Run The Great Wide Somewhere

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere and running is how I'm finding the courage to explore this wonderful world.

From the Front of the Pack

No, no, I didn’t suddenly get faster but I did read a blog post tonight that absolutely moved me to tears.  Chris Willis guest posted on Bad Angel Rules for Running with a post titled “Thank You from the Front of the Pack to the Back.”  You need to go read it now.  Seriously, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Yowza, that was such a moving and life-affirming post for me.  After my guest post from Amanda about runDisney from the back of the pack and Patty’s post about the back of the pack issues, there was so much negativity about slower runners and I discovered the vitriol towards non-traditional runners in some camps.  It was very disheartening and made me question whether I was a “real runner”.  It definitely made me question how the fast runners viewed runners like me.

To have a truly speedy runner not only be accepting of “us” but to actually say that we inspire him makes me glow inside.  Because I do believe it’s harder for those of us who are carrying extra pounds, or who have asthma, or chronic injury issues, or whatever running-demon it is that keeps us from breaking the tape.  And I do believe that it is incredibly admirable to fight against those odds and to keep getting out there even if we have no chance of winning.  And I admire the last one who crosses the finish line just as much as the one who breaks the tape.  So to see that respect and admiration and understanding put out there for the world to see really reaffirms my love of the running community!

So, thank YOU, Chris Willis.  You are a class act!

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TotR: Garmin Forerunner 10

Welcome back to Tuesdays on the Run with Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and yours truly!  Today’s topic is Favorite Running Product/Gear.  I decided to revisit my love for one of the four things I just won’t run without, my Garmin Forerunner 10 (the other three being my Altra Torins, my Sparkleskirts and my sports bra).

Back in the 90’s, I figured out my route distance by driving it in advance and using the odometer.  Then, while running, I used a digital watch with a timer setting (or sometimes just looked at the clock when I left and when I got home).  While it worked ok for tracking my overall pace in general terms, it did mean that it was difficult to change my route up often or to know if I was keeping a steady pace throughout the run.

Fast forward fifteen years and the GPS options for tracking your run are dizzying.  When I first got back into running a few years ago, I downloaded a cheap (or free, I actually can’t remember) app called Runtracker for my iPhone to give me walk/run interval alerts, distance, time and overall pace.  It did a great job as long as my intervals were equal (two minutes walk, two minutes run or three minutes walk and three minutes run).  The GPS was accurate and it uploaded my run statistics to a website so I could have a complete history which really helped me see how much my speed had improved over the year.

What it didn’t do was to allow me to see my current pace and distance because I just can’t stand running with my phone in my hand or on my arm.   When I decided to invest in a running watch, I went with the Garmin Forerunner 10.

Here are the features that sold me on it:

1. It is pretty affordable for a GPS watch, selling for $130 new.

2. It comes in attractive colors (green, pink, orange, purple and black).  When I got my first Garmin, they were only available in green and pink so I went with green, but once I had my watch mishap at Princess 2014, I had got to replace it with a purple one.  Purple is my FAVORITE color!

3. It has a very reliable and accurate GPS.  My friend got a Nike+ and it seemed to be overly generous on pace and distance compared this watch and my iPhone app.  The last thing I want is for my watch to make me think I’m faster than I am or that I’m going further than I am.  That’s a recipe for an unpleasant surprise on race day.

4. It can be set to beep for intervals and you can set the walk and run intervals to be different.  When I choose to do Galloway intervals, I use a five minute run and one minute walk set of intervals and this watch accommodates that perfectly.  It’s easy to switch between interval settings and straight run settings at the beginning of any run directly from the watch.

5. I use the lap feature when I do speed work so I can track my distance and speed without having to drive to a track.  And the current pace display helps me push myself to meet my speed goals during repeats or tempo runs.

6. The display can be set to show any two of the following on the primary screen and two more on the secondary screen which you can see during the run by pushing the bottom right button:

– Current pace (I use this on my primary screen)
– Distance (I use this on my primary and secondary screens)
– Time (I use this on my secondary screen)
– Calories (I don’t use this at all)

I love the current pace feature, it really helps keep me on track during a run.  If I’m suddenly feeling really tired, I can glance down and quickly realize I’m running too fast and need to slow it down a little.

