Saturday, April 28, 2012

The American River Parkway Half Marathon 2012

I was using today's race as a training run. I have the Mermaid Half Marathon in two weeks and figured that this would be a great last long run before then. 

This was my first time running this race but it wont be the last. It's all on the American River Bike Trail so it was a beautiful course and all the proceeds goes to maintaining the trail. That's great for everyone! :o) The Grant High School drum line provided some entertainment at the start as well as a group of bag pipe players. It was really great. Then, just before the start of the race, there was a little ceremony honoring Officer Randy van Dusen with bib #1  for saving the life of one of last year's runners. The runner, Ralph Jefferies was given bib #2 and his wife, Felicia, was given bib #3. Here's the story from last year's race:  

On April 30, 2011, Officer Randy Van Dusen watched a runner at a half marathon event collapse. Without hesitation, Officer Van Dusen went to check on the runner, thinking he had just tripped or stumbled. Instead, the runner was found unconscious with no pulse. Officer Van Dusen called for Code 3 fire and medical response and began chest compressions on the runner. As other runners arrived, some medically trained, Officer Van Dusen continued chest compressions. Despite several medically trained people on the scene advising Officer Van Dusen to discontinue compressions when the victim did not respond, he did not stop. Several minutes later, prior to medical aid arriving, the victim’s heart started to beat. The victim was transported to the hospital where he began his recovery.   -

I try not to judge a half marathon or analyze how I'm doing during the first few miles. I use these miles as a warm up and I usually struggle through them. I tend to hate running in the first ten minutes of any run. I almost always find myself ask "why do I continue to do this to myself?" But once I work the cobwebs out of my legs I'm fine and enjoy the rest of the run. However, today was very different.

Early in the race, around mile 2, my right foot started to feel weird and my big toe felt like it was going to sleep. That had never happened before and I was little concerned about it but I tried to just forget about it keep going. It was also around this time that I started running/walking in 30 second splits. This works well for me in longer races. It keeps me running without getting too tired to cover the miles. 

As I was approaching the turn-around point my right foot was starting to really bother me. My toe wasn't asleep anymore but I felt the outside of my foot rubbing against my shoe and the bottom of my foot felt tired. This is the same foot that has been giving me problems all year. It gets really tight and I feel pain in my heel a lot of the time, both on and off the road, but this pain was different. I decided to stop and try retying my shoes at the next aid station after the turn-around. Since I felt my foot rubbing against the shoe maybe tightening up the laces would solve the problem. As I as was retying them I noticed this...

Yep, I was wearing two different shoes... Normally, the night before a race, I pack everything I could possibly need or want in my "race bag" along with the clothes I plan on wearing, with my bib already pinned to my shirt, and my shoes, with the timing chip already attached. The morning of my races I take the whole bag to the bathroom and get dressed without bothering my husband. But last night the clothes I wanted to wear today weren't finished drying so I didn't go through my usual preparation rituals. I got dressed, including putting on my shoes, in the dark and walked out of the house without going over my attire. Now I know NEVER to do that again. 

You see, the pink and white shoe on my right foot is half of my old pair of running shoes. They were very good to me but no longer have the cushioning and support my feet require. They still work great for around the house, yard, walking the daycare up to the park and my bodypump classes. Not so much for running any substantial distance and defiantly not for 13.1 miles. As a result my right foot was very angry with me and I ended up supporting most of my weight with my left leg. That caused me more pain, mostly in my knee and hip. I was forced to walk most of the last five miles. I did manage to suck it up long enough to run for the two sets of photographers that where snapping photos on that portion of the course and to cross the finish line running.    

Overall, it was a nice race. It was beautiful out today and it got nice and warm. Of course I would have been a little bit more comfortable if I finished earlier and enjoyed the warmth from the shade instead of out on the course... I feel like I did pretty good all things considering. My last half was in late February and my time in that race was 3:15. Today my time was 3:43. I think if I didn't have to walk I would have defiantly beat my last half's time and I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the Mermaid half. Hopefully anything that can go wrong I got out of the way today.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Obsessed? Me? Maybe.

