Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rules!? There ARE no Rules!!

Today's miles: nothing but miles of guilt b/c I wanted to sleep instead of run this morning. Maybe 2 miles later????

There are rules to life. Yes. Believe it or not. There are things you do, and things you don’t do. Since we were kids, there have always been rules. As adults, we still have rules we must follow.

And guess what happens when you don’t follow the rules?  Well, the answer used to be…..consequences.

There are rules to every race. Yes, as silly as it may sound, there are rules. Some do not allow for runners to wear headphones. Why? Because if you are running on a road with cars – you might want to hear them coming (especially in the East TN area where all drivers assume the right-of-way-at-all-times-get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-or-I’ll-run-your-butt-over kind of offensive driving…’s obvious they never had Mr. Acuff in Driver’s Ed!). My race coming up on Saturday "Strongly discourages the use of headphones, but will not disqualify anyone." In other words, if you're dumb enough to wear them and get run over by a car....well, survival of the smartest.....

So what happens if you are caught with headphones in a no-headphones-allowed race? Supposedly…. they won’t count your time as official…which is only really important to the fast people. They won't throw you off the race route. But Still! It’s a rule! I’ve never seen this rule enforced. I run with and without headphones on a daily basis. If I’m road running, I will typically have the volume way down or only one ear bud in. But if the race says No Earphones – then I don’t wear them. I guess I’m a not a “Rule Breaker.”

But my question is where have the consequences gone? Why do adults feel that they no longer need to follow the rules? 

Oh, those rules?….they are only for the other people. Special People don’t have to follow rules. And I'm Special....because my parents told me I so!

Most of my experiences with rule breakers or Special People typically occur at airports.

TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES. A TSA rule at security checkpoints. Passengers are supposed to take off their shoes and put them on the XRay belt to be scanned. 
  • But I’m a White Woman? Why do my shoes have to be scanned?
  • But I’m wearing flip flops, can’t you just see my feet? 
  • But I’m not wearing socks, my feet will get dirty?!
  • But I’m wearing Make-every-hooker-proud-stiletto-lace-up-boots-that-go-up-to-my-butt-crack, it would be a pain to get these off?!
Let’s be clear about this people. There was a guy that had a BOMB in his shoe! The TSA doesn’t want to smell your stank feet. They could care less if your feet get dirty. And Really? Lace-up-stiletto-hooker-boots at the airport? Did you know you were catching a plane this morning when you got ready? (Yes, I did say that out-loud to that woman as she was untying her 3 foot tall boots and making me late for my flight.)

ALL LIQUIDS MUST BE IN A 3OZ OR LESS CONTAINER; AND ALL OF YOUR LIQUIDS MUST FIT IN A ONE-QUART ZIP LOCK BAG - PER PASSENGER - WHICH MUST BE TAKEN OUT FOR INSPECTION. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS FOR PRESCRIPTIONS AND INFANT FORMULA. Another TSA rule. This means you can have multiple liquids – but none of them can be in a container over 3oz; and all of them together must fit in a one-quart zip lock bag. Did the second make any more sense than the first? I restated it because for some reason people just DON’T get this.
  • Does a 20oz bottle of water fit in that description?
  • Does your 15oz bottle of shampoo fit in that description? 
  • Does liquid make-up count as a liquid?
  • Does my kids’ sippy cup full of coke count as a liquid?
  • Does this 1 gallon bag of liquid crappola count as a one-quart bag? How about if I just divide it up into 4 one-quart bags?
Again, let’s be clear about this people. There was a guy that had EXPLOSIVE liquids on a plane! If you’re thirsty, buy something after security. If you need a 15oz bottle to wash your stank hair for a 2 day trip, get a haircut. Does liquid make-up count as a liquid? (YES I had a lady ask me that in a security line one day. My response: "Did you really just ask me that? Seriously?")

At least the TSA makes people follow rules. Ya know who doesn’t make you follow rules at airports – airlines.

That rule about your carry-on being of a certain size and each passenger is only allowed two carry-ons (one ‘suitcase’ type carry-on and one personal item (laptop bag, briefcase or purse)) is a BUNCH OF CRAP. I’ve seen people bring 5 carry-ons onto a plane. I’ve seen people take full size suitcases on a plane. “Let’s just curb side check it so we don’t have to pay the baggage fee.”

How about you pay a fee for causing this plane to be delayed because you and your 5 full size suitcases can’t find a hole big enough in this plane to put your stuff!

