Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Wagon, Milkshakes, and Me

When I got sick a little over 2 weeks ago, I started dropping weight like I had always dreamed of doing. I even got within 3 pounds of my ultimate goal weight (125). And I was eating everything and anything I wanted! It was like a dream come true.

But we all have to wake up from dreams sometime, and my body is signaling me that I'd better pinch myself real quick and hop back up on the diet wagon before all this year's hard work goes to waste. I've gained a pound every day for the past 3 days. Back up into the 130's. Back up onto the wagon.

So I'm putting it out there that I'm back on the wagon again. You know, so I actually have to *be* back on the wagon again. Starting today, we're back to 6 days on diet and 1 off each week. And I can't declare an off day until I've been on for 7 days. Them's the rules. *sigh* I'm really really going to miss Chick-fil-a cookies n' cream milkshakes...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mentally Good Run

This morning I hit the road for what was supposed to be a 32 minute run. I tacked on a minute 15 to the end because I wanted to - sue me.

The focus this morning was on control. I wanted to control the HR, to control the breathing, to control the speed, and generally just to get in a solid run.

I did just that. My large loop, which is always the one I start with, is a 1.1 mile loop. I felt really solid and hit it in around 11:20. Then I decided to run it a second time, hitting the mark at 22:30 (negative split!). On that second loop I tried to focus on the mental aspect of the run, because mile 2 always seems the hardest in a 5K for me. Near the end of the second loop I was doing the math in my head trying to figure out if I could fit in a 3rd big loop in time. I knew that I couldn't do it in 32 minutes, but I was sure I could in under 35, and I had headed out the door early this morning so I had the time cushion, so I decided to go for it! Hit the third loop at 33:15. I negative split this entire run!! And this is really a tempo run type pace for me!

I did have a couple of quirks. My left calf feels a little tight. Stretched after the run, but still tight-feeling. The third toe on my left foot was bothering me at the beginning of the 2nd mile. Possibly causing the calf tightness?? Also, my quads have been chronically tight on running days since the last 5K race I ran. Not quite sure what is up with that.

Anyways, I stretched more thoroughly than normal after this run. Hopefully my lazy butt will get out of bed for a run on Friday, and then maybe I could do a little yoga after for a really good stretch.

I'm all excited about running again. I'm so glad to have planned out my races and to have targets and goals again. And as of Saturday, I'll be pred-no-doze free and back to just being me. And that's exciting too!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Races - Attempt Two

Ok, here's what I've got.

I'm interested in the following races, but not committing to anything for sure yet. But I do think that they could all possibly fit into the training schedule nicely... and I may go ahead and add them to the sidebar...

10/20: Runway Race for Life 5K (this one is pretty sure - I think Preston'd get a real kick out of being allowed on a runway, so I've been wanting to do this one since I've moved to H-town)
11/1: Rice Owls Twilight 5K (this would be really convenient on my way home from work, so is likely.)
11/4: Optimist's Club 4 Mile Fun Run (Sugarland is a little far for me, but not out of the question. It would be nice to run one longer than 5K race pre-5miler, so this one is probably in. Also, the Optimists up in the Big D honored me when I was in high school, so it'd be nice to support them down here.)
11/22: Run Thru the Woods 5 Miler (My "A" race. This one is definite.)

A little nervous about stacking the Rice and the Optimists so close together. I would normally run a 3 miler and a 4 miler in training that close together, or even 1 day closer, but I'll have to be really reminding myself not to go out hard at Rice and blow myself up for the Optimists. Because I think in the scheme of training having a great run at the Optimists will be more beneficial to the Woods than having a great 5K at Rice.

I wish there was a 5K closer to the beginning of October that I was interested in. There is one this weekend in Kemah, but that is a little far for me. Next weekend is Race for the Cure, but that one is a little pricey, even for supporting an excellant cause.

But October 20th *is* only 3.5 weeks away...

The Plan

Ok, the plan is to start back on One Hour Runner with Week 5 beginning yesterday. If I stick with the program exactly as scheduled, I'll get to Week 10 in the first week of November, giving me a little lag time before the race (in case I don't stick with the schedule!).

Dang, I had specifically posted about races I was interested in, but looking back at my blog I see that Blogger ate the actual text of the post. Way to go blogger!