My success on Sunday got me so jazzed to get back into my workout routine. I've gotten a little obsessed with my plans and goals so today's blog is all about that stuff. Sorry of it's not the best reading for those who are not me, but it's what is running through my mind at the moment. (Most moments lately.)

Yesterday's yoga class was great! I got to the gym about 45 minutes before class so I got a chance to hop on some cardio equipment first. I stated out on the treadmill. I had planned on walking on an incline for awhile to boost my burn but it was bothering my lower back so I gave it up after about 10 minutes. I continued my cadrio workout on the bike. I rode for half an hour on an level 4 and ended up going for 7.5 miles. It felt good to workout my quades a little. I wasn't overly sore from Sunday's race but my quades where making themselves known a little louder than usual. 

We have a new Monday night yoga instructor and I think I'm going to like her a lot. She's been subbing for the last few weeks while "they" made a decision on a permanent instructor and I like her style. We haven't done any poses I haven't already done but I'm hopping we will has time goes on. 

Today is my bodypump Tuesday! I love bodypump but I don't know if I'll be able to make it there today. Jeremy usually covers daycare for me so I can leave early enough to make it to class but he has a swim team meeting today after baseball practice so I might be late if I get to class at all. But regardless if I make to class or not I'll still run and go for a swim. 

I have made the decision that I need a day off form my workouts during the week and Wednesday is the best day for that. This also gives me the chance to pick Sami up from ballet and see her in action once a week, spend some one-on-one time with Nevyn and, once we get this computer back up to "gaming speed" I have reserved Wednesday nights for "gaming dates" with Jeremy. He is so excited. He's going to teach me how to play World of Warcraft (WoW) and we will play side-by-side. I'm not a big video/computer game chick but Jeremy really likes them. He makes time for our aqua dates every week for me (he would never chose to spend his free time at the gym) so I'm going to do the same for him. Aw, aren't we sickeningly sweet? 

I actually don't have a class on Thursdays. Thursdays are for running and swimming. I plan on doing some speed work on my Thursday runs and maybe during my swim too. I don't ever see myself as "fast" but I would be really happy to be faster than I am now. My next 5K is in June and I would like to finish in around 37 or 38 minutes. My half is in less than month and I want to be as close to last years time as I can.  

Friday night is my aqua date with Jeremy! He has been a big help. He has improved my stroke and my breathing pattern as well as made me feel better about my swimming insecurities. 

My plan for Saturday has been altered a little from the norm. Last week, while waiting for bodypump to start and watching the turbo kick class, I shared with one of my pump buddies that I wanted to try turbo kick but I was a little intimidated by it. He said he has been wanting to try it too so we decided to meat up this Saturday and take both turbo kick and bodypump. I'm pretty excited about trying something new but at the same time I'm wondering how I'm going to fit this class into my Saturday program if I fall in love with it. We'll see how it pans out after this weekend I guess. 

I haven't been to PiYo for a couple of weeks. First I skipped it because it was Easter Sunday and then last week I had a race. I'm looking forward to going back this weekend. It's a tough class, tougher than I expected but I really like the challenge and it's very different from anything else I've been doing. 

I have to keep up my running! I have my next half marathon, the Mermaid Series Half on May 12th (my third half for the year) and I really want to better my time. My last half was the River City Half in late February and I finished in 3:13:04. Last year I finished the Mermaid Series Half in 2:31:31. I would like to finish close to that time but this year's training has been much more challenging that last year's. If I don't meet or better that time I wont be too disappointed. My goal this year is a sub three hour finish. 

Bragging rights! I was quoted on the Mermaid Series Facebook page. This is pretty cool. I've done three Mermaid Series events and they are so much fun! I have already decided that my first triathlon will be the Mermaid Series Tri near Santa Cruz.  

In other exciting news, I got my paddle board! I can't believe it has taken me this long to blog about it but I've had a lot going on. So, everyone in Blogland, please welcome the newest member of my family, Ali. She is a Boga (of course) Mahina and I love her. Look how well she compliments Kate! They are already fast friends. I plan on taking her out on Lake Natoma on Saturday. My kids keep reminding me that I have to share. Who says???

