Looking Forward

I have felt kind of depressed and deflated lately. Being in the job market in a state with high unemployment is not ideal. Through this trying time, it helps to have something to look forward to.

Ascics GT-2170

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My shoes are in and I am picking them up tomorrow. The current pair is being held together by string, so my feet, legs, and knees will be happy with this new development.

Game Of Thrones Show Season Two

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This Sunday, season two of Game Of Thrones premieres. Based on the books in the George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Fire And Ice series, this show has it all. I just finished the first book in the series, in which season one was based, and am dying to know how the story is continued. (If you have not read or watched this series, please do so. It is amazing!)

Howard Stern on America's Got Talent

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The King Of All Media is coming to Florida! America’s Got Talent is holding their Florida auditions next week in St. Pete and I was able to get tickets. I have never been to a TV taping which should be exciting (what if I end up in an audience shot!) J and I love Howard Stern almost as much as we love cats, so the excitement is really overwhelming.

How I Beat Prediabetes

We have a health crisis in the United States called type 2 diabetes.

Emergency Sign

From the Mayo Clinic:

Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s main source of fuel.

With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. Untreated, type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening.

A recent development in this serious disease, is that the ages of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes continues to lower. The childhood obesity epidemic is leading to more young adults being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes that until recently was a disease of those in their 50’s and 60’s. This is one shift in the diagnosis of this deadly disease and another is that it is effecting young women who do not fit the typical profile. An article in Women’s Health, about a seemingly fit and thin woman being diagnosed with prediabetes  made me want to share my own story.

On the road to my diagnosis with graves disease, my endocrinologist ran a battery of blood tests. They mostly dealt with thyroid levels but also cortisol and glucose. The doctor thought it was unlikely that I had an issue with my glucose levels but because of a family history, my Grandmother had Type 2 diabetes, he wanted to err on the side of caution. When the blood work came back, my levels were through the roof but still in the prediabetes range.

My doctor was surprised because I, like the woman in the Women’s Health article, do not have the typical risk factors for prediabetes. The primary risk factor, according to the Mayo Clinic, is being overweight “because the more fatty tissue that you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.” I have never been overweight, so this diagnosis was a complete shock.

The high glucose levels, plus my impending radioactive iodine treatment for graves disease, forced me to look at my lifestyle. Was I active enough? Was I eating well? My days with an overactive metabolism were numbered and type 2 diabetes is a serious illness. I knew I had to make changes.

For years I wanted to run but always got halfway through the Couch-to-5K program and quit. The threat of a life altering disease hanging over my head was enough motivation to finish the program. Eventually, I even started to enjoy running and exercise became part of my regular routine. I cleaned up my eating habits and hoped I was doing enough.

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One year after the initial diagnoses, my glucose levels are completely in the normal range and there is no threat that I will need to take medication.

It is so important to incorporate regular exercise into your daily life and to make sure to see a doctor regularly. If my primary care physician had not found a lump on my thyroid, I would have never been given a glucose test and may have developed Type 2 diabetes which has no cure.

Further reading on the subject of young women being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

More young adults are living with diabetes

Erika Rodriguez: The Face of Obesity-Fueled Diabetes at 20

The Effects of Type 2 Diabetes on Women

Like Banging Your Head Against The Wall

I am frustrated.

Frustrated Business Man

The job search is starting to feel hopeless. Sending out countless resumes and getting zero responses is irritating and depressing. I had to fight to collect my unemployment money because the state calculated my severance incorrectly and denied me a month worth that I was owed. That means I had literally zero money coming in for six weeks and kept having to ask J to transfer me money to pay bills and put gas in my car.

I had a slight chest cold last week which kept me from working out for a few days, so my running is way down. Two days of running and one of cross training.

Weekly Workouts Weekending 3-24-12

My long run on Saturday was strong and I actually did get out early enough that it wasn’t too hot. I enjoy getting started around ten so I can listen to Media Matters Radio which is one of the few new talk programs broadcast on Saturday.

I finished Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Game Of Thrones George R. R. Martin

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I was sucked in when J and I watched the first season of the HBO show of the same name last year. The book was amazing and impossible to put down. I am now even more excited to watch season two and read the other books.

