure use it!" or "If it don't [sic] stop, that river's gonna flood for sure."

What does rain have to do with running? Squishy sneakers. Sloppy socks. But how would I know? Because I've never run in the rain! One time last spring it started sprinkling toward the end of a run, but this? What we have today? This is rain, people.

Boy, we can sure use it.

So I'll be venturing out a little later into new territory. I'm sure everything will look different with the glowing patina of wetness. I guess I shouldn't have complained about my boring routes yesterday. Proving, once again, that you should be careful what you wish for.

Y'al know this is a [mostly] no-whine zone. Laura, I've used MapMyRun rather laboriously in the past. Dial-up? Sucks. [And so glad Sophie's doing better!] It's probably faster to get in the car and drive around for an hour, measuring distances and avoiding hills, than it is to use the site, as cool and wonderful as it is. For anyone out there who has a high-speed connection, though, do check it out; it's a great resource and one of those ingenious [and free!] ways the internet makes life so much easier. And earth-friendly! 'Cause sitting on your ass mapping a run burns way less fuel than sitting in your car.

And now, for something completely different …

Guess who's posting again in the diet blogosphere? JuJu! She's moved her blog to Wordpress and I know I'm not the only one out here who's happy she's back. And, get this, she's also knitting! Obsessively!

And so have I. This weekend I finished a pair of fingerless mittens and two bookmarks. That may not sound like much [and the bookmarks weren't; I was just trying out a couple of lacy stitch patterns], but the mitts were stranded colorwork, which requires constant attention to detail. When I was on the thumb of the second one, I saw a teensy-tiny error on the first one, but couldn't figure out how to duplicate it. So … I'm just following the tradition of Middle Eastern carpet weavers, who incorporated deliberate flaws in their work because only Allah could create anything perfect.

Monday, October 22, 2007

High anxiety

Well, for me anyway.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter will tell anyone who asks that I exhibit less stress than anyone he knows. Maybe I keep it all inside, I don't know. I do know I haven't always been this way; it's a recent phenomenon.

Just ask my former husbands. Or children. Heh.

At any rate, I spent the weekend worrying about the developing pain in my left heel. I'm sure I'm getting plantar fasciitis again. By yesterday afternoon I had consulted with both real people and Dr. Internet, and was icing, stretching, elevating and otherwise babying that baby, and this morning I woke up with no heel pain at all.

Was it real, or was it Memorex?

Doesn't matter, does it? I thought it was real, and I let it cut my Sunday long run from 10 miles to six. I can sort of justify it, though, because the Sunday I ran the Army Ten-Miler, I was only suppsed to do four. So that puts me two miles ahead, right?

I'm on a pace to run more miles in October than I have since I started keeping track in July. Each month I've added a few more. When City of Oaks is done, I'm going to work my way up to 28 miles a week and try to keep it there.

As you know, it's difficult for me to find long, flat places to run out here in the Middle of Nowhere. I'm getting pretty darned bored with the two roads I use all the time. Maybe I'll start at the other end for a while. And I'm definitely going to scout out some new territory.

And while it's convenient to run on my road, it's very hilly and may have contributed to the heel pain. That is something I can learn to live without.

I tried the California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken recipe I mentioned a few days ago. In a word: Yummmmmm!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Go read this, Part II

I realize this blog is called The Shrinking Knitter, and I also realize I talk more about the shrinking – well, the not-shrinking – than I do the knitting. So after I thank you all again, profusely, for your thoughtful comments on my ruminations, I'm going to talk about knitting. And point you to another blog which will bring us back to shrinking.

M@rla and I are twin daughters of different mothers. We've never met, and we may never meet, but no two people could have such similar, non-functioning metabolisms and not be related. And when she said this:

"I eat like the "after" picture. I just don't look like the after picture, and I don't understand why."

I said, "Bingo!" Well, not really, but yes … that's exactly what's going on around here. If I could clone the part of her that loves weight-training and inject it into myself, I'd have the trifecta of achieving a perfect body, wouldn't I? Eat right, cardio and lifting.

Maybe I already have the perfect body. Maybe this is it. What a concept, eh? Back in Rubens' time, M@rla and I would have been nude models, admired throughout the land. Maybe we should spend our energy developing time travel machines.

