Monday, November 20, 2017

Adventures in Thankfulness - Day 1

Looking back on the past eleven days, I can hardly believe I’m now on the other side of the whirlwind and am heading toward Thanksgiving. Although they have become quite popular, I have avoided participating in the daily thankful/grateful posts on Facebook. This is not because I have a shortage of things for which I am thankful or because I don’t like social media trends; on the contrary, I have an abundance of things to be thankful for, and I am what my students might call “extra” and am quick to jump on trendy posts on social media. It's more that I would like to see some of the thankfulness spread throughout the year than concentrated in daily posts, yet as I reflect on what has been going on in my life lately, there is so much I wish to share. Maybe someone who reads this is going through a similar journey and can find comfort in our shared experience.
Or maybe not. One night when I still worked at LSMSA, a few of my residents and I spent over an hour eating pancakes (we had a weekly event called Pancake Tuesday) and taking Buzzfeed quizzes, and I’m pretty sure I scored 20% on the “How Basic Are You?” one. Maybe I am just letting that 20% shine. Either way, I have more words to say than I initially thought, so I am breaking this into a four day special of recent adventures from my life.

Day 1 – November 10 – This was an early morning for me because I wanted to go out for breakfast before my big test. Richard took me to Strawn’s Eat Shop where I ordered my traditional Wimbledon Waffle (a waffle covered with fresh strawberries and a heap of fresh whipped cream, not the stuff from a can) but added a side of bacon because I could. If it’s not a morning when I am up early for a run, Richard has usually been at work for an hour or so before I am even taking a shower, so we rarely have breakfast together. This was a treat for my stomach and for my soul.

Then, I took the GRE. After months of talking about the test, studying vocabulary words (and forcing those words on the people around me), and reminding myself that when a right triangle is inscribed in a circle, the hypotenuse is equal to the diameter of the circle, I finally took the test. I barely finished the essays and proofread them in the 30 minute windows. I thought for sure my practice tests had failed me when my first math section was not as easy as I expected. I feared the worst when my second verbal section was easier than expected. (The test is adaptive, so the second section seeming easy means either (a) the questions actually got easier because you blew the first section or (b) the questions only seem easy because you studied effectively.) There were moments of self-talk during the exam where I had conversations with myself like, “This is not going well. But I’m in the middle of the exam, so if I quit now, it’s really not going to go well.”

In the end, I scored higher than I did on all but one of my practice exams. Huge sigh of relief. Richard and I celebrated that evening by watching several episodes of Stranger Things on Netflix and having tacos and champagne for dinner, because I love tacos, and champagne is the customary beverage of celebration. I’m pretty sure I wore my pajamas while we did this, and it was a wonderful Friday night. I am definitely in that stage of life where I would generally prefer to relax on Friday night than go out and party, but if tacos and pajamas are involved, there is almost no chance I am going out of the house.

I’m thankful that the test is over, that I scored well, and that my husband not only supports me but wants to celebrate when something good happens in my life. I’m also thankful for the roof we have over our heads and that our home is exactly the place we want to be with each other, even on Friday night.

Day 2 – November 11 – I ran a 20 kilometer trail race (Run Caney) in Minden, LA with my new-ish friend Megan. We started the morning at Waffle House with the GOATS (members of our local trail group, Get On A Trail Shreveport), because everyone knows a greasy breakfast and a few cups of mediocre coffee are essential to trail running success. Sometimes. This race was a good way to test out the trails before a big race Megan and I are doing soon; additionally, it was an awesome day for the GOATS to get out and run together, as the majority of the participants in the race were GOATS members! I love being on the trails, even if the risk of tripping and falling is significantly higher than it is on the road. While I typically run alone, I have started to enjoy running with other people in the past year or so, and I especially love having company on the trail. Megan and I work well together as trail buddies because we run about the same pace, but she’s also great at talking and telling stories, so I can be a little distracted while we run. (Fortunately, I only tripped and stumbled…twice maybe. I didn’t fall at all!)

For the last hour or so that we were running, Megan and I were wondering and hoping that there would still be Subway sandwiches at the finish line when we were done; we wondered this aloud several times. When we finished, several of the GOATS were waiting to cheer us in, and Paul said, “They’re checking to see if y’all won anything!” I laughed in his face, and he said, “No really!” As it turns out, Megan and I placed second in our age groups and left with medals to prove it. BOOM. (Oh, and there were sandwiches left. Phew.)
Megan and me coming in for the finish of the Run Caney 20K. I love to raise my arms and leap over finish lines in victory.

After a shower and quick lunch with Richard, I spent the afternoon at Rhino coffee drinking their coffee (local and better than WaHo) and working on my novel for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I have been behind all month and am now even more behind, but that’s okay. Afterward, I got a manicure so my nails would look nice for my grad school visit.

I’m thankful for the body and the things it allows me to do (including digest a greasy breakfast while running trail), for running and the joy and friends it brings me, and for lazy afternoons entertaining my ideas for novels. In the spirit of Veterans Day, I'm also thankful for the men and women who have served our country and made it so I can spend my Saturdays this way if I choose.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Krispy Kreme Challenge - Training Run 2

Cross-posted to

As my husband's patients would say, "It's been a minute." Turns out training for a marathon, having a full-time job (especially one that is particularly busy at this time of year), studying for a standardized test, and trying to do regular life stuff (like drink water and eat real food) typically rank higher on the priority scale than training for the Krispy Kreme Challenge, but I'm still hanging in there, and some of the other running stuff I'm doing is helpful for KKC training.

