Monday, March 29, 2010

Mock Fighting

I last tested for rank in martial arts in 2004, a year before my Bug was born. It was a goal of mine to get my 2nd degree black belt in Cuong Nhu before I started having children. Today I happened to be backing up files on my hard drive to our server and I ran across this demo video of the applications to the katas I had to perform on the test. I performed 6 katas but only had to do applications to 4. (I also broke boards, wrote a paper, and gave a speech.) We shot the video several weeks before the test so we could all sit down and watch them and go over things that weren't working. My friend (and student - the really tall one) Jeff took all the short videos Hubs filmed and put this big video together with music.

I have to say that watching this demo today really got my fired up. I LOVE doing this stuff. LOVE IT. I have been teaching a children's class for the last two years and while that keeps me involved on a level, I miss the actual training and learning. You can't see some of the little things I did in the applications with this video because it's very low-res, but some of those chokes and in-between moves were awesome. (Sorry again Vivien! You bore the brunt of those!) Sometimes I watch things like this and think "holy crap look what I can do!"

The sad thing though is that after living in Jacksonville for 4 years I don't feel connected at all with the style, despite teaching it twice a week. So many things have led me farther and farther away from training on this path. I don't particularly want to start over in another style but I also don't want some petty, lying nonsense to be the end of my training. It would take a lot of things that are unlikely to happen in order for me to train there again. So I am stuck.

Maybe I should just have another baby and delay thinking about this for another couple years? How about that? :)

Monday, March 22, 2010


About a month ago I posted an update about my running progress on Twitter and my dear friend Tatiana told me that I should write a post about my training and how I went from minimal activity (I wasn't exactly a coach potato) to running a 15K in a few months. Well I love my friend for asking and for the support, so thank you.

Some back story... I grew up watching my Dad go out to run several times a week. As a young child I would wait for him at the end of the driveway with a huge cup of ice water and give it to him at the end of his run. Then we would walk around the block together for his cool down. As I got older I would actually join him on his runs but I would ride my bicycle. I even got up at o'stupid:30 in the mornings in the summers to ride with him before he went to work. I started running track in middle school with mid-distances and then progressed to hurdles in high school. (I could not hurdle a hurdle now for the life of me, so I have no idea how I did that.)

In college I began my longer distance running (I had kept up the 2-3 miles on my own) when I was lined up as a brown belt in my karate class and my instructor, now lifetime best girlfriend Joyce, asked "Does anyone want to run a half marathon with me?" I was also training for my black belt at the time and had a Cardio requirement (only 3 miles, I am an over achiever I guess) and I think that is what prompted me, the only one, to raise my hand and say "Sure, I'll run it." I learned a lot about knee pain and IT Band tendinitis and a host of other injuries that fall. But I ran my race in December and finished in a respectable 2 hours, 10 minutes! A few months later, in March 1999, I ran my first Gate River Run in Jacksonville (the nation's largest 15K (9.3 miles) race) and finished in 85 minutes. At the time I thought it was a slow pace. But 9:27 miles? I was so young and stupid then. It's a goal now to get back to that time!

Many years later I picked up a new and wonderful running partner, my friend Vivien. We ran 2-3 times a week together around the awesome University of Florida (GO GATORS!) campus and talked and talked and talked. I told her how fun the River Run was, the course is awesome, and we agreed to run it together some day. But then I got pregnant and we moved away, she graduated and moved to Denver, and it hasn't happened yet. But it will happen. I miss her and our great running conversations, and it's a goal of mine to race with her someday.

Last year I ran the River Run and my goal was only to cross the finish line. Time didn't matter. I was in a horrible, dark mental place and I hated EVERY minute of my training. HATED IT. Going out to run was torture. I ran alone. But Joyce and Vivien kept me going, motivating me over the miles that separated us, to keep training and pushing through. We exchanged Facebook messages, reporting in on our training and they are the reason I managed to continue when I wanted to quit. Vivien even flew in from Denver, having survived her first freezing winter just to cheer me (and Joyce - the speedy fitness guru) on from the sidelines. How is that for awesomeness?

After the race though I really backed off the running. I just wasn't in a good place. I didn't run again for about a month and then it was only sporadically for the rest of the year. At a BBQ in September I mentioned I wanted to run the River Run and needed to start running again. That is how I got my local training partner, Meredith. She had run the race twice before. years ago, and somehow I tricked her in to training with me this year!! We didn't start seriously training until January though (and she said she hoped I had forgotten about her promise to run me when I posted this in December) and she has quickly become one of my greatest friends here. Having a training partner, especially one who thinks so very similar to you, is the best. For me, it's kind of necessary now that I think about it. With a partner it's harder to bail on your workouts and it's much more fun when you're out there pounding the pavement.

