Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sad and angry: Protecting runners from dangers

Sarah Hart with family
First it happened to Sherry Arnold, runner and mom from Montana and now it has happened again to pregnant mom and runner, Sarah Hart from Kentucky.

Both women out for a run, pursuing health, fitness, maybe a few minutes of "me" time - only to be ripped violently and unnecessarily from their families and the world by predators.

I am deeply, profoundly saddened by these cases. My heart hurts for their families and the needless loss. But another part of me is SUPER PISSED OFF. Like, unshakably pissed off. Walking around with an attitude all day, pissed off.  These needless crimes just make me so angry. I can only imagine the emotions I would have if I was personally connected to these women.

I guess in some ways, this running community does make us somehow connected. I don't know.

I know life isn't fair. I realize that evil exists in this world but it still leaves me with an unshakeable anger.

Perhaps it's because these instances remind me that every time I choose to run outside alone, be it in broad daylight in my local park or the middle of the day around my town, I am vulnerable. We are vulnerable. And if you happen to have a vagina, you're extra vunerable… Although this is for good health, although the risk is small, we are putting ourselves at some risk… even if it's a small risk.

There is risk in everything of-course. I know. Car accidents, weird illnesses, wrong place/wrong time…

I'm refusing to let the anger and sadness paralyze me, rather, I'll have it fuel me. I'll remember these moms on my runs and maybe do some things differently than before.

I'm also going to take my safety more seriously.

We have to worry about all kinds of dangers out there, including traffic. Admittedly, I'm guilty of getting a few of these wrong. Here are some of the ways we can all be safer out there:

  • Buddy up. Grab a partner whenever possible. There is safety in numbers.
  • Bring your phone. Invest in an arm band or a fitness belt if you wish to remain hands free but having a phone can be vital if something goes wrong.
  • Inform others. Let someone know that you are leaving and report back. Let them know your route. If you don't check back in with them by a certain time they might be able to spring to action.
  • Travel in well-lit/populated areas. Avoid venturing out after dark or before the sun rises. Stick to areas with people so you can attract help if you need it.
  • ID. Wear an ID bracelet or carry your license. If possible, have an emergency contact number on you.
  • Self-defense. Know a few basic self-defense moves to stun attackers and buy some time if you need for escape. 
  • Pay attention. Blasting your favorite music might help you to get through your favorite workout but lower that volume so you can hear what's going on around you.
  • Be unpredictable. You never know if a predator is scoping you out. If they know that you'll pass a certain location every Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM, you could be putting yourself in danger.
  • Abide by traffic rules. Sadly, a runner was struck by a van in Colorado last week  when he crossed against the light.  He was a seasoned runner who has run NYC and Chicago. He just BQ'ed. If he would've waited for the walk sign, things might've been different.
Be safe out there.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Food For Thought II: Living with food sensitivities

Gluten-free beer
If you follow this blog you know that I've been dealing with daily tummy troubles for a long time. After searching for answers I finally learned from a visit with a Naturopathic doctor that I have food issues with:

Gluten, dairy, almonds and artificial sweeteners.

Yeah. Awesome.

Thankfully, I've been eating clean and I had suspected some gluten and dairy issues so over the course of time I had experimented with weaning those foods out and ironically, I made a decision a few months ago to kick my love affair with Splenda and other sweeteners to the curb. So, it wasn't a total culture shock to lose these foods. A year or two ago, it certainly would've felt like the end of the world.

But still. It's not easy. It's cool if I'm eating at home and planning but eating out, having dinner with friends, BBQ's etc is a bit of a pain in the ass. 

Believe it or not, one of the worst things is giving up almonds. I never realized how much almonds are used (especially in vegan, dairy/gluten free) things. 

Oh well. Life goes on.

So what am I eating?

Lots of brown rice, quinoa, faro and other non-gluten grains. Beans, homemade hummus, avocado, lean organic meats, eggs. I can eat yogurt so I'm going to try a yogurt cheese and I'm enjoying Coconut milk, coconut milk ice cream, fruits and veggies.

My newer way of eating
I even found gluten free beer at Fairway (this awesome new store) today. It was $15.99 for a four pack so I will most likely stick to vodka and wine but also found a bottle of gluten free beer that was a little less expensive that I picked up to give a shot.

This morning I whipped up some homemade gluten-free pancakes that I made with ground quick oats, an egg, a bit of agave, a little coconut milk, salt and baking powder. They were pretty good. I served with banana and blueberries.

I know you might be wondering - am I feeling better? I've had a few really good days and I've still had a few tummy aches. I think I'm still bumping around but I'm hopeful that with some more time and diligence on eliminating the questionable foods that I'm going to find good results.

Do you suffer food sensitivities?