TURN OFF ELECTRONIC DEVICES. Why do people NOT do this? They just put it in standby mode. Why? Why not turn it off? I just don’t get people that leave their stuff on…. If my plane goes down because you couldn’t wait 2 hours to update your FaceBook status, I will haunt your FB friends!

Don’t even get me started about Body Scanners….The TSA does not hire a bunch of perves. They do not want to see your junk. You know what they would've seen???? Remember the guy that had EXPLOSIVES in his UNDERWEAR!?

For some reason I feel like someone from the FBI will be reading this blog tonight....

Gotta run…..

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You ain't leaving this one horse town.....

Today's Miles: Supposed to be 3x1600s. Reality was more like 1x1600s at 5K pace on the Steady Tready.

Mental note.....NEVER try speedwork first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I nearly became one of those funny home videos where the treadmill sends a runner flying across the room. Maybe I'll retry this workout tonight......

One thing I’ve seen a lot of while traveling across this country are small towns. I mean small towns.

Call them Quaint. Cute. Old Fashioned. Charming. Historical. Sleepy. Forgotten.

You know those towns. They started out as one block on Main Street. Then grew to an intersection. Then maybe had a stop sign. If they hit the big time, then a flashing light or one stop light kind-of town.

But their hay-day was probably 40+ years ago. And if there was ever a time this town thrived, it was long, long ago. Now they are lucky if all but 2 buildings are boarded up.

I know people from these kind of towns. I see people still living in these towns. And it never fails, no matter where I see them, I always wonder……HOW and WHY do people live here?

Where do they get their groceries? What if they need something to fix stuff with? What if they just want a burger? Where do they work? Where did all the people go?

I passed through a small town in Kansas. It had 4 houses in it. And 2 churches. Really!?! I know that denominations split, but that’s a little extreme isn’t it?

I’ve been in ghost towns in Texas where every building was boarded up and there wasn’t a soul around. Not even a stray cat.

I passed through a little town in Eastern Colorado and queried the GPS to find the closest grocery store….48 miles. Seriously.

I’ve seen towns with population signs of less than 200. In these towns, there’s a scary looking Bates motel quaint little B&B, and I wonder does anyone ever stay there? Even the bed bugs and cockroaches are probably dead because they haven’t had a meal in a Really. Long. Time.

I truly believe that my Garmin (aka Lola - and yes, you have to say it with that kind of emphasis) has an internal, hidden crazy-out-of-the-way-off-the-beat-path Scenic Route setting. It doesn’t matter if you choose the ‘fastest’ route or the ‘shortest’ route, Lola doesn’t like interstates. 
Main highways. 
Main streets. 
Secondary roads. 
Paved roads. 
Roads with more than 1 lane. 
Roads with any houses.

This pain-in-the-ass quirky feature has proven to be somewhat nerve-racking when traveling through some counties. And if you grew up with know exactly which counties I'm talking about.

But hey……I get to see the Real America. Even if it’s 2 hours out of my way. Glenn Beck would be so proud.

However, I need to figure out how to convince Lola to avoid some small towns. When I drive into a town that is the size of one square block, and the first landmark I see is a graveyard that’s at least 7 square blocks…I’m talking Population 900….

....50 live and 850 dead….

….it makes you wonder. 

I wonder if at the end of this sleepy town if I’m going to run into Clint Eastwood and his posse. He’ll spit a big wad from his chaw of to’baccy and inform me that “Nobody leaves this one horse town.”  So you turn around to go out the way you came in and you’re met by a posse of zombies that are going to eat you (Why they would then bury your bones and put up a gravestone I haven’t quite figured out yet)  and your instinct is to run… fast and run far, far away.

Which is where I suppose I should go for a track workout…..might be more motivating than the treadmill…

Gotta run……

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where did I lose my butt this time?

Today's Miles: 0. Rest Day:) Yesterday's Miles: 800m warmup; 2x1600s; 2x800s; 3x400s at 5K pace; 400 cooldown.

Yes. I am forgetful. My keys have a bowl. If my keys are not in the bowl, I will spend 2 hours looking for them. I.Am.A.List.Maker. If I go to the grocery store, and it’s not on the list, don’t expect me to get it……even if it’s something I’m suppose to get EVERY time I go to the store (ah-hem….milk, beer, the essentials). I am so forgetful and live with such a hectic schedule I once asked Mark during our morning phone call….”Where Am I?” Seriously. It was more than one of those “wake up and not know where you are for a second” kind of feelings. I had no idea where I had parked my butt the night before! Thank goodness for Blackberry Travel App or I’d go to the wrong state on a regular basis.

