Starting over: A 6-mile ‘long run’

We were at Parkview Field for the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ last regular-season game Friday night when I got this crazy notion: What if I tested out my hamstring the following morning with a last-minute signup to slow jog the 10K portion of the Parlor City Trot?

As usual, Ben immediately shot down my idea. “Could you even run 6 miles right now?” he asked. “I mean, you haven’t been running hardly at all for weeks. You’d probably start out too fast, and then you’d get out there and your hamstring would give out.”

All reasonable points. What he didn’t know was that I’ve secretly been scared to try any kind of distance lately – not just because of my hamstring, but because of worries that my stamina was basically gone. Running with the herd at a race – even if it was only the 10K instead of the half marathon — might help get me over that hump, or so my thinking went.

I didn’t go, in part because something else came up that I had to deal with. But by early afternoon, when I’d tackled that problem (related to a home repair issue), the question of a test run reasserted itself. I set out for the White Bridge, a site along the Parlor City Trot course, thinking I’d do a couple of miles and see how I felt. It looked like a storm was blowing in. But I went ahead and grabbed my state park pass, just in case I got to feeling adventurous.

That seemed unlikely. A couple of days earlier I’d done a 3.75 mile run/walk that left me feeling slow and out-of-shape. My confidence was shot. Now, I wondered whether I should walk over the bridge to the access trail, or start running at the usual spot at the edge of the parking lot.

I decided to start at the usual spot. And that – along with the fact I was wearing my worn-out marathon Newtons rather my new Adidas Glide Boost (which I mentally associate with this rehab period) – made all the difference, I’m convinced.

I consciously worked at not thinking or overanalyzing anything, just settling in for a run with no pressure attached. I felt OK, for the time being. In fact, I felt way more than OK – I felt somewhat like the old me, especially in this slow “go all day” pace I’d settled into. Wouldn’t it be cool, if I kept feeling this way, to go on into the park and run the 6-mile out-and-back segment I’ve run so many times before with my sister? And wouldn’t it be fun to tell Ben – off at a cross country meet on the other side of the state, with his own rehab issues to contend with —  that I managed a 6-miler after all?

No pressure no pressure no pressure … but no pain, either. And not much heat, in the shade with a possible storm blowing in.

The longer I ran comfortably tucked inside my former state-of-mind, in shoes that had toughed out a marathon, with no watch or worrywart inner voice or even burning lungs to remind me it was time to walk, the closer I came to the decision point –

And then I was past it, on the path leading to the interior of the park, no turning back now.

“Man, I really miss these long runs,” I thought over and over, realizing that earlier in the year this would not have been considered anywhere close to a long run. But that’s what it was on Saturday afternoon – a long slow 6-mile run.

That’s how it is now, starting over. And you know what? I’ll take it. Especially since it came and went with no pain, just a little tightness afterward. Nothing that some stretching and rolling can’t iron out.

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A kid’s point of view: 1st cross country meet

Editor’s note: Colleen had a bunch of homework after her first cross country meet, so rather than writing up her observations she consented to an interview. For the record, she finished the 3K sixth-grade girls race in 28:01

Q. So what did you think of your first meet?

A. “It was harder than I thought it would be. Mentally, it seemed like the course was longer than it really was because I wasn’t familiar with it and because you had to repeat part of it.”

Q. How does a cross country race compare with other races you’ve done?

We forgot to take pictures at the meet.  Here's Colleen at another 3K over the summer.

We forgot to take pictures at the meet. Here’s Colleen at another 3K over the summer.

A. “It’s a lot tougher. It’s on grass, for one thing. Also the competitive aspect of it. It’s a competitive sport with really fast runners, not a fun run with a bunch of old people joggers.”

Q. Did you ever think about quitting? (She was in last place from start to finish, and lost ground as the race went on.)

A. “No. I don’t believe in quitting. Besides, everybody was cheering for me, so I couldn’t just quit. I was surprised that people from other teams cheered for me. Everybody is such a good sport in cross country. Toward the end some girls from some other team ran beside me. It was cool that they did that.”

Q.  So Ben says you’re going to ramp up your workouts to try to bring your time down?

A. “Yes. I am going in with him at 6 a.m. tomorrow to get in some speed work while his team has practice. Then I’ll go to my team’s practice after school. Now leave me alone so I can go to bed!”

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Chocolate ‘Slow Carb’ mug muffin



Here’s something I’ve been experimenting with this week. Basically, I took the ground flax seed mug muffin purportedly approved for the Slow Carb diet and subbed in black beans for the flax,  then began tinkering a bit.

Warning: This is not a delicious chocolate concoction, just something to break up the monotony of what can sometimes feel like a fairly restrictive diet. (The tinkering is likely to continue.)


1 egg

1/2 cup pureed black beans

1 T. flax seeds

1 packet Stevia

1 teaspoon each: cocoa powder, cacao nibs, cinnamon, baking powder, coconut oil and vanilla

You can mix everything in the mug, but don’t forget to spray it with cooking spray first. Then pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Dump it out on a plate to cool.

Note: If you want to do some  tinkering of your own, start with the black beans, stevia, cocoa powder and cacao nibs. Until you put the egg and baking powder in, you can taste “the batter” as you go. At one point, I just wound up eating it like that, as if it were chocolate pudding.

Dumped out on a plate to cool, it somewhat resembles a chocolate muffin. (It doesn't taste exactly like one, but it's something that sort of resembles a "baked good."

Dumped out on a plate to cool, it somewhat resembles a chocolate muffin. (It doesn’t taste exactly like one, but it’s something that sort of resembles a “baked good.”






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Caterpillar’s poop now bigger than he was just last week

Uh oh. It's the middle of the night and our maniacal caterpillar has eaten himself out of another milkweed plant!