Then PQ said:

"And hell, if you're gaining/maintaining weight anyway when you eat healthy what do you have to lose by eating a chocolate bar from time to time? Only ever eating completely healthy food is as unbalanced in its own way as only eating processed junk food."

Well, "Bingo, again!" says I. [Not really, again.] Seriously, though, that second sentence is, um, profound. And I also meant to say yesterday that there are more calories in one of those packages of snack-size Snickers' you can get for a buck than there are in a full-sized Snickers bar. So yeah, why not just have a chocolate bar from time to time? You'll save a couple hundred calories. 'Cause I know you can eat a whole package of snack-sized ones.

So finding the balance, as Lori says, is at the root of the issue. At least for today. 'Cause you know it's going to be something else tomorrow.

So the knitting. I've been making Christmas stockings for my son, his wife and their new baby girl. I ran out of cream-colored yarn and am waiting for more before I can continue. I'm using a pattern I designed, an entrelac creation, but I'm changing it a little bit.

Knitters frequently take a pattern and tweak it and add and subtract and presto! They have something unique and all-their-own. How weird is it that I'm taking something all-my-own and tweaking it? Heh. Pictures will come later.

I'm using wool, the non-superwash kind, and using big needles and when the knitting is all done, I will throw them in the washer with a little dish detergent and agitate the hell out of them and shock them with hot and cold water and shrink them on purpose. [That's technically called 'fulling.' But it's really … get ready … more shrinking!]

[Hey! Maybe I could put myself in the old Kenmore, too! Come on over … party in my washing machine!]

The original pattern wasn't written for fulling, so we'll see if this experiment works. If it doesn't, I'll have to cut the stockings up and make Christmas coasters out of them. The kids will be so happy with that gift. Not.

Finally, here's the go read this part. You probably already have. I love Crazy Aunt Purl. Her book just came out and it's funny and sweet and sometimes heartbreaking. [And if you haven't bought it yet, what are you waiting for?] She's doing her book tour, so that 'go-read-this' link will take you to her blog post about the northwest U.S. leg of the trip. But it will also, if you read far enough, take you to a dressing room in a department store [which takes us back to shrinking] and, if you don't sniffle just a little bit, well … you're probably thin to start with. No offense.

The book tour is taking a swing through Nashville later this month and my daughter and I get to go see her! We are trés excited.

You know I'm excited when I start speaking French. Heh.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Wow. Three posts in one day. And if I were spouting off my political views, there'd be a lot more.

Anyway, per Jeannie's request, a view of those West Virginia hills. This is looking out my front door, not the view I stopped to admire yesterday, but they all look pretty much the same – and that would be gorgeous!

Oops! Almost forgot

I missed my target time in yesterday's run by three minutes and 11 seconds. I'd hoped for 85 minutes. The best I've ever done on this route [many steep hills] is 87 minutes. The weather was perfect and the mountains were so beautiful. I had a great time, I really pushed myself and I only stopped twice because I had a stitch in my side. The second time I happened to turn around and I just had to stay there and enjoy the view. Not for three minutes and 11 seconds, but that pause did cut into my time.

But, like the song says, "The hills are alive." And they're dressed for a party!

Friday Quote Day

Maybe you should take a look at that.
Every therapist I've ever had

Well, of course, you're right [regarding yesterday's post] in saying e-mails and comments lack the human element and can be misunderstood. And we are hard enough on ourselves [although I sometimes dispute that one], so why pile it on? Like some of you, I want to say something helpful and constructive without being confrontational, but I don't want to sound like the bitch I sometimes am, so I back away.

A common theme running through many weight-loss blogs is "Why did I buy those [fill-in-the-blank] in the first place?"

I am sooooo freakin' guilty of this one.

And, at least for me, I think I've figured it out. This was quite a revelation when I started thinking about it.

When we start a weight-loss plan, one of the first pieces of advice is to toss all the goodies. Get rid of trigger foods, dump the sugary snacks, pour coffee grounds over the chips and push the rest of the crap down the garbage disposal.

So what happens next? We buy fruits and vegetables and lean meat and chicken breasts and we begin a lifetime of healthful eating. We sweat a little bit and, as time goes by, a little bit more. Sometimes a lot more. Sometimes we get obsessed with the sweating. [Who, me?]

