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Running for food

April 23, 2014

Today I woke up, hung out with the boys, ate some toast. I did a short, slow run - about down to the corner store and back - to get cereal for the girl, who wakes later. (As it turns out, my addiction is bad enough that I’m finding ways to run on my rest days.)

Last night the whole family walked just under 2 miles to dinner, which was nice.

I was going to say more, but the busy day has left me with this: I’m rather snacky. I hope I can attribute that to the extra running, and not just me being a pig.

Running lazy

April 22, 2014

PantsI’m so excited about running these days, that I actually have my expectations set too high. Much in the same way that I get to thinking I’m TOTALLY hot and buff and fit, and then look in the mirror and go, “Oh right, I just FEEL that way”, this morning I got running and was surprised that it was hard. Not, like, marathon hard or anything. But hills, man!

And then I remembered what I said to myself in the first several weeks of running. “You’re not tired, your body is just lazy.”  That helps quite a lot, because it’s perfectly true. I run, and I’m used to not moving at all, so most of me is all “You should stop, we’re exhausted, we can’t run any more”.  And I do a quick evaluation and find that:

  • I’m not too out of breath
  • My heart isn’t pounding
  • Nothing actually hurts
  • I’m seriously, seriously not tired at all

And I keep on running.

And then I read this blog from The Hungry Runner Girl just now, and was startled at this very familiar sentence:

Your brain is just TELLING you that you are tired.  Your legs aren’t actually going to fall off, your silly brain just thinks that they are.  

Yep! That’s exactly it.

Also: Taking the new shoes back. After walking around the house in them, I’ve concluded they’re too small. The new pants are great, though. First pair of tight running pants, and shorts over them because stop looking at my butt.

Also also, I wrote about my current mental rules for running, but I forgot one. So the current list is:

  • Make your goal, whether it’s time or distance.
  • Don’t worry much about pace. Pace will come.
  • But, don’t walk.
  • Take a picture on every run.
  • Look at stuff. Stuff is cool.
  • Wear a hat. Always bring a key, a little money, and a couple sundries.
  • If you’re running 7 miles or more, you can have a 5-10 minute coffee break late in the run.


Running out of state

April 21, 2014

I’ll be in Washington state next week for a conference, and a friend tells me there’s a run in Bellevue this Sunday. When I’ll be in town.

I’m standing next to my new running shoes. OH GOD YES I WILL RUN THE 10K IN BELLVUE.

Some part of me is shaking my head at how ridiculously excited the rest of me is, to be registering for a 10K out of state. I don’t care, I’m gonna high-five myself, back-pat, and be excited about this race.



P.S. A friend on Twitter (hi @texasamy!) has gifted me with the hashtag #RunJennayRun. It’s mine now, oh yes it is.


I’m going to talk about running now

April 20, 2014

Extensively. Excessively.

Diary of a wimp

In first or second grade, I had a crush on a boy. We raced past the library, down the hall at school, and he won. I admired his speed.

Middle school gym class had sections on basketball (I sucked), kickball (I sucked), tennis (royally sucked), and running, among other things. I sucked at running; I was slow, and got winded fast.

I was very pleased to find out, in high school, that I didn’t have to take gym, because I was in marching band. Marching around while playing an instrument…THAT was something I could do well enough, if not brilliantly. Lunch throughout my entire junior and senior years was a Sprite, a bat of Cheetos puffs, and a 3 Muskateers bar. I wasn’t particularly fat, but I wasn’t particularly not-fat, either. I hung out on playgrounds with friends, sometimes, and played a few halfassed half-games of baseball with my boyfriend’s friends senior year.

For one of my junior college electives, I took an intro weight lifting course. I was a bit embarrassed the first few times in, but I at least learned how to use the machines. I took the second semester, too. I didn’t get particularly strong, but I enjoyed the unstructured nature of the class, the repetitions, the logging of activities.

Once in college, I decided to take a long walk. I walked six miles across Denton, and called my then-husband to come pick me up from the square. I enjoyed it, but never did it again.

After he and I separated, I was in a turmoil. I planned a road trip through Kansas to visit family, and onward to Colorado.  I bought a frame backpack, heavy boots, iodine pills and some supplies, and hiked the backcountry from Estes Park across the Rockies, over two days and one night. I was unprepared, and it was hard. It remains one of the best memories of my life.

