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Running on hippie food

September 15, 2014

2014-09-15 10.00.13Yesterday I ate waffles and cheeseburgers. Today I’m eating oatmeal with flaxseed meal, dried fruit, nuts and pumpkin seeds; snacking a bit on edamame; and washing it down with mint tea and chia Kombucha. I tell you this because I want you to know I’m well-rounded (no pun intended there). I want to assure you that I’m not a 100% crunchy hippie that’s going to try to make you eat carob and rub hemp on your eyelids (or whatever). Or if I do, we can at least go get an Oreo milkshake after.

You see, I read books and get excited about things. I read a book several months ago, and got so excited about running that I’ve been suiting up no less than twice a week (usually 3-4 times) since then, even through my France vacation.  I just now finished reading Eat and Run, by ultrarunner Scott Jurek. So now I’m excited again about vegetarian, plant-based meals*.

But I’m a bacon cheeseburger kind of girl, at least part of the time. I’m a waffles and eggs, pizza and beer, by-gum steak and chicken kind of girl. I imagine, though, that I can totally do that part time. After all, I don’t eat bacon at EVERY meal.  What’s more, I’ve gotten here gradually – “here” being a place quite a long way away from my childhood, where you were lucky to get me to eat a carrot. Where one could quite easily list the kinds of things I would eat on a notecard. (“Cereal, bread, pizza, hamburger, fries, potatoes…”)

I’m quite serious when I say I really enjoy good food now. We can make a salad that’d knock your knickers off. We’ve got mushroom risotto that people pine after. Sean’s (can be) veggie curry…well, it’s not decent to speak of in mixed company. It’s that good.

So I’m gradually moving from a place of eating out of boxes, to one where fresh stuff is, like, GOOD. I eat it and feel good. I’m sure part of that comes from small amounts of Vitamin Smug (“Well done, Me…we’ve really eaten the old health food now!”), but some of that feeling is real, too.  The strategy is – get this – to mostly eat things I already like. Crazy, right? Thus, the oatmeal and fruit and nuts. I fucking love that shit, it’s so very very good.

Edamame? No, I’ve never really eaten it. But I figure I’ll try it, add it to the repertoire if it doesn’t suck. And so far, it seems to not suck.

Next up: Cooking a few things from our own recipes, from Scott’s book, and from the Meat Free Monday cookbook…vegetarian stuff like

  • Refried beans (oh yum)
  • Guacamole (oh crap, so yum)
  • Veggie chili (OH MY GOSH)
  • Tomato soup (I’m about to weep joyous tears)
  • Roast squash (….no words…)

and so on and on.

I guess I’m just going to focus on the good stuff, is all.



*I’m making that distinction because Scott’s recipes don’t include dairy or eggs.

Running in wavy lines

September 9, 2014

I’m looking for a marathon, and at some point, an ultra. So I went looking around online today, and found an endurance running event in Grapevine Texas with 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour challenges.  The website isn’t terribly clear, but it looks like you pick your event, and then do 2 mile loops for that amount of time.

While on the one hand, it’s an interesting challenge…can you run or walk for a full day? Two? Three?  On the other hand, kill me in the eye with a sharpened marathon medal.

A part of me feels horrified to contemplate hours of staring at the same loop, running and quite literally getting nowhere at all.  Part of the joy of running, for me, is the huge satisfaction of looking around (at hour 1, or 3, or whatever) and going “MAN, I sure am a huge number of steps away from where I started! Under my own power, I have made it far enough that normal folk wouldn’t even consider BIKING this far!”

I want to see new things. I want to get somewhere using no machine. I don’t want to see how many times I can spin in a little circle, and say, “Gee, if I’d been going in a straight line I’d be in the Rockies by now!”  Numbers mean a lot, but they mean a lot less than, “What’s around the next corner?”


September 6, 2014

I’m watching the boys in Kenpo class with Dad, and the differences are evident.

They’re both thrilled with what they’re learning, of course. It’s a good class. And the time with Dad is simply invaluable. They’ll remember these classes for the rest of their lives.

While there’s a slight difference that comes of their ages, the really big difference shows in the face. Eric’s face is amused, interested, placid, and pained by turns. Ben’s face is only interested, amused, or vicious. While Eric’s eyes flick to Dad on every technique, Ben’s stay firmly on his opponent (Eric). Ben isn’t mean in class, but he MEANS this stuff. Eric sees the technique; Ben sees the target.


R2 reviews the troops

August 15, 2014


UPDATE 3: FOUND… What it’s like when someone goes missing (thank you for helping)

August 5, 2014

Here’s the quick version: friend Curtiss Cox was last seen Monday, August 4 at 6:00am in Mansfield, Texas. He was driving a blue PT Cruiser, license plate beginning LS*-***. We need help fining him, because this is way, way out of character.

Update 3: Curtiss has been found safe!

This is the point where the story quickly becomes uninteresting, because when a missing person is found safe, we just get “Oh thank goodness”. The rest of the story is the family’s business…not mine, and not yours, and not anybody’s but theirs.

