Running Part 3: Starting Over

Part 1: C25K
Part 2: Peak

After we moved to Boston in 2014, I pretty much quit running altogether. I hadn’t done much for a year before that move, first because of training injuries, then because of abdominal surgery. After we moved, though, I quit altogether. I was new to the area with none of my normal training routes and a heck of a lot of depression, anxiety, and other mental health and family issues. I only ran once the entire year in Boston, at the end of May 2015. It was entirely unexpected. On the short walk home from my doctor’s office, I decided to pass my house and keep walking because the weather was so nice. I was wearing regular clothes/bra, boots, and makeup, my hair was up in a flimsy clip, and I was carrying a purse. In the middle of that walk, for no reason at all, I just started running. For a mile. It was probably stupid in many ways, but I made it through an entire mile of running and I was so proud of myself despite how stupid I looked during and after, ha! That’s my excited-but-also-chagrinned face above, after said run.

My family moved back to San Antonio that summer (2015), and I broke my foot shortly afterwards. They thought it was just a sprained ankle, and while it healed, I tried to strengthen it by doing my indoor C25K again. [Note: this was suggested by my doctors, about twelve weeks after the sprain, when they thought I should be fine to strengthen the ligaments and tendons.] Needless to say, this didn’t work out well. Nor did it work too well when I retried in the fall of 2016, another indoor C25K while living in Wisconsin. My foot just kept hurting – and it also kept going numb like when I had that first stress fracture I mentioned in my last post – so I finally insisted on an MRI and they discovered the bone was actually broken. For six months, I wasn’t allowed to do any exercise but yoga, but my foot finally healed after that. (Yay!) I went to the track a few times and did running intervals (above), but then we entered our Summer of Nightmares and started moving across the country again, so running came to a halt.

It was a fitful thing, this running restart. Back in Texas, I did the first couple weeks of C25K out on my local trails. Unfortunately, by then my weight was too high for the impact on rocky ground and all the hills. One of my feet hurt with what I thought was plantar fasciitis, but which turned out to be a lower back/hip issue causing strain on the foot. I put running on hold, worried about more injuries, and focused on yoga and walking.

This spring, I began back at where I started the first time: indoor C25K, laps around my bedroom, easy pace, low impact, slow slow slow. Then construction happened, and of course like everything else, my program was put on hold for five months. I got in a few runs – this picture is from the day I made it through the hardest C25K day (jump up to 20 mins nonstop running) – but mostly I had to quit after mid-May. After vacation last month, I picked back up, and finally made it to the end this week. Of course, I’m not running a full 5K indoors – probably more like 2 miles max. And it’s nothing like running outside, which still kills me right now. But it’s a start. Hopefully once I can lose some weight, I’ll get back out to my trails and start making myself a true, outdoor runner again. Maybe next spring.

I cannot wait until I’m out there running 5Ks again. I’ve already made a goal to do one 5K per month during the school year (walking is fine!), and I hope to one day be back to that peak running self that I discussed in Part 2. Perhaps one day, there’ll be a Running Part 4 post to discuss that success!

Posted in Wellness | Tagged | 9 Comments

The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us about the longest books we’ve ever read. The following list is not my favorites of the longest books I’ve read, just the longest. Actually, it’s split pretty evenly between liked and disliked. Also split pretty evenly between classics and modern books. Kinda cool!

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas: 1536 pages. I. Hated. This. Book. So. Much.
  2. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo: 1329 pages. This one was amazing, and I listened to the 60-hour audiobook with relish.
  3. Oathbringer – Brandon Sanderson: 1243 pages. Let’s just hug this book. A lot.
  4. A Storm of Swords – George RR Martin: 1177 pages. I pretty much skimmed this one through, and quit the series after it. I loved the two previous books but not this one.
  5. Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson: 1088 pages. Probably my favorite book in existence. I’ve read/listened to it more than 20 times in the last two years.
  6. Bleak House – Charles Dickens: 1017 pages. Oh god no, please no.
  7. The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson: 1007 pages. This is my least favorite of the Stormlight Archive, but it was still really good.
  8. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy: 964 pages. Please just die already.
  9. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray – 912 pages. Oddly, this is the only book in the bunch that I’m neutral on. It was okay, though a bit too long for my tastes.
  10. An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser: 896 pages. This one is phenomenal and reads like it’s half the page length.

