The good, the bad and the ugly

My weekend had some ups and downs. Such is life, I suppose. Here’s a run down.

Good: My husband and I attended our Senate District Convention on Saturday. I think it is a good opportunity to be involved in our community in this way. As delegates, we get to take part in endorsing candidates for upcoming elections. This being an off year, we were voting on leadership within the Senate District.

Bad: As you can imagine, there can be some difference of opinion in such a setting. There was some definite tension at the meeting.

Ugly: I’m sure you will agree that it is possible to disagree without being disrespectful. Unfortunately, there were some present on Saturday who did not remain respectful in their differences. Things got pretty ugly for a while.

Good: I played some games with my family in the afternoon.

Good: I went out for a run.

Bad: Shortly into the run, I felt like my ankle was buckling. I walked for about a mile, and it did not hurt while I was walking.

Ugly: I decided to try running again and see how it felt. It hurt on the very first step of running. This is out of nowhere. I have been taking my runs slow and easy, and I have no idea why I suddenly have ankle pain. I will take things super easy this week, maybe walking all of my scheduled mileage to give things a chance to heal up. I am thankful that walking doesn’t hurt. I hope that it won’t linger, whatever it is.

Good: I “watched a movie” with my husband after our kids went to bed on Saturday. In reality, we put a movie on, my husband watched it, and I fell asleep cuddled up to him. That is not unusual. He teases me that I rarely do see the movies we decide to watch.

Good: Choir sang in church on Sunday morning. Sunday school, adult Bible study, church service – all good.

Bad: My car has been making a horrible whining noise lately, so we dropped it off to get checked out. It’s eleven years old, but I sure would love to keep it longer. I will be without a car until we get it back from the shop.

Good: I made lip gloss with my daughter on Sunday afternoon. It was a sticky messy project, but we had fun with it. She had received the kit as a birthday gift.

Good: We got a special delivery – Girl Scout cookies from our niece.

Good: I played a little Monopoly with my children, then we read stories together before bed on Sunday.

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ve seen that there were far more “goods” than “bads” or “uglies” listed. And the bad things weren’t all that bad. I do count myself lucky. (But I sure hope my ankle will be okay. I have some running fun planned this summer, and I’d hate to miss it!)

How was your weekend? I hope you also experienced more good than bad.

Kids Get Arthritis Too

Did you know that? I had no idea, until I met Julia. Our families first got to know each other about four years ago, and finding out that Julia has juvenile arthritis was a surprise to me. I never realized that kids can get arthritis. After getting to know Julia, I can tell you that she is a delightful girl, a typical fun-loving seven year old, and she faces the challenges of juvenile arthritis.

Researchers are studying the possible causes of juvenile arthritis in order to improve diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately to cure juvenile arthritis. I wanted to share with you because, as you know, research is costly. The first step in raising funds for research is raising awareness. We can’t help with something we don’t know about.

Juvenile Arthritis Facts (from The Arthritis Foundation)

Impact of Juvenile Arthritis:
* Approximately 294,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions.
* Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States.
* Arthritis and related conditions, such as juvenile arthritis, cost the U.S. economy nearly $128 billion per year in medical care and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity.

Common Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
* Pain, swelling, tenderness and stiffness of joints, causing limited range of motion.
* Joint contracture, which results from holding a painful joint in a flexed position for an extended period.
* Damage to joint cartilage and bone leading to joint deformity and impaired use of the joint.
* Altered growth of bone and joints leading to short stature.

* Medications
* Physical Therapy
* Eye care
* Dental Care
* Proper Nutrition
* Surgery (rarely)

Due to impact on Strength, Mobility and Endurance, kids may be feeling:
* Desire to be like their peers
* Isolated
* Inadequate
* Insecure
* Pain and fatigue from disease symptoms
* Anger and depression about the restrictions imposed by the disease
* Embarrassment about having the disease

So, how can you and I help?

Well, like I said before, awareness is a great first step. We can tell others about Juvenile Arthritis and The Arthritis Foundation.

If you live in the Minneapolis area, you can consider walking at the Juvenile Arthritis March on Saturday, March 5, or just making a donation if you can’t be there. The event raises funds for arthritis research and health education. The Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM) will be held at the Mall of America at 8 am on March 5, and you can find out more or donate here.

Here are a few pictures from last year’s event:

You might guess (and you’d be right) that it is not only a great fundraising opportunity; it’s also a great time. Look at those smiling faces. 🙂

Julia’s Team. Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

Walking around the mall.

If you live in another area, you can look for, and participate in, Arthritis Foundation fundraising events in your area.

Thank you for reading and for considering making a donation for arthritis research and education.

Magic Miles

My half-marathon journey: I am currently training for my first half-marathon which will take place on May 21, 2011. I have never run farther than 10 miles, and I have had trouble with injuries when approaching that mileage in the past. I am taking a different approach this time. I am following a training program by Jeff Galloway, and I will be sharing my experiences along the way. Previous posts on this topic: Jeff Galloway – Week 3 Recap, Jeff Galloway – 5 Week Recap

Over the course of my training program, several of my runs indicated the number of miles “with Magic Miles.” First step, find out what that is. Second step, try it out.