The Hunger Games was wonderful and I am excited to get to see it again later in the week on the IMAX. Hopefully this time I won’t be seated in front of 40 teenagers on some kind of field trip who insist on talking and kicking my row of seats for the duration of the movie. I thought my plan of seeing the 11 AM showing on Friday would be foolproof.

Why? Big group of teens are here. Is this a field trip for school? http://t.co/Y8RgF4sn @ @

Anything frustrating you?

Unemployed But Looking On The Bright Side

Being unemployed is difficult. Losing your regular routine, spending time scouring the internet for jobs, and the lack of human contact can be trying. I try to take each day and remind myself that things are going to get better and to reflect on the positives.

Less Crowded Movie

When most people are at work today, I will be watching a matinee of The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games Movie Poster

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I cannot express how excited I am to see it. Fingers crossed that it lives up to the high expectations.

New Shoes

The Track Shack holds a Spring Sale in March from the 19th-24th. I received a gift card for new sneakers for Christmas and was waiting until I really needed them to use it. This week I drove into Orlando to get the shoes but sadly they were all out in my size. They were able to order them and hopefully will have them in next week.

Ascics GT-2170

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I have worn the Asics GT- 21XX series since I was originally fitted for sneakers. So far, I have not had any issues or injuries. My current pair of 2160’s are on their last leg, so I cannot wait for the new ones to get here.

New Make-up

Maybelline Color Tatoo by Eyestudio

I love make-up and read about Maybelline Color Tattoo By Eyestudio cream shadows on a few make-up blogs.(The colors shown here are Bad to the Bronze and Painted Purple.)

CVS has Maybelline eye shadows on sale, plus I had two $1 off coupons and Extra Care Bucks to spend. I got these two for $4 with $3 in Extra Care Bucks back. Great deal plus fun new make-up to play with is something I can look forward to.

Book Review: Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by laurie Halse Anderson

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From Goodreads:

Freshman year at Merryweather High is not going well for Melinda Sordino. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends—and even strangers—all hate her. So she stops trying, stops talking. She retreats into her head, and all the lies and hypocrisies of high school become magnified, leaving her with no desire to talk to anyone anyway. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either—there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. She can’t just go on like this forever. Eventually, she’s going to have to confront the thing she’s avoiding, the thing that happened at the party, the thing that nobody but her knows. She’s going to have to speak the truth.

Speak is a powerful book that reaches the heights of the best in the Young Adult genre. The main character, Melinda, is starting her freshman year of high school as the book opens. She is alone, even though she grew up there, all of her friends hate her. During the summer, she called the police and busted-up a party. This one act turns everyone against her and she is left to navigate through the treacherous halls of High School as an outcast. Her life starts to spiral out of control from her parents to school work until it culminates and Melinda is forced to acknowledge the truth.

Any book dealing with rape is difficult but Laurie Halse Anderson is a gifted writer who reminds us what it is to be 13. What it is to have a secret that people might not believe, that might hurt people. Speak is both beautiful and powerful. It is a must read for anyone with a teen and would be an excellent book to open a dialogue about sexual assault for parents.

Speak was made into a movie in 2004 starring Kristen Stewart as Melinda. The movie is a great compliment to the book. Laurie Halse Anderson worked on the script which made it a fairly close adaptation.

Speak the Movie Kristen Stewart

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As it can happen when books focus on difficult topics, Speak has been the target of book banning since it was published in 1999. Most recently, it was targeted by Wesley Scroggins who wrote an editorial for the News-Leader in Springfield, MO. In this op-ed, he characterizes Speak as “filthy.” and suggests that the book should be banned.

Banning books that deal with difficult topics is a ridiculous prospect. A good book, just like any art form, should make you think, and sometimes that requires dealing with difficult topics but it does not make them any less valuable. Young Adult literature is a great way to get a conversation started with teens who may be uncomfortable talking about sexual assault with their parents or peers. A book like Speak, shows these young adults that they are not alone and that they should use their voices to stand up for themselves. There is great power in that.

