<![CDATA[The Running Noob - Blog]]>Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:23:59 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Healthy eating fail + Midnight sheet changes]]>Tue, 21 Nov 2017 05:42:36 GMThttp://therunningnoob.com/blog/healthy-eating-fail-midnight-sheet-changesI'm not going to lie: I dislike almost all salads. Especially the really overly healthy kind. I mean if you want to Ohio-ify my salad and throw some Ranch dressing, shredded cheese, and deep fried croutons in the mix, then I could probably stomach a hippy dippy salad like this beautiful one from Nourish Cafe.
It's got all kinds of colors and it's just too pretty to eat you might say. I took about five bites and it's now sitting in my fridge where I will attempt it again tomorrow. It has brown rice, yams, avocado, pumpkin seeds, pickled onions, and all kinds of other earthy things. All those ingredients are SOOOO good for you but ugh I can't get on board with them all in one bowl. Grill me some corn and I'll throw down a cob or two. Slice some really good Ohio tomatoes and I'll eat a bushel. But a bowl full of 100% healthy things is just too much for me. At one point I was taking Have'a tortilla chips and scooping up the salad with them. 
However I had zero problem inhaling this vegan almond butter chocolate chip cookie that was still warm when I pulled it out of the bag!!

Yesterday I only managed to get about four miles in because Jon was in bed all day and I had to wait until the kids were having quiet time to go run. I could get used to this whole evening running thing. I've accepted that the 20 miles thing is not going to happen before the marathon. I'm less than two weeks out now and I need to back off the mileage, not increase it. I feel good that I trained to 19 miles and I'm confident I can finish the marathon without stopping.
Some days it's not even the 15+ mile runs that are the hardest, it's the little ones that seem like the most effort. Here I am procrastinating by taking selfies in the mirror. My friend made that pretty collage postcard stuck in the frame. 
It's so funny to see the route scenery photos from people I follow on Twitter and see how different everyone's running path is...from snowy Canada to desert races in Abu Dhabi, people are finding a way to run no matter what kind of obstacles are in our paths!
Two things that are semi-torture when I run this route: the constant traffic of the street blocks which means having to stop/start my Garmin and cadence constantly, and the other torturous event is having to run past this painting multiple times. I love the artist. He's known for painting beautiful images of donuts.
Before the run, while Jon slept, I had the boys sit down with a video from Art for Kids Hub, which is an amazing YouTube channel that teaches kids how to draw using really simple instructions. We were going to a birthday party of a friend turning six, so they decided to draw her favorite thing—horses!! This video kept them entertained for a good 45 minutes. 
I took the less handmade route and got the birthday girl this chicken card. I'm one of those people who will pay $12 for a card if I know it will make the recipient smile.
When you opened it, the chicken started to dance and play a song :) 
While the boys were drawing, I decided to blow dry my hair for once. I only do this every 10-15 times I wash my hair, but I was cold and in a hurry to get to the party. 

Of course only I can somehow manage to get my robe string caught up in the retractible cord in the hair dryer. I couldn't pull it out no matter how hard I tried so I had to wake up Jon to help me. Sometimes I wake him up for stupid reasons but I sort of wanted him to see what I'd done. We laughed for a good long while as he untangled me.
Finished product. He worked so hard on this picture and it turned out great!
Croc was moving so fast that I couldn't get a good shot of his horse picture but it was very pink and very special! Side note: see that green ball under The Dude's foot in the corner of the picture? That is a bead from one of my bracelets. One of the boys (I have an idea who) destroyed it many months ago by pulling it apart yet these beads still seem to appear in our house out of nowhere after all this time.
We have a new kind of visitor hanging out in the neighborhood. Our downstairs flat friends caught this picture of an adorable little chorus frog. These little cuties like to croak us to sleep at night. I love them. 

I finally got the kids settled down enough tonight to squeeze in some yoga. The video I picked seemed great and just my speed for the first 10-15 minutes. And look at this setup... so pretty with all our lights and our fake TV fireplace :)
And then she went and did all this kind of stuff and I had to switch to another video that was more my yoga level. I'd love to start learning to do the headstands and arm balancing poses. So much to learn, so little time!
Every single yoga session ends with this guy trying to knock me over, but I don't mind at all. He loves to hop on my back when I'm posing and yell Giddyup!!
Less than two hours after this photo was taken, we had a serious Barf-a-Palooza in our house. Croc is really feeling ill. We had to change his sheets three times, and finally moved his mattress to the floor so he could get to/from the bathroom fast. There is nothing worse than your kids being sick. I wish I could take it away and put it in my own body, race or no race. He has been fighting this stupid bug for weeks :(

​I am just TWELVE days until CIM! I'm determined to stay healthy and rested and wash my hands like crazy. 