Are you a fan of large books? Which are your favorites?


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged | 3 Comments

Sunday Coffee – No Real Autumn

They say that San Antonio had the wettest September on record this year. August and September are often times of sudden rains/floods here, after months of drought through the summer. But this September, we broke the record for most rain in September by mid-month. By the end, we had nearly 20 inches of rain through the month. It may not be much compared to some areas, but here, it’s massive. Flooding, road damage, construction delays, and tons of humidity.

It’s this last one that has basically nullified San Antonio’s chance for a real autumn. Sure, it might be 15 degrees cooler than the summer right now, but the heat index is still way up there, and it’s soupy outside. Chest-constricting soupy. There was one day after we got home from vacation that I went out for a walk because the morning temp had finally dropped to 72. The humidity wasn’t as bad that morning, and I relished it. The next day, the temp was just as low, but I walked outside excited only to find that it felt like 85 and sweltering out. Not okay!

Unfortunately, this is a trend that plans to continue. Autumn is never long in San Antonio. We get a bit of small relief in September (temps in the high 80s instead of the high 90s, with mornings dropping to the low 70s), and then sometime in October we have a few weeks of gloriously cool days. Then suddenly we drop into the 40s, and we start the winter rollercoaster of 40-50 degree swings. Not uncommon to wake up to temps in the 30s and then to have them hit 80s by afternoon. You learn to dress in layers in San Antonio. But those few weeks of autumn days, days when we can keep the windows open overnight and actually turn off the a/c (a thing which is still unthinkable at the moment) – I live for those. I live for the cool morning walks and bright crisp days. And this year, it looks like we’re not going to get any of them.

(Fall 2012 on a muggy morning in early November)

This humidity is stripping away our days of autumn. Every day our temps look beautiful and feel awful. Right now it looks like we might have at least a few days of fall (in two weeks), but I’m not very hopeful. We had that hope for this weekend too, and the cool, dry front never made it this far south. Boo. I want a chance to wear those three-quarter-sleeved shirts and light sweaters, and I may not get it this year.

Of course, there’s no controlling the weather, but I’m just sending out this light wish into the universe: Please at least let us have a few weeks of autumn. Please? I suppose in the meantime, I’ll keep playing with Halloween decorations and RIP books and pretending we might see a few leaves change color at some point before the traditional windstorms of November rip them all away.

Posted in Personal | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware

Hal is struggling to get by in the years after her mother’s death, reading tarot cards for tourists and dodging loan sharks who want their money repaid. When the notice of her supposed grandmother’s death arrives, with promises of potential windfall, Hal decides to step into the roll. The only plan is to walk away with enough money to get her out of the hole, but she has a lot more coming to her, in more ways than one.

A couple years ago, and read Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10, and didn’t enjoy it. When I saw this one at the airport bookstore on our way out to vacation last month, I thought it looked exactly like my kind of book. I really like books with elements of the occult. But I really like books that are set on cruises, too, and since Cabin 10 (set on a cruise) failed me, I decided to go a safer route that day in the bookstore. I ordered this one from the library instead.

Turns out, it was good. Really good. Read-it-in-a-day, drop-all-else good. The pacing was excellent, the characters were fun, the mystery was well woven. I did guess the answer long before Hal did, but it never felt like it was obvious from page 1 or anything. And I enjoyed Hal’s journey along the way. The book wasn’t perfect – some continuity errors bothered me (like a character using Hal’s nickname long before Hal ever told her) – but it made for an enjoyable afternoon, and I’m glad I gave Ware’s books a second chance.

Posted in 2018, Adult, Prose | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wellness Wednesday – Brave Pajama 5K

On Sunday, I participated in my first 5K since March 2016. Yay! I made a goal for this school year to do a 5K each month if possible, and had to go down to the wire for September since vacation took up a big chunk of the month. My friend Stephanie also signed up for this one, but unfortunately she got sick the night before so she couldn’t attend. So Jason, the boys, and I all went to the race site, making sure to go early enough to get a parking spot in the small lot. The boys brought a football to throw around in the park while Jason and I waited in the shade for the 5K to start.

Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, and I was thrown off by no longer having a friend to walk with. I debated wearing the race shirt vs an exercise shirt, in case I wanted to run any sections (which I wouldn’t have been doing if I wasn’t alone), and decided on the race shirt even though it was cotton and not great for sweating. I debated bringing a water bottle, but chose not to because there would be water stations. I debated whether to eat a smaller breakfast because we left the house so early, or a larger one in case I decided to run, and chose the smaller. All these decisions were mistakes! I’ll know better next time! One other BIG mistake was putting on bug spray. With all the recent rain, I knew there would be tons of mosquitos, and they are very attracted to me. The spray did its job, but it led to other problems later.

The 5K started late, and it was almost 10 before we could walk across the start line. By that point the clouds were half-gone and it was starting to get really hot and humid. I wasn’t too worried because I knew most of the course would be under tree cover – until I found out that they had to change the course due to flooding. Now, more than a mile would be out in the open under increasingly sunny conditions. Oy.

About a quarter mile in, I decided to add some running into my 5K. For a minute at a time, I would jog slowly. I’m not sure how many of these running sections I did (maybe 15 mins total?). My indoor running doesn’t prepare me at all for outdoor running in shoes! My legs were on fire for the first two miles of the 5K. Unfortunately the last mile was all under baking sun, so that made things even worse than the sore, stiff legs! I finished strong, running, arms raised in triumph. Jason got this fun picture of me sticking my tongue out at Ambrose because he was booing me right before I got to the finish line. Ha! But yeah, I was hot and sweaty and exhausted by the time I crossed that line!

I cooled down, had a kolache and half a breakfast taco, and drank tons of water. Then my upper arms started itching like crazy under my sleeves. At first I thought it was just the sweat and my circulation being very surface level due to the heat and high heart rate, but then I looked and my arms had broken out in hives!! <– I’ve had hives a couple times in my life, but only as an allergic reaction. I hadn’t touched anything unusual – but I had put on bug spray. Here’s the thing: I’ve used this bug spray many times, and come on, I know my skin is ridiculously sensitive to stuff, so of course I used a sensitive skin variety! It’s not supposed to cause a reaction, and it never has before. But there’s nothing else that could have caused this reaction. It had to be a combination of bug spray and sweat and the non-wicking sleeves rubbing against the spray on my arms.

I immediately cooled/washed my arms off with water, and I got the attention of one of the volunteers to ask if they had a first aid area. Someone had a kit with hydrocortisone cream, thank goodness. That helped, and a nurse poured water down my back from my neck to help cool my circulation really quickly. We decided to leave then (after grabbing a pic of the official results) to get some Benedryl, and get me home to shower the rest of the spray off. It was the weirdest thing. I’ve never had this kind of reaction before while exercising! That bug spray is the only thing I can think it might be.

As for results, I crossed the line at 54:10, which isn’t a great number. I used to be able to walk a 5K faster than that. But it adds up to a 17-min mile (since the altered course was actually ~3.2 miles), and I did run about 15 mins of it, so I’m proud of that. It’s a baseline to improve, right? I came in 5th in the women’s 30-39 age bracket, which sounds kinda awesome and weird until you realize there were literally only five people in that bracket. Ha! I also got 62nd overall – out of 83 people. Heh.

Other than the hives and the heat/sun, I really enjoyed the event. It was nice to do something like this again. These 5ks always make me feel part of a community, especially the tiny ones, and it helps when they support a really good cause. This one was for Project Brave, which teaches kids in K-5th grade about healthy relationships as a way to help end domestic violence. “Make Kindness the Culture” is their slogan. It made me so happy to participate and contribute!

Posted in Wellness | Tagged , | 2 Comments

September in Review

Okay. This was originally meant to be a rest-relaxation-back-to-normal kind of month, but on the 1st, we basically had our house explode again, and then Jason’s car exploded a few days later. (Full details here.) An insane roller coaster of stuff happened in the first week of the month, good news bad news good news bad news etc. We weren’t even sure if we’d be able to go on our cruise this month, and it was well beyond the time of even partial refunds. Thankfully vacation was a go (yay!). So there was some relaxation this month. But of course, we still had the rest of the fallout from house-explosion to deal with when we got home.

