Friday, April 29, 2005


So back in January, I started working out with a personal trainer at the Pro Club. I loved it: I'd have one session with Carl a week, and work out twice on my own. I ran all the other days. I felt great, and I could see some muscle developing, but three months later my weight was stuck at 152, no matter how much I worked out.

I stopped seeing Carl at the beginning because, basically, it was bleeding me dry financially. And I started running more, and stopped going to the gym as much - I haven't been since April 11, as he told me when I came in.

Anyway, he took some measurements, and there's been progress!

Here are the stats (January / April)

Weight: 152.5 / 148

Body fat: 28.2% / 25%
Waist: 31 / 29.5
Hip: 40 / 39.5

It's not dramatic progress, but it's the first progress I've noted, and I'm delighted. Plus, it's happened since I started running properly, outside, and not on the treadmill.

I'm totally remotivated. I loved lifting weights again today, and I'll be back in the gym again on Monday, my next no-run day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Good day.

Goal: 4.0 miles
Ran: 4.10
Time: 42 minutes

How come it was easier to run four miles this morning than three miles yesterday? Huh? Huh?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

In rural Kenya, it is still unusual to see a woman on foot without a load.

Slate is doing a series on the St. Patrick's High School training camp for runners in Iten, Kenya.

In 1976, an Irish priest, Colm O'Connell, moved to Iten to work in the school. Now it's a center for runners from all over Kenya, and it's having an extraordinary social effect, especially for women.

The 55-year-old O'Connell is a member of the Patrician Brothers, a Catholic order founded in Ireland. He came to St. Patrick's in 1976 for what was supposed to be a two-year assignment teaching geography. Within a year of arriving on campus, he became the school's track coach despite having no background in running. O'Connell, who resembles a sun-splotched Dick Cheney, has never worked out.

St. Patrick's isn't your ordinary high school. Since O'Connell started his coaching gig, the alumni list has turned into a track geek's fantasy team...

Read the full article here.

Here's a fascinating article on the Kalenjin runners of Kenya, and their astonishing record.

John Manners, who has been researching and writing about the Kalenjin for decades, has determined that from 1987 to 1997 Kalenjin runners won 40 percent of the biggest international honors in men's distance running. In an essay titled, "Kenya's Running Tribe," Manners wrote, "I contend that this record marks the greatest geographic concentration of achievement in the annals of sport."

In rural Kenya, it is still unusual to see a woman on foot without a load.

Music makes it better

Goal: 3.o miles
Run: 3:10 miles
Time: 33 minutes

As of yesterday, it is 31 weeks to the Seattle Marathon.

And I know what I am supposed to be doing on every single one of those days.

When I have a little more time, I am going to type up and post my training schedule. Bascially, I am going to spend 15 weeks building up a really good solid mileage base of about 30 miles a week, possibly more, and lifting some weights to get strong. Then I get into the 16-week program, based on
Bob Glover's recommendations.

This morning was also the first morning I found it really hard to haul my lazy ass onto the road. I was at work until about 11 last night, and when I get home late, there's no way I can go straight to bed.

Discovery of the day: music really does make things better. I kept leaving my iPod charger behind, so it was out of juice. This morning I ran to
U2, and remembered their Seattle show on Sunday.

WE BELIEVE that in the best American tradition of helping others help themselves, now is the time to join with other countries in a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world overcome AIDS and extreme poverty. WE RECOGNIZE that a pact including such measures as fair trade, debt relief, fighting corruption and directing additional resources for basic needs – education, health, clean water, food, and care for orphans – would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries, at a cost equal to just one percent more of the US budget. WE COMMIT ourselves - one person, one voice, one vote at a time - to make a better, safer world for all.
As they played Where the Streets Have No Name, the flags of African countries scrolled down curtains of light. Bono talked about the One campaign, the campaign to forgive the African debt and to make global poverty history. He talked about people who were making a change - the Gates Foundation. He talked about his campaign's drive to get 100 million people to text their names to UNITE, to ask for change. "Hold up your cellphones," Bono told the crowd, and we did. He had the lights turned off, and the Key Arena sparkled with tens of thousands of stars, each a testament to connectedness, communication, and the power of the individual. Then they played One.

If you haven't done so already, please text your name to UNITE (86483).