What would be the worst thing to give up?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

I am woman hear me roar

Things have been exciting and busy lately, unfortunately, finding time to blog has been challenging but here's a recap of what's up:

Documentary update:

This past week I traveled to Wisconsin to meet and film my Ragnar team captain, Rik for our documentary. This whole documentary process has been overwhelmingly awesome on so many levels, I cannot even begin to tell you. Rik and his wife, Cynthia are fantastic people as has been everyone on the team, we've met.

While in Wisconsin, Rik was competing in a 5K called "Race for the Bacon" where the top 100 finishers got something better than bling… they got bacon. Yes. Bacon. The race shirts were so cute that it had me regretting not signing up myself! The best part of all? Rik placed third in his age group and set a PR. Rock. On.
Bacon and the cutest race tee EVER. (Rik center)
Also in Wisconsin, I tried yoga for the first time (courtesy of Rik's wife who is a yoga teacher) and even ate and enjoyed cooked salmon. (I've tried many times to like it and just haven't… this time I liked it!)
looking super yoga-y aside from wearing running sneakers
It was a successful trip and I've got a really good feeling about this project.

Psst: If you have no idea of the film project of which I speak, you can read this post to learn more about it.

I wear short-shorts:

Since beginning running, I've stuck to long black pants with the occasional capri thrown in. I, even now, just am not a fan of my legs. Yesterday, however, I took a huge leap. I did it. I bit the bullet and bought myself a pair of running shorts.

Yes, my legs which haven't seen light since 1989 are still pale and bumpy with cellulite but you know what? F. That. I earned those g-damn shorts. I am a runner and I'm sick of sweating to death. I am over feeling bad about my legs and body. Those legs have carried me over a thousand miles and they put up with carrying 100 pounds of excess weight and now they are strong. They don't deserve to be treated poorly and sweat all summer so I'm freeing them with these green Nike shorts…

At least in theory. I'll let you know if I chicken out of actually wearing them in public.

The Leo in me:

I've been running and definitely working on speed. Have been pretty pleased with some of my runs of late. Today, I had a good running experience. I had 6 miles on the training schedule. My first few miles were slow/average - which was OK with me. Kind of. That park attracts some heavy duty good runners, so, much of the time I was getting passed. I don't know why but it still irks me to get passed - even on a training run and even when it's by someone who is clearly half my age and has been running track since birth.

getting cranky! stop passing me! 
In my last mile, I saw a guy up ahead. Maybe a quarter of a mile or so. He didn't look like he was going too fast and something clicked in my brain. I was gonna get him. **CHEESE ALERT** (This is gonna sound so freakin' corny) But, in my head, all of a sudden I was a lion and he was an antelope or something and I was getting my focused chase on. I was cooking. I was gaining. And then I got him! He was mine. And… I. SMOKED. Him. I kept running at top speed until I finished since it was my last mile. My average mile is usually around a 10 min pace (more or less depending on the day) My last mile… after having run for five? 8'46!

The guy caught up to me as I was cooling down and said, "Thanks a lot! You make me look bad!" He said it with a smile so I know that he was at least half kidding. :-) I know it's wrong but I did take a wee bit of pride in finally not being the one passed!


And then another guy passed me as I was cooling down and said "good run out there today - have a great day. You earned it." People never really chat at the park so I kinda enjoyed those interactions… until I looked down to realize I had two gigantic sweat circles - directly over my boobs. Lovely. Couldn't be more attractive or better placed if I tried. Fab. It was pretty mortifying. Like I had drawn two big circles around my boobies - A huge magnifying glass of obscenity. Right on my chest. Awesomeness.

Oh well. Runner problems….


Still dealing with the food stuff. Have had some good days and some days that are still a little iffy in the tummy. Just need a few weeks to see how that will all pan out - keep ya posted!

How are you doing?


Friday, June 8, 2012

Cracking the code to my tummy troubles

Well today was certainly an interesting day.

After dealing with constant stomach problems and then going to a Gastro Doc who decided to just throw pills at me, I think I finally found a guy who's going to help me crack the code.

I went to meet with Dr. Glenn Gero you can read all about him here.

He's a naturopathic doctor who takes a dietary/fitness and natural approach to healing and ailments. After checking him out, I decided that he was worth talking to and boy am I glad I did.

First of all, it's evident that he takes his health seriously. He lives a "clean-eating" life and is still on a rowing team. He doesn't just preach about health, he practices it. Unfortunately, that seems rare amongst traditional doctors now a days.

My doc rowing to health

He spent a WHOPPING two and a half hours with me. Carefully analyzing and discussing my blood work, my issues, why we were doing what tests we were doing. Have you ever spent 2 hours with a doctor? Not me. Not ever. In fact, the gastro specialist diagnosed my IBS and threw 2 toxic prescriptions at me within 5 minutes.