Are these not the cutest runners you have ever seen? These are two of my daycare girls, Sage (5) and Sierra (3)  (sisters, like you couldn't tell) and they may as well be my nieces. I love them to pieces! They ran in the kids races at the Zoo Zoom on Sunday and earned themselves some medals. I hung out after my race so I could cheer them on and see them cross the finish line. They did great! Sage competed in the age group above her own and still finished solidly in the middle of the pack. Both of them are athletes in the making. 

Last Friday after work I met up with an old high school buddy. We saw each other at our 10 year reunion (how am I that old already???) but it's been a few years and she was back in town visiting family. We had a quick little coffee date at Temple in midtown. I had never been there before but now I can't wait to try out the one closer to me. I loved it! Yum, yum, yum. If you haven't tried it, you need to get your caboose down there ASAP. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


I know it's been awhile since I blogged last and a lot has been going in my life including an emergency doctor's appointment, more medication and then a race. Let me back track.

If you know me or have been reading my life in blog form, you know that this allergy season has been beating my ass. You'll also know that allergies aren't the end of my medical woes. When my allergies attack my eczema and asthma join forces and attempt to kill me. (The saddest thing about this is that I'm not being overly dramatic.) I was in my doctor's office (one of the many) in early March. At that time we decided to start allergy shots again, he me gave more crap to put on my eczema and props for my lung capacity being at 108% that day. When I got home I realized that I forgot to get refills for my every-day inhaler (the one that actually keeps me alive). At first I wanted to kick myself but I knew the pharmacy would call and the office would fax the prescription over without any drama since I had just been seen. On April 2nd, two weeks ago, I called in my prescription to my pharmacy. I had a few days worth of medication left and I was sure I would get my new drugs in a couple of days at the most. No worries, right? Wrong!!! 

Jeremy went to pick up my medication on Wednesday (two days after I called it in) and it wasn't ready. The pharmacy hadn't heard back from the doctor's office yet. 

Lesson #1: 
If this happens again, ask the pharmacy to resend the request, now.

 I called the pharmacy on Friday to see if my medication was ready for pick up. Jeremy was going to go get it for me but I wanted to make sure it was there before he drove over. It wasn't ready yet. 

Lesson #2: 
If this happens again, ask the pharmacy to again resend the request and I will call the office, now.

As the week wore on, I was getting really low on medication. Over the weekend, I had to puff my inhaler more than once to get any medication out of it at all. By the time Monday came I was completly out of medication. I was on the phone back and forth between the pharmacy and my doctor's office. There was a blame game between the two, I never figured out where the breakdown of communication started but I had my medication that afternoon. Thank God!

I thought that I would be okay after being back on my medication for a couple of days, and if it was any other time of year I think I would have been, but the evil allergies used this time to attack in full force. By Wednesday afternoon I didn't even have the breath needed to call the doctor. Thankfully, Jeremy called for me and got me an emergency appointment that afternoon and I avoided a trip to the ER. 

The office I went to wasn't my asthma and allergy guy (they didn't call us back in time) but my general practice office. I saw the nurse practitioner and she couldn't believe that 5 weeks earlier I had a lung capacity of 108%. They didn't to a capacity test but I doubt it was more than 25% by the time I was in the office. She gave me a prescription for prednisone (a corticosteriod used to treat the inflammation in the lungs) and sent me on my way.

I took the next few days really easy. No workouts, Sami and Jeremy helped with making dinner and cleaning up after daycare and I was pretty much a lazy and pouty mess. On Saturday I was feeling pretty good. I even went to my first workout of the week, my beloved bodypump class. I was praying that I stayed strong through class and prove to Jeremy that it was safe for me to attempt the 5K I had the following day. Class was great and one of my class buddies and I decided to go early next week to try the turbo kick class before pump.

On Sunday I woke up early, got my race gear together and headed out to the zoo for the Zoo Zoom 5K. I was amazed at how great I felt. I tried out my lungs with some warm up jogs around the starting area and was super excited with how great I felt. It was a beautiful day, my lungs were working as designed and I got to be apart of my sister-in-law's first 5K too. It was a great day! I finished in 40:15-not even close to my PR (33:05) but I was thrilled that I didn't have to walk it or die trying to find the finish line.

