Sunday, January 9, 2011

The joy of winter running

I have not enjoyed running for a long time. Even before I took time off, when I was last running, I wasn't really enjoying it. I was anemic and felt drained and completely exhausted all over. It was really hard to enjoy myself when every step was so exhausting.

Today, I actually felt some joy while running. Thankfully, because otherwise I don't know if I would continue. I went for my first run of the year yesterday, as planned, and it was ridiculous and disappointing. Jim came home from his long run and reported the roads covered with ice. So I decided to try running the trails. Not such a good idea. The first mile was ok, if slow. But by the time I got to the top of the hill, the snow was too deep. I could either run in my old ski tracks, or in the snow. I tried the ski/foot tracks for a bit and found that keeping my balance was the most difficult part. I weaved and stumbled like a drunk, cursing and hoping I wouldn't injure myself. Then I tried running on the snow, where my feet broke through a thin crust into heavy wet slushy stuff. It took me 45 minutes to do what usually takes me 1/2 hour. I went home disheartened, but not ready to give up just yet.

So today I decided to strap the spikes to the bottom of my shoes and take on the icy road. The spikes work awesome, and the ice is not even an issue. I knew that, but I had forgotten. I ran down the hill, no problem. I got to the bottom and had the option to go on, or turn around and quit while I was ahead, and still feeling pretty good. I chose to ease myself into this running thing, and just congratulate myself for doing 3 non-stop miles.

Winter running is not so bad, as long as you are wearing the right gear. It's getting yourself out there that's the toughest part. After that, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. What could be more simple?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beginning again, in the new year

January is arguably the least inspiring time of year to start running again, in Montana anyway. The weather is about the worst it could possibly be right now, fluctuating between below zero temperatures with tons of snow and "warmer" spells accompanied by cold rain and ice. After being diagnosed with anemia, I took a couple of months off, and it couldn't have happened at a better time in terms of the weather, holidays, etc. During that time I focused on my health in general, eating really well, and doing much more yoga. I wasn't entirely inactive, I've been walking and skiing, swimming, sledding and ice-skating too. But I told myself that in the new year, I would start running again.

January is a great time to start things. It's a super time to focus on health and fitness. And I have been. I just haven't managed to get myself out there running. Yet. Jim is a constant reminder for me, as he has continued running through most of even the very worst weather, and he is always talking about his running goals for this year. He is inspiring, out there running right now as the snow blows sideways. And if it is windy up here in the trees, it must be crazy down there on the road where he is.

When I think of my running goals for the year, I start to get excited. But then when it actually comes down to running, there is some fear there. Fear of my hip starting to hurt again, or that debilitating anemia coming back if I start training really hard. It's tough to run on trails around here in the winter time, and I just don't love running on the road.

I told myself that I would start again this year, and already a week has gone by, no running. So I send out my intention through cyberspace today: I am going to go outside and run today, even if it is just one lap around the pond. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I have not been running or writing. Winter has found me, frozen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


So it has been nearly two months since I've posted. One reason is that my hard drive crashed, again, and I had to get a new one. It was under warranty though, so all it cost me was postage. And, for the past couple of weeks (or so?) I have not been running at all. It started with the snow.

In the past I have continued running in the snow, but this year I have been much more focused on my wellness in general, and not trying to continue to push myself regardless of the weather. This has a lot to do with my anemia. It took me a long time to start feeling better, then when I finally was, I stopped taking my iron supplement. It is really expensive, and I thought that if I was feeling better, I didn't need it anymore. But I was wrong.

I started feeling all the symptoms of anemia again recently and so started on the iron supplement again. I have barely felt like walking, much less running. Part of me misses running, and another part really doesn't care. Mostly I just want to sleep.

I think it is natural for people who live in cold climates to want to hibernate in the winter. It is dark, it is cold. We just want to eat and sleep and cuddle up under heavy blankets until the sun comes out again. I'm just going with it. Hopefully I will start feeling well again and will begin training, and do the "Snowjoke" 1/2 marathon in the end of February. For now, I'll put another log on the fire and wait.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spent a little time on the mountain...

