That is the question… seriously though, look at all these beauties!! I have a serious problem!
The past few days, I’ve been celebrating learning how to run again after about a month off, including surgery on January 21st. I have had a series of short, barefoot, giddy runs that have left me wondering why some people don’t run. And on the other hand, I saw a runner that have left me wondering why some do. During my brief, restorative runs, I have felt so completely free that I theorized that perhaps I am actually becoming more bound. More bound to the sport, more bound to the love of running, more bound to the earth and its healing qualities, and most importantly, more bound to myself.
Admittedly, I struggle with resting and allowing my body to heal. The thing is, while I was sitting around doing all that healing stuff, my mind was lacking its usual outlet, which of course, is running. All that sitting around can do funny things to a person, and that’s why I decided to head out the door and try to find some peace and quiet for my mind, which was consequently running amok.
So, I started with walking, which I did for a couple of days. The next day, I walked again with Mike and was able to run four times for about 1 minute each time. Now, I don’t mean really running exactly, more of a funny little skip/waddle combo that felt just perfect with the healing incisions in my belly. Not to mention, I looked good, which is what really matters. A few days later, I was up to my gentle skip/waddle for up to a half mile, which I did a couple of times, and I was starting to resemble a wannabe runner. Two days ago however, I had a real breakthrough. I put on real running clothes, including my brand new huaraches, courtesy of www.earthrunners.com. Thank you Earth Runners! I will do a review of these guys once I’ve had more experience with them, but in the meantime, check out their website and what they have to offer. I had a great first impression.
Anyway, I went out for a run, and decided to start out very slowly, go until it felt right, then go back. I gently plugged along for about a mile, then decided to turn around. I took off the Earth Runners because I wanted to really feel the ground, and continued along barefoot. I was going REALLY slow. And I felt REALLY good. Nothing hurt, and my body felt like it was drinking in the gentle movement and energy I was collecting along the way. Afterall, that’s what healing is all about! Collecting energy vs. expending energy. Whether I was barefoot or wearing the Earth Runners, I really felt connected, or bound to my surroundings. This is good, Earth Runners nailed that part of it!
Last night, I decided to try that same 2 mile jaunt again, with the same choice in footwear. Half in Earth Runners, half barefoot. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was meant to be running and finding happiness again. Now, I know that recovering from ectopic pregnancy and surgery takes a toll on the whole person. While the people around me have been instrumental in my recovery, it was as if I was in need of an old friend in the way of running outdoors. So on I went last night, again slower than heck, but happy. I was even whistling my new jam, Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.” Don’t judge me, you know you love that song!
Anyway, I was whistling and shuffling along when I heard chaos behind me. What the… I turned around, and I was about to get passed by another runner! She was stomping towards me, with a look on her face that read, “GET OUT THE WAY!” and she had headphones on, but there wasn’t much point because I could hear her music blasting. It was something I didn’t recognize, but I remember thinking it was hilarious because it was a bubbly, poppy tune with a fast beat. It was a funny paradox because the girl attached to the tunes looked like she would sooner die than try to have a bubbly conversation with me. She actually looked like she might die if she had to take one step around me, so I decided to give her some leeway and hop onto the grass next to the sidewalk so she could charge by. As she passed, I turned and gave her a lopsided smile and a cheerful wave, but she just glared and stampeded on. I wanted to ask her if she was enjoying herself, but I figured she a) couldn’t hear me b) might kill me and c)I already knew the answer.
So, while I was pondering why some people don’t run, I found my answer through Miss I’d Sooner Die. Unfortunately, instead of enjoying ourselves, feeling the chill in the air, experiencing the ground beneath our feet, and drinking in our surroundings, we blast music in our ears, lock our feet up, put on an “eat shit” face and try to barrel through a 3 mile run and hope to experience none of it. Other times, maybe we hop on the treadmill to avoid the elements and put on a TV show and let the machine think for us. My intent is not to criticize these runners, because I have absolute respect for anyone who is getting out there and putting their health first. But, I do think that we’ve become a society that is much more bound to technology and distraction than bound to ourselves and relationships. Relationships involving each other as well as relationships with our surroundings. I’m guilty of this as well, when I’m networking on social media or sitting here on this blog instead of talking with my husband. But taking the time to escape those vices is valuable, and well worth the time.
Running has to be one of the purest forms of exercise, because you really don’t need any equipment. We could even run nude if we weren’t risking getting arrested! Now that would be entertaining… anyway,what was I talking about? Oh, right, running is pure. Yes, so the question is, are you running free? Or are you running bound? Both? And if you’re running bound, what are you bound to? Maybe the best answer is to run free to find yourself bound to your heart, the earth, and your surroundings.
Mike and I recently sat down and watched yet another documentary about plant based diets, called Vegucated. It was just another testimony of why I do what I do every day, and I’m so proud to support my health and the longevity of our great planet. I get asked all the time why I don’t eat meat, and so I thought I would list a few of the reasons. And no, I don’t eat chicken. And no, I will not eat soup if it has chicken broth as the base. And yes, I actually do get enough protein! And yes, I have more than enough energy to get through my day. While I do still eat cheese every once and a while, may or may not be addicted to frozen yogurt and allow myself to have some every now and again, and rarely eat fish, I eat no other products coming from animals. Therefore, I consider myself mostly vegan.
Many of the statistics below I got from Veg Fest in Portland. They put together a great pamphlet, and so I’m simply copying from the pamphlet for the actual numbers, but of course I’m adding my opinion in. I have sources, so if you’re interested, just ask. The other half, I made up. Just kidding! Maybe… 🙂
1. Raw meat grosses me out. Yes, it’s true. It always has, even back during the days of college when we used to have weekly cookouts at my house. My guy friends would be elbow deep in muck, marinating the meat and I would be behind them pretending not to gag. I’ve never been able to prepare meat without wanting to hurl, so I used to leave that job up to whoever else was around. When I lived by myself on internship, I would go an entire 2 months without eating meat simply because I hated to prepare it! Even lunch meat was too much… And then I would become OCD about what the meat touched, etc. When I became a vegetarian, it was such a relief because when I cook, I love to sample everything before cooking, and that’s part of the joy of mostly vegan preparation.
