31 December 2013

I forgot to say thank you

In my last post I talked about my need to be less "internety" in 2014. What I forgot to do is to thank you, my dear readers, for your support over the last two years of this sensational blog-stravanganza. Ask anyone, I'm wicked self-centered.

Here are some of my favorite comments from you guys. Imagine the theme from Chariots of Fire playing in the background...

Hi Portia,You are an inspiration- not for what you tough out, but for when you advocate for yourself against your own (and projected) expectations... does that make sense? What I'm trying to say is- first world problems aside- thanks for modeling true, authentic listening to your body and your own needs. Running will be there- always! How you approach it is a healthy representation that we can all take a page from. Namaste (Stephanie)
I think I'm supposed to counsel you against negative self-talk, but instead I just laughed at "I'm not an inspiration. I'm a fucking moron." You should wear that shirt to your next race/fun run. (Kat)
"I'm out of this disease. Seriously" (Sean)
That is a huge PR, way to go. And I'm so impressed by how you fought for it through those hills. I love your self talk, too! (Beth)
Ah this post is great! We all deal with weird stomach issues on our long runs so why not talk about it more? I'm all for it! Also, I totally got my period the morning of the Providence marathon last year. I ran with a tampon taped to the back of my bib! (Alice)
I like that "I don't think about a day when I won't be able to run. I just run." I get that mindset and I think that is the most important concept that we runners need to embrace - "just run". Races are great now and then, but run for you and to just run. :) (Christina)
Hey Portia! Finally got the chance to check out your running blog. Amazing--You guys are truly inspiring. I tried running again (for the first time in years) after seeing you at Aunt Janet's 90th party. But I quickly gave up and resumed my couch-surfing and potato-chip-eating lifestyle. See you at Thanksgiving? xo your cousin Sarah
Repeat after me: you are not a total slacker piece of shit! You just ran a freakin' marathon and you're STILL RUNNING! That's 100-times more than the lazy ass on the couch right now, and more than 90% of America.  (Andi)
Congratulations!!! I love that you want to go out and hope some more. Side note: I had a home birth too, but I thought running a marathon was a million times easier. (Pam)
I think you are totally brave for facing and conquering your fear. You're doing great! Here's to another fantastic week of running! (AmyC)

To paraphrase AmyC: Here's to another fantastic year of running, to all of you! And me too. Cheers.

19 December 2013

Writing on the internet about disliking the internet

I don't know when it happened, but I got burned out with all things internet. I don't want to read blogs and I don't want to write mine. The whole digital world feels stale. It's been weeks since I looked at Twitter on a daily basis, and keeping up with Feedly feels like a bad assignment.

Ever since I was a kid, I've engaged with people on the computer more often and more thoroughly than I have with real people. Maybe I like computerized people better. They are less messy and they don't have bad breath.

When I was a pre-teen in 1987, I wooed my first boyfriend via late night modem chats. We'd write live love letters one green character at a time. While other kids were playing soccer and watching too much tv, I was creating a virtual persona on Compuserv named Heather. I made "friends" with geeky guys who sent me mix tapes and stuffed animals via snail mail. I secretly felt guilty about using a fake name and pretending to be five years older than I was. Fortunately nothing weird happened. Unless you count having more virtual friends than real ones weird.

In college in the mid-90s, I chatted via Unix "talk" with my real life boyfriend who sat across the table from me in the lab. We should have spent more time actually speaking to each other. Or maybe that relationship was better in the virtual world than the real one. 

In 1999 I started a weblog called I wrote self indulgent crap, campaigned for more readers by posting comments everywhere, and completely ignored my real life and the real people in it.

When social media became a thing, I eschewed it at first. MySpace and Facebook seemed lame, but then I caved to the peer pressure of LinkedIn and the pithy romance of Twitter. I tried tumblr and Dailymile and Goodreads and lots of others I'm forgetting about.

Recently I started wondering what would happen if I took all that time I spend on this internet crap and spent it on something else, something more fulfilling. Something creative that added up to something I was proud of. I'm not particularly proud of this blog. I am not sure anyone does or should care about my weekly mileage or my MS symptoms. I set out to inspire people, and hopefully I've done a bit of that, but at this point I'm not feeling inspirational. Don't get me wrong, life is good. I just need to change how I'm living it a little bit.

In 2014, I'm going to spend my time deliberately and focus on my real life. I'll stop blogging, maybe altogether or maybe I'll only write when I have something to say, which will probably be rare. I'll record my running in a paper notebook instead of on Dailymile. I'll probably stop using Twitter and Feedly, or at least change the way I engage with them - I still haven't figured that out yet. I'll read more and get back to writing in my paper journal and maybe I'll even write some poetry. You get the idea.

Maybe I'll keep up with this experiment all year, or maybe I'll miss the internet in a month or two and come crawling back. Regardless, I think you'll get on without me. I won't actually crawl under a rock. I'll still use email, but I'll use it to supplement my real interactions with actual people. You know, the messy ones with bad breath. Just like me.

I'll turn this typepad blog off soon, but I've archived  everything at my old blogspot space: If I show up again, it'll be there. 

See you on the other side.

PS. It's not just me. Other people are saying the blog is dead

06 December 2013

Holiday Giving Guide

Tis the season for holiday gift lists. It's fun to see what stuff people like (especially other running bloggers), but I am really conflicted about all the commercialism surrounding the holidays. Sure, I buy a few things for my family, but it's less and less every year. I'm grateful that we have enough, and I'd much rather we give to people who don't than add to our own stash. So instead of a gift list, here is my Holiday Giving Guide.


Our local YWCA does this and I'm participating this year through work. When you adopt a family, you get a list of things that family needs or wants for the holiday season, and you get to go shopping and buy the stuff on the list and then wrap it up. We bought a winter coat for a 3-year-old girl. This is a great activity to with others, as you can divvy up the list, shop together, and then have a wrapping party!

Donate to your local food bank

One in six Americans faces hunger. No matter where you live, your local food bank needs donations. We like the Rainier Valley Food Bank because it's in our neighborhood. They often have food drives right outside of the grocery store, so  you can just grab some extra stuff while you're shopping and donate it right there. It couldn't be easier. Find your local food bank here.

Adopt a pet

We've all seen those commercials right, where a guy gets his lady a puppy for Christmas? Why not adopt a homeless animal this holiday season? As I wrote this, my skittish recently-adopted kitty Marta was sitting next to me, and it reminded me that animals need help too. Check out to find a homeless pet in your area. Senior pets are especially needy, and cute.

Volunteer on Christmas Day

When I was a kid, our family friends always volunteered together on Christmas, delivering Meals on Wheels. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Now that I have a family of my own, I finally decided to do this. I looked on and entered my location, searched for "Christmas Day," and found a local housing community that's requesting warm dishes for their Christmas dinner. We'll make a dish for them and deliver it on Christmas. This couldn't be easier since we'll be cooking anyway, and it will be fun to deliver the dish as a family. Then we can go smell the Sound afterwards -- one of my favorite activities.

Give money

Maybe you already have a favorite charity, but if not, you can use the Charity Navigator to find one. You can search for a charity in your area, or for charities which benefit people or causes that are important to you. Here are some charities that I will be donating to in the next year:
These charities all have good scores from the Charity Navigator, which means they don't have high expenses and they are effective in helping the people they say they are going to help. And donations are tax deductable!

One of my favorite things about giving is that my daughter is always involved. What a great way to nuture your child's sense of empathy, right? When I was a kid, I remember going door-to-door with my mom to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I remember going into people's living rooms while they wrote checks, and hearing our neighbors stories about how cancer had affected their lives. That experience made my world bigger.

Are you planning to give to people you don't know this holiday season? Tell me about it!

03 December 2013


Woooo! Yes! I'm super consistent lately. I've been running almost exactly 20 miles a week for a few weeks now. I think I'm ready to take it up a notch. Also, shockingly, I've been doing strength work twice a week for five weeks. I used to do it more often -- 5 days a week -- but it made me crazy and apparently that's not sustainable.

