Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Mishmash

This was my Facebook post from Monday:
Paco's status: 4:30 am, woken up from sound sleep. Put outside to pee. Skunked. Bath at 4:40 am. Hate life.
So yes, that would be TWICE in the last 10 days that Paco got skunked.  And in case you were wondering, skunk smells like burning tires.  Also, I've bought hydrogen peroxide in bulk:
On the positive side, Paco's white fur has never looked so bright, thanks to his peroxide baths!

Sighhhh.  Really, it's our fault.  If we weren't waking up so dang early to run, the skunk and the smell would be gone by daybreak.  Moral of the story:  Running is dumb.  No, wait.  We are dumb for not learning the lesson about nocturnal roaming skunks.  Here's hoping our brains will engage before we automatically put Paco outside again tomorrow morning - front yard for him this time!

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I've mentioned that I live in a college town.  You always know when the students are back because the grocery store shelves are picked cleaner than if a school of piranhas came through, and also, you don't dare go to Target.  One of my friends made that mistake last Sunday, and posted this picture to her FB page:
The line for the checkout...you can't even SEE the checkstands!  Lordy.  I'd have abandoned cart and walked away at that point.

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I took a two night, women-only self-defense class this week, taught by a sheriff's deputy.  It was really eye-opening, informative, and empowering.  But also scary, after hearing firsthand about what terrible things can happen to you.  Julia and I drove together, and the first night after she dropped me off, I was a little freaked out walking into my dark and empty house.  Luckily, I had Paco the Wonder Dog willing to spend the night on my bed instead of in his crate.  He might have smelled a little skunky, but he sure made me feel safe:
I got your back, Mom.

On the second night of the class, the instructor put on a padded suit and we each got a chance to practice what we'd learned.  It's not about fighting, but about getting away (which does involve fighting, yes, but the gist is that you fight to get free and then run away from your attacker).  So when it was my turn, he grabbed both of my wrists and it was crazy.  He's over a foot taller than me and all I saw was the black padding...it took what seemed like forever to get away, and I was a mess afterward - heart pounding, sweaty, instant massive headache, plus I had the shakes.  But I got away!!  Now THAT was a good feeling.

We all signed waivers when the class began, and the instructor told us we'd be bruised afterward.  He wasn't kidding - here's just one of several:
Bruised for a good reason.

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Sit and Knit update:  I've been working on some Christmas gifts, which has been fun.  I much prefer to enjoy the yarn and the process rather than feel rushed to finish something, so I'm starting early and making a nice little stack of homemade goodies.  Naturally, I can't show you them because I don't want to spoil the surprise, but here's a couple of other things I've made recently:
Dishwasher sign magnet - well, it will be when the magnet arrives...

This was a request from runners Phillip and Sarah - I've never done any stranded knitting before, and I have to say, not a huge fan.  The two colors of yarn constantly twisted around each other, and that was a little much for OCD me.  I need to stitch them together once I get the magnet - I ordered a super-strong magnet because I knew it wouldn't stick to the dishwasher otherwise.  I chose Boston Marathon colors, since Phillip is hoping to qualify to run it.

Apex Ladder hat - so named because I bought the yarn in Apex, NC.  Pattern is actually called Woven Ladder.  The pink in the yarn is neon and looks pretty cool in person.

This is more of a hip, youngish hat style, so I made it for my niece Theresa.  She lives in a beach town and it gets cold and damp there - hopefully she'll get some use out of it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

Our summer of Fun, Fitness and Friendship went by too fast!  School is starting back up and Julia had to go back to work, but we managed to squeeze in one last run/Planet Fitness/Starbucks day:
Until next summer, my friend!

Of course we will still run very, very early and sometimes go to PF together, but the lazy hazy relaxation afterward won't be happening.  I guess that's part of what makes it so special - knowing that it only happens for a short time.

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Our run on Saturday went much, much better than the last week.  It wasn't particularly cooler - about 80 degrees vs. 82, and the humidity was about the same (a lovely 93%) - but I didn't feel like I was going to die, so that was a huge improvement.  This was a scale back week, which I love - we only had to run 3 miles.  Shoot, I ran that for my regular runs during the week, so this felt fine.