2. Greenhouse Gases. This was the reason why I originally went vegetarian, because livestock production generates 18% of greenhouse gases. That is more than all forms of transportation combined (13.5%)!! If you stop eating meat, your carbon footprint is smaller than if you buy a hybrid car. I drive a Prius too, so how small is my footprint?? 🙂 Global warming causes rising sea levels, increasing severity of natural disasters, etc.
3. Pollution: 64% of ammonia emissions come from livestock production. These seep into the air, soil, and water. All those animals? The poop and pee has to go somewhere! It goes into our water supplies, and the gas goes into the air. The demand for meat has risen dramatically, therefore so has the poop and pee… and farts! Pig farts anyone?
4.Energy. The same amount of fuel can produce 1 hamburger or 27 veggie burgers. Feed 1 or 27. You pick. In 2002, more than 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S. were used to raise animals for food. Drill baby drill? How ’bout eat less meat?
5.Common Sense. Here’s what I mean: The animals we raise for livestock eat tons of grain. It takes 13 kg of grain to produce only 1 kg of beef. 80% of the world’s soybean crop and more than 50% of all corn go to global livestock. If we simply ate the grains that were raised for animals, it would reduce energy, but it would also feed our hungry children. Here’s some stats: If Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%, it would free 12 million tons of grain. That’s enough to feed 60 million people. In the U.S. alone, food eaten by livestock could feed 1.3 billion people. To further drive this point in, every 5 seconds, a child dies of starvation. 820 million people in developing countries go to bed hungry every night.
6. Forestry, or lack thereof. 70% of Amazon forests have been turned into grazing land or land to grow soybeans for feed cattle and chicken. And cattle are supposed to eat grass… hello bacteria in the belly, which I’ll get to later. An area of rainforest the size of 7 football fields is destroyed every minute to make room for grazing cattle. And last but not least, 100 species become extinct daily due to tropical deforestation.
7. Livestock is taking over our land. Livestock occupies 30% of the land surface. 80% of agricultural land in the US is used to raise animals for food, only 7% are used for growing plants for humans. In the same time span, the same amount of land can produce 1kg of meat, 160 kg potatoes, 200 kg tomatoes. Hmmm….
8. Water. Agriculture sector uses nearly 70% of world’s freshwater supply, within which the heaviest water use is by the animals we raise for meat. To produce 1 lb of lettuce, it takes 23 gallons of water. 1 lb of wheat takes 25 gallons water. 1 lb of apples takes 49 gallons of water. 1 lb of chicken takes 815 gallons of water. 1 lb of pork takes 1630 gallons of water. 1 lb of beef takes 5214 gallons of water. WOW!
9. Animal welfare. It probably goes without saying that animals that are raised for food production really aren’t treated very well. There are countless videos you can find online of animals being mistreated during the time they’re being raised, transported and slaughtered, and this clearly is not monitored… at all. During the past 50 years, worldwide meat production has increased fivefold. 56 billion land animals are slaughtered globally for human consumption each year, and that is expected to double by 2050. In the U.S alone, more than 9 billion chickens are raised for flesh every year, a million killed each hour. And this free range stuff?? Chickens are required to have 3 feet of space to be considered “free range” and this is not closely monitored by any governing body. Therefore, chickens are still stuffed in warehouses with their “3 feet of space” even though many can’t even walk that far, due to being pumped full of hormones to grow at an exponential rate. Their bodies can’t keep up, they become top heavy and have great difficulty walking around… many suffer from heart conditions and other diseases due to their organs being unable to support their growing bodies appropriately. Pigs are known to be very intelligent, social animals, and they are kept in deplorable conditions, with mamas in tiny cages where they can’t turn over or interact with others. And hello!! Pigs are so cute!
10. Our welfare. Due to the high demand we put on livestock production, they are forced to produce larger animals, more animals, etc. To meet this demand, the animals are crammed into small spaces creating more opportunity for disease, fed despicable food laced with antibiotics to ward off the disease, given hormones for rapid growth, and being raised in unsanitary conditions therefore needing chemical treatment to rid the meat of bacteria. Meat, dairy, fish, and eggs in the market are loaded up with those same antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and bacteria. No wonder we are becoming an antibiotic resistant society, with more food borne illnesses, and spiking cancer rates. Do you really know what you’re putting into your body? We should be nourishing ourselves and our families.
