Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting Back in the Groove

I went hiking on Saturday with friends and we did what we call the Vineyard loop.  I think it really is Nettleson Rd. and then Davies Rd. but since we all know what we mean when we say Vineyard it really doesn't matter.

This hike is all on a dirt/gravel road and has hills but nothing super steep.  It ends up being about 6.5 miles unless you tack on little trails that veer off the road here and there.  When my friend Wendie and I have done this hike together we have been running the downhills and walking the uphills.  She has run up some of the hills and I haven't always been able to do that but I usually catch up at some point.  Another friend of Wendie's joined us on Saturday.  It's always fun to meet new people and it is amazing how fast you can get to know someone on a 6 mile hike.

We took off and started uphill.  The first mile and a half is uphill if you start on the road to the right.  But we were moving along at a pretty good pace.  Then we started going downhill and we started running.  I was working a bit but keeping up decently so that was fun.  I looked down at my Garmin and it said we were doing an 11 minute pace.  What?  A little bit later I looked again and it said we were doing a 10'30" pace.  What?!!  I don't run that fast!  Not without feeling like my lungs are going to explode and I will die at any moment.

We kept going and didn't come to another hill for a few miles and I was able to keep up with the others the whole time!  So as far I was concerned this hike was already awesome!

We got to one of the bigger hills that I have never been able to run up the whole thing.  I have gotten a little ways but then start to struggle with my breathing and have to walk.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained so I worked to get just a little farther than I had the last time.  Joe had told me to take smaller steps and just work my way up hills so that's what I did.  I couldn't keep up with the others but I made it all the way to the top and then kept running until I caught up with the others.  WIN!!

At this point I didn't really care how the rest of the hike went because I had rocked what we had done so far.

There were a few more hills and we walked some and ran some and I kept up the entire time.  The last half mile was hard because I was running out of gas but I pushed through and still stayed with the group.  Boy was I glad I had stuck with it!!
Check out my pace on mile four!!  (It was downhill, but still...) :-)
I have had regular runs on flat courses that have been slower than this.  Which is part of the reason I am so pleased with this run.  And yes, I'm calling it a run.  :-)

Because we were moving right along the entire time (yay!) I didn't take the time to get many pictures.  I'm a little mad at myself for not getting a picture of my friends when we finished but I will try and do better about that.  Josh and Wendie crossed the saddle and kept going.  I needed to get back home so I could run some errands.  Plus, it's always good to end on a positive note and I was feeling awesome at this point!
The forest at the Saddle. 
Another lovely day in the forest.
This is the face of a VERY happy camper!  
On Sunday I didn't do any workouts because I had a lot of housework to catch up on.  Nothing like not having homework so that I have enough time to actually do some things around the house!  I did enjoy hanging out on occasion to read a book and enjoy the sunshine. :-)

Monday we had a very warm spring day in Oregon.  By the time I got home it was almost 74 degrees.    I do not like running in the heat.  And when I say heat I mean anything over the temperature of 60 degrees.  So this was going to be a very warm run for me.

I decided to take the dog so that I could see how she did with the warmer weather too.  And it's a great way to get some of her energy out.

I have enjoyed having a heart monitor with my Garmin because it gives me information on how I am doing while I'm exercising.  I have decided that I'm going to listen to the information my body is telling me and adjust accordingly.  If I need to slow down then I will and let myself recover instead of getting mad.  Being competitive with myself is a good thing but in the past it has gotten in the way of feeling good about being active when I had days that weren't what I felt were "good".  I am focusing on being active and enjoying the journey and the lessons I learn when the workout is less than I wanted.

I ran a 5k and it went better than I thought it would.  When I felt like I was really struggling I would check my Garmin and if my heart rate was close to 168 or higher I started walking until it was under 150.  As soon as it was under 150 I would start running again.  When I was walking I tried to walk fast but not so fast that my heart rate wouldn't go down.  It seemed to go pretty well.  I had to slow down at 1 mile, 1.5 miles, and 2 miles.  My average pace was not too bad considering the heat, the walking and the general lack of running I have had.  I actually was proud of myself for getting out and running at all.