Hrm... let's see if I can figure out what I was thinking of doing...

Blarg... Can't focus right now - will post possible races later. Just thinking of 1 or 2 5Ks before the Run Thru the Woods 5 miler on Thanksgiving which is my "A" race right now. At least 1 5K before then, because I need to get my confidence back after this layoff of running I've had.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back in the Swing

This morning I pulled out 2.9 miles in a 30 minute run.

I knew I was going out too fast, but I couldn't seem to slow down (though obviously I eventually did!). I had to work to keep my HR and breathing under control. I felt crappy! I still think that this is related to the meds I'm on, however, so we're going to declare that:

I'm back, baby!

I'm back to running 30 minutes at a time.

Now I've just gotta figure out how to get up to 60ish minutes (or 5 miles) by Thanksgiving in 2 months. I guess I could start OHR over from a midpoint??? More on this later, gaters.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


2 Miles in the Clear Cool Morning

I ran this morning for the first time since Bell's Palsy began. The weather was lovely - it seems that the summer heat has for the most part abated for a few mornings each week - just the development I've been waiting for!

I went out for 20 minutes, just to test the waters. I had a little trouble - I think my heart rate was rather high, my rate of perceived exertion was certainly high, but I made it.

Felt like I might toss my cookies when I started walking after the 20 minutes, but didn't, probably because there was nothing in my stomach to toss. Cooled down rather quickly, though, and felt great from the endorphins afterwards.

Here is the deal: I've started another blog for Bell's Palsy. In running around on the Internet I've not been able to discover an actual day to day account of anyone dealing with BP, and I feel like such an account would help me, so I'm going to document the ins and outs of life with BP for as long as I happen to have it. That also means that this blog can return to the ins and outs of me trying to be a runner. Despite the DNS for the Bellaire Fall Fever 5K this past Saturday, my goal remains the Run Thru the Woods 5 Miler on Thanksgiving Day. It might take me a week or two to return to form after this temporary weakness, but I have every intention of doing so asap, so with this post, it'll be back to the regularly scheduled blogging.

Btw, I've lost about 4 pounds since the BP started one week ago. This makes me 3.5 pounds over my dream goal weight. This is not how I wanted to get there, but I can't help that right now. The other night I was watching a program "The Science of Lance Armstrong" that mentioned how the weight loss from Armstrong's cancer allowed him to come back to cycling 20 pounds lighter and thus with a higher power to weight ratio. I want to make BP (while recognizing that however traumatic it is - it is nothing in the face of cancer) my own equivalent: this isn't how I wanted to take the weight off, but since it is off, the goal will be to keep it off even as I recover and to simply train my body at this new weight. I am back to eating solid foods, albeit slowly, so hopefully the weight will stop drastically dropping now and we will be back to our regularly scheduled weight loss programming as well.

On tap for the rest of the week: Tae Bo tomorrow morning, Run 25 minutes Thursday morning, Bike on Friday, Run again either Saturday or Sunday with the other day off - shooting for a full 30 minutes that day. Then next week we'll take stock of the situation and proceed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Palsy Run

I woke up this morning at 2:40, after dropping off to sleep sometime just before 11. My eye was dry. I fixed it and couldn't get back to sleep. I tried snuggling Preston. I tried counting the seconds. I tried petting a purring kitty. I finally decided to get up at my normal exercise time (4:30ish) and go for a walk. Best. Idea. Ever.

It was a rather cool morning, and not raining, and I decided to just walk up and down my street (about .1 mi. each direction) in case anything medically weird went down. It didn't. I walked back and forth, back and forth, and then at the end of the 5th lap I thought it wouldn't hurt to run for half a lap or so, would it? Running felt so incredibly good. My face broke into half a smile and I felt like I could leap over the moon. I was instantly justifying running the next two odd numbered laps, which I did, to no less elation.

Then today at the neurologist's office, she told me it would be ok for me to continue on my normal exercise. After she told me that I'd be like this from 3-6 months. But still, my mind might not break knowing that I can still do good for my body. I can still push myself. I can still have goals. And the road doesn't care what I look like. And the darkness hides my twisted face. And at least it will be twisted into a half smile.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Parents of the Palsy

I just got off the phone with my mom.

