This Day – Gratitude 10/30

As I make dinner and then rush off for a meeting I’ve thought about this day. Here’s what I’ve done:

4:30am – coffee and the news before strength class

6:00am – 360X @Mile26Fitness. I wasn’t sure if my sore left quad was ready (recovering from Ventura Marathon Race Recap – How’d that untethering go?). I was able to do the class, but those frog jumps were harder than they’re supposed to be.

7:00am – I usually go for a short and easy run. I decided that 360X was enough for my still recovering legs.

7:15-9:00am – shower, oatmeal w/ blueberries, more coffee, get dressed, spill coffee down the front of my white sweater, wash the sweater because I really wanted to wear it, do a bit of work on my laptop while waiting for my sweater to dry, decided to just put it on damp and head to the office.

9:15am – begin work on Sunday’s worship and a funeral that will be on Saturday.

10:00am – attended a staff meeting at an agency on which I am the board president. I am also sometimes subbing while our executive director is on maternity leave. Long meeting today…worth it if things we talked about happen.

Brewery Book Talk-211:30am – back at the office. Make Canva ads/photos to use on Facebook for Over a Beer and our All Saints Special Sercive of Remembrance this coming Sunday. Work on the funeral. Print first drafts of the service and rush home for lunch.

12:45pm – say hi to the dogs and eat lunch.

1:15pm – leave for Simi Valley to meet with a wonderful family about a funeral.

No fun getting rear-ended…especially when your car isn’t even 6 months old.

1:20pm – get rear-ended while sitting at a traffic light on 3rd Street in Oxnard. Get out…I don’t know how much if any hidden damage I might have but there’s a 1-2″ gouge out of the rubber in my bumper. The man who hit me feels bad… doesn’t want me to report it….said he’d rather pay me. I said “I don’t know…but I’ve got to go meet about a funeral and I’ll think about it.”

1:30pm – driving again, wondering if the tension in my neck is tension or injury and feeling guilty for even thinking this because of my own experience with someone

2:05pm – arrive a few minutes late for my meeting. Spend a couple hours planning the service. My pre-work in the morning was helpful to give us a starting point. Had a very good meeting and a nice visit with everyone there.

4:00pm – head towards home. Call my chiropractor for a morning appointment (I had wanted to see him about my quad, hopefully it won’t be my neck he’s treating). Call my husband to report my accident.

What to do with leftover tri-tip? Cut it up and sauté with squash, onions, bell peppers and add some pasta and a touch of feta

4:55pm – arrive home. Cook dinner. Think about this day while chopping vegetable and decide that I am incredibly thankful  I’m a pastor…for days like today and weeks like this one. As I’m thinking I decide to write it all down. But, back to cooking and then eating.

6:00pm – back at church to open the doors for a community meeting. Isn’t it wonderful that we can share our space for residents of the senior apartment building across the street to meet? We should do this more often. Work on the worship bulletin for the funeral. Send a copy to all who need one. And finally, finish typing this blog post.

It’s now 8:00pm and I will be heading home as soon as I add a couple photos to this post. It’s been a long day. I am filled with gratitude…except for the spilling coffee and getting rear-ended parts…but no day can be absolutely perfect.

Good night everyone.

Ventura Marathon Race Recap – How’d that untethering go?

IMG_4727Last Sunday I ran my 7th marathon…that’s hard to believe! My only goal for this race was to run it completely by effort, and to avoid looking at any of the data on my watch (Untethering – Kind of, Maybe). Prior to the race I set the data screen to only show mileage. My rational for wearing my Garmin was to keep track of my food intake, and to have data post race. I was not able to turn off the mile split notifications so it required tremendous willpower to “not look” every time I felt the, completion of another mile, vibration on my wrist. So how’d it go?

VenturaMarathonUpperA2017The pre-race challenge was the weather forecast. Cool at sunrise, but getting hot quickly. One forecast literally said, “sizzling sunshine.” That was ominous. Some of us said, we’ll have to run really fast to finish before that sizzling sunshine could melt us.

Thankfully the race started at 6:30am. The only picture I took was in the pre-start darkness… a beautiful pre-sunrise shot of the coming day.

