Monday, February 28, 2011

Week 3 ~ Milestone Maker

Is it me or are the weeks just flying's the last day of February for god sakes.   Martian is going to be here before we know it!!

Tues - 4 miles Easy
Actual -   4 @ 9:28P

It was a pretty decent day with cleared trails and abundant sunshine  I had to slow myself down after the first mile split read 9:07.  4 milers are always tough for me to keep from going all out to get them done.  At least I'm more aware of it now, and am able to focus on enjoying the run instead.

Thurs - 5 mile Tempo
Actual - 5 mile @ 8:44P

This tempo went way better than last week.  I was more consistent with my middle three splits with 8:13, 8:12, 8:22.  I really felt focused and strong.  Everything from my breathing to my posture felt more relaxed.

Saturday - 10 Miles Easy
Actual - 10.02 Miles @ 9:06

Feels great to be back in the double digits, the last one being Jan 8th.  This was by far my best long run EVER!  Even though I was less than excited about my frozen eye lashes and the thick layer of slushy snow stuck to my Smartwool shirt, I lost myself in the run focusing on positive affirmations and other inspirations.  It really was an amazing experience!

Sunday - Recovery Run
Actually - 3.63 @ 10:21P

I met up with Morgan for this one.  We were both in pretty bad shape.  She had her infamous pimp-limp, as she calls it, and I my quads that cursed me each an every step.  It's my own fault really.  I was in such a hurry to get out of the house following my long run that I didn't stretch for a single minute....nor did I after this run either...Oops.   I did follow it up with the best bagel sandwich with avocado, tomatoes, eggs, and monterrey jack cheese though  Can I just say....TO-DIE-FOR! 

Weekly Total:  22.57 Miles

So not only did I hit double digits again for my long run, but it was also my highest mileage week to date.  Add to that my most miles ran in a month....during the shortest month of the year, and I'd say I'm finally getting somewhere!!  Woooohooo!   I'm feeling really good with how things are going!!!

5 More Weeks....Eek!!


Jen B.

P.S.  Isn't reaching new milestones the best feeling ever???

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm A Vegeta...Wait!!!

Quite some time ago I was inspired by the film Food Inc. as well as the book "Animal Vegetable Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver to change how I view food.  I was enlightened as to what a feed lot is, how corporations exploit their employees, and how genetically modified crops and their complimentary pesticides are ruining the vitality of the earth in which we expect to grow crops in the future.  Let's not forget to mention just how horrible our livestock is treated or how they die.   I was embarrassed of my ignorance and it made me sick to my stomach, literally.  If ya'll haven't seen the film or read the book, I highly recommend it.  Let me say that the film, although made to prove a point, isn't overly it.  Both of these definitely gave me the nudge I needed get to the next step.

What followed was a journey of spending more time researching, and more money buying, the foods I eat from places other than what felt comfortable.  I'm not going to at health food stores was really intimidating at first.  The selection is limited and my husband was down right appalled by how much our grocery bill had jumped.  I stuck to my belief that we deserved better, our children NEEDED better than what we were providing for them.  I started ordering our meat from Creswick Farms, a family owned operation located between Grand Rapids and Muskegan.  They do an excellent job providing grass fed meats, and allowed me the luxury of ordering per pound portions.  They deliver to my town every 6 weeks for a $5 delivery fee....amazing really!  It's been great for our family.  To offset the cost of paying more money per pound, I convinced Jeff to experiment with incorporating vegetarian meals a few times a week.  He was brave to try some of my concoctions as he despised the time.   As I began to enjoy the vegetarian meals more and more, thoughts about eating that way permanently started to come to mind more and more.  I eventually started my own garden to learn how to grow tomatoes, green beans, summer squashes, radishes, carrots, beets, swiss chard, lettuces, and herbs.  I have a great appreciation for the work involved in bringing such fresh food to my table.  The harvest season is long and you have to contend with weeds and squash bugs and horn worms....a true adventure it's been!

Back to my point...sorry, I can talk about my garden all day long.  The thought of actually permanently giving up meat was really hard. For months I used to have debates in my mind like this.....

"You know that if you give up meat, you'll have to actually tell people you're a vegetarian."