So in January, with a new (more positive) attitude towards life, and a new running partner, I started training. We ran a few times a week on our own and met up on the weekends for our long training runs. Each week was at least a Fartlek speed workout, a tempo run, maybe an easy base builder (just to get extra miles in) and then the long run. We also did some crazy (awesome) strength building exercises 2-3 days a week that her trainer Ali set up for her. As the weeks went by we watched our long run times go from an 11:50 per mile pace to 10:11. And I personally saw my short distance runs go from 10:30 on a 2 mile jog to today's 8:44 pace. I even took a photo of my watch the first time (in 10 years) I ran a 9:00 per mile pace for 2 miles because I couldn't believe it.

The training this year is working and instead of hating EVERY minute of running, I only hate a few, usually when I'm reaching a threshold of pain I need to push through.

I also joined The Daily Mile to record my training in a space other than the Excel file I've kept for 2 years with the date, distance, route, and pace for every run I did. The Daily Mile is awesome and I highly recommend it if you need a good exercise journal and place to collaborate on pretty much anything. A friend who I got to join said it is like Facebook and Twitter for runners. I completely agree.

The day of the River Run this year was a little bit of a disappointment for me only because I didn't run as well as I wanted to. I suffered some pretty horrible shin splints two weeks before the race and they never really went away. The pain kicked in full mode at about mile 6 and the bridge just killed me. Normally on the bridge you make it to the top and cheer because gravity can carry you the final mile to the finish line. But for me the race down was worse than the way up due to the impact pain on my leg. But I finished. I finished 20 seconds under triple digits, which was my goal this year, under 100 minutes. I'm happy I did it and I cut a significant amount of time off my pace from last year. Now my goal is to get back to that 1999 pace of 9:27 per mile. It might take a little while, but it's going to happen. Maybe it'll be the year Vivien comes to run with Joyce, Meredith and I? I hope so! I miss you V!

See my post race evening?

Meredith ran a great race this year too! She battled a crappy arch cramp near the end that threw off her stride but she tamed the Green Monster bridge and finished in just a hair over 98 minutes. She's awesome and I am so happy she joined me for the run. I'm looking forward to many more races with her this year!! Thank you girl!!

So I guess how I did it was just by getting more serious about training, finding a good running partner, and having the absolute BEST support group in the world. Thank you to my wonderful husband who never questioned my long weekend runs. He encouraged me to get out there and try again, listened to me prattle about my paces and distances, and watched me stretch and cry over injuries. And my girls, past and present running partners, you kept me sane, kept me moving, and made me feel loved too. I appreciate all of you!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cough, Cough, Hi, Cough

Um, Hey.

How's it going?

I am keenly aware that it's been almost three weeks since I wrote on some topic in my brain. I have a lot of topics in my brain too.

In the past almost three weeks my computer died. DIED. The harddrive had over 200 bad sectors just like that. There was no warning, no signs of distress, nothing. One minute I am working, the next I go tuck my darling boys in bed and I return to find a message that says "Hey, screw you but there's no operating system installed on this drive anywhere, do you want to reformat?" UM HELL NO. But see I think my Grandma Jeanne has been looking out for me because I had a spare laptop hard drive that still and Windows on it, and I had an external case with a USB cable and somehow out of sheer brilliance I recovered all of the important data on that piece of crap dead drive (you know, PHOTOS of my boys) through magical free software* with a really dumb name. (That software really was magical and wonderful. No sarcasm there.)

I only had two panic attacks in the 48 hours it took to "Recuva" my data, figure out the RMA process, and ship the drive in all its paperweightness glory back off to Seagate. The new (cough-refurbished-cough) drive should be here tomorrow.

No, I do not need to get a Mac.

After that I got ridiculously busy with work even though my boss still doesn't believe I put in a full work week. Ahem... read: frustration.

Then I got focused on my running because I ran in the country's largest 15K last weekend, Jacksonville's Gate River Run. I'll post about that soon because I have a story that involves three really awesome girlfriends who have kept me motivated to run over the past 15 years. And they deserve some credit for being awesome. Plus I ran a lot better than last year. Oh and there were Olympic runners there! That was cool. The girl who won the women's division also could have run the race TWICE before I finished my course, but hey, whatever, she gets paid to run and I cram it in whenever I can.

Hubs also just got back from a business trip that involved snowboarding in Vail. Nice, no? I may or may not have purchased three new movies to help me entertain the boys all weekend too, plus new coloring books, plus a new action figure hero each. Um, yeah, winning the parenting awesomeness award right here please... Anyways I really missed my husband and the highlight of his absence was the webcam call we did one night with the boys. Hearing those kids laugh so hard at Daddy's antics was heartwarming. It was also charmingly adorable when Bug broke down in soul-wracking sobs when the call was over, wailing that he missed his Daddy and couldn't Daddy just come home now and play Batman Legos on the xBox with him? Moments like these are reasons why I fall in love all over again with my husband and family and the life we've built.

So pardon the dust settling in around here. It fits in well with the bunnies residing in my home too. Spring is around the corner though and there is a cleaning frenzy on the horizon.

*The magical free software creator did not pay me, nor give my any incentive other than being awesome and recovering my data, to give them a plug in the mess here.