I dragged Maple down to the entrance of Seward Park yesterday so we could spectate the Seattle Marathon. It's the closest point on the course to our house, and it's a good spectating spot - you get to see the runners twice since they run into Seward Park, around it, and out. It was so much different than spectating Boston, which is the race I've seen the most in person (7 times). I told Maple we couldn't drive because there wouldn't be any parking. Wrong! There were no other spectators there when we got there, about 10 minutes before the leaders came through. I love that I moved to another place where I can walk to spectate the city's marathon. And Seattle gets bonus points for being slightly more chilled out than Boston.

Spectating the #seattlemarathon

We had fun cheering for the leaders and the middle-of-the-pack-ers. By then Maple was bored and I had to get ready for my own long run. I headed back down to Lake Washington Blvd and ran alongside the back-of-the-pack-ers for five miles, carefully running on the sidewalk so I wouldn't be mistaken for a marathoner. I went under the I-90 bridge and got all the way to Leschi's village before my watch beeped for 5 miles and I turned around. Surprisingly, there are some really nice houses right underneath the I-90 bridge. That's a strange Red Hot Chili Peppers real estate proposition. I was tired on the way back but managed to push it to 9:15 pace for miles 8 and 9.

On Thanksgiving day, we had our own family 5k in the park. Maple ran the whole thing!

Family Turkey Trot at Seward Park. Maple ran the whole 5k!!

I used to hate Thanksgiving because of my Settler Guilt. Wow, I didn't know Settler Guilt was actually a thing until I just googled it. Apparently SGS is going to be a recognized psychological disorder soon. Then I can feel better about feeling bad. I spent years refusing to celebrate Thanksgiving, or at least being embarrassed about having to observe it with my family, because how can you celebrate massive cultural destruction, not to mention lots of killing and stuff? It's kind of a downer.

In the last few years I've been trying to get with what's good about the holiday: being thankful, having the day off, spending time with family and friends. But I still feel weird about it. Living in Seattle makes my Settler Guilt both worse and better. I've lived in 8 states and of course they all had Indian blood and bones in the soil, and real live indigenous people too. But as a typical modern American, you don't really notice. Except for the Casinos. That's messed up.

In Seattle, a city named for a Duwamish chief, where a few years ago a large government project was halted when they realized they were building on top of an Indian burial place, the reality of the history in this place stays in your mind. There are totem poles and Indian art all over the Pacific Northwest, and it's not just in the past. Chief Si'ahl's tribe is still fighting for federal recognition. Indigenous people are still around, did you know that? Some of them even read this blog! Hi Stephanie!

Next weekend is Maple's 5k for Girls on the Run. She had her practice 5k a couple of weeks ago. I'm her running buddy, and we're really looking forward to the big day. I am so impressed with the Girls on the Run program. It's not all about running:

"The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.  Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age.  They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. We start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them.  Then, we look at the importance of team work and healthy relationships.  And, finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world."

Maple loves it, which makes me so happy. If you get the chance to be involved with Girls on the Run as a running buddy or a volunteer, or if you're considering it for your daughter, do it! Anyone (female) can sign up to be a running buddy for a girl in their area. Running is so cool.

This week I'm hoping to up my weekly mileage a bit while keeping my long run the same. I will also find a race to run in January. It feels good to take December off, but I need something to train for.

How was your Thanksgiving? Tell me how you celebrate, and if you think about the people who lived here before us.

18 November 2013

5k PR!

It was windy and cold and I had to pee. Lake Washington was beautiful and the choppy waves broke into the retaining wall, spraying me with cold lake water. It wasn't helping my bladder. I was on my first "long run" in a long time; a 6-miler. I didn't feel great but I wanted to be out there anyway. It was better than feeling crappy at home. After all the stress and sickness of the summer and early fall, I was finally settled and ready to get back to running. I was training for a 5k. I felt hopeful.

I rounded the corner and saw the rowing complex, which I hoped would have bathrooms. Seattle has bathrooms everywhere! I had been trying to talk myself out of the urge to pee for a few miles because I'd peed like six times before leaving the house. After running around the buildings a few times, I located the bathroom, stopped my watch, ran in and barely got my pants off in time. And then I looked down at my feet and everything was spinning. Goddamnit.

In 2006 I spent a week at UW Medical Center with dizziness and severe vertigo that required heavy duty meds to keep me from vomiting every 30 seconds. I try not to, but I pretty much live in fear of returning to that state. Even driving by UW fucks me up.

I wiped, stood up, and thought for a second. I could walk home and get into a hot shower, but then I'd probably just be in a hot shower with the dizzies. I could sit down and rest and hope the dizzies went away. Or I could just keep running. I walked outside into the wind and the spitting rain.


The race started in 50 minutes. I was wearing shorts and a tank so I was hanging out in the car to keep warm. I cycled between twitter, instagram, email, and feedly. I had brought a book to read but it was hard to concentrate, and the phone suited my short attention span better. The minutes ticked by slowly. At t minus 44 minutes, I got out and started warming up.

In the car on the way to the race, I'd had a talk with myself. I talk to myself in the car a lot. "What if today was the day you decided not to hold back? If you didn't start slow, building up to a pace that you thought you could hold for three miles, but just went for it from the gun? What if today is the last race you ever get to run? Wouldn't you want to go for it?" I decided that yeah, I did want to go for it.

I did a couple of miles easy and a couple of strides, and got back in the car. It was too early and I didn't want to get cold. Thinking I was really going to go for it was making me nervous. Being in the car was making it worse. I got out and walked toward the start line. The chute was already packed. I did what I always do and lined up honestly, but (I say this all the time) this was the last time I'd ever do that. No one lines up honestly. I stood halfway between the 7:00-8:00 and 8:00-9:00 signs, figuring I'd run about 8:00 or so. My Garmin found a signal and I waited about 10 more minutes, shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of mustachioed ladies. And then we were off.

The first half mile was all dodging and passing and getting stuck behind groups of walkers who lined up in the wrong place. I turned on my iPod and wondered how many days 10,000 hours was. I felt good. The crowd thinned out and pretty soon mile one was done and I was running by the lake again. It wasn't windy.

Mile two felt great. I passed a few guys. I love passing guys! This was getting fun. I didn't have my usual mile two slump, but as soon as we hit mile three, I hit an imperceptible incline and felt myself slow down, just a little bit. A few people passed me. I saw the runners far ahead of me dipping down a hill and out of sight, and it seemed so far away. Stay in it! I ran by a soccer game, some dogs, a playground, a stroller. Breathe. Breathe. It's almost over. I tried to skip a slow song but my hands didn't work right and I just fumbled dumbly at the iPod that was clipped to my shorts. Hopefully no one saw that, I bet it looked weird. The finish line seemed so far away, and then all of a sudden it was so close and I wished I had more time.

After the finish I folded in half and rested my hands on my knees, trying to stay out of the way of the runners coming in. Breathe. I always forget to stop my watch, but when I looked down after a few seconds I saw that I'd run a PR, and finally met my goal of besting my PR from college cross country. Although a flat 5k on the road doesn't compare to the xc courses I ran in 1997, it still felt amazing to beat my 22-year-old self. Shit, I'm 38 with a brain disease and I haven't been running too much. This is pretty good. I bet I can run sub-24. I'm over the moon.

I celebrated with pretzels, red vines, and the wrong end of a banana. I met some more of my teammates, such lovely, amazing women. When I got cold, I walked back to the car and drove home. I drove by Husky stadium and tried not to look across the street at the hospital, at the window I spent a week behind. Back in the safety of South Seattle, I stopped at the bakery and smiled for days at Sean who was working the register. I felt so lucky, so strong, so healthy.

That day I got dizzy in the bathroom, I wanted to crawl into bed. Instead I braced myself against the howling wind, swallowed hard, and awkwardly jogged away from home, towards the I-90 bridge. My eyes bounced around like they aren't supposed to. I took long slow breaths. It was a good choice. It's three weeks later, and I am not dizzy.

Today I ran 10 miles. Around mile 7 I wondered if I could have run faster yesterday. Yeah, maybe a tiny bit, but I am super proud of myself anyway. And 23:xx is so close. I think I am in love with the 5k.

11 November 2013

Feeling like Gold

 Yesterday's long run was amazing. Eight miles that felt like two, gold leaves and a big beautiful lake. Nothing hurt and I was full of hope. Tears of joy were shed, for no particular reason. When I listen to that album I feel like I can run forever.

