Adventures In Running

Friday, January 29, 2010

Life Changes

Two weeks ago today I received an excited phone call from my daughter and son-in-law. They had been awarded custody of his daughter (age 13) and son (age 11). I am so excited for them because I know how much they have been hoping this would happen, but I will admit I have mixed emotions because I know how much this will be changing all of their lives and it won't be easy for any of them. However, deep down inside I think this is the best thing that can happen for my grandkids.

I have never been a big fan of labels and people who get associated with labels like 'step', 'ex', 'half', 'former'. I know some people who are not willing to accept others into their lives because they have that label attached. I was excited to become an instant grandmother when my daughter got married 3 ½ years ago. I consider these children to be my grandchildren and not my step-grandchildren. They may not feel the same about me, but I intend to treat them as such.

My son-in-law, Jeremy, adores these children. I could feel it in his words when he first exchanged emails and instant messages with me when he was stationed in Kuwait during his engagement to our daughter. I could see it in his eyes when he was able to have his children with him for the period around their wedding. I can hear it in his voice when I talk to him. In order to support the family he had so young, he needed to stay in the military and various overseas duty posts meant he had to give up custody of his children. When we have talked in the past, I can feel how much it has hurt him to not be able to see and talk to his children as they are growing up. He has missed so much of their lives and from the first time I knew about his children, he and Jennifer talked about trying to get custody or at least significant visitation with them so that he could be an influence in their lives.

Did I want my daughter to have to move overseas at 19? No. Did I want her to have to struggle with being a military wife at a young age? No. Did I want her to have to face the challenges of being a step-mother to children when she was just leaving childhood herself? No. But she was willing and happy to take on these responsibilities and face them with courage. Has married life been as easy as she expected with these challenges? No. But she adores her husband, loves her marriage and is willing to take these children in to her home and love them with all her heart and soul.

From life experiences, I know that the future is going to be hard on their family. I am hoping that with love and patience my grandchildren will be happy in their new home. I hope they will give their father and step-mother a chance. I hope that the words that get said from all will be words that are regretted later.

I am going to Georgia in two weeks to get to know my grandchildren better. I am praying that I can become their friend and that they will accept me in their lives. I hope that their hearts are touched and opened and that they will be one of the blended families that truly becomes a 'family'.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heart Rate Monitors

At the end of last fall I started working with Steve Ashbaker (an elite runner that lives near me) to try and improve my endurance and reach my running goals. We only worked together for about five weeks before I got injured, but I am continuing down the road that he started me on.

Steve suggested I focus on heart rate training.

  1. Measure my resting heart rate (RHR) in the morning to see if my body has recovered from previous training. I use a clip on pulse oximeter that I stick on my finger to check this before I get out of bed. Most days my RHR is between 47-48 beats per minute (BPM). If it above 51, I know my body is still stressed and that I should take a rest day or an easy day.
  2. On over-distance days, keep my heart rate between 75-80% of my maximum heart rate (MHR). I know that my MHR is around 174-175, so am using 175 as my rate for calculations.
  3. On easy/rest days, keep my heart rate below 65% of my MHR.
  4. On long distance days (usually Saturday), keep my heart rate between 60-75% of my MHR.

For measuring my training heart rate, I was using a Polar heart rate monitor (HRM). For several years I used a middle of the line HRM from Polar, but after about 4 battery replacements, it seemed to give up the ghost last summer. My sister had a cheap Polar HRM that I had given her as a gift a couple of years back. Since I also gave her a Garmin with a HRM attached for Christmas 2008, she had never used the Polar. I bought it off her and started using it last fall.

When I started measuring my heart rate while running, I felt like I was pathetically out of shape. On my over-distance days, I had to focus to keep my speed down in the correct range. For a slow person, having to slow down just destroyed my poor, fragile ego. There were also a couple of days when the HRM seemed to go crazy and I would have to run for about 10 minutes and turn it back on and then it would work okay.

It got to the point that I no longer wore my Garmin on regular runs because my pace in minutes per mile was embarrassing and frustrating. Last Saturday I was doing an 8 mile long distance run. In order to keep my heart rate in the proper range, I was running 15-16 minute miles. That is a long time to run and think, so I decided that maybe the fault didn't lie in my pathetic shape, but in the cheap HRM.