I am so, so glad that there is nothing newsworthy to report. Many missing persons aren’t found so quickly, or worse, are actually subject to one of those worst case scenarios we immediately imagine. Thanks so SO much, everybody who read, retweeted, and offered help during this time.


Update 2, Friday: the addition of

Curtiss’s family has put up a website,, as a support center for this effort. The site has a printable poster for people to hang out and about, as well as an update center, photos, and a guestbook to leave Curtiss positive messages.

Update 1, Thursday: Curtiss’ family posted additional information.

Thanks to all for your love and support it is helping to keep us positive and upbeat in a very difficult situation.

From Tuesday: 

I’m just the friend, so what’s today been like?


Weirdly, I keep thinking of 9/11, and I know just why. When something weird or bad happens, the immediate response is to want to DO SOMETHING. When 9/11 happened, everyone wanted to DO SOMETHING. I saw Facebook posts where people were baking patriotic cakes…they didn’t know what else to do. Blood banks were flooded (ha, and ew) with people wanting to donate.  So, when Curtiss’ wife, my friend, called and told me, I said “What can I do?” “Come over.”  Done. So done.

And I brought food. For some reasons, catastrophes nearly always mean food. That’s reputedly a woman thing, but I don’t know for sure.  I also brought kids, to distract their kids. This plan worked famously.

What are some of the rules of a missing persons event? Far as I can tell, it’s these:

What are the rules for being part of the support crew? These:

  • There’s not a guidebook.
  • Be helpful, and not be a burden. (That means not bugging the primary sufferer for updates. Bug one of the friends, kay?)
  • This is not a good time to talk about all the horror stories you’ve heard/read/been through. Now is the time for steadfast, cautious optimism.
  • Bring food. Food’s always good.
  • Gauge how much the contact wants to think about this. Sometimes you’re there to distract, and sometimes you’re there to say
    “Hey, has anybody tried this?”
  • DO stuff that needs doing. Sometimes it’s calling hospitals, sometimes it’s making lunch, or freeing the contact from having to make decisions.

A day like this is a day of waiting, of doing puzzles, of thinking of things to try and trying them. It’s a day of watching Facebook and your text message stream like you’re waiting for a job offer.

Please help us find Curtiss. We just want to know he’s okay.  [He was found safe on Aug 8.] Nobody needs more than one of these days.


*Yes, I’m writing a “please help us” story in the guise of a human interest story, because I want readers. I want Curtiss found.

Almost everything you know about running is wrong, for me

August 3, 2014

TL;DR – My running philosophy doesn’t seem to line up with marathoners’. It’s either hubris and inexperience, or I’m paying close attention to my body’s needs.

Talking about running

I have a friend who runs. He has a blog, and Twitter and Facebook, but he never talks about it publicly at all. He says, “It’s something for me.” I get that. Running is something I do for me, too. But I also have this thing about telling people. Some of it is, I admit, bragging and hoping for people to revere me and go “Wow, you know that girl Jen? She couldn’t run a single lap in middle school, but now she’s a half-marathoner!” (Or something equally awed.) But most of it is just a need to communicate. Someone out there is looking for something, and maybe it’s running, and maybe the thing I say is what they need to hear.

I imagine that’s the impetus for quite a few writers. “Someone might want to hear this.”

Training for me

I tell people, my approach to training to run is to read everything – I read a lot – and then do whatever the hell I feel like. What I feel like is running a lot, but not so much that it damages me. I want to run faster, but I don’t want to push so hard that running is miserable. I want to meet goals – a full marathon is next – but I don’t have any particular time limit on when I will meet that goal.

So yeah, I run however I feel like. And I’ve been thinking about that.

I showed a couple of marathon training plans to Sean, and pointed out that one has more rest days than the other (2 vs 1). “Gee, I wonder which one you’ll go with.”  That’s like calling someone chicken; the immediate response is “NO I’LL SHOW YOU.” But, I’m not running to SHOW YOU. I’m running to Achieve a Thing, to Do Stuff.  That quick exchange with Sean got me pondering principals.

Principles of marathon training

An experienced runner pointed me to a marathon training plan, and said to work out when it is that I’d want to run the race, and map out my training based on that. I asked, since my eventual goal is to run an ultra marathon, does it really matter when the marathon is? I’m training to run a really really really long way, right? So I kind of need to keep on training to run longer and longer, I would think.

The basic answer was that marathon training is unsustainable, that it’s really hard on the body. You have to put your effort into training right before the marathon, then take it easy.

I’m forming theories. I suspect that the goals of marathon training and my goals aren’t exactly aligned.  For a marathon:

  • You train really hard on a strict schedule and get to your running goal in a matter of 12-20 well-disciplined weeks.
  • The idea is to reach a goal – the ability to run 26.2 miles at a certain pace – meet it, and then chillax.
  • There’s a certain amount of pain and damage that’s acceptable – even expected – for marathon training and running.