My intention was to do a post about incorporating massage into your training in a smart way but I'll save it for another night so I can go lay next to the little one. I hope you all have a great night and are staying well!
<![CDATA[My sober story]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 05:42:36 GMThttp://therunningnoob.com/blog/my-sober-storyI think today is the day I’ve been dreading and looking forward to in equal parts for many years. Today is the day I’m ready to share my story with all the guts exposed and flaws flapping for the world to see. I started this blog four months ago and I’ve referenced my sobriety but I haven’t gone to great lengths to go into detail—as any recovering alcoholic knows, dredging up memories of drinking days (most of them too fuzzy to remember clearly) can be painful. And it can too easily result in a shame spiral. But I’m not interested in spiraling down anymore. I’ve had my day in the dirt and I’m past that now.
I did a running podcast about a month ago, and the conversation focused a lot on my sobriety. As I start to read the comments and emails and social media messages of people who'd listened, I started to really understand that people like me are all around and they want to talk about it. They need to talk about it because when you don’t, it passively implies no one cares. But I do care. So I’ll start.

My name is Christina and I’m an alcoholic. For as long as I can remember, alcohol has been a part of my life. My parents and extended family worked hard and played hard, including incorporating booze into everything we did. It made for some fun times as a kid. It made for some difficult times as a kid. I knew from a very early age how to tell the approximate number of drinks my family had consumed over the course of a get together and I was pretty good at knowing when to isolate myself if things were about to get out of hand. Sometimes I think that’s why I was naturally drawn to running...because it can be an isolating sport and I think I craved that kind of safe space away from everything.

I don't think there was one exact moment when the tide shifted for me in my drinking patterns. Looking back, especially as a parent now, it is crystal clear to me that I was never one to drink responsibly. As a high school junior, I got alcohol poisoning at a party. You’d think that incident would have been enough to make me quit or at least slow down. But it didn’t. In fact, moving out of my parents house and into a dorm room after high school only provided me with more access to booze and less accountability in my schoolwork (which to that point had been outstanding, but quickly deteriorated as my alcohol intake increased).

Confidence was the mirage in my desert of drinking, and in the rare instances when I participated in a social event and didn’t have access to booze, all I wanted to do was remove myself. My husband can attest that for years, in the heart of my heavy drinking days, that it was very difficult for me to prepare for social functions. I needed a glass of wine to think about what I would wear. I had to have the second glass to forget the extra few pounds around my midsection. The third glass was just to take the edge off, and the fourth was to drink while I changed and re-changed my outfit tens of times before ending up in a pile of tears on the bed. Then I’d show up to the event, a bottle down already, and fear everyone else in the room had figured me out: that I was a fraud and a fake. That while I was chipper and funny on the outside, on the inside I had crippling anxiety that left me sidestepping meaningful relationships, and choosing instead to make bad decision after bad decision to punish myself for not doing better, for not being normal.

The idea of drinking without excess was a foreign concept to me. In grade school I slept over at a friend’s house one night when her parents were having some friends over for a small party. I remember how some adults had soda or iced tea in their hands, and how strange I thought it seemed. I noticed how much quieter this party was from the kinds of parties my family had. The next morning my friend’s mom and dad went for a run together. I can still see their shoes laying on the ground in my mind, and hear the sounds of them cooking in the kitchen after the run. For a minute, I wondered if I’d been doing it all wrong...if there was some other kind of lifestyle out there that my friends knew about but I would never experience. The feeling made me sad, and it pushed me deeper into isolation. I went through high school and college as an edge case—moving from one social clique to another without fully penetrating any single circle. I eventually met a man who loved me for all of it, a beacon of love and support in a haze of crap, and we got married. There were years of partying to excess, and figuring out marriage as two alcoholics. We made mistakes and had bad behavior, and learned to forgive each other and reconcile our embarrassing drinking moments.

My husband quit drinking a few years after we moved from Ohio to San Francisco, and that story is his. When I realized he quit and it was for good this time, I of course felt happiness for him. He found his peace and got through that very hard journey. But if we’re really being honest here, the alcoholic in me felt fear. Fear that he will see me for what I was more clearly than ever, and see my flaws and insecurities. I feared he’d judge my own drinking, or even worse recognize my addiction. I still sort through shame for not feeling 100% support for him during that time, but I know he understands what the mind of an alcoholic does sometimes. He gets it.