And a month or two into the plan we find ourselves at the check-out counter with a bag of snack-sized Snickers bars in our cart. Okay, I'll just speak for myself.

Whatever it is, it's usually wrapped in cellophane, claims to have no trans-fats and sugar is the first ingredient. But who's reading the label? I just know it's been two months since I've had a treat and by golly, I deserve it!

Of course it rides in the passenger seat right beside me on the trip home. Now for me, this is a 20- to 30-minute drive, depending on if I'm the lead car or if I'm behind a coal truck. I can do a lot of damage in 20 minutes. After the damage is done, my first wail is, "Why did I keep this in the front seat with me?"

Not, "Why did I buy this in the first place?".

Because, you see, I really wanted it and needed it and craved it.

This sets up a self-destructive pattern where I connect being in the car by myself to eating forbidden fruit. Or chocolate. Or Wheat Thins. Pick your poison.

The food crack substance never makes it home. I always stop somewhere along the way to toss the remainder of the food [if there's any left] or the package [if I've inhaled the contents]. [And I don't litter; I know where the trash cans are.]

Now you may be out there thinking, "Well, no wonder she never loses any weight!" I might be thinking that, as well, if these little forays into the snack aisle resulted in a weight gain. But they don't. I've been the same weight, within five pounds, for a year now.

So where am I going with this? Maybe those experts who recommend not depriving yourself are right. Maybe I – okay, we – really should enjoy a guilt-free whatever every once in a while. The operative modifier there is "guilt-free." And "once in a while." When's the last time you savored a piece of fudge? Or enjoyed a brownie? How about pizza?

Until the Army Ten-Miler, I hadn't had a piece of real pizza in probably three years. [I don't count Lean Cuisine frozen as 'real.'] The night before the race, Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I went to California Pizza Kitchen. Because I had to have carbs, you know. Because I'd given myself permission to have that pizza [I recommend the Thai Chicken], I truly loved eating every bite. It was delicious! CPK serves "personal-sized" pizzas as big as dinner plates, but I didn't feel the need to eat it all; I was satisfied with half. And Mr. Shrinking Knitter was more than satisifed with his pizza and my other half. Heh.

I have stealth brownie and fudge stories, as well, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Obviously I'm still thinking things through. Yesterday was the beginning of the process; it took until the middle of the night to realize that one of the reasons I binge on red-light foods when I'm not at home is because there aren't any red-light foods at home. I'm still afraid that if there were, they'd be gone before the sun sets.

"Normal" people don't have these internal arguments. They buy or make a treat once in a while, they have a serving, and then they forget it's even in the pantry. Next time they put groceries away they find half a package of stale Doritos, which they promptly toss.

And they don't have to throw the coffee grounds on top of them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thinking things through

I'm not sure why I feel so blah today. Perhaps it's the cloud cover, although we could surely use some rain here in the Middle of Nowhere. I dreamt a lot last night; none of them were the pleasant variety, so I'm still tired.

Maybe it's because the training schedule says "Tempo Run" for today.

I [and probably thousands of other newbie runners] am not fond of tempo runs. Or speed drills. Or intervals. Or fartleks [which are supposed to be fun, damn it!]. I'm more of a plod along for miles and miles newbie, rather than the super-motivated, bust-your-ass kind. Built for distance, not for speed – that would be me.

So instead of driving seven miles to get to a flat road where I can work on revving up my engine, I'm going to stick to my hilly home road. I'll run as much as I can and walk or jog fast when I need to slow it down and my goal is to do this seven miles in 85 minutes. Which would be the fastest I've ever done it.

Now that I've written it down and announced it to both of you, I might feel a bit more motivation to actually step up the tempo when I'm out there.

Although, have you noticed that when we write that we've gained a couple pounds, or missed our target time, or eaten poorly or just plain fell down in our plan, that no one challenges us? No one says, "Hey – what were you thinking?" We don't want to seem rude or unsupportive, especially to virtual pals, so we remain cheerleaders when maybe, maybe, what we need is to be virtually slapped around.

But maybe, maybe, that's just me. What do you think? Would you be offended if someone said you should think things through to their logical conclusion?