The race started with a slight uphill start. We actually ran a big loop before heading down to Ventura and I ran this loop pretty well. Mile six of it was a long gradual uphill that took us back to the starting line. I went easy so as not to feel the effects of overexertion later in the race. So many people were passing me. Should I have pushed harder here? Probably not.

venturamarathonm12-2017.jpgAt mile 9 we enter the Ojai Valley Trail. This trail was mostly flat, with a slight uphill in places as it traversed across Ojai. We weren’t on it long before we turned left and headed downhill towards Ventura. At this point the temperature was still cool. At mile 12, I accidentally looked at my Garmin when my wrist vibrated. My reaction? First “oops,” followed by “damn!” I’d just run an 8:35 mile. I felt good, but was that too fast?

Running down the upper part of the trail was fun. It was mostly shady and cool. My church worked the water station at mile 15. It was nice to see the church members out there. My friends who was assisting our church later told me that she was “so cold.” That cool weather was wonderful!


I’ve worked so hard not to be a heel striker, but it is what it is

At about mile 16 my left quad started hurting, and maybe not so coincidentally mile 16 was my last sub 9 minute mile. I don’t know why it started hurting so quickly. Pace? Downhill? I’ve trained very well (I thought) on hills and have been diligent about strength training. So? Part of me wonders if maybe I hadn’t fully recovered from the very intense downhill Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon (Revel Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon Recap). That was 6 weeks ago, so it shouldn’t have been a factor. But for whatever reason my left quad was not happy.

At about mile 17 we lost our shade and with each passing minute the weather warmed. I would feel myself struggling, with my leg and the heat, but I also kept pushing. Every time my wrist vibrated I had to admonish myself, “don’t look!”

See how wet my shorts are? I dumped water on my head at every aid station and it all went to my shorts. Total form breakdown here!

Miles 18-22 were real slogs. Here the course, while still downhill, levels out. So, the slight downhill doesn’t feel like much. I felt as if I were going slower and slower and slower. I seriously thought I was running in slow motion. And because of this, I succumbed to temptation and looked at my Garmin when it vibrated to tell me I’d completed mile 22. Much to my surprise I was at 3:21. This was amazing and I realized that if I could just hold to a 10 minute mile or better pace, I’d have another PR.

Of course, this led me to keep looking. It’s like the dieter who eats one cookie and then binges…I began looking at every split.

Mile 23 was 9:55. “Ok, that’ll do it.”

But then mile 24 was 10:14. “I’m sooooo tired and my leg hurts, but if I can just stay steady.

Mile 25 and its slight uphill, 11:31. “Meltdown in full progress, just get me outta here.” Here I resorted to stride for 20 steps, run easy, stride for 20 steps, run easy…and so on. Of course the stride didn’t look like much of a stride but it kept me going.

Mile 26, yeah a downhill at San Jon… but it was no help on sore, tired legs and an overheated body… 12:04. “Don’t walk. Don’t walk. I want to walk. Don’t walk. I want to walk. Almost there. Don’t walk.

Last .20. I saw my family and they were a welcome sight! Megan ran alongside, “come on Mom! you’ve got this.” And with a smile of relief I crossed the finish line in 4:07:47.

This was my 2nd best marathon. I technically qualifies for Boston and prior to the 2018 field cutoff of just over 3 minutes I would feel confident that I have a good cushion at 2:13 under the required time. I won’t be going in 2019 anyway (conflict with work) but it’s nice knowing that in spite of my struggle I was able to run another qualifying time. I was also 9th in my age group (out of 51).

Lesson. I learned that I can run well by effort but that I also need to practice this more. While I gave in at the end and started looking, I wasn’t able to continually look because I had set my Garmin to make that impossible. I think that a lesson for me is that moderation is ok. The occasional check is ok. Obsession with pace is not ok. I don’t know how I’d have done if I hadn’t looked those last few miles. I think that knowing I was so close helped for a bit.

I do know that I left it all out there. After I crossed the finish line, I was spent! My hand was shaking as I tried to drink my water. I took in lots of fluids (water, pineapple juice, and ice cold beer), and ate some fruit and a waffle. I would have loved to have had an ice cold chocolate milk in place of the beer, but the cold drink was helpful. After sitting (in the sun) for a little while, I had to move to some shade. I felt woozy…having fainted in my younger days, I know I was close but put my head down for a bit then got up slowly to walk towards some shade. Matt (my son) stayed with me…maybe to help should I faint. I went to the Saucony booth for my BQ shirt. Went to the Mile 26 booth for a short visit. Then too lunch. Megan (my daughter) walked with me to the restaurant where we decided to eat lunch. I chose to walk because as sore as I was, I knew I needed that short walk for recovery. I have to say that I have wonderful kids!