7. It tells you when you’ve set a PR for the mile, 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon and when you’ve exceeded your longest run.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen those PR notifications, which is another indication that I need to get serious about my nutrition and training.

8.  You can upload your runs to the Garmin website and see your pace throughout the run, your route on a map, your mile splits, elevation (in Florida that’s usually pretty darn flat), total distance, and PRs.

I’m sure there are more features I’m not aware of, but the Garmin Forerunner 10 gives me everything I need in a GPS.  The only downsides to this watch are that sometimes it takes a while for the GPS to fix on a location and that the battery life is on the short side for a GPS watch at about 4-5 hours.  I am not planning on running a full marathon until 2016, so hopefully I’ll be fast enough by then that the battery life won’t be a problem for me.  This version also does not have a heart rate monitor.

Setting up the Forerunner 10 takes a little time just playing around with the watch.  I taught myself how to use it by Googling it and watching a video.  Basically, you use the top right button and bottom right button on the watch to navigate through the menus to do the setup.  None of the setup needs to be done on the website, it can all be done right on the watch.

What do you use to track your distance and pace?  Do you ever just go out and run without a GPS?

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Disney Days: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

This year we were lucky enough to be able to enjoy our second Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Our first one was about seven years ago and was a ridiculous amount of fun.   Erik and Alex dressed up as Obi Wan and Luke and I dressed as a witch (my Padme costume did not turn out well so I had to go with plan b).  I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful weather we enjoyed and how low the crowds were.

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This year, we got to go again.  Alex (now 15) decided to sit it out, so the rest of us went dressed as characters from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Erik was Captain Hook, I was Mr. Smee (or Mr. Sneeze as Eli calls him), my mom was Izzy and Eli was Jake.  Erik’s costume was the most elaborate and the one that we were taking the biggest risk on with the weather.

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The halloween party and runDisney races are about the only time that adults are allowed to wear costumes into the Disney parks (to avoid confusing children and possibly creating safety issues).

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The party (MNSSHP for short) is a separate “hard” ticket event.  Even annual passholders have to pay to get in.  MNSSHP ticketholders can get into the Magic Kingdom at 4pm and the party officially starts at 7pm when they start escorting out anyone without a party wristband.

We didn’t get to the party until 7pm this year and were disappointed that Tony’s Restaurant was closed.  I’m not sure why they close down most of the sit-down restaurants during the party.  The park was very crowded, with a combination of the partygoers coming in and the day guests being directed out.  While the walkways were crowded, the ride waits were already very short.  We walked right onto the Tomorrowland Speedway and it’s a small world.  Even the Mine Train wait was only about 30 minutes.

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There were candy stations all around the Magic Kingdom, marked by an eight foot tall inflated, illuminated pumpkin.  They had plastic bags in case you forgot your trick or treat pumpkin (like we did!).  They are happy to give bags to adults as well as kids, but we just got two, one for Erik and one for Eli.  The candy was plentiful, high quality and while some of the lines were long, we just skipped those and went to the ones with small lines.

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Unfortunately for us, the weather the night we went was pretty awful, very warm and humid with occasional showers.  Erik suffered the most with his wig, hat, dickie, vest, velveteen jacket and fake hook.  Poor guy!  I’m also always surprised at how dark the Magic Kingdom is at night.  I know lots of friends who were at the party the same night we were and I didn’t see a single one of them all night long!

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The fireworks for the party (Hallowishes) were just outstanding.  We watch the Wishes fireworks on every visit and these were about ten times more impressive.   Huge displays circling all around us in every direction.  I think these are the best fireworks at Walt Disney World all year.

There is also a villains themed Boo To You! parade which is a little too spooky for my skittish three year old, so we only saw the end of it pass by.  What I saw was pretty impressive, but I prefer to spend my party time riding rides instead of waiting for a parade!

There were some special photo ops as well.  The one I saw that I tried to talk Eli into had Pooh (as a bee), Tigger (as a pirate), Piglet (as a butterfly) and Eeyore (as a clown) all dressed up in Halloween costumes.  It was adorable but he’s still fairly anti-character-interaction at the moment so we just looked on from the sidelines.