After a bunch of tests we found out that I have food sensitivities to:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Almonds (ALMONDS!?) Yes. Almonds.
I have been cutting back on gluten and dairy (though I still was having cheese a few times a week and I'm sure some gluten here and there) and thankfully I cut out artificial sweeteners a few months ago… this will encourage me to be even more diligent on all of it… but, almonds? Wow!! No wonder I can't get over my stomach issues - my milk has been replaced by almond milk for years. I eat a handful of almonds almost twice a day. That combined with a cheese stick snack and my day could be ruined and probably has been regularly.


And by the way, it's probably worse when I combine these foods so when I did my full marathon and had a MISERABLE 26 miles of porto-potty stops it makes perfect sense now - I carb loaded the night before with pasta topped with cheese and then woke up and chased it with a bagel and cream cheese. 

Oh. Super bad move. Epically bad move.

When I'm home I never eat that. Even before cutting out gluten, I didn't do much pasta and my running breakfast go-to is typically oatmeal… since I couldn't make oatmeal in the hotel, I decided on that friggen bagel. So that could've been what did me in.

Oh, I know, "don't try anything new on race day." A few weeks prior I had, had a bagel the morning before my Jersey Shore half and it didn't seem to affect me. I also assumed bagels and pasta to be a relatively bland food so I didn't think that it would cause issue… Guess I was wrong.

Hmmm and I wonder if the sports drink they served was "sugar free" and used a artificial sweetener? I guess that would be a trifecta of tummy troubles. Who knows.

There were a few other minor issues that I have to deal with too - and it was all very fascinating. 

Good news is, chocolate, coffee, avocados, rice, red wine - all thumbs up foods :-) 

Also, I swore off bananas 4 years ago because I assumed I was allergic to them since I always got a stomach ache when I ate them. Doc says I am not sensitive or allergic to them! It could've been the skim milk I was using with them for my smoothie or the "light wheat" bread I was making my sandwich with but it wasn't the banana! Oh I hope that is true, I would love to eat banana's again and will put that to the test.

The Dr. gave me three supplements to take for my stomach, one was an IBS formula that he has created. Stomach issues is his specialty and he says that I won't ever have to buy that one again because it's healing. He also gave me some super probiotics and magnesium (the magnesium is for a suspected deficiency for all the cramping I get in my calves and feet - a side issue). The supplements cost me significantly less than the drugs medications that the Gastro dealer doctor tried to push at me and Dr. Gero promises me that I'll feel completely better and passed symptoms by Wednesday - less than a week!!!  

We will see. I'm excited to give it a shot… And now I'm off to throw out my whole jar of almond butter :-( 


PS: So what does this mean for my "celebration" foods? Well, lets face it, I'll probably not swear off pizza for the rest of my life but I'll probably generally avoid it… I still might suck up the tummy ache for a pancake post half-marathon - or maybe I won't… Taking it one meal / day at a time. Thankfully, I'm pretty disciplined.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

National Running Day: 10 reasons why I run

I love running. Hear me roar.
I love running and never does a day go by that I'm not grateful that I stumbled upon this activity. More than "just a little exercise" running has completely changed my life and has shaped me into the person I have become today.

So in honor of National Running Day, not only will I run but I pay homage to ten reasons why I run:

  1. Health:   My plan is to avoid diabetes, cancer, heart disease to the best of my ability. All the experts say that consistent exercise is crucial to the equation.
  2. Fitness:   For sure I love that I can eat a few more things and still maintain my goal weight!
  3. Community:  Who would've known the community of friends I would've built just because of a "little running"? HOLY COW. Some of my best friends and closest confidants have been born from this love. I've met people from all over the country and have even connected with people all over the world. AMAZING. 
  4. Happiness:  I am a happier person and suffer from a tenth of the depression I once did. It combats the stress, it helps me cope with the big and small stuff that life hands us. Thank you running.
  5. Music:  Running is my time to catch up on new and old favorite tunes - and this directly has impact on number 4 on this list!
  6. Challenge: Every day is a new challenge, whether it's hating the hills a little less, running a little further or going a little faster - running always has someplace where you can test your limits and try a little more.
  7. Victory laps: Whether you are crossing finish lines, (or meeting those personal daily challenges in #6) there is the sweet smell of victory at every mile marker! Big and small those little victories build up to lead to…
  8. Confidence: I've been an insecure person most of my life but running gave me the gift of confidence. I know that I can work hard and get there. I no longer hate every flaw in my body, rather I am thankful that my body has been able to carry me - which has given me greater...
  9. Appreciation: I appreciate the park I run through, getting to see and experience it in ways I'd never before. I appreciate a good bottle of water after a hot run, I appreciate that I'm able to run and it makes me reflect on those who aren't as fortunate - running is a daily reminder of how blessed I am.
  10. Me: Aside from the importance of "me" time (yes, running time is truly 100% mine) I am a runner. It's like the third word that defines me personally - Mother, wife, runner. It is who I am.
Other considerations: My whole world has changed - What I do for fun, what I do to make money (I'm a health blogger aside from this personal blog…) many new friends, many new journeys and even a whole new business/film project (that I'm confident will be successful). It really awes me to think that one "crazy" day in Feb. 2010, making an on-the-fly, irrational decision to sign up for a half marathon could really change your life. But it did. Thank God. I came thisclose to thinking, "ah, never mind…" and not signing up... And then where would I be today?