Last week I finally crested the 20-mile barrier. I'm running five days each week and I've added in some speed and tempo work. I'm doing core and strength work two mornings a week. Consistency is kind.

I'm loving quiet nights with my family and roasted veggies for dinner. Last night it was delicata squash and Brussels sprouts. Work is good and I'm healthy. My diet could be better, but it isn't bad.

Sean and I had a photo shoot yesterday, subsequently I finally have a photo in my race kit on the Oiselle website. Look at me ma! I'm famous.

This weekend I have another 5k. I'm looking forward to my first pancake flat 5k, to see what I'm capable of. Despite the fact that I come from hilly western Pennsylvania, my legs and lungs have forgotten what it was like to burn and drag. But my new 'hood is giving me lots of practice.

07 November 2013

Why I am Wary of Progress

Sometimes I get organized. I set new goals and make new habits and everything hums along. Then one day I fall off a cliff on the side of the mountain of good intention. This is one of those weeks. I don't feel badly about it. Sometimes you have to take a break from all the growth and make time for something else, like napping.

This reminds me that I am wary of progress. At first blush progress sounds great, right? I want to make progress as a runner. I want to be a better wife and mother. But you have to be careful with progress. Too much or too fast and bad things happen.

I looked up the definition of progress and found "forward or onward movement toward a destination." I think people sometimes forget that there is a destination; there is supposed to be an end to the progress. You can't sell more shit every year forever, or grow a population or a company indefinitely, right? I don't see how you can have endless progress without endless resources. Does anyone still think we have endless resources? When I hear the word progress in certain contexts, my heart breaks a little. Everyone says it's naive, undergraduate. I can't help it.

What's wrong with subsistence? The definition of subsistence is "the action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself at a minimum level." I bet it sounds crappy to most people. Who wants to live at "a minimum level?" In a way, I do. It's not that I don't want to be comfortable -- I'm already too comfortable in some ways -- but I can get with maintainance. There is an end to growth, which is natural. Babies or plants don't grow forever. And I hate to mention it, but everybody dies.

Wow that got really dismal. Sorry about that. This is why I should stick to talking about running!

Running is going well. After deciding to focus on 5ks for the rest of 2013, I feel much lighter and more, well, focused. Last week I did my first track workout since I moved to Seattle. 5x400, around 7:36 average pace. I loved being back on the track. I can't believe it's been over three months since the last time I did speedwork.

This morning I ran along Lake Washington Boulevard. Fall in Seattle is gorgeous.

I'm still averaging about 20 miles a week, which is lower than I'd like, but a) I'm adding in some quality workouts but not adding mileage at the same time, and b) I'm not injured. After the stressful summer of life upheaval, I'm more cautious these days. I want to make progress in a sustainable way.

Okay, gotta go renew my subscription to Adbusters.

27 October 2013

I Accidentally Sort-Of PR'd Today

Remember how I said I wasn't going to try to PR this fall, that I was going to run for fun and not focus on the clock? Well, I ran for fun and I PR'd anyway! Sort of.

Today was my first race (finally!) in my Oiselle Team Volée Race Kit! OTVRK! The Run Scared 5k was the perfect mix of down-homey and pro. I arrived at Seward Park after an 8-minute jog from my house. That's a first; I was crazy excited to be able to get to a race using my feet instead of my car. I got there way too early (I'm a neurotic early bird, haha get it, bird? Keep up.) and felt stupid standing around by myself. Most of the runners were in costume, but I dressed up as a sponsored runner in my Oiselle race kit.


After walking around the park for 45 minutes or so,  bonking my head (hard) on the roof of a pavilion, and peeing 46 times, it was time to warm up. A mile and another pit-stop later, it was time to line up. Actually everyone else was already lined up; for once I was not early. Chronically early runner, late to line up! Everybody MOOOOOVE!

I really loved this race because the timing was pro. They had TWO timing mats, one at the start and another at the finish! Race directors, listen up. This is how you do it. Is it just on the East Coast that they just do finish-line-only mats? That's annoying. This race also had a civilized, well thought out line-up with lots of pace signs and clear places for walkers, dogs, and strollers to line up. (To the people with the black labs who lined up right near me in the 8:00-9:00 pace area and then almost tripped me with their leashes in the first 20 yards of the race, you suck. You are not welcome back.)

Countdown, air horn, and we were off. The course is great - there is one decent-sized hill (300' or so) in the first mile, but the rest of the course is downhill or flat. (Most of my previous 5k attempts were run on an annoying course in annoying Massachusetts with an annoying hill in the 2nd mile that just messed with my head.) I focused on having fun, not dying, and avoiding the walkers who flooded the course around mile 1.5 and didn't understand that they should stay to the right. Whatever, the hill was behind me! I got to walk to the race! I was in a good mood for once.

Before the race, I kept going back and forth about whether I wanted to try to stick to a certain pace, or whether I should avoid the Garmin. I sort of did both. I basically tried to stay around 8:00-8:20 on the flat parts of the course, and I avoided the Garmin while running uphill. This seemed to work for me; I didn't get pissed off once. You know what I mean, when you look down and Garmin says 10:30 (or whatever your "I suck" pace is) and you just deflate like a front yard Santa on 12/26.

I finished in 25:17, which is one second (!) faster than the fastest 5k race I've ever run, but I didn't initially think it was a PR because, okay this is a long story. Last year I ran the evil 2nd-mile-hill 5k in 25:18. Then in March of this year, I ran this little rinky dink 5k where they sent us the wrong way on the course and we ended up running 3.5 miles. This was maddening because I knew I'd run a fast race (for me, duh) but I didn't have an actual 5k time to show for it. So I just took the 5k PR that my Garmin said I'd run as part of the race, and called that my PR. I asked twitter  today if they thought that was a PR or if my official race today was a PR, and no one responded because they were too busy yelling WHACK JOB at their smartphones and unfollowing me. Well then Sean got home and convinced me that since this was the fastest I'd ever officially run a 5k (since college anyway), that it was a PR. So I kinda sorta PR'd by one second.

After the race, I learned that I'd placed 3rd in my age group, so I waited around for the awards ceremony just in case. The last (and only other) time I got an AG award, I missed the awards ceremony and didn't get my coupon for plastic surgery discounts (or something similarly useless; I'm determined to age gracefully, whatever), so this time I was determined not to miss out. Sadly, they only did 1st place awards for age groupers (we are not old fish by the way) so I just stood in the cold rain to watch other people get their awards, which was fun too.

Next month I'm running the Mustache Dache. It's even flatter and I am determined to run even faster, unless my legs fall off before then. But I will focus on having fun too, which I also did today. I keep saying I want to PR in the 5k but then I also want to run a marathon and a road mile and a half marathon and what do you know, I don't really improve too much at any distance because I am too busy running all of them. So for the rest of 2013, 5k's only!

Did anyone else race today? How was it? Are you training for something? Tell me about it! Have you ever run a race where they messed up the timing or the course? Does it count for anything?

22 October 2013

I Am a Snoozefest

I've been trying to write a new post for over an hour. It's not working. Nothing terrible is happening, I'm just not very exciting right now. I'll try again later when I'm not such a snoozefest.

14 October 2013

Sound Mind, Sound Body

First things first. In my last post, I made my ultrarunning husband sound like kind of an ass:
"The blindness came on suddenly, around 3:30am one morning when I woke up to drive Sean to the start of his first ultra. I suddenly couldn't see out of my right eye, and I had to drive him and Maple about 10 miles in the dark on winding country roads in Vermont, and then back to our hotel." 
I didn't remember that exactly right. Sean drove us to the race and I drove Maple and I back to the hotel. In fact, I had to talk Sean into doing the race. He wanted to DNS since I was like, going blind. At any rate, he is not a monster. Just wanted to clear that up.

I'm feeling better and better and I'm excited to talk about not-autoimmune-disease things. Last week I ran a whopping 16 miles and by the last run I felt pretty good. My feets are not numb anymore. Yay!

When I'm mid-relapse (I know, I said I wouldn't talk about it anymore, I'm almost done), it's hard to focus on anything but not-panicking, but as soon as I start feeling better, I get inspired to Do Things Right, Once and For All. So it was with great hopefulness that I whipped out Nicole's 15-Step Bullshit-Free Goal Setting Formula last weekend and gave some serious thought to how I want to conduct myself over the next six months.

