Run #10 -Apple Valley, California

My running the last few months has really been on and off, due to my nagging knee issues, so it’s crunch time for my goal of running twelve different cities by the end of the year. Luckily, I’ve started my first prolotherapy injections (blog post to come soon on that) and have been able to get back out on the road pretty successfully.

Though I traveled to both Dallas and Vegas last month, running wasn’t really possible, but these last couple days I was working with the Apple Valley School District in California and was able to sneak in a run. Although my rental car reservation didn’t go through, the assistant superintendent insisted that I borrow his truck and drew me a very specific map where I could go running. Although I was hesitant to borrow the keys and drive around a strange town, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

His map took me up through a relatively suburban (and safe) neighborhood, that went straight up so that I could get a view of Apple Valley. While not exactly the most picturesque town, it was nice to get out and see something different.

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The roads were super wide, but apparently the town doesn’t do sidewalks. The locals told me this had something to do with equestrians and that a lot of people ride horses around town…and I did notice that two of the principals I met were wearing cowboy boots.

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It was hardly like my more glamorous runs earlier this year (i.e. Barcelona), but it was a nice solid loop and if I’m in town again, I’ll probably do it again. Regardless of how “glamorous” or “non glamorous” my runs in each city have been, they are a way of getting to know a little bit more about the place I’m staying. You can drive around, but running really makes you notice where you are and how people are living.

This also means that I have just two more city runs to complete this goal! (I kind of have a plan for run #12, but I might need to take a day trip to the coast or something to get in the other one).

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Also, anyone else get that urge to blow through this on their dirt bike as a Terminator chases them in a semi truck? Just me…?

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#1 – Learn to dribble and shoot a basketball. Check.

Out of all the goals I had this year, shooting a basketball seemed the most intimidating. Coming in at five foot zero, that net is so far away. And let’s be real, my arm-sport game is pretty weak. Although I did learn to throw a ball better last year, it’s far from a bragging right.

The first time Thor took me to the basketball court was embarrassing to say the least. He started modeling how to shoot a basket and I was like, “No back it up – how do I even hold a basketball?” but with a few sessions of practice, I was getting the hang of it.

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Question: Why do I even care about shooting a basketball?

After watching so much NBA with the men of my life, I repeatedly failed to understand how anyone could miss a free throw. Isn’t that what they are paid MILLION$ of dollars for? And everyone is lined up on the side, you can take your time – what is so hard about a free throw?!

For Example:

And people would explain to me that there is so much more to basketball, and blah blah blah. But seriously, isn’t a free throw basically FREE?! (My head is still exploding over this).

Answer: If I want to talk shit about free throws, I should be able to make them myself.

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Now that Beaverton built a fancy new school in my backyard, I can practice free throws all I want. Thor has shown me the ropes, but I need to demonstrate mastery independently; in the teacher world, we call this gradual release of responsibility. I believe my learning target is, “I can dribble a basketball and shoot free throws at 80% accuracy.” Sound fair?

I’ve been practicing a lot on my own, and consistently I am able to sink (is that the right term?) eight out of ten baskets. AND I can demonstrate from multiple points of entry on the court (all the PE teachers around the world right now should be taking note that differentiating for proficiency isn’t hard at all!). I can even adjust for wind interference. Whaaaaaaaaat. I said it: wind.

Here we go, not exactly the most exciting video – but you get the idea:

And just in time for the new basketball season, here are some big fails. (Ugh – so many Blazers featured in here…)

Run #6 – Springdale, OR

This week I’m pulled from civilization to accompany 25 students from my school at Outdoor School. Five nights, six days of camp songs, camp food, and really peppy high schoolers. The weather is probably the best I’ve ever experienced in all my years at ODS so I’m trying to take advantage of being outdoors and away from the normal life within my office walls.

On Monday, I snuck out for a little while to jog around and find a running route. Unfortunately, the longest trail loop within the camp is less than half a mile (and littered with groups of students) so the road in and out of camp is about the only thing I could find.

Today, I went out in search of something longer and more exciting. The road out of the camp is about a mile straight up, although I did stop several times to check out the baby cows. At a mile and a half, I made it to the highway but there was no shoulder and cars were ripping by so I turned around and headed back.

The road was well-paved and surrounded by farms so it was an enjoyable three miles, despite the near 400 ft elevation climb.

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This run is not as exciting as Barcelona or as nostalgic as the KU campus, and it wasn’t for speed or distance (I stopped to ogle baby cows), but while all the other teachers are filling up on carbs and doing their grading, at least I’ve gotten out there.

