Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon Race Recap!

I really like this medal.  A LOT.

I ran my tenth half marathon yesterday!  For the third year in a row, I ran the Aramco Houston Half Marathon with my fellow Renegades.  We had another fun-filled weekend, so I'll break it up into a couple of posts, but of course I have to begin with the half marathon.  I'll write about the expo and the ABB 5K later on this week, but I wanted to get the race recap done while it's still fresh in my mind.

As you know, I have been dealing with race anxiety for years now.  No matter how much I try to reason with myself, logic seems to go out the window when it comes to racing and me.  This year, I decided to try something different, and that was to not run the ABB 5K the day before the race; I was hoping that by starting the half marathon out on fresher legs, I might feel better and thus not want to quit at mile two, as I have in previous races.  What was weird, and very telling about the irrational way anxiety manifests itself, is that when I woke up on Saturday morning, the day of the ABB 5K, I felt the all-too-familiar dread, which made no sense because I wasn't racing!  Jeff, Jimmymeow, and I were just going to spectate as the rest of our crew ran.  I was pretty upset at myself for feeling like this, but somehow, watching the race seemed to help.

The next morning, RACE DAY for me, was interesting.  I wasn't super nervous when I woke up, not like I was the day before, and nowhere near how I've been for so many races in the past.  I mean, a little nerves were there, but I was functional.  Maybe I tricked my brain into having its anxiety freakout a day early.  Any case, I got most of it out of my system the day before.

As usual, we got dressed and met in the lobby of the Hilton, which was bustling with runners.  We took a quick group picture:
Left to right:  me, Julia, Karen, Andi, Diane, Cristy, Cary, Brian, and Jeff

You might notice that not only were we not wearing any kind of throwaway sweatshirts, but a lot of the women in our group were wearing tank tops.  That's because Texas is crazy, and it was hot - yes, in January.  The race was under a yellow flag warning:
At the expo - a yellow flag for less-than-ideal race conditions.

Honestly, although it sucked that we weren't going to get good running weather, what the organizers were concerned about (temps in the mid-60s to begin, with 100% humidity) wasn't anything new to us; unfortunately, most of our runs have been in those same conditions.  So while we weren't worried about the conditions, we were disappointed to not get this race with ideal running weather...but oh well - it comes with the territory when you run in Texas.

Anyway.  We took our group picture and then headed out to our corrals.  Brian and Karen went to B, Jeff went to C, and the rest of us went to E.  This year, we were a little concerned about the cut off time - although you have four hours to finish the half marathon, the organizers sent out a notice saying that you needed to maintain a 13:45 pace for the first 8 miles, or you could be swept.  Which made no sense, as that's a three hour half marathon, and like I said, you had four hours.  So we moved closer to the front of the corral than we've ever been, just to be on the safe side.  Interesting note:  we started the race at 7:30; last year we started at 7:37, so it paid off to do that, although we were in a crush of people and at one point I honestly thought I might vomit - could have been a bit of race anxiety, or it could have just been being a short person smushed up against what felt like a gajillion people.

One last selfie before the race began:
Julia, Cristy, me, Diane, Cary, Andi - ready to go!

We wished each other luck, high fives went around, and then the race began!  Diane and I started off doing 1:30/45 intervals.  We'd experimented with dropping down our running interval over the last couple of weeks, and I was glad we made that change with the way the weather turned out.  It was muggy, warm, and foggy.  Rarely, very rarely, we'd get a bit of a breeze, but there would be miles in between that happening, so we were pretty conservative with our running.  I knew I'd spend my first mile trying to get my breathing in check, thanks to the anxiety, but we did really well with keeping ourselves calm, and I felt good.  I think it was partway through the second mile that my breathing got a little ragged and we took an extra walking break, but other than that, things were going as well as they could be, considering the conditions.

The Houston marathon/half marathon is a great race - spectator and volunteer support is amazing.  I have never had my name called out (it was printed on my bib) so many times as I did in this race - and every time, hearing "go Shelley" or "you've got this, Shelley" helped keep me moving.  That said, things did start to hurt - the underside of my middle toe as well as the arch on my left foot, my left hip, and eventually, my back - oooh, my back was killing me for the last four miles!  But I kept thinking that as soon as I got to the finish line, it would all stop hurting (spoiler alert - that was not true...I think I had runner's amnesia regarding that).