On Sunday I read the guide for a new, top of the line Polar HRM that my son and ex-husband gave me for Christmas. I adjusted all the settings and decided to use it this morning for my 5 mile run. What a shock! I had to push to keep my heart rate in the correct range (at the bottom of the level) and actually felt like a runner again. Lesson learned – if something seems really wrong, it probably is. I estimate it will take a week or two to get my body used to running faster again, but am much happier doing that than feeling like the tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare story.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Series Review: In Death by JD Robb

Initial Disclaimer: I can't believe that in all my years of reading mysteries, I had not heard of this series or read any of these books.

I actually heard about this series in the fall of 2009 in Good Housekeeping magazine where it did a quick review of some recommended romance books. Since I was in a 'romance book' type of mode right then (must have had something to do with all those nieces and nephews getting married), I tried most of them out and was sorely disappointed. Their review of the In Death series mentioned a futuristic New York City cop and I didn't plan to even try these since it was a series of books.

When my sister and I were up in Seattle after Ryan's wedding, we spent a couple of hours in the Seattle Mystery Bookshop and I noticed a trilogy of shorter books from the In Death series in one paperback. I decided to buy it as a trial and then put it in a pile.

One day in October I started reading the books. Big mistake. I got hooked. Put a combination of a tough female cop together with a gorgeous Irish billionaire with a shady past and present and the obsession started. It took a couple of months to get through all 25+ books in the series, but I did it. Eve Dallas is a serious cop, but has her funny, sarcastic moments and often made me laugh. Put her together with Roarke and you had great mystery combined with great romance.

I highly recommend this series.

Final Disclaimer: If you get hooked on it, don't blame me. Just thank me.

Book Review: I Hate PHP

(A Beginners's Guide to PHP and MySQL PLR Version by Manuel Ortiz Braschi)

Maybe I could cheat and consider this an entire book for a month….

This was a pretty short book, but entertaining and a quick overview. Considering it only took me about an hour to read the entire book on my Kindle, it made for even easier psychological reading.

Basically, the entire book was divided into 3 sections: Easy Stuff, Not so Easy Stuff, and Harder Stuff. If you weren't familiar with programming at all, it would leave you in the dust. Since I can remember a lot of my programming knowledge, it was a nice way to learn basic terminology and formatting for PHP. The best thing I can say about it is that it will make my next book on PHP a little easier to understand since the syntax is already partly stored in my brain.

Monday, January 11, 2010

You know you are a runner when…

  • You no longer feel the need to walk when working out.
  • There is no weather too bad to run in – just unprepared runners.
  • You have owned at least one Garmin running watch.
  • You have at least one heart rate monitor.
  • You check you morning resting heart rate.
  • You track your running mileage.
  • You schedule your vacations around running.
  • You have already planned at least 4 races to run in this year.
  • It is a source of pride that you run in the worst air in the nation.
  • You are proud that other people consider you an idiot for enjoying running.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2010 Fitness Goals

I am taking a little different route this year than in many of the past years. After multiple injuries in 2009, I want to use 2010 as a rebuilding year to get my body strong and healthy and skinny again.

To break the goals down a little more specifically:

Running Goals:

  • Focus on Half Marathons in 2010. Try to get my half marathon time below 2 hours.
  • St. George Marathon – I have a guaranteed entry to this race under the '3rd times a charm' clause, so plan to run it in October and break 5 hours for the first time.
  • Pony Express 50 Mile ultramarathon – I will turn 50 in November and want to finish a 50 Mile race before then. Notice, I said FINISH. Doesn't have to be glamorous – just has to get done.
  • Run a minimum of 3X a week when not injured.
  • Read 3 running books.