I did have to stop at 2.5 miles but that was because of the dog.  I running along and all of a sudden my arm jerks back.  I look behind me and Bailey is pooping right in the middle of the crosswalk!  Geez!  I had to wait for her to finish, go to the corner and dig out a bag, make sure no cars were going to turn and hit me, then run out and pick it up.  Luckily it was garbage day in the neighborhood so a nice couple let me dispose of the bag in their garbage can.  I wasn't looking forward to running for another half mile with a bag of poop.  This is the downside of running with a dog.  :-)

My first mile was pretty good and the second two weren't terrible, all things considered.  While I feel like I am starting over in many ways it is nice to be close to where I was last year, even a tiny bit better.  I know that I am not starting over with my attitude, I am miles ahead of where I was in this area last year.
Love this sweet puppy!
Wednesday was another swim.  This one was better than last week.  I swam 750 yards (1/2 mile) in 31 minutes.  Last week I swam 700 yards in 45 minutes.  My breathing was better but my arms and legs protested being back in the pool again at first.  I did the first 500 on my own just working on my breathing and my strokes.  I did the last 250 with fins on so that I could focus on my strokes and turning my head to breath.  Somehow, breathing, taking strokes and kicking is a lot to coordinate, especially when you are just figuring it out.  I got a new swim cap which was good.  Having my hair flopping around last week was annoying.  I got a hot pink cap because, why the hell not.  :-)

After the swim I rewarded myself with 15 minutes soaking in the hot tub!  Ahhhhh!

I wasn't able to run Thursday like I wanted (daughter's track meet) and I won't be able to run tonight (taking daughter to a retreat about an hour away).  But I'm hoping to get a longer run in tomorrow morning and then a hike with friends in on Sunday.  I have more time with no school work but now all the things I pushed to the back burner are needing to be done so it is taking a bit to get back into the work out groove again.  But I'm trying and I think that's what matters right now.

I added a 5K to the upcoming race list.  I'm doing the Willamette Mission Trail Run with Run Wild Adventures on May 2nd with my friend Shannon.  I ran with her in January when she did her first 10K.  In an effort to motivate ourselves we decided we needed to do a 5K and this one fit the bill.  Meighan will be joining us and Joe will be doing the 10K.  Should be fun, no matter what.  I always have a good time when I'm with Shannon.  :-)

I write about my journey mostly for myself.  It helps me keep perspective and there have been many times that I have looked back at older posts and either been mad at myself for being so negative or happy with all I have accomplished.  Welcome to life.  I figure if there is anyone else out there that maybe didn't have the journey to becoming healthy in a straighter line and this has caused frustration will like knowing they are not alone.  I don't think it is ever an easy journey to become healthy when you are overweight but some of us have extra things to hurdle or roadblocks that we need to navigate that are added to the normal hardships of the journey.  Hang in there if that is you.  Don't give up!  Keep heading in the right direction!

I found this on Pinterest awhile back and it seemed appropriate today.  I am working on inspiring myself.  If I inspire anyone else along the way, that is an awesome bonus!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finished....and Starting

I have completed grad school.  All assignments are done, logs are turned in, portfolios are graded and final grades are posted.  The only thing left is to formally graduate which will happen at the end of May and then they will send me my diploma.  I managed to earn a 4.0 GPA with my Masters Degree. I am immensley proud of this accomplishment.

I also took the certification test last week to get my license to be a school counselor.  I found out yesterday that I passed.  I won't get the official license until after graduation and then I have to go through the process of getting the license moved from Texas to Oregon.  But since I am not planning to be a school counselor right away I'm not really worried about that.

It feels weird to be done.  This has consumed a lot of my time and energy for 21 months.  I was either doing homework, thinking about homework or trying to work ahead on my homework so I could do other things that were more fun than homework.

Last weekend I got to do regular things without the stress of knowing that as soon as I got home I would need to get to work.

Saturday we went to do a cleanup day where we go camping in the summer.  Mostly it is raking up all the sticks and twigs that have fallen on the roads over the winter.  The camp is on the side of a hill so we were walking up and down the hill and walking.  It was a pretty good workout.  Unfortunately my Fitbit isn't working so I don't know how far we actually walked.  It was a cold morning but we warmed up fast between the walking and the raking.   We also got our tarps up over our campsite so that the next time we go up we can put up the tents on a dry area.

