Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The dreaded V-day

D had a roommate who maintained the best place to meet women was in the ice cream aisle on Valentines Day. If the very words "Valentines Day" sets your auto pilot to "nearest Ben and Jerry's," or even if it doesn't, head on over to For the Love of Peanut Butter to participate in her Valentine's Day Secret Cupid. Because everyone needs an anonymous gift from a stranger now and then...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Make me smile

This is going to be a quick post, but I just had to share something special that happened to me this afternoon.

One of the things I struggle with most in life is anxiety. I get this broken record that plays in my head and tells me that I'm a failure at everything from my job to fitness to doing the dishes. It's one of the things I pray about the most because I know God truly does not want me to stress out about because the person behind my in Trader Joe's might have to wait for 3 extra minutes because I can't bag all my groceries (yes, I know it's technically the cashier's job) and pay for them at the same time. But this post is not about that. It was going to be about that, but then something special happened.

I was getting ready to swim, and I had all these "I wishes" running around in my head. "I wish I were more confident at work. I wish I were a faster runner. I wish I were more motivated to swim..." And then all of a sudden this song popped into my head.

If you are a child of the '90s, you'll remember it and laugh. If you aren't, I hope you appreciate it for what it is. A song about a guy who wishes a lot of things that just aren't going to happen. And that was all I needed to break the record. I haven't said anything about this on the blog, but I'm trying very hard to "step out in faith" about my whole anxiety thing. And I truly believe that God has a sense of humor, and He can give us exactly what we need at exactly the right time.

Anyway, that was perfect for me. I hopped in the pool and had a great swim. So from now on, when I get into that "I wish" cycle, I'm going to sing a few bars of that song to myself and smile about how silly it is to wish for things that can't be.

Friday, January 23, 2009

2009 Race Calendar

It's about time to figure out what races I want to do in 2009. My goal is to participate in 9- any mix of 5ks, 10ks, 1/2 marathons, triathlons, and maybe even a marathon in there will do. That evens out to being one a month March to November. I'm going to list a few more than that because sometimes weather and other commitments (and just not feeling it) cause me to change my mind about a race at the last minute. I'm going to post a more realistic schedule with 9 "goal" races in the side bar, but I thought I'd do a post also because I can elaborate a bit on each one. Also, the races I'm listing here but not posting are in the running to replace a goal race I can't do for whatever reason.

I'm also inclined to front end my race schedule because if I'm training for a marathon, I don't like to race because it messes with my long run/ rest day schedule.

I'd like to stick one other triathlon in there, but I just don't know which one is the best because I don't know Wisconsin geography yet.

And now that I've tried to put them in my calendar, I've discovered that some of these dates are obviously wrong.

02/14/09: Valentine's 5K Run - Only if it's way warmer than it is right now.

03/15/09: Shamrock Shuffle 5K/10k Run - Sounds fun, but it goes up Observatory. Looks like a big Madison race.

04/05/09: Pi Mile Run for Charity- Cute idea and on campus

04/16/2009: 5K Poker Run/Walk- This also seems like fun. The one with the best poker hand at the end of the race wins.

04/25/09: Crazylegs Classic - 8K- I"ve never done an 8k before, and it's also a big Madison race

05/24/09: Madison Half-Marathon- It's here- I have no excuse to not do it.

06/21/09: Wisconsin Triterium Triathlon- It's in Verona, which is close (no overnight stays), and it gives me a decent amount of time to learn how to swim.

07/12/09: Diva Dash 5K and Mini Diva Dash- Sounds cute. Maybe?

08/30/09(approximate date): Cow Chip Classic - 5k/10k- Another one that can't be missed

09/20/09: Zoo Run Run and Roo Run Run- Maybe?

10/10/2009: Whistle Stop Marathon & Half-Marathon OR

10/12/2009(approximate date): Chicago Marathon- Obviously one of these dates is are messed up. I'm leaning toward Whistle Stop if I think I'm borderline able to qualify for Boston and Chicago if I think there's no way.

10/26/09(approximate date): Fall 15k Road Race and 3 x 5K Relay- If the marathon thing just doesn't work out.