Because I've run so many half marathons, I've figured out a thing or two about race pictures, and was hoping to get some good shots along the course.  I suspect that most of mine will be of me walking, as that always seemed to be when we saw a photographer, but there is one spot, just about at the halfway point, where there's an overhead photographer, with a blue carpet that makes for a good picture - if you can get it without a lot of other runners, because invariably they will be blocking you in the picture.  So when Diane and I were approaching that spot, I held us back while a big group went ahead, and then we ran for our great picture - only to see one of the photographers (there were two) flip his camera over to check something - DANG IT!!!  We'll see if that shot came out, but you can't say we didn't try for a good one.

We kept running, but I was starting to want to walk more.  We took some extra walking breaks, and then finally just flipped our intervals - instead of running for 1:30 and walking for 45 seconds, we did the opposite, and this saved me.  I was able to keep doing the intervals instead of walking more and more.  That said, I'd been telling Diane since about mile 4.5 that if she was feeling strong, to go on ahead without me.  I was fine with that, and had originally (like, since last January) been planning on running the race solo, so mentally I was prepared.  Finally, at mile 8.5, she decided to go on ahead - I was glad that she was feeling so good, as I was a hurting fool at that point.

I kept doing my reverse intervals, occasionally chatting with other runners.  I was proud of myself for not doing any extra walking - much as I was ready to be done running, every time my Garmin chimed, I ran that interval.  I also didn't consider quitting like I had during my previous half marathons, nor did I break down in tears, which I'd also done during the previous halfs.  I never went there emotionally, and for that, I'm grateful.  Running a half marathon is hard enough physically, but when you throw the emotional side into it like I seem to do, it just wreaks havoc with every part of my body.  Not having that happen yesterday was really wonderful.  Don't get me wrong, I was still hurting and my back felt like it was going to break in half, but I was able to push through all of that.

The last two miles were interesting.  This is where the full and half meet back up (after splitting off around mile 7.5), and it's exciting to see how the marathoners are doing.  There were a lot of spectators, plus that's the section where several beer companies are handing out Dixie cups of beer to the runners.  It's definitely a party atmosphere, if your party includes guests who look like the walking dead.

My Garmin chimed that I was at mile 12, but I knew I wasn't, according to the route markers - between weaving around slower runners throughout the course, plus we didn't run the tangents, I was off by more than a quarter of a mile.  It was at this point when a woman in an orange tank tapped my arm as she caught up to me and said "we've got this" - and we ended up running together for the rest of the race.  But wait, here's where it gets interesting:  as we were exchanging running stories while we ran/walked, a strong breeze came up, along with some sprinkles, which felt great as it cooled us down.  Then the sprinkles turned into big fat raindrops, and then the skies opened up into a torrential downpour!  It was funny, really - we were about .75 of a mile from the finish, so we knew we wouldn't be out in it for long, and it wasn't cold - but dang, we were getting drenched!

Normally, there are a ton of spectators at this point but they'd all retreated into the cover of building overhangs, so we runners were on our own.  We finally hit the finisher's chute and the timing mats were under water, with big puddles on either side.  Some runners ahead of us were carefully picking their way over them, but at that point my shoes were soaked through, so I just went for it, hitting the mat and splashing through the giant puddles of water.  My finish time was 3:33, but honestly, that is so secondary to the fact that I had a good race, mentally.  Finish times do not always tell the entire story, and that is definitely true in my case.  I'm really proud of myself.

I hugged my new runner friend, Becka, and then we got our medals and made our way inside the convention center, where the race organizers had just brought out an industrial-sized roll of thermal blankets - you pulled them off much like taking a bag off the roll at the product section of the grocery store.  I was happy to get this, seeing as the air conditioning was working very well in the convention center and I was soaked through.  I stopped and had my official finisher's picture taken, and met up with Jeff and the gang.  It was a rough race for most of our group - the hot, muggy weather just takes a toll on you.  But they all finished - and Diane managed to make it to the finish line just as the rain started, so she didn't get too wet, luckily.
You are looking at one happy half marathon finisher!

