Dance With Me (And Play BINGO)!

It’s official. There is now a YouTube clip of me dancing very horribly. LOL!

I and my co-workers at MomsRising created the clip in celebration of National Women’s Health Week this week:

Among the activities we have planned is a BINGO card of activities to do. We have been posting images of our members on Tumblr and Facebook. Here’s one of me stretching before a run.

Please join us! You can download your BINGO card here. Thanks!


So – I challenged my son – UPDATE

to do a 5K with me in the fall.

I have been trying to think of a way to get him off his butt a little more, and team sports are not going to do it.  DH tried to get DS running, but my DH is a little hard on him so he quit

So… I said “a friend of my online just did a 5K with her son” (Thanks CN!)  “I figure that after my surgery I’ll need some inspiration to move again and you might like having a concrete goal to work toward”

He said “yeah” and has come back to me three times since Sat afternoon to tell me a) his planned schedule for training, b) how cool he thinks it is, and c) to confirm that he wants to do it.

There may be hope for my couch-potato yet!
Thanks for all your encouraging words!  DS and I are stoked about this, so I am really optimistic that we’ll both keep it up!

****UPDATE****  DS decided to run Tuesdays and Fridays.  He has gym M/Th and “we work hard” and on Wed he doesn’t get home until 6:30.  So, yesterday was the first day, and he did it without nagging or reminding.  I did mention that he could time himself if he wanted, and he said he ran around our block (about a quarter of a mile) in “3 minutes and 16 seconds”.  I don’t even care if that’s accurate for distance or time – the fact that he did it, and couldn’t wait to tell or DH about it at dinner…..that’s worth a million bucks.  


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I couldn’t stop thinking about Whitney Houston’s death this weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, I loved her songs since I was a kid. Here is a couple new developments surrounding her death, according to the New York Daily News: it appears that she drowned in her bathtub in a drug-induced haze. Also, her daughter Bobbi Christina was rushed to the hospital after learning of her mother’s death. What a sad story all around.  

In non-Whitney news: Mitt Romney won the Maine Republican caucuses, and once again, failed to garner even half of the votes, according to the Washington Post.

Washington state legalized gay marriage. I was especially moved by this Republican legislator’s testimony.

As I have mentioned here before, one of my concerns of running outdoors by the freeway is inhaling too much air pollution. In a timely article, Moms Clean Air Force had a guest post with advice on how to avoid high levels of air pollution while running outside.

In “water is wet” news: here is yet another article on how spanking increases aggression in children.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


I Completed My Second Half Marathon and I Feel Great

Best Time: 2:15
Tinkerbell Time: 2:18

Photo from left to right: I was honored to run the race with my best friend and partner, Erika Chavez, her mother Guillermina Chavez, another dear college friend of ours Courtney Dyar, myself and dear childhood friend Rachel Johnston. (Not pictured: my other partner, Gloria Riesgo.) Here we are sporting our Tinkerbell medals after the race!

Fitness is important to me. My mother’s family has this nasty tendency towards obesity, Type II diabetes and heart attacks that kill only the women in our family, not the men.

My grandmother died of heart failure in her late sixties – very surprising, considering she was the youngest and spriest of all of my grandparents. Almost three years ago, my aunt – her daughter — died of heart failure in her early 50s, leaving three children behind, ages 13 and under. My mom, too, has dealt with weight issues and type II diabetes for as far back as I can remember.

Needless to say, I undergo regular checkups, eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can, and exercise every other day. The latter is especially hard with two small children, a paying job, a marriage and a house. But when I look at my family history of diabetes and heart disease, it is motivation enough for me to get up when my alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m..

Yes, I actually get up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. at least two weekdays a week to go for an 8-mile run, or work in the morning so that I can run later in the day. Running has been my passion since I was a kid because it is free, I can do it anywhere and I feel great when I am done.

I didn’t run my first half marathon (13.1 miles) until June 2011 at the age of 34. This past weekend, a month shy of my 35th birthday, I ran my second half marathon through Disneyland and finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes!

Here were my times throughout the race:

• I completed a 5K, or 3.1 miles, in 31 minutes and 21 seconds, at an average pace of 10 minutes and 5 seconds.

• I completed a 10K, or 6.2 miles, at 1 hour and 4 minutes at an average pace of 10 minutes and 19 seconds.

• I completed a 15K, or 9.3 miles in 1 hour and 37 minutes at an average pace of 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

• I completed the half marathon (13.1 miles) in 2 hours and 18 minutes at an average pace of 10 minutes and 35 seconds.

I tried to run the 12th mile as fast as I could, but I felt incredibly fatigued and could not will my legs to lift high enough. That is my challenge for next time – oh yes, there will be a next time! – to end as strongly as I started. But I am savoring this personal triumph as I share my Tinkerbell medal with my 4-year-old daughter, who actually took the medal with her to school earlier this week.  