11/26/09: Berbee Derby- Hopefully I'll be back on my feet after my fall marathon to make this my last race of the year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Isn't it great to learn something new

I had a great treadmill run yesterday, following the treadmill track workout in my book Training Plans for Multisport Athletes by Gale Bernhardt. I did a 2 mile warm up and then 3x3:30, 2x2:30, 3x:1:45, 3x0:50 intervals. The I set the treadmill on 7.0 for the first 3 sets and 7.1 for the last one. The goal of the workout is to finish at a faster speed than you started. It was challenging without being awful, and I want to stick with it every Tuesday until it gets warm enough to get outside.

Anyway, the "learning" part of this was that I realized I could increase my pace during the intervals if I walked a little bit during the rest. This is a-okay with Gale Bernhardt. She says the important thing is to make sure to get your heart rate down during the recovery period and even tells you to walk rather than jog in a different set of treadmill workouts. Anyway, I think I'll improve my speed next Tuesday just by making this small change, but I'm happy that I made it through the workout yesterday feeling successful again. That's really key for me keeping my motivation up.

The other thing I've been learning about is personal organization. I've been reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. I'm almost through with the book, and I've already started putting some of the practices in place. He has a lot of good suggestions, but the book is about 70% jargon. I think I'm going to read it a second time once I finish to make sure I really understand what he's trying to communicate.

Otherwise I'm just enjoying the relatively warm weather. I might go out and run tomorrow depending on the cold/ice factor, but I might just run inside again since my fight with the treadmill seems to be over.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Special Edition

This is the Sunday Special Literary Edition of EarlyRunner! Yesterday morning I did something I haven't done in years. I wrote a short story. I've had this idea floating around in my head for more than a week, and yesterday I finally caught it and put it on (electronic) paper. I hope you like it. And if you don't, fear not! I have absolutely no new ideas for stories after this one. Here goes:

The timer that switched on the coffee pot went off at 2:47am, not because anyone had set it to go off at 2:47am, but because sometimes the timer liked to have a little fun.

The timer was new, and like most of us who have had entry level jobs, he was bored with his work. His only job was to examine his setting each evening and turn on the coffee pot at the appropriate time the next morning. The coffee pot was plugged into him, and he was plugged into the outlet. It was a simple job and allowed for absolutely no creative input.

The coffee pot, on the other hand, had been around forever. He had his 10-year pin and was hired back when the union really meant something. He did his job faithfully day in and day out, which is why he was upset when the CEO stopped turning him on personally each morning and hired this new timer to do the job. “Have I done something wrong?” the coffee pot wondered.

But the coffee pot was of the generation who expressed worry and sadness as anger, and he directed all his feelings of anxiety toward his new partner, the timer. But, true to his nature, the coffee pot kept quiet about it and fumed in silence. The refrigerator, the coffee pot’s longtime neighbor, warned the coffee pot that too much pent up anger was unhealthy, and one day the coffee pot was going to have a massive short and that would be the end of it. The coffee pot thought the fridge should mind her own business for once.

A large part of the coffee pot’s discontent was that no one else believed the timer was truly up to something. “He’s new. He’s learning how things are done. The CEO accidently set him incorrectly.” It was never the timer’s fault. The coffee pot was not so sure. He thought he’d seen something in the timer’s eyes when he called the coffee pot to duty at 3:16am or 3:16pm or some other completely inappropriate time. And when that happened, both of them were blamed.

The coffee pot, being a union man and also ex-military, could never bring himself to ignore a direct command. So when the timer went off at 2:47am, the coffee pot reluctantly started making the coffee. He thought the timer was up to some kind of trick, but maybe the CEO had an early flight. The coffee pot couldn’t be sure.

They waited. The CEO never arrived to claim his coffee. They waited some more.
It was then that the coffee pot knew the CEO was not getting up, and he was going to have to sit there for several hours with a pot of smelly, scorched coffee. The coffee pot began to get very angry.

This was the timer’s fault. He was sure of it. This was not a mistake. The coffee pot felt electricity tingle in his cord. It must be that short the fridge had kept warning him about. He fumed again and the tingle grew stronger. And then the coffee pot had an idea.

He worked up all his anger. All his fears about growing older and losing his job and this new timer trying to undermine him. He felt his cord blaze. He glanced back to the timer at the end of his cord. “Sayonara, kid,” he muttered as he shot the blast of electricity.

There was a pop- the coffee pot had hoped it would have been louder than that- and the timer blasted out of the outlet and sailed across the room. He smacked into the opposite wall and bounced into the sink.

