Saturday, June 29, 2013

Marathon Training Week 5: Seven Miles

Well, I haven't been nearly as diligent about posting my weekly training updates as I was last year.  Of course, not everything is new and exciting to me like it was last year either.  That being said, today we ran seven miles.  This is the farthest I've run since December, and there are a few things I've noticed.

1)  I'm not in the same shape I was in last December.  Last December, seven miles was something I did before work.  It was fairly quick and easy, and it left me invigorated.  Today, seven miles was brutal.  Part of that is the heat, but a good portion of that is the fact that I didn't run for so long.

2)  I'm not even in the same shape I was in last June.  I can say with confidence that I feel exactly the same after this run as I did after the same run last year, but last year I was recovering from a small stomach bug.  This year I'm just tired.

3)  It's actually harder to train having run a marathon before.  Why?  Well, sure I have the mentality that I know I can do this, but I'm also comparing myself to how I was.  I'm sure that had I continued training through the winter and spring that this wouldn't be an issue, but I didn't continue training, and I can feel it.  Last year, everything was new and I was able to say, "Slow down.  Your body needs to ease up."  Or, "I feel great, keep going!"  Now, all I tend to say is, "You can do better than this.  Why are you so slow?"  That's actually a huge mental hurdle, because it leads to all sorts of self doubt.  I start to say things like, "If seven miles is this hard, will I be able to finish the marathon?"  "I don't remember it being so hard to get past mile 4.  I won't be able to finish a marathon if I can't get past mile 4."  So, yeah, there's a big mental hurdle there, but at least I recognize it and I'm working on it.

4) I really need to cross train.  I mean I REALLY need to cross train.  Last year, Hans and I had been meeting on Sundays with a trainer.  I don't think I quite understood just how much that was strengthening other parts of my body, and how much that helped my arms, knees, and ankles.  Now, I can actually feel how weak these parts are.  I can feel my knees turn in and my ankles roll (Note: this is not just when I run, but also when I climb stairs, walk on uneven surfaces, etc.).  So, I need to get back in the groove of things just so I can stay healthy.

5) I'm much more scared about injuring myself.  One injury was all it took.  Now I really worry about every ache and pain.  Of course, due to the fact that I'm not cross training as much, I'm at a greater risk for injury, so that doesn't help.

Essentially, what I'm learning is that there are things I need to work on.  I need to get out of my head a bit, but I also need to focus on my body.  I'm not perfect, and I need to be OK with that.  I will improve, but not overnight.  These are hard things to learn, but I'm getting there.  

Friday, June 21, 2013


OK, I really want to know how some people do it?  How can some people work a full day of work, keep a clean house, look gorgeous, and still present a beautiful, home-cooked meal?  Do they just never sleep?  Because, really, I'm exhausted 90% of the time, and I'm not able to do most of that.  Let me give you a run down of my daily schedule:

Scenario 1:

4:30 a.m. Wake, shower, get dressed.
6:00 a.m. Arrive at work
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Lunch- I stay at the kennel to answer phones over lunch, so it's only a break in the sense that I get to eat and the dogs are napping.
7:00 p.m. Kennel closes.  Sometimes I'll stay and have dinner here, other times I'll run errands.
8:30-9:30 Kennel night shift.
10:00 pm.  Home and bed

Scenario 2:
4:30 a.m. Wake, get dressed
5:15 a.m. Meet running buddy for a run
6:30 a.m. Return home / shower
8:00 a.m. Arrive at work
For the rest of they day, see Scenario 1

Scenario 3:
7:30 a.m. Wake, shower, get dressed, have breakfast
8:30 a.m. Take Hans to work
9:00 a.m.-12:00 pm Run errands / clean / do tasks that I don't usually get to do
12:00 pm-2:00 pm Lunch (often with Hans
2:00 pm-10:00 pm See Scenario 1