That's something I need to print out in 120-point type and post in the kitchen, I think. Because I know if I looked ahead to how I'd feel tomorrow, I'd surely not eat whatever tempting thing is in the pantry tonight.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I keep forgetting …

for Cathy in Northern Virginia, who asked in a comment several days ago about a McNeer who was shot down over China in WWII – my husband has not heard of him. His father served in WWII in China, but came back and lived a good, long life here in the Middle of Nowhere. I tried to e-mail you, Cathy, but the addy I have bounced back to me.

They want you [well, me] as a new recruit

Okay, I know it's spam, but still. I got an e-mail yesterday from the Navy. Did, too! Here's a partial screenshot:

I guess they saw me cross the finish line at the Army Ten-Miler and decided to try to get me on their side. See what it says there in the first line? I have talent, determination and discipline. Heh.

And isn't this so cool? All I have to do is take a look at their offer and I get five free music downloads! Woo hoo!

The ATM didn't do me in. But there's always City of Oaks coming up in, gulp, 18 days.

As I mentioned Monday, Sunday's long run went very well. I even learned that I could pick up the pace a little bit when two puppies started chasing me down the road. I wasn't afraid of them, but I didn't want them following me so I outran them! Puppies!

I knew you'd be impressed.

Yesterday's easy run was supposed to be three miles at 13:08 [that's glacial for some of you, I know], and I spanked it. Did three miles fairly easily, and then I ran the extra mile to get back to my car. There was some, um, walking involved along with maybe a slight hill. Or two. The final pace was 12:19. I guess that qualifies as easy. It's good to see some progress, and I have to give Mother Nature all the credit. Cool temperatures and low humidity make a huge difference.

I see that many of you clicked out to visit Skwigg's blog post with the quotes and her great philosophy of life and fitness and food. You're welcome! I myself am not even close to being there yet, but I did print out the post and it will soon be Something to Read When I'm Still Not Losing Weight.

Along with maybe that really motivating e-mail. From the Navy! [Thank you, Village People, for the following lyrics. And no, I didn't have them committed to memory. That's what Lyrics007 is for.]

In the Navy …
Where can you find pleasure

Search the world for treasure
Learn science technology
Where can you begin to make your dreams all come true

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Go read this

As you longtime readers know, I'm not young, I'm not muscular and I'm not thin.

What I am is motivated to work on my shortcomings. [I'm not tall, either.]

One of the ways I get and stay motivated is by reading what fitness bloggers have to say, and there's nothing I can say that tops this one from Skwigg.

I'm not where she is; I may never get there. But I can move myself in that direction: wanting to be healthy and fit instead of just looking like it.

Go. Read. Now. You'll be inspired.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The spooky season

Halloween is approaching. The stores around here replaced the aisles of school supplies with aisles of candy before Labor Day. Anything that lasts that long without getting stale can't be good for you, right?

I spend the week before Halloween with my older grandchildren. When they were younger, I got to pass out the candy so both parents could have the fun of walking with them. Last year my granddaughter trick-or-treated with a friend; I'm not sure if she's even going out begging this year. The little guy will, I'm sure.

The difference between them is that he loves sweets. Free candy! As much as he wants! You bet he'll be trick-or-treating. She, on the other hand, had a cavity filled a couple years ago and hasn't eaten much sugar since.

If only I could be as disciplined and motivated as that. Anyone can be an example of how to be – or not be – at any age.

If you're in the mood to make – but not eat – spooky sweets, here's something guaranteed to turn your stomach. Take this to the office potluck or neighborhood party and see how many people dig in! Looks like a lot of work to me. I'm only willing to invest that kind of time and energy cooking or baking when I know I'm actually going to be eating it.

Trick-or-treat night is Wednesday this year; I'll be up bright and early the next morning to come home before leaving Friday for North Carolina. City of Oaks is 20 days away. I got a call yesterday from someone I met in DC who got her CofO confirmation. She likes to do inaugural races, and is looking for one that she can do every year for the next 10 years. She's sixty and is planning to run races until she can't run any more.

I like her attitude. And I guess the way you keep on running is, well, to keep on running.