Uh oh. It’s the middle of the night and our maniacal caterpillar has eaten himself out of another milkweed plant!

This caterpillar is starting to scare me a little bit. He’s such a ferocious eater, I actually found myself going out in the dark behind the garage foraging for milkweed at 3 a.m. Monday morning.

By Monday afternoon, "Scoobys" poop production was larger than the size of the dime wed been using to measure him.

By Monday afternoon, “Scoobys” poop production was larger than the size of the dime wed been using to measure him.

I don’t know if it’s because this one came from “the wild” rather than mail order like the one we got from the workshop, but this guy is already lots bigger than our first one ever got.

Last week we were measuring his growth against a dime for scale; on Monday a single day’s poop production was much bigger than said dime!

“It’s interesting how dynamic his eating is,” my husband marveled. “His head is pounding up and down like a jackhammer.”

Colleen has suggested we name him Scooby, given that the prodigious nature of that cartoon character’s appetite.

Below is a series of pictures showing his growth over the last few weeks:

Scooby on Aug. 12, two days after hatching from an egg found on a milkweed plant behind our garage.

Scooby on Aug. 12, two days after hatching from an egg found on a milkweed plant behind our garage.

One week later, on Aug. 19.

One week later, on Aug. 19.

Four days later, on Aug. 23.

Four days later, on Aug. 23.

Two days later, on Aug. 25.

Two days later, on Aug. 25.

One day later, having moved on to yet another milkweed plant.

One day later, having moved on to yet another milkweed plant. I didn’t get around to locating the dime, but trust me, he’s still eating — and pooping — like a maniac. 

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Getting the hang of ‘cheat day’

I didn’t have a great loss last week on the Slow Carb Diet — just .2 pound, and it literally took me all week to get there. But I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of Cheat Day*, enough so that my day-after weight spike was a “mere” 3.4 pounds instead of 5-6 pounds.

Obviously I still had plenty to eat. But the big difference was that I was looking to enjoy some favorite foods rather than trying to devour things. Some examples of the mindset shift:

– On my first Cheat Day two weeks ago, I consumed an entire 4-ounce Hershey’s bar with almonds. Whereas this Saturday I had one square of 85% dark chocolate so I could save room for other things.

– I knew I wanted ice cream at some point in the day, but again, wanting to save room — and focusing on taste rather than quantity — I ordered a kid-sized chocolate Frosty rather than a larger size.

– Part of the fun of Cheat Day is picking up a junk food impulse purchase while I’m at the store. I settled on a seasonal treat, a candy corn and pumpkins autumn mix. Rather than feeling driven to devour the entire bag, I ate what I wanted and set the rest aside for next week’s Cheat Day. Or maybe the one after that, who knows?

– I know that I’m going to want some kind of bread on Cheat Day, but I don’t need to have, for example, both a homemade cinnamon roll AND some freshly baked homemade bread. (I settled for a hybrid, which sounds weird but worked for me: a nice hunk of bread topped with leftover caramel icing. Basically a cinnamon roll without the butter and cinnamon sugar you spread on the dough both before and after you roll it up.)

– I no longer think I have to have pizza on Cheat Day. (I did have a couple of slices of the Little Cesar’s we got for the kids before heading out to a colleague’s going away party, but I wasn’t craving it before the box was opened in my presence and probably could’ve lived without it for another week.)

– Finally, given that I was feeling full when we got to the upscale bar where the party was held, I didn’t bother stuffing myself with a dinner I didn’t want or need. Instead I had a couple of drinks (including a bartender’s recommendation off the 100-varieties-of-bourbon list), then ordered an appetizer (jalepeno poppers) later on.

So, yeah, I ate way more than needed and an awful lot of it was crap. (I forgot to mention sneaking a slice of Ben’s key lime pie he earned on a moving job when we got home shortly before midnight.)

But I never ate myself into a state of misery at any point in the day, and I’m starting to perceive that even on Monday, it’s just not that long until the next Cheat Day. (The older I get, the better appreciation I have for how fast time moves.)

*Last week I said I was going to start calling it “Treat Day” rather than Cheat Day, since it doesn’t feel like cheating if it’s programmed into the diet. I think that name is a better fit for my evolving mindset as well. However, given that this diet is fairly widely known, as is its terminology, I’ve discovered that change didn’t really stick.

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From last place at a 5K to USAT All-American

This was pretty cool: When I took Ben to Fort Wayne Orthopedics on Friday to have his  IT band checked out,  there was a huge poster in the lobby promoting local triathlete Diana Schowe.

From the poster at FWO.

From the poster at FWO.

I’ve written before how Schowe, 49, once was an overweight mom before taking up running and then triathlons. I knew she was good – she finished 2nd overall at the Nobleman Sprint Triathlon, just 4 minutes behind the top male finisher – but she’s also insanely tough, doing that race  a mere 2 weeks after having KNEE SURGERY. (Naturally I had to tease Ben about how he had his clock cleaned at that race by a woman his mom’s age.)

Turns out this summer’s knee surgery was hardly Schowe’s first. According to FWO’s website, she had a partial knee replacement in 2009 and a thumb joint replaced last year. But that clearly hasn’t stopped the leader of Fort Wayne’s Team Tritanium, a USAT All-American the last four years in a row.

Once upon a time, though, Diana brought up the back of the pack. On the FWO website, she notes she once finished dead last in a 5K.

Moral of the story: There’s hope for all of us, no matter how slow we are right now.

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A kid’s point of view: My I-pad can act like a typewriter!


Editor’s note: to find out more about the Hanx Writer (which apparently is a Tom Hanks project), click here.


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