11. The China Study. The China Study, directed by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, is recognized as the most comprehensive study ever conducted that looks at the relationship between diet and risk of disease. Guess what they found? Those communities that ate a plant based diet were disease free or had very low rates of disease in the community. Other communities that incorporated meat into their diet had significantly higher risks of obesity and therefore diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. There are many other studies that have found the same relationship, but this study is by far the best one as it spanned 20 years and looked at over 6000 people. The study advocates a plant based diet free of dairy, processed foods, and meat. It also relates that a plant based, whole foods diet will reduce, prevent and reverse disease. A separate study conducted by Dr. Campbell, but not at all unrelated, was his study of rats. Dr. Campbell had two separate groups of rats, one of which was fed 20% animal protein (casein) and one was fed 5% animal protein. All of the rats that were fed 20% animal protein developed liver cancer, and the ones that were fed 5% animal protein did not. Then, he went even further when he found that he could turn on and turn off the cancer cells by discontinuing feeding the animal protein and starting it back up again, proving that a plant based diet could actually reverse the growth of cancer cells. This is the premise for the Gerson Therapy, a plant based, whole foods diet to reverse diseases such as cancer, heart disease, etc. But since it is illegal in the U.S. to treat cancer with anything other than chemotherapy and radiation, the Gerson clinics are strategically placed outside of the U.S. The meat/dairy industry as well as the pharmaceutical giants have a firm hold on our government and our healthcare system. Therefore, even though we know the solution to our growing problem, money talks. There’s big money in livestock production and drugs. Not so much money in eating well and actually getting healthy, right? Did I go off on a tangent? This happens sometimes…
12. Healthcare costs. We spend a lot of time talking about reducing the cost of healthcare these days. After my last tangent, this one doesn’t need much explanation. Obesity is an epidemic, which is a precursor to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, COPD, etc. etc. Need I go on? We need to start reducing cost of healthcare by thinking about what we are putting into our bodies. People say things to me like, “Adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet is so extreme.” Well, it depends on your definition of extreme, really. I see “extreme” every day, when I see my patients suffering from these diseases. They are living an extreme lifestyle, depending on supplemental oxygen to breathe, taking over 20 prescription drugs to keep their blood pressure down and their glucose levels under control, and relying on open heart surgery to solve their problems. Open heart surgery costs over $300,000 alone, not to mention the follow up and prescription medications that are still required following the procedure. That is what I consider to be extreme, especially when we know that many procedures and medications could be prevented or eliminated with a whole foods, plant based diet.
Ok, so did I get too serious for a while? It goes without saying that I am passionate about the health and wellbeing of others, especially when I see patients daily that could have had a much better quality of life. So, I’ll try to end on a lighter note.
13. Vegetarians are better poopers. That’s right!! Don’t believe me? Eat a lentil/black bean burger with flax seed, put spinach on top and eat it on Ezekiel sprouted bread. You know what you’ll be doing in the morning? Sittin’ on the toilet. More fiber in your diet equals a happier colon that is more regular. More pooping equals less belly bloat and discomfort. Yessir, poopin’ is good. This topic needs a whole ‘nother blog post, so prepare to hear more about this later. In the meantime, here’s a happy song for your morning toilet time.
I’ve been unsure about writing this post for the past couple of weeks, but I feel a sudden burst of clarity. If one person reads this and is grateful that another is going through the same journey, then it’s worth it to me. The thing is, these past few weeks have made me realize that kindness is abundant, and my faith in humanity has been restored over and over. My eyes are open wider now, and I’m seeing things I never noticed before. My husband and I have never felt such love for each other and for the people around us. It’s never been so crystal clear that Mike and I are supposed to be together, and we’re supposed to be going down this path. Lastly, I’ve never been more proud to be a strong woman receiving help from other women who’ve been in my shoes or who are simply there to bring flowers or send love.
My friend Emily gave me an image when this all started: She said that the underside of the tapestry is filled with knots and tangles, and it’s easy to get lost in the web. But eventually, you realize that the knots and tangles on the underside of the tapestry are important; they create the intricate and beautiful design on top, a carefully planned work of art.
So let me tell you the short version of our story.
Mike and I took an awesome vacation to Frisco, CO and Jackson Hole, WY to ski with some of our friends. We had a BLAST!! Skiing every day followed by epic trail winter trail running above 9000 feet was our own little version of paradise. It could’ve been a little warmer, but no one’s complaining. The first day I got to CO, I experienced some abdominal cramping that lasted about 45 minutes, but a little ibuprofen and a heating pad did the trick, and I had no problems after that. I attributed it to the altitude, as I always get some GI distress from high elevations. No big deal! Exactly one week later in Jackson Hole, on January 3rd, the cramps were back. Big time. Lying in bed, curled up and taking more Ibuprofen, I vaguely wondered if something was wrong.
The next morning, I got up to wash my face and get ready to ski, when WHAM!! I was doubled over at the sink again, having those awful cramps. I took more Ibuprofen, laid down again and was able to walk within the next hour or so. So of course, I decided to go skiing! Meanwhile, I was texting with my mom telling her about my issues of the previous night and the morning. Throughout the day, my mom probably told me four times that I needed to be sure I wasn’t pregnant. Oh by the way, my mother is an OB/GYN. And by the way, I was in total denial about being pregnant. It didn’t make sense! I just got off of birth control in November, and I’d had a period in December (or so I thought. It turns out it was just abnormal bleeding) and I was due for another soon, so it must just be terrible cramps right?
So, I went skiing. It was a bad idea. Each bump was torturous, as if the snow monsters were reaching up and trying to pull me down with each turn. Sound dramatic? You should’ve seen it, that was dramatic. After an hour or less, I told Mike and Backus (my longtime childhood friend) that I needed to stop. The events that followed were nothing short of the most painful cramps and muscle spasms I’ve ever experienced. Walking was a challenge, sitting was more challenging, and appearing normal in public was out of the question. I got a ride from the shuttle back home after an hour and a half of waiting, and curled up into my now familiar fetal position back in bed. “You need to make sure you’re not pregnant,” my mom’s voice echoed through my body. “If you are, you need to go immediately to the ER, I think you have an ectopic pregnancy, and it could rupture.” I finally sent Mike out to get some pregnancy tests.
I took one test, then another. Like so many hopeful mothers, I’d been through this moment hundreds of times in my mind. Emotions like joy, elation, and hope were always the first feelings that would arise from my reverie, the way that things are supposed to be. But in this moment, the reality was looking down at that little positive symbol, and I didn’t feel anything except sheer terror. Then the second positive symbol. More terror. I knew that I’d lost this pregnancy already, whether it was a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. It wasn’t normal to be in that much pain. Even with the knowledge that I had, I still held on to a tiny shred of hope as we made our way to the ER.