My long run yesterday went very well. I was supposed to do nine miles; I ended up doing more than 10 at exactly the prescribed pace of 13:08. I don't think I've hit my pace yet in this round of training. Cooler weather makes such a difference. I ran in shorts and a short-sleeved tee, and was sweating by the second mile.

Congratulations to Mary on her finish in cold, wet, miserable conditions. Sounds like she had a lot of fun in spite of the blisters.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gotta run

I think I might take Sundays off from blogging from now on. Sundays are my long-run day and I would do better if I got up and ran instead of got up, drank coffee, read blogs and the NYTimes, and generally wasted the morning away. It's not quite 8 a.m. yet, so there's a lot of morning left … plus it just sounds good to me to have a day [or maybe two!] each week where I don't have to show up here.

Good luck to Mary in her half-marathon today! I just took a look at the Denver Marathon website and they're waiving the entry fee for Chicago runners who want to finish in Denver. Talk about going from the ridiculous to the sublime – Chicago's temps were in the 90s, Denver's are in the 40s!

So … as the title says … gotta run!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Will you still need me, will you still feed me …

when I'm sixty-four?

That's what Mr. Shrinking Knitter heard blasting from the iPod speakers yesterday when he woke up. Yep, he turned 64 – how did I end up married to such an old guy? And don't worry, we're an equal-opportunity couple when it comes to insults. He wonders how he ended up marrying a grandmother. Heh.

There's even a line in the song about knitting: "You can knit a sweater by the fireside."

If you don't like to look at food porn, don't read the next paragraph.

We invited his mother for dinner, which consisted of Outback's axed-from-the-menu Walkabout Soup; my pasta/chicken sausage/vegetable/pesto concoction; tossed greens with thinly sliced apples, walnuts, bleu cheese, olive oil and red wine vinegar; sun-dried tomato/basil/quinoa/sunflower seed bread, and brownies with peanut-butter ice cream and hot-fudge sauce.

Hey! I warned you!

I found out after all these years that his mother is allergic to sun-dried tomatoes. I expect she's allergic to the sulfites used to preserve them. Oh, well. More bread for us!

So yesterday was pretty busy, what with all the mixing and kneading and chopping and preparing and stirring, not to mention the dust-mopping, bathroom-scrubbing and furniture-polishing. But I still managed an easy three-miler. Except it wasn't easy! How can I get through eight miles one day with relatively little trouble [except I was slower than I wanted to be], and then barely manage to eke out three purposely slow miles?

Some days you got it, some days you don't.

I hope you get it today, whatever it is you're working for. Me? It's a rest day, so I'll be watching football and knitting.

Thanks, as always, for your comments yesterday. I want to clear up one thing: I don't think I've ever starved myself. Maybe in high school [when I weighed what I'd love to weigh now, but thought I was as fat as a house]. I think my metabolism is just … broken. It really doesn't respond to anything. More exercise equals sore muscles, less food equals the same number on the scale, but my weight hasn't fluctuated more than five pounds since last winter. Which, when I tally up all the miles I've run since then, is kind of depressing.

Kind of! Who am I kidding!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Quote Day

The only thing that interferes
with my learning
is my education.
~ Albert Einstein

That quote sums it up for all of us trying to lose weight and get in shape, doesn't it?

How can we figure out what's right for us when we are constantly bombarded educated by media, health websites, government agencies, physicians and bloggers as to why we're not losing and what we need to do about it. As if we all fit into the same mold.

I feel as though I've wasted so much time figuring this out, and I'm not much better off than when I started.

Now before you all chime in and tell me how fit I am, and weight doesn't matter, I agree, sort of. I'm happy to be able to run eight miles [even if it took much longer yesterday than I'd hoped]. I'm thrilled with my normal blood pressure, low resting heartrate and excellent cholesterol levels.

But weight matters, or I – and you – wouldn't still be trying to find the solution. And what I've finally learned is that one size does not fit all.

Many of you have suggested I need to eat more, because that's what we've learned lately from researchers who theorize that when we eat too little our bodies go into starvation mode. I'm sorry, but I've never bought that theory. If I were truly starving, then yes, of course, one's body would do whatever it takes to survive, including wasting muscle.

Last time I tried Weight Watchers, Activity Points were being introduced. Want a cookie? Walk a mile and you can have one. Well, a small one. As an experiment, I followed their plan strictly, eating all my APs for a month, and – you guessed it – gained weight.