Aside: Nicole is amazing and she runs for Oiselle.

My husband and I have lovingly nicknamed the Goal-Setting Formula "The Packet". Mostly because it is a little thick when you print out all the worksheets and staple them together, and I used to carry it around the house like a security blanket. Also it needs a radical moniker, and "The Holy Bible" was taken. The Packet helps you get very clear on your big life goals and then figure out how to make shit happen. The last time I used it, my "Obsessive Goal" was to move my family to the west coast within six months, and it only took three. That shit really works.

This time around, my theme is "Sound Mind, Sound Body", and my Obsessive Goal is related to getting healthy in um, my mind and body. This will include some combination of dietary experimentation, meditation, thought-provoking reading, journaling, and exercise. One shocking thing for me was that running is not my obsessive goal, as I thought it would be after moving out west. I love running and I'm going to keep running and racing, but overall I'd say my health is slightly more important. Having an autoimmune disease and a stressful 2013 means I need to really focus on being healthy, so I can hopefully get to the point where I can be truly obsessed with running again.

This week I'm planning another 20 or so miles of easy running, while I start to figure out this being-healthy thing. I've been doing a gluten-free no-sugar-or-dairy thing for about a week and I have been uncharacteristically un-bloated. That's been fun. I'm also tracking what I eat and how I feel in what my friend Caroline calls a "food mood poop" journal. Caroline, like Nicole, is what my husband refers to as a power mama. I went to elementary school with her, and we reconnected earlier this year. Lo and behold she's a health coach, yoga teacher, and athlete! I attended her recent Delicious Detox Dinner Party phone call, which was inspiring and fun and a great reminder of why you should treat yourself well with good food and good habits. Cause you know, science!

Are you trying to clean up your diet? How's it going? Anyone have any healthy suggestions for me? Ever tried a "food mood poop" journal?

08 October 2013

That Other Time I DNS'd

Well this is embarrassing. It's been way too long. I have excuses, good ones even! I moved again, I had no internet, I had another MS relapse, and I was overwhelmed. Like, massively. But as of today I have internet again, I am healthy again, and the boxes are mostly unpacked. I finally feel almost settled. Life is good. If I'd written last week it would have been all whiny. Now I can just sound all tough and shit.

Two weekends ago, I was supposed to run my first trail race. It wasn't exactly my first trail race, it was kind of my first-second trail race. My second-first trail race? Let me explain. Two years ago, about six months after I started running, I registered for my first trail race, a half marathon in Massachusetts. About a month before the race, I got injured -- the original posterior tib tendon injury that I ran through for so long that I did permanent damage and the stupid thing is still weak to this day, but I digress. On the heels of that injury I had a little mini MS relapse, which was my first experience going partially blind. That was a trip. Whenever I have a relapse I always tell myself that it will go away, that I will heal, and I really do my best to believe that and not to freak out, but it's pretty hard to believe that things will miraculously go back to normal in a few weeks when you can't see or walk or breathe normally. Or count to ten, that was a fun one. Good times!

It was funny actually; the blindness came on suddenly, around 3:30am one morning when I woke up to drive Sean to the start of his first ultra. I suddenly couldn't see out of my right eye, and I had to drive him and Maple about 10 miles in the dark on winding country roads in Vermont, and then back to our hotel. That sounds badass right? I'm so tough. Actually I'm pretty sure there was a fair amount of blubbering and panicking that I was going to go completely blind while driving and kill all of us, but yeah, I didn't.

The relapse didn't get worse, and a few weeks later I could see almost normally again. To this day when I look at a white wall, it looks grey on the right side, but it's not that big of a deal really, I'm just complaining cause it's my blog and I can do that. So I DNS'd my first trail race two years ago when it sounded like a stupid idea to race while half blind and exhausted with MS fatigue. I'm such a wimp.

Fast forward two years and I was all excited to run my first-second (second-first) trail race. It was just a local 5k, but I was excited to live up to my idea of myself as a real trail-running badass, even though the trails were well groomed and it was only three measly miles. But come on, I have tattoos! I shaved my head once! Right? And then I woke up the morning before the race with half-numb feet. MS can affect sensations in your body, especially your extremities, so I wasn't really shocked by these symptoms. I've been so so SO stressed out over this move, and the new job, and the new house, and stress is not really a friend of MS. Another little relapse was not surprising. I'm just lucky the relapses are little! Major relapses don't really go with my outfit. Anyway, by 5 a.m. on race day my feet were more like completely-numb, and I started thinking it was a stupid idea to go run a trail race on them, no matter how short it was or how well-groomed the trails were. Even though I tweeted this the night before:

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 7.27.13 PM

Right after I tweeted this, some very nice person tweeted back that I was an inspiration, and I thought, that's really sweet but no, I'm not an inspiration. I'm a fucking moron. I need to rest. And so I did. As it turns out, I am not a badass, because I DNS'd. Did Not Start. ed. But I did lay in bed (and okay I unpacked a little) and thought about how much cooler it would be if I took care of myself and ate well and didn't spend all my waking hours in a stress-induced shit fit over my brand new house (hello, first world problems!).

Ever since then I've been planning for my future life as a healthy person. I've been meditating, eating better, resting more, and running less. It sucks to be (once again) building back up to 10 miles a week, but it's better than being you know, sick or dead or something. I am feeling much MUCH fucking better. My feet are normal again and even better, I might just have my priorities in order. I might not run a half marathon this fall, or if I do run it, it will be more "for fun" and less "for a PR". In fact I think I'm going to do a whole bunch of races for fun instead of PRs. I am going to celebrate the fact that I can run at all, and forget about the almighty clock for a while.

It's a good idea, right?

15 September 2013

East Coast, West Coast, and Base-Building

There are a lot of differences between living on the east coast and the west coast. After being east for six years, it's taking me some time to remember what it's like living on the west. Here is what I've noticed.
  • Driving. Massachusetts drivers are not-so-affectionately called "Massholes". They really earn this nickname every time they get behind the wheel. They cut you off, they flip you off, and they gleefully dent your car at every parking opportunity. In Seattle, the drivers are friendly and considerate. If the light is green but the traffic is backing up ahead, they will stop at a green light rather than enter the intersection and possibly block it for the cross traffic. It's kind of weird. At first I found myself cursing the drivers in front of me who wouldn't go through a green light, but then I realized they were actually thinking about other humans besides themselves. What a concept!
  • Encounters. People in Seattle enjoy greeting their fellow humans. They greet you on the street, on the bus, in the elevator, and while waiting in line. They enjoy interacting, conversing, and connecting. In Mass, people pride themselves on pretending that there are no other humans, anywhere, ever. There's no eye contact, no conversation, no acknowledgement.
  • Weather. It's like, perfect here. It's 60-75 degrees and sometimes it sprinkles a little. Mass weather = hot & humid or snow & ice. That's it. 
So it's obvious that I like it in Seattle, but there are some strange things about Seattlites. I heard someone refer to "that Seattle passive aggressive thing" the other day, and I think I know what they mean. Everyone pretends to have affection and high regard for their fellow wo/men, but as soon as the fellows are out of earshot, all bets are off. You hear a lot of pleasant almost-saccharin tones, followed by a great gnashing of teeth. So basically you can't quite trust that anyone likes you, no matter how nice they are to your face. But I can live with this. It's pretty close to how I naturally operate anyway.

Okay, running. This week I ran 27 miles, my highest mileage week in FOUR months. It feels great to get back to training. I did some core and strength work twice this week, and I'll increase that to three times this week. I'm going to start doing The Dozen, which I heard about from Sarah, another local Oiselle Volée runner. This morning I ran 10 miles with Sarah, which was awesome, amazing, and slightly intense. Fortunately I didn't die in front of her. She kicked my butt, but in the sweetest possible way. We did around a 9:00 pace, which is just a bit slower than my last half marathon. I typically do my long runs around 9:45, so this was fun and fast. I am so tired right now. I'm trying desperately to focus on the Seahawks game (and writing this post) but my eyes and ready to be done for the day. Is it just me or do your eyes get tired after a hard run?