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Time: 47 minutes
Distance: 4.1 miles

As I ran down Eastlake this morning a girl whirred towards me on her Segway. Her hair was streaming behind her and she looked like a superhero heading for Starbucks.

This morning's route took me along Eastlake to Roy. It's a terrible route. Once you're down at the bottom of the Mercer exit, you can wait ten minutes to cross the road. Never again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

How do you choose your marathon training program?

Jeff Galloway says run four days a week, take walk breaks, do long runs.

Bob Glover says to run five, and doesn't really talk about walk breaks.
I like Running Chick's schedule - and she did her first marathon in just over four hours, which kicked ass.

Part of my brain is telling me that the Galloway program is the way to go. He's got a 98 percent success rate.

I've always believed that if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing to excess. And the idea of the Galloway walk break method doesn't appeal to me as much. I like driving myself hard when I run.

I need to decide this and draw it up pretty damn fast. I will probably go for the Galloway - because I would like to run this thing and live to tell the tale. But I'd love any ideas or feedback.

How do you choose your marathon training program?

Jeff Galloway says run four days a week, take walk breaks, do long runs.

Bob Glover says to run five, and doesn't really talk about walk breaks.
I like Running Chick's schedule - and she did her first marathon in just over four hours, which kicked ass.

Part of my brain is telling me that the Galloway program is the way to go. He's got a 98 percent success rate.

I've always believed that if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing to excess. And the idea of the Galloway walk break method doesn't appeal to me as much. I like driving myself hard when I run.

I need to decide this and draw it up pretty damn fast. I will probably go for the Galloway - because I would like to run this thing and live to tell the tale. But I'd love any ideas or feedback.

Et in Arcadia ego

Distance: 3.8 miles
Time: 47 minutes

I didn't have a great run today - I felt tired, I got lost, my legs were heavy. Towards the end, things picked up and I felt good, but by then I was on the verge of being late for work. So: get up earlier, Riona!

But on the good side:
This was a perfect, perfect morning.
I found a wonderful route: over the University Bridge, then down to the right, running along the lake until I get to the
Montlake Cut. Posted by Hello

Shiny, happy people walking across the bridge to work or to class.

Montlake Cut. A perfect morning run along the path. Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 17, 2005

O Garmin! O Forerunner 201! O digital GPS-based personal trainer of my heart!

Distance: 4 miles
Time: about 45 minutes

Distance: Precisely 6:52 miles
Time: That would be 1 hour 12 minutes 45.22 seconds. Yes, really.

So: I love gadgets. Lovelovelove gadgets - all that sleek functional design. And, as
Jimmy pointed out several times in our flyfishing class, while Aiden and Phil and I avoided looking at each other, Microsoft people like to spend lots of money on things they'll never use.

But oh! I will use the
Garmin Forerunner 201. I felt pretty sheepish buying it - it seems a very big sledgehammer for the nut of my beginner's training - but after reading the reviews on Amazon, I just had to have it.

Out of the box, the unit is a little big: somewhere between an iPod Mini and an iPod Shuffle. I have a little gripe with the strap: it's a velcro-foldover thing, and in its packaging it's settled into a size that's just a tiny bit too big for my delicate, birdlike wrist, and the kink that's developed in it makes it a little hard to adjust.

But man, that's the only drawback so far.

I haven't even *begun* to explore all the features, but the killer one, and the one I'll use it for every day, is the lap timer. Just keeping track of how far you've run totally frees you up from having to run the same route every day. With this baby, I can run everywhere! Take off in all directions!

If it was perfect, it would have a heart-rate monitor, an FM tuner, and an MP3 player. I'm gonna feel a bit like an astronaut toting round my iPod as well. But hell, this is the most motivating gadget I've ever had, and even on the basis of three trial runs, I'd recommend it without reservation.

Next up: I'm gonna download and install the software that allows you to track your training on your computer. Updates later.