Sunday was a great day for me on a more personal level as well. About three years ago I kind of "broke up" with my best friend. I'm not going to go into details but it was a traumatic time for everyone involved. Recently I've seen her at my gym and it made me feel really uncomfortable. Everyone I knew told me to just ignore her and pretend she wasn't there. I did this but it made me feel cold and on edge. I had no desire to be besties again but acting like she didn't exist didn't feel right. It tuned out that she was also at the Zoo Zoom and we ended up talking a little bit. Nothing really personal mostly about our kids, workouts, running and races. It felt good to not ignore her when we were in the same space. I don't know if this makes much sense to anyone else out there but it lead me to a new way of thinking.

I thought about this the drive back form the race and decided that I'm not going to completely ignore her anymore. If I walk past her in the gym, I'll say "hi". If we are in the same workout class together I'm going to knowledge her presence. If just feels right to me. I'm sure there are people who are going to read this and not understand why I feel this way. The truth is, I don't know why I do either but, if I learned anything from the event three years ago, it's to be true to myself and my feelings. If others don't "get it" that's okay. I'm the one who has to live with my actions.

So, there you go. Near death, bounce back, lung health, successful race
and even some mental and emotional healing too. Last week wasn't so
bad after all. No, the first half was that bad, scratch that last line.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My name is Anna and I'm an asthmatic

Everyone has their own challenges when it comes to getting fit and healthy. Some challenges we share like dips in energy and days of unfocused motivation. Others are more personalized to our own weakness but the common thread is the fact that we all experience challenging moments. 

bad                     good                     good                       bad
 Right now we are in a season change and for me that means days of congestion, itchy, inflamed skin and and a constant evaluation of my breathing status. I hate season changes and living in Sacramento can really suck when the pollen counts are high. In 2001 the Sacramento Business Journal broke the news that we were rated by the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, as the nation's 22nd worst city for those who suffer from allergies. I believe this rating system only took pollen levels into account and didn't factor in the fact that we live in the valley. This means that all the crap in the air (pollen, pollution and who knows what else) is stuck here. In my mind, that graduates Sacramento form the 22nd worst allergy city to king of the allergy kingdom.  

I remember begging my mom to
let me skip breathing treatments
I hated them
I have had asthma all my life. When I was really young I had to use a nebulizer every four hours and took additional medication every morning, noon and night. Thanks to all of those medications I was able to live a relatively normal childhood. I was very active and was proud of my speedy running skills. I remember beating kids two years older than me in races at school and in the park. In the summers I swam from the time the community pool opened till closing. The neighborhood kids and I practically lived on our bicycles and in roller skates. I was always on the move.

My 1st 2-wheeler
That active lifestyle seemed to disappear as I got older. By the time I was in high school I was overweight and hadn't been on a bike for a few years. The only sport I had played in middle school was volleyball but I didn't continue that into high school. The only physical activity I got on a regular basis was my three mile walk to school and gym class. I no longer rode my bike with friends, swam all day in the summer or played tag around the playground. For the most part, my asthma was still under control but I think my inactivity put me at a disadvantage. My body got used to not moving so when I pushed myself I would notice my syptoms creep up on me.

I'm screwed

Asthma is pretty common and I'd be willing to bet that everyone knows a handful of people who are asthmatic or have experienced asthma symptoms. With that said, just in case you're a little fuzzy on what asthma really is, here's some quick information: 

Asthma is a lung disease and people with asthma have two things going on in their lungs. 

The muscles around the air ways go into spasm. The muscles clamp down, causing the airways to narrow.

The airways themselves become inflamed causing mucus to form and making it even more difficult to breath. The inflammation further narrows the airways and the mucus makes breathing swampy. 

(checkout the animation thingy at
Asthma is a condition of the lungs characterized by inflammation and reversible narrowing of the airways, affecting children and adults. Asthma is very common, and often related to allergy. Pulmonary function tests may be needed to determine if narrowing of the airway is present. Goals for the treatment of asthma are to control or minimize symptoms and normalize lung function.  
If you don't have asthma and you're curious about what it feels like, try this: The next time you to to a coffee shop or restaurant grab one of those tiny straws and try to breath through it for about a minute with your nose pinched shut.That's what an attack feels like. 