I enjoyed reading You (Only Faster) and I am doing the 12-week half marathon training plan on 4-5 days/week of running. You're supposed to take the basic plan and customize it, which seems relatively straightforward, but I haven't had time for the customization part yet. I don't think it matters until week 3 or 4 of the plan, so I think I still have time to get it dialed in. This coming week is a base-building week, so I have about 32 miles of easy running. (Last week was a "prep-hills" week, so I did one hill workout in addition to my long run.)

When I knew we were moving to Seattle, I decided I needed to do a much better job of socializing. I'm pretty antisocial anyway, and Boston didn't help. This week I met two local runners, Joyce and Sarah. It's so nice to chat and run with women who are as psycho about running as I am. Yesterday, we went to the Puyallup Fair with our friend W and her son C. Sean used to babysit C as a newborn, and he is the sweetest kid ever. W is so fun to be around, and I love that she seems so relaxed about everything. I definitely need to spend more time with her. The Fair was so much fun! We rode rides, got dizzy, ate carnie pizza (yum!) and won stupid stuffed and inflatable toys. We saw all sorts of 4-H creatures like draft horses (huge!), pygora goats (fuzzy!), and every breed of dog ever. My favorite part was riding the Extreme Scream, which is one of those awesome hydraulic column rides where you have a 20-story freefall and a 3G return trip up to the top, with a bunch of ups and downs in between. Best $10 I've spent in years.

Do you have any impressions of east coast vs. west coast culture? I'd love to hear them.

08 September 2013

Settling In

Life in Seattle is amazing. It's better than I thought it would be. My job is great, our temporary place (for two more weeks) is fun, and Maple likes her school. Sean sprained his ankle really badly, but he's the happiest hobbling person I've ever seen.

Since we got here (only a month ago!), we've been exploring the crap out of the area. We went hiking at Rattlesnake Ledge in the Cascades:

We ate at our all time favorite restaurant, Trinacria in Olympia:

We went to see Snoqualmie Falls:

And saw some amazing views of Mt. Rainier:

We spent time with some of our favorite kids:

I did some shopping:

I've been feeling better and better each day, and this week I ran 24 miles! This is the most I've run in one week since early June, when a bad 5k knocked me off my game. Then came the move, and some preoccupying health crap, but the good amazing awesome news is that I'm back, and I feel incredible!

Tomorrow, I start my training for the Seattle Half Marathon on December 1st, and today I registered for my first ever trail race; a 5k in three weeks in Bonney Lake. It will be my first race as a Oiselle Volée runner! I'm beyond excited to don my new race kit and do some off-road racing.

I do most of my runs either on the Elliott Bay Trail, which is right outside our apartment and goes along the sound for miles and miles, or on the Green River Trail which is close to my office. I'm so lucky because both places are great for running, and specifically for getting back in shape. They're completely flat and traffic-free, and also very pretty.

Today's 10-miler was amazing. I decided to take the first 5 miles easy, and speed up towards the end. I ran an 8:40 last mile, which is speedy for me. Yesterday I did a fartlek run, which I never do since they are far too free-form for my Type A number-crunching brain. I like to know my paces all the time, and with fartleks you kind have to of let that go. Anyway, it was a perfect run. Sometimes I felt like going fast, so I did. Then I got tired and slowed down. Imagine that!

I don't know exactly what my training plan will bring this week, since I'm still working on it, but I know that I'm taking tomorrow off and I have a date with You, Only Faster, to plan my plan as it were. I'll keep you posted!

Are you training for a race? Or are you running in the moment? I'd love to hear about it!

24 August 2013

The Next Chapter Begins

I am so happy I survived this week! It sounds melodramatic I know, but that's me. This was my first week of my new job, and it coincided with some intense house-selling stress and some obnoxious (but not too terrible) MS symptoms. But holy shit, I'm still here!

The MS crap started way back in Bozeman, about 2 weeks ago. I got back from a short run one morning and I couldn't move my hand too well. I’ve had fatigue and some mild numbness in my leg on and off since then. It probably didn't help that I wasn't running as much as usual, since I've had trouble finding the time for it with my 60-minute commute and the new job, where I have meetings all day long. I think running keeps things in check for me, which is part of why I do it. The house stress wasn't doing me any favors either, not to mention the stress that I might become incapacitated during my second day at a new job. "I'm fine, really, I just have an incurable degenerative brain disease. No no, don't call 911 - my health insurance hasn't kicked in yet."

The tingling and tiredness lasted a couple of weeks, but I am feeling great now. The first week at the new job went really well. It feels like a good place for me; the work is interesting and the people are very nice. Also, amazing discounts on cool stuff. And as expected, we are loving Seattle. I'm enjoying riding public transit all around the city. Today Maple and I went to the Big Day of Play at Magnusen Park. We saw a dog training demonstration and had mango coconut ice cream, and then missed our bus home and had to wait half an hour for the next bus, in the most adorable neighborhood ever. The trees here are amazing, and I love how few traditional lawns there are here, and how much wildscaping goes on.

[...] Now that I'm on the Oiselle Team, I figured it was time to look the part. I only have four Oiselle items so far, and I love them, but I want some more! So yesterday I did a full-on Oiselle shopping spree. I got half running clothes and half casual stuff, and I'm so excited to show it to you! All four of you! This morning, inspired by the idea of the cool new running stuff that will soon be mine, I did over 5 miles in my new pair of Brooks Ravenna 4s! There's nothing quite like a maiden run. I forgot how much I love those shoes. And I set a personal distance record for the month - this was my longest run since July 28th! That's almost embarrassing. I'm so excited to start training again. I found a nice bike path near my office, so this week I will try running in the mornings before work. And I'm previewing You, Only Faster, which is Greg McMillan's (of the famous McMillan Running Calculator) new book. I'm hoping it speaks to me enough to use it for my next half.

We closed on our MA house yesterday, which feels amazing. Weight = Lifted. It feels like a victory that I made it through the week and I'm going to run MORE THAN SIX MILES tomorrow. Amazing, right?

I'd love to hear what is going well for you! Let's spread some positive vibes.

17 August 2013

Welcome to the West!

We arrived in Seattle on Monday, August 12th. Since then it's been a whirlwind of househunting, sightseeing, resting and stressing, and a tiny bit of running.

When we got to our temporary housing, we were shocked to find this view from our apartment on the 17th floor:

The day after we arrived, I went to Greenlake.

I did an amazing outdoor yoga class with @jasyoga (Yoga for Athletes!), along with some Oiselle peeps, including pro runner Kate Grace.

Photo credit: @oiselle
Afterwards we went back to Oiselle HQ to watch some of Kate's races and celebrate the end of her awesome season.

Photo credit: @sarachan215
Since then we have been buying a house, enjoying our view, periodically stressing, and checking out the city.

I have run a couple of times but mostly I'm resting my fragile little brain in preparation for starting my new job on Monday. Although we're in a great place and things are settling down, I'm still a bit janky from all the excitement.

I can't believe we live here now!

01 August 2013

I Believe I Can Fly

Things are getting pretty exciting around here. We're moving to Washington in FOUR days. We have a whirlwind weekend planned which includes a birthday sleepover, an overnight trip to visit my grandma in upstate New York, my last day of work (tomorrow) and a million little chores to do before we walk out of our house forever, bright and early Monday morning.

Each day I get more and more excited for the move (road trip!), the new job, and the new town. We check Zillow about 17 times a day to see if there are any new houses on the market in our target neighborhood. It's fun. The moroseness I was feeling early last week has faded. I'm moving on.

In running news, I am super excited to announce that I will be running for Oiselle this year! Wowzers. I am so looking forward to meeting the other birds ("oiselle" means "bird" in French). After trawling #oiselleteam on twitter, I feel like I got 100 new sisters today!

I started shopping for races in Seattle, and it's likely that there will be a trail race in my future! I'm planning to focus on shorter races this fall. With all the changes in my life, I'm going to spend fewer hours a week running, but more time doing speed! Work. Speedwork.

28 July 2013

New Chapter

In April of this year, we went to Utah for Sean's first 100-miler. We found ourselves just outside of Zion National Park, where the air was cool and dry, the scenery was bad ass, and the people were calm and friendly. After six years in Mass, complete with morbid humidity, endless winters, and the most entitled people we'd ever met, we breathed a huge sigh of relief. We were home!

But not really. We were actually in limbo. Our hearts were in the west, but our home was still in Massachusetts. It was Remedy Time.

