Friday, February 4, 2011


So I have been running for four weeks now. I have decided that since I have completed a 5K and stuck with it this long, it would be okay to actually add running to my Facebook profile. The final results for the 5K had my finish at 33:50 minutes at a pace of 10:53 per mile. I placed 545 out of about 800 runners and 30 out of 53 runners in my division. This finished had me faster than everyone over 70 years of age in the race, but still seven minutes slower than my son who had to walk part of it because he had indulged in too many samples before the race. It was a great finish for my first try but I really want to do better. After a lifetime of athletic mediocrity, I may have actually found my sport. Now I just have to keep myself free of injury so I don't have to stop what I started!

Never underestimate the power of a cute outfit. I know it sounds shallow but hear me out. Although I didn't intend to buy any special running outfits, I happened upon a clearance rack with a shirt and shorts in the same colors as my new running shoes. At first I didn't even occur to try on actual running shorts because they didn't have enough thigh-concealing fabric but I was curious to see what they would look like. When I tried them on I was surprised at what I saw in the mirror--it was a runner. I felt special and athletic and totally able to accomplish my goals so naturally I bought the outfit. There's something about running in clothes set apart for that purpose that is different than running in the sweats I throw on to take my kids to school. The same applies to food. If I am going to push my body to perform out of its comfort zone, am I going to fuel it with junk or things that will help it to be stronger and faster. Do I want to waste by progress by downing a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos? I have also opted out of protein shakes and powders after reading their ingredients. Almost everyone contains sucralose as well as a kaleidoscope of other chemical additives. Lately I stick to a banana before the run and some Greek yogurt when I am finished.

I am absolutely giddy that the egg famine at Noll Farm is finally over. After I purchased my second dozen of eggs from the store, all the girls kicked it up a notch and I have had as many as seven eggs in one day. Once the reserves are built up we will be able to start sharing with our friends again. It really doesn't take much to get me egg-cited these days!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No chickens were harmed in the writing of this post.

When you look into building a flock of backyard chickens the rule of thumb is to have one chicken for each member of your family plus a couple of extra in case they don't all survive to adulthood. This is how I originally started with six chickens. In the middle of their first winter, all six chickens began laying eggs and we had more than we knew what to do with. Although everything I had read stated otherwise, my chickens defied the experts by faithfully producing 4-6 eggs daily even during the coldest and shortest days. One of the benefits was being able to give away a dozen eggs per week to friends who appreciated their orange yolky goodness. I enjoyed giving them away almost as much as eating them. It felt so good that we added three new chickens to the flock to increase egg production so we could share even more.

The first sign that we would not be giving out more eggs came last summer when we lost one of our original six chickens to the extreme heat wave that not only gave us triple digits in the daylight hours, but lows that never dropped under 90 at night. She was a reliable layer of light blue eggs as well as being one of our prettiest chickens. Shortly after we lost her, the new chickens were chronologically old enough to begin laying yet showed no signs of being physically ready. All I could do was wait, and wait, and wait some more. Finally one of them began and we were back to having six chickens producing eggs until one of the older ones began molting, followed by another and then joined by the only one of the new girls that actually laid eggs (Molting is a period where chickens lose their feathers and grow new ones. This requires all their energy and their bodies cease egg production during this time). I was now down to three chickens that actually laid eggs and five freeloaders. To make it worse, those three had dropped down from laying almost everyday to every couple of days. Eventually my refrigerator which used to be filled with as many as four full egg cartons now held only one that rarely contains more than a half dozen. For several months we rationed our eggs until I finally broke down and (gasp) bought eggs this weekend so I could bake and make breakfast burritos. Although my chickens had no idea what I was doing nor did they care, I felt like I was cheating on them. To add to my guilt, the day I brought home grocery store eggs, we actually had four eggs in the nest box! Two from my old reliables, one from the previously molting new chicken and the first egg of our beloved "Disco." Any day now there will be cute fluffy chicks at the feed store and the question now is do we pick up some more freeloaders or be patient and wait for our flock to kick it into gear. It's a good thing we didn't live in the pioneer days or else those chickens would have provided us food this winter one way or another--if you know what I mean!

Monday, January 31, 2011

From Zero to 5K in 14 Days

So I have decided to taken up running even though it goes against every fiber of my leg muscles. It could just be another section in the lifelong cycle of get fit, slowly stop exercising and end up as couch potato, but I am really hoping it is not. My last go round with pushing myself to my limits resulted in a nagging back injury that made me miserable for several months. In an effort to heal it I rested--too much! Although the injury has not completely gone away, it has been reduced to a tolerable ache that I have finally accepted as being my new normal for the rest of my life.

I seem to be surrounded by runners. Many friends are not just running but finishing half-marathons. Initially I thought you would never see me doing anything so ridiculous as punishing my body on long, painful, boring training runs yet with each run I do I desire to go further, faster and be better than I was the day before. A friend was encouraging me to run with her and to even sign up for an actual 5K which just seemed too extreme yet after meditating on it for awhile it didn't seem so out of reach anymore. Maybe I could be a runner and actually finish a race...

Once I decided to lay down my excuses it was time to hit the road. Sure my back hurt, and I will always be anemic so my heart has to beat faster than most to get oxygen to my iron-deficient blood cells, but I decided those things would not have power over me anymore and it just meant I had to be more determined and focused. With this new found inspiration, I decided to take a run the next morning. I'd been hearing about the Couch to 5K plan and that sounded like my speed so I printed it out to see what my first workout would be. It only called for two minutes of actual running which just wasn't enough. Perhaps I wasn't "couch" after all! I was so enthusiastic after being able to run for a full mile that I registered not for the March race, but rather one that was two weeks away on February 5. I knew if I didn't make that kind of commitment, I would be in danger of giving up once things got a little hard. With my payment submitted the pressure was on. I wasn't expecting to run the full 5K and just hoped to finish. After I ran for a few more days I decided that just finishing wasn't enough. I wanted to run the whole thing and finish in as close to 30 minutes as I could get. As incredible as it seems(at least to me), I have found that I can run the full distance of a 5K during training runs, but not too much more than that.

In just 5 more days I will know exactly what I am made of and I cannot wait to cross a finish line for the first time and see my family cheering me on when I get there. My oldest son will be running the race too, however he is so much faster than me that he will be able to finish, grab a bite to eat, change into clean clothes and be back in time to film me as I triumphantly complete my first race and undo a lifetime of negative thoughts and feelings towards running and my own athletic ability in general.

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