Scenario 3 is, by far, the easiest scenario.  The problem is, if I'm lucky, I'll get that scenario twice a week.  Generally, though, I have about 500 errands to run and not enough time to run them.  So, what gets sacrificed?  Well there are a few things:
     -Grocery Shopping
     -Other workouts (aka cross training)
     -Lawn care

The cleaning we can sometimes take care of by having Hans go home at 5:00 while I stay at the kennel, and for the cooking we have a toaster oven at the kennel we can use.  Of course, this means that none of our meals are delicious, home cooked meals, but eating pre-packaged fish or chicken nuggets is still better than eating out.  This works until we run out of groceries.  When that happens, we're then stuck trying to figure out what to eat when there's nothing in the freezer.  It kind of stinks.

So, I want to know.  How do others do it?  Can you see some time in there that I'm missing?  Should I not sleep in in scenario 3?  Should I stay up a little later?  Really, I'm looking for any help that anyone is willing to give.


Thursday, June 13, 2013


Trust is an important thing for me.  I feel it's vital in every solid relationship, and I know it's kind of hard to really feel.  I definitely have some major trust issues, and I deal with them constantly.  Because of my trust issues, I often push people away because I have the mentality of "hurt them before they hurt me."  It's kind of a crappy way to live.  This is where dogs amaze me, though.

Cody and Lollie trust me with their lives.  They trust me when I'm angry or sad or happy.  They trust me when I take them to the vet or to the park.  Somehow, I've conveyed to them that I will never, ever hurt them or abandon them, and they reward me with their trust.

For Cody, this isn't too difficult to understand.  I've had him since he was 12 weeks old.  He was only 11 pounds, and he was so vulnerable.  I could have hurt him, tossed him around, mistreated him, but I loved him, and he has loved me in return.  He's become my comfort and my protector.  He's balanced enough for me to use him in lessons to help another dog, and at the same time he's just crazy enough where I know I'm safe if someone tries to harm me.  He's kind of a perfect dog.

Lollie, though, is the one who really amazes me.  I have no idea what the first 2 1/2 yeas of Lollie's life were like.  Pure speculation leads me to believe she was a puppy mill dog, or at least stayed in a very confined space for long periods of time. I  think she's been a mom before, but I don't know how many times.  I know her last owner was loud and harsh (not mean, but not a good suit for her), but I don't know who owned her or how many owners she had before that.  It's taken her a long time to trust me.

Lollie trusted Cody first.  She learned to follow him and play with him, and in doing so she followed him to me.  I've spent a year and a half working with her.  I've introduced her to new people and environments, and I constantly watch her reactions.  At first, all she could in these new situations was shake.  She wouldn't look at me or acknowledge me.  If she stressed out too much, she'd poop.  It wasn't pretty.  After a while, though, she started to get a little better.  She wouldn't stress out right away, but after a few minutes she'd get overwhelmed.  And if anyone tried to pet her she'd shut down.  She just couldn't handle the attention.

Then, today, we did something neither of my dogs has ever done.  We had a chiropractor and acupuncturist come to see them.  I've wanted to try it on them for a while, but I was nervous.  How would they do?  Would it help?  What about Lollie?  Would she panic?

We put Cody on the table first.  He's fairly used to vet exams, so he took things in stride.  When the adjustment started, he looked back at the vet, but he seemed OK.  When we started the acupuncture, his eyes got wide and he looked at me and at the vet, but I held his head, and he tolerated it.

If you know anything about acupuncture, you know it's not just a quick needle-in, needle-out sort of thing.  The needles have to rest for a while, so Cody had to stay still with tons of needles in him for about 20 minutes.  The poor boy was so confused.  He tried to twist and bite the needles out, but when I told him to lie down he did so.  He looked up at me with slight alarm at first, but as I gave him a couple of treats, held him, and soothed him, I felt him relax until he eventually fell asleep.  Lollie watched all of this carefully and at one point even came over to check out her brother.

When we removed the needles, Cody was great.  He was happy to have them out, but he also seemed more relaxed than I've seem him in years.  It was hilarious.