As soon as we got home, I decided to start looking for a job in the southwest. I looked around for about five minutes before realizing there weren't any jobs there. Next, I set my sights on California. The bay area has tons of jobs in my field, so I thought it would be trivial to land something out there.

At the same time, I started working with Nicole Antoinette's Goal Setting Formula. Nicole has put together a smart, sane map for figuring out what you want and how to get it. The Goal Setting Formula is a simple but powerful set of worksheets which makes you ask yourself the right questions, and then answer those questions, and then make shit happen.

We moved to Massachusetts from Washington exactly six years ago. We never actually wanted to move to Mass, but I was in the right place at the right time and got an amazing job with an amazing company. It was not the kind of thing you turn down. I thought we'd get used to it here, and we tried hard to fit in. We brought up our daughter here (from age 2 to 8). We bought a house in a small town we loved. I had the best job I'd ever had, working with people I genuinely liked. I did a lot of growing up here too. But Massachusetts never grew on us. We tolerated it because of all the things that were good about living here. But it never felt like home.

When I started the Goal-Setting Formula, I had to choose a theme for my next six months. I chose "gestate." My obsessive goal was to move to the west. I defined my life buckets, my non-obsessive goals, and I brainstormed all the steps I'd need to take to make my dreams a reality. Then I tracked my progress weekly.

One of my weekly goals was to apply for 10 jobs. I applied for 9, and couldn't find another one to apply to, so I found one in Washington and applied for that. We used to live there and it sounded fun to go back, but I didn't take it too seriously at first. They called and interviewed me a few times, and the people seemed great. Finally they flew me out for an interview.

It wasn't until I stepped off the plane in the airport that it really hit me. I was home! I'd interviewed in San Francisco too, and it was pleasant there, but it didn't feel like home. I wasn't sure the job was going to work out, but I was settled on Washington.

I did get the job. Then came the really hard part. I had to actually decide to leave my job. My job, which I told everyone was the best job I could ever imagine and I'd never leave. I agonized and cried and bargained and did all the crazy stuff you do when you aren't sure of a humongous life decision. I hardly ate or slept and spent all of my waking hours feeling anxious. My family was more than ready to head back to Washington, and I knew it was the right decision for me too, it was just incredibly difficult to make.

Almost as soon as I made the decision, I felt calm and excited for the next chapter. I've stopped crying at work every day and I can successfully talk about leaving my job without getting choked up. Progress!

We will leave a week from tomorrow, drive across the country in eight days, and I'll start my new job later in August. I'll have to bag all the races I've registered for out here, but there's a marathon in my new city in December! Hmm...

My gestation only took three months, as it turned out. I'm going to consider this Goal-Setting cycle complete, and I'm really looking forward to using it again as soon as I get settled. I haven't decided what my next obsessive goal will be, but I have a feeling it will be running-related!

10 July 2013

Another Boring Year

No, I'm not referring to my life in general. I'm referring to this:
Radiology Report, Excerpt

My neurologist says I still have to get an MRI every year. Yeah right. I've had like five of these boring radiology reports in a row. Three of those were after I quit my meds. As much as I enjoy the 3.2 minutes I spend with Dr. Toran every year, I may have to quit him too.

Maybe someday I'll have to think about MS again. But for now, while my brain is blissfully boring, I have better things to do. See ya.

track me

06 July 2013

Reading, Running in Big Sur, and a Brain Scan

A side effect of taking running less seriously is taking my running blog less seriously. It's been a busy few weeks and I've started writing with a pencil, on paper, which means less writing here. Last Thursday I flew out to San Francisco and visited my Big Sur friends Chuck and Erlinda. Being in Big Sur was amazing. The eucalyptus, the air, the light, the views. I had breakfast at Deetjen's, walked on Pfieffer Beach, and ran in Molera SP. It was a quick trip, but worth every minute. Big Sur hasn't changed much in ten years. They paved our old road, which used to be a 15-minute drive up a 1000-ft hill on a dusty dirt road. Now it's 10 minutes and dust-free.

Windblown me at the top of Clearidge
Since I got home on Jet Blue's Monday-Tuesday red-eye, I've been doing a lot of sleeping. I missed a couple of speed workouts, so I've been slowly catching back up with my training. Today I ran 6x400 at the track; a substantial 0:10 off my target mile pace on average, but it felt great to be back out there. I am also perfecting my "the-bathroom-is-closed-and-I-forgot-TP" technique. I'm a pro -- not at the actual running part, but I defy anyone to find a better cop-a-squatter.

Yesterday I had my yearly 2-hour MRI, and after dizzily climbing out of the claustrophobia-inducing casket, I had another one of my realizations, almost as good as the email one from a few weeks ago. Three years ago I quit my MS medication. I was happy to submit to the yearly MRIs because I wanted to avoid the meds, and I thought the neuro would be happy if he could see that my brain seemed stable. Anyway, I realized that I could quit MRIs, just like I quit meds. There hasn't been any change in my symptoms or my brain scans in over three years. Even better than quitting the MRIs; it seems like I can quit MS too.

Maybe the quitting realization was brought on by my recent speed-reading of the book The Man Who Quit Money. I am probably never going to drop out of society, but it is an irresistable thought. I tend to vacillate between ambition in the traditional theme-park sense, and a bowel-loosening urge to quit my job and plant bok choi in the desert. See, it's obvious why I keep my day job.

I also just finished Light in August, which was not my favorite of Faulkner's opera, but was a welcome departure from all the poorly written nonfiction I typically read. Two nights ago I found Infinite Jest on sale for $1.99 for Kindle, so I'm reading that now. It reads like a Wes Anderson movie; I can hear the soundtrack to Rushmore in my head while I'm reading, which is not unpleasant.

Maple wants me to "make clothes" with her. Today's installment: we'll turn tissue paper into colorful frocks for her dolls. And then I'll take a nap. Sean will be home soon with kitty litter made from corn, and garbage bags. It's a fine Saturday afternoon, made ever finer by the two days of vacation that preceded it.

20 June 2013

No More Excuses and Pooping Your Pants

I ran a 5k last weekend and it didn't go well. I can live without a good time, but I also didn't have fun. I was staring down a long road of marathon training, and I couldn't remember the last run that made me happy.

I'd become full of excuses. There was always some reason why my runs didn't go well. It was my stomach, my ankle, the course was not as advertised, I was recovering from a week off, I was recovering from an MS relapse, it was too humid, I had too much other shit going on. I was becoming a drag, even to myself. Especially to myself.

Fortunately Sean makes espresso every morning, and last Sunday I woke up and smelled it. (Get it? Work with me here people.) The only person who was making me train for that marathon was me. And I didn't have to do it! That was as exciting a discovery as the day I realized I could get to "Inbox Zero" by deleting everything in my inbox. This is the year of the obvious revelation.

Fast forward one week and everything feels so much better. I decided to stop being so serious about running for a while. I'm still running, but instead of marathon training, I'm preparing for a road mile race in August. That's like a million percent less running. Yeah I know, you thought I was going to say something sane like I was taking up horseback riding or crochet. But I'm still a running addict. Training for a mile means lower mileage and higher intensity, which is what feels natural to me right now. The same thing happened last summer, so this must be my biorhythm or something.

On Saturday I did an exciting and fast workout at the track - 6x300 with tiny little 1:00 recoveries. When I'm mile-training, I run lots of short intervals at goal race pace. The intervals get longer as the race gets closer, so you get accustomed to running at race pace for 4x400m, 2x800m, etc. There are also a bunch of 5k paced intervals and hills thrown in. I'm running 5 days a week instead of 6, I might take some random extra days off, and I'm going to be a little more casual about strength and core work. I don't think this lackadaisical attitude will last forever, but it's fun to get off the Type A ride for a while.

I love how training for a mile race is like a vacation from "real running." This feeling will probably last until my third hard track workout.

As you know, I love writing about losing control of my bowels while running. It's therapeutic and usually has at least a hint of humor, as long as I wait until the horror is over before writing about it. I've often wondered why more people don't talk about pooping in their pants. Imagine my surprise when I found a spate of pants-crapping blog posts last week. Check out my favorites: The Awful Truth About Jogging, and a story about when a fart isn't really a fart (during a race no less). That last one includes photos! Not for the squeamish. And this one isn't all about pants-shitting, but it turns out really fast girls have these issues too.