I was in the best shape of my life – I had abs! Abs, I tell you! - when I got pregnant with my first child in 2004; I had been going to a personal trainer at a gym in Arlington for weeks, and it was showing real results. I didn’t have another personal trainer until 2013.

Flirting with running

When the kids were little, we would take walks around the empty neighborhood next to our Arlington house. I have no memory of when I started flirting with running, but I’m pretty sure it’s been in the last four years.

The first real “oh whoa, I might actually be able to do this” came from SQL Run at the PASS Summit 2012. A bunch of attendees and speakers get up early and go run a 5k during the conference. I thought, why not? And then asked a bunch of questions. I was told there were all skill levels there, and sure enough another speaker ran with me the whole way. It was the first time I’d walked-ran that far.

I really have been flirting with running ever since. I bought some shoes, I ran a little, I left it alone. I walked a 5k with my Mom, and I left it alone. I ran my first 12 minute mile on a treadmill, and left it alone again.

Last month, I went to the library. In the “featured books” section was a bright yellow one titled Running Like a Girl. I threw it in with the kids’ and sci-fi books I’d chosen, and went home and read it.

She talked about learning to run, learning to enjoy it, all that jazz. It made a lot of sense. And when she started talking about running faster, working harder, trying to make a certain time, being miserable, I started pulling away from the book mentally….right before, in the story, she had the epiphany that she’d stopped enjoying running because she was making it into work. She went back to enjoying her running. I mentally applauded.

It made sense, so I started running.


I’ve run 24 times in the last 42 days. In six weeks, I’ve increased my distance , and probably generally increased my speed (but I haven’t calculated the weekly average yet). I enjoy my runs, set my own schedule and rules, and find that I truly enjoy running. This is absolutely a huge deal to me. It’s not just that I feel energized and powerful, or that I’m way more relaxed. (I’d been having anxiety issues for a while.)

The actual act of running, of stepping out the door and driving myself forward, is fantastic. It’s peaceful, it’s challenging, it’s wonderful. AND I get a lot of time to listen to music or my audiobook. I reread most of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in March and early April, and now I’m on Watership Down (again). So, for the sheer joy of moving my body, I find myself antsy, wanting to go running on my rest days. I read books by marathoners and ultra marathoners. I’ve subscribed to five running blogs. I’m emailing friends who have said it’s okay to gush to them about this new obsession.

And I’m starting to see other benefits.  I learned fairly early on that running in and of itself won’t necessarily make you lose weight – and by the way, what a fucking cheat THAT is – and so I’ve stopped most of my self congratulatory food- and beer-related celebrations.  But!  My body is reconstituting. There’s really no other word for it. Without changing my diet or my weight, I’m reshaping and toning up. My legs are getting hard, and I’m getting more hourglassy again, and – if you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you might not mind a bit of ew/overshare – I don’t Jello-jiggle when I run any more. I’m running out of ways to say “I’m really thrilled about this and it’s wonderful”. But I am and it is.

And of course, I’m far, far less easily winded. Also a huge bonus.

Running on

I can’t stress how very, very important to me it is that nobody’s telling me how to run. I’m not following any strict plan or schedule, I don’t have a coach. I take advice…hell, I ask for advice. And, I did look up some information on training for a half marathon – yeah, I ran my first 10k about two weeks ago, and it’s got me ready for more – but even that is more of a general guide.  This is in direct contrast to most of my athletic experience in the past: gym teachers, personal trainers, workout DVDs, all that jazz. I don’t want to get sniggered at by the rest of the class, or told to FEEL THE BURN, or do sprints and planks after 20 Heismans. I just want to run, and run.

This morning I ran my first official I-am-training-for-a-half-marathon run. I’ve been doing time goals, which are easy, because you just run OUT for half the time, then turn around and go home. From here on my goals are distance. Today’s goal was 7 miles, so I plotted a course up away from home, up a paved city jogging trail, and around Las Colinas.  I loved the trail – it was pretty, and I passed a water fountain! Twice!  And when I reached the point where I had to turn back, so I could take the track back home around Colinas, I found myself wistfully eyeing the trail further on.

Next big run, next time, I’ll go farther. I’ll see around the corner, and I’ll see ahead. I’ll look at the further track wistfully as I turn back around. And someday, I’ll see the end of the trail. That will be a good day.