But this story is about how I literally lost my butt, as in my seat padding. The joke in the family is that we all have a “Hill Butt.” Translation….NO butt…as in belts do no good because you have no butt to hold up the belt. No Hill ever born into this family has ever had a butt. Except me. I never had a “Hill Butt” until recently…. I certainly had a butt, a large one….along with a muffin top, jiggly arms, waddle thighs, and everything else that comes along with it. (Well, I’ve almost got a Hill Butt…I’ve recently discovered I do have a coccyx!)

So, how did I lose my butt? Did I run it off? Did I drink special shakes? Did I skip meals? Did I take some type of energy pill? Did I go on a low carb, high protein, only pineapples in the morning and grapefruits in the evening with no red meat & lots of pea soup kind of diet? Or did it just fall off?

Are you ready for my secret to weight loss????


Sorry to say, but that’s it. It wasn’t easy. It was hard. It IS hard. I work an outside sales job that keeps me on the road 4-5 days each week…..Translation….Eating out 3 meals a day plus snacks purchased at gas stations; and long work days of 8-14 hours meeting clients and catching up on paperwork late at night in hotels….G..L..A..M..O..R..O..U..S.  And so not conducive to maintaining weight, much less losing weight.

My truth. In October 2009 (the beginning of my running obsession?), I weighed 180 lbs. In August of 2010 (when I tore my quad), I weighed approximately 177 lbs. Today, I weigh approximately 145 lbs.

There it is….in black and white… all its shame and glory…….for all the world to see. I feel like Oprah wheeling out a Red Rider full of fat! Scary….and freeing.

So did running cause me to lose 30+ lbs. Not really. Yes…you read that right! It was NOT the running that caused me to lose weight. It helped. It helps keep me sane. It helps keep the weird cravings at bay, but creates some too…like Taco Bell Cinnamon Twists!? But nope, running did not cause my butt to magically fall off.

I lost weight because for months I counted every single calorie I put in my mouth. I weighed food when I cooked it; I calculated how many calories were in each dish; I weighed my portions; I only ate at restaurants that posted their calorie-counts on-line & chose reasonable things (not the 1200 calorie Oriental Salad from Applebee’s that I loved); I took a restaurant calorie notebook with me on trips; I kept a journal of everything.

I had to see how much crap was going in my mouth before I could figure out how or what to eliminate from my diet. And guess what…..I HAVE NOT ELIMINATED ANYTHING FROM MY DIET. If I want dessert – I have it. If I want a burger, I get it (just avoid the Ruby Tuesday Turkey Burger – not a healthy option or calorie saver!). I simply make better choices now (or try), and I am more accountable for what passes through my lips straight to my butt. And guess what….A 6 piece McNugget and Small fry does still fill me up! I do not NEED a 9 piece meal deal just because it’s cheaper!

I didn’t start counting calories because I wanted to lose weight. I did it because I didn’t want to GAIN weight when I tore my quad last fall and couldn’t walk much less run. I’d been running for nearly a year & only lost a whopping 3 lbs. I figured that if I stopped exercising I’d blow up like a balloon. Without exercising for 8 weeks, I dropped 15 lbs…and I never once starved myself.

It was a pain in my Non-Hill Butt at first, but it has become second hand now. And when I ‘go off the wagon’ on counting calories for a few weeks – it shows. That’s why I say my weight is “Approximate.” I can fluctuate 5-10 lbs depending on how well I’m doing at keeping track of what I eat.

According to my BMI I’m still overweight. I feel better than I did before, that’s no joke. I’m happy that I can wear a size 10 again! Would I like to lose more? Sure. But I know that in order to do that – it’s completely up to me and my level of commitment and discipline…..not some magic pill or shake. And the weight loss has made the running easier. Maybe one-day I’ll LOOK like A Real Runner!

So how do I feel now that I’ve joined the family in the Hill Butt tradition….kinda proud of myself. But kinda annoyed at not finding pants that fit right in my closet.

Gotta run.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Running from a Serial Killer...

Today's Miles: 1/4 mile warm-up; Tempo run 3miles; 1/4 mile cool down on the steady tready.

NO, I’ve not been attacked....

Prior to October 2009, that was the only reason I could possibly ever think of to run…..if there was a serial killer chasing me; with a knife; a LARGE knife; a large DULL knife; and it looked like I had no chance of kicking him in the sweet spot; and he looked like the kind of serial killer that would torture you for days by peeling off your skin, sewing it back together and making a Kristy Onesy Suit in his size, rather than just killing me quickly. And still yet, I’d have to take a moment to consider which was worse…being slowly mutilated or running….

Yes. I had really thought about what would cause me to run and what would not.