Until next time, may all your runs be near a toilet. See what I did there?

14 June 2013

And the winner is...

And the winner is...

Commenter #5, lpg, who wrote:
I was a vegetarian for 16 years but gave it up once I had kids. One of my kids is a vegetarian anyway; one sometimes is and the other has some limiting digestive issues (as do some of his cousins). We have had some luck with alternative diets. I am just curious to hear more. (paper)
Congrats lpg! Please contact me and let me know where to send your copy of The China Study!

10 June 2013

A Plant-Based Giveaway

Most bloggers these days do giveaways. It's probably the most prevalent meme of blogging today, at least among the blogs I read. I like the idea of giveaways, but I don't have much traffic, and I'm not interested in going out of my way to attract sponsors. One day recently I realized, duh, I can give stuff away too, I just have to buy it with my own money. This means I have total control over what I give away. Total control is good.

And, since I only average like four page views a day, it also means you have a good chance of winning whatever I give away. Hey, that rhymed!

As you probably know (because I wrote about it 47 times), I recently read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. It was good. You can read some of my thoughts about it here. I'm giving away a copy because I want more people to learn about the science behind plant-based diets, and how good they are at disease-proofing you.

This book is awesome, but it's not fluffy. It's jam packed with great information, and the science is explained clearly, even for the biologically averse like me. After reading it, you'll feel like you have an honorary PhD in nutrition.

If you're interested in either a Kindle or paperback copy of this book, let me know in the comments. Tell me what format you'd like (Kindle or paperback), as well as what you're interested in learning from the book. If you want to tweet about the giveaway, leave me another comment with a copy of your tweet, and that'll be a second entry for you. Got it?

I'll pick a random winner on Thursday at 8pm EDT. This is open to anyone in the U.S.

04 June 2013

Rhythm, Breakups, and Balance

Last week was difficult. My ladies track workout was solid on Tuesday, but the tempo run on Friday was a horror movie, and my long run didn't quite happen. I seem to have gotten out of the rhythm of running. First I was sick, then exhausted, and now I'm officially having my real experience with burnout.

I used to hear people talk about being burned out and I thought they probably just weren't that into running. For two years I was so obsessed with it that I couldn't imagine not wanting to run every day. When I was injured, I'd go crazy because I couldn't run. When I could run, I'd think about running all day, checking and rechecking dailymile, training books, or logs. I'd calculate splits and projected race times until my head spun, but I never got tired of any of it.

Maybe it's because I've been running 6 times a week. Maybe that's too much. I used to run 4, then 5, and then last fall I started running 6. I loved it. I was less sore and more energized (mostly). And I wasn't injured. I thought I had it all figured out.

Maybe it's because last week I had a major GI "event" right in front of the local high school. At 7:20 when all the kids were getting dropped off for school, I dropped my own kids off. Sadly there was no pool. I jogged to the track bathrooms which are always open. They were locked. I attempted to clean up in the woods. It turns out leaves do more smearing than wiping. And they are so brittle this time of year! I tied my shirt around my waist and regretfully decided to run home in my sports bra, but I couldn't decide if I should jog back by the high school - the shortest but most crowded route - or go a longer but more sparsely populated route. I jogged back and forth on the same stretch of road four times while I waffled. I finally made it home and rushed to work. I was so mad at running.

Maybe it's because we went to Woodstock (NY) last weekend and there weren't any good roads to run on. (Or maybe I didn't find the good roads because I was already burned out.) It was either a narrow shoulderless rural highway or a nice road that went straight up a small mountain. For once, I didn't want to run on vacation.

Maybe it's because it was so humid last week. Every run was done in 95%+ humidity, and my respiratory system didn't seem to be acclimating. I felt like I was running at 10,000 feet, but without the nice scenery.

After my failed long run on Sunday, during which my ankle hurt and my stomach rumbled and I ran laps around the block so I wouldn't be too far from the comfort of my own bathroom, I was feeling really dejected. Was running breaking up with me? My coach recommended a week off, and I was elated. I knew I wanted a week off before she suggested it, but I was too scared to even say it out loud.

It's definitely the right call. I'm loving it. I'm walking to work, meditating, reading, and sleeping in (until 6am!). Today was gorgeous running weather and I didn't care that I was missing it. I'm supposed to run a half marathon in July but I think I'm going to skip it. I was supposed to start marathon training yesterday for Baystate, and I don't care. And somehow, shockingly, it all seems right.

I think I'll be itching to run by next week, but maybe I won't be. Will that be the end of the world? No. Because before I was a runner, I was a person. I think I'm still a runner, but maybe I'll become a less obsessive one. For the last couple of years, I thought balance was overrated.


27 May 2013

I love juice!

Yesterday was the release of Arrested Development Season 4. I made cornballs and frozen chocolate covered bananas. We watched about 5 episodes while Maple had a sleepover.

This week was an almost-perfect training week. Over 36 miles and no unexpected rest days. I haven't had one of these in quite a while. My posterior tib tendon bugged me on one run so I cut it short, and that was a great decision. Usually once it starts acting up, it gripes at me for half a week or more, but this time I nipped it in the bud and it was fine the next day. I dealt with 95% humidity during my speedwork, which caused my mile splits to be a bit slow, and I added an easy half mile in the middle of my 4-mile tempo run (also during the humidity wave). But these minor workout edits were a good thing, and I stayed in the flow of my training.

Maybe it's because I've been running consistently for a few years now, or maybe it's because I have a coach, but whatever the reason, my approach to training has changed this year. For the first few years, I was paranoid that any day off, planned or not, would knock me off track. On my days off, I felt like I wasn't a runner anymore, I was a slacker, an imposter. If I felt a niggle, I ignored it and kept running on it, desperate to stick to my schedule. I injured myself twice that way, even causing permanent damage in the form of a tendon nodule that I think is the reason my ankle flares up once a month or so.

Nowadays, I feel fine about taking an extra day or two off if I am sick or dealing with a little ache. It still annoys me and brings out my bitchy side, but I am much better at listening to what my body is telling me. When I step back and think about it, I'm asking a lot of my body, and my body is doing a lot for me. I'm almost 40, I have MS, and I'm still out there running hard almost every day. I'm proud of that.

Juice! For his birthday three weeks ago, Sean got a juicer. Every morning he makes green juice with some combination of kale, parsley, ginger, pear, celery, apple, orange, lemon, and honeydew. In addition, we've been eating really well - almost entirely whole foods and plant-based. And in the past three weeks, my long runs have been easier, faster, and stronger than ever. I didn't start eating better because I necessarily thought it would help my running, but I think it has!

I finally finished The China Study, and I highly recommend it. If you need any data to convince you that eating plants will improve and protect your health, check out this book. And if you have any questions along those lines, leave a comment and I'll answer it with info from the book. I'll be doing a giveaway related to it soon, so stay tuned!

In the next couple of months, I have a few races coming up. A 5k in June, a half marathon in July, and a mile race in August. The half is a hilly mofo in Vermont, and although I expect to run it much faster than last year (when I used it as a long run/test of my healing IT band and ran a 2:19 or something), I doubt I'll be improving on my 1:56 from April. I hope to PR at the shorter races. My 5k PR is around 25 minutes and my mile PR is 6:59. Even though I love halfs and marathons, I'm really looking forward to these shorter races. I'm too slow to ever be really competitive at short distances, but someday I might have to face up to the fact that I like them better than the four+ hour slogs. Either that or I have to start bringing the slogs down to 3+ hours!

20 May 2013

Health and Happiness

Okay Boston, enough with the germs. Apparently it wasn't enough that I had that little MS incident a few weeks ago, because last week I had yet another cold - my fifth one of this season. I took 2 days off from running, which wasn't so bad actually. You can run faster when you're constantly taking days off. It's like a neverending taper. Anyway, I'm feeling much better now and hoping I can get a good string of days and weeks of training in. Besides, it's getting too warm for colds.