Jim got back last Saturday night from his 50-mile race none the worse for wear (he did it in 8 hours, 35 minutes). He was "a little stiff" the next morning, but by Tuesday, he was ready to go for a little run with me. We ended up doing more than either of us meant to, I think, just because it was a convenient place to run. We ran up Mount Jumbo, past the "L," to a great view of the Missoula valley. It was steep and challenging enough that we had to walk parts of it. Then, on the way down, we realized we only had five minutes to make it down (had to meet up with someone) and it was at least a mile. But, it was DOWN. So I thought I would run it as fast as I could, which was exhilarating. I knew though, as my legs started feeling jelly-like, that I would be sore afterwards.

Jim, on the other hand, never complained of any soreness at all. When asked, however, he did say that his quads ached a little. I was surprised that this time he didn't even seem as ravenous as he has in the past after 50-milers. Maybe that was because I anticipated it this time, and kept putting all this delicious homemade food in front of him before he even had time to think that he was hungry again.

Here is a man who was clearly born to run. I am inspired by him and wish that I could do what he does, but, well, we can't all be Jim. For now I've just got to be thankful that I'm no longer having dizzy spells just driving my car, and that I can run at all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The road to recovery

After two and a half weeks of iron supplementation, I am really starting to feel better. The weird dizzy, weak spells have all but completely gone away. I've even woken up the last couple of days feeling well-rested. My diet is still not as good as it should be, but I'm working on it. It is really difficult to eat as much food as I am supposed to. And it is hard to remember to take my vitamin supplements, iron, calcium, and fish oil. Geesh.

I've been trying not to think about running in any kind of organized way, that is, not training for anything. But I have been running every other day for at least a week now, and feeling okay, but not great. One of the hardest things is training my mind. As an athlete, I've pushed myself, tried to ignore my body so that I could push harder and improve my fitness. The thing is, people always say to listen to your body, but they never tell you which part of your body to listen to. My brain is the most outspoken part of my body and it can really confuse me sometimes.

Last weekend Jim went to get some new shoes for his big race (Le Grizz 50-mile) this weekend. At the running store, we ran into an old friend of ours, Fran Zelenitz, who had just finished the Blue Mountain 30k - the race I was supposed to do. I don't know why, but for some reason the fact that the race was over made me feel like it's time for me to be done resting. Time to start training again. But for what?

The truth is I don't think I will be training for any organized race for a while, what with winter coming on and all. I've just got to focus on getting and staying healthy and strong, and set my sights on next year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Running makes me feel good. Or at least better

It has been nearly two weeks now since I went to the doctor and found out that I am anemic. I've been working on eating more food, and of better quality, and I'm sure that is making me feel better. I am also taking vitamin and iron supplements. I've had a couple of "good" days, where I don't feel like total crap, but for the most part, I still feel pretty wonky.

One thing that has helped -  *surprise surprise* - is running. The doctor suggested I cut back on the long runs and that was not a problem since I was completely exhausted, but each time that I have gone for a run, it has made me feel infinitely better.

While having both of the kids in school all day has been nice, it hasn't turned out to be the vacation I'd dreamed of all those years. There is still lots to do all day, and the time just flies by. Before I know it, it is time to go pick them up again. However, it has miraculously worked out that the past two Wednesdays (today and last), Jim and I have been able to go for a run together.

Running with Jim is so fantastic because we get to have time together, to have an uninterrupted conversation, and we really hash things out, the way I do in my own mind when I'm by myself. And I run faster and further than I would have if I was on my own (he runs slower and shorter, I'm sure). Jim is currently tapering his training for the Le Grizz, a 50 mile run that he is doing in about a week and a half.

So there we are, running along, and I start to feel like shit. He says, go ahead and turn back if you want to, I'll meet you at home. But I push myself to stay with him. I wonder if this is out of some insane desire to compete or at least keep up with Jim, one which I seem to have been doing, unsuccessfully, for about 15 years now (rock climbing, hiking, judo, kickboxing...), or am I just afraid of running into a bear all by myself? In any case, I feel much better when we are done, and I guess that's what really matters.