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This means I’m officially half-way through my goal of running in 12 different cities by the end of the year. Next week, I’m signed up for a 5k at the Oregon State Penitentiary and I’m headed to Greece in June so I’ve got a couple runs to look forward to in the immediate future.

2015 was the first year I didn’t really make any specific fitness goals (at least on my official “list”). I thought and thought and thought…and decided that maybe my unofficial goal would just be to enjoy exercising, and not push myself to a point where I might get injured again.

(Of course, that didn’t really work out when I totally tweaked my knee in May and took the advice of my surgeon to take a break from running. BUT WHATEVER – I’m better now.)

But you didn’t think I wasn’t still tracking, did you? My compulsive personality just won’t allow that. Maybe I didn’t blog about it, but I certainly knew in the back of my mind where I was going.

So this year, for the record, I still ran 162 miles (down from 280 miles in 2014) outside on the road.

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And I biked 181 miles (up from zero miles in 2014…..) inside at the gym on the Expresso bike.

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I also did something like 10,000 burpees all over the place. For real.

Sadly, I didn’t get to run the Oregon State Penitentiary Race because my knee was out of commission (although my friend, Courtney, did it all by herself!).

Some of my friends made the goal of running 1000 miles over the course of the year, and that astounds me. You would have to run sooooo much! Did any of you make the goal?! Do your feet still work?! Would you do it again??

I’ve got some ideas of what I want to do for 2016, but for now, I can look back and at least know that I did things in moderation. A little running here, a little biking there, and a lot of burpees everywhere.

My knee is messed up again. If you would have told me three years ago that I would still be having problems this far down the line, I might have thrown my crutches at you.

But the good news is that I’ve learned to be more patient (albeit incredibly frustrated) and I mostly accepted that when my knee doesn’t feel right, I need to scale things back. This means for right now, I need to change up my workouts…

Last weekend, I hopped on a spin bike over at the Nike gym, and right away noticed a couple fancy exercise bikes next to me that I had never seen before. They had big screens with animated terrains and moveable handlebars, and scrolling message that said, “Expresso Interactive.” When I got home, I looked it up and sure enough it looked like a video game attached to an exercise bike.

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FOR YEARS, I have been saying that my treadmill runs would be so much more fun if I had a screen in front of me that worked like a video game. Maybe if I saw zombies running at me, I would run faster. Or if nothing else, looking at an animated beach would be way better than watching Fox News. I got on Expresso and created an account, and then yesterday returned to give it a try.

Here’s what I learned:

Yes, it’s basically a video game on an exercise bike. However, I am such a noob that I only have access to the “beginner” courses – like biking on a beach, a forest, etc. You definitely have to move the handlebars in order to stay on the road, but it won’t let you crash if you get too close to the edge or run into another biker. At the end of a ride, there is a leader board with your stats that compare you to other riders at your gym, and everywhere else.

Once you hit a certain amount of logged miles, you will unlock course that look a lot more exciting: stuff with pirates and dragons and, yes, zombies.

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Also, you can set your personal best as a ghost rider to give you something to compete against, rather than all the random CGI riders who seem to be taking a Sunday stroll.

My takeaway? I’m not so bummed about my knee anymore because I can’t wait to get back and unlock some more levels.

Have any of you tried this at your gym?? Have any of you seen a treadmill version??

New Goal! #26 – Run an Oregon State Penitentiary Race

You might be saying, Did I read that right?? Run at the penitentiary?! And yes, you did. Just the other day, my friend, Renee, sent me a link to the sign up form for a 5 or 10k race AT THE STATE PRISON. She wrote something like, “I thought of you when I saw this…” Man, did she hit the nail on the head. As a generally law abiding citizen, I’m fascinated with jails and prisons – particularly the workouts of inmates. I fully admit that I once spent a good chunk of my free time at a local bookstore poring over a book called Felon Fitness….61eW1qbpKZL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
I didn’t buy it, but I sure wanted to.

On a less ridiculous note, I have also been very interested in the programs that work to humanize and rehabilitate inmates since the process of being incarcerated is so absolutely dehumanizing (just today I read a news article about inmates and unwanted pets finding love – awwwwww).

What I have now gathered, with Renee’s help, is that our state prison holds several races a year, where community members come run races with inmates to give them something to work towards, as well as help them feel normal again. Apparently this program was spearheaded by Steve Prefontaine in the 70s, and after he died it continued. (Read more details here).

Running? Prison? A commemorative race bib? I’m sold!

At the beginning of the year I was racking my brain to come up with a creative fitness goal for myself (since the normal stuff never seems to appeal to me). I think a 10k through the state prison is about as creative as it gets.