Julia and I were shirt twins:
 
Another way I can tell I'm getting lighter because this shirt that always fit a little too snug for my liking.  Hurray for being able to shop in my closet for "new" clothes!

And just for fun, here's a Hoka flower:
I couldn't pass up this photo op after our run.

Monday, August 18, 2014

So, How's the Diet Going?

It's been about four weeks since I wrote my "Time to Diet" post, so I figured it was now time for an update.  Although, to be honest, I'd been dieting since we came home from North Carolina, so when I wrote that post I was already a couple of weeks into it; this is actually a six-week update.

Things are going well, thanks for asking!  My body is definitely looking better - partially due to the diet, partially due to working out at Planet Fitness five times a week for the past six weeks (plus what I did before our two-week vacation).  Running club also started up again, and I've added an extra day of running (I'm actually following the schedule this year, so I'm running four days a week now), and I'm sure that is making a difference as well.  As an aside, I have to say that the difference in simply doing the 30 minute circuit vs. when I was killing myself three days a week working out with my small group (back in 2009/2010) is amazing...amazing because I am not incredibly sore like I used to be and yet I'm seeing muscles develop, plus I'm feeling stronger.  Moderation - it works!

But, I've always said that you can outeat your exercise, so for me to try and lose weight, I was still going to have to make some significant changes to my diet.  I had a few blips, mostly in the area of under-fueling my body before stressing it out by running several miles in the heat and humidity, but I think I've got that figured out a little better.  Basically, I'm eating even more protein than I thought I needed; my carbs are mostly coming from fruit, some baked sweet potato fries, and a little granola with my Greek yogurt in the morning.  I'm not counting calories, but I am very aware of what I'm eating, if that makes sense.  I guess after so many years of dieting and then maintenance, I know what I need to do to stay status quo, and what I need to do to get to status slim (haha).

You might be wondering how, since I don't weigh myself, can I definitively tell that I'm losing weight?  It's the clothes, pure and simple.  Things are looser - my denim capris are not tight at all, fresh from the laundry.  A too-snug running shirt that my mom sent me in February is now loose enough to wear - I was thrilled enough to snap a very early-morning selfie in it last week:
 Ignore the squinty eyes and instead please note that this shirt is not stretched tight over my stomach rolls - hurray!

This whole "getting lighter/dieting" thing isn't going to result in drastic changes overnight, and I knew that going into it.  My goal is to make running easier by having less of a body to haul around, and my races aren't for quite a while, so I'm happy with the progress I've made thus far and don't feel stressed by any deadline to hit a certain point by a certain date.  I'm eating what I want on the weekends (Mexican food, chips and salsa, and frozen yogurt) but even then, I'm still aware of how hungry I am and have left food on my plate when I start feeling full.  The only time I feel a little deprived is when I watch my friends eat the delicious treats (cinnamon twists, chocolate croissants, cookies) at Blue Baker, but you know what?  The day I really, really want something like that?  I'm going to have it.  And then I'll get back to doing what I've been doing.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Mishmash - All Creatures, Great and Small

It was like an episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom around here this week!  Here's what we encountered, just since Saturday:

Skunk.  Well, we didn't SEE it, but hooboy, did we smell it.  When, you might be wondering?  About two seconds after we'd let Paco outside.  I don't think he got sprayed directly, but rather, the skunk had just left his mark and Paco walked into it.  Super fun, as it was 4:30 a.m. and we were busy getting ready for running club.  We had to leave him all smelly until later, but thanks to Debby's skunk shampoo recipe that she'd recently posted, we got him washed up and smelling like a dog again.

Bees.  That same day, Jeff took Paco to sit outside in the sun to dry off from his bath.  All of a sudden I heard "BEES!" and they came running back in.  THIS was outside our kitchen window:
That is a blanket of bees draping over the eave!!!

I have a beekeeper friend and called him, because I knew enough to not kill them.  He came over about an hour later - in the meantime, they'd moved to our living room window:
Jeff thought it was fascinating.  I said I would think it was fascinating if I were watching this on TV, not right outside my window!
Another view.  Pretty sure there were about a million bees at this point.

My friend came over, did his beekeeping observations, and said that there was a queen in this mess, and her workers were looking for a place to build a hive.  He thought they'd probably move on, but made plans to come back the next day and remove them if they were still there (he had somewhere to be that day, so he couldn't remove them until then).  Later on, we noticed they weren't on the screen, so Jeff went in the backyard and saw this:
According to our beekeeper friend, they were resting on the roof...they were tired from all that swarming around.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but this was about 3x3 feet in dimension.