Happy National running day! How are you celebrating?


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Running in Costumes and a Facebook contest

Yes, my producing partner, Angela (right) is dressed as a giant loofa...
A few months ago I wrote this post about running in costumes.

While it's still not generally for me - I can't see ever running seriously in a get-up (well I guess I could possibly do a half in a tutu if I was forced), I am actually pretty excited about trying to come up with something awesome for the Ragnar Relay in January.

I mean, that is a race I can get jazzed to dress up for. That's just part of the fun of Ragnar and I can't wait.

We have a team name and stuff but we're still keeping that relatively on the down low - but I definitely need to dream up something really cool.

In the meantime, our little documentary film is running a fun contest about running costumes -

Just head to our Facebook page and upload a picture of your favorite running costume (or a friend's) for a chance to win your very own cartoon social media picture (plus a print suitable for framing), like mine:

Do you run in costumes?

What is the most absurd costume that you've ever seen?


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crappy eating and running in the rain

It's been a whirlwind of a week!

On Wednesday I hopped a flight to Michigan to make my way to meet Katie from Runs For Cookies - one of the racers of our Ragnar Relay team. Well. To call her just "one of the racers" is a great understatement. For one, she's the one who helped to make this thing possible. She really was integral in putting the whole thing together and she was the one to reach out to me and invite me onto the team.  An invitation that I will be forever and ever grateful for. In many ways I think of Katie as the team "mama" and Rik (the captain and the man who had the idea from the get-go) the team "papa." I've also been such a fan of Katie's blog that going to meet her was super exciting.

I got into Detroit around 9 AM and we headed out to Katie's mom and dad's home. They were gracious enough to invite my partner Angela and I to stay with them during our trip. At first I felt like we might be imposing but the minute I met Katie and her mom face-to-face, I knew we were going to be in for a great time.
UH. And the view from Katie's Mom's house didn't hurt either!

Needless to say, Katie is as cool as I thought she would be and her parents were beyond warm and welcoming. Have you ever met a group of people that you immediately felt connected to? I know it sounds corny but that's how they all were. They are the type of folks you kinda wish you were related to. It was really great to get to know them all.

We had three solid days of interviews, getting to know the family and learning more about each other. We talked about running, kids, the future and life in general. I didn't want to leave!

Interviewing Katie and her hubby Jerry
While there, I definitely ran less then I would've liked to and ate more than I should've. We went to LaPita  for lunch with Katie's friend Jessica - (LOVED Jessica - she was so funny and cool to get to know). If you read Katie's blog, you know this is Katie's and Jessica's favorite post-long run place for lunch. And now I know why. It was absolutely incredible. While the mediterranean food of grilled chicken kabobs, hummus, salad and rice was probably pretty healthy - I definitely ate too much. It was too good. Bummer, I followed it up with an indulgent dinner later that evening. I'm too embarrassed to even write what I ate but lets just say it was hearty and ended with some kind of apple pie ala mode. Shit.

And then we ended our trip with a visit to Cracker Barrel. The good - it was a salad. Uh the bad? It was chicken salad. - hello mayo. I forgot how tasty you are. Still, It was over greens (oh good. A vegetable) I held the wedge of colby cheese and I *think* it was still better than the eggs, sausage and biscuits dripping in butter I would've really have liked to order….

OH crap. And I ordered Chinese food last night when I got home. And it wasn't steamed vegetables and brown rice.

Hangs head in shame… What kind of fraudulent health blogger am I?  I'm a food disaster. All this talk about eating clean and organics… All these docs I watch… And I'm one trip away from home from falling into old habits. Ugh. What is wrong with me?

ARGH. I will think about all this and try to figure out what I could do different next time. The one good thing I've learned in this journey is that there is no bad few days of eating that can't be undone. Just have to get back to my cleaner act and add a few miles, a few more (organic?) veggies and extra glasses of water. Can't change what I did yesterday. Can only control what I do today.

Had to go all the way to Michigan but finally found it.

So I picked my crappy eating self out of the gutter this morning and met up with my Moms In Motion group - We got to run. In the rain.

I've always have had this thing about not wanting to run in the rain. But I needed to get myself back into the groove and while in MI Katie actually told me she liked running in the rain. I did it. And I did like it! :) There was something very peaceful about it... And I've knocked 3 miles out already.

Do you let a few bad days of eating get you down?
Do you like running in the rain?