In the ER, I refused all pain meds and anything else they wanted to give, just in case… After a few hours, the doctor gently explained the bad news, as two pale faced would be parents stared back at him in disbelief. I’d either already miscarried, or I was still carrying an ectopic pregnancy. Two days later, a blood test confirmed that I was still pregnant, but my HCG (the pregnancy hormone) levels were rising abnormally indicating an ectopic pregnancy. Another ultrasound and one fantastic OB/GYN later, we decided to go with a methotrexate injection to terminate the pregnancy that had taken over my right Fallopian tube for the last 5 or so weeks. Methotrexate is actually a chemotherapy agent. It seems that since chemotherapy stops cancer cells from multiplying, it also stops pregnancy cells from multiplying in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. My HCG levels were quite high (8900) and the size of the pregnancy was borderline large, so we knew it was going to be a gamble going this route versus surgery to remove the pregnancy, but we were willing to take the risk. Mike and I’s top priorities were to make sure I was safe and to ensure that we could have a healthy pregnancy in the future. Save the Fallopian tube if possible! And so then we began the process of waiting.
We were able to fly home on Tuesday, January 8th, where my doctor in Portland was waiting for me if there were any problems. Every couple of days, I’ve been back to the doctor for yet another ultrasound and HCG test to make sure my levels are dropping, i.e. the methotrexate is working. The good news is that the methotrexate is working, but the bad news is that I’m still having quite a bit of internal bleeding and pain. Pain keeps me awake at night, and I wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t go to the ER again. Sleeping in the recliner isn’t ideal, but I’ll do what I have to do. It looks like there’s a great possibility I will need to go into surgery on Monday afternoon because of the pain, bleeding, and dropping hematocrit levels.
This whole experience has been nothing short of humbling. I’m fully aware that modern medicine is saving my life, and I’ve never been more grateful. I mentioned strong women earlier, and my mom is surely the strongest. She probably saved my life on January 4th, when she diagnosed me with an ectopic pregnancy over the phone despite my insistence that I wasn’t pregnant. She told me to go to the ER when I wasn’t sure I needed to, and I certainly did. I became pregnant probably 2 weeks after stopping birth control pills, despite the myth that it “takes a while.” I heard my dad (also an OB/GYN) break down and fight for what he knew was right for my treatment, simultaneously revealing his love for us and the severity of the situation. So you see, the topside of the tapestry is becoming clearer. I feel so lucky and so blessed that I can a) get pregnant and b) that I am surrounded by the strength of my family and friends to pick me up when things don’t exactly go as planned… the way I would’ve planned it anyway. But this is surely all a part of the big picture, the design and the path I’m supposed to travel with my partner in life.
One of the reasons that I wanted to write this post is because in speaking with other women, I’ve realized how many of us are facing or have faced challenges with fertility and with pregnancy. It’s amazing how strong we all are and how we continue to be optimistic and supportive of one another. Sometimes, we feel like we can’t talk about it or we shouldn’t, but sharing my story and hearing others’ has been healing. One of the darkest thoughts we can have, even if it’s transient, is that this is our own fault. I opened that door, but realized there’s nothing I could’ve done to prevent this. Mike and I are heartbroken for our loss, but we are looking forward to new life in the future. The thought of new life, the strength of friends and family, and the love that I feel from my husband and our little lost one is revealing the view of the topside of the tapestry. It’s perfect.
In the meantime, I’m baking! Check out this recipe I found on Pinterest: Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf! It is sooo good, vegan baking at its finest: The other pictures are my two little buddies, Pooh and Kisha dogs that are making sure I’m resting, and flowers from Lara and Christy, and a singing “Get Well” balloon from sweet Mike.
So if something is abnormal, even if you’re in denial about being pregnant, see your doctor. Don’t wait. Ectopic pregnancy is a life threatening condition, and I never thought it could happen to me.
Wow this race recap took a while for me! Sometimes, life gets in the way… I am still at home recovering, so I have some time to catch up. The Holiday Half Marathon and 5k is a festive little event in North Portland near the Adidas campus that took place on December 16, 2012. This was my second year running it, so I felt pretty confident I could beat my time from last year. Last year, I ran it in 1:47:23. My goal time going into the race was 1:45, and I felt that was a perfectly attainable goal.
My mistake with this race was not getting my things ready the night before…Hehe, I think it’s safe to say I was a bit over-confident. “It’s going to be fine!” I thought to myself, no problem. We sat around, had a nice dinner, and went to bed. We woke up with plenty of time to eat some breakfast, but realized that we didn’t have any coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but it’s my tradition to have a small cup of coffee before a race to give me an extra kick in the pants. Caffeine has certainly been shown to do that with running, so I was insistent that we get coffee somewhere. So we decided we would hit the 7-11 before the race, which was the only thing open that early in the morning on a Sunday. The absence of coffee in my pre-race routine must’ve been the thing that kicked off the chaos that ensued.
While I was pouting around the house about the missing coffee, I began putting my race clothes on. I had this really silly ugly Christmas turtleneck from my Mrs. Claus costume from the Jingle Bell Run, so I decided to wear that to be “cute” and festive during the race. I also donned my striped elf socks over my tights for a little extra flair. My running jacket happens to be green, which was perfect for the theme so I put that on too with the intention of converting it to a vest during the race. Knowing that we needed to stop and get coffee, we hurried out the door with probably not enough time…
We got coffee and headed downtown. About 2 minutes onto the interstate, I realized I’d forgotten my watch. Now ordinarily, I really wouldn’t care that much because I’ve never been much for wearing the watch anyway, but today, I was going for a PR! OH NO!!! I would need to monitor my pace in order to get the time I wanted right? PANIC!! I was driving, so I obviously started beating the crap out of the steering wheel with my clueless husband sitting next to me with his mouth hanging open. “I FORGOT MY WATCH!!” We really didn’t have time to go home and get it, because parking down there is a complete nightmare. As in there’s none right around Adidas, so you have to take a shuttle if you don’t get there early enough, which of course, we didn’t get a ticket for. So we kept on heading downtown, and I was frantically coming up with ideas. “Can’t you download a thing on my thing? You know what I’m saying??” I was practically shrieking.