"What about chicken hate Vegetable broth...what then?"

"You're seriously going to turn down one of your famous baked chicken breasts or a steak off the grill come summer?"

All of these things just seemed impossible.  DEPRIVING myself of something...or saying I CAN'T have something goes against everything I believe.  It's all about moderation...taking things in stride...enjoying that handful of M&M's instead of beating myself up for it.  Giving up eating meat just seemed really unachievable and restrictive.

Last summer I was tipped off to check out a concept originated by  Dr. Peter D'Adamo.  I haven't actually read his book "Eat Right For Your Type", but I have been to his website a few zillion times in search of additional information.  Basically, Dr. D'Adamo has deduced 4 individual diet (read...ways of eating) plans based on your genetic blood type.  As a geneticist, he explains through evolution how the different blood types originated to determine the best plan to focus one's eating habits around.  I for one am Type A+....categorized as the vegetarians of the earth.  Hmmmmm....interesting.  As much as I am such a skeptic about stuff like this, considering he sells a whole slew of supplements for each blood type, I've engaged in conversations with many a vegetarian over the course of the year who also HAPPEN to be Type A's too.   It has replaced my "what's your sign" introduction question.

So then...November I decide to do a test of sorts.   I was feeling good coming back from an ITB injury, but I couldn't deny how incredibly horrible I felt running the days following eating meat...mainly red meat.   I stopped eating meat for 5 days before both the Road to Broad 5k  (24:44, a 42 second PR) and the Turkeyman Trot (23:55, another 49 seconds).  Maybe...just maybe I was onto something.  I started to talk openly about possibly giving up meat to friends.  I stumbled upon No Meat Athlete and various other sites  that talked about the benefits of having a plant based diet and still training to be a better athlete.  This didn't seem so weird or difficult at up meat equals FEELING better and running FASTER....Awesome!

Approaching the end of the year with ideas swirling around about New Years resolutions and such I finally brought the idea up to my husband.  Let me first say that I married a man who, if I make a pound of meat he eats a pound of meat.  He would never take a portion of steak or a half rack of's all or bust.  I was somewhat surprised with just how extremely positive he was.  He encourage me to do what would help me to feel my best.  The only real stipulation is that he still gets meat...perfect!

Marzetti's ranch dressing of course.   Countless times she would eat a plate of tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden with dash of salt for dinner.  Granny explained that she eats meat because she knows others enjoy it.  She doesn't like having people question NOT taking a portion....being vegetarian is a largely foreign concept in her social circle.  She makes family style meals for the shear joy of spending time together....but admits that she would be ecstatic with 3 slices of ham a year.  Is it a coincidence that she's a Type A blood type too?  I think not!

So you know what, I took the plunge.  On Jan 2nd...(I never do things on the first, not sure why), I decided that to feel my best...for my body to be at it's most was time to give up meat on a trial basis.   I haven't focused too much on the label of being vegetarian, pescatarian, semi-vegetarian and so on as to not anger the definition police.  I can say that each day I try to choose foods that give me the nutrients I need to be and feel my best.   I've dived in and put together a book of vegetarian recipes I enjoy.  I've hosted a party that without me asking, my girlfriends all brought a vegetarian dishes.  I've been able to go to restaurants and find at least one vegetarian option to try.  I have been soaking up knowledge and building camaraderie from fellow bloggers, and my family doesn't seem to notice that I have a slightly different meal on my plate.  Win, Win, Win.

It's been 56 days and I feel really great!!!

Peace and Blessings,

Jen B.

P.S.  If you're a vegetarian, vegan, semi-vegetarian, or pascetarian....what nudged you to embrace your new lifestyle?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 2 ~ Feelin It

As I was getting ready to start this post, I couldn't for the life of me remember how this week started weather wise, so I logged into Dailymile to look at notes and had a chuckle.  Anyone living north of the Ohio river might as well forget about how glorious it was earlier in the week , as we just got dumped on with a thick blanket of white last night!

Monday-5 Miles Tempo
Actual-5 Miles @ 8:47P

My first tempo of the year!  My middle three miles were 8:08, 8:28, 8:20.  I felt they were a little slow, however, I was contending with some serious wind.  I have been looking forward to some actual workouts and this certainly fit the bill.