Epcot International Flower And Garden Festival

Last week, the traffic around the Disney area was unbelievable. It is a combination of an already busy area plus the massive influx of people here on Spring Break. J sat in this traffic attempting to make it to class so long that he missed his class sitting in the traffic. He called and asked me if I wanted to meet him at Epcot for The International Flower And Garden Festival.

As pass holders, we go to the festival every year. I am always blown away by the beauty and creativity that Disney puts into the displays.

This is the entrance to the butterfly tent. I love that they do this every year, it is a great way to mix some educational information (life stages of a butterfly) with beautiful flowers.

Butterfly Epcot Flower and Garden

Spotted one.

Real Butterfly Epcot Flower And Garden

My favorite “ride” at Epcot is Living With The Land. I love to look at the different plants in the greenhouses and never tire of the cheesy animatronic land displays. There is a backstage tour that takes your through the greenhouses called Behind The Seeds Tour but the times are limited and we always miss it. Not this time.

Our tour guide is an advanced intern who is studying horticulture.

Tour Guide Behind The Seeds Epcot

J plus two little kids on the tour were allowed to introduce lady bugs onto this plant.

Disney Epcot Behind The Seeds Tour Lady Bugs

Hydroponic lettuce and an Epcot spotting across the way.

Disney Epcot Behind The Seeds Tour Lettuce

A grape tomato tree with boat riders from The Land ride in the background.

Disney Epcot Behind The Seeds Tour Tomatoes_edited-1

The guide told us that the strawberries were the only plants that they do not start from seed. Central Florida is pretty famous for its strawberry production, starter plants are in great supply.

Strawberries Behind The Seeds Epcot

The one plant we were allowed to touch. It’s called a Sensitive Plant and the leaves fold in when you touch it. This protects it from high winds.

Sensitive Plant Epcot Flower And Garden

The tour lasted about an hour and was well worth the $18 or so dollars. I highly recommend it if you are in Epcot.

They do different variations of this every year. I love the changes in color, so beautiful.

Wrap Around Flowers Epcot Flower and Garden

It was a wonderful and relaxing day that took my mind off of the job searching. Plus, it gave me an excuse to whip out my DSLR and practice a little of what I have learned reading photography books.

If you are in Central Florida from March 7th through May 20th, I highly recommend attending the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Running Naked

Running Naked

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I never run without my Garmin. Ever since I got it, it is with me on every run and I never would leave the house without it. My recent race meltdown makes me wonder if that is a good thing. Have I become overly dependent on the constant feedback from my Garmin and is it hampering my ability to listen to my body?

A recent article in Runners World discusses learning to run by feel. The article contains a lot of great tips on how to train yourself to run by feel and be less dependent on devices. Not only is the pace important but consistency. Can you hold the same pace throughout an entire run or race? Do you know what easy or hard paces feel like?

As I wind down the last two months of half training, I continue to use a plan that spells out what pace each type of workout should be.

Smart Coach Half Marathon Pace Information

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I find this helpful because it keeps me from running too fast and missing the point of the workout but I wonder if it is necessary on easy days. There is more flexibility on the pace on these days and they are the perfect time to start practicing running by feel.

Smart Coach Half Marathon Pace Information Easy Day

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My last race was a great example of the pace getting away from me. I started too fast and crumbled toward the end. If I ran more by feel,  the theory is that it would it have been easier to hold the my pace and less likely that I would get caught up in excitement of the race start.

So how can you become less dependent on your Garmin and better able to internally know what your pace is?

Use Your Breath

In The Complete Book of Running for Women, the author describes using two different cadences for breath and coordinating them with your stride. A relaxed run would have a 3:2 ratio which is three inhales to two exhales. A faster run has a 2:1 ratio. This gives a runner the ability to gauge if they are running too fast.The “talk test” also works here. If you are able to speak in complete sentences, you running at a comfortable or easy pace.

Leave Your Garmin At Home

An easy run where you are running a familiar route is a great time to run without a watch. This way you can run without the temptation to look at your watch and still estimate your pace based on when you finish. Setting the watch to a screen that does not display the pace or distance is another great way to run with a watch but not be a slave to your stats.