I got my finisher's shirt:
I like it, plus it's not super fitted, so it actually feels like it's one I'll wear!

And then we headed to the food area to get our breakfast.  Considering I'd run 13.38 miles on just three GU's and some Tailwind drink, I was not very hungry, but I got a biscuit and gravy and one breakfast sausage link, plus a chocolate milk, and chowed down.  We were sitting there, going over how the race went for everyone, when we looked at the clock and realized we only had an hour to get back to the hotel, shower, pack, and check out!  Ack!  The Hilton was not as generous with their late check out time this year, so we had to scramble, and didn't have time to take a group finisher picture with our medals.  That was disappointing, but we're planning on having a post-race victory dinner soon, and will wear our super sweet finisher's shirts and medals and relive our big day...and take some pictures!

Oh - I do have a funny picture to show you.  When we got back to our room, I took off my shoes and socks and discovered that my feet were blue!  Not blue from being cold, but blue because apparently my green shoes had leached color when they were rain-soaked:
Yes I know this is kind of gross - but the blue was too funny not to share.  Oh and after my shower, it was still there, although a little lighter.

OK, I can't end this post with that picture, so here's our participant shirt that we got at packet pickup:
Top is the front, bottom is the back.  Super soft, lightweight cotton shirt, great color - I'll wear this one often.

This was a memorable race - not only because it was my tenth half marathon, but also because I finished it feeling good about my performance.  I haven't been able to say that for a long time!

Friday, January 13, 2017

FMM - Catching Up!

When I was looking for the pictures for my motion sickness PSA post, I came across these shots and had to show you because this was such a crazy experience.  It was really warm and humid on only one of the days while we were in Orlando, thankfully - we get enough of that here in Texas and it was nice to have a break.  But on that warm day, we decided to go on the Jurassic Park ride.  Now, Jeff and I went on this ride three years ago, but we'd both forgotten how wet you get on it.  It's a nice little riverboat ride, where you gently float around Jurassic Park, with the occasional dinosaur spitting a little mist at you.  OR SO WE THOUGHT.  Shoot, you are barely strapped in on this ride - just a bar that you pull down over your lap.  How crazy could it be?  This crazy:
Everything about this picture cracked me up - we were not expecting a big drop and splash - one person is even holding their cup on the ride, which shows you how "mild" this ride was, that they let you hold things while riding it.  And the mom comforting the kid in front of us, with the "I'm going to die" look on the sibling next to her was too funny.  

Needless to say, we were soaked.  So we went on it again the following day - here's our "after" picture:
We could (and did) wring out our shirts, they were so wet.  

Another feature of most of the water rides on the Islands of Adventure side of the park was that you could squirt a water cannon at riders as they floated by - Sam and Allie had way too much fun doing that, and I will say it was very entertaining watching their glee as they squirted the unsuspecting riders.  I think it cost something like 50 cents per squirt; money well-spent considering the laughs we all got out of it.

The other set of pictures that I have to show you are when we were eating lunch at Mel's Diner.  We were sitting there when suddenly Beetlejuice slammed up against the window and scared Allie:
Allie jumped, and then Beetlejuice and Sam shared a moment making fun of her...
She then recovered and calmly ate her burger while Beetlejuice tried to make her laugh - I love the staredown she was giving him...
He was making the rest of us laugh, that's for sure!

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I'm sorry that I'm not using collages at the moment for my posts - I still haven't found the right program to replace PicMonkey.  I miss that program, but it crashed my old computer all the time due to Flash.  Any suggestions for a Mac?  I really just need a program where I can make photo collages - being able to add text would also be nice, but I can do without if need be.  

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It's been a couple weeks since I've posted pet pictures, so here's a double dose, with an extra shot thrown in for good measure:
I guess our short-lived cold front made for desperate times with Paco and Kip, because they actually slept next to each other on the couch.  This was in the beginning - eventually they ended up touching each other, which never happens, but they must have been really cold.
 