I thoroughly enjoyed lightening the load of clothes required to run outside over the winter months.  The city had been thawing out for a few days prior so I had no problem finding some puddles and mud to drag my new flashy kicks through  :)  

Abs and Stretching DVD-25mins

I'm going to start mixing in some strength training and ab work now that my neck fells back to 100%

Wed-4 Miles w/hills
 Actual- 4 Miles w/hills @ 9:05P

Again, the tease of spring was in the air, allowing me to dig through drawers to find my running capris.  It felt so wonderful not to have to grab my windbreaker, my fleece, or gloves.  The sun was shining and it felt great!  I took to the Mt. Hope Cemetery to incorporate some hills in this run.  It's .6 miles to the entrance so I finagled two 1.4 mile loops in the cemetery and then the .6 home.   The .6 home is hardly a cake walk since it's a gradual uphill climb, but it rounded out the workout nicely.  Following this run I was content with the decision not to run the Tombstone 10 (an annual 10x1 mile loop run) this past Saturday.  I just didn't have enough training under my belt to think it would have been successful.  I will look forward to another opportunity to run it next year.

Did another video...this time concentrating on abs and arms.


Sat-Ended up being rest....pushed my long run to Sunday.

Sunday-9miles Easy
Actual: 9 miles @ 9:25

Mapped out a new route for this one.   I was undecided on where to roam, so Jeff quickly gave me a suggestion or two as I was heading out the door.  I'm so glad I took his word, not that I question it, he has vast knowledge and wouldn't steer me into the hood.  Well, that's not entirely  He kept me going on main roads and my confidence was vamped as I envisioned running down Washington Square, my favorite street in all of Lansing  :)    It was so cool to run Downtown on a Sunday morning.   I didn't have to worry about crazies zooming around mindlessly or stopping at crosswalks.  I did miss a turn and realized after checking out the skyline that I was on the wrong side of the capitol, but got back to where I needed to be effortlessly.   I took my new hand held water bottle and a Strawberry flavored Honey Stinger packet.  The water was a blessing, but I'm not so sure the honey thingy will  work for me.  I felt like a superhero for a quick minute...and then less enthused after 2 more miles.   After reading a fellow blogger's post earlier in the week I tried to concentrate on overall effort for the run.  I didn't look at my Garmin at all, rather thinking about form, cadence, and feel.  I felt like I gave a consistent effort throughout, and as expected, my pace was all over the place.  I'm ok with that!

Splits  9:38, 9:35, 9:34, 9:29, 9:19, 9:05, 9:32, 9:10, 9:38, (.3) 9:14

Weekly Total-18.38 Miles.

Overall it was a break through week for me.  Although the 2 goal-based workouts I had planned were more work than I had thought they would be, I felt like I was able to challenge myself for the first time since Thanksgiving.  The amount of icing I did this week was a great reminder also....Yikes!   My goal over the winter months was to keep a respectable mileage base....I did just that.   I realize I need to give myself a break on getting back into the nitty gritty of hills, tempos, and pace workouts.  My biggest hurdle, and it's one I struggle with all throughout my daily life, is making myself slow down and not cram too much into a small slot of time.  I am constantly wanting to do all things helpful and fun for others and end up leaving myself without time to do what I NEED to get done.   Going forward I have to take the time to rationally think about things without fully committing right off the bat.  I vow that I will be working on this so that everyone in the end is happy with the outcome...even me.

Peace and Blessings....

Jen B.

P.S.   Looking forward to a double digit long run next week.  More importantly, 6 Weeks until Martian Invasion!!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 1 ~ In The Books!

The week started with a bit of a hiccup, as I had to travel down to U of M for a weird pain in my neck.  It wasn't anything I had felt up until last weekend, so I toggled with not want to ignore a potential issue nor overreact, but the surgeon took a looksie through ultrasound and reassured me that everything was fine.  Phew!  That was on Tuesday which moved my week's first run to biggie.  