Fitness Goals:

  • Weight training a minimum of 3X a week. I need to get strong again. My body felt much better during the time that I was working out with a personal trainer and I need to get that strength and feeling back.
  • Yoga – 2 sessions a week. Most of these will be to the YogaMazing podcasts. They are between 20-30 minutes in length and I enjoy the series.
  • Flexibility/Stretching. Focus on stretching for 10-20 minutes anytime after completing a workout of longer than 60 minutes.
  • Successfully complete the 100 pushup challenge.
  • Successfully complete the 200 sit-up challenge.

Cardio/Endurance Goals:

  • In addition to running, use a balance of ellipticals/arc trainers/cycling/walking/water workouts/aerobic classes to accomplish a minimum of 45 minutes of cardio 6 days a week. The balance will help me avoid muscle and joint injuries caused from focusing solely on running.

Healthy Eating Goals:

  • Incorporate Clean Eating as a lifestyle and eliminate my junk food addictions (except for hot chocolate – that is a need, not an addiction).
  • Try a minimum of 2 new recipes per week.
  • Learn to plan meals ahead (at least 1 day).
  • Fit back in my size 8 pants (no complaints will be heard if they get loose).

I intend to do a follow-up to this post at the start of each month to make sure I am staying on track.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: The Handbook for Reluctant Database Administrators

I read about this book on a blog from SQL Server Central last year (it is by Josef Finsel) and have been slowly working my way through it. With my recent decision to start pushing my technical knowledge to greater heights, I chose to finish this as my first technical book of 2010.

I have to admit that I have database envy when I read various posts and blogs from Database Administrators. They often make me feel pretty stupid and I am usually amazed at the depth of knowledge that these men and women have. In comparison, it seems like my database knowledge compared to theirs is that of the knowledge a typical sixth grader might have compared to a grad student. I have good 'basic' database skills, but there is so much I want and sometimes need to learn and never enough hours in my work day. It is often hard to motivate myself to study and learn at night, but I definitely need to improve my knowledge base. I also need to take the time to play around with skills and suggestions that I read.

Anyway – back to the book. Often when I read a technical book, I find that while much of it is interesting, it is not useful for my current job. I deal with a single SQL Server 2000 database application and several small SQL Server databases and one server. I am learning MySQL because our new application is being written in that, but again, we are not a huge shop.

As I read through The Handbook for Reluctant DBA's – I often found myself excited to see concepts that would be very useful for a small shop and at my current level. This book was worth its purchase price in the first two chapters I read. SQL Server Agent and Jobs were something I had never dealt with before, but since reading about Jobs, I have used this knowledge constantly and been able to automate many processes that were taking up time and energy. Several other concepts would jump out at me and have led me to find easier and better ways to do tasks that arise.

My theory on a technical book is that it is worth my time and effort if I can even find one useful concept that I can apply to my current job. This book is more than worth the cover price because of the knowledge that I gained from it. Who knows? Maybe I have graduated from elementary school and am heading off to junior high school now.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Professional Goals for 2010

My company created and runs an online Performance Appraisal application called Performance Pro. As part of my annual appraisal process, I set a variety of goals (or have them set for me sometimes) related to my planned work for the next year. However, that is just work related. I thought this would be a good time to document some of the professional goals that I would like to accomplish in the next year.

  • Knowledge Growth – read a minimum of one book per month on subjects that are of interest to me and will help me grow in my career. These include books on Database Administration, SQL Server 2005, PHP, MySQL, and Project Development.
  • Get a good basic knowledge of Project Development and start to apply this knowledge to all projects I am working on – large and small.
  • Spend at least 2 hours per week on the SQL Server Central forums and increase my knowledge of the items discussed there that I am not familiar with.
  • Get more involved in my local SQL Server User Group and attend either the Salt Lake or Utah county groups on a regular basis.

I'm thinking it might be worth the extra expenditure to get myself in some online classes or use some of my vacation time to attend a conference. However, at this time I don't plan on creating any actual goals until I see what the first part of the year brings about.

Twilight’s Goals for 2010

  1. Quit having 'accidents' on purpose.
  2. Remember all previous training. Get back to listening to my 'mom'.
  3. Break habit of growling and whining when in 'place'.
  4. Learn two new tricks – roll over and horsey.
  5. Build up to 20 minutes in place.
  6. Build up to 10 minutes on treadmill.