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While the weather was awful and the park was much more crowded than I expected, I still had a great time.  I love dressing up in costume and I love Disney and I love Halloween, so this party is well worth the extra admission to me.  There is also a wide selection of Halloween merchandise to buy too!

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I’m linking up with John from run..geek..run..(disney) again this week.  Make sure to stop by his blog for the Mickey Monday linkup to get more magic in your Monday.  And check out my page Disney Days for previous delightfully Disney posts.

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So I’m Crazy Busy

I felt compelled to write this brief post to apologize for being tardy on responding to comments and for completely neglecting my blogger buddies over the last week (and probably for another week!).  All the lovely posts you’ve enjoyed this week were prewritten (except for the Saturday Update) before I left for California.  I have completely neglected my blog and my internet friends for the last week.

I thought I’d have tons of time in California to write thoughtful blog posts, but apparently flying cross country and hiking all day in the desert results in the need to eat all the food and then collapse into bed and sleep for ten hours.  When I was up, I was enjoying sunrises over the desert, chatting with the bed & breakfast owners, enjoying spending time with Erik, scrambling over rocks and trying not to get lost, applying sunscreen, eating all the food, and driving all over Southern California!

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After our trip to the desert, we did some sightseeing in San Diego, more sleeping and eating, one short run along the water and then work, work, work.  Sadly, while we were at the conference, we still had to carve out time to finish up preparing for an important presentation which took up the little bit of free time the conference events allowed us.

We went straight from the last day of the conference to the airport and took the redeye back home.  I was hoping to sleep on the plane but only got about an hour because the man sitting in front of us had a medical emergency which was terrifying (I woke up to lots of screaming in another language in the dark!) but thankfully I think he ended up being ok (they were flying internationally to do a Disney Cruise).  I did sleep on the drive from Orlando to Gainesville (thanks Erik for driving!) and took a nap with Eli when we got home (after he had fun with all the prizes we brought home to him).  After that, I had to go into work last night for a big presentation to our Commission.

Whew!  On top of all that, I am super excited that I’ve been selected to go on to Round 2 of the Disney Mom’s Panel search.  The applications for Round 2 are due Monday at noon, so I have a lot of work to do between now and then.  To help get inspired and to give Eli a surprise treat for us being gone a whole week (thanks Mom for taking care of the boys for a whole weeek!) we’re taking him to Disney this weekend.

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I had a great time in California, and I’m thrilled to be moving on in the Mom’s Panel search but all that means that I’ve got a big job ahead of me over the next few days between catching up on my blog writing and commenting and doing the research, writing and video making (oh my, I cannot stand watching myself on video so this could be tough!) for my application.  If I’ve neglected any of you, I apologize and promise to catch up as soon as I can!

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TotR: Taper Tips

It’s time for Tuesdays on the Run with Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and me!  Today’s topic is Tapering.  Some people love it, some people hate it, 90% of the population has no idea what it means.  Here’s a hint, it’s not an adorable herbivorous mammal.

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As cute as those guys are, they don’t help you with your racing.  Tapering is when, a week or two weeks before your race, you dramatically decrease your mileage.  Different training plans handle the taper differently, but in almost every case the runner views the taper with a combination of relief (the hard miles of training are behind me) and anxiety (Am I sure I trained enough? Am I ready? Maybe I need to get one more long run in…).

It can be hard to accept that you’ve done your best in training and now it’s time to let your muscles, tendons and brain recover so that they’re all in tip top shape for your important race.  The temptation is mighty strong to sneak in one more long run during the taper, especially if you feel like you need to catch up from missing a long run somewhere in your training.

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According to running.competitor.com, it usually takes about twelve days for your body to fully recover from a challenging long run.  The taper allows your muscles and tendons to rest enough to really heal.  You don’t stop running entirely, the taper for a half marathon typically has you do 3-4 mile runs at a comfortable pace, dropping down to one or two miles a couple of days before the race.