My husband is wonderful, and knows how to translate. “A GPS running app for your iPhone?” he said, trying not to laugh at me. Of course he could laugh, he had his stupid GPS watch. He got to work on my iPhone as I continued to curse myself for forgetting my watch and for wearing such a silly turtleneck. I realized this was going to be a problem because it was pouring rain. Now, a cute Christmas turtleneck from Goodwill is one thing if it’s nice, sunny, weather, but it’s a terrible idea if it’s down pouring. Heavy cotton is the last thing you should be wearing in the pouring rain and wind.
When we pulled up to Adidas, we realized we were too late, because they’d already shut the roads down so we couldn’t get through to try to find a parking space. We were directed down to the parking lot a couple miles away, so we would need to take the shuttle. Which we didn’t have a ticket for. We were screwed! The guy mercifully let us onto the shuttle, so I plan to contact Foot Traffic to see if we can donate some money to them or a charity of their liking for letting the bandits on the bus, wearing an ugly Christmas turtleneck nonetheless.
On the bus, I tried to familiarize myself with my new running app on my iPhone thanks to my wonderful husband. I also realized at this point I’d forgotten a hat, which would have been pretty crucial in the weather. We pulled up to Adidas for the start with a few minutes to spare to check our bag and prepare to start. The line for bag check was wrapped twice around the garage. Wow!! I think they underestimated the amount of people at this race! Here we were, 20 minutes until the start with hundreds of people trying to check bags, and the line was immobile. The porta potty situation was pretty poor too, forget about going to the bathroom before the race. There must have been more people than last year! Either that or our planning was terrible, I’m not sure which. Probably a bit of both.
In line, I adjusted my Injinji socks and my VFF See Yas, which were just starting to get a little hole in the pinky toe. Wow, I’ve been putting some mileage on these! I suppose I’ve had them since April now, that’s pretty good for such a thin sole. 3 or 3.5 mm if I remember correctly? I feel almost sentimental towards those shoes! I also counted out 40 Energy Bits and swallowed them with some water. Here goes nothing! First race with Energy Bits! I’d been training with them, so I knew I could expect a wonderful surge of energy that would carry me through the race, despite a pretty low start to the morning. No one to blame but myself for that though…
Because it took us so long to get our bags checked, we were stuck in the middle to the back of the crowd. It was raining pretty hard at this point, and I realized that I had also forgotten to convert my jacket into a vest and check the sleeves. I had no choice but to take the sleeves off and pack them into the back of my jacket, which makes me appear to have a giant booty bouncing around from far away. I’m told it’s pretty entertaining! You’re welcome, to the people running behind me 🙂 I had my iPhone in my front pocket of my jacket, which also felt big and bulky to say the least. I started the iPhone as I crossed the timing mat, which was pretty awkward because I was juggling my phone and some red “throw away” gloves.
There were lots of turns during the first part of the race, so I was effectively blocked in by runners as we funneled through the narrow streets. I was pretty antsy, so I scurried over to the sidewalk with a couple other runners who were doing the same in order to pass some of the others. This seemed to work pretty well and I was trying to make up the time that I’d lost being blocked in earlier. I finally fished out my phone to see how fast I was going, and I was holding a 6:30 min/mile pace at that point! Ok, ok, that’s too fast!! To get a time of 1:45, I would need to hold 8:00 min/miles, or slightly less.
I slowed down to about 7:30 min/miles, but I am incredibly stubborn and could not convince myself to go any slower than that. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me sometimes. I just feel SO GOOD during the first half of the race!! I can hold this, it’ll be great! I fell into running with a group of ladies that looked very strong, a local running group. I was feeling great, so I tried to talk to them a little, saying some encouraging things. By this point, we were starting to see some of the leaders coming back, which is always inspiring to pick up the pace a bit. The race is mostly out and back, but it’s a bit further out than it is back. I said something like, “Wow, it’s great to see the really fast people coming back! It gives me a little more energy!” The ladies I was running with were not amused. They apparently all knew each other and did not particularly want to associate with me. Oh, I forgot to mention I was also wearing Christmas underwear over my pants. Superhero style. With the Muppets character, Animal on them. So I guess wearing a soaked Christmas turtleneck and underwear is not quite as cool as their slick tech running club shirts! Oh well, that’s ok.
During the race, it began to monsoon. That was some of the most killer rain and wind I’ve ever run in, much less raced in. The rain and wind made things irritating. My gloves became sopping wet, and I couldn’t work my phone with them on, so I decided to throw them out. I then tried to shelter my freezing hands with my shirt, but it was also dripping cotton. My jacket, which I was wearing as a vest, is supposed to be water resistant, but nothing could resist the pelting rain and wind. My vest offered no protection to my phone, which became totally soaked. My fingers were so cold, that at about mile 9, I was totally incapable of working it. I’m pretty sure my phone also just completely pooped out at that point and decided to quit. The only real problem I have with this race course aside from the terrible weather that struck is the cant in the road. The cant is quite severe on many parts of the course, and I felt like I should have been in a velodrome. The road was so slanted, sometimes I found myself running from side to side because I couldn’t stay on a straight path! Cant is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but it could be because I’m a PT and notice things like that. I even began to imagine at one point that I was developing hip pain from the awkward surface, but decided it was all in my head. (It was.) On the bright side, there are some nice neighborhoods that we ran through, as well as a pretty view of the river.