I am really interested in trying the tips in the Runners World article. The idea of being more connected to what my body is actually doing and less reliant in the analytics, can only make you a better runner.

Run The Mind-Body Method Of Running By Feel

Throw Away Your Watch – Learn To Run By Feel

Becoming A Body Whisperer

Learn To Run By Feel – Calibrating Your Inner GPS

Do you run by feel? What have you done to train yourself to do so?

How Not To Run A 5K

On Saturday I ran my first 5K since October. The Shamrock Walk and Run 5K and Jog With Your Dog race takes place in Winter Haven and benefits the Winter Haven library. I ran this race last year and loved that it is local (15 minutes from my house) and that it brings out a family atmosphere with the lots of families and cute dogs.

Shamrock Walk Run 5K Winter Haven Florida

Please allow me this rant about my race and I promise everything will turn out well in the end.

Forget Shit and Move On

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So here is what went wrong. I am a slow runner which I have talked about at length on the blog. I want to be faster and am slowly starting to but the 5K distance is hard for me. I do better running a steady state pace for longer distances plus I have spent the last eight months (!) training for half marathons.

Racing Mistakes

1. Going out too fast.

Shamrock 5K Winter Haven Florida

Looking at these splits, I wonder who this runner is? I can run a mile in under ten minutes but not 3.10 of them. I even looked down at my Garmin and saw sevens. Sevens?! What on earth was I thinking?

The first mile is much faster than I ever run. My 5K pace should be about 10:30, so I do not know where 9:31 came from. Getting caught up in the excitement of the race is not good. It is hard, especially when you feel so slow, to let so many people pass you at the start. I have to remember to run my own race and not worry about what other people are doing.

2. Heat and humidity are a killer.

This race started at 3PM when the temperature was 80 degrees and the humidity was 62%. That is hot, even for this Floridian. Knowing this, I should have taken it easy.

3. You will pay for pushing too hard in the beginning.

By mile two, I had the most terrible cramp in my diaphragm that felt as if I could not breath. It was a sharp stabbing pain that would not go away. It got so bad that another runner asked me if I was OK and to make sure I told someone if I felt bad. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but that made me embarrassed.

4. There was no water on the course until mile 2.25.

This was not my fault but with the heat, I was dying for a drink earlier.

So what is the takeaway from this miserable race? I want to get faster and will have to put in the time and effort to do so. I plan on continuing with my half training plan until the Iron Girl Half at the end of April. After that race, the focus will be on shorter distances and lots of speed work. I have all my running books and past issues of Runners World spread out around my office and am digging through them to put together a plan.

At least I got a medal.

Shamrock 5K Run Walk Winter Haven Florida

What do you (did you) do to get faster?

Creepy Photo Friday

This week has been strange. I try to keep some kind of schedule, applying to jobs all morning and working out in the afternoon but this week J was on spring break. I decided to take it easy to spend time with him. We mainly caught up on sleep and TV (finally watched the Walking Dead, which is amazing.)

I like to take running easy the week following a big race. It helps to ease my way back onto a training schedule. It’s a good mental break plus it gives me time to research a new plan and decided where I want to race next.

The pictures are in from Gasparilla and they are just awesome.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Picture

(I hope my neck isn’t always like that when I run.)

Gasparilla 2012 Half Picture 2

(I must be thinking “Kill me now!”)

Now the the winner….

Gasparilla 2012 Half Good Picture

(Photobombed by thumbs up guy. So creepy.)

It could be worse. Not sure what is going on here. Richard Simmons zombie?

Lisa Rinna Richard Simmons Creepy

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Just because I am five and this made me laugh so hard I snorted.

I'm gonna crumb

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Hope your Friday flies by and your boss isn’t too much of a jerk.

Gasparilla Distance Classic 2012 Race Report

Saturday night I attended a charity dinner and left super early.

Polk County DEC Obama King Fundraiser

I had a small speaking part which was scary and awesome at the same time. I really need to get better at public speaking because my heart nearly beats out of my chest at the thought of it.

Polk County Obama King Fundraiser Program

I went straight from the event to my Mom’s house which is about a 20 minute drive from the race start.