My current mental rules are suited for the way I think, and include things like

  • Make your goal, whether it’s time or distance.
  • Don’t worry much about pace. Pace will come.
  • Take a picture on every run.
  • Look at stuff. Stuff is cool.
  • Wear a hat. Always bring a key, a little money, and a couple sundries. (I have a little ankle pack.)
  • New rule (today): If you’re running 7 miles or more, you can have a 5-10 minute coffee break late in the run.

And, something general about not overdoing things in a week (for example, personal record setting runs on consecutive days).


Free speech

April 18, 2014

XKCD, as usual, says concisely and beautifully what I’ve been saying for years:

To appropriate Hall’s statement, though I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Just don’t expect me to listen, or be respectful, or to refrain from arguing, shouting, or walking away at any given time.

(I will be holding small lessons on free speech with my children, using this comic.)

A few thoughts on caffeine and skepticism

March 26, 2014

Fellow tweeter Grant Fritchey favored us with a link to a NY Post article: Society’s favorite drug affects us more than we think, which makes several points: that caffeine is the only drug we’re proud to be addicted to, for one. And that it has more effect on us than we think.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain

I spend maybe more than my fair share of time thinking about the assumptions we take for granted (and really, aren’t all assumptions taken for granted? Otherwise they’d be conclusions).  Assumptions about gender differences, about what’s safe and what’s healthy, assumptions about relationships.  My major conclusion is that common consensus needs to be heavily tempered with observation, and vice versa.  Also a good dollop of skepticism.

The big example that leaps to mind is cancer. THESE things cause cancer, THESE things could, and THESE things are safe, right? Guys, tons of things cause cancer. I find it best to avoid and/or reduce the things known to cause cancer, and wait and see for everything else.  I don’t think I’m going to get brain cancer from my cel phone, but I also don’t spend a lot of time with it strapped to my head.  On the flip side, whenever I hear that a technology (or a drug, new food additive, or whatever) is safe, I think about radium dial watches (see Wikipedia) and shoe store X-ray machines (see Wikipedia, Gizmodo). So sure, backscatter x-ray machines may well be safe, but I’ll take the traditional bullshit pat-down for me and my kids EVERY SINGLE TIME I fly. If it’s still safe in 30 years, then maybe I’ll concede.

But back to caffeine…

In my case, I found that caffeine – especially coupled when I’m not sleeping enough – make my anxiety level spike, even first thing in the morning. So I’ve switched entirely to decaf, and almost entirely to caffeine free soda. It’s made a huge difference.  And by the way, that huge effect for me (and women like me) may be in part due to this:

Coffee consumption has fallen in tandem with smoking rates — and with reason. Smokers, because they activate a liver enzyme that digests coffee at double the rate of non-smokers, need to drink twice the amount of coffee to get the same kick.

Women who are on birth control inhibit these same enzymes, which means they need half the amount of coffee to get their high.

(And no, I’m not a smoker.)

So yes, I agree with the article on this: caffeine can have a big impact. And seriously, who knows what kind of long term effect high doses of caffeine could have? We don’t KNOW why some people live a long-ass time on a diet of whiskey and potato chips. We don’t know why others die of heart attacks at 37. Doctors and scientists are smart, and they’ve got good evidence that (A) is better for you and (B) is far worse for you and OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU EATING IT, but I suspect most of them would agree: moderation and skepticism are part of a balanced diet.

That’s all.

Cosmos…Creationists …Crackers

March 24, 2014

StepTo, previously of Microsoft Xbox banhammer fame, tweeted this today:

He continues:

I’d like to sincerely (and I really do mean sincerely) thank Stepto for his commentary on this, and I’d like to add to it.

Get your own damn show

Get your own damn show. You want airtime? Get an idea, get a proposal, get it approved, get your stupid selves on the air.  You have the right to freedom of speech, not Freedom of Equal Airtime on Network Shows I Disagree With.  Tyson et al went through the trouble of thinking up, making, getting approved, planning and executing their own damn show.

Want to be on a show? Get your own damn show.

Do you see ANYONE ELSE in the (presumptively 6k year old) universe that just gets to waltz onto somebody else’s show / podcast / book / speech just because they disagree? That’s a big NOPE.

So again, get your own damn show. Or just keep on using the outlets currently available to you, like the rest of us.



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