My next marathon is BOSTON! Yeah! But first I have to get through the Ray Miller 50k on December 2nd. Yikes!

Untethering – Kind of, Maybe

The data can be helpful…but it’s not the only thing by far!
I confess I’m a running data addict. I like to look at the numbers produced by my Garmin both during and after a run. I used to equate fitness with speed, thus pushing myself to run just a bit faster, hitting a pace on my Garmin, regardless of feel, and then calling it “easy.”

After learning the importance of making easy runs truly easy, I switched from monitoring pace to monitoring heart rate. Keep it easy! This has worked to improve my running fitness, and to help me better run by effort. But I still check how I’m doing too often while running. The problem with being so wedded to the data is that we sometimes allow “the number” to dictate our performance.

In a race, this can be good and bad…depending on the data. A few examples:

  • While running my least enjoyable half marathon a couple years ago I struggled through the whole race…for a variety of reasons. The first of which was my Garmin telling me my “performance condition” was -4. This was deflating…my coach later said, “you need to turn that thing off!” I haven’t turned it off but I’ve since learned through experience that it will ALWAYS give a negative performance condition number when starting a run with a hill climb. Conversely you can get a very high positive number just by starting a run with a descent. Not helpful data.
  • For my third marathon, Surf City, I used a race predictor. This is a data screen that gives real time data to predict a finish time based upon current pace. I walk the water stations, so the prediction always readjusted during these walk breaks. At mile 18, the predicted finish while walking was just under 5 hours. My previous race was 5:04, so I was excited to see that I could walk the rest of the marathon and have a PR. In this case it was helpful. Race Recap – Surf City Marathon
  • I used the same race predictor in my fifth marathon, Carlsbad. This time my Garmin was so far off the course mileage that what I thought I was going to do and what I actually did was off by about 2 minutes. In the later miles this discouraged me so much that I had trouble finishing and missed my first attempt at a Boston qualifier by just over 4 minutes. My coach said, “you need to get rid of that data screen.”
  • In my sixth marathon I ditched the race predictor. But I did look at average pace and I knew what I needed for my Boston qualifier. I had a great run, but like everyone I had to dig deep for the end. I knew that if I could hold on I was “going to Boston.” In this case seeing the number on my Garmin helped. Mountains 2 Beach – Race Recap
  • While not the fastest, I believe that the San Francisco Half Marathon I ran in July was my best race. Seeing the pace on my watch seemed helpful, but in retrospect I think I could have run even better. I Can Run Hills! A Recap of the The San Francisco (First) Half Marathon
  • So…all this to say that I’m going to try something new when I run my seventh marathon on Sunday. I’m going to put one data screen only on my Garmin. Distance. That’s it. I’m going to solely run by effort, by feel. It’s an experiment. I’m a bit afraid…that I’ll go too fast at the start, or go too slow at the start, or feel lost without my “average pace” data screen. I’ll report back on how it went.

Mora data…this was to remind me I was progressing towards my BQ goal even with a disappointing Carlsbad Marathon
Meanwhile, if you want to get started running, or find ways to be more disciplined in your running, let me know. I’d like to help.

Want to Run?

IMG_2896People often tell me they’d like to start running, “but…” Not everyone has the same “but,” however most reasons not to start are: “I have bad knees”; “I don’t have time”; “I hate running”; or “I’m too old.”

I understand all those reasons. I also understand that another reason, not usually expressed, is fear. Fear of what others will think…which is why we hear stories of people starting their running careers in the dark of night so nobody can see. Fear of failure…what if I can’t do it? Fear of the hard work.

The good news is that regardless of our excuses (that I want to, but) and regardless of our fears, most of us can start running. Of course actual knee injuries may preclude this form of exercise, but other than that, when properly executed running is not bad for our knees. And for those who struggle with sore knees, strength training will help (this helps us all regardless of the state of our knees).

As to time. Like anything important, we need to commit to it. Think of it as an investment into a healthier future. The added benefit is that stories are showing the mental and cognitive benefits of strenuous exercise like running. This means that incorporating even 30 minutes of exercise into your day will quite possibly help you be more efficient in your work.

One of the joys of running is getting out into nature and enjoying the beauty of the world.

Hate running? That’s a valid excuse… so try something else and get moving. Or, try running again but this time with a group and explore the social elements of running. Or, go out on your own and enjoy the meditative value of unplugging from the world.