So we're all different, and we all lose weight in different ways.

Meaning I don't want everyone running to their doctors for Wellbutrin. 'Kay?

Thursday, October 11, 2007


It's quite chilly this morning, and windy, as well. And can you see those overnight lows? Maybe summer is finally over!
And may I just say, "Hallelujah!" You won't hear me complaining about cold weather. I have an eight-mile run scheduled today; for the first time since I started training for City of Oaks, I don't feel like I have to get out early to avoid the heat. I might even wear the new long-sleeved high-tech shirt I bought in DC.

In other running news, I just learned [I'm a little slow] that the top American finisher at LaSalle is from a little town about an hour away from me. He coaches at Concord University and will be competing November 3 in the Olympic trials.

About Chicago, he said it was 'brutal.' I don't think anyone who was there would disagree. Right, Jess?

Since Mr. Shrinking Knitter didn't learn how to operate my camera before he hit the spectator area, I had to depend on ASIPhoto to get a good shot of me at the Army Ten-Miler. This is the best they could do. They didn't get a decent finish-line shot; this one, obviously, was taken much earlier in the run, when I wasn't feeling quite so grim. And was also looking kind of dorky, maybe? Oh, well.

Jodi wants to know: "
i've never lost my appetite, over anything, what is that like?"

It is, in a word, astonishing.

When that particular side effect kicked in last month, I was planning to go to my new granddaughter's baptism. That's a four-hour road trip and usually, for me, a license to eat a little more liberally. While I love McDonald's Asian Grilled Chicken fresh salad, I also love something sweet, or salty, or carby, or … well, you get the idea.

On that trip, though, I didn't eat a thing. Coffee and water, that was it. My son and his wife had lunch stuff at their house when I got there; I had half a turkey sandwich and some fruit. Half a sandwich! Dinner that night was in a lovely Italian restaurant, where I ordered grilled chicken with mixed fresh vegetables. I sent almost all of it back. Breakfast next morning? Fruit. Coffee.

During that time I lost six or seven pounds, I started feeling more normal, my energy level increased dramatically and I thought that maybe this was something I could live with.

You know the rest. I start the full dose tomorrow; we'll see if I get the same results.

The down side – there's always a down side – is that in order to finish a lengthy run, you have to readily access some kind of fuel. I realize I have a lot of fat to lose, but that's not what helps you run. And I've had several hypoglycemic episodes in the past after not eating for long periods of time. I'd hate for that to happen out on one of my running routes. Thus, my decision to force-feed for future pre- and post-runs.

The other down side is that I still don't like taking pills. Since my mood is mostly a result of my inability to lose weight, no matter what I do, maybe if I'm able to make a dent in the excess poundage I'll be able to feel better without them. Eventually. So I look at this as a short-term experiment.

I'm not setting any time limits or goals, though. That's a surefire route to failure, going on past experience.

One day at a time …

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Better living through chemistry

DuPont's venerable advertising slogan fits a variety of modern-day situations, including the one I find myself in now. Raise your hand if you've ever repeated the title of this post in a drug- or alcohol-induced fit of giggles. [For the record, the original slogan was "Better Things for Better Living … Through Chemistry."]

I've never been one to run to the doctor for every little thing, nor do I like taking pills. That's why my daily vitamins and calcium supplements look like this:

But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and when I had my mini-breakdown last month it became quite clear to me that enough was enough. So I started taking Wellbutrin.

Dr. C and I picked Wellbutrin because it has two desirable side effects: loss of appetite and agitation. Mr. Shrinking Knitter will tell you I'm about the most laid-back, non-anxious person you'll ever meet [he makes up for it], so a little agitation is a Good Thing. And loss of appetite? Do we even need to analyze that? Of course, not all patients experience side effects, so it's a crap shoot anyway.

So I took it for a couple weeks and did, indeed, experience a dramatic loss of appetite. It was very cool, actually. I occasionally felt physical hunger, but rarely wanted to eat. Food was unappealing in every way; it didn't look, smell or taste good at all.

And then something bit me on the leg. It was a nasty bite, the redness surrounding the bite site spread rapidly and I developed a rash. Dr. Internet and I diagnosed it as a recluse spider bite, but Dr. C didn't agree. He did, however, point out that Wellbutrin also can cause a rash, and suggested I discontinue it until the rash cleared up.

