Thursday, January 31, 2008

The value of nothing.

Don't underestimate the value of doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. -A. A. Milne (Pooh's little instruction book)

My days are getting more and less intense now.

Workouts are increasingly harder, fun but hard. Our last one Tuesday was with the Peabody 4x800 team (josh squared, ryan & ramses) who could very well be the very best and toughest high school 4x800 team I've ever seen. We ran sets of race pace 300s with short rest. By the end no one was standing.

The time in between runs, workouts and lifting sessions, however, is an exercise in nothing. I've been doubling just about every day, although the morning runs are pushed later and later. Can I still count it as a morning run if I start at 11:45am? The naps are longer and longer. I would hate to hear the statistic of how much of my life I've slept away.

I almost think that I should feel guilty about the nothingness, but I don't. I accomplish more in this time of nothing than I would trying to fill my time with "important" stuff that truly is nothing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


A couple of years ago my beloved sister gave me a key chain charm in the shape of a four leaf clover. Each leaf had a saying...Faith, Love, Hope & Luck.

I don't know exactly when it happened but the clover leaf busted a part so all I have left now is Faith and Love.

This past weekend I ran the GBTC 800. I won't pretend that I wasn't a tad disappointed. We're on a tough schedule now where we've spent the past couple of weeks packing in really tough- to the ground-warm spits- heavy eye lids- numb arm -grind -type workouts. I've been feeling so good about my training, though. My mileage is good, my interval times are right on. I'm working my butt off. Just a couple of seconds faster and I would have been happy. Don't runners say that all the time? I wonder if there is someone who doesn't say that...Maybe after running a world record or winning a gold medal (or both) someone may say that, but I can't imagine who else would be satisfied. Needless to say, I don't think my coach was very satisfied with the race either. We did a hard 1200 once everyone cleared out and are schedule to do a hard work out tonight, just two days later.

When we sat down at the beginning of the middle phase of training, my coach and I agreed, we're training through indoors. The main goal is June, July and God willing August. It seemed so easy to say "train through" in December, but now that the races are HERE, I find myself wishing that my legs weren't so tired or at least not so swollen from being ripped a part in the workouts. That is where a coach can be so valuable...someone to stay objective and even-keeled through all the raging storms of running and racing and training.

Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck. So much of a dream is made of these things.

I know that I have to keep Faith that I'm on the right path. This isn't always easy when doubt sneaks it's way back into my mind, or when the workouts are so hard I don't know if I can finish them. Still, I have Love for running that I've never known before. Being hurt so much in the past years and now (knock on wood) not feeling any pain is a amazing. Oh..I get tired and the workouts hurt, but it's liberating to run and not worry about breaking something.

Now if I could only find where I put Hope and Luck I might be a track to do something big...

I can't believe it. I just found my Luck and my Hope!
Not even 15 minutes after writing this post, there they were sitting right out in the open like they were just waiting to be found.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


If I were clever, I would come up with a word that describes that craziness that over takes a hurt runner to justify running through anything. One of my training partners is struggling with a hamstring injury where XXXX hasn't been able to run a workout in sometime because of the intense pain. XXXX finally was able to set up an appointment to see a great PT and the very best chiropractor for runners in less than a week's time, so I was surprised when I got this message:

...would love to try to get on the track tomorrow if at all possible. I won’t force it, but I’d like to warm up and see if I can get in a good, hard session. At that point, even if I end up in the pool for the next two days, I know I’ve got help on the near-horizon....

Every runner I know has been at this place of madness. First it's complete depression, then denial, then optimism, more depression, realization of reality, more depression, excessive cross training, total lethargy, frustration at the slow rebuilding, and finally it's over like it never happened.

I can think of 2 particularly low moments. Once I iced my knee so much that I got frostbike (oops); another time when a doctor told me that some pain in my foot was just a pinched nerve and the biggest threat was overcompensating....I smeared capsaicin cream (hot pepper) all over both feet so that each foot was on fire, but at least equally on fire. Warning, this hurt like h*ll, but it did work.

Recently I was talking to my chiropractor, Dr. Michaud, about how I feel fortunate that we runners can experience and get through pain that 99.9% of the population will never know. "It's life at an extreme," I told him. How many people in the this country have to work so hard in training? How many people have to do double sessions or workout in extreme weather conditions? How many have to go into battle knowing that it may be so hard at the end that the only thing you can do to get through to the finish line is pump your arms in hopes that the legs will follow? "Isn't that just amazing? Aren't runners so cool and courageous?" I inquired. "I hate to break it to you, Jen," he said,"but you don't exactly see those qualities come in to play in regular life...I'm not exactly trying to push through the pain here to get to my next patient."

He might have a point. Maybe it isn't normal to want to experience these things. But who wants to be normal? to the gym.

Friday, January 4, 2008


A couple of years ago, a good friend, "Dark Mark" , came to visit for a couple of weeks to help us run a high altitude camp in Flagstaff. He's a great coach and a little bit of a running geek (no offense Mark) kind of like my husband. Mark is the kind of guy who likes a lot of order in his diet, and every morning he would prepare a dish made out of a chocolaty flour he had transported 4000 miles. "What the h*ll is that, Mark?"
My husband's culinary palate is more canned black olives, little debbies, and jelly donuts; so I'm always a little surprised when a man not only cooks, but uses an ingredient I don't know.

Turns out that Teff is good stuff.

Olympic and World Marathon Champ Gezahegne Abera in a cool running interview said of it:
“In Ethiopia, every athlete eats teff. We believe our ancient grain helps us train harder than athletes from any other country. That is why we are champions.”

Teff is a powerhouse of nutrition with high levels of many different nutrients: calcium, iron, phosphorus, copper, barium, thiamin. It's also very high in protein and has all 8 essential amino acids.

Dark Mark ordered his Teff in bulk from the internet. At the time, there was no way I was going to order a flour that was $6-10 per lb (regular organic whole wheat is $.89 per lb by contrast). Recently, however, I saw the stuff at Whole Foods and I decided to try it.

I'm sure I completely Americanized the stuff by making a type of brownie with lots of sweet, but I admit, I'm kind of hooked now. Below are two "teff" recipes that I like. One is more cake like, the other is a cookie listed on the bag of flour.

Bob's Red Mill Teff Peanut Butter Cookies

Breakfast Gingerbread Teff Bars
1cup teff
1/2cup whole wheat flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1tsp each spices: cinnamon, ginger and/or 1/2tsp cloves
1tsp vanilla
1/2 + cups of molasses or other sweetener
1/2 cup vegetable oil (probably a faux pas,but I use light olive oil)
2 eggs or 4 egg whites or a combo of the two

Mix wet ingredients, mix dry ingredients...mix together, spread out to about brownie height in a small baking dish. Cook at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until spongy.