Think you’re too old? No way! Maybe you have to start by walking. Actually I would advise all beginning runners to start by walking. Maybe you won’t be fast and that’s ok. It’s not about being fast, but rather it’s about moving. The older we are when we start, the harder it might be if we haven’t been moving. But the benefits to your health are innumerable.

As to fear… We all have fear at times. Sometimes it’s healthy. It can stop us from going overboard. Sadly it can also hinder us. But when we step into that fear and overcome it, we learn much about ourselves and are better equipped to face other challenges. I have a plaque that says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” There is much truth to this. So step outside of your fear and do it.

In five days I’ll be running my seventh marathon. It seems kind of crazy to think of this because I can still remember those early days:

  • when run-walking for 30 minutes was a hard effort;
  • then, that glorious day that I ran for 30 minutes and realized I’d forgotten to walk;
  • then, wanting to run a half marathon but not doing so because running 8 miles was so incredibly hard;
  • then, the joy of actually running that first half marathon;
  • then, the suffering as I ran my first marathon, not knowing if I was going to actually make it to the finish line because it was just that hard;
  • then, the joy of camaraderie when I joined a group training program;
  • followed by the frustration of feeling like I was inadequate because trying for that second marathon was so damn hard;
  • followed by the release experienced when my coach said, “it’s supposed to be hard.”
  • and so on…

If you want to get started, I want to help.

Growing up racist – #4

This is not so much a memory of a racist policy but rather an example of the heartbreaking divisions that can hit us at a young age.

I was in 7th grade at Hamilton Jr. High in North Long Beach. We were a mixed race school but I don’t remember having any black friends. I actually don’t really remember having any friends. I was/am an introvert, and a painfully shy one at that. Because of moving around as a child this was already my 5th school. I wouldn’t be here long because we’d be moving again.

Physical education. These were the days we had to wear silly looking PE uniforms, with snap front blouses and elastic leg bloomers. Because of these we also had to use a locker room to change. Once dismissed from class there was usually a big rush to go change.

One day we were all sitting on the ground when this dismissal came. Lots of girls (I think we were an all girl class) started running. I was not one of them. Instead I slowly began to stand. But before I pulled my legs in another girl tripped over me. She’d been running and was now sprawled out on the ground. She was also incredibly angry because she insisted that I purposely tripped her. I apologized while also insisting that I hadn’t seen her. She didn’t believe me. She continued to insist I tripped her. She thought I did so because she was black and I was racist. I didn’t have skill to deal with this and still remember just wanting to crawl into a hole.

This incident almost led to a campus fight between black and white. I was afraid and I felt awful.

Whenever I think of this I still feel awful about it. Not just for me but for that other girl. The one who had, at her tender age, already experienced enough racist aggression that she was absolutely sure that I’d attacked her. I wonder where she is and how she is doing. I pray for her as I pray for the day when our world will be one where precious children of God are not attacked and disrespected solely for the color of their skin. And I hope that when that day comes, accidents such as the one that happened on a schoolyard so many years ago would just be experienced as accidents.

Deliberative Practice

This morning I heard the phrase, “deliberative practice” as the means to performance improvement. The idea seems logical, but I wonder how often we are actually deliberate in our practice of whatever it is we want to improve upon, or skill we want to acquire.

I have two examples, one bad the other good.

I’m sharing some kind of story on my last day of Spanish school…this trip to Cuernavaca was in 2013, it’s definitely time to go back!

The bad example is that I have not been deliberate in my working to improve my ability to speak Spanish. I tell myself, often, that I will dedicate so many minutes or hours per day to this activity yet I fail to follow through. It is so easy to find other things to do, especially when your accountability is only to yourself.

Of course the good example is found in the success I’ve achieved at running. When I first started I was doing this entirely on my own. My accountability was to myself, and yet it worked initially. I was able to build mileage and to run my first half marathons and even a full marathon. But I wasn’t as successful as I could have been. I wasn’t running at the best for me paces ,or doing the best for me workouts, or even putting in the best for me mileage.

This photo was halfway into a 20 mile training run for my 2nd marathon. My husband was nice enough to accompany me on his bicycle.

My first marathon was so hard that I immediately wanted to try again…to do better. So I signed up for the LA Marathon and started training. But I never ran that marathon. To this day it is the only race that I’ve signed up for but didn’t do. Why didn’t I do it? I wasn’t ready mentally, and most likely not physically either. The weather that day was forecast to be hot (as was my first marathon) and this forecast raised such a level of anxiety in me that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even go to the expo and pick up my shirt and bib.