I'm still reading The China Study, and I've got my next nutrition book queued up: Whole, also by T. Colin Campbell. And I'm reading anything else about nutrition and autoimmune disease that sounds vaguely interesting. Like this article about gut flora by Michael Pollan in the Times:
Keeping the immune system productively engaged with microbes — exposed to lots of them in our bodies, our diet and our environment — is another important ecosystem service and one that might turn out to be critical to our health. “We used to think the immune system had this fairly straightforward job,” Michael Fischbach, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco, says. “All bacteria were clearly ‘nonself’ so simply had to be recognized and dealt with. But the job of the immune system now appears to be far more nuanced and complex. It has to learn to consider our mutualists” — e.g., resident bacteria — “as self too. In the future we won’t even call it the immune system, but the microbial interaction system.” The absence of constructive engagement between microbes and immune system (particularly during certain windows of development) could be behind the increase in autoimmune conditions in the West.
Speaking of sickness and health, this happened yesterday:

Sean's wedding ring broke on Friday night. We've had our cheap but sweet wafer thin gold bands for 9 years or something, even before were actually married. It was time for some real ones.

After we got the rings, I surprised Sean with a spontaneous vow renewal in the town common. Our officiant was very young but utterly professional:

There's some happily ever after up in this gazebo.

It was so nice marrying this guy again.

13 May 2013

The China Study

In 2001, I was hiking 15-20 miles a day on the Appalachian Trail and eating a strictly plant-based diet Three years later, I was eating lots of dairy and not exercising at all. In The China Study, Campbell writes that casein turns on tumor growth but plant protein does not. So what does that have to do with me? I don't have cancer, but I do have multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your own cells. Immune system attacks mean inflammation, so when you are having a severe MS relapse, you are given massive IV doses of steroids to calm the inflammation.

I don't know much about biology (ha) but I think tumor growth is related to inflammation. Is that true? If dairy protein can "turn on" cancer growth, might it also turn on other kinds of inflammation? I'm always looking for ways to explain my MS. This is probably stupid. Most people say that you didn't do anything to cause your disease, that sometimes bad things happen randomly. And although I believe in the randomness of bad things, I also think there are many times when you can find the cause if you look hard enough.

This is a long winded way to say that I'm eating plants. I'm enjoying a renewed focus on my diet and I'm drinking lots of green juice. I'm feeling great, except that I've got yet another sore throat, thanks to one too many Maple-coughs in my face. This New England winter will not die.

I started training last Monday like I intended, and I was able to do all 34 miles on my schedule last week. My tempo run was a little slow (I'm blaming the 86% humidity), but my longish run yesterday was fabulous. I've never done a long run so fast (9:22 average pace for 8 miles) that felt so effortless.

Last week also brought this awesomeness:

Nope, that's not Photoshop magic. I got to meet up and have lunch with my coach Erin! She's even cooler in person. A few days later, she ran the Providence Marathon, which coincidentally was the first marathon I ran (last year). Maple and I drove down to spectate with this, lovingly made by Maple and her friend Ella:

Then we went out to a vegan Asian restaurant for lunch. I had menu overload. It's pretty uncommon for me to be able to order anything off the entire menu. Here's maple enjoying her favorite - miso soup:

Then we got home and I made vegan cheese (and pizza):

For Mother's Day, Sean got me a purple iPod shuffle for running, and Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Kitchen cookbook. And Maple wrote me a cinquain!

She calls me Por-e-Por sometimes, I have no idea why. I was a little worried about the fact that when she thinks of me she thinks of shopping, but then she told me that those were supposed to be things she enjoyed doing with me.

Until next week, I hope you all have sweet moments and kick ass workouts.

05 May 2013

Spring in Boston, Plant-Based Whole Foods, and Getting My Act Together

It's spring in Boston.

Today is Sean's birthday. We went downtown, had two rad meals, and walked around the museum.

I'm still recovering from my micro MS relapse. Apparently it always takes three weeks to get back to normal, no matter how mild the relapse is. This week I've been able to run 15 miles, which is good when I consider that I have active MS, but not great when I think about my big running goals. Coach Erin says the rest won't hurt me, and I actually believe this. The 15 miles were spread over four runs and were mentally and physically tough. It was like running through water.

Since we got back from Utah, I've been obsessed for the umpteenth time with plant-based whole foods. It helped that I was once again completely stopped up in the GI region. Travel tends to do that to me. I've been vegan or mostly-vegan for about 13 years. I know that a plant-based whole foods diet is the best way to treat my disease and keep me feeling good, but for the past few years my diet has been guided by marathon training (hundreds of pop-tarts) and the desire to be flexible and fit in with other humans (yes I can eat with you at the Cheesecake Factory). I'm lazy.

This week, I was desperate to get things flowing, and to take care of my fragile nervous system. For two days I ate only fruit and veggies, then I added grains on the third day.On the 4th day I ate pizza and woke up with a pizza hangover. Bet you didn't know there was such a thing.

It's been fun eating differently. I've been making messy salads during lunchtime meetings at work, eating whole avocados every day, drinking green smoothies and juice, and eating weird stuff at weird times. This morning I had crushed tortilla chips for breakfast. I needed carbs before my run!

My nutrition obsession led me to watch three food-related documentaries: May I Be Frank, Hungry for Change, and Crazy Sexy Cancer. Watching these movies with Sean was so much fun. I love a well-done uplifting doc about personal transformation. May I Be Frank was definitely the best of these three. It's about a middle-aged guy who turns his life around with the help of some amazing guys from Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco. I highly recommend the movie, as well as Cafe Gratitude if you live in California. I also bought The China Study for my Kindle. It's full of science and citations and it's hard to imagine reading it and ever eating animal products again, but of course, I have.

I also spent a lot of time this week working hard on The 15-Step Bullshit Free Goal-Setting Formula. First of all, I am proud of supporting cool people who do great things, like Nicole of Second, this formula whipped my scattered ass into line by getting me focused on what I really want for the next 6 months (and beyond), and writing down the concrete steps I need to take to accomplish those things. I'm pretty excited about it right now, and I'll let you know how it's going after a month or so.

I am hoping to return to regular training this week, but it might not happen and that's okay. My body is the boss right now.

28 April 2013


I should be walking the dog, doing my core exercises, running, anything but lying in bed at Noon. I think I'm having a mini MS relapse. It could be a lot worse. My only symptom is that my eyeballs brain vision is are not functioning normally. And I'm extremely cold, but I think that's because I have the windows open.

This all started on Tuesday night in the Las Vegas airport. Everything around me started moving ever so slightly, but it was not really moving. When I looked up at the high airport ceiling, things moved even more, but they didn't. I went into panic mode. Last time I was dizzy like this, I ended up violently ill and then in the hospital for a week. I was about to get on a plane. It was grim. Sean had just run 100 miles with a broken foot. I was supposed to be taking care of him.

I went for a walk around Terminal E. I had a firm talk with my immune system that went like this, "Before you go attacking cells that you think are not-us, take a step back. Take a big-cell-breath and look again. Is it really an enemy invader? Or is it us? Are you confused? It's okay, I get confused too. Just make sure you are actually attacking invaders, not our own cells." Then I went to the bathroom and had some intestinal distress, and chalked the dizziness up to maybe I just ate something that didn't agree with me.

By the time I sat down on the plane with the giant airsick bag that the nice flight attendant had given me just-in-case, I was feeling marginally better. The talk worked! My immune system was calming down, or my stomach was better. The dizzies were almost gone. I put in earplugs and slept most of the flight. We got home Wednesday morning. I slept most of the day, and on Thursday I went back to work. I still felt weird that morning, but by that afternoon I felt pretty normal. I did my tempo run on Friday and it was a slogfest but I still hit my target paces.

Now it seems like once or twice a day I get a bit eyeball floaty, but I'm mostly better. This morning I meant to get up and do my core work and go running, but instead I made muffins, got floaty, and had to have another strongly-worded talk with my immune system. I am probably crazy but I think that shit works. MS is a disease state where your own immune system attacks parts of your own brain. For me, MS is a metaphor for not knowing myself, ignoring myself, and being a bitch to myself. See what I mean? My tough talks now have a hint of compassion.

The dog really has to pee. Time to see what walking is like. Hopefully I'll be running within a few hours. You might think I should lay low until this thing passes for good, but I think there's some benefit to maintaining a normal routine during a relapse, as much as possible. If it were a regularsized relapse, I'd be more tempted to do nothing, but I feel normal a lot of the time, so as long as that's the case, I'll keep doing normal things.