Amber’s Weblog

Movies, books, knitting & crocheting, running, and more…

And….she’s back.


Have I been away? Well, mentally maybe.

I had a very difficult spring in the mental health arena. I wasn’t happy with my work, which made it harder to do anything, including workout regularly. On Valentine’s Day, the was a treadmill, which Chris and I bought. Totally out of character for us. For something that important that costs that much, it’s more like the two of us to spend weeks (months? years?) agonizing over the right model, the lowest price, and if it’s something we can afford.

Putting the treadmill together was one of those experiences. You know, one of THOSE. We put it together almost entirely, realized we’d left something out, took it apart almost entirely, and put it back together. They’d changed the version of the treadmill, but not updated the instructions. Special. We did inventory before we started, and were missing a ton of screws, bolts, nuts, and washers that it said were needed. Chris ran to the hardware store before it closed, and picked up a bunch of the “missing parts”. What did we end up using? One bolt and one washer.

But the treadmill was great. Instead of having to get up at 6 to get to the gym to run half an hour, shower, and get home, I could get up at 6:25 and accomplish the same thing and more. The treadmill is in our front porch, so you get to watch the sun come up over the mountains. And, you can run at night! After the gym is closed, the treadmill still turns on. It’s amazing.

It’s also iFit compatible, which is pretty cool. iFit allows you to do a lot of customization to workouts on your treadmill, including mapping out an outside run and having your treadmill simulate it in terms of incline (decline if your treadmill does that). I haven’t subscribed to iFit, as I’m not really ready for that kind of monthly commitment.

Point of the story: the treadmill kept me running at least a little through the winter / early spring. After tax season, race season started and hasn’t really stopped, and that will be discussed next.

Holding myself back and letting more out


I had to rearrange my training schedule this week to accommodate a late meeting and (yay) vacation. But after recording my workout tonight, something seemed a little odd. I looked at my schedule, did some quick math, and realized that I will be very close to being at 100 miles again this month.

My first ever 100 mile month was June. I was so excited. I have to say, with the prospect there again this month, I’m not any less excited about this one! Especially knowing that I have 100 miles planned next month, I could have two 100 mile-months in a row! But at the same time, if everything goes as planned, I will only be at 95 miles this month. I don’t think increasing mileage just to hit 100 is a good idea, so I’m not going to aim for it, exciting as it may be.

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot in the last few weeks. And I’ve been thinking about what makes a good blog. I decided I should tell you something that I’ve kept inside for a long time.

After high school, I had knee surgery. I was planning to run in college, but when I got there, I was so burnt out. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to run. And I didn’t. I ran maybe 4 or 5 times through college, despite watching my best friend love a season on the cross-country team. After I graduated, I didn’t run for another year and a half or so.

And now, I’m so mad about it. For the last 6 years, I’ve struggled. First to get back in shape so I could run a mile, then run three. Then I struggle constantly to get faster. I know my body is capable of so much more than I can do now, and I’m so mad that maybe I had the chance to actually keep the speed and fitness I had and I didn’t because I didn’t think I needed to.

I don’t want it to sound like I’m nothing but bitter. I love running – it gets me through life. And I’m so grateful for the ability to have run several half-marathons and a marathon, and the fact that a 10K is now a great spur-of-the-moment run. And I love watching myself get faster. But I am a little disappointed in myself; in what I maybe had and will never get back. I mean, I expect I’ll get faster, and maybe even get up to 7 minute miles again with hard work. But baring major life miracles, I will not do 6 minute miles again. I’d like to say I have no regrets, but it’s not true. I do regret not giving running more of a chance in college; I regret not giving myself the chance to run and run fast.

So now I’m trying to make up for it. I give thanks for long runs; for every step and every breathe. And I cherish every speed workout. I love the feeling of challenging my lungs and my legs to go faster than they think they should, and I love finishing and knowing I did the workout I set out to do. I may have missed out on what could have been, but there is no way I’m going to allow myself to miss out on what’s to come. I’m going to attack it and enjoy it and give it everything I’ve got. And I’m going to forgive myself for not running in college, because now I appreciate it so much more that I’ve had to work for it, again.

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The Dirty Dash


The Dirty Dash was a blast!

Chris took a pretty good set of pictures, but I won’t post all of them.