Along the road with the pretty view, the wind was threatening to blow us over. My race number, poor thing, couldn’t hang. Probably about the same time I lost the ability to use my fingers and my phone, my race number took flight. I’d noticed that one of the four holes had ripped, so my race number was hanging by three safety pins and flapping provocatively in the wind. I was trying to bow my head into the wind, which was coming from the right on the way back, when all of the sudden I saw a race number flying around. “Oooh, that sucks, bummer for that person,” I thought, looking around for the idiot without a race number. It took me about 5 seconds to realize that I was the idiot! Oh no, my race number with my chip is flying around!! I started chasing it around on the ground, but of course, as soon as I came up to it, the bastard would fly away again. Finally, the rain worked in my favor and held it to the ground long enough for me to get it. Mind you, my fingers were still not functional so I sort of balled up the number and held it in my left hand. I had to keep looking down to make sure I was still holding it!
My pace stayed at 7:30 until about mile 6 when I decided I really needed to slow down. I slowed down to 7:45 or so until right after the turn around, when we started going uphill and into a headwind. At that point, I looked down at my phone and I was going 8:30 min/miles! Luckily, it was at that time that my lifeboat arrived. I felt strong and the Energy Bits were working. I kicked it up a notch, bowed my head into the wind and took off. I checked my phone again and kept it steady at 7:45 min/mile throughout the rest of the race. I think, anyway, but I’m not sure since I couldn’t look at my phone after mile 9. But I must have, based on my finishing time. I felt strong, and hammered through those last miles despite the conditions absence of the ability to use my fingers. I couldn’t even stop at the last water stop because I was incapable of grabbing a cup! Again, totally my fault. I was figuring that I had maybe a mile left, when all of the sudden, I looked up and saw the mile 13 marker. What?? I only have 0.1 mile left? That set a fire under my Animal underwear, and I took off! I tore for the finish, and was so happy! My finishing time was 1:42:16, 5 minutes faster than last year, and a new PR for my half marathon. Mike blew my mind with a finishing time of 1:27:33!! That’s a pace of 6:41. He never ceases to amaze me.
What I want to really focus on, is how Energy Bits got me through this race. One couldn’t ask for worse conditions and worse planning on my part. A poor start to the morning was followed by pure energy, focus, and the ability to stay above the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers that I faced during the half marathon. I truly felt I could rise above the weather, the cold, and the idiotic wardrobe choices. So have you heard of Energy Bits?
Let’s talk about them. I discovered Energy Bits when I became interested in using real food for fuel vs. the sugary gels that I’ve used in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I still use Clif gels for a kick in the pants, but prefer to use cleaner energy if possible. Energy Bits have one ingredient. One. Spirulina, which is a form of algae, has been recognized as the most powerful, nutritionally dense food in the world. And that happens to be the one ingredient in Energy Bits. The minimum recommended “dose” is 30 bits, but more is obviously more beneficial to your performance. I took 40 before the race and it really seemed to do the trick for me. During training runs, I ate Energy Bits and had some of the fastest training runs I’ve ever had. And I typically don’t train fast, which is a flaw of mine, but these things just facilitate a stronger, faster run. Not to mention, a happy run! It sounds silly, but I always feel really happy, or almost elevated, or dare I say high? Keep in mind, Spirulina is NOT a drug, it’s just an amazing superfood! While it may sound hard to believe, healthy, pure, nutritional food is the key to our health and therefore our performance in athletics. We are unfortunately, a society that is run by pharmaceutical companies and gimmicks to put a band aid over our problems and provide temporary fixes, as well as temporarily boost our performance. Overall health is about enriching our lives with the best foods on this earth, and increasing our longevity. That’s what Energy Bits are about. Health, performance, and longevity via the simplest route you can think of: Find the most nutritious food on this planet and grow it organically for the most pure supplement and performance enhancer. Did I go off on a tangent too much? 🙂 Don’t get me started on pharmaceutical companies…
Anyway, on the Energy Bits website, they discuss the performance aspect of the bits for athletics:
“For any sport or workout, you need glucose and protein and for a really top performance, your muscles need rapid access to them. This is why nitric oxide is so important. It opens up blood vessels so key nutrients can quickly get where they need to go. Our algae tabs are the trifecta of nutrition because they provide your body with glucose, protein and even nitric oxide. All naturally too. Our algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (over 60%), all in amino acid form so it quickly converts to glucose. This gives you an energy boost and mental wake up without chemicals, sugar or caffeine All for just one calorie per tab. We recommend our ENERGYbits® algae tabs (which are 100% spirulina) for any athletic or high endurance activity. Spirulina algae has been a favorite of Olympic athletes and trainers for decades. You’ll find out why the first time you try them.”
I am so impressed by this company, that I recently became a proud ambassador for them. If you have any specific questions for me, please ask me as I’m happy to answer. I should mention that the bits are going to be a powerful tool for me while I’m recovering from my medical emergency, as I’m slightly anemic due to blood loss. I couldn’t tolerate an Iron supplement, so I’ve started taking the bits daily to see if this is beneficial for getting my hematocrit levels to rise. Here is a little snapshot of some of the nutritional highlights of Energy Bits and spirulina, taken from the website:
Nutritional highlights of Spirulina:
- Provides 12 times the amount of bio-available protein as steak
- Is composed of 60%-64% protein compared to meat (27%) or soy (34%)
- More beta carotene than any other whole food
- 58 times more iron than raw spinach
- 12 times more iron than beef liver
- Richest source of antioxidants – necessary for health, and anti-aging
- Richest source of vitamin A (which helps your eyesight)
- Richest plant source of GLA to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure
To summarize the half marathon, a poopy start to the race followed by even poopier weather and slanted roads ended up ending on a high note as I finished 5 minutes faster than my fastest half marathon, and 3 minutes faster than my goal time thanks to Energy Bits as fuel and my Animal Christmas underwear.
Interested in ENERGY BITS? ASK ME QUESTIONS!! INTERESTED IN A DISCOUNT? USE the code BAREFOOT at checkout at EnergyBits.Com for 30% off!