Step One: What is the Magic Mile?

From Half-Marathon: You Can Do It, by Jeff Galloway:

1. Go to a track, or other accurately measured course.
2. Warm up by walking 5 minutes, then running a minute and walking a minute, then jogging an easy half mile.
3. Do 4 acceleration gliders.
4. Walk for 3-4 minutes.
5. Run fast – for you – for one mile. Use walk break suggestions in this chapter, or run the way you want.
6. On your first time trial, don’t run all-out from the start – ease into your pace after the first half.
7. Warm down by reversing the warm up.
8. Don’t use a treadmill because they are notoriously inaccurate.
9. On each successive one, try to adjust pace in order to run a faster time.
10. Use the formula below to see what time is predicted in the goal races.

Got all that?

I didn’t . I didn’t remember each step exactly, but I had the basic gist of it – warm up, go for an easy jog, run a fast mile, cool down.

Step Two: Doing It

I routinely run at a track over the winter, and I have a Garmin. This shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

Sadly, my first attempt at the Magic Mile was a big flop. I walked to warm up, jogged an easy mile, and 1/4 of the way into my first fast lap, my watch turned off. The battery was low, and it wouldn’t stay on. This, in spite of my charging it after my last run (or so I thought). Frustrating.

Given that the track was super crowded that day, I decided to count my blessings. It would have been really hard to keep up a certain pace when there were groups of walkers covering the entire width of the track. That is not a big deal when I am out for an easy jog; in fact, in makes me happy to see so many people out there moving. I think I would have gotten frustrated, though, if I had to keep stopping and waiting for an opportunity to pass while doing the Magic Mile. I decided to try again and to choose a time the track would be less busy.

Magic Mile, take two. I went back to the track late in the evening when it is much less busy. My Garmin was charged. I walked a lap, jogged a slow mile, ran a fast mile (for me), walked a half mile, then jogged another easy mile and walked to finish cooling down.

The formula mentioned above works like this:

Your Magic Mile Pace x 1.2 = Race Goal Pace

Race Goal Pace + 3 minutes per mile = Long Run Training Pace

In the coming weeks, I will be doing a few more of these Magic Miles. If I can do the half-marathon at the pace that I calculated with the Magic Mile, I will be really happy. I am actually not concerned about meeting a time goal. This is a new distance for me, and I will be so excited just to finish a half-marathon!

Time will tell if this Magic Mile prediction is accurate. It will be fun to find out how close I come to the predicted pace.

Have you found an accurate predictor of race performance?

A Hunting We Will Go – Treasure Hunting, That Is

What do Minnesotans do when the temps finally get up in the high 30s or even, gasp, the 40s? They head outside in droves! You will see tons of people out running and walking – there were a few hard-core folks out running in the bitterly cold weather, but they were the exception, not the rule. You will even see some people out in short sleeves and sandals.

I should be clear, we do go outside in the winter. Most of us probably don’t stay outside as long or spend time outside as often during the coldest part of the winter, though. After a lengthy cold spell, it is such sweet relief to reach some temperatures above freezing!

Full disclosure: the day described in this post was about a week and a half ago. Now we’ve had another snowstorm. Ah, Minnesota, what’s not to love?

My husband recently had an idea for something fun we could do as a family – geocaching. I know a few people who do this, but we had never tried before. We decided to head out on a treasure hunt.

My husband consulted an application on his phone to find out where geocaches had been hidden.

Consult the GPS:

Search the area:

Success! We found two geocaches.

Geocaching etiquette dictates that if you take something, you leave something. M & G each chose to take an item, and we left two items in return. (That was fun in and of itself, picking out what kinds of treasures we would bring along to leave for someone else to find.) We wrote in a little logbook at each site, indicating the name of our group and what we had left.

We proceeded to traipse around the woods, looking for the next site.

Sadly, we did not find the treasure in the woods. We moved on to the next area. We all spent quite a while around, under, and up this particular tree.

This is like Where’s Waldo. See if you can find the kids in the tree. 🙂

After a lot of fruitless searching in this area, M & G moved on to other things.

In the end, we found two geocaches and did not find the other two that we were looking for. We will have to go out and try again another day. There are tons of geocaches in our community, and all over the world. What a fun game!

It was a fun new way to enjoy the great outdoors on a beautiful day!

Dad’s Birthday, Long Run, Nice Weekend

Last weekend was my dad’s birthday, and we headed up to visit for the occasion. As I mentioned last week, my dad has Type II Diabetes. I wanted to make a treat for him, but I didn’t want to bring something that he shouldn’t eat.

I sought out a dessert recipe that was recommended for diabetics, and I decided to try this Banana Split Cake. It was super easy to make, and we enjoyed it. My mom wants the recipe; I think that means it was a success.