I smile as she reminds me what all of this is for: my personal fitness and health.


Monday Open Thread

Happy Monday y’all!

And a big hearty THANK YOU for all the support and kudos you threw my way yesterday, when I ran my first half marathon in 3 years. It really meant the world to me, especially after the race when I grappled with disappointment over my performance.

I trained hard. I trained right. I didn’t struggle with injuries and expected to run the race in less than 2.5 hours with no problem. And then…

Mile 4 was when the stomach pain started. By Mile 5 I stopped to use a Porta Potty, but emptying my bladder provided no relief. At Mile 8, my left knee started seizing up painfully, and at times felt like it might give out altogether, which forced me to walk intermittently. Near Mile 9 was when I stopped to use a Porta Potty again and… suffice it to say, I got the runs during my run. (Paging Alanis Morissette…)

By Mile 10 I knew my desired finish time was hopeless, and I hobbled along in spite of the pain, waging a mental and physical battle. Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” came on my iPod and I started crying. In my agonized, hobbled, self-doubting state, it felt like she was singing to me, LOL. But I powered through it, crossing the finish line in 2:36:47. Not what I hoped, but still almost 8 minutes faster than when I last ran a half marathon in 2008 B.A. (Before Alex).

I came home to a hot breakfast, a dozen red roses and an adoring husband and children who acted like Paula Radcliffe just walked through the door. I continued to be sick throughout the day and I am limping around on a stiff knee. Right now I can’t imagine ever attempting such a race again, but I know in a few months or even a few weeks, I might feel differently.

And how could I not, when my little girl thinks her Mami is as fast as the wind and is already talking about running races with me someday?

What are you up to today? What’s on your mind? Chat away!


Run, Erika, Run!!

So ladies, our Erika is running the Disneyland Half Marathon this Sunday. She’s been training really hard, and we all know that the MT Massive’s love is the best, totally legal performance-enhancing substance. So let’s cheer our Running Mujer on as she tackles this race.

Run, Erika, Run! May your footfalls be light, may your legs power like pistons and may you have the race you want to have!


 My Time with Louie

Here’s an update to two other diaries about Louie Zamperini.  Those posts are here and here   The spark note version of those is: I was on vacation in Kauai. I got very sick while there and spent time in bed reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken.  I was so taken by Laura’s writing of Louie’s life story that when I got home, I tried to figure out a way to contact him.  After  talking with Louie, one thing led me to another….leading me to visit Louie in his home, go out to lunch at his favorite local restaurant and then plan an event in the town where I live that featured him and his good friend John Naber (5 time Olympian).   The rest is still unfolding…

The planning for Louie’s visit was a multi-dimensional project which was really fun for me to put together.  The venue, the publicity, the ticket sales, etc., were some of the tasks I needed to get done.  I was over the moon to work on this and was thrilled beyond words  having Louie and John come to Lafayette.

The event proceeds were to benefit the new library and learning center in the town where I live.  The new library is an innovative facility which hosts dozens of programs for all ages and offers a great free public resource.   Thousands of people stream through its doors every month.  The Library boasts 39,000 square feet of space and houses a technology lab, a homework center, a teen room, a children’s library, a community hall, public art installations, a classroom, along with various meeting rooms.  It is an extraordinary place.

From February to the day of the event in April I pored over details.  I was excited and nervous too.  I hoped  the event would sell out, but didn’t want to disappoint people by not having  seats left  to sell.  I felt like I was juggling hard for a good balance.  

I planned to have the program run about 90 minutes.  I wanted to introduce the event, and then run a 20 minute CBS documentary about Louie, after which Louie and John would have a 30 minute conversation segment, followed by a question & answers.   Writing the introduction to the event was painstaking but after 10 drafts, I finally got one I felt would work well.  I wanted it to be short, but I also wanted to express how this amazing event came to be.  I wanted  people attending to know that part of my connection with Louie stemmed from the war experiences my father faced.  He had been a fighter pilot, shot down and captured, had become a German POW.  He shared other traits as well that surfaced after the war.  His trouble with alcohol and quick temper chief among them.   The introduction and having Louie speak held tremendous importance for me.

Originally I planned to pick up Louie and John from the Oakland Airport on Sunday morning the day of the event.  If time permitted my husband and I would take them to lunch and then, back to the hotel for a nap.  Louie is 94 after all!

A couple of weeks before, John called to tell me that Louie and he were asked to fly to Hawaii for a special honoring of Louie on the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.  Consequently instead of flying in on Sunday morning from Los Angeles, they would be flying from Oahu on Saturday and would arrive about 9pm, not in Oakland, but in San Francisco.  

My stomach roiled at the thought.  I imagined as soon as heard the change that somehow something might run amuck with so little wiggle room for travel trouble.