Whenever someone is sleeping in the guest room, Kip takes advantage of the door being open to sleep on his "princess pillow" as we call it - he LOVES this particular white sham.  He was very happy when Allie was here over Christmas, as he got plenty of time to sleep in his special spot.
And of course I had to include this shot - Paco sleeping like a tiny little puppy!  Just like babies, animals are extra cute when they're asleep.

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Well, the weather forecast has been all over the place for our half marathon on Sunday - first it was looking to be cool, then heavy thunderstorms, then just plain rain (and a lot of it), but with warmer temps.  So who knows what we will get for race day...it'll be memorable, that's for sure.  

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WWU - Running in Freezing Temps!

We don't see a lot of very cold weather here in south Texas, so when it does hit, it's an event.  Everyone is talking about the temperature, plants are being covered or brought inside, soups are being made - seriously, we enjoy the novelty of freezing temps.

However, running in them?  Not so much.  We had plans to do our Gump run on Saturday morning, but when the predicted wind chill temp was going to be 12 degrees, we called it on Friday night and decided to hold off until Sunday, when the wind was supposed to die down and it would be 25 degrees.  As it turned out, that was an excellent call, because the feels like temperature ended up being 6 degrees:
SIX DEGREES.  Where were we, Antarctica?

I'm sorry - wait, no, I'm not sorry.  That is just too dang cold to get out in if you don't have to.  And we didn't have to.  Oh, funny story - I read on our local online forum where someone posted Saturday morning complaining that he didn't have any water at his house and had a call into the city to see what was wrong.  Turns out, his pipes were frozen!  This kind of weather happens so infrequently here that you forget about that kind of thing being a possibility.

Anyway, we planned to run on Sunday - a smaller group, but we were ready to get out there.  Until we woke up and saw that it was 22 degrees - I let one of the cats outside and quite honestly, I was not at all excited about running in the cold, dark morning.  A couple of texts later (there are very few people who I could text at 5:15 am who would answer right away, but runners are usually up that early), and we all bailed on that run, too.  Jeff and I did manage to meet up with Cary and Brian at Blue Baker around 9:00 am, so we still got the fun part of our day in, complete with some brownie edges, courtesy of our baker.

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This being Texas, we are already back to morning lows in the high 50s/low 60s, so I ran yesterday and I'll run again tomorrow.  I guess I got some extra good tapering in for our upcoming half marathon on Sunday - unintended, but it's fine.  Really, I'm just sad that we haven't been able to do our Gump run yet!

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Speaking of the half marathon, right now I'm excited about it.  I'm sure the race anxiety will come, but I've already factored that into my super-technical race plan, which will go something like this:

Mile 1:  Inwardly freak out, calm self down
Mile 2:  Run
Mile 3:  Run, walk, whatever.   Have fun.  
Miles 4 - 13.1:  DITTO

So that's the plan for half marathon #10 - here's hoping that my experiences from the previous races will help to make this race one that I will feel good about when I'm finished.  That's not asking for too much, is it?

Monday, January 9, 2017

PSA - Motion Sickness Patch (Transderm Scop)

I've suffered from motion sickness my entire life.  Pretty much everyone who is close to me knows this, unfortunately because they've been with me when I've been carsick, or sick on an airplane, or sick on a boat; shoot, I can become carsick when I'm driving myself around town, given the right conditions (an overcast sky seems to be the key with this one).  I've barfed more times than I can count in the backseat of the car as we drove to various lakes when I was a kid; one of the dads in our sailing club worked for United Airlines back then and stocked us with their barf bags to keep in the car; they were GOOD barf bags, too - very sturdy, with a waterproof liner and a nice flap to fold over when used.  Had blogging been around back in the 70s and 80s, I could have done an entire post rating airline barf bags (Mexicana's were the worst, like small sandwich baggies).  But I digress...

It's not a fun way to go through life, but at 53 years of age, I've adapted, which in most cases meant either staying on the sidelines and watching my family and friends go on rides at amusement parks, or keeping a barf bag nearby when I fly.  I've taken Dramamine for decades and it helps, but doesn't eliminate motion sickness for me.
I feel like this sign was made specifically for me.