Here are the different benefits you get from following a good taper plan:

  • Your muscles can rebuild their glycogen stores so you start on race day with a fully fueled gas tank.
  • Your muscles and tendons get an optimal period to repair and recover to reduce the likelihood of inflammation or injuries ruining your race.
  • You can get a mental boost from feeling fresh and raring to go.  A few weeks without a long run helps you get excited about the race and can fill you with anticipation instead of dread.
  • The taper can even boost your immune system, helping you get to the starting line without being sick.

Tapering also helps reduce the risk of an overuse or just bad luck induced injury in the days right before a race when you might not have time to heal up.  Trust in your training and your abilities and you’ll do great.

Some people get the “taper-crazies” where they feel like they’re being lazy and just sitting on the couch gets them all stir crazy.  I personally love the taper, it’s a guilt-free excuse to relax some.  If you’re suffering from the taper-crazies you can always clean the house (or hey, come clean my house), take long gentle bike rides, go to the movies, catch up on Dr. Who on Netflix or learn to knit.

My biggest problem with tapering is when I have half marathons close together.  It’s hard to schedule a recovery period, another couple of long runs and a taper all in a three week period.  So, I tend to run the first half marathon at an easy pace, treating it more like a training run and then tapering for the race I’m aiming to PR at.

Do you have problems trusting in your training plan during the taper?  Is it a relief or does it cause you anxiety?

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Disney Days: Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom

Our family has a few quirky traditions.  On the way back from the beach, we always stop in Palatka at the Dairy Queen.  When we go to Disney, no matter how short or long our trip is, our last day is always Animal Kingdom and the first thing we do there is to ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

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There is no height requirement, so we’ve been going on this with Eli since his very first visit.

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This ride has the FP+ option and it’s usually easy to get an early reservation even a few days before your visit.  The wait with a FP+ is usually only ten minutes or so as you funnel into the regular line right before it approaches the split before the loading zone.  You can go right or left to two separate platforms, it’s just luck of the draw as to which will be faster (although my husband thinks he has a “system” for this as well as for the line split on Big Thunder Mountain).

A cast member will ask you how many members are in your party and then tell you which row to line up in.  In my experience, they tend not to put strangers together in the same row, so don’t try to crowd into the jeep with the party ahead of you unless told otherwise by a cast member.

Little ones should be in the middle of the row or on a lap and it’s a pretty bumpy ride so you might not want to eat a huge breakfast before riding.  Because a small boy two rows in front of us once didn’t take that advice, we ended up taking a detour behind the scenes to get taken out of the jeep with ladders and rerouted through the fastpass line again while they hosed out the jeep.   Funny story but pretty gross at the time!

Make sure to keep your camera out because there are a lot of great photo ops!

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The ride lasts a little over twenty minutes and much like the Jungle Cruise, some of the drivers are hilarious and some are just kind of blah.   You’ll learn about the different animals on the African Savannah and what we all can do to help save them.

This is the baobab tree which always reminds me of The Little Prince which is one of my favorite stories.

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On one visit we had this crazy rhino come right up to the side of the jeep.  The driver was actually a little spooked and we took off faster than normal.

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This is about the best picture I’ve ever gotten of the elusive cheetah!

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The zebras are a different story, they’ll often come near the jeeps.  A fun fact that your driver might tell you is that zebras are actually black with white stripes.  That protects their skin from the harsh African sunlight.

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The warthog is one of my very favorite animals on the safari.  I can never seem to get a good photo of him, but he is adorable with those whiskers!

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Eli loves the termite mounds.

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And we got a great view of the ostrich on our last trip.  It almost blocked the road for a while.  If the wildlife does get in the road, the whole ride comes to a stop until the animal(s) decides to move on.

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Eli’s other favorite is the muddy puddles.  The jeep splooshes through lots of them (although you’ll never get splashed) and he thinks it is hilarious!

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There is a group of rocks overlooking the whole savannah that will often have lions watching the jeeps and surrounding wildlife.

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They do seem to sleep a lot.

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I think we’ve gotten great views of the giraffes on just about every trip.

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The elephants are viewable in several spots and it’s been fun to see the babies grow up from year to year.

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This is the section where you want to hold on tight to your kiddos because these are the crocodiles.  Yikes!