The coffee pot surveyed himself. Was he hurt as the fridge had warned? No, he thought, he felt better than he had in years. The blast had dislodged the prongs of his cord from the timer so he didn’t join the timer in flight. The coffee pot smiled smugly, thinking that maybe the timer would show him a little more respect from now on.

Now, at 2:56am, the kitchen was dark and quiet again. The radiator sighed. The coffee pot drifted back to contented sleep. And the timer smiled.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How I learned to stop worrying and love the treadmill

Sadly, my Google Image search for "Dr. Strangelove and treadmill" didn't get any hits so I had to settle for a picture of one or the other. Since I just had a treadmill picture on a recent post, I decided to go with the good doctor.

I actually had a very nice workout on the treadmill today. Mostly because I decided to embrace my slowness and run at an an actual nice, easy pace, not what I think my nice easy pace should be. There were some Scrubs re-runs on, which made the time go by pretty quickly. Anyway, it was definitely a confidence boost to see that I could make it through an entire 8 miles on the treadmill. Next week I'd like to do one speed workout and one 8-miler. And perhaps the weather will be nice enough for me to check out the Fleet Feet Saturday morning long run. We shall see...

So I'm going to pull the trigger and send an e-mail to alert (alert?) some of my extended family about the existence of this blog. If you are a new reader, welcome. Please leave comments! You shouldn't have to register for anything to leave a comment. If you don't know how to leave a comment, pay a 13-year-old $1 to show you how.

Two more quick things: 1. The website where you can find the breakup cartoon is 2. In anticipation of new people coming around, I'm going to have an extra special post tomorrow that has nothing to do with working out. Check back tomorrow if you are curious to see if I can do any other tricks besides run and navel gaze!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Thanks to everyone who responded here and elsewhere with kind words about wanting to back off from running. D even said he thought my "Breaking up with Running" post was funny. I dare him to post a comment next time. Comments make you a real blogger. Anyway, it's also been nice to read about others like Matt who also hate the dreadmill and think it's harder than running outside but show that it is possible to suck it up and get in a good workout.

As an aside, I think 28 degrees sounds downright tropical right now. I pretty sure we're hovering somewhere around 2 with who knows what windchill (and guess who is going to end up shoveling again) and the high for the air temp for tomorrow is below zero. And I'm going to survive at least 3 more of these winters? Eeek.

Anyway, I found a treadmill workout that should keep me occupied provided I'm not dying of DOMS tomorrow now that I've started lifting weights again. It looks challenging, but it's short, and part of the deal I made with myself as far as this running break-up thing goes is that stopping after 4 or 5 miles is a-okay.

Also, I'm picking up a bike trainer this evening (borrowing from the tri-club), and some kind of at-home bike extravaganza is on the agenda for Friday.

Double also! I should look into picking a triathlon for this summer if I'm really serious about doing one. I wonder how many have the swim portion in pools. That whole wetsuit, swim in a lake thing is not my idea of a good time. Can anyone recommend a sprint triathlon in the Madison area?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

I think that running and I need to take some time apart. We've been on for the last 2.5 years, and we've had some great times, but honestly, I'm just not that into it right now. I still want to be friends-you know, run 3 or so times a week so I don't forget how to do it- but I want to be free to date other activities. I know part of it is the weather, but part of it is a need for a change. I want to concentrate on general fitness, especially improving my swimming and strength, and not have to worry so much about running X miles this week.

Problem is I feel bad dumping running- or pushing it to the back burner- after all we've been through. 2008 was a great year for running and me. I PRed at every race distance. Running called me crying last night and asked me how I could give all that up. It wants to know what cycling has done for me that it hasn't. It tells me that it knows me better than I do, and reminds me that I don't really like weight training. But it's not forever. I have the whole rest of my life to run. And something tells me that come March when I'm not worried about ice storms and below zero temperatures or slipping on ice and breaking a bone (the Wisconsin badge of honor), running will seem a lot more appealing again. But until then, we need some time apart.

Comments? Suggestions? Ever felt like this before? How did you get through it?