Because of this, I usually only get to go on one ride at an amusement park, and it's almost a guarantee that I'll spend several hours afterward trying to recover from motion sickness - which is what happened three years ago when we went on the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride - I didn't even make it though the ride before feeling terribly motion sick.  I didn't want to miss out on the rides on our latest trip to Orlando, and I also didn't want to waste my days feeling sick, so I decided to try the Transderm Scop motion sickness patch.  I asked my doctor for a prescription, telling her what I wanted it for.  She said that it either works beautifully, or I would know right away if it wasn't going to help.  Still, it was worth a try, especially for a trip where we had six days of theme park rides planned.

I have to say that I had a bit of sticker shock (no pun intended) when I picked up the patches at the pharmacy - I paid $60 for four of them!!!  But, I reasoned, if they worked, then they would totally be worth it.  I applied the first patch in the early morning before our flight to Orlando, and didn't do the greatest job getting it behind my ear, but it was close enough:
Only picture I got of the patch, but after this one, I managed to put it closer to the back of my ear. 

The airplane ride was fine - no motion sickness there.  The next morning would be the real test - the Escape From Gringotts ride at Universal Studios.  You guys.  I went on it and got to enjoy the ride, the entire ride, with my eyes open!  No squeezing them shut, trying desperately to not get sick - I got to ride the ride like a normal person!  And then?  We went on another ride.  And another.  It was a freaking miracle.  I had a little hesitation before a couple of the rides, like this one:
Rip Ride Rockit - I went on this and didn't get motion sick!!!
Story of my life, normally - but I went on this ride and did not hurl!

Nothing made me sick, although there were a few rides (Dueling Dragons, and the Rockit ride) that I only rode once, while Jeff and the kadults went back for more, but I actually felt good - I just didn't want to tempt fate, or push the powers of the patch too far.  Because we doing such extreme rides every day, I followed the directions for the patch to a T, changing it out for a new one every three days.  For the first time in my life, I was able to go on amusement park rides and not be sick.  I got to enjoy our vacation without dealing with motion sickness.  It truly was a miracle and I was prepared to come back and blog all about how wonderful the Transderm Scop motion sickness patch was.

But, here's the thing.  We flew home on a Saturday, and on Sunday, I removed the last patch.  I unpacked, did laundry, and wrote my first blog post about the vacation.  Everything was fine until mid-morning on Monday, when I suddenly had a headache and felt like I was motion sick - in my own house.  I felt awful, and actually vomited.  I laid down after that and hoped that whatever bug I might have would pass.  Nope.  I still felt awful for the rest of the day - every time I moved, I felt motion sick.  But I thought it must be a type of flu, maybe, although I did double-check the side effects of the patch, just to be sure.  My symptoms didn't match what were listed in the package insert, and I continued to feel terrible.  Finally, Allie happened to call on Tuesday evening just as I was starting to feel like I was going to vomit yet again, and because I kept saying how I felt like I was motion sick, suggested that I take a Dramamine, so I did - and within about 30 minutes, I felt better.  Not perfect, but less sick.

I Googled more on the patch and side effects, and eventually hit on the correct search word:  withdrawal.  I was experiencing withdrawal from the Scopolamine patch.  The most detailed article I found is linked here, but basically it said that once you stop using the patch - and this is exacerbated the longer you've been using the patch - all of the motion sickness receptors that were blocked by the medicine come on full force.  So I wasn't crazy - I was, in fact, experiencing motion sickness!  And oh man, it was BAD.  The article talked about patients getting some relief by taking a medicine called Meclizine, and when I Googled that, I discovered that it's a form of anti-emetic, much like Dramamine, although Dramamine has a different active ingredient.  Still, that would explain why I felt better when I took the Dramamine.