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Overall, the safari is a great ride.  Lots of facts about the animals and the environment and even some corny jokes from time to time.  Every ride is different because the animals wander and you never know what you’re going to see (like our scary rhino close call!).   It’s well worth a FP+ and during the summer you’ll have the best experience if you go early while the animals are more active.

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And you can always pick up one of these if you want to recreate the experience at home!  I’m linking up with John from run…geek…run (disney) for Mickey Mondays.  Hop on over and find more magic for your Monday!

What is your favorite memory from the safari?

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Wine & Dine Finish Line Party

Last year when I was training for the Wine & Dine Half during the horrible hot and humid Florida summer, I swore up and down that I’d never sign up for that race again.  I thought it couldn’t possibly be worth having to do double digit runs in September and October (in Florida).  And then I ran the race and partied at the after party and I was hooked.

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There are two ways to get into the Finish Line Party at Epcot.  All half-marathon runners will get a wristband along with their race bibs which will allow party access after finishing in the Epcot parking lot.  Spectators who purchase a separate ticket to the Finish Line Party can enter Epcot starting at 7pm.  The tickets were available for purchase through active.com and have now sold out.   If you purchased your ticket early enough, it was probably mailed to you.  If not, you can pick the ticket up at the will-call area of the race Expo.

All of the runDisney special events are fun, but this is my favorite one because it coincides with the Epcot Food & Wine Festival so the festival booths are still there.  I love the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, but it suffers from its own popularity with lots of guests and long lines.  During the Finish Line Party, the crowds and lines are minimal which makes hopping from booth to booth to replenish after 13.1 miles fun and guilt free.

Some of my favorites from last year were the “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce from Canada and the Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream from Belgium.  This year I have my eye on the Chicken Potstickers from China, the Frozen S’mores at the Dessert booth and the Schinkennudeln (Pasta gratin with ham and cheese) from Germany.

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But food and wine aren’t the only things to look forward to at the after party.  There are also some great character photo opportunities.  I really enjoyed getting complimented on my “medal of valor” by Mulan.

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And I got to meet Tiana too!

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Finally, there are also some great rides open to enjoy with little or no wait.  There’s nothing like riding Soarin’ with a bunch of crazy runners at 3am.

Here are some tips to make sure you get to enjoy the Finish Line Party:

  1. Rest during the day and nap if you can.  If you spend all day on your feet in the parks and then run 13.1 miles, it isn’t likely that you’ll have a lot of energy left to party until dawn.
  2. Eat lightly after lunch.  That will help you avoid getting sick during the race and you’ll have plenty of room to sample all the treats at the party.
  3. Take it easy during the race.  If you’re going for a PR feel free to ignore this advice, but I like to look at this race as almost a training run for the Space Coast Half later in the month to ensure that I have plenty of gas in the tank after the race to party for a few hours.
  4. Accept that if you finish anywhere near the middle of the pack you’ll have to “cross the path”.  To get into the world showcase (where all the food and wine booths are) you have to cross the race course and it can take a while and you will be packed in with other runners like sardines.  Just be patient, it’s a necessary evil and once you’re across the fun will begin!
  5. Bring a change of clothes.  My husband doesn’t run half marathons, so he takes my post race bag into the park with him, but you can also check a bag before the race to pick up afterwards.  Read here to see what I make sure to pack in this bag for this race!
  6. Don’t drink too much after the race.  I know there’s lots of alcohol to choose from and it comes in nice miniature cups, but it can add up quickly.  Getting sick on a ride or on the bus back to your hotel isn’t going to make you or anyone around you feel very magical.  Feel free to imbibe but use some restraint if you want to have fond memories of the event.

I hope to see you at the party!  What are your favorite things to do at the Finish Line Party?  Want to learn more about Wine & Dine.  Check out this great linkup!

Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory

 

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Saturday Update – Live From the West Coast

Hi from sunny California!  I had a crazy week trying to get things at home and at work all tied up before flying out to San Diego on Thursday.  As reported I ran ten miles last Saturday.  And I haven’t run since.  I know, I know but I was BUSY.  OK, that’s a terrible excuse but I just couldn’t tear myself away from work to get the miles in.  We got into San Diego after dark and headed right to our hotel.  I could have run Friday morning, but wasn’t sure what area would be safe to run in.  We got our rental car and headed out to the desert.