A month after this I joined a training program and my running has improved steadily. There are lots of post here about that improvement such as, That’s a goal!

The improvements came through deliberative practice which came through coaching as well as the support of a running community. It all works together, especially when training is hard. We benefit when we have outside sources to urge us along and to hold us accountable.

An example. Last winter we had an incredibly windy week. I did a short run in the wind. It was so bad that l the sand stung my calves, while I also felt as if I were pushing a giant bolder into the wind. A few days later I had a long run (15 mile progression) scheduled and decided that I should postpone this run for a few days. Until we had better weather. I was sure my coach would agree with this. Not! I mentioned the idea and he promptly responded, no, just change the workout. Instead of a progression, run hard into the wind for the first half and coming back will feel easy. Ok. I did it, and was pleasantly surprised with how well I did it. A deliberative effort that would not have happened without a coach to push me.

We all need those people in our lives who can help us to know when to push and when to hold back. Sometimes its a coach and sometimes its a great friend or mentor. Of course, before we can begin a deliberative practice we need to know what we want to do, what we want to achieve. But then I think its important to realize that achieving success will be much more probable if/when we work with others toward that goal.

As I think through this, I’m realizing that I need to build some sort of accountability system and community to work on my Spanish!

If you’d like to start running and want the accountability and training help of a coach let me know!



O My! – Ray Miller Training Run #4

Sunrise on PCH is always pretty

Today was interesting! My assignment was to run 14 miles on slightly tired legs (I ran 10 the day before). To become familiar with the course, we’ve been running various parts of what will be the Ray Miller 50k on December 2nd. I had thought we could run the final loop in a 15 mile run, but it turns out I was not reading the course description carefully.

So after 6.5 miles, Megan (my daughter) and I were figuring out where to go when she noticed my error. “If we do the full loop we’ll be running about 27 miles.” Oops. We made some adjustments and ended up running a middle portion and then the very end portion. Unfortunately our adjustments resulted in 16.3 miles…a bit longer than the 14 miles I was supposed to run.

Nice bright moon giving way to the early morning sun.

The morning was beautiful and the temperature was 59° at the start. As we climbed we felt pockets of cool air… then warm air…then cool again. I said, “eventually those pockets of cool air will disappear.” They did as soon as the sun came over the mountains. It was hot, even at 7:30am.

I’m thankfully becoming comfortable familiar with the beginning of the course. Once we made it to “Hell Hill,” the location of an aid station on race day, we had to figure out the next steps. The trail we were supposed to run down had a different name. We retraced our steps and concluded that this was the correct trail… and off we went. Down. Down. Down. My downhill running is pretty slow lately as I’m being extra careful to avoid falling again. I think as I regain confidence I’ll do pretty well on this part of the course.

Some early October flowers… a surprise in dry CA

When we got to the bottom, we were in Sycamore Canyon and it was refreshingly cold here. We ran to Danielson Ranch, took a photo of the map and then turned toward the ocean. With this turn we were no longer on the course. We were also running on a very easy, gradual downhill dirt fire road. I love dirt fire roads! We were even treated to some beautiful flowers!

We had this break until we arrived at what will be the last climb on 50k day… the Fireline Trail. 1.3 miles up. I hated this trail. It was narrow and overgrown and thus I was afraid of what I might encounter while trudging through the bushes. It was steep and once we left the canyon floor it was blazingly hot! I could feel the sun baking my back and was glad that I had caked on the sunscreen.

Know why there are no bikes here? Probably because they’d fall off the mountain!

When I reached the top Megan was chatting, and borrowing sunscreen, from a group of women. She told me that she ran out of water…so like a nice mom I gave her some of mine. Good thing we were getting close to the end. But! Getting to the top of the Wireline Trail did not mean we were done climbing, so we trudged up the Overlook Fire Road and eventually settled into an easy jog.

Once we hit Ray Miller…the last downhill, I offered Megan some more water and then told her I’d see her at the bottom. She flew down the trail. I easy jogged, not wanting to stumble and fall with my tired legs. When I had about a mile and a half to go I tried to clear my nose by inhaling…dumb idea. I know that you’re not supposed to do this, but I did it and immediately got dizzy. Great! After a pause my equilebrium corrected and I was fine.

I finished in 16.3 miles in 4:02:11 which was a nice slow average pace of 14:51.

Amazingly I felt pretty good the next day. That’s fitness! Next up is the Ventura Marathon in a couple weeks.