Next, we had Lollie.  The vet and I chatted about only doing acupuncture with her, because we weren't sure if she'd be able to handle all the activity of both acupuncture AND chiro.  I said, "Let's just try."  I had to pick Lollie up and put her on the table.  She was already nervous, and she was starting to shut down.  While the vet worked on her lower back, I held her head and rubbed between her eyes.  It wasn't long before her head started to get heavy, and she started to fall asleep.  It was then that I really started to realize, "She trusts me."  Here we had some random woman she'd never met pushing her in various places, and she was falling asleep in my hands.  Then came the acupuncture.  Since Cody was a little weary of this, I expected the same out of Lollie.  Nope!  As long as I was holding her, she was happy.

As we were letting the needles settle, Lollie kept relaxing more and more.  Her head got heavy, and she leaned to the side until, in a moment of distraction on my part, she fell clear off the table (luckily it was low to the ground).  I thought, "That's it.  She's done for."  Instead, though, she looked at me, looked at the vet, and walked over to her favorite chair.  There, with all her needles in her, she fell sound asleep and snored.

Out of all the things these dogs have been through, their trust in me is unfailing.  They will follow me wherever I lead them (except maybe to the bath), and that's amazing.  For Cody, this means following me on long runs where there are loud noises and lots of people.  For Lollie, this means following me through water and over rocks, even though that's not her ideal adventure.  I just can't get over that sort of trust, and I wish more people were like that.  The world would be such a better place.
Just for fun:  A relaxed Lollie, full of needles

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marathon Training Week 1: Five Miles

Yep, it's that time of year again.  It's time to start training for the marathon, and it's time for weekly training updates.  Woot!

This  year is drastically different from last year, though. 

1) I suffered an injury.  Last year, most of my aches and pains were just aches and pains.  I could run through them, ice, and not think much of it.  Now, however, I analyze every ache and every pain.  Am I just sore or is it something more?  I'm very nervous about injuring myself again, and so I'm being some what cautious. 

2) It took me a long time to recover.  More than anything, this just set me back in my pre-training.  Last year, I was running at least three miles about every other day (sometimes more).  My times were faster, and my mileage was higher.  This year, I'm lucky if I get 3 miles in twice a week, and my pace is closer to what it was at the end of marathon training last year.  This is fine as long as I don't slow down during training, but I find that highly unlikely. 

3) The kennel is already open.  Last year, June went fairly smoothly, but once we started working on kennel stuff in July, the schedule became packed.  My four runs a week with one day of cross-training and two days of rest quickly became 2-3 days of running with no cross-training and lots of rest.  Obviously, this was enough to get me through the marathon, but I wonder how much easier things would have been had I run a little more or cross-trained a little more.

4) I'm not new.  It's interesting in a way.  Last year, I was completely new to the marathon.  My eagerness to not be alone in this adventure allowed me to easily meet new people and bond with them over the newness of the whole situation.  This year, I'm a little more experienced.  I'm still on the novice team, but I know the coaches and the routine.  I have a couple of running buddies on the team, but I'm still hoping to meet some new people.  The problem is, my situation makes things a little harder, and bonding might not be as easy.  Oh well!  I guess I'll just do what I did last year: run up next to someone and say, "Hi!  I'm Valerie."  It can't hurt, right?

Anyway, Saturday's five mile run went well.  I finished in a decent time, and I felt fairly good afterwards.  I'm excited about upping the mileage, and I can't wait to see how I do.  Also, in an attempt to add in some cross-training, Hans and I biked around town yesterday.  We biked to church, then to the pet store, then to the kennel, and lastly back home.  All in all, we went about 12 miles.  I know, as far as bicycling goes it's not much, but it's better than nothing.  In time, I'll up that mileage too (and my rear won't hurt as much at the end), but for now I'm happy with what I've got.  Maybe next week I'll go swimming!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Weekend Up North

Phew!  What a weekend! 