When my first boy was born, I took one look at him and felt a kind of ground shaking love that was new to me. It scared me how much I loved him. Life was good and we were so happy. Motherhood brought a whole new set of drinking buddies. The mom crowd. And they were more hard core than I expected. Let’s get the kids together for baby brunch (with mimosas!). Toddlers love the zoo, and moms love it because it serves beer and wine! And we were cute in how we embraced it. Wine in sippy cups? Let’s do it. A little Baileys in the early afternoon coffee? Why the hell not. All the women around me seemed to handle this new mommy friendly drinking culture with no problems. But as the playdates continued on, I felt more and more insecure and self-conscious.

Then my world changed in a big way. My dear friend was getting married in another state and my husband and I planned to fly there as our first trip away from the baby. My mom and dad were flying here from Ohio to babysit. I’d prepared all my dad’s favorite foods (he tended to be picky about California cuisine) and stored them in the fridge. I drew a large map for he and my mom, to help them navigate our neighborhood and entertain the baby while we were away. I bought a new comforter. We wrote out all the phone numbers for emergencies, and made our extra set of keys. That night I felt restless...pretty common when waiting for visitors to arrive. I moved out to the couch and tried to sleep there. Then I glanced at my phone and saw I’d missed a bunch of messages. I thought maybe mom and dad’s flight was early. Then I heard the first message: “Christina, this is your brother. Call me now.” My first thought was that their plane went down. I called him and he said, “dad died.” He passed away in his sleep, on the couch in front of the television where he’d been watching the Reds game.

The layers of emotion and feelings I have about my dad run so deep, we would peel it all night if I started. But I will say he had his own battles and addictions, and never got to beat them. And I will say he was a wonderful human being and I miss him so much.

Dad’s death changed me in ways I still can’t pinpoint. I drank a lot. More than ever. Bottle after bottle of wine every day. I knew where to buy it without hitting one store too often (the embarrassment if someone made a comment about the “wine lady” at the store in front of someone I knew was a real fear of mine). I knew how to wrap an old sock around the bottles before putting them in the garbage so the neighbors wouldn’t hear all the bottles dropping into the truck on trash day. I chose to feed my addiction. Instead of returning to work in an office, I took a virtual one where I could drink while I worked. It became a very physical need to drink. I felt myself slipping into depression. I hid it in ways that scared me, but I wasn’t ready to confront it.

Then my world changed in a big way. I was in the bedroom doing something one night and my husband walked in and asked me how many glasses of wine I’d had that night. Now he is a recovering alcoholic himself so he already knew and understood that you can’t tell a drinker that they have a problem. No one is going to stop drinking unless they want it. I think I told him I only had a couple. That was my canned answer so I’m going with it. Only a couple. And as intoxicated as I was, I still remember his eyes. They were sad. They were sad for me and the loss I was struggling with and for the need I felt to keep the drinking from him. Maybe it was knowing that there was at least one person in this world that I knew loved me for everything - for all those flaws and fuckups - and he was still there. Standing in our room wanting me to admit it, and to help myself. Maybe the timing was just right or maybe I was just beaten down with the burden of my perceived faults and couldn’t take it anymore.

I said to him, “I’m drinking a lot. I need help.” And then I pulled the bottles out of my closet and lined them on the floor. And everything got a little better. He hugged me and we cried.

The road to quitting was not easy. It was physical for many weeks, my withdrawal from the chemical need to drink. My skin hurt. I shook and sweat a lot. This is an unpretty memory for me.

And then one day it wasn’t physical anymore. Food tasted good again and I could smell things again and in a better way. I saw a therapist. Or three. Some days I sat in the chair across from my therapist and just cried...for one hour. Then I’d walk home and breath the air and pat myself on the back for doing something for myself. I got a job in an office where I was stimulated and respected, and seen as a strong woman killing it at life. A little bit every day I let myself believe I was killing it. I let go of the old standards I held myself to: the perfect birthday parties and the Pinterest-worthy lunch boxes. Pinterest owes the mothers of our generation some restitution for what we’ve put ourselves through looking at those boards.

Running saved me on many days. It became the thing that I looked forward to every weekend. My social plans changed a lot after I quit drinking, and some of my friends stopped calling. But I was okay with it, because their path was pretty different than mine. My whole timeline shifted and I started waking up earlier, putting on my running gear and hitting the pavement. I saw beautiful things on my runs and it honestly just felt nice to use my senses. There is so much more to feel and smell when you aren’t numbing.