When I was in high school she had surgery to remove her perotid gland. She was informed that one of the possible side effects was facial paralysis on the side of her face that the surgery was on, and she was really scared about that. She told me that I said to her, "Don't worry, Mom, I'll still love you even if your face is paralyzed."

She told me today not to worry, that she loves me no matter that my face is paralyzed. (Of course, I mean, she's my mom!!)

But she did say that Dad didn't want to look at the pictures I e-mailed them.

Working with Bell's Palsy

I'm having a rather no good dirty rotten bad day today. Yesterday too, for that matter.

Being at work with Bell's Palsy is interesting. First, you have to explain to everyone what happened to you. No, you didn't sleep on your face wrong, and no, you haven't had a stroke. What you have is caused by a virus, and while the virus may be contagious, the palsy isn't.

Then, being at work within the 48 hour of onset window you have to deal with your worsening condition.

You go to the bathroom several times to cry. You cry because your eye hurts because it can't blink, it is dry, it is sore from you manually blinking it, and you don't want to wear your patch. You cry because it is getting harder and harder to speak around the palsy (you try saying Yom Kippur with the palsy!). You are having to be slower and more deliberate with your speech. You are fully embarassed. You walk down the hall with your head down hoping people won't look at you or speak to you or smile at you, but when they do, you have to tell the story all over again. Or just ignore the look of confusion and walk on. You cry because you just spent 30 minutes sucking your lunch through a straw, and now you've stressed out your face and the palsy seems worse, if that is possible. You cry because earlier you thought maybe your face responded when you told it to smile, but it is a phantom smile. You can't smile, you can only twist your face into something so horrible no one can tell you are smiling.

I'm thinking that maybe I should switch to 8 hour days until I can blink again. But 10 hour days are what kept me sane in this job, and I'll cry for that too, if it happens.

Please, please let the neurologist allow me to exercise. Otherwise send me straight to a mental health care professional, because the end of the rope is neigh.

Photo Fun with Palsy

Lopsided smile.

Big smile.

I always wanted to be able to lift only one eyebrow at a time.

It's all good with the Palsy.

Amber as Gene Simmons on Palsy.

Preston has taken to calling me "Palsy Bizzy". Bizzy was my nickname before...

You know, I think the hardest part of this is the mental aspect. Imagine waking up one morning with half of your face paralyzed. I don't know if everyone is this way, but a large part of my self-image has to do with the way that I look. I always found identity in my red hair. I was never super-confident... I never really felt pretty, and I was still trying to lose weight, but I had gotten to a point where I was relatively confident with how I looked. Imagine having that confidence shattered one morning when you look in the mirror.

Imagine that everyday tasks are suddenly very difficult. Imagine brushing your teeth when you can't close the right side of your mouth. Imagine taking a shower when you can't close one eye. Imagine having to manually blink that eye at regular intervals thoughout the day. Imagine having to tape it shut to sleep. Imagine trying to eat or drink when the right side of your mouth won't close. Imagine developing a lisp and an inability to say p b or f sounds over night. Then imagine that your husband's name contains both a p and an s. Imagine trying to smile at your husband and he doesn't smile back because he can't tell it is a smile.

I Have the Palsy

Saturday morning I woke up with an earache (right side).

Sunday my right scalp felt hypersensitive and my hair "hurt".

Monday I went to the doctor and told him that my viral throat infection from 3 weeks ago had never really fully cleared up and now this new stuff was happening. He looked in my ear and said that I didn't have an ear infection. He felt my throat and said that my lymph nodes were swollen. I told him I knew that - that they had been for 3 weeks. He looked in my throat and told me it was red. I told him I also knew that - that that had also been the case for 3 weeks. He said, "Three weeks is a long time, let's try a Z-Pak." A Z-pak is a short run of antibiotics.

That night I drank a bottle of water that tasted funny. It didn't taste funny to Preston.

Tuesday morning I woke up and the right side of my face was numb and partially paralyzed. WTF????????

I proceeded to have a mild freak out, take an asprin in case I was having a stroke, and go to work. My face became increasingly less responsive. I called my mom. She called me back and told me that it sounded like Bell's Palsy and I needed to go to the doc as soon as I could get an appt.