Back came the appetite, down went the energy and this all happened leading up to the race last Sunday. I was somewhat of a mess, as you might imagine. But I decided to just Get Through It, come hell or high water. So to speak.

And, obviously, I did. I went back on the Wellbutrin
Monday and am hoping that once I'm up to a full dose again [you have to start with half a dose daily and titrate up], that loss of appetite phenomenon will kick back in.

The bad thing about not eating is it doesn't help with running. I plan to force myself to eat prior to and immediately after my workouts and let the chips fall where they may.

Have I dredged up enough clichés for one post yet? Heh.

I gave myself Monday and Tuesday off – the schedule said "easy three-mile run" for yesterday, but I'll do it today. It was in the upper 80s yesterday and I just couldn't force myself out the door in running gear. Flashbacks or something.

I appreciate very much all your comments welcoming me back into the fold. I hope to have some weight-loss progress to report soon. And I've been knitting, socks and fingerless gloves, with Christmas stockings on deck.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How's this for a survey question?

The lovely folks from the Army Ten-Miler sent a link to a survey for us finishers to complete, if we wanted to. Here's the first question:

I guess they thought we all might still be a bit addled from the heat.

My experience was, generally, quite good. Race organizers can't control the weather. Maybe Al Gore could work a little harder on that before next year's fall races?

One of the female runners I met in DC is a little older than I am, and quite a bit more experienced. I talked with her yesterday and they had run out of water by the time she got to the five-mile mark. So I was very lucky that fluids were available to me the entire route.

For those of you who haven't registered for a race before, you have to put down a predicted finish time. Your time determines where you are in the starting corrals – slower runners start later, and I was in the last corral. It seems logical to put down a faster time, whether you can meet it or not. Of course, that would be lying. It didn't occur to me to do that when I registered, as I'm not a liar, but if it meant I would cross the starting line sooner – and thus be assured of having fluids available … hmmmm.

At any rate, spectators stepped up and offered her water and trail mix; I've read elsewhere that Chicago spectators also saved the day for some of the LaSalle runners.

Nearly everyone staying at our hotel was in the race. The civilian runners, all apparently from the same club, were kinda snooty. I'm sure they thought the chubby old lady was the spectator and my husband, who is pretty lean, was the runner. Even though I was wearing my Country Music Marathon shirt! But the military runners were, without fail, enthusiastic, encouraging, polite, enthusiastic, interested, interesting, and did I mention enthusiastic? The volunteers, many of them military as well, were handing out high-fives and hoooahs all along the route.

I think what got me through it in somewhat good shape was thinking of it as a training run, not a race. All I wanted to do was finish and add one more star to my training chart. I ran it about a minute slower than my race pace, which is fine with me. Cooler weather, or cloud cover, or even a breeze would have helped, but hey – it is what it is, and it's over!

And it's good to be back. I'll update you on the antidepressants tomorrow.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I didn't die and I wasn't last

Hi, kids! Long time, no post. But you knew it would be a while.

A lot has happened since last we met. First, though, I really have to hand it to you Florida runners. The Army Ten-Miler was held in swamplike conditions, and if you weren't conditioned for it you suffered. I was semi-conditioned, and I semi-suffered. I feel very badly for the family of the runner who died. I haven't found out how old he was, but I do know he collapsed just 200 yards from the finish line.

While I was running – or walking, take your pick – I saw three runners carried off the course. It was brutal out there. Fortunately they didn't run out of water or Gatorade – or cups, as they did in Chicago. The New York Times story about LaSalle said runners were picking cups up off the road to be filled by volunteers.

I missed my target finish time by 12 minutes – chip time was 2:12:08. I was 106th out of 148 in my age group. I met a lovely woman from Missouri on the hotel shuttle bus and we ran together the whole way. This was her first-ever race and I hope she had fun. I lost her after the finish. She beat me by one hundreth of a second. [I let her win! Heh.]

Since Mr. Shrinking Knitter is camera-challenged, I have no finish photos, but will snag one when the offical race photography company posts them later this week.

I'll be back tomorrow with more about what's been going on around here.