Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Great Unplug of 2016

I'm out, kids. I have travel, family time, and water wading to do. I'm uninstalling my Facebook, Twitter, and FitBit apps for a week. I will still be documenting my shenanigans on Instagram and Snapchat (estellasnaps).

Have a good week, y'all!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Brain is a Jerk

I'm up to week 6 of Couch to 5K and getting to this point has taken me about 10 weeks (here's a list of the intervals if you're curious). Something like that. There's a whole other post coming on how to make C25K work for you because it might not work straight out of the box. There is tailoring to do, but not today. Not today.

The mental side of this fitness journey has been really apparent to me lately. I didn't write much about it, but I got sick a couple of weeks ago and had to take three or four days off. When I went back out to run again I was off my game and I knew it. Not physically so much as mentally. I eased back into my running with intervals of 30 seconds running/30 seconds walking for a total of 20 minutes. That's not on the plan, but since I'd been under the weather it seemed like a good way to get started again and be confident about it. 

After that, I finished out week 5 which culminated in a 20-minute run. Solid running. 20 minutes. I was hoping I'd go out and crush it, but I had to do a little walking. I found that at the end of each street in the neighborhood where I run I'd give myself 10 or so seconds of walking for my thighs to unfurl. It was a good effort, and I was satisfied. When did I ever think I'd run 20 minutes? Ever. 

Getting into week 6, the intervals dropped back to 5 mins running/3 mins walking; 8 mins running/3 mins walking; and 5 mins running. Doable, right? Because I just finished a 20-minute (or so) run!

It's funny how our brains mess with us. Saturday, my last run day before today, was pretty foul. That 5/8/5 was a beast to get through with far more stopping and walking than I'd like. I did a freaking 20 minute run just a few days before. I kept thinking, "WHY AM I WALKING RIGHT NOW?" But I was. Because something in me said I "had" to. 

Which is a crock. A total crock. While it's true that we should listen to our bodies and be honest with ourselves if we're in genuine pain, or overly fatigued, our brains are sneaky little idgets. As I was running those 5/8/5s I was not breathing particularly hard. I'm at a point now that I can breathe comfortably through my workouts. That is, I'm not wheezing or gasping for air; I'm winded but I can talk through it. I wasn't in a lot of cramps, no sharp stabs, just the ache of exertion in my quads, thighs, butt, and calves. The usual stuff. 

So why was I WALKING?

I was walking because my brain was telling me I needed to stop running because running is hard. My body was physically fine and could've kept moving at the same pace, but my brain was saying, "Hey, take a rest there, little lady." It's a mental tug of war. 

Today I went out under less than ideal circumstances but better prepared mentally. I decided to repeat my 5/8/5s from week 6, day 1 since I struggled last time. I really like to finish a set strong before I move on. 

I dragged myself out of bed at the 4:45 a.m. alarm and managed to get dressed and out the door by about 5. I did my warm up walking with an iffy stomach and circled back around to my house for a pit stop. Hmmphf. Also, my legs are extremely sore because I ran bleachers for the first time on Sunday. We're talking SCREAMING sore the likes of which I haven't felt since I started running on March 31. Not a great way to start the workout, but I decided to stay close to home in case things took a turn for the worse, and it was probably the best thing I could've done. 

My street is roughly half a mile long, and it's one of the best-paved streets in town with no pot holes or cracks to contend with in the mostly-dark mornings. The street is also a steady, but not too intense, incline whereas my usual route is more varied with some uphill and downhill stretches. While I was a little nervous about the incline and the way I'd been feeling earlier, I turned on my C25K app anyway, and away I went. 

The soreness went away pretty quickly and my stomach was feeling fine. My breathing was good. I was sweating in places I didn't know I had places, but what's new, Texas? The first five-minute run went by surprisingly fast and smooth. It was also about half uphill and half down which was nice. Confidence boosted. 

The next interval, the 8-minute run, was mostly uphill. Hahaha, that's where my brain kicked in with, "Hey girl, those quads are burning a little. Don't your knees ache? How about stopping to mop your face? Take a breather!" 

NO THANK YOU, BRAIN. I am not biting! 

My legs were ridiculously fatigued by the end of the 8-minutes...mainly the sore quads. The three minutes of walking went by wayyyy too fast. I think I audibly groaned when the app told me to start on the last 5 minute run. 