I only had a few Dramamine remaining; the next day I went to the store to buy more and found a bottle of generic Meclizine next to the Dramamine - I think the bottle of 100 pills cost less than three bucks, which is a lot cheaper than Dramamine, so I bought it.  I didn't think I'd need 100 pills, but that price was too good to pass up.  As it turned out, I ended up taking two Meclizine pills several times a day for about a week - every time I'd try to cut back to just one per dose, the motion sickness would return.  This didn't erase my symptoms, but it did make life tolerable for me.  I was finally able to stop taking the Meclizine after day 10 or day 11 - I can't remember exactly, but I needed it for a long time.  Good thing I bought the big bottle!

I'm writing about this because I wanted you to know that what happened to me - experiencing extreme withdrawal from using the patch - was actually avoidable, had I known that there was a possibility of this occurring.  In reading further, and in talking with friends, I realized that I might have been OK had I simply left that last patch on for at least a week.  Knowing how horribly affected I was, I'd probably go ahead and take the Meclizine as well, although I bet I could get away with only taking one pill per dose, since I wouldn't be in extreme withdrawal with the patch still on.

Would I use the motion sickness patch again?  Yes - for big things, like amusement park rides, or a very long and winding drive through the mountains, or a cruise.  It worked beautifully for me.  It was only when I stopped using it that things went so bad.  And now I know - and you do, as well - what to do in order to avoid getting motion sickness after you're done with the patch.

Friday, January 6, 2017

FMM - 2016 Knitting Projects!

Maybe I should have titled this post "Knitting Projects 2016" because it kinda looks like I am saying that I knitted 2,016 things.  NOT POSSIBLE.  At least in my world, it's not.  However, I did complete quite a few projects last year, so I thought I'd quickly revisit them with you.

It should come as no surprise that the item I knitted the most of was socks.  Hey, I should get double the credit for these, as I had to make two of them per project.  What, that's not a thing?  Well, harrumph.  If I were in charge, there would be all kinds of superlatives and ribbons handed out.  I grew up in an era before the participation trophy became a thing, so I'm a bit needy in that area.

Anyway, socks.  I completed nine pairs last year:
...and if you count the single socks that are still in process of getting their mate, I knitted a grand total of 21 socks!  I'm happy with that amount - I love sock yarn and really enjoy seeing how it knits up.  I still can't believe I can take what is basically some colorful string and a couple of sticks and turn that into a pair of socks, but that's the magic of knitting for you.

Hats were my next most-often knitted items - I separated them out into adult and baby groupings for this post.  Here are the adult hats:
Only one was for me (the hat in the top right square, made out of leftover yarn from hats I made for friends - I love sharing a hat with them).  

Baby items rounded out my completed projects - if you ever want to be entertained, just listen to me as I knit a baby hat or sweater...I can't stop myself from speaking out loud (usually only Paco is listening) about how darn adorable and tiny everything is.  Two more tiny hats, plus a wee sweater:
That monkey hat still kills me with cuteness.

So in total, I completed 16 projects in 2016 - OOOOH!!!  I just realized that!  Dang it.  You know I'm going to have to go for 17 projects this year.  Well, I have a good start on one - this sweater, which I began in March of 2016 but then set aside for the duration of our long hot summer.  I am very close to finishing it and I'm declaring my goal, here, in front of all 12 of my readers, that I will have it done by March 23, 2017, which is one year to the day of casting on:
Taking it out of the bin will be a big step in actually knitting it.  Which I will do.  Soon.

I've been knitting for five years now, and while I can see how my knitting has evolved and improved over those five years, I still feel somewhat like a beginner at times.  There are a lot of techniques that I won't tackle (like Fair Isle, or anything that is charted), but I'm getting braver - did you see all those socks?  And soon, a full-fledged, adult-sized sweater that I knitted will be in my closet - how wild is that??