We were home in the early afternoon and it was a nice feeling to come home and be able to clean up and not be thinking about trying to muster up enough energy to do some homework.

Sunday a bunch of my friends were running in the Corvallis Half Marathon.  I have done this race the last three years but made a conscious decision not to this year.  Last year I had a really hard time putting in the training for it because of work and school.  This year I was doing my practicum right when I would have been training.  If it didn't work last year, there was no way it was going to work this year.

But since I didn't have any homework I decided to go support my friends instead.  The day was a bit foggy to start but as it got closer to race time the fog burned off and it was a perfect day for running.  The sun was out, the air was cool and there was a slight breeze.  I saw my peeps as I was pulling in to find a parking spot so it wasn't long before I parked and made my way to where they were stretching. The start of races that are more local are always fun because there are so many people that you know.

There are also a lot of familiar faces of people that you don't necessarily know but see at many races so you recognize them.  You give them a nod and a smile and they do the same.  A little acknowledgement that while you may not be friends you are in the same circle of running people and that makes it all good.

Tony, Kristy, Wendie and Josh (with his "Game Face" on)
I also got a chance to see my brother-in-law, Steve, before the race.  He is training for his first full marathon in May.  
Once everyone went to find their sport in the crowd to start the race I walked down the road a bit so that I could watch the start and see them run by.  It was fun to see the runners waiting for the race to start.  
There was a lot of people there to cheer on the runners!
Once everyone had taken off I walked back to my car and got my folding chair.  The end of the race was on the 50 yard line of Reser Stadium on the Oregon State University campus.  So I walked down onto the field and found a spot on the field in the sun and read a book on my Kindle for awhile.  

Whenever I participate in a run with friends or family I never get to see anyone else finish because I am always the last one to finish.  It's great for me because I have a bunch of people cheering me over the finish but not so great for me to be able to cheer on my friends.  It was fun to be shouting and cheering as they came down onto the field and crossed the finish line.  My friend Spencer finished fast and was done around the 1:25 mark (I can't remember his exact time but it was fast!)  Then Josh crossed the finish line.  He had worked hard and then went out to find Wendie so he could run with her.  Tony and Kristy finished next.  Kristy wanted a time under 2 hours and got 1 hour 59 minutes.  Evidently if you want a good pacer, Tony is your guy!  Steve came in a bit after 2 hours.  He was hoping for under 2 hours but had a calf issue develop around mile 8 so he dialed it back so that he wouldn't get injured.  
Maria, Steve and Jordan
Got the bonus of my sister and nephew there to cheer on Steve.  And my other sister and her kiddos were there too.  That made it a big family party at the finish line.  :-)

Next came Wendie.  Wendie is training to do her first Ironman in Coeur d'Alene Idaho in June.  On Saturday she did a 60 mile bike ride on the trainer at the gym.  Four hours sitting on a trainer!  Her goal for the half marathon was to have an average pace of 12 minutes overall.  She had an average pace of 11'45"!!!  She said that was a huge confidence booster after the long bike ride the day before.  She had a huge smile at the finish and looked strong.  So proud of her.  So proud of everyone!
Big Wendie Smile!  :-)
It was a very good day for my peeps and I was so thankful to be a part of it.  I had a pang or two over the fact that I wasn't running it on such a beautiful day.  However, I KNOW that I made the right choice by not adding training for a half into my schedule while finishing my Masters degree.  There will be other races that I get to be a part of.  This race I was a part of, just on the other side of things and I really enjoyed it.  

It is different being a spectator now than it was when I was a couch potato.  I have a much better appreciation for the amount of training, time and effort that goes into doing any kind of race, no matter the distance.  I'm very proud of my friends and what they accomplished on Sunday because I know they had to work hard before the race and during the race to make it happen.  
They Dynamic Duo!
Corvallis Half Marathon Finishers!!
Terrific Twosome!!
Before the race started Wendie asked if I had any other obligations for the day.  I thought about it for a moment.  I actually started to think about what homework I needed to work on.  I guess it's going to take awhile to realize that I'm really done.  When I said that I didn't have anything she said that I was going to lunch with them after the race.  