My new toy

So yesterday I bought a "new to me" bike at the Madison bike swap. It's a Trek 370 road bike like the one shown above. Mine is a little different because it's had some parts replaced (I'd take a picture of mine, but the camera is out of batteries again). I so so so wish I could go out and ride it today, but it's just too snowy and icy for my taste. I guess I need to get a trainer for it so I can ride inside, but the prices I've seen for trainers range widely. I don't want to get a bad trainer that I hate, but I don't want to end up paying more for the trainer than the bike.

Friday, January 9, 2009

About Me


Thanks for taking a moment to read my blog. Hopefully you will be so captivated by the minutiae of my life that you'll keep coming back for more.

And now for an interview I have conducted with myself:

Why is your blog called Early Runner?
Because I like to run and my favorite time to run is in the morning. I'm usually out the door by 6am at the latest.

You complain a lot about the winter, where do you live?
In Madison, WI, which actually has a fairly mild winter compared to Michigan or the Northwest, but I grew up in Florida (Go Gators!) so it has been a big adjustment.

Did you move to Madison for school?
Nope. I graduated from The University of Florida (Go Gators!) back in 2006. We moved here so my husband could start a PhD program.

So then what do you do in Madison?
I'm a statistician at the university for a group that does research on eye disease related to aging. It's pretty cool.

You work, you run, what else?
I do a lot of volunteer work with my church. I'm the leader of my Bible study small group, a high school youth group small group leader, and I lead a group of international students and visiting scholars who are trying to improve their spoken English. I also enjoy reading, college football (Go Gators), gardening, and baking.

Is there anything you don't do?
I'm horrible at all team sports, and I can't play golf, throw a frisbee, or speak a language other than English. I refuse to eat olives, ginger, and breakfast meat. I'm not any good at yoga and can't play the piano, but I would like to be able to do both of those things.

Anything else you feel compelled to share?
I'm married to a wonderful husband I refer to as D on the blog, my Myers-Briggs personality type is ISFJ, and I'm working on a list of 101 things I want to accomplish in the next 1001 days. My favorite TV shows (why don't they ask this on the profile page?) are What Not to Wear, The Office, and 30 Rock.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Building back up

It's snowing out now, but I'm hoping I'll get in a run outside tomorrow morning. Most of the ice is gone, so I don't have to rely on the dreadmill. So much for my run after work plans, right? The thing is, even though there are lots of benefits to going after work, nothing really beats a good early morning run for me. It's easy to get in the mindset that every day is going to be awful, and I'm not going to be able to run outside again until May, but that's really not true. There are only a few scattered days (like last Tuesday) when it really is to treacherous to run outside.

To be honest, I was kind of depressed after my run yesterday. I just didn't feel like there was much gas in the tank, and the whole cramping thing was annoying (and a big part of the reason I wanted to run in the afternoon is so I'd feel more awake and loose). It made me start questioning my ability to improve my running doing a tri-style training program. How can I build a base if I can't stay on the treadmill for more than 6 miles? It also made me question my ability to do well in the Madison Marathon in May. I know it was just one day, and it's way too early to make any calls about what my fitness is going to be like 5 months from now, but it was still a little frustrating. That's a big reason that I want to get back out tomorrow- to "prove" that I can still run.

Otherwise I'm just majorly sore from lifting weights yesterday. But it's a good sore. I'm in an endurance phase with my workout program, which I like much more than a pure strength phase. (Someday I'll write about the time I tried to do serious running and serious power lifting at the same time. The short version is, it doesn't work.)

60min stationary bike
1.5 sets stairs

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Flipping things around

Today was the first day of my experiment with moving my Tuesday and Thursday morning runs to the afternoons. I have a few reasons for doing this:

1. I don't have to worry about waking D up with the treadmill

2. I'm more motivated to work out in the morning and much less after work so putting the workout I'm more inclined to skip (lifting) in the morning and the workout I know I won't skip (running) in the afternoon

3. The gym is much less crowded in the morning

4. In theory I'll run better because my muscles are warm

5. I have a compelling reason to watch What Not To Wear every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

It worked about 80% well today. The gym was empty and I felt motivated to lift. Running went pretty quick with What Not to Wear on. The only thing that wasn't great was I had some stomach cramping during the run. I'm still kind of tweaking what I eat during the day so I'm not starving at 3pm and don't eat so much I give myself a stomach ache when I run. Once I get that down, I think this will be a good system. I'm hoping I'll switch back when the weather gets better, and I'm less concerned about coming up with excuses to skip lifting.