Perhaps my most exciting development this week was that I went to a one mile time trial on Wednesday morning (more on Wednesday Morning Track another day) and ran my mile in 9:11. I am not sure I have ever run a mile that fast in my life; initially, I thought, "This is probably my fastest mile since those Presidential Physical Fitness Test runs in elementary school!" but I specifically remember my mom writing a note for me so I didn't have to do the mile in 6th grade. I really hadn't been feeling well, but considering the condition in which I run multiple miles now, I was in good enough shape to do the mile on that fateful day in 2000. I don't remember how I did on the mile in 5th grade. Nevertheless, I ran my fastest mile in a while on Wednesday, so that was cool. If I can get up to running five miles with 9:11 as my per-mile pace, I'll have a whopping fourteen minutes to eat my donuts during the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

Today, Tim and I met for our second KKC training run. (Lauren was missed!) I was up before the sun, taking my preventative Imodium and picking up donuts so we could start our run at 6:00 am. This time, we kicked up the mileage by one mile, and I doubled the donut intake to four donuts. Here's how we did according to my watch (which was a little more generous than Tim's was--he had us right at 6 miles):

1st run - ran 3.06 mi in 45:07 (14:45 pace)
Donut/transition: 6-8 minute (I need to start actually timing transition)
2nd run - ran 3.04 mi in 45:06 (14:50 pace)
Total time: 1:37-ish

Once more, nobody puked or died. I have to wonder if someone will eventually puke, though.

Training hard
Our overall pace dropped a bit today, but we were consistent across the miles, which is important. I think I'd prefer to run the miles evenly if I can, but I still also hope to be fast enough to have some time banked for the second half in case life happens on race day.

I'll be honest, doubling the donut intake from two to four was a little more challenging than I thought it would be. I went out and socialized on Friday night, including eating a pretty substantial Peruvian meal at 10:00 pm, so perhaps I was still a little full from that (though what I remember about the timeline of digestive process tells me that's probably not actually the case). Eating that last donut was not a piece of cake (it was a donut!), but I think I could have eaten up to six donuts and still run the second loop.

I'm slightly overwhelmed by the thought of eventually eating triple the amount of donuts that I ate today. Today, when I ate four donuts, I reflected upon lessons in economics class about diminishing returns. My professors used beer and Krystal burgers as their examples, but I think donuts are a similar case -- if this is how #4 feels, how will #9 feel? When those dark thoughts creep in, however, I remind myself of other training achievements that overwhelmed me and are now regular occurrences, like running six miles. I'm continually impressed by the things my body can do, and I fully trust in my ability to train up to eating a dozen donuts. (Did I really just write that sentence?)

Overall, training is going pretty well. I'm getting faster and eating more donuts. I haven't yet combined the faster pace with donut consumption, but it's still early. Today, I'm especially grateful for the support of friends in this training journey. Plus, who wants to binge on donuts alone?

Tim wonders why he agreed to this.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Krispy Kreme Challenge Training Begins

Cross-posted to

Something I've learned about running is that there are a few ways to do more with a running routine. Many people choose to go faster, while others prefer to run longer. Quite a few marathoners set their sights on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Heck, I'd like to be there someday, but right now I'm not putting enough focus on the whole "running faster" thing, so I might not qualify until I'm at least 70 years old. That's fine. I'm nothing if not persistent when it comes to this running stuff.

A few years ago, I found myself going down an internet rabbit hole when I saw some friends doing a 5K where they had to eat a donut every mile. I thought that sounded disgusting, yet I was intrigued. What I ended up landing on was this Wikipedia page about the Krispy Kreme Challenge. Involving more mileage and more donuts than the 5K my friends were running, the Krispy Kreme Challenge was the kind of ridiculousness I can get behind: 2.5 miles, 12 donuts, and 2.5 miles back--in an hour or less. The fact that it takes place at NC State, the school which has held my athletic support longer than any other institution, is just glaze on the doughnut. Why run 3.1 miles and eat 3 donuts when you can run 5 miles and eat 12 donuts? The Krispy Kreme Challenge would be my new way to do more with my running, and it's a pretty sweet (pun intended) option between where I am now and someday qualifying for Boston.

Most Saturdays, I have a morning running date with my friends Tim and Lauren. We talk about lots of things, including our hopes and dreams, and on August 5, I shared with them that a shorter term goal I've set for myself is completing the Krispy Kreme Challenge in February 2019. Their initial reaction was the same combination of disgust and intrigue that I experienced when I was first exposed to the KKC, but less than a mile later, they were on board to help me train. We decided that today would be our first training run, and I said I'd pick up a dozen doughnuts for us to split. They talked me down to a half dozen, and we decided we'd run 2, eat 2, and run 2.  Then yesterday, we decided we'd cover the full 5 miles of the KKC. Here's how we did:

1st run - ran 2.8 miles in 37:52 (13:28 pace)
Donut/transition: 9-ish minutes
2nd run - ran/walked 2.2 miles in 33:51 (15:21 pace)
Total time: 1:21-ish

Bonus: nobody puked or died.

I have run 5 miles in under an hour, and I have eaten four doughnuts in a sitting. I've never combined the running with doughnuts other than a donut around mile 8 of the Louisiana Marathon this year, and I think I threw half of that out. So, I need to get faster, and I need to eat more doughnuts. And I need to get faster at eating doughnuts.

My target race date is around February 2019. I'll need to bank time in the first 2.5 miles to possibly run the second half at a slower pace. I also have to eat more doughnuts than I've ever eaten in one sitting, and I need to eat them quickly. Training is going to be brutal at times, but what an honor it will be to fulfill this dream. I'm excited to share more training reports as we progress. I think our next one won't be for a few weeks, as I'm pretty far into training for Chicago Marathon on October 8, but we're going to step up to three doughnuts. I might even go for four. I also intend to do a better job tracking our time in transition. Stay tuned!