Joe was able to meet up with us when we had lunch.  He had been the official EMT during the race helping people at the finish that might have scrapes and pains and needed a little help.  As always with this crew, the meal was full of chatter and laughter.  

Since I hadn't really gotten my trail hike during the weekend, although the raking might count a little, I had decided to go on a run when I got home.  My first run since the 10k in January.  My first run since finishing grad school.  

My friend Faylene said that she wanted to go with me.  I reminded her that I haven't been running and that I would be very slow.  She said she didn't care.  I left my house and headed towards her house, the long way.  I had just passed the 1/2 mile mark and could see her coming down the road toward me.  She got closer and waved at me and the joined me as I chugged down the street.  The plan was just to run one of my 5k routes.  I had no goal other than to run the entire thing without stopping and I figured it was going to be slow and ugly.  Faylene and I chit chatted almost the entire time and I enjoyed having one of my favorite people with me.  Especially one that has been with me on this running/health journey since the first time I laced up my running shoes.  She has supported, encouraged and, on occasion been my Jillian Jr. and kicked me in the ass to push myself harder.  That's a good friend right there!  

She told me that as we were running towards each other that she didn't think it was me she was seeing me because I looked to skinny to be me!  I was wearing a running skirt and a tech shirt.  I thought that was fantastic!  Now I really didn't care how I did because I was feeling all happy that Faylene mistook me for a stranger because I was too thin.  :-)  Only a good friend can say this and have taken in the way it is intended.  :-)  
Fantastic way to get my running started again!
I ended up with an average pace of 13'34" which isn't too bad.  It isn't very fast but I have had slower so I'll take it.  Partly because it was my first actual run in months and also because it was very warm.  Almost 70 degrees and running in anything over 54 degrees is warm for me.  Faylene also pointed out that we talked the entire run.  Normally I am having to use all my energy to breath and not pass out and I was running at a nice easy pace and talking!  That's a good sign for my overall fitness level.  I was very happy about it.  

This week it has been difficult to get into a rhythm for exercising again.  Monday I was at work by 7:30 am to enter grades and then we had parent/teacher conferences from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m  It was a very long day!!  

Tuesday was Meighan's first track meet.  This is the first year she hasn't had a conflict and has been able to participate.  She is so great about trying new things and working at being better, even if she isn't very successful right away.  

She did the 200 low hurdles, the 800 and shot-put.  She had a blast! 

We got there at 3:30 and the first event she was in wasn't until 5:00 (we didn't know that at the time).  It rained, hailed, rained some more, cold wind and even a double rainbow.  
All bundled up to support our girl!
Gorgeous rainbow!!
Me and my girl.  She is growing up so fast!
After the track meet we went to Pop's Branding Iron for dinner with Meighan's besties and their parents.  I have a funny feeling we will be spending quite a bit of time with these people as we make the journey through high school adventures with our girls.  Good thing we like them.  :-)

Wednesday I had to come home for work and take Meighan shopping.  She needed a black dress for a competition she is doing and it was the only day that would work to try and find something.  Luckily we found one right away and I got her to church on time.  Then I went back home and picked up Joe and we went to the pool for a lap swim.  

I have not been in a pool for lap swim in about a year.  I have to say that it wasn't pretty at first.  

I forgot to how to breath.  Actually I forgot how to blow bubbles in the water and then suck in air out of the water.  This is not something that you should forget when trying to lap swim.  

At first I was really frustrated.  I started going down the "I suck" road in a hurry.  Then I took a moment after the first lap.  I reminded myself that it had been a very long time since I had done laps and that I was going to have to start from scratch.  I grabbed the kick board and started out by just kicking and putting my face in the water to blow bubbles.  Then I added turning my head to breath and moving my arms in strokes.  I just took my time and got used to the rhythm of swimming again.  Eventually I put the kick board up and started swimming on my own.  I was slow.  Joe was in the same lane, I was on one side and he was on the other.  He passed me so many times it was almost ridiculous.  When I had been swimming for 35 minutes I put on fins and got the kick board again and just did a nice easy cruise.  I got 45 minutes in the water and got 14 laps done.  Not setting any records but it felt really good to be in the water again.  Then I went and sat in the hot tub.  I'm pretty sure that's my favorite part of swimming laps.  I was so tired when we got home but it was a good kind of tired.  