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Well, we are on taper week for the upcoming Houston half marathon - this race sure came up fast!  At this point, we've done all we can do, so our run for tomorrow is going to be a Gump run - we'll just take off running and go until we feel like stopping.  Hopefully we'll stop somewhere near our vehicles, because otherwise that could be problematic, LOL.  Actually, there's a new road that juts off of the main road that we run on, and while it's not open to traffic yet, it is completed, so I think that's the direction we'll go...and see where we end up!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

WWU - 2016 Recap: Races, Mileage, Injuries, Sidewalk

RACES

I really wasn't planning on racing much in 2016.  I was tired of dealing with that stupid race anxiety that I can't seem to shake, and felt like I'd be better off just running, not racing, for most of the year.  I do love the racecations that our Renegade group takes and wouldn't want to miss out on Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, but for most of the rest of the races, I was fine with being on the sidelines, cheering on my friends as they ran.  However, we got a super discount on a race just a couple weeks after Houston, so I signed up for that. Same thing for another race just a month later...and then we heard about the Texadega Nights relay race, so we jumped on that one...and somehow, I ended up running 15 races last year.

Did I experience race anxiety for the unplanned races?  Of course I did.  At this point, I guess it's just part of my race - bib? check; shoes? check; nerves/upset stomach/wanting to quit? check, check, and check.  Even with the anxiety, I still ran the races...I wish it would go away, or at least ease up a bit, but it's not, so I'm working on accepting it and pushing through those feelings during each race that I do.

MILEAGE

Except for the year that my ankle was injured, I generally run about 500 miles, which seems like a reasonable amount for me.  I've run one half marathon each year for the last few years, and I'm content with that - honestly, my favorite distance to run is about 5 miles.  I feel like I accomplished something, yet still have energy remaining for the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, you can't train for a half marathon by only running 5 miles, so there are several months where I do have to step it up, and I'm willing to do that in order to get to my goal race (which is the Houston half marathon, in a couple of weeks), but after that, I'm happy to run less.

This year I finished with 488 miles - a little less than last year, but still right around the 500 average mark.  That number only includes running miles - I also walked a lot of miles, but I was too lazy to go back and add all of them up.  I liked when I was doing some extra walking days on top of my running and I'll have to make that happen again - mostly it involves setting up walking dates with friends, because if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a social exerciser.

INJURIES

Now that 2016 is over, my superstitious self can safely say that this was a good year in terms of injuries - except for the last day of the year...more on that in the next section.  But my hamstrings felt decent most of the time.  I also didn't do any hill training - coincidence?  Probably not.  Generally, when I do hill repeats, my hamstrings start twinging and I feel like I'm on the edge of a full-blown hamstring injury, so I back off.  This year, I simply didn't do any hill training except for what I encountered during races or on regular running routes.

My plantar fasciitis was not nearly as acute for a good part of 2016 - I attribute that to calf massage.  I have very tight calves, and once I read that tight calves (along with high arches, which I also have) are contributors to PF, I started using my BFF Buffer on my calves for a couple of minutes just about every day.  My buffer sits next to the chair where I put on my running shoes, which made getting into using it right before a run an easy habit.  I also will randomly stretch my calves during the day; I swear this has really helped with the PF pain.  I did try custom orthotics for a while, but they ended up making my knees hurt quite a bit, so I stopped using them, and the knee pain magically went away.

SIDEWALK

The sidewalk is hard and unyielding, just in case anyone had any doubts.  Additionally, the bruises, scrapes, and aches on the left side of my body are proof of that.  During our run on Saturday, I caught the crack on an uneven part of the sidewalk with the toe of my shoe and went down.  Jeff happened to be running with me and said it looked like I tried to do a roll, which is good - after spending so many months last year dealing with my wrist injury from tripping over Paco, I guess instinctively I didn't want to fall directly onto my outstretched hands again.  I don't even know what hit first, but I have bruises just below my knee, on the side of my thigh, the palm of my hand and my knuckles, which all hurt, but the worst pain is coming from my left upper arm/shoulder area, which doesn't appear to be bruised or scraped at all.  I must have hit it hard when I landed.

So yeah, I fell while running.  I think the last time that happened was when I was running in Maui, about five years ago...I was probably due, but dang, it hurts.  I was lucky to be wearing my cheapie pair of Target gloves, as they protected my hands and took the brunt of the fall.  The left glove was torn a little and my skin got scraped up, but it would have been worse had I been bare-handed.  I can't believe I fell on the last day of 2016, but then again, it was 2016 - 'nuff said.