The last five minutes was mostly downhill which was great. I was tired and sweaty but still feeling good, all things considered. No tummy woes or wheezing gasps for breath. BOY HOWDY, my brain wanted me to stop and walk, though. 

But I know it's just my brain. My body is doing things it has never done before, and my mind has been telling me since those first days of running in elementary school that I cannot possibly do these things. 

I'm not a runner...or so my brain tells me. 

I decide otherwise. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Currently: The Sausage and Podcasts Edition

First, I have to thank all of you who jumped in for #WeekofReviews! Sorry I fell off the wagon a bit at the end. Life. There are tons of great folks in the linky on my previous post, so don't forget to make the rounds and check out what everyone is reviewing!

Right this minute: Sitting in the cool house! David and I both woke up at 7 am (dogs needed out...story of our lives) so we opted for a workout while it was still a little overcast and 75 instead of 95. I'm going out to mow the front yard shortly, but it won't take long because it's brutal out there.

Feeling: Good! It's funny, even though I'm not working full-time anymore, and even though I have a couple of weeks completely off (between academic terms), I still get antsy on Sunday nights. Like Mondays are still a thing I should care about.

Reading: Run the World by Becky Wade. I've been reading this forever. I really do like it, I just haven't been in a reading mood.

Listening: Podcasts! Another Mother Runner was a really good one today with a Father's Day interview with Tom Foreman, CNN correspondent and author of My Year of Running Dangerously (another running book for my TBR).

Watching: David and I polished off the last episode of Fixer Upper on Netflix. I am absolutely smitten with the show, and it doesn't hurt that some of the neighborhoods are vaguely familiar. David lived in the Waco/Temple area of Texas for most of his life, and we met as students at Baylor University.

Promoting: The Fireman Readalong! Or #FiremanAlong!

Loving: Family time! We spent the morning having coffee and watching American Ninja Warrior with my mom. Greyson will be home later, so we'll be reading, playing, and generally causing trouble.

Hating: Flies! Eff-blanking, terrible, horrible, no-good flies!

Eating: Italian sausage! I whipped by Butcherman's Gourmet Sausage on my way home the other day to grab some Father's Day gifts for David. I got a big log of summer sausage, Italian sausage for the grill, and some hot beer sausage. We're trying out the Italian tonight with peppers and onions and maybe some mashed potato waffles. Don't ask...I'll post pics.

Anticipating: Vacation! We're headed out to Caddo Lake in the near future. David, me, Greyson, and my mom have rented a cabin, we're packing up the dogs and our fishing poles, and we're gonna do some serious relaxing.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#WeekofReviews: Quiet, Subtle, Powerful - The Book of Unknown Americans

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez is a book that insists on and embodies empathy. After their daughter Maribel sustains a head injury, her mother and father make the decision to leave their home and successful business in Mexico to put Maribel in a special school in the United States. They end up in a fairly rural area in Delaware in the Redwood Apartments living alongside immigrants from a variety of Latin American countries. Mayor Toro, whose parents moved to the US from Panama 15 years prior, also lives in the Redwood Apartments and quickly becomes friends with Maribel because he can see beyond her injury and the ways in which it has changed her personality and her ability to function in the world.

It was really difficult for me to figure out how to review this one because it's difficult to read, brutal at times, but there's still a subtlety to it that sets it apart from other issues-based, largely violence-based, books I've read in recent years. The characters in The Book of Unknown Americans face tangible, unrelenting problems every day: the distinct possibility that an illness or a family emergency could put them out of a job. The mental and emotional fatigue they experience working at thankless, relentless, mind-numbing tasks. The overwhelming hurdles caused by language barriers, cultural differences, and prejudice.

That's not to say that there is no violence in The Book of Unknown Americans, but it is not the main thrust of the novel. It's really the everyday hardships that comes to the fore. Sprinkled throughout, between the chapters about the Rivera and Toro families, were small excerpts from other characters' perspectives: the landlord, the next-door neighbor, the gossip, the slacker. Not only do they tell their backstory, we get a feel for their cultural differences and the distinctiveness of their individual experiences.

It's a quiet book, overall, but it's such a very good book. Thoughtful, heart-wrenching, demanding but subtle and so finely crafted that you can take it for granted. Don't miss this one.

Link your #WeekofReviews posts below! 

Images by Freepik