Long ago, when I was a freshmen at Sacramento High, my doctor banned me from running. Why, you ask? Well, it all started with a season change. It was near the end of fall, going into winter, and we had gotten some rain over the past few days. I wasn't feeling well, my allergies where off the charts and I was pretty sure I had a chest cold. Often chest colds aggravate my asthma and I tend to suffer from more asthma symptoms. This time around wasn't any different and I had been using my rescue inhaler often in hopes of fending off an asthma attack.

Freshmen year
I thought smiling made me ugly
During this time I had been taking the bus to school instead of walking and I hadn't fully participated in gym class. I still did everything that was asked of me but I wasn't giving it my all or exerting myself. Around this time our gym teacher wanted us to run laps around the soccer field. The freshly cut, grassy soccer field. I knew I shouldn't participate with the class so I talked to the teacher. He was less then sympathetic and told me that I didn't have to run but my grade would suffer. That was unacceptable to me, I was not going to be one of those kids who got a bad grade in gym, so I ran. 
Sac Hi - You Know!
I know, I'm an idiot, right? I should briefly share with you why my grades and GPA were so important to me. At this time in my life, my parents had been separated for about five years, I lived with my mother who ran family child care home during the day and did drugs and partied at night. She was very absent from my day-to-day life and, like most addicts, spent more money on her "hobbies" than important items such as food and household bills. My life felt pretty crappy and totally out of my control. In an effort to have some kind of control I focused on my grades. Getting a grade less than a "B" in anything would be devastating to me. It would mean I had failed at controlling this small part of my life.

Back on the soccer field, I barely made it through the run and I wasn't breathing well at all when I was changing for orchestra, my next and final class of the day (I played the violin). As soon as I got to the music room, I dropped my backpack on the floor, sat in a chair and tried to get my breathing under control with help from my inhaler. It wasn't working. I told my teacher what was going on and he sent me to the office to call home. He had my stand partner go with me to 1) make sure I didn't pass out in the hall alone and 2) to carry my backpack. I was so weak, the added weight was making walking and breathing at the same time even more difficult than it already was. 

My mother had to pack up her day care kids into her car to come get me and she wasn't happy. I knew she was worried but it manifested as anger. She seemed more focused on the interruption of her day and the inconvenience of having to pick me up than my current medical situation. Once we were home I did a breathing treatment but it didn't seem to help very much. A couple of hours latter I did another treatment and  some additional medication. That night my condition seemed to be getting worse so my mother finally took me to the ER. My oxygen level was so low by that point that I don't remember most of that night or following day. I was admitted into ICU with sever asthma symptoms, multiple asthma attacks and pneumonia (remember that chest cold I had...). 

When I was released from the hospital I was ordered to stay home from school until further notice from my doctor. Two weeks later I was in his office for a followup appointment. He gave me the "okay" to go back to school and wrote me a note excusing me form running activities for the rest of my life. I'm serious, a copy is in my medical file.That fact makes every race I finish taste so sweet! Even if my time is abysmal.  (My dad met with my gym teacher and the school principal while I was in ICU. I wish could have been a fly on the wall in that meeting. He still wont tell me what was said) 

[My Races-Take that, asthma!]
River City Half
  Shamrock'n Half 
Super Bowl Sunday 10K
Lou Gehrig 5K
California International Marathon
Run to Feed the Hungry 5K
Mermaid Run 10K
Urban Cow Half Marathon
Miner's Ravine 10K
Susan B. Anthony 5K
Women's Fitness Festival 5K
No Excuses 5K
 Rock n Run 5K
Mermaid Run 12.5M
Sacramento Zoo Zoom 10
Nutrition Fuels Fitness 10K
Valentine Run 4M
Lou Gehrig's Run 5K
Mermaid Run 5K
Miners Ravine 5K
Susan B. Anthony Women's 5K
Alzheimer's Aid Society Memorial 5K
Fleet Feet Women's Fitness Festival 5K 
Nike Half Marathon

The point of my story was to show the relationship between allergies and asthma. If one is bad, the other will follow suit. For me, at least but I'm sure I'm not unique in this way. Every time I experience asthma symptoms or an attack I can trace it back to either my allergies or forgetting one of my daily preventive medications (I still take medication for my asthma twice a day but I no longer need breathing treatments on a regular basis). 