On the way, we stopped at La Jolla Cove to see the Pacific Ocean and the harbor seals.  We got there around 11am and it was very hard to find parking, but we eventually succeeded and got some great views of the very stinky seals.  They were splayed out on the rocks and were adorable (and did I mention stinky?).

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We climbed down the stairs to dip our feet in the Pacific Ocean (first time for both of us!) and wandered around the small cove.  There was a neat little cave that we climbed through and got a couple of small rocks to take back to Eli.

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After an hour or so, we got back on the road and headed to Torrey Pines State Reserve.  It’s also right on the ocean but you can drive (or hike) up a small mountain.  We parked at the bottom and hiked up to the nature hike.  There were lots of gorgeous views overlooking the ocean.  We didn’t see any animals but the landscape and vistas were outstanding.

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We then headed towards Joshua Tree.  On the way, we stopped at a Chinese food place on the side of the road and it was wonderful.  We don’t have any good Chinese food in Gainesville, so this was a treat.  After refreshing ourselves, we got back in the car and drove the three hours to get to the desert.  Apparently in Southern California on the freeways there are two speeds.  80mph and complete stops.  And the drivers here just randomly alternate between the two for no apparent reason.  At least in Florida, the backups on the interstates tend to have some cause but we never saw any reason for the complete stops.  It was nerve wracking for sure, but we made it safely to our Bed & Breakfast in Twentynine Palms (it’s amazing and deserving of its own post so stay tuned for that one).

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I didn’t run today either but we’ve hiked for hours already and are heading back to the national park this afternoon for more.  I’ll do special posts for that, but here is a preview photo.

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So, while my week wasn’t on plan with running, I did have lots of exercise this weekend (and more to come!) and I have a plan for where to run while I’m here and back in San Diego.  This trip is just what I needed and I know I’ll come back revitalized!  Next week I’ll be revamping my eating on Friday and will be running 3x and doing PiYo 3x.

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My Food Issues

Buckle up, this is a serious post.  I had a long conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  I think my issues with food are very similar to an alcoholic’s issues with alcohol.

There was a time where alcoholics were just told that they were weak and that their problems were all based on lack of willpower and that if they really wanted to, they could handle liquor just like everyone else.  And then, eventually, alcoholism was recognized as a disease that needed specific treatment.  Today, eating poorly and in excess is always blamed on a lack of willpower and people without food addictions feel free to judge those who eat excessively and think that if they really wanted to, people with food addictions could just eat normally.  Sound familiar?

I’m going to use the concept of alcoholism as a tool to understand my food issues, but I fully admit that I don’t have an alcohol problem and so I may misstate or generalize alcohol issues because I’m not an expert at all in that area, so please forgive any inaccuracies or generalizations.

Healthy people use food for nutrition, for fuel and certainly for pleasure.  But for me, it’s not healthy to eat for stress relief or to deal with any other emotion other than hunger.  When life is calm and orderly and my worries are minimal, I have very little trouble with eating healthy foods, even if I do tend to eat too much of them.  But the moment my stress levels go up, or I’m tired, or worried, or feeling sorry for myself, I turn to chips, chocolate, queso, fried rice and anything else that is terrible for me.  I’m not eating the right things and I’m not eating for the right reasons.

I’ve heard that for many alcoholics, there is an immediate sense of relief as soon as they even buy that first drink.  I have that same feeling when I buy a “treat”; it’s a physical feeling of relaxation of the tension that I’m feeling at the time.  And over time, I need more of a treat, more of a splurge to trigger that same sense of satisfaction and peace.

For many alcoholics, they can do well from completely avoiding alcohol, but if they take that first sip, it leads to another and while it may take weeks or months, they eventually end up right back where they started, out of control.  I feel like I have that same relationship with eating “badly”.  I can stay on track when I follow strict rules and don’t “imbibe” junk food or sugary food but when I make an exception for birthday cake or a holiday or vacation or a double digit run, then that one exception leads to more exceptions over time and eventually I’m downing a can of Pringles without a thought.