But, for me:

  • I like to run. I’m not good with schedules. I don’t give much of a shit when I run the marathon (though I suppose sometime in the next 6-12 months would be great). And I’m not much for discipline either.
  • The idea is to eventually meet a goal, while enjoying the process and minimizing or eliminating bad effects. And when I meet the goal of running a marathon, I want to keep going and do something bigger.
  • I’m very lucky in that I don’t have any real problems starting out (other than exercise induced asthma, which I can manage with the inhaler and a slower pace). I’m currently working under the theory that my running philosophy can keep me running longer and longer, over a period of months and months, without injury. In fact, the goal of non-injury and low pain is far above the marathon goal.

The non-plan running plan

So I think instead of running 6 days a week, hard, on a strict schedule for the next 14 weeks (likely hurting myself in the process), I’m going to try what I’ve been doing: I’m going to run however I feel. However I feel right now looks something like this:

  • Ran two ½ marathons last week, so take it a little easy on the long runs next couple of weeks. 8-12 mile long runs on the weekends, 3-4 additional runs a week.
  • Ramp it up for a couple weeks, 15+ mile runs on the weekends, 3-4 additional runs those weeks.
  • Continue this cycle of easing off, then upping the mileage, ongoing.
  • When I get comfortable with my mileage, and with the idea of running the marathon, schedule one and run it.

This could all be hubris. People have been running huge distances for hundreds of years. But sometimes a culture can get it wrong. We’ll see how this goes.


Running 13.1 at 90F

July 29, 2014

Since I last wrote, we

stayed in France (and lived in the house and ate wonderful food and saw Paris and Reims and Troyes and a champagnery and and and…), and

came back (the long flight home was a dream, with individual in-seat entertainment screens), and

got back to work (including actual work plus cleaning up the house and such), and

I ran a half marathon.

I’ve run 13.1 miles once before, in training. But usually my long runs are 8-10 miles. The half is my next step on the road to a full marathon, which is a step on the road (maybe) to an ultramarathon. But for now, the 13.1.


What’s it like to get ready and run a half? I spend 3 or 4 mornings a week running – 2-3 shorter runs and a long weekend run. I take my camelback and dried cherries with me, because it’s hot here and I need a lot of water anyway. I like my regular runs, a lot. I run TO someplace, even if it’s “that bridge just past the spillway” or “the little parking area with the port-a-potty”, and then I run back again.

I did 5 miles on a treadmill once this last month, and hated it. Even with a movie on my Kindle, I hated it.


Saturday everybody got up early – Sean and the boys went with me for support, the sweeties – and headed up to Denton for the Wildfire Half. I got registered & got ready. 7:30am, they said Go.

It was really hot already.  (Heat index 88-93 during the race, 70% humidity.) There was some scant shade along the first 3 miles of the route – we were running along Loop 288 – and then there was no more, EVER EVER AGAIN.  They had water/Gatorade stations every 2 miles. After one or two stops, I started downing the Gatorade and pouring the water on my head.

Aside from the Camelbak and the water stops, which were essential, I had two saving graces: First, I made sure to bring along a change of socks for the halfway point. The volunteer and police officer at the turnaround were rather concerned when I plopped down on the side of the road and started removing my shoes. “I’m fine, I’m all good, thanks.”  Yeah, in future I’m going to change socks every 6-10 miles. My feet had zero damage, no blisters.

Second: At the last moment, I’d brought along a bandana, for wiping sweat from my face. That thing became the thin line between me and a slow death at the hands of Texas heat. I wet it, wiped my face and arms with it, draped it over my hat for extra shade and air conditioning, let it catch the runoff when I poured water on my head, held it in each hand to cool them down…I wish bandanas were some sort of living being so I could dedicate myself to them. I wish I could contribute to a bandana charity. I’d like to set up a little shrine in my house and set the bandana next to a container of Body Glide. I love that damn bandana SO. VERY. MUCH.

Sticking it out

So the last three miles were a weird kind of hell. I have this thing I do, where my body tries to shut down, and in turn I evaluate and then say “You’re not hurting, not sick, not hungry…you’re hardly even tired. Shut up and keep running.”  It’s true.

I’m lazy at heart, and I’ll imagine I’m in pain when I’m not.  But heat is different…heat is this primal thing to me, something that says, as strong as hunger or exhaustion or thirst, “You need to stop now. This is no good, you have to stop. Stop. Stop right now.”  That’s a real limitation, not imaginary, but it’s also something that’s blown up in my mind. I COULD finish the last three miles, and DID finish (albeit, sometimes running and sometimes walking).

I can run forever, I really can. But that heat is a true beating.

The guys met me right before the finish line, Eric running up and handing me a bottle of water, shouting “GOOD JOB! I can’t believe you did it!*”  Stopping was wonderful, laying down in the shade heaven.

There followed coconut water (IT WAS THE NECTAR OF THE GODS), hummus and pizza at Mellow Mushroom (OMG OM NOM OMG), and ice cream at Beth Marie’s on the square (AUUUUUGHHHLL…)

It was a good day. Now, running more and more and more, for some marathon. Some marathon in cool weather.


Results: Wildfire Half Marathon, July 26, 2014

  • Chip time 2:40:07
  • Pace 12:17/mile
  • Overall 264/436
  • Gender 124/244
  • Note to self: Go here for photos when they’re ready…

*In that impressed way, not a doubting way.


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