Wed-4 Miles Easy
Wed-4 Miles Easy Actual-4 Miles @ 9:21P  (Slightly faster than Easy)

This week was bitter cold!!!  Wind Chills were hovering just below or at zero, making it really difficult to go EASY.   The more wind that blasted me in the face the harder the effort to just keep going.  Nothing about this run was easy.

Thurs-4 Miles Easy
Actual-4 Miles @ 9:09P (Oops)

The sunshine was glorious, but unbelievably colder than the day before.  My face felt like it was going to fall off so I just ran like hell to get it over with.  I felt so much better physically on this run, but again it didn't meet the goal of going easy.   After this run, I was really looking forward to my long run.  I've been in test mode for a week or more, and I was so ready to challenge myself with a tougher workout.

Sat-8 Miles Easy
Actual-8 Miles @ 8:55P

"AMAZING" turned into the word of the day after this run.  I felt amazing, the weather was amazing, my pace consistency was amazing.   I could smell spring in the air and I soaked it up!!!  The only downer of this run was that I forgot my water and gu at the house....Fail.  I really felt challenged at mile 6 without any water.  I was running through Potter Park and considered eating some snow, but anyone who knows the area knows how many geese roam around.  I just couldn't get past thinking of what lies within those snow banks....Eek!  So I trudged on focusing on form to keep my mind from talking myself out of keeping pace.  The River Trail was clear enough that I got to throw on my beloved me Saucony Kinvaras.  It always amazes me the difference between wearing my heavier trail shoes and these.  They are like running on fluffy little clouds...LOVE THEM! 

Weekly Total-16 Miles 

Speaking of Kinvaras...I think it's time to bust out my new pair that I'll be running Martian in.  I'm approaching the 200 mile mark on my current pair, and it's supposed to in the mid-40's, so I can't think of a better time.     There is only one issue.....the color is absolutely hideous!!

The pic hardly captures the flashiness of the FLORESCENT Pink explosion....Ugh!  I couldn't pass up a sweet deal on this pair a month or so ago, but this morning when I opened the box and was practically blinded!   I might have to take them through a few mud puddles if you know what I'm sayin. 

I officially consider myself back from all the hoopla in recent months.  Week One was a total Success! 


Jen B.

P.S.  Seven weeks to go!


Monday, February 7, 2011

My DetermiNation

I've been pretty tight lipped about my recent experience going under the knife.  I sit and think about how inspired I am when I read or hear of how other people overcome obstacles in life, and I figure it's about time I share mine.

The Scoop...

A few months ago, I went in for my yearly physical where my nurse practitioner did a simple swallow test to feel my thyroid.  She casually mentioned that she felt like it might be enlarged and encouraged me to call my family doctor.  Like the good little patient I am, I called and made that appointment without hesitation.  During her exam she felt my neck, causing me to jump out of my seat...Ouch!   She sent me for an ultrasound to get a better look.  The report came back that I had a nodule on the right lobe measuring 2.5 centimeters.  This alone was enough to perform a biopsy.  I was referred to an Endocrinologist who performed the procedure. This consisted of laying on a towel that kinked my neck so that she can stick 8-10 needles, guided by an ultrasound machine, into the nodule to collect cells.  I'm not going to lie, I felt like I was going through some sort of alien invasion.  It still gives me the heeby geebies.  Days later the pathology report came back stating... "Cells Atyp with unknown significance."  You can imagine I was a bit stupefied at that time.  I'm no doctor, but to me that seems like a sophisticated way of saying "I don't know."  I took my ultrasound disk and those slides to U of M to have another set of eyes try to decipher what this thing was really made of.  I met with a surgeon who was amazing.  She sat down with me and went through the whole ultrasound, and explained what they were looking for.  Atypical cells are found in both a benign adenoma (tumor) and different thyroid cancers.  They needed to establish if there was any vascular invasion to the nodule as a determinate between the two.   You can imagine this is difficult with a needle biopsy.  My cells had characteristics of being cancerous, but the only way to definitely find out would result in removing that whole right side of the thyroid.  We discussed all of this on a Monday, and I scheduled the surgery for that Friday.  (My fellow runnerds would appreciate that if I had to miss out on any running it would be most beneficial to do that during the harshest conditions AND in time to start my planned training schedule for the half marathon on  Anyway, my surgeon was hoping to have the pathology completed during surgery, but this wasn't the case.  It was an out patient procedure and I was sent home not knowing if I would need more surgery or treatments.  I was told it would take 5-7 days for the full report.  Those days were a test of true patience and keeping myself busy.  I spent the first few days concentrating on recouping from the after affects of having a breathing tube during surgery.  The taste in my mouth and the dryness of my throat was absolutely awful!!!  As I started to feel better the worry and constant banter in my head fed my fear that perhaps I would be told that I have cancer.  I felt like a walking zombie, unable to think about anything else!  On the 5th day, I got the call from my surgeon that indeed my nodule was BENIGN.  What a gorgeous word.   No more surgery, no treatments, Done!   I looked at my phone after the call and we talked for 3+ minutes, but I can't tell you anything else about the conversation!  Since then I've had my post-op appointment and am back running...putting in 13 miles last week.  Not Bad!