Today I had some errands to run after work and then I had to drop Meighan off at yet another activity.  (She is one busy girl!)  When I got home I changed my clothes and got ready to go on a short run.  My puppy was very excited when she saw me in my running clothes.  So I put her leash on her and took her along.  

I decided to do a short run but to set a fast pace and see what I could do.  I had forgotten how much swimming helps my running.  Learning to regulate my breathing while I swim helps me do a better job regulating my breathing while I run.  

I had to stop once and catch my breath and get my heart rate down but I didn't stop for long.  I tried to go as fast as I could that was still comfortable (and knowing that I wasn't going to go too far).  I worked on my posture, keeping my shoulders back and more core straight, while making my breathing consistent.  I was working but wasn't feeling like I was going to die at any moment.  My legs felt great.  It was a great feeling and I was tempted to do more but decided to stick with the plan so I don't do too much too fast and hurt myself.  After two miles I walked the rest of the way home.  

I was a very happy camper when I uploaded my run.  I didn't have my phone so ran with only my Garmin watch.  Here are the results: 

Holy Crap!  
And here are my splits:
I have not run this fast for one mile, let alone two since the Thanksgiving run of 2013!  Just before I begin taking Metformin and then the following year just had a lot of struggles.  

It felt GREAT!  

It was FUN!

There was a brief moment (very brief) where I started to discount my success because it was "only" two miles. 

Screw that!  I ran one mile at 12'13" and the second one faster at 11'58"  I have not run any miles that fast in forever.  Whoo hoo!!  And it has been a really, really long time since I had a good run of any distance so I'm taking it!  

I have finished some major accomplishments this month.  

Now it's time to start working on getting some new accomplishments done.  Still deciding what those are going to be but I'm starting to get excited about the possibilities.  
Figuring out what I want next.  :-)  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Hike

Happy Easter!  He has Risen!  He has rising indeed.  What a beautiful day to be out in God's creation.  It really is the best worship place I know!

This weekend I didn't have to think about homework or online meetings.  I finished my last assignment Thursday night.  I am waiting for the professor to tell me when to submit my Portfolio and then for it to be scored.  But for all intents and purposes I am done!  Woo hoo!

Saturday morning I went into Corvallis to watch my friends participate in the Beaver Freezer sprint triathlon.  I had a great time.  I got to see Wendie, Josh, Kristy and Chad all come into the bike transition after their swim.  And I got to see Wendie and Josh finish the bike and start the run.  And I got to see Wendie finish.  Then I had to go pick up my daughter so I couldn't stay which was a bit of a bummer.  But I saw my friends at one point or another through their event which was fun.  I also got to see a lot of other friends that were there to cheer people on or had done one part of the sprint as a relay team.  It made my heart happy to realize all of the connections I have made the last few years through running.   :-)

Bailey came along.  It's always a good way to have her practice how she walks on the leash and how she behaves in public.  There are a lot of people, kids, dogs, bikes and distractions.  She was fabulous.  I had brought along her service vest so that I could bring her into the pool area.  Evidently she has grown a bit since the last time I had it on her because it didn't fit anymore.  Oh well.  :-)  Guess it's time to buy a new one.

Today it was time for my weekly hike.  Joe worked on Saturday so he was planning on getting off work and heading out to do a 1.5 hours run up Fitton Green.  I didn't want to tackle that big hill today so I decided to start at the same parking lot as Joe but go up Mulkey and then Bald Hill.  Joe and I started out together and then he ditched me about 1/2 mile in.  His training for Ironman Canada is starting to amp up so I appreciate just getting to start and end our adventures together.

I love hiking with my friends.  I am, by nature, a very social lady.  But I have learned that I am not truly an extrovert.  I like some me time.  I like the quiet.  I like just doing my own thing on occasion.  I have realized that in the past I have gotten that me time by escaping into a good book.  The opportunities to loose myself in a good book have been very limited the last year and a half.  Hiking has become another avenue to do the same thing.  Only now I'm escaping into nature.

I have always listened to music when I run.  I have not listened to music on any of my hikes since Christmas.   I have discovered a great delight in listening to the sounds of the forest, or the meadow or the trail.   Last week some crows flew very low over my head and I could hear the beat of their wings.  It sounded so powerful as I watched them push themselves higher into the sky.