Allergies are evil and continue to hold me back. I've been missing workout after workout due to my allergies and the negative effect they have on my lungs. Last weekend was the first neighborhood run I was able to do in weeks. It's no wonder why I've slowed down so much or stopped losing weight. I will be so happy when summer is here and I can get back to being me again. Until then I will have to evaluate my allergies and breathing daily and be happy with the runs I can get in on good days.     

PS ~ Both of my kids are asthma free, allergy free and eczema free (Thank God!)                    

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A near perfect weekend

Last week was kind of sucky for the most part. It rained, a lot, and for me, that means massive allergy attacks and breathing was something I had to try to do rather a natural thing that you only have to think about when you're underwater. I did manage to make to yoga on Monday, bodypump on Tuesday and I swam laps almost everyday. Even though running was out of the question last week I was still getting my burn on.

Saturday was a very wet day but that didn't bother me because I had too much going on to get a long run in outside anyway. My day stated with getting the kids up and ready to take Kate to the doctor (my car into the shop). I was pretty sure I needed to get my fan belt replaced. (The horrible screaming sound that came out from under the hood every time I turned on the car when it was cold or applied the brakes was a clue) It had been a while since I had my car checked out so I had them do one of those multi-point inspections and an oil change. I'm happy to report that Kate passed the inspection with just a few things I need to address with in the next few months. (Translation: the savings account is going to take hit very soon) I really don't mind spending money on my car. I've had her since Nevyn was a few days old and I've never had any huge issues with her (knock on wood). I'm really good about car maintenance and in return, she has never let me down. I can't complain about spending a couple hundred dollars every now and then. having a safe and reliable car is priceless. It doesn't hurt that she's paid off, likes the cheap gas and has great fuel mileage.

Jeremy's mom and brother picked up us from the dealership and I treated to a Starbucks breakfast as a thank you before she gave me a ride to the gym. I worked my tail off at the new bodypump release. I loved it. There's more upper body stuff in this track. That's good for me, I need to build my upper body strength. After a little snack I swam almost half a mile in the pool. I swam a total of 750 yards in 20 minutes (a half mile is 825 yards). It was a tough swim. My arms were very tired from my class but it's so rewarding to get through a workout when you feel tired to begin with. Jeremy and I have been swimming together on Friday nights (our aqua date) and he's been helping me with technique. Eventually I'll get faster. I hope.

About a week ago Jeremy's boss told Nevyn that if he straightened his hair and took a picture, he would give him $10. Nevyn was all over that so he and I hard some bonding time over the hair straightener in the afternoon. He taught me the following about beavers:
  • They eat plants and tree bark
  • They store food underwater and use rocks to weight it down
  • They use rocks to full gaps in their dams
  • They slap the water with their tales to tell other beavers to get back to the "house"
  • Females can have 2-4 babies every spring
  • They take "vacations" ever year to different locations
  • Baby beavers have so much fat on their bodies that they float
  • They can pull their cheeks under their front teeth to keep water out of their mouth
  • Their teeth are orange 

Sunday was beautiful!

The kids and I headed up the hill to Folsom in the morning for church. I dropped them off for Sunday school and then went to the gym for my first experenice with PiYo. It was AWESOME! I highly recommend it. 

The kids where having a sleep over that night and then going on a road trip with their grandparents till Thursday so I wanted to have some family time. After a little family lunch we taught the kids how to play penny dominoes. I think we spent just about the whole game laughing. My heart was very happy.

I needed to get out in some of the sunshine we had so I went for a very slow run/jog/walk. The sun felt so good on my skin and I really enjoyed my outside time even though I was much slower than I like. It was my first time on the road since the half marathon I ran the week before.

We dropped off the kids with their grand parents after we had a little family dinner at our new favorite place to eat, Panera bread. It was a very nice weekend.