So what changed my mind? I was watching the Biggest Loser. If you are not a fan – you should at least know that they find some of the heaviest people imaginable and stick ‘em in some type of pseudo-Communist camp and make them eat healthy and exercise for 6 to 8 hours a day!

Anyway – these people, these morbidly obese people were running! I think they had to run a mile or something. But seriously – they were running….a MILE. And I thought to myself “Holy crap, I can’t do that!” Then they started showing clips of previous seasons’ Biggest Losers running a MARATHON! A flippin’ MARATHON! For those of you that do not know (and I did not) a Marathon is 26.2 miles long.

And that’s when it started. I woke up the next morning and said to myself…

“I’m going to run a marathon! If Biggest Loser kind of people can do this…So can I!”

Then I realized it was 26.2 miles. So the next morning I woke up and said to myself…

“I’m going to run a half-marathon! Let’s be realistic – Serial killers aren’t going to have the motivation to stay behind you for 26.2 miles.”

And 5.5 months later, I ran/walked the 2010 Knoxville Covenant Health Half Marathon. I added the “/walked” because I didn’t run the whole distance. I was NOT prepared for the HILLS! Which seems silly considering where I live and trained.

As for running from serial killers – I no longer need them for motivation to run. However, I am certain that I can now out-run one if the situation called for it. I’d still try to kick him in the sweet spot first.

The TP Express and Suites

Today's Miles: 5x1/2miles at 5K pace with 1/4mile recoveries on the Steady Tready b/c it was too dang hot & windy outside...

My Pappaw was convinced that a good BM every day would cure pretty much any ailment.

Upset stomach? "Have you had a BM today?"

Got a cold? "Have you had a BM today?"

Scratchy throat? "Have you had a BM today?"

I never really understood his logic....

What I have learned since starting my running quest is that it WILL keep you regular. In the most inappropriate times as well. Like during your run. I always wondered why road races would have a mile long stretch of porta-potties. Really - I understand hydrating before a run, but if you just pee it out....... it doesn't do you much good.....OH, those aren't for #1!?

Ever been in a porta-potty on a race course....OH. MY. LORD. One porta-potty used by a crew of 50 construction workers fed chili dogs and baked beans daily for 3 weeks would be like using a hole dug in a rose garden compared to race day porta-potties.

They call it Runner's Trots. I prefer to call it "Treadmill Interruptis" or "Pacing Porcelain". And it never fails during a morning run....

Which leads me to a new observation on being a road warrior. Some hotels advertise they have the 'Best Beds'. The Westin's Heavenly Bed is certainly the best night sleep I've ever had. The Holiday Inn Express' shower head is the 'Best Shower Head.' Some have a real hot breakfast, flat screens, fuzzy blankets, whatever....

If I owned and operated a hotel or a chain, the attraction would be.......the Best Toilet Paper on the Planet!

Seriously. If I'm paying $100 a night, don't you think they could spring for something that costs more than the $.50 roll of TP from the Dollar General?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rest Days and Tex-isms

Today's Miles: zip, zero, nada...a rest day for me!

Rest days....are they really that important? All of the running magazines I read keep repeating how important they truly are. But really - for someone like me? I'm not really "A Runner" yet. Someone that needs 'rest days' is running 50 miles+ a week....right? I'm currently maxing out around 9-12 miles a week. What the heck do I have to recover from?

The 3 mile run yesterday?
The work I did until 12a.m. last night?
The blogging?
The 11 hour work day?

Well, the experts say it's important, so I must follow their advice. Plus I'm hoping to do some speed work in the morning - so resting up is good...I guess. So why do I feel guilty for not running?

Tex-isms....these are those weird, unique things, doings and sayings unique only to those that were.... 1) born 2) raised 3) abandoned or 4) living in a penitentiary....... in Texas.

"Down the road a bit". You hungry? You need some supplies? No problem - there's a ____ (insert any location) just "down the road a bit". TRANSLATION: It is a minimum of a 2 hour drive - One.Way.

Always carry snacks, water and extra supplies with you when traveling through Texas. My installers wasted 5 hours going to a Home Depot that was "down the road a bit." I once drove 40 miles (one way) to find food.

"Everything is bigger and better in Texas". TRANSLATION: You've never been on a plane.

Bigger - probably. Guys down here don't have 'farms'. They don't even have 'ranches'. They own small countries. Back in TN if you've got a green acre, you can put a cow & a calf on it. Down here, one acre won't support a jackrabbit. You've got to have about 45 acres per cow/calf pair. Really?  Imagine wandering 45 acres to feed yourself! On an even bigger note.....Texas Hair. My friends - I would love to forget an entire decade of large hair propped up by AquaNet and Rave. I'm certain many of my fellow Hair Towers would love to suffer amnesia with me. If you find yourself shaking your head, NEVER come to Texas! The ladies down here still believe in BIG hair! I feel like I'm in a time warp.