There are wild turkeys living in the area around Bald Hill.  I haven't seen them yet but can hear them saying "gobble gobble" in the bushes.  Once there were two groups that were talking to each other on each side of the trail.  One group would make a racket and then there would be a pause and then the group on the other side would make a racket back.  Sounded like they were arguing with each other.

Today there was a lot of fog on the drive to the gate where I was going to park.  I didn't expect to get many sun filtering through the tree pictures but I did get a lot of lovely pictures anyway.  The forest is beautiful in all it's moods.

There are more wildflowers every week.  This week all of the new ones were purple which is my favorite color!  They are so dainty and fragile looking.
There is also more green on the forest floor each week as we get farther into spring.
It rained quite a bit this past week so there was more mud on the trails than there was the last time I was here.  Bailey was full of spit and vinegar this morning and ran and ran and ran.  She discovered a delightful new game where she runs as fast as she can and then slides through a muddy spot to stop and change direction.  She did that the entire way up and the entire way down Mulkey.  Goofy dog.  She was a muddy mess but a very happy puppy!
This is her running around me and then up ahead.  She is really good about waiting for me at the corners.

This is at the top of Mulkey.  When I see this tree I know I get to start heading downhill. 
Field between Mulkey and Bald Hill
The view at the top of Bald Hill.  Lots of fog but it was still pretty. 
 I ran the entire way down Mulkey and didn't stop until I got to where I connected with the Bald Hill trail.  Struggled a bit going up Bald Hill.  Couldn't keep my breathing steady which was a bit frustrating.  I kind of trotted down the other side of Bald Hill.  It was pretty muddy and slick so I couldn't go terribly fast.  Once I got to the paved trail I was able to start running again.  Joe had finished and was backtracking from his truck to find me.  I was very pleased when I looked down at my phone and saw my current pace.  I was breathing hard but it was manageable.  I didn't run for very far but I was pleased to run a fast pace for me at the end of a hike with two big hills.  :-)
My current pace was the 11'43" on the left side.  Yay!
I was pretty happy with the overall pace as well because my running sections helped balance out the trudging sections.

These are my Easter flowers!
My goal was to hike every weekend during my practicum.  I made my goal.  I have hiked 75 miles since January first and ran a 10k.  I'm looking forward to making new goals and having the time and energy to do some things during the week.

I had a doctors appointment last Friday and had a good talk with my doctor.  Down a few pounds since the end of January.  I have not weighed myself since Christmas at home.  When he didn't give me an exact number of pounds I didn't worry about it.  I told him that my clothes were fitting way different which seemed to reflect more than a few pounds.  He said that was a better indicator and I should go with that.  :-)

We also had a very candid conversation about my journey and how it has not looked like most people's journey when they are watching what they eat and exercising more.  My husband and most of my friends like to say that it's just a case of eat less, move more.  For most people.  Not me.  I have really had to work on letting that go.  It bothers me partly because I want to see results because I'm working hard.  Everything else I work hard at I can see the results.  Not this.  And I worry that my friends that have simply eaten less and moved more and had awesome results will think I'm not really doing what I say I've been doing.  Yes, I worry about what they think.  Their opinion matters to me.  But once again I am dealing with that too.  That is my own insecurities.  They love me and have supported me without ceasing from the day I laced on my first pair of Nikes.  I have gained new friends that have done the same thing.  I believe that if they really thought I was kidding myself or cheating they would call me out on it.  So here is another thing I am learning to let go of.  My journey is different and if someone is judging me because it's slow or it is not always pretty I guess they were never really my friend to begin with.  But I don't think I have anyone like that in my life right now so I'm feeling pretty blessed.

My doctor and I have made some adjustments, made some goals and overall we are happy with the fact that I am heading in the right direction.  Working on being the healthiest me I can be.

I'll be looking around to see what my next goal is going to be.  CLR is still a long way off so there might need to be a few smaller things tucked in here or there in the meantime.

Looking forward to the next adventure!

This song was stuck in my head and my heart the entire hike.  Happy Easter everyone!  Remember that He has RISEN!