I’m not perfect, and every day is a struggle in some way for me. Maybe it’s not the drink I crave anymore but I do crave the self-deprecation and negative talk sometimes. It’s the whole shame spiral thing I started with, and trust me it is real.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Moving here, meeting the people I did, and making the lifestyle changes I did. I grew so much out of all that numb, and I love looking at myself now. I don’t change my clothes tens of times before I leave the house. I don’t shy away from uncomfortable situations. I don't fear someone is talking about me in the corner. Or better yet, I just don’t give a fuck. And that’s good for me. 

If you’re reading this and wondering if anyone would care for you even if they knew about your drinking and your addictions, well then I’m here to say I care. And there are other people that care. You’d be surprised how many care once you start asking for help. But you have to ask, so maybe just start there and see what happens.

Talk to me in the comments, or drop me a line if you need an ear: christina [at] therunningnoob [dot] com.

<![CDATA[How to set running goals + Bread on a bench]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 20:27:02 GMThttp://therunningnoob.com/blog/how-to-set-running-goals-bread-on-a-benchTonight let's talk about setting realistic running goals. But first...

Blue suede shoes! I love these shoes so much that I have them in two colors. I know I'm not supposed to wear pointy toe shoes because they're bad for my toes but these don't bother me at all.
Well these didn't stand a chance. Vegan blueberry muffins that are essentially little balls of sugary yum. I'm glad we only had one pack because I did some unmentionable things to these last night.
Yesterday I had five uneventful miles on the treadmill at the gym. My pace is getting faster on my shorter runs, which has me thinking a lot about where I want my pace to head after I'm done with the marathon. Hold that thought until I get through the TMI part of this post (I know you're dying to hear about everything I do!).

When I got home from work, two things were quite the surprise when I walked in: poor hubs is sick with the flu so he is down for the count, and The Dude had a friend over to play. Essentially that meant I was on fun patrol immediately when all I really wanted to do was put on pajamas, place my hair in about 4 ponytails, and watch a rom-com. 

The kids begged me to ride bikes (right before sunset) so we hurried out and got a few laps in and I'm glad because it was a nice refreshing blast of cold air before bed.
Do any other parents basically accept the fact that when your kids walk out the door with bikes or scooters or sports paraphernalia that you are always going to be the one carrying it home? 
Croc likes to ride his bike right against the other bikes (and feet) around him. 
The air smelled so good. People were lighting fires in their homes and it smelled like winter coming. I love it. I'm actually excited for the colder season. I love running in pants and long-sleeved shirts.
The dude drew lightning bolts on my helmet which I love and refuse to wipe off!
And then this morning it was back to the park so Jon could sleep. He looked in really bad shape, poor guy. 
They did one "bomb down the hill!" after another. No major cuts or scrapes so it was successful.
Then the kids took a pledge to keep the park clean and never abandon pets in the park. They had really sweet volunteers who helped us learn about the native species. We touched a synthetic version of coyote fur which Croc swore was from a T-Rex. Okay, buddy.
I've talked before about the critter crate at our favorite park, and how we check it religiously to see if anyone happened to have left a snake, an otter, or any other cool animals in it. Well today we got some ANSWERS!! When we talked to the volunteers, they told us about all the types of animals they've found in the crate.
They said mostly people drop fish in there, and also lots of turtles. The weirdest thing they've seen inside it was a dead bird wrapped in a tissue and placed in a shoe box. Yikes.
One of our family members came out to visit once from Ohio and her first comment was that there are so many shades of green and varieties of trees in San Francisco. I love that part of it too, but I have to say I also miss the trees of Ohio. My parents had catalpa, birch and maple trees on our property and my grandparents had weeping willows which are the prettiest trees on Earth I think.
I tried to get the boys to read about the first Native American tribes to settle in the area but they were more interested in climbing the parcourse equipment.
And then we saw this lonely baguette on a bench and spent some time guessing the story behind it. Bread on a bench. Sounds like a band name!
Because the boys had such great behavior, and because we had to cancel our sitter for date night because Jon was sick, I surprised them with a trip to Target to pick out something to entertain them this afternoon so I could get some work done. You would have thought this staircase to the store was Mt. Everest the way The Due was talking about it—sheer torture. I purposely parked the car far away so I could get them even more exercise. I equate it to exercising labradors :)
Surprise surprise The Dude wanted Legos! He is quite the master builder. I remember doing sets with him when he could barely put one piece on top of another!
Croc decided on a Play-doh set which we all ended up playing with and the colors stayed separate for all of 30 seconds before ending up in one big swirly ball.
The Dude loves taking pictures all of a sudden and gets credit for this one and the next one...
...my Play-doh ring. Fit me like a glove.
We took a vote for dinner and homemade waffles won out! I refrained from eating them which was kind of hard because breakfast foods are my favorite.
As I was de-clumping the waffle batter, I was thinking about how weird it is that the race is only a couple weeks away. I feel like I've been thinking about or training for it for such a long time that I can't remember what exercise was like before it! Are you like me in that after a race you really enjoy having the freedom to do whatever kind of exercise that appeals to you in the moment? I really miss pilates and riding my bike to and from work. I'm also thinking of getting back in the pool at some point. Swimming is my nemesis.