Most people know enough about alcoholism now that they don’t pressure an alcoholic to “just have one drink” or tell them that it’s healthy to drink in moderation.  But people who don’t have food addictions certainly feel free to advise people with food addictions that they need to just “eat in moderation” and that it’s fine to have treats from time to time.  That’s great advice for a person who doesn’t struggle with emotional eating, but it’s not true for everyone.

I’m starting to think that for me, it’s time to admit that I have a food addiction, that I use food for stress relief and to soothe uncomfortable emotions and that I have to go cold turkey (excuse the pun) on all junk food, sugary food and treats if I want to recover from my food issues.

Sounds doable right?  Well, I think this is something I need to commit to for at least a year and probably longer.  That means no cake on any family or friend’s birthday for at least a year.  No peanut butter balls at Christmas.  No Halloween Candy.  No rice crispy treats at Disney.  It means being a pain in the butt (or going hungry) at restaurants and work lunches.  It means having to hear people tell me that I’m being silly and that one treat isn’t going to hurt me.  It means having to hear my own inner voice trying to convince me that I’m being silly and that one treat isn’t going to hurt me.

I do think that eating in moderation, having treats occasionally and exercising is the right way to get fit for most people.  Unfortunately, for me I’ve got something out of kilter in my brain chemistry or in my hormones that is getting in the way and not allowing me to stick to the “occasional” treat approach.  And while I believe I can get back to a balanced, healthy state, I do think it’s time for me to acknowledge that I have to take a different approach to end my dependence on food for comfort and relief.  I’m not sure how long it will take and I’m not sure that there’s ever a good time to start.  We’re going to California tomorrow, entering holiday and birthday season and work is as crazy as ever.

I think I need to set a start date and do some self-work on the way to that date including defining what is now off limits, setting dates to reevaluate my progress and writing down why it’s so important to do this.  I’ll also need to get my family on board with keeping my trigger foods out of the house (I can avoid snickers and Doritos even if they’re on a plate in front of me but dove dark chocolate and plain ruffles are irresistible to me).

I think that Friday, October 24th is going to be my day to start.  I’ll be back from California two days before that and getting ready for Wine & Dine.  That gives me some time to figure out in detail how I’ll approach this and line up the tools I’ll need to be successful.  I know it’s not a willpower problem.  People without willpower don’t run half marathons or give birth to two children (9lbs 2oz and 8lbs 2oz) without any pain meds on purpose.  I know it’s not a discipline problem.  People without discipline don’t get master’s degrees and pass the CPA exam.  I have willpower and discipline, unfortunately I can make the right choices most of the time but have a moment of weakness and ruin my diet for the whole day or week with bad choices made for emotional reasons in just few minutes.

Stay tuned for details on how I’m going to approach this.  And I appreciate your support and understanding and perhaps suspension of disbelief that this is a real problem.  Just think of me as an alcoholic and of junk food as alcohol and see if you can find the logic in my approach.

I know some people will see my use of the term “food addiction” as an excuse, but to me it’s more of a self-awareness issue.  If I recognize that I have a junk food addiction, then I can put the right tools into place to overcome it and get to my goals of health, fitness, and running super fast!

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TotR: Race Etiquette – Top Ten Tips from Mulan

Welcome to Tuesdays on the Run!  Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and I put out the call to give us some topics and Allyson from Amp Runs suggested the winning topic: Race Etiquette!  

Any time humans gather in groups, there are rules both written and unwritten to help guide behavior so that everyone can get along.  Some of those rules are basic (don’t hit people) and make logical sense while some (which fork to use or how to tie a cravat – yes I read too much historical fiction) only apply to specific situations and groups.

RETitle

Mulan has agreed to share with us her top ten race etiquette tips (or how to avoid bringing dishonor on your family).  She did save all of China, so pay attention people.

RE1

If jogging strollers or dogs aren’t allowed, don’t sneak one on the course.  Seriously, these rules exist for a reason, and usually the reason is runner safety.  I was running the Gate River Run and saw someone handoff a double stroller to a runner a few miles from the finish.  That woman completely messed up the flow of runners/walkers in the tight spots because of that huge double stroller.  Not cool.