I attempted to fall asleep but it was still pretty early and couldn’t sleep until 10:30. The weather was really loud and stormy plus I kept waking up assuming I slept through my alarm. Anytime I sleep in a room where I can’t see the time, this always happens.

My alarm did go off at 3 AM and I got up for coffee and breakfast. The wind was howling so loud that my Mom got up to check if I was still going.

I got into Tampa and the parking garage with no incident. I guess I was lost enough on Saturday, so Sunday went smoothly. As soon as I got out of my car in the garage, it started to rain. It was raining really hard and in combination with the wind, it was raining sideways. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I hung back in the parking garage to see if I could wait it out. It was starting to get late and I wasn’t sure how long the walk to the start would take me, so I decided to suck it up and get wet.

After getting drenched and of course my shoes were wet because of all the puddles, I made it into the convention center where most people were waiting. I actually ran into Carissa, which was nice because I had someone to talk to while we waited. Finally, the march over to the start began but it was still rainy and windy. I had on shorts and a tank top, so I was nearly frozen. It only got colder waiting in the last corral but at least the rain stopped.

As the race started, it was pretty congested. There were also a lot of puddles that people kept avoiding. The race begins with a fairly narrow bridge over to Davis Island that was a huge bottleneck. The good part was the bridge had to prevent people from going out too fast because people were squished together and there was no way around. The bad part is that there was definitely time lost trying to get over it.

After the bridge, people started to spread out. The run through Davis Island was relatively uneventful but it was cold and pretty windy.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Course

Crossing one more bridge, this time much less crowded, onto Bayshore was a nice change. The homes and water views on this road are just beautiful. I may have been fantasizing what it would be like to live in one of those houses and wake up to Bay views everyday, through most of the race.

At around mile seven, I needed to pee. I was making good time and every porta potty had a decent line. I decided that I would not stop unless I felt like I would burst. Around mile 11, I was at bursting point but it seemed crazy to stop so close to the finish line. I assumed there would be porta potties close to the finish. Of course, I had to go through a gauntlet of food vendors to get there. I ended up going in the convention center and nearly running (hobbling) up the stairs to the bathroom.

My pace throughout the race felt comfortable minus the crazy wind whipping me in the face. I did end up walking for a minute or two around mile 10 because of a massive stomach cramp. Slowing down for a few minutes pretty much made it go away.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Splits

I am surprised with my splits. My goal pace was 12:10 with a finish time of 2:39:29. I noticed early on that it felt comfortable to run a bit faster. I think the main difference besides typical race adrenaline was the weather. I ran the vast majority of my training runs after work when it was still quite hot out. Running in the dark with massive winds felt good. I was confident that my training was solid and was really prepared. These two factors made a big difference.

My official time was 2:31:38 which is a PR by 15 minutes and beat my goal time by eight minutes. I am so happy to see such an improvement because it can feel like you are working so hard but not improving. (I get like that at the end of a training cycle. Did I do enough? What about this run I missed? So much second guessing.) It gives me confidence that even though I am on the slow side, that with the right amount of training and effort, I can get faster. Being a slow runner is difficult mentally because many of the training runs, especially long runs, can take a huge chunk of your Saturday. For me, 14 miles is a three-hour process and that can be a lot of time to dedicate regularly. (I can’t even imagine marathon training at my pace. Would need to continue to be unemployed to do it.)

The Good

Organizers did a great job with terrible weather.

We started on time even though the weather was crappy.

Water stops were plentiful and the volunteers were very prepared.

Bad ass medal.

Gasparilla Half Marathon Medal 2012 Tampa

(So freaking cool.)

Little traffic congestion entering or leaving the race. (As someone who often gets lost, I appreciate this more than I can express.)

The Bad

Need to do a staggered start. The way runners were broken down was over/under a two-hour finish time. There was supposed to be a five-minute start time difference between the first and second corral. This did not do enough to help with the slow down crossing the bridge to Davis Island.

Bathrooms closer to the finish line. I cannot be the only person who crossed the finish line feeling like they were going to pee on themselves.

I really enjoyed the Gasparilla Distance Classic and can see why it is so popular in Central Florida. Will definitely be running this one next year.