I got to work. People asked me what was wrong with my face.

I called to make an appointment. They forwarded me to a nurse. I told her my face was paralyzed. She said ok. I said that I thought that was a pretty major change in my sypmtome and I thought maybe I should tell someone. She asked me why I hadn't gone to the ER. I told her I didn't know, I was 26 and I don't just go to the ER. Plus the copay on the ER is pretty big, I was just hoping to see a dr. today. She told me for facial paralysis I needed to call 911. I told her why didn't I just drive over to the minor emergency center where my copay is only $40. She told me to have someone else drive me.

So *my boss* drove me over to the minor emergency center. Where they told me I have Bell's Palsy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Do you hear what I hear??

A few weeks ago I made a short complaint about a throat infection, for which I saw the doctor and missed a bit of work. It was a virus, wait it out, was the conclusion.

Except that it never really went away. I mean, the gi-normous pus deposits on the back of my throat went away, but the mucus and the always-feeling-like-i-just-woke-up-after-sleeping-with-my-mouth-open feeling never went away.

And now the price of neglect must be paid. I have an earache. It started sometime between going to sleep on Friday night and waking up on Saturday morning. It hurts: a constant ache with periodic stabbing pain in my right ear. This afternoon the doctor better deliver, damnit, because all of this sick bullshit is really starting to get me down. Really down. I don't feel like I'm just a week off a 5k PR. I feel like a tub of lard that has never exercised a day in her life. I've gotta get out of this sickly funk!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dead Legs in the Morning

In my mind, I was going for a 40 minute run this morning. Sure, my quads were still a little tight yesterday from my most awesome 5K on Monday, and I probably didn't help that by riding my bicicleta (pronounce: bee-chee-clay-tuh) last night for 40 minutes, but whatareyagonnado?

You're gonna blow up on your morning run, that's what. 2.25 miles in 25 minutes. Let's call it a "recovery run". I really probably could have pushed it out to at least 30 minutes, but my quads were so tight I just decided to throw it in. I finished up with 20 minutes of Tae Bo at home. It was so hot and humid outside this morning that my door handle felt wet when I closed the door behind me on the way out. When I arrived home, my 75 degree house felt about 60 degrees. I guess that's one way to convince yourself that 75 is really cool. Seriously, what happened to that "coolness" of last week's mornings??

Since I bombed this morning, I'll brag on something from this weekend that I didn't post about. On Sunday I swam a mile. For the first time. Go me! I'm not going to tell how long it took. Suffice to say that it took a long time, but that I'm confident that I could actually do it faster if I didn't tool around so much in the pool. Oh, yeah, and if I got my endurance in the pool up to par. In bad news, the pool hours are down to weekends only. I'm really going to miss it... trying to look into other options for the winter, but not sure I can justify the expense.

Note to self: Hypothetically, let's say you wake up at 3:35 am on a 4:25 am alarm day needing to pee. You have two choices: ignore it and try to go back to sleep or get up and pee and try to go back to sleep. Now, option one may *seem* the better option because you are more likely to go back to sleep if you haven't just gotten up and walked around. However, since that means you are going to spend the next 50 minutes in a fitful sleep dreaming about peeing you might as well just get up and get it over with. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fired Up 5K Race Report

We spent Sunday night with Preston's great aunt, who I will call AD, because she lives closer to the race site than we do. We also gave her Pyhrra, our 4th cat, who could never be happy in a multi-cat household. We did the right thing. In the 18 hours we were there that cat totally transformed. I think she and AD are going to be very happy together.

Anyways, we woke up at 5, I ate a Snickers Marathon Bar (Multi-Grain Crunch for the least fiber) and a banana and drank some of my Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappuccino (wonderful stuff - has completely broken me from Starbucks), waited for my stomach to do its thing, and headed out.

Unfortunately, by the time we were there, my stomach was ready to do its thing again. Does visiting the honey bucket before a race make me a real runner??

Moving on: watched a lovely sunrise and we were off. I seeded myself well on this race - not much passing and not much being passed in the beginning. The course was sort of an out and back for mile 1 and then an out and back in another direction for the rest, so I got to see the leader run by about 5 minutes into my run, and again after about 12 minutes. I think he ran a 15:50ish, and beat his nearest competitor by 2ish minutes. Way to go red sweatband dude!