Sometimes when we think we’re at the top of our game, life gives us a good whack to bring us back down to earth. I thought I was pretty invincible and ready to have the best start to 2013 with two big races and one epic fun run coming up. The Mac Ass 25K with lots of elevation gain, followed running the entire Wildwood Trail (31 miles) in Forest Park, followed by the Hagg Lake Mud Run 50k. I’ve been chomping at the bit, running up and down mountains, running at high altitude, running on snow, and cross training with skiing down double black diamonds in Jackson Hole, WY. Invincible, right?
Wrong. On Thursday evening and into Friday of last week, I experienced a medical emergency. My illness was totally unrelated to running, but nevertheless, I ended up in the ER with my wonderful husband at my side. Both of us pale faced and in disbelief, we finally accepted the fact that things would be different for a while. We would need to recover emotionally and I would need to recover physically. One at a time, doctors told me that I needed to rest including no work, no strenuous exercise, and definitely no running.
Crap. Today, it is difficult for me to get up the stairs. It is difficult for me to bend over and put on my socks and my shoes. I was so tired after showering that I had to sit on the couch for half an hour before attempting my next move. My point is, this is one of the most emotionally draining and humbling experiences of my life. That being said, here’s what I’m thankful for:
- My prior heath and fitness level to keep me strong during recovery
- My beautiful partner in life, my husband Mike to hold my hand
- My family who has been so supportive and knowledgeable in our time of need. Thanks Jill, Mom, Dad, Claudia, Ken, and Lauren!
- My friends who are my second family, they’re calling and texting and sending love.
- My co-workers who are working overtime to see Mike and I’s patients when we cannot be there. And my supervisors who are like family at this point and sending their love and compassion.
- The future prospect of health, running and new life.
My friend, Emily, gave me a beautiful image to get through this difficult time. She said that the underside of the tapestry is twisted in knots and tangles, and sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the endless web. It takes some time, but eventually you will be able to see the top of the tapestry, which holds a beautiful, intricate design. Without the knots and tangles holding it together, the design wouldn’t be as beautiful or well put together. Thank you Emily, for that healing thought.
In the meantime, here are some pictures that we snapped before our setback:
Well, it’s official. Mike and I gave notice to our wonderful director at work on Friday that we will be setting sail in February. Since we both work for the same company, we decided it was only fair to give a 2 month notice in order to give them plenty of time to fill the positions. It’s a scary thing, really, when you love a place and you’re comfortable there to find the courage to spread your wings. I was feeling that 12-21-12 was going to be the beginning of a new era, and so it is. It just so happens to be exactly 2 months from when we are planning for our last day.
2.5 years ago, Oregon was supposed to be a temporary stop on our way to California. This place is something special, I guess! I said a long time ago, this city has soul, and I think it always will. Mike and I have really grown here, both individually and as a couple. I found a love for trail running, barefoot running, racing, and eatin’ greens. Mike also found a love for trail running, triathloning (is that a word?) and snowboarding. And all of the sudden, we have incredible friends and relationships that we didn’t think we’d find here. All of the sudden, it feels like home. And now, we’re leaving. Why? I’m glad you asked.
Ever since I met Mike, he’s been California dreamin’. Mike is more at home in the water than most people, and definitely more so than anyone I’ve met. He lives for the ocean, it gives him energy and then quiets him. This is important, because otherwise, he has so much energy he bounces all over the house and he’s difficult to deal with. And all this after he’s run for 10 miles, completed a Suffer Fest video on the bike trainer, and lifted weights. I’m exhausted just watching him. The only thing that seems to wear him out is surfing, and so we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to live basically on the coast. But, I will go crazy if I’m taken away from trails for running, so we found the seemingly perfect place: Ventura County, CA.
Ok, ok, so we haven’t been there yet. We’ve been on a trip to Northern California and Southern California, but never anywhere Central. In March, we are going to meet up with the family to check out Ventura County and of course, Santa Barbara for vacation. There’s supposedly good surf there, and supposedly good trails nearby to explore. I’ve also heard there’s mountain lions… I will crap my pants if I see a mountain lion. Please, someone tell me they’re just a myth? Like sharks, right? Sharks are the main reason I don’t surf more!
So the world didn’t end Friday, but it did signify the beginning of a new era and a new adventure for us. We can’t wait to live in a sunnier, drier place and begin to lay down some roots. We’re looking forward to buying a house and becoming part of a new community. That being said, we sure are going to miss Portland! What an incredible place we chose to start our lives together. Portland will always feel like home and I think our new friends are going to turn into old friends. And I’m definitely going to leave my heart on the Wildwood Trail, where I found myself and my love of running.
I’ve spent the past few days fluctuating between sheer elation for the gift of life and utter despair for the premature loss of life and hope last Friday. How can we move forward? How do we keep our faith in humanity? I honestly don’t know.
On Friday, my last patient of the day had a 5 year old and a 3 year old. Two precious babies who were spared from knowing the gory details of the massacre, but who seemed somehow aware that all was not well in the world. My patient’s eyes were glassy as she held them close and tried to participate with therapy. We both were in a different world though, as we watched her two healthy boys wriggle around, their little faces glowing with wonder. How? Why? Who could do this?
On Friday after work, I went for a run. I didn’t know what else to do, and I was getting ready for the Holiday Half Marathon on Sunday. I went for 4 miles in the darkness, and let the tears flow. While I don’t have children of my own, I’ve felt the joys of holding little ones close as a babysitter and as a friend to mothers. Their eyes, full of life and innocence, can never seem to open wide enough to take in all the world has to offer. At times I felt numb, and other times so full of emotion that I had to stop, squat down and cry. It was a healing cry, and a yearning to reach out, to do something. A cry for help from the Earth to pick us up and put us back together. Especially our friends in Newtown.