But one day rolled into the next and finally the weekend was here.  I had my intro done, the venue was ready, we’d done sound tests the day before, run through the video documentary segment, I’d semi-practiced my intro.  I was pumped!

On Saturday night,  about 8pm an email popped up in my inbox from John saying they were at the airport in Hawaii, but it looked like  technical difficulty with the equipment and they were going to be delayed.  He’d keep in touch.  OMG.   An hour passed and a few more emails came in.  Still no final word on taking off that night, but the estimate was arrive around 11pm he thought and still flying into San Francisco (a good 45 minute drive from where I live).  Ok, fine.  No problem.  Time passed with a few more emails, and then a few phone calls…the estimate now was arrive around 1AM, then it changed to 1:45AM….but he said:  It looks like we’re actually going to leave tonight!  Oh good grief.  And I’m thinking holy carp….The man is 94!  He’d been flown to Hawaii two days previous, spoken to a crowd of 500 people on the USS Arizona Memorial in the middle of Pearl Harbor, been with gobs of people for 2 days back to back …and now was going to be up ALL night.  

Was I nervous?  You betcha!  I was pacing around creating all sorts of scenarios in my runaway brain.   But when John emailed to say they could take a cab or we could call a shuttle, they wouldn’t mind, I thought Hell No! Louie’s motto is :  Be Hardy!  And by gum, I was going to be just that and anything else that this even required.

We decided our best bet was to go to bed, set alarms to wake up and then go to the airport.  It wasn’t long before we were back up and in the car headed for the airport.  The good news: no traffic at 1:45AM…although we had our eyes peeled for  wayward drivers.  At the airport there was not a soul in sight.  We parked at the curb and I went inside to wait.  Within a few minutes I saw barreling towards me a 6 foot 8 man (John) with Louie right behind him, walking briskly.  WOW.  Was I impressed!  Did I mention….Louie’s 94!  

In the car we all got, and shortly, again no traffic at 3:30AM we delivered them both to the hotel.  I’d say we all hit the bed around 4AM.   Much to my surprise,  Louie told me to come by in the morning for breakfast.  I set my alarm and at 8:00am went back to the hotel.   DId I mention….The man is 94!   I wasn’t surprised when it turned out I couldn’t rouse him out of bed.  I giggled all the way home.  Later we met for lunch at the hotel once John and he had gotten more than a couple hours of sleep.

When I got to the Performing Arts Center where the event was to be held, I was so excited.  Everything was in place, the registration and seating of the crowds went well — more than 400 people attended.  I was pacing around when  John told me “Karen, I know just how you feel.  It’s how I felt when I’d get ready to race in the Olympics.  You’re getting your focus, drilling into the energy you’ll need to do a good job…”  He said “Look at Louie, he’s getting ready too.”  

Louie was sitting in the corridor outside the main theater.  His sky-blue eyes were fixed on a place far out in space and both his legs were bouncing rhythmically.  His thumbs were tucked into the waistband of his pants and though he looked relaxed and ready I could feel his power and intensity.   I loved looking at Louie and being with him.  That alone made me feel I could do anything.

Finally it was time.  When the house lights went down, I was startled to be looking into dark space even though I knew 400 people were staring back at me..  I couldn’t see anyone.  I’ve done other public speaking before but never had the lights be staged that way.  It was eery for me and I learned that I need to see people to feel connected to the audience.  But even though I felt uneasy in those moments, the feedback was that my intro went fine.

When I was done, the CBS documentary rolled.

When the house lights came up,  John and Louie entered the theater from a side door  as I said “Please help me welcome Mr. Louie Zamperini and Mr. John Naber to the stage…”  In unison, the entire crowd stood up for a rousing ovation that lasted several minutes.  What a moment it was.   For the next 30 minutes John and Louie talked about Louie’s life.  His running career, his wartime experience, his marriage, and trouble with drinking, his discovering his faith, his hardiness, all with his amazing brand of humor and grace.  He remembers EVERYTHING!  Details so fine you cannot believe it.  THE MAN IS 94!!!!  Did I mention that?  LOL.   After their conversation, they took  questions from the audience.  In every instance Louie was able to spontaneously talk and answer all that was asked of him down to the finest details.  He has an amazing sense of humor and had the audience busting up laughing….I mean really laughing hard out loud.  I was on CLOUD 9.

When the program finished, about 80 people had bought a special ticket to meet Louie (another part of the fundraiser for the library), so we went into an adjoining room where he shook hands with and talked to every single person.  Each got a photograph with Louie as well.  My brother had flown in for the event and helped take the pictures since he’s a professional photographer.  My daughter also helped with that element as she too has a knack for photography.  