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9 Miles and counting

This is the first year that I haven’t made fitness goal one of my “bucket list” items. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not exercising, or don’t have goals, it just means I’m taking the pressure off a little bit. Also, now that I officially have 83 push ups all in one set, one mile in 6:23, 5 miles under 35 minutes, and a burpee mile under my belt – I was feeling a bit lost on what my next goal might even be!

A lot of people ask me why I don’t run more races, or shoot for a marathon. My stock answer has always been that my knee won’t make it, and succumbing to reality has been far more challenging than anything else. Two weeks after blowing my knee, I was sent to physical therapy so that I could simply be ready for them to cut open my knee for surgery. On the office wall was a picture of a previous patient crossing the New York Marathon finish line and they had written “8 months after ACL! Thank you!” I thought, Ok, if he’s running a marathon after 8 months, surely I’ll be good soon. About 16 months later, I was limping through six miserable miles.

But last week I was out in Kansas for work and I had to pleasure of talking to an acquaintance about Iron Man. Her goal was to run it before 40, and last year she cruised through the whole thing. I mentioned that I didn’t think I could ever run a marathon with my knee still stiff and sort of crooked, but she said, “No one runs the whole thing! They just run the first half and then walk really fast.” Suddenly I couldn’t stop asking her questions: where did she train? what did she eat? how long did she prepare?

Yesterday when I got back into town, I threw on my running shoes and went outside to run for an undetermined length. A little over an hour later, I returned from 9 miles:

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Let’s just be clear that 9 miles is not my status quo. And 9 miles at 7:26/mile is even more astounding. But as I was running, I was thinking about that Iron Man, and if my knee would actually hold up to something bigger. Frankly when I got home, I was positive I could have powered through a few more miles. (Granted, I took one hell of a nap later).

This is not blog post proclaiming, “I’m going to run Iron Man!” but instead an admission that I can push myself more. I’m not sure if that means signing up for a legit race, or just running an unofficial half-marathon for fun (because I torturing my body is my version of fun).

Sometimes I can get stuck in a mental rut, and seeing that other normal people can achieve monumental goals is a good reminder that my head can get in the way of my body.

And guess what! I not even sore!

I was on the soccer field, actually playing soccer. People were passing me the ball, and while my footwork was terrible, I could run fast, and mostly pass the ball down the field. I didn’t know anyone on my team, and I had no clue what the score was, but I was playing soccer. And then I woke up.

My husband, Thor, thinks I’m nuts for seeing symbolism in my dreams, but I really think that they mean something. For months when recovering from knee surgery, the last thing I would picture in my head before falling asleep was myself out running. I would try to visualize what it would be like when my knee was healed and I could be back to running outside. I would often have dreams that I was trying to run, but my legs wouldn’t move right, or I would uncontrollably spin in circles. After many months, the circles went away and I was plodding along…and then in reality, my legs slowly started being able to run again.

So the soccer dream last night took me by surprise. Mostly, I have sworn off soccer for fear of blowing out my knee again. Yes, yes, I did all the necessary physical therapy and I’m really active again – but soccer is a contact sport. Running on the track or lifting weights puts me in control, but playing soccer adds a lot of variables. I’ve wondered if I could play on a lower division team – maybe there’s even a “recovering injury” league full of people like me who want to play some gentle soccer; just passing the ball around, no slide tackling or full sprint challenges.

Spring has started, and I work out with a group of teachers on the track across the street from our school. Last year, the girls’ high school soccer team had their games at the same time, and I couldn’t take my eyes away. I wanted to charge the field and add myself to a team. Maybe my height and my bouncy blonde ponytail would help me infiltrate them for just a couple minutes.

Which also reminds me how much I miss being a part of a team. Whether we had a rare winning season, or a season where we didn’t even have enough players to fill the field, it was still fun to hang out with my soccer buddies every week. After having to quit the team, it was a lonely place. Every Sunday I knew they were out there playing without me, while I was icing and loading up on ibuprofen – and that sucked.

Before I ever hurt myself seriously, I remember playing a heated game in my women’s division. The women on the other team were pretty catty, making a lot of cheap plays, and one woman (at least 10 years older) was getting particularly frustrated that I kept beating her to the ball. At one point, I snuck in and inadvertently checked her in the hip hard while taking the ball away. She screamed at me, “You could really hurt someone!” I took a cheap shot back and replied, “Maybe you should join the over 40 league, lady.” That really pissed her off. It was a terrible thing to say and I knew it would rattle her. We won the game, but I didn’t feel very good about my comment.

Here I am today worried about someone like me, who enjoyed pushing people around on the field, and sometimes took risky moves to steal the ball. I’m not saying “Oh hey world! I’m going to play soccer again!” All I’m saying is that my dreams are telling me that I’m probably ready…maybe…

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