Better - that's where the arguing begins. I'm certain that only TEXANS think everything is 'better' in Texas simply because they have NEVER LEFT THE STATE OF TEXAS! And they've never left because it is so big that the border is just Down.TheRoad.ABit. How can miles and miles of scrubby trees on brown dirt with some cacti weeds be better than the lush green fields in TN? How can the "mountains" in central TX (translation: hills) be better than the Smoky Mountains or Rocky Mountains? How can the rivers (translation: creeks or drainage ditches) be better than the TVA system or wild mountain streams? How can 98 degree weather in early May or 100+ degree weather in June be better than....pretty much anywhere else on the planet? The rental car guy asked me where I was headed. Me: Central Texas. Him: Oh, that's pretty country up there. Me: cock head to side like my dog.

"God Bless Texas". TRANSLATION: First..........Is this a statement or a question? I think it's important to distinguish that point.

As a statement: God Blessed Texas with: Mesquite trees (which make BBQ better); oil (which makes oilmen richer and gives us something to fight about); a great prison system?; Mexicans (seriously....The.Best.Mexican.Food.Ever!)

As a question: God Bless Texas. Please give this state more than mesquite trees, oil, good prisons and an immigration problem!!??

There are more, but require a usage of long sentences with unique four letter word conjugations. 

Gotta run....down the road a bit....for some Mexican food...

Monday, May 9, 2011

When all else fails....Just keep running!

Today's Miles: 5 min warm-up; 3 miles easy; 5 min cool-down on the Steady-Tready

Those were the words I yelled to a group of runners who looked like they had given up hope at 11.2 of 13.1 miles in the 2011 Knoxville Covenant Health Half Marathon. It may sound like an odd thing to yell at a bunch of ladies that had "That Look." You know - the look of sheer physical and mental exhaustion, desperation, depression, thirst and pain...a LOT of pain. For anyone (i.e., a "non-runner") that's ever run a half-marathon, you know that look at 11.2 miles in and knowing there is one last, very long incline and a short hill before the finish.

But, those are the words I yelled because that's the mantra I have adopted over the last year and a half on my journey to become "a Runner." A year ago, I was in their shoes....Ready to give up. Ready to throw in the towel. Ready to say "Eff-it" and all the miles and hills I've already covered (albeit in a sloth like manner). (And apology - if you've ever run over 10 miles, you have EARNED the right to drop an F-bomb. No worries, it is used rarely, but necessary at 11.2 miles in.) I needed a kick in the butt. I needed someone to yell at me, to coach me, to say "been-there-done-that-it-sucks-but-YOU-CAN-DO-THIS!" I sorta wanted to run the Knoxville "Hills" Half again this spring, but a Stupid-Dumb-Rookie-Running mistake resulted in a severely torn quad in the fall, which kept me from training...physically and mentally. (Never RACE in new shoes with new orthotics! Uh.....DUH!?!?) So, I volunteered to be a course monitor. And I am SO thankful I was put at 11.2 miles.

I've also recently realized that my mantra has expanded beyond my quest to be a runner and encased or encapsulated or imprisoned the other parts of my life. I'm always catch a plane, to catch the next plane, to an appointment with a customer, home to spend time with my husband, off to see his family or mine, wanting to work on my hobbies (photography and gardening) or simply go and enjoy the outdoors in a canoe or on a hike, and of course, out the door to log some miles in my Brooks. Even when I am sitting still, I feel like I'm running or need to be running.....wanting to do so much in so little time and sometimes accomplishing nothing because I'm. Just. So. Tired. Of. Running.

So, that's my life.....constantly running in one form or another on a quest to feel like a real "Runner", to be a better wife, to be a better daughter/in-law/sister/in-law/aunt, to be a better friend, to be a better salesperson/manager/professional woman, to be better to myself. But along the way, I have the pleasure to experience the most hilarious, sad, weird, stupid, unbelievable and incredible things (but mostly just stupid) that for some reason, I feel compelled to blog about! Lucky you.

And there it is...I'm blogging. As dirty as it sounds. Be forewarned - I am a wise-guy (I come by it honestly!), I'm blunt and crass and if you do something/say something stupid...I will blog about it! Simply because it amuses me. You will likely at some point be offended by what I say....Sorry, but still Love Ya!

Gotta run.....