Monday, January 2, 2017

My Brain Hurts

Sometimes I miss the old days - you know, the times when you didn't have a password for every freaking thing in your life.  The times when all you needed to remember was your locker combination.  The times when you actually memorized your friend's phone numbers.  Back in the day, when I worked as a secretary, I had all of the addresses of our branches memorized - there must have been close to 30 of them.  Now?  I literally know just three phone numbers - mine, Jeff's, and Allie's.  I don't even know Sam's phone number anymore, but that's mostly because he's had several in the last few years thanks to working for a telecommunications company.  At that's where having a smart phone and a computer comes in handy, because I don't HAVE to remember anything - my devices do it for me.  Except that in this day and age of hacking and identity theft, you have to password-protect everything.

I was hacked a few months ago by some sort of Chinese/Russian team, and once I got all of my passwords changed in a panicked hurry, I worked on getting better security, and started using Last Pass.  Which meant that since it was on my iPhone as well as my desktop computer, I needed to start using a password on my phone to protect my information.  I still hate having to do this and am irrationally resentful at the extra couple of seconds it takes for my phone to recognize my thumbprint.

Couple all of this with a new computer, and my brain is in overdrive.  Now, some of this is on me - I hadn't progressed with the times and was still using Microsoft Excel and Word; my new computer is a Mac and I'm having to switch all of my documents to Google Drive, which I've been able to learn with help from my in-house technical support person, aka Allie.  The new program isn't hard to figure out, but I'm dealing with some messy, unorganized files which are my fault...things I meant to get to eventually but never did, and boy howdy have they piled up (electronically, anyway) into what feels like an overwhelming amount of stuff to go through.

Along with needing to move and clean up files, I also needed to address my password situation - my original choices were all over the place and insanely complicated thanks to the paranoia that came with being hacked.  I started working on everything a few days ago and was in a scattered, discombobulated state pretty quickly - along with learning how things work a Mac (which so far hasn't been too challenging - I guess because I've had an iPad and iPhone for several years now and am somewhat familiar with the Apple way of doing things), I was jumping from one thing to the next, and feeling like I'd never get anything completed.

In frustration I took a break, walked away from my desk, and got a big glass of water.  As I drank, I realized that the same feeling I was having now about all the computer stuff was very similar to how overwhelmed I felt when I first started my diet, way back in 2008.  I had an idea of what I needed to do, but when I looked into diet plans, I became aware of so many different ways to lose weight and as I read about one way and then another and then yet another way, I felt overwhelmed.  And then I read my first blog where the writer had lost over 100 pounds and realized that even if I lost 100 pounds, I'd still be quite a ways away from what I thought was my goal weight and I really just about stopped the entire diet right then and there.  This thing was beyond me - or so I thought.  Obviously, I was wrong, but those feelings were real then and still wash over me at times during various situations.

Feeling overwhelmed about stuff is normal, especially when you're trying something different.  Wanting to get it all done perfectly the first time is normal.  Letting go of perfection - in this instance, not wanting to load anything on the computer that might clutter up my brand new hard drive - was hard.  But I managed to do just that, which is why my old documents are still not quite organized, and we won't even begin to speak of the external hard drive full of pictures - I mean at least they are in labelled folders, but they need to be culled...and egad, my printed photos are insane...why oh why do I have double prints of everything??  See, I just went there - I do not need to think about that right now, as those photos are perfectly fine living in boxes in a closet.

For the moment, I'm able to use my new computer, which is why you're seeing this blog post, and my new set up makes me happy:
Photobomb by Henry.  The computer is that little silver square box - a Mac Mini.  My kadults are pretty awesome.
My new HP printer stopped printing after a few months, and Amazon came through with a refund, so I bought a Brother printer and set it up all by myself, wireless and all - and yes, I was really proud of myself after the fiasco of getting the HP printer set up.

I'm working on being more relaxed about things - stressing over my passwords didn't help the situation, even though I got everything cleaned up eventually.  If I can just remember to apply this idea - to chill out, work through it, take small steps - I suspect my brain will be a lot happier with me in the future...in all instances.  Plus I've got my passwords written down now for easier access - kidding!  But that would make my life simpler.