This weekend, Hans and I went up to MN to see his sister graduate from college.  I find this hard to believe since I still remember her as the 13 year old she was when I met her.  I guess that means I'm getting old too!

The weekend was fun, but it was jam-packed, so let me start at the beginning and see what if I can give y'all the gist of it all.

Hans had flown up on Thursday morning, so a good part of the packing and tying up loose ends was left to me.  I was supposed to have had Friday morning off, but due to a sick employee I worked all day (13 hours), and then I had to go home and finish packing.  Needless to say, by the time I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, I was TIRED.  The good thing about this, though, is that it made the flight pass quickly.  I'm pretty sure I was asleep before we finished take off, and I slept for a good hour or so.  Our flight only ended up being 2 hours and 10 minutes, so I was happy.

When we landed, I made my way out the airport to meet up with Hans who was waiting for me.  Since this was also the first weekend of  marathon training, I wanted to make sure I got a run in, so Hans took me to a park in the cities called Minnehaha Park (don't you love the name?).  It was a beautiful park, but I couldn't help but think how much Cody and Lollie would have loved to have been there.  I already missed them so much!

Aren't these views from my run gorgeous?!

After the run, we drove down to Hans' hometown where we met up with the rest of his family.  It was wonderful seeing them all, particularly my nephew whom I hadn't seen in almost 2 years!  I still can't believe he's 4 now! 

The rest of the day consisted of lunch, an evening Vespers service, and dinner with the family.  Then it was off to bed!

Sunday was a whirlwind of activity as that was graduation day.  Hans and I were so tired, we actually elected to skip the Baccalaureate, but we met up with his family afterward for the President's Dinner.  Then came the big moment, the ceremony.  Things were actually quite fast, as the graduating class of 576 only took 1.5 hours to graduate.  That's impressive.  It was a beautiful day, and Hans was able to take some great pictures.
Graduation's over!
After that, we had a very brief rest, and then we went for a celebratory dinner that Hans' mom had arranged.  It was quite lovely.

Yummmm.  Food.
After dinner, we went back to the house to chat, but then it was off to bed for lots of sleep.

Monday was our last day in town, and we woke up early.  Hans started packing while I went for another run.  This was a run of firsts.  It was the first time I've truly run through his town.  I've tried running there in the past, but that was before I was a runner, and I don't think I'd ever made it a mile.  This time I went 3 miles without stopping.  I was planning to end the run there, but then I met up with Hans' brother.  We had originally planned to meet first thing, but due to a miscommunication, we missed each other.  Luckily, we ran into each other (pun intended), so we went for a while together.  I did an additional 2.7 miles with him.  That was so unusual, because I've never known Hans' brother as a runner.  It was great having a running buddy there, and it was a good way for the two of us to bond a little (YAY!).

After the run, I went back to our hotel (which was the most beautiful hotel ever), and we were served breakfast.  I enjoyed a delicious meal of chocolate-walnut scone, scrambled eggs, home fries, and Texas toast.  Delicious!  Then it was time for me to shower quickly and we had to leave.

We went to Hans' family home and said our farewells (never an easy process), and then we departed.  We drove for about an hour before we stopped to visit my old roommate, Jackie.  She happened to be in town at the same time and was driving home to MO on Monday, so we arranged a meet up.  It was wonderful seeing her and great catching up, but one of the best parts was having the opportunity to meet her new puppy, Winston.
Jackie, me, and Winston.  Did I mention we stopped at Culver's?  They have the best custard and fried cheese curds!
Isn't he adorable?!
After that, we had one last stop to make, and then it was time to go HOME.  As much fun as this trip was, I missed the warm weather, I missed my own bed, and most importantly, I missed Cody and Lollie!!

Our flight went smoothly, and I was soon able to greet my mom and my dogs.  All in all, it was a fun but exhausting trip.  I'm happy to be home, but I'll also miss our family up north.  Until next time!