Here’s me before: 

Here’s everybody starting out uphill in the mud:

Soon after that, we hit the dirt, and I realized quickly that I was allergic to whatever was in the air today. My throat burned…the entire race. There were a couple of water stations, but they were little relief. Although, this explains a lot about why I never had good races in this area in high school.

Here are is a picture of one set of walls.

There were three or four walls. This is after several mud pits, snow machines (only blowing water because it’s so hot), lots of hay bales, and tunnels to crawl through. I found myself amply prepared for the walls – our cross country course in high school went over several fences and through a river, and I found the knowledge gained there invaluable today. I got over walls much faster than other people, and knew what I had to do to keep from losing any shoes. Oh, on the side of the walls you can see the slip-and-side, which was toward the end and was the best part, without a doubt.

Here’s me going through the mud-pit:

And here’s me afterward: 

And…here’s the blisters. Now, I’m usually a fan of just leaving blisters alone. But do you see that? That’s MUD IN my blister. I’ll be cleaning that out now.

I traded times with someone for a 4PM instead of a 9AM race time (see here). So, who knows if my time will show up in his age group or mine (we did notify race officials, who were totally cool with it). But either way, I’m excited to see how well I did. I ran surrounded by a group of guys, so I assume I was going a pretty decent pace. I expect results will be posted sometime in the next week.

Regardless, it was so much fun. If you have the chance to enter a mud run, definitely go for it!

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Running wish list


So, I’m just taking it easy before the Dirty Dash on Saturday (packet pickup tonight! yay!) and then diving into half-marathon training next week. While I should be getting stuff done here at the office…

This is a list of things I would love to have while training this fall/winter:

First, a pair of  Vibram Five Fingers. Either the KSO or the KSO Trek (since they are now available in women’s sizes). I’d like to give barefoot running a try, both for the physical aspects, and because I think learning to run barefoot would be a good mental break for easy days.

Since it’s definitely fall outside, and colder temps with wet weather are coming fast, I really would like a new running jacket. I’m not really picky about what kind. Zip off sleeves would be cool, but not necessary. Oh, and pockets. The Outdoor Research Women’s Synapse would be a good choice according to an old Runner’s World article. I’m not really looking for warmth so much as wind/rain/snow protection. The most important part is that any zippers don’t rub my neck or chin… 

I saw this Marmot Firefly jacket in the Marmot store when I bought my PreCip for hiking this summer. This jacket is awesome. It’s super soft, has wind-stopper technology, is really warm, and venting. Awesome, but obviously expensive. Way out of my league. (I only got the PreCip because I had a gift card!)

Garmin 405. Okay, truthfully, I’d be okay with the 205, the 305, or the 405. I wouldn’t be that picky. My basic requirements are that it has a GPS and can connect to a computer. I do like my Nike+, but I yearn for elevation and altitude info, and would like the capability to program in workouts.

A pair of Yaktrax so I don’t have to abandon plans when it snows or ices over. My favorite 5-mile loop goes under a couple of tunnels that become absolute ice if it gets even the slightest bit warmer…or colder..or someone looks at them wrong. Plus they pack the rail trail in the area so runners, walkers, and bikers can use it, and it’d be nice to be able to use it between packings.

My own personal masseuse. Yep, just like this: 

What’s on your fall/winter wish list?

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When you’re self employed, you end up going into the office (or working if you don’t have an office) on days which you would much rather be doing something else. Like holidays. And Saturdays. As you drive into the office and get yourself ready for work, you contemplate all the things you’d rather do. Like garage sale-ing, hiking, home improvement, reading, watching movies, and the list goes on…

But this amazing thing happens when you go to the office on a holiday or Saturday (or Sunday) – you get work done. No one knows you’re there, so they don’t call, only a few happen to email, they don’t stop by. You get work…done! There aren’t 5000 constant interruptions, and you don’t feel yourself being pulled from project to project before you’re ready.

This happened last Saturday to some degree, but it was amazing today. I just can’t even tell you how much more I get done on a Saturday than during the week. We got so much done that we decided we could work from home tomorrow (corporate extensions for tax returns are due September 15, if you’re wondering what the rush is for). So we packed up what we’d need to get tomorrow, and will only go into the office if something unforeseen happens (like, the power goes out and we can’t log into our computers, or there’s a sudden parade outside our house with lots of music and loud noises).

First thing tomorrow morning though, I have to go for a long run. I need to get back up to 6 to 7 miles every weekend so I’ll be ready for The Dirty Dash and to pick up training for the half-marathon after that.

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