Banana Split Cake
6 1/2 graham cracker sheets (two 1 1/2-inch squares per sheet)
1 ounce sugar-free, instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups fat-free milk
8 ounces light cream cheese
10 ounces canned, crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
4 medium bananas, sliced
8-ounce container light whipped topping
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped

Cover the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with graham cracker sheets.
In a medium bowl, prepare pudding with 2 cups fat-free milk, according to package directions. Add cream cheese to pudding and whip together. Spread pudding mixture over graham crackers.
Spread the crushed pineapple over the pudding layer and top with bananas, then spread whipped topping. Sprinkle pecans on top.

It was so nice to see my parents and to celebrate another birthday with my dad. Monday was my parents’ wedding anniversary; they have a lot to celebrate each February. 🙂

In other news, I did my longest run to date for my half-marathon training. The schedule called for 8 miles. I set up my Garmin to alert me for each run/walk interval (since I’m following Jeff Galloway’s recommendations, which include taking walking breaks). I estimated how many repetitions I would need to do to reach eight miles, and I didn’t know how far I had gone until I was completely done. It turned out I did 9.16 miles. My farthest distance in a long time. Granted, I was including walk breaks, but the fact remains that I traveled over 9 miles. Woo hoo!

We all had Monday off for President’s Day, and we had a great time playing out in the snow, playing our new Monopoly card game and just hanging out together. It was a nice long weekend.

I hope you had a nice weekend. Did you do anything fun?

Motivational Monday (2/21/11 edition)


In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.
~Henry David Thoreau

It should come as no surprise that I’m a Thoreau fan (check out the name of this blog!). He is the author of one of my all time favorite books – Walden. Thoreau has shared a great many thoughts that I find inspiring, and this is a good example.

I agree with this. I think it can be very motivating to set goals, even lofty goals, for ourselves. Maybe we won’t accomplish all we set out to do, but likely more than if we hadn’t set those goals.

I think it is great to:

* Set goals
* Work hard
* Give it our best effort
* Learn from our experiences, good and bad
* Be proud of our accomplishments
* Be forgiving of our shortcomings
* Work at being our best selves
* Accept and love ourselves throughout the journey

Happy Monday, and here’s to aiming high!!

Diabetes Double Whammy

Having a diabetic parent, I have tried to establish some good habits that may help me avoid developing the illness. My father was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes when I was in college. I am really proud of the way he has responded to his diagnosis. The man who once said he would rather die than give up eating the foods that he loves has modified his diet and has been very faithful about walking daily for exercise. His birthday is coming up this weekend. I am grateful that he is taking care of himself, so he is around to celebrate more birthdays. Happy birthday, Dad!

A funny side note: my parents live in a rural area, and there have been many occasions when people have stopped to offer help upon seeing them out walking. It’s very kind, but is it really such a strange sight to see people out for a walk? Anyway…

I am definitely not perfect when it comes to nutrition and exercise, but my family history has encouraged me to make an effort in these areas.

Now I have children, and I strive to set a good example for them and provide them with good food choices and the opportunity to be active, and by that, I am not necessarily talking about signing them up in sports programs. We do some of that, but I also do my best to allow them adequate time for unstructured active play. It is pretty easy to schedule so many things that there isn’t much time to just play outside, and I try to avoid that level of scheduled activities. I want my kids to have time to just play. I think it’s good for them to work out their own games and adventures. (Yes, they come up with all kinds of adventures.)

My children actually have a grandparent with diabetes on each side of the family. (We have reason to be proud of both of these relatives for making lifestyle changes to address the diabetes.) It is too bad that M. & G. have inherited this genetic double whammy, and that is all the more reason why I want to encourage them to make healthy choices in their lives.

I will leave you with some statistics about diabetes. Now you know one more reason that I am working to make better food choices and incorporate exercise into my life. We all have our own paths, our own reasons for the choices we make. If you’d care to share your path to fitness or a change in the way you eat, I’d love to hear from you.

Diabetes Statistics:
Data from the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (the most recent year for which data is available)

Total: 23.6 million children and adults in the United States—7.8% of the population—have diabetes.

Morbidity and Mortality
Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates in 2006. This ranking is based on the 72,507 death certificates in 2006 in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. According to death certificate reports, diabetes contributed to a total of 233,619 deaths in 2005, the latest year for which data on contributing causes of death are available.

Heart disease and stroke, High blood pressure, Blindness, Kidney disease, Nervous system disease (Neuropathy), Amputation

Cost of Diabetes
$174 billion: Total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2007. Factoring in the additional costs of undiagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes brings the total cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 to $218 billion.

What Leads to Diabetes?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes. Yet two factors are important in both. First, you must inherit a predisposition to the disease. Second, something in your environment must trigger diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes has a stronger genetic basis than type 1, yet it also depends more on environmental factors. Sound confusing? What happens is that a family history of type 2 diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for getting the disease but it only seems to matter in people living a Western lifestyle.

Americans and Europeans eat too much fat and too little carbohydrate and fiber, and they get too little exercise. Type 2 diabetes is common in people with these habits. In contrast, people who live in areas that have not become Westernized tend not to get type 2 diabetes, no matter how high their genetic risk.

Obesity is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Obesity is most risky for young people and for people who have been obese for a long time.