By late morning on Sunday, most of the bees were gone.  Whew!  I know bees are necessary, but I'm a NIMBY (not in my backyard) person when it comes to them.

Rats.  Our youngest came home for a quick trip over the weekend, so we got to see the new little ratties again.  They have bonded quite well with the older rat, Louise:
Louise and her look-alike, Andi.
Louise keeping Andi and Olli warm?  They all seemed content.  I think Louise is enjoying mothering the little ones.

Cicada/Bat.  OK, not a bat, but when it flew at me, I thought it was one, so the scare counts for that, right?  Story here, in case you missed it.

Bunnies.  Julia picked me up early on Wednesday to go to Planet Fitness, and we saw two pet bunnies just hanging out, near my driveway.  The next morning, she came over to run, and when we finished, the bunnies were right by the big green grassy area in the middle of our street.  They must belong to someone, because when I got near them, the brown one came right up to me:
Please to ignore the sweat - that is what 45 minutes of running at 5:30 a.m. looks like.  The ears on the brown bunny were huge!  They stood straight up, while the ears on the tan bunny were all soft and floppy.  The tan bunny is just munching away on the grass...breakfast time!
Not the greatest pictures, but it was dark.  Cute little things - I later found out that the neighbor two houses down owns them, and can't seem to keep them in the backyard. 

Dog.  Of course I had to include Paco!  As soon as I picked up my phone, he posed:
Um Mom?  I wud like to meet bunniez.  Promise not to chase dem.  PROMISE.

Sure Paco...sure.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

After a fairly decent summer, weather-wise, the extreme heat and humidity hit Texas with a vengeance last week.  On the one hand, we were lucky to have it hold off until August.  On the other hand, UGH.  It made for some pretty awful running conditions.  I mentioned on Friday's post that my run the day before was rough, and it was...but Saturday's run?  It was like running through a hot blanket of air.  Which makes it hard to breathe, and to move, and mostly made me question my ability as a runner.

We had 4 miles on tap.  It was 82 degrees, with 93% humidity.  My running buddy Loretta and I started out deliberately slow, doing 1:30/1:00 intervals.  I felt OK for the first mile and a half, but then it felt like I couldn't catch my breath.  We got to the 2 mile mark where we refilled our water bottles (and got a little extra break), turned around and headed back...and then, my chest tightened up and I REALLY couldn't breathe.  I told Loretta I had to stop, and the more I tried to catch a breath, the more I couldn't.  You can imagine the panic and tears as I fought to stay in control...poor Loretta, she was having a good run until this.  But I'm very glad she stayed with me and helped to calm me down.  We ended up walking most of mile 3 before I felt decent enough to get back to running for the last mile.

When we got back to the park, I could tell that I wasn't the only one who'd had a rough time out there.  This weather is not conducive to running, not at all.  Hopefully next week it won't be as bad.  I then had to put on my Organizer hat and get the last few people signed up - this was the last day of registration.  Julia went around snapping pictures, and I have to tell you, I looked a lot happier in this picture than I felt:
My shirt was wetter than when I pull it out of the washing machine.  Thankfully I remembered to bring a dry shirt to change into for when we went to Blue Baker.

Before all that misery, we took a group picture - here's most of our members (we are officially up to 50 this year):
My running club peeps!

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The weather still hadn't let up for Monday's run - we had 40 minutes, easy, on our schedule, and believe me...Amy and I took it easy.  We were doing just fine but then a big brown thing flew at me from some bushes and hit me in the side of my eye and I screamed like a banshee because I thought it was a bat and then Amy screamed and it got a little crazy.  Turns out it was a cicada, which, don't Google it unless you like bugs.  So that was pretty gross.  But hey, it took our minds off of the heat!

We decided we needed coffee when we were finished, so went to the Starbucks.  While we were there, Amy realized that she was wearing her "coffee capris" which made the morning perfect:
Here's Amy, looking impeccable.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet My Ugly New Running Shoes - The Hoka Cliftons!

 
To channel Chandler Bing, could these soles BE any thicker??