But it felt good to run. It felt good to go fast and feel something so real that it was terrifying. While everyone is dealing with this tragedy differently, I feel that it’s important to face the reality that it happened. And it happened at an elementary school, the most horrible place I can think of for a massacre.
2012 has been a wild and crazy year for just about everyone I know. A year of trials, a year of lessons, accidents, triumphs, and love to name a few. On December 21st, 2012, some believe that the world will end, thanks to the Mayan calendar ending on this date. While I’m not sure that will happen, I do think that we are entering a new era of sorts. A time to reflect on the changes that need to be made and a time to realize what is really important to us. So what is really important? For me, it’s relationships. Relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with our environment.
Running is the glue that brings all these relationships together. Running strengthens us physically and ignites within us the inner glow we need to move forward. Running with others captures the moments that are most raw, when we’re not afraid to be ourselves and seek help from our friends. And running with the Earth beneath us provides the healing energy needed to keep our faith in humanity. Running in the darkest hour, like I did on December 14, 2012, can provide us with an inner peace and courage to go towards the light.
While I hope that the world doesn’t end on December 21st, I do hope that we can all continue on our journey, one foot in front of the other. Hopefully, stumbling towards the light.
A QUESTION FOR YOU: WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE GOING INTO 2013?
Well, my toes are officially abnormal. I was so excited about the Vivobarefoot Achilles, but sadly I had to put them back in the cute little bag they came in and send them home. Away from my crazy middle toe that cannot be tamed. My overall impression was good other than my toe issue. But unfortunately, because of my whacky anatomy, I really couldn’t run over a mile in these little cutie pies. Take home message for these shoes: Try them on before you buy!
Pros: Ground feel, appearance, easy peasy strapping system (somewhat uncommon in running sandals!), zero drop, 3.5 mm stack height, high quality materials, 4.2 oz weight, vegan. Love the furry friends! Split toe design provides good stability, no slippage when running.
Cons: Split toe design is not for everyone. Case in point, check out my misbehavin’ toe below. Split toe design will take some getting used to for all you folks with a smaller space between big toe and middle toe and will require a period of breaking in. Blisters could result during the break in time.
HAS ANYONE ELSE HAD TROUBLE WITH THE SPLIT TOE/CAGE DESIGN? I’D LOVE TO HEAR! PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH WHACKY FEET…
There comes a time in training for an event that you think to yourself, “Wow, I can never run that mileage that I’m supposed to run during training!” Then, there’s that pivotal moment when you realize that not only have you done the training, but you’re faster and stronger than before. That’s the beautiful thing about running. You only get out of it what you put into it. So when that moment comes that you realize you’re a BAMF, (I just learned what BAMF means) celebrate your strength and say, “Hey Jack! Hey, you’re gonna do this race boys.” On a side note, I’ve been watching WAY too much “Duck Dynasty.” Have y’all ever watched that show? I think I’m slowly turning into Uncle Si.
This coming weekend, Mike and I are doing the Foot Traffic Holiday Half Marathon in downtown Portland. I am still putting my costume together. I’m thinking tacky Christmas underwear over my tights with a Christmas turtleneck. At the very least, anyway. Now usually, I am content to have a goal of just finishing the race, but for some reason Mike and I both decided to actually go for a PR. My goal time is 1:45 or around an 8:00 min/mile pace, and Mike’s is 1:30 which is about a 6:45 min/mile pace. Yes, he’s fast!
My husband was hit by a car in April of this year, and ever since then, he has had a zest for life that is difficult to keep up with. Ok, I’m totally exhausted. He has always been athletic, but I’ve never seen someone so determined to recover from an injury. He was obsessive about his rehab and has carried that over to his training for the Portland Triathlon in October, (hit by a car and 6 months later racing again) Run Like Hell 10K, and the upcoming Holiday Half Marathon on Dec. 16. Needless to say, his energy is contagious and I decided to actually try to run faster too.
We found a half marathon training program that was labelled intermediate, but if you ask me, it’s harder than that. I still have this ingrained fear of running more than 2 days in a row due to my history of injuries over the last 15 years give or take. I now realize that I can run more than two days in a row, or even three or four, without getting injured due to my barefoot running and veggie fuel. And I’m a BAMF. So I’ve been running 30+ miles per week for the last several weeks, which is more mileage than I’ve ever logged during back to back weeks consistently. That may not sound like much to some, but to me, it’s still not even real.
For fueling runs, I typically use Clif Shot Gels, which have never done me wrong. But, they may not be as right as I’d like them to be. I’m getting picky now! All gels in general are pretty sugary, and so even the ones without caffeine can leave me feeling a little jittery at times. I’ve already known some about the benefits of adding super foods to the diet including spirulina and chlorella, two forms of algae, as I already use Catie’s Greens. Anyway, I was snooping around the Twitter, and I kept seeing posts about bits and Energy Bits and #PoweredByBits. I was curious, so I checked out their website. I will go into much greater detail on a later post, but the Energy Bits are basically pure, compacted spirulina. Obviously, an all natural, plant protein superfood magical tablet. Sold. I talked with one of their ambassadors, Ray Jackson @RayRunsLong who is an ultra runner, and was convinced when he told me they could fuel his long runs. So long story short, I ordered a bag and off I went. I will officially review Energy Bits later when I’ve logged more miles with them, but these things are great so far.
So that pivotal moment, the one when I realized that I am going to meet my goal time this weekend, was last night when I ran 8 miles after eating 20 or so Energy Bits. After skiing 3 hours in the morning. Man, I felt good! So I think I will use the Bits this weekend when I fuel up before the race vs. my usual Clif Gel. It’s a little scary, but I’m going to take the risk based on how I’ve been feeling while using them. Just a pure, happy energy during running.
In the meantime, a QUESTION FOR YOU! WHAT DO YOU USE FOR FUEL, and WOULD YOU EVER TRY ENERGY BITS?