Lift 45min
2 sets stairs
Run 6mi

Monday, January 5, 2009

Looking forward, looking back

2008 was a big year for me. I'm in a place- both literally and figuratively- I never imagined I would be this time last year. The two biggest changes for me were a move across the country and a new job. As I said yesterday, both are exciting and unsettling at the same time.

But today I wanted to focus on a lighter topic- running and fitness.

2008 was a great year for me, running-wise. I had a major jump in fitness in early April and then again in September. I improved my marathon time by about 40min and my 1/2 marathon time by 10min. I've finally gotten it through my head that a little hard work (rather than a lot of easy work) goes a long way. And I have high hopes for next year.

In 2009, I want to:
Break 23:00 in 5k
Break 49:00 in 10k
Break 1:45 in 1/2 marathon
Qualify for Boston
Weight train an average of 2x per week
Improve swim endurance to 3000m/workout
Complete a triathlon
Get a bike and start riding outside
Run in 9 races

Another thing I'd like to do this year is work on my own fitness and life vision statements and create a motivational vision board. This is a great idea I gleaned from over at Mizfit's Place. The idea is to come up with a mission/vision statement for your life (and you can come up with different ones for different aspects of your life) that guide the overarching principles of what you do from day to day. Whenever you make a choice to do something, you check to see if it is inline with your vision. Say you are tempted to go home and plop on the couch for a rerun of What Not To Wear. If your fitness vision statement includes something about developing well-rounded fitness, you see the swim workout as more than a boring swim workout, but as a means to an end. On the other hand, if you are considering going out for a run when you have an injury, and your vision statement includes something about giving your body appropriate rest to recover, then it's easier to see that running- rather than not running- is detrimental to your goals. The vision board is sort of a collage-y motivational board that can flesh out your vision statement with other words and pictures. I'd like to come up with a vision statement for my whole life and do the vision board thing, but for right now, I'm just sticking with fitness.

So here it goes, my fitness vision statement for 2009:

To be a well-rounded athlete I must swim, run, cycle, lift weights, and get enough rest. I must view every workout as an opportunity and complete it with focus and a goal. I must eat enough healthy food during the day to fuel afternoon workouts and long runs. I must not berate myself or feel bad if things do not go according to plan. I must reassess, and continue striving toward my goals.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm Baaaaaack!

Whew. It has been a busy two weeks. A wonderful, enjoyable, family- and- friend-filled two weeks, but busy all the same. D and I drove down to his parents' house the Saturday before Christmas, stayed there until the Tuesday before Christmas, spent a week with my family that included side trips to Gainesville and Tarpon Springs, went back to Tennessee to visit both D's sets of grandparents and extended family, and drove back to Madison yesterday. I'm so happy we had the time and opportunity to make the trip and see so many people we love, but I'm also glad to be back to the quietness of my normal life.

I have mixed emotions about where I am in life right now. There are so many positives: I have the job I went to college to do. D is following his dream and going back to school. Neither one of us, nor anyone we know well, has been hit too hard by the economic downturn. We have a nice home with an easy commute to both work and recreation. Running has been going well... But I can't help but feel out of place.

Through all our travels over the last two weeks, not one of the places we visited could I call "home". Gainesville and Orlando are full of good memories for me, but they are not "my place" anymore. Unfortunately neither is Albuquerque or Madison. I know Madison will feel like home after awhile, but it just hasn't clicked with me that this is where we are going to be for the next 3.5 or 4 years. I feel like I'm at summer camp. That everything... my work, my living space, the friendships I make... are all temporary. That they will all be gone when I go home to the real place I belong. But that's not true. This is home. This apartment is our apartment. The church we find will be our church. The job I have is my job. Maybe this time next year thinking those things won't seem so strange, but it does now.

Maybe it's the winter or the loneliness of being in a new city or that the new year is a ready-made time of reflection that is making me melancholy. I long for something that isn't... that doesn't exist... that can't be. I feel like I'm walking on a tightrope across a canyon. I want to look down and see a safety net under me, but there isn't one there. And the key to making it across isn't a net; the key is to keep looking forward, concentrating on the goal of getting to the other side. If I look down for that safety net, I'll fall. And so I start another day of work tomorrow, putting one foot in front of the other, walking steadily toward the goal of making this place home.