The one goal that keeps popping around my head is to increase my pace, but I'm not really sure what a realistic (though stretch) goal would be for a shorter distance. The fastest races I've ever run were a 5K in 27:22 and a 10K in 55:40. But I have to say I can't remember a time when I REALLY put forth effort to run quickly...mostly the challenges in my races came with finishing a difficult distance or gutting through some hard hills. I've never had a pace goal, aside from finishing a half marathon in under a 10 minute mile. Now that I've accomplished that, I want to set some more challenges in front of me. 
Meb Keflezighi is one of my favorite runners. He seems like he has his heart and head in the right place. In his book, Meb for Mortals, he has these four suggestions on how to set the best kinds of goals:

1.) A good goal has personal meaning. I think Meb is living proof that giving some personal meaning to a goal can bring it to life in a way that no amount of training or fueling can do. When he vowed to win the Boston Marathon the year after the bombing, I believe he won it because he cared so much about the city of Boston and the people and runners that make the race so special. Connecting a goal to a personal issue can be incredibly motivating. 

2.) ​A good goal is specific. This one I embrace in every part of life. At work each quarter we set goals called OKRs and I remind myself that they should always be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Relevant, and Time-based). When you set a goal like "get better at running" it isn't really quantifiable. To make it measurable, think about it in terms of concrete numbers like, "I want to run 10 miles" or "I'd like to break a 2-hour half marathon." Make sure there's no ambiguity around what will label something 'accomplished' or 'not accomplished.'

3.) A good goal is challenging but realistic. While setting a goal to win the Boston Marathon is certainly lofty, it's completely unrealistic for me. There's a difference between being ambitious and selecting impossible challenges for myself. In his book, Meb says, "Making a Boston victory my goal was realistic. In my case, I had finished third and fifth in previous Boston marathons, so winning the race wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. Trying to win certainly required reaching, given that the race was held 2 weeks before my 39th birthday and I had the 15th-fastest personal best in the field. An example of a too-ambitious goal for me would be saying, 'I want to break the world record.' That would mean taking more than 5 ½ minutes off my personal best in one race. That’s unlikely at this stage in my career."
4.) A good goal has a time element. If you set a lofty goal, that's great!, but think about breaking up the long-term goal into smaller bites. He says, "For most runners, 3 to 6 months is a good range for achieving a main goal. That’s enough time to do the work to achieve it but also close enough to remain motivating on a daily basis." 
When I was trying to set a realistic pace for the marathon, I used this VDOT calculator to tell me the appropriate training paces, and it spit out the equivalent race performance paces too so now I sort of know what I'm capable of in a couple of weeks.

​This age-grade calculator was also helpful in understanding how I compare to my peers. It lets you compare your race times to older and younger runners, and runners of the opposite sex. For example, when I plug in my results from the Tiburon Half Marathon, it says my score is 52.39% which means I'm a little under the mid-mark compared to my peers. What's cool about it is that it gives us a more level playing field to evaluate performance, and I'm all about level playing fields!

Once the marathon is over, I'm going to take several weeks to recover, stretch, and sit down with pen and paper to set my next set of goals. 

In this moment, my goal is to get Jon healthy and keep the kids asleep! And maybe another goal for tonight is to get through the last of this Parks and Recreation episode before I conk out. Tomorrow the goal is to run 20 miles! With Jon being sick, I'm going to be flexible with this goal but will definitely get a long one in since my body and head are craving a run as much as I'm craving the last glazed donut that keeps yelling my name from the box in the kitchen. Zip it, donut!

I hope you are having a great weekend! I'd love to hear if you have any goals you've set for yourself and how you got to setting the goal. Share it with me in the comments!
<![CDATA[Night Moves]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:30:00 GMThttp://therunningnoob.com/blog/night-moves3286428
Heaven is for real. The book aisle at the store told me so!
<![CDATA[Night Moves]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:09:40 GMThttp://therunningnoob.com/blog/night-moves4041929
Throwback to when The Dude was too young to write his own note for Santa. Transcribed verbatim, clearly.