RE2

If a race has formal corrals, make sure you are in the right one for your racing pace.  If a race does not have corrals, line up in the big pack based on where you expect to finish.  If you think you’ll be in the top 5% of finishers, feel free to toe the start line.  If you think you’ll finish in the middle of the pack, line up in the middle of the pack.  If you expect to finish in the last group, line up towards the back.  This keeps you from getting run over and discouraged from being passed by a bunch of runners and lets those that are faster run the pace they want without having to swerve around a bunch of slower runners.  I tend to err on the side of caution and line up a bit further back than I probably qualify for just because I’d rather pass other runners than be passed.   If you start out in a faster group, you’ll also be at risk of starting out too fast because you get caught up in the group pace and then you can end up miserable later in the race, having run out of steam.

RE3

If you’re running/walking in a group, do not run or walk more than two across (unless the course is very wide and uncrowded).  If the course is very narrow, try to go in a single file line.  When faster runners need to get past and there is a group blocking the way, they often have to go on the curb or grass to pass and it can result in injury.  It also results in a lot of frustration for the faster runners.

RE4

If you’re running intervals with walk intervals, try to be extra aware of your surrounding runners.  Some people hold a hand up and announce walking before they slow down for a walk interval.  My method during the Princess Half was to try to stay to the right hand side of the course and be super aware of the runners around me, looking over my shoulder before scooting over to the side and slowing down.  I also tried to avoid passing someone right before I slowed down for a walk, but that’s just how I handled it.  What you do NOT want to do is to be running right in the middle of a crowded course and abruptly stop or slow down without any warning and without checking to see if a faster runner is right behind you.  There are stories every year of someone taking a nasty fall because someone abruptly stops or slows down without looking.  This includes the random stops for photos, shoe lace fixes, wardrobe issues or tiaras falling off.  There was a character I really wanted a photo with on the opposite side of the road and it was very crowded and I didn’t see it until I was right there and I just ended up skipping it because risking hurting myself or others just for a photo op was not worth it.

RE5

If you’re a faster runner doing the passing, unless you’ve got a strong chance of actually winning the whole race (in which case you should have been toeing the line anyways at the start) please be considerate and don’t elbow past, push past, or shoulder past runners who are clearly trying to get out of your way.  Everyone wants to do their best and slower runners have the same rights to be on the course as faster runners.

RE6

If headphones are allowed in a race, either keep your music very low or just wear one headphone (which I do) so you can hear announcements and so you can be aware of other runners.

RE7

Water stops can be a little crazy.  Don’t just come to an abrupt stop to get your cup.  In a big race, it is often a good idea to keep going past the first few groups of volunteers and pick up your water/sports drink from the later tables.  I cannot drink and run, so I slow down to a walk through the water stations but I always check over my shoulder to make sure no one is right behind me.  I also try to throw my cup in a garbage can if one is available.  If there’s not a garbage can, throw the cup off the course so no one behind you slips on it.  And make sure there’s no one in your way when you toss the cup, no one wants to be splattered with the dregs of your drink or hit with your cup.

RE8

If you have to spit during a race (or do one of those snot rocket things I’ve read about but am clearly not coordinated enough to even attempt), please please please be sure you’re not spitting on or even near another runner.  In the first 5 minutes of a local 15k, another runner spit about one inch from my foot.  It really annoyed me and I successfully determined to beat her then and there.

RE9

Thank the volunteers!  Remember they are volunteering and smile, say thank you and don’t be mean!

RE10

At the finish, keep going through at a decent pace (walking is ok, just don’t stop) so it doesn’t get all backed up.  Make sure to only take your share of drinks and snacks so later finishers can have some too.  Check out this post for more on this subject from Amy at Mom’s Magical Miles.

Basically, be kind and thoughtful and consider how your actions impact others.  Don’t push or shove or take more than your share.  Always remember that you’re sharing that space with lots of other people who are also tired, sore, excited, afraid, and looking towards the finish line.

Racing is a lot of fun and the more people follow these guidelines, the more fun (and safe) it will be for everyone.

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