I know.  When it comes to running shoes, it doesn't get much uglier than these clumpy-looking, orthopedic-ish boats.  And the color - geez.  Apparently 2014 is the year of coral running shoes for me - first with my Brooks Transcends, and now with these Hoka Cliftons.  Not my favorite color by a long shot, but this goes to show you that I don't choose my running shoes for looks.  Comfort and fit are the most important things for me.

I have to say, these boats...er shoes, are extremely comfortable.  They are super lightweight, and that's coming from someone who was already wearing fairly lightweight running shoes:
The official, out-of-the-box weight is 6.8 oz - I guess I've already sweated enough in them to change that!
The official, out-of-the-box weight is 10.4 oz, but I've been wearing these since February, so I'm sure there's a lot of accumulated sweat and dirt weighing them down.

I liked my Brooks Transcends, but knew I needed another pair to alternate with since I'm running four days a week now.  Nothing will break down your shoes faster than never giving them a chance to dry out, and while I had purchased these before I heard Mike Rouse speak, I was even more glad I did, because he recommended switching up your shoes every time you run.  

I have some feet issues - I suspect I've got a nice little case of plantar fasciitis happening in my left heel, and I've also had some Achilles pain in that same foot for about nine months now.  I want to run, so I need to do everything I can to make sure I CAN run.  That includes a lot of stretching specific to those issues, rolling my foot on a nubby ball (Foot Rubz - it's awesome), ice, Motrin, and never walking barefoot - I have a pair of Orthaheel flip flops parked by my bed and I put them on as soon as I get up.  My next option was getting a pair of shoes that made me feel like I was walking on marshmallows...and these Hoka Cliftons do exactly that.

I've had the Hokas for about a month now, and can honestly say that I love them.  I've been forcing myself to alternate them with my Transcends, because it's supposed to be better for the shoes and my feet/legs...but if I could, I'd wear them for every run.  I can actually feel the sole cushioning my feet as I land my steps, and I might be imagining things, but it also feels like they make me spring upward as I lift my feet from the pavement.  Plus, they provide a great cushion against rocks and uneven concrete - I was running before dawn, and at one point realized that I was going to land on a bumpy part of sidewalk that was torn up and it was too late to change my landing direction.  I was pleasantly surprised to feel the shoe absorb the chunk of concrete and yet I didn't get a jarring pain in my heel.  That was a happy discovery!

As with most running shoes, Hokas aren't cheap, but the Cliftons run about $30-$40 less than most other Hoka styles.  Mine cost $130, but I had a 20% discount, so they rang up at $104, woohoo!  Yep, you know I'm deep into running when I celebrate *only* paying $104 for a pair of shoes.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Mishmash

You know you've been exercising a lot when your laundry drying rack looks like this:
Not quite one week's worth of workout clothes.

You know you're getting up really early when you wear a new running skirt and don't notice that you forgot to remove the rather large tags until you take the skirt off to shower:
HOW did I miss this??

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I got to spend some time this week with my favorite little guy, Davis.  He's grown so much!  We played outside, and while he didn't want to go in the swing, he wanted to push it:
Reminded me of just over a year ago, when he was so little in the swing:
They grow up too fast!

Davis loved playing with bubbles, and I was impressed that in the years since my kids were little, non-spill bubble containers have been invented.  Very clever!
OK yes, the wand is in his mouth...must be a pretty mild bubble solution?
Such a cutie!

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I'm nearly finished with my Zuzu's Petals cowl, version 2.0.  I made some time this week for knitting and movie watching (Philomena, Blackfish), and have enjoyed both the yarn and the pattern so much that I'll probably make another one again.  However, it's been a couple weeks since I've knitted a hat, so I'd better get started on one before I go into complete withdrawal, haha.  Luckily I have a nice stash built up of yarn to choose from, so I can pick a pattern and get started quickly.

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Tomorrow we run 4 miles.  Yesterday's run was really rough - it was hot and humid, at 6:00 a.m. - I'm talking 80 degrees and 94% humidity.  It was one of those runs where I questioned my sanity in choosing this sport.  And it looks like tomorrow's weather will pretty much be the same, so I'm mentally preparing for it.  Also hydrating like crazy.  This is all going to pay off in December and January, right?  RIGHT??

Have a great weekend!