In fly-fishing news: we had our lesson yesterday morning at 7:30 AM. It was miserable: we stood for two hours in the pouring rain in Gasworks, shivering and trying to cast. But I really really liked learning to do it, and watching Jimmy cast, you can see what an art it is. I love the thought that Phil and I are learning something we can do our whole lives (we can take our rods to Xcalak!), an activity where there's always something more to learn. So we bought our rods and are planning three trips to actually fish - one around Grand Coulee when I do the Over the Dam Run on May 8; one somewhere else in Eastern WA when we go to the Sasquatch festival at the Gorge; and another when we do our big road trip to Montana. I'm excited. We practiced yesterday on the grass outside L'Amourita and got some pretty funny looks.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Reel 'em in

Distance: 3.2
Time: 35
Feeling: Groovy

Jimmy teaches fly fishing in the store he's had 19 years,
Patricks on Eastlake Avenue. He has dark roots, has Jimmy, a diamond stud, a dog of an obscure but refined breed, and the skill of explaining fly fishing in terms everyone can understand.

"The line is tapered," he said, "so it moves properly. Say you were at an S&M party, and you wanted to whip somebody -" His arm flashed out and brought an imaginary whip crashing to the table. "Now, if the whip isn't tapered, it's just going to fall there. But because it's tapered -" he made the same whipping motion again - "the whip flies through the air the way you want it to."

We - Aiden, Phil, and I - are learning to fly fish for our trip to Glacier in May. Saturday morning, 7:30, we meet up with Jimmy again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

No longer the loneliest girl in the world ...

So there's a few of us who hook up semi-regularly for Stitch and Bitch sessions in each other's houses (though lately there hasn't even been a pretence of knitting - really only a couple of us are interested in it). Last week I sent out a mail inviting people round, since it had been a while. Nothing! By yesterday evening I still hadn't heard anything. I sent a reminder mail asking if I should reschedule. Nothing! I called Phil and bleakly told him: Remember I said I was having the girls round tonight? Well looks like they can't make it. How had I pissed off all of them? I was in full stress mode. But you know? Life is lovely. I got home around eight and Maggie Tai and Charlene were standing outside, Kris and Masha were on the way, and all is well in the world - though not, apparently, with Outlook, which appears to have thrashed their original and follow-up replies.

My friends don't hate me!

Nice run this morning - back home along Fairview Avenue for some fantasy houseboat shopping.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Save Toby

This guy is gonna kill and eat his bunny rabbit unless he gets $50K. He's already raised nearly $25K. Why can't I think of this?

I could go and whack my boss instead.

Weighty matters

Distance: Um, I'm guessing about 3 miles, maybe a little more
Time: Around 30-35 minutes. I need a watch.
Feeling: Good! Except that I tripped and my hands and shoulder HURT.

So I've been thinking a little about weight (actually, I think about weight pretty much ALL the time, except for when I am thinking about my next meal).

According to
Runner's Diary, a woman of my height (5'9 - though I swear I used to be 5'10) should weigh about 125 lb, and her ideal competition weight would be 10 pounds less. Now I know that the competition weight refers to more competitive runners, but still ... I'm 150, the biggest I've ever been (and man, I hate it), and surely it would be easier for me if I was not humping an extra 30 pounds on my daily runs.

So: I am adding to my goals a target weight of 125 lb by November at the latest. That's enough time for a slow reduction, as I start running longer and longer.

The problem I have with losing weight is: I'm greedy. I don't think I eat out of boredom or depression, or for comfort. I hardly ever eat between meals, and I don't really eat junk. Here's my issue: when something tastes good, I can't resist eating more and more and more. As long as it tastes good, I'll carry on eating it. I'm not huge right now, but I'm not where I want to be; none of my favorite clothes fit me. My boss, who has been through a l ifestyle and health program, says that I fall into the "greedy sensualist" group (she has seen me in action at an Indian buffet). This has got to be my focus: STOP EATING JUST BEFORE YOU FEEL FULL. Just stop.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Day off

I ran for 10 minutes on the treadmill and lifted weights in the gym. Nothing more.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Today I blew my nose on the ground ...

... and it was good.

I never, ever, thought I'd do that, but slogging up that long slow Madison hill takes it out of you.

Goal: 4. Ran: 4-ish, I guess, from Madison Park to Eastlake via Portage Bay. Felt fine, but I really, really need to work on those hills.

Today's route: Phil and I needed to bring some stuff to Value Village, so afterwards he drove me down to the water end of Madison Park and I ran home. I got lost a couple of times, which is pretty inexplicable given that my commute follows most of the same route. Discoveries: The Arboretum is a lovely place to run, full of trails. I Resolve to explore these more and get off the road. I also Resolve to get to the Japanese Gardens before the cherry blossoms disappear.