The first mile felt good. My goal was just to settle in and go out quickly but not too fast. I hit it with a 10:10 split. Then we were off into the second mile, and looking back on it, this is where I may have been able to do better mentally. I can't really explain it, but the out just felt so interminably looooooong. The leader passed me just after I turned onto this out, and I kept thinking that the turnaround must be soon, but it wasn't. This leg just seemed to go on forever. The extreme humidity made me feel like I was breathing liquid air. And it was hot - probably 80ish. I started to question my ability to go sub-31. Finally I passed the second mile marker, and what do you know? A 10 minute split exactly. Proof that it is all in my mind. Then I picked it up for the last mile, knowing that I needed to go sub-10 for this last mile or throw a PR away. I started picking off people in front of me, many who seemed to be fading. I charged up the only hill on the course, totally unwilling to slow down, then had a small panic attack at the top afraid that I was blowing my wad too soon. I had to be firm with myself - I knew I was almost there. Finally I passed a Fort Bend Fit coach (Fort Bend Fitters were out in droves at this race) who yelled to the man behind me that he only had one lap of the track left. I stepped on it, briefly wondered if I had anything left, pushed through that, ran through the firehouse, and crossed the line.

30:20. For 9:47 minute miles. I went sub 9:30 on that last mile to pull that one out.

Afterwards I sat on a curb with Preston and we actually watched sweat oozing out of my legs. When I stood up there was a butterfly-shaped ass-print in sweat on the curb. Good times.

Of course, as I reacted to the 31:18 at the Dad's Day 5K, I'm already trying to figure out where I can get 20 seconds to go sub-30... another shot in 2 weeks, we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What Makes a Runner?

On Friday I went into Luke's Locker to get a new pair of Brooks Glycerin 5s. I've got a little over 200 miles on my old pair, and last Wednesday morning I really started hearing from my shins, and absent any other real changes in my normal running routine, I figured I needed some new shoes.

I was really excited to go over to Luke's not only for the shoes, but also to look around at the gear and maybe pick a few things up. The thing is... well, I felt really uncomfortable there. First, when I told the shoe lady that my left shin had just started acting up, she asked me if I was increasing my mileage. Well, the answer is yes. Then she started telling me that that was the cause. Well, respectfully, I disagree, since I'm increasing by less than 10% total mileage per week on a training plan that tons of people have followed successfully. I told her that, but it bothered me that she automatically assumed that I had just gone out and doubled my mileage or something. Then she didn't offer any other ideas for what could be causing the shin splints. Here's to hoping that I am right and it is the shoes, because if it isn't, I'm not sure where to go from here.

After all that I was wandering around while Preston got analyzed and fitted. (New pair of Asics 2120's.) But I felt like a total poser - really awkward and weird and stupid and stuff. I was interested in a technical shirt, maybe a new sports bra, possibly some gear for when it gets colder, definitely a wristband for wiping sweat off my brow when I'm not in a t-shirt, more socks... tons of stuff.

What did I get? Shoes, socks, and the wristbands. I never even tried on any tops. It kinda sucked. I did go over to the Nike outlet after that to see what they had and got a nice dry-fit jacket for half price and some capri dry-fit pants for like 80% off. But I've gotta get over whatever it was that turned me off at Luke's (where incidentally, previously, I had a wonderful experience).

Then I got into this long conversation with Preston about the whole thing in which I told him that I think the problem is that I don't feel like a real runner. He responded that of course I'm a real runner: I could run 10 minute miles, I could run 50 minutes at a time, what else did I want? My response? I think that the definition of a runner is different for everyone. I consider myself a runner. I try to run regularly. I train with purpose. I continue to improve. I look forward to running. I may not enjoy running during the actual act, but I never regret it once I'm done. And I pretty much can't go much faster than I do, so it is running and not jogging for me. Jogging would be like 15 minute miles for me. 12 minute miles or less is running. Long distances are running. I'm a runner. But when I'm around an "American stick-insect" who can probably run a sub-three hour marathon and works in a running store, I feel like a total poser. I just do.

But I got the shoes, and I'm going to take them out for a race tomorrow morning. Hopefully a fast one. Fast for me. Because I'm a runner, damnit.