One of my yearly goals crossed off this month – participating in an official 5K. Yay! Otherwise, nothing new there. I did get to cross off some of my bucket list goals, though. Saw the Pacific Ocean finally, and visited two new-to-me states (Washington and California). I also crossed a few things off my 40×40 list.

(about to conquer San Francisco)

Hahahah, nope. First two weeks focused on house/car explosions, then a bit over a week on vacation, and the last week of the month recovering. We had to eat out pretty much every night of the first two weeks, and then of course on the cruise there was constant food and desserts and drinks. So my food intake was dreadful this month. As for exercise, most was incidental instead of planned (like lugging books around the house during construction, walking around Seattle, or climbing 65 flights of stairs in San Francisco). I exercised most days (22), but very few of them were intentional exercise. Only 10 yoga, and of the 32 miles I walked, almost a third were on a single day in San Francisco. So it wasn’t really my best month in terms of health. I gained quite a bit in the half of the month, but was happy to maintain through my cruise and lose a couple pounds in the week since. I’m still up 3 lbs this month, though. Oh well.

RIP month! I had some fun reads this month, mostly on audio, and of course a book that I’ve been anticipating for several years finally came out (Lethal White). Total: 5. Favorite: Dreadful Company? I think? There were many good ones this month!

Highlights of September
The cruise, obviously, and during that vacation, meeting Kristen from We Be Reading! Otherwise:

  • Ambrose got his driver’s license! First registered driver of my boys.
  • my first 5K since March 2016!
  • Jason got a small cost-of-living raise at work
  • having several nights of restful sleep without sleep aids!
  • The National Merit scores came out this month, and while Morrigan missed it by one point, he’s a National Commended Scholar, and he got the highest score in his entire high school. They’ll be honoring him at a ceremony next month.
  • Morrigan is now registered to vote and can do so after his birthday on Oct 18!

Coming up in October
We do still have more work to do from fallout from the house problems in September – landscaping the yard again, painting the guest bathroom, putting up trim and floor thresholds, that sort of thing – but none of it is urgent or crucial or immediate. We’re going to take our time with it all and not stretch ourselves thin like every month from May onwards. Also, we decided to use the ripped up yard to plant skeletons climbing out of the ground for Halloween. I mean, how many other years will we have the perfect yard for that??

Beyond that, please, please no more house crises. Instead, let us have rest, regular schedules, exercise, decent nutrition. Please. Morrigan’s birthday. Possibly Readathon if I have time. More RIP books. Halloween. Decent weather for a change. These are my wishes this October. They don’t seem too much to ask. Please?

Posted in Personal | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Coffee – Catching Up

Trying to catch my breath on this last day of the month. I’m leaving for a 5K shortly – my first 5K in 2.5 years! – so this will be brief and a bit scattered!

[Qualifier for the rest of this post: I’m setting aside the SCOTUS stuff, which I’m not going to discuss because just thinking about it makes me angry and anxious.]

It’s been a nice week this week.  The cats have been super-loving since we got home, especially Jojo, who basically won’t leave my side. I think they missed us! Ambrose passed his driver’s test and got his license, Laurence’s phone turned up after missing for three weeks, and the first real cool front of the season came through (temps in the 60s!!). On top of that, Jason got a cost-of-living raise at work. Yay!

Then there’s a personal health breakthrough from this week. Mid-week, I made a dietary change to cut out as much processed food as possible. Other than condiments (because I don’t want to make my own), I’m being very strict about the definition of processed – whole wheat pasta and plain white rice and even flour are considered processed here. I discovered back in 2012 that if the processed portion of my daily diet stayed under 20%, I had far fewer episodes of insomnia, but I’ve gotten away from that over the years. This change won’t get rid of insomnia completely, but  in the few days since I made it, I’ve been sleeping through the night without any sleep aids. This is pretty much a miracle for me and I hope it holds.

And that’s about all the time I’ve got left. Talk to y’all soon!

Posted in Personal, Wellness | Tagged | 3 Comments