What I learned...

I am completely humbled by the generosity of my family and friends for helping me during the week following my surgery.  My biggest restriction was that I couldn't lift more than 10 pounds for 7-10 days.  I have a 3 year old and an 18 month old....pretty sure having them around would have been IMPOSSIBLE.  One of my oldest and dearest friends took them overnight for a sleepover...and then they went straight to my parents for the next day and a half.   My girl Morgan spent a day with them and took them to a local childrens museum, and Jessie (who watches them three days a week) kept them for extended hours and helped get them in and out of the car.  My husband, after having to get up way before the sun rises for his own job, took over mine so that we wouldn't lose out on income.   He made meals, did all the laundry, got the kids ready for bed bt himself, and took such good care of me.  My co-workers at my other job all helped to find subs for me, and sent lots of prayers an positive e-mails.  I got deliveries of beautiful flowers from people I only see on occasion which really helped to lighten the mood.  I get choked up just thinking about ALL that everyone did for me.  I have a wonderful support system....I'm a really lucky girl!!  I can't say it enough....Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Paying it forward...

I can't tell you how relieved I am of the outcome!  I allowed myself the time to heal and regroup.  I've made peace with that journey of thinking maybe my thyroid was on the fritz hormonally, to waking up missing half of it.   I've hugged the necks of everyone in my life who showed me so much love and support.  And yet, I can't help but think of those countless other people, who's journey actually being diagnosed with cancer is just beginning.   How do people go through this kind of experience without the overwhelming support of family and friends?  In the grand scheme of things I know that this experience is small peanuts compared to what others are facing.   I know that it's time to take all of this emotion and turn it into something positive...I have to do something!!!

I've decided to join a new program being piloted by the American Cancer Society called DetermiNation.  It is a program to help people like me train for a longer distance race, this one being the Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25k in Grand Rapids on May 14th.  This race was tentatively on my schedule anyways as my husband runs the 10k each year, but my decision is to push myself and train for it has been made.  This experience will NOT limit me as a human being or a runner.  If anything it propels me to do more.  It's a pretty big race....15.5 miles worth...and will be my longest to date.  So  many of us runners help to support causes that are important to us by paying race entry fees and such.  By joining this team I am committing to raising AT LEAST $750 for the American Cancer Society before race day.  Really, the sky is the limit to me.  I am looking forward to the both challenges, as I've never done any major fund raising before.  Please consider making a donation to support my efforts, it would mean sooooo much to me!

When you make a donation …
  • More people in our community can stay well by getting the information and tools they need to help prevent cancer or find it early.
  • More people with cancer will have a place to turn around the clock to help them through every step of their cancer journey – whether it’s a free ride to treatment, a place to stay, or just talking to someone who has “been there.”
  • More of us have will have access to lifesaving cancer screenings and treatments we need.
My donation page is HERE

If you make a donation in honor of someone, please let me know.  I am going to incorporate this somehow on race stay tuned.  Also, if you are unable to give a cash donation at this time, perhaps you can  help in another way.  Contact me to find out more details.

Peace and Blessings,

Jen B.

P.S. I will run as a way to move forward! I will run for all of my generous donors! I will run for ALL who are affected by cancer!