The routes I've been taken have really been opening my eyes to just how much wealth there is in Seattle. My daily grind doesn't take me down these tree-lined streets with their big, architect-designed or beautifully restored houses. Around the lake, the number of yachts is astonishing.

Tomorrow: I have to work out my actual training plan. I need something measurable.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

New shoes!

About 50 minutes, 4.5 miles or thereabouts. Got tired on hills, but otherwise felt great. Love the new shoes!

Ms Laura is right about all things. I should accept this right away. It would save so much time.

We met at the Seattle Running Company today, and I got my gait analyzed. I told the guy about the pain in my shins, and he said it wasn't in fact shin splints, but was caused by my shoes. My current shoes were too strong. My Name Is Riona and I Am A Pronator.

So now I have an awesome new pair of shoes, as well as new socks - I was chided for my cotton socks - and shorts. Sock technology has advanced frighteningly. Asics offers an "Integrated Shoe and Sock System". System. I was a little intimidated by the selection. However, apparently socks are important to a runner: no cotton, because you need something that wicks (I was wearing cotton). Wash them inside out, because the fluffy terry stuff helps to stablize your foot.

The Seattle Running Company also takes your old shoes and recycles them. This is good.

But ... drumroll ... did the new shoes fix the muscle pain?

Why yes, they did! We did about 50 minutes around Capitol Hill - my god, the view of the lake at the end of 15th - and I had *no* shin pain. A little twinge going uphill (Christ, there are a lot of hills) but nothing like yesterday, when it hurt even to walk. I felt fantastic when we'd finished our run - I do think I could have gone on for another mile or so. But tomorrow is my longer around-the-lake run. I'm so relieved: it was depressing to make the decision to train and the very next day be laid low with muscle pain. It's wonderful when you can take action that actually fixes a problem.

Laura, you were right. I will never doubt you again.

In other news, the weather was just perfect. All the cherry blossoms are still in bloom, and running down these streets is a delight.

Friday, April 08, 2005


About two miles or so around Capitol Hill, but stopped by painful shin splints (see below). No problem with being short of breath or anything - it's the pain in my legs that gets me.

I've done it. I've signed up for the Seattle Marathon - 27 November 2005.

By then I will be 39 years old.

I'm going to use this blog as a record of my training and progress. In my early 20s, I ran quite a bit - maybe 30 miles or so a week. I never ran competitively or in road races, but I could circle Galway without too much effort, and I still remember the feeling I had of floating above the hard streets, even while my lungs burned as I rounded Nun's Island. That all stopped after I finished college, finished law school, abandoned law, moved to London and publishing, then to Dublin and - via an accidental career in software - Seattle. Then New Year's Eve 2003 I quit smoking. One year and 30 pounds later, something needed to be done. I started working out with a personal trainer, started running. I'm getting into better shape, but I'm still heavier than I'd like to be, and I still can't make it around Lake Union without having to walk.

So here's a record of my starting point:
  • 38 years old
  • 150 lbs (unfortunately. Up considerably from my fighting weight of 118, though I think I was possibly too thin then. I'd like to be 125 or so. I'm 5'9.)
  • Can run for an hour at 5-6 miles fairly comfortably on the treadmill.

Here are my goals:

  • May 8 (four weeks from now): Run the Over the Dam 5K at the Grand Coulee Dam, one of my absolute favorite places in the world. The dam itself has been closed to the public since 9/11, so pretty much the only way to get up close is to run across it.
  • May 15: Run the Beat the Bridge 8K, just down the road from us (we live in Eastlake, Seattle)
  • Nov 27: Marathon!

I am looking for a half marathon to do between May and November.

Today I ran with my friend Laura, but got horrible shin splints. I think this may be because of my shoes - I lost my newer shoes and have been running in older ones. Splints didn't bother me before. Laura had two suggestions, which I'm going to follow:

1. Get my gait analyzed at the Seattle Running Company, and get the right shoes. Currently I have Asics Gel Cayanos. I'm going to do this tomorrow, and then go for a run.

2. Do exercises. Use each foot to write out the alphabet in the air. I'm gonna do this a few times a day at my desk.

Apart from that, I have ordered a training book from Amazon, and will work out a schedule once that arrives. In the meantime, I plan to run about 30-45 minutes Saturday and Sunday.