When that meet and greet culminated, we took Louie and John back to the hotel where we all had dinner along with a couple of very close friends and a local runner who is aspiring to join the British Olympic team for the 2012 games.   One of the standout highlights of my time that day was watching Louie’s face as Tim described his own running of the 5000 meter race and how difficult and awesome an effort it is to compete in that distance.    Tim himself is a sub-4 minute miler which is exactly what Louie was destined to be at age 19 until he left to go to war.  When Tim was describing the way his legs went numb during the final laps of the 5000 meter and the pain he endured to finish the race, Louie’s face shone with memory, nostalgia, knowingness, loss, love, awe and more, all at once.

I will long remember all of my time with Louie and that moment in particular.   Louie has always been known as “lucky Louie”….I can surely understand why, but that day, Louie wasn’t the only lucky one.

And as one last piece of good luck…I’m flying to see Louie again in July … He says he’s going to show me around the haunts of Hollywood…all the “secret” out of the way places.   Lucky, indeed.


Fitness and Training Diary w/o May 17

This is an open thread for those who are interested in increasing their fitness and/or training for a race of any shape or kind. Post your training regime for this week and come back to report on your progress. Got a question on training, walking, running, biking, yoga, Pilates, aerobics, swimming or anything to do with race preparation? Post it here – someone will know the answer.


Fitness and training diary, w/o May 10

This is an open thread for those who are interested in increasing their fitness and/or training for a race of any shape or kind. Post your training regime for this week and come back to report on your progress. Got a question on training, walking, running, biking, yoga, Pilates, aerobics, swimming or anything to do with race preparation? Post it here – someone will know the answer.


Crazy Running Injuries

It’s well past Easter, but I’m not sporting any open-toed shoes. Maybe because I don’t want to explain why only two of my toenails are red.

For those of you who have done a long run or two, you are probably nodding your head and thinking about your own “black toe” and other odd discomforts. If you are new to longer distances, well, read on for the bizarre details. I had forgotten a lot of this! Kind of like labor pains. But over vacation I tripled my mileage in a week since I had the time. Probably a big mistake … one I will be reminded of again and again as I work toward a small triathlon soon.

Curse of the Black Toe
Red under the toenail, or black toes, or even the loss of toenails is a pretty common problem for distance runners. Two sources of pressure are contributing here. The easy one to solve is if your toes are sliding forward or hitting the top of your shoes as you run. Get bigger shoes. Preferably fitted by someone who knows running.

The other pressure is from below. Basically, just pounding the pavement, and especially if you increase your mileage too quickly.

The pressure can be made worse if your socks and shoes are too tight, or if your feet are prone to swelling in the warmer months. Or, you have feet like a duck, like me. Narrow ankles and a wide forefoot may be perfect flippers, but are a real pain for finding running shoes that fit. I leave the top few lace holes undone to give my toes more wiggle room. Even with perfect shoes (and normal feet) black toes still just happen.

Here’s the Rub
When I ran my marathon, I was really grateful to see aid stations with Gatorade and water, as well as gels and bananas. What I did not expect to see was “aid” stations staffed by Army Reserve guys proffering large jars of Vaseline.

Turns out, this was not some kind of proposition for “alternate exercise” in the bushes, but the man was there to help me. After the race, I was walking like a duck on my duck feet since my “delicate” areas were chafed.

Anything that rubs as you run — whether its lycra or skin — will chafe, especially on long runs. You’re best bet for any area you would not expose in public is to lube up, and don’t forget about inner thighs, between the toes and the armpits.

If you do forget, you’ll sure remember once the hot shower hits. Ouch. Try borrowing a little ointment from the diaper-clad family members. You don’t have to admit it if you do. I did a short run today and still might be searching through the cabinet for an old supply …

Run for It
No, not the finish line. The port-o-potty. Up to a third of marathon runners will experience this condition commonly called “runners’ trots.” Being adequately hydrated and watching the foods you eat the day before and the day of a long run or race can help. Dairy, sugary foods and excess caffeine can also be a factor. Unfortunately, the one and only time I experienced this condition? Race day. For all those nice folks in Duluth who put out rolls of TP along the marathon course a few years back, you’re the best!

Hoping I never have this issue again no matter what mileage I get to. Ugh.

I Love You, But …
A good while back, I dated a hard core triathlete. Date after date and never more than a handshake. “Wow, what’s wrong with me?” I thought. He finally admitted, the long hours of training zapped his libido. I felt better, sort of.

Years later, during my own training, I had to laugh and relate to this all over again. My idea of a perfect date then became anyone with a half gallon of ice cream and a burning desire to just rub my feet. Black toes and all.

These days, long hours at work and parenting are enough to zap the drive! If you find yourself on the couch after a long run, bit of time on your hands, watch the movie “Run, Fatboy, Run.” Even if you don’t run, these tips might help you get some of the inside jokes.

So, now that I’ve bared all, chafed bits and everything, what’s your strangest minor injury from training?