Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Hairs

I got myself some new hairs! Well, they are still the same old hairs, but they look brand new.
I got tired of my hair being 3 different colors and ugly, so I decided to do something about it! It seems crazy dark to me, but I guess it's probably pretty close to my natural hair color.

Here is a hair diary of the process over the past 2 years. I know everyone cares about this a lot.

Josh is happy with my decision because it is pretty close to what my hair looked like when we were dating. (below). So that's always good. 

The whole process started last summer when I decided I wanted to dye my hair blonde. I figure everyone has to try that at least once in their life, right? And now I will never do it again. 

 The latest that my hair looked like. Dark tops, light bottom, no style. 

The new 'do

Life's been crazy busy. Typical schedule: run, work, school. And....of course my favorite TV shows all started this week. Parks & Rec and the Sing-Off (and Glee. but not as much as the other two) completed my week and kept me company while Josh was out of town.

Here's the running update:
We went 10 miles last Saturday. My muscles and cardiovascular endurance felt fine, but I have been having an awful problem with cramping. Every time I get to about mile 3, I get a sharp cramp in my lower right abdomen. I've never been known for my ability to handle pain, but this cramp it unbearable! It had made me super depressed at various points this week because I have had to question if I will indeed be able to do a marathon. My wonderful husband sent me this info he found on the all-knowing internet:

Ways to Prevent or Lessen the Pain of the Common Side Stitch:
1) Do not Run on a Full Stomach
You shouldn't drink large amounts of water or eat 2-4 hours before exercise. Sip small amounts (1-2 swallows) before and during exercise and wait to fully re-hydrate until after the workout. Dehydration can cause cramping as well, so do not ignore water/Gatorade during running. Always sip a few swallows at regular intervals if running for more than 30 minutes and in hot temperatures.
2) Decrease Pace and Breath Deeply
Decrease fast pace for a few minutes and continue deep breathing techniques during running. A common running sequence is a three step inhale and two step exhale pattern. Slowing down your pace will allow for you to keep up with that pattern. As you increase to near maximum speed, your breathing will become more labored. However, you can push through the pain and keep your pace if you concentrate on breathing deep by pushing your stomach out when you inhale and relaxing it as you exhale. 
3) Pre-Stretch With Side Torso Twists
Pre-stretch before running by doing side torso twists. One of the best ways to pre-stretch the area is to lift your arms over your head and lean to the left and right at the waist.
4) Perform Lower Back and Abdominal Exercises
Do more lower back and abdominal exercises - see "Achieve Washboard Abs" for more ideas. Having a strong core will help you prevent the side stitch.
I hope these ideas can help you during your timed runs and training for faster paced running.


Side stitches are a muscle spasm of the "diaphragm". The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. In essence, it provides a boundary between the organs of the abdomen and the chest cavity where the heart and lungs are located.
The diaphragm assists in breathing. When we inhale, taking air into the lungs, the diaphragm moves down. When we exhale, the diaphragm moves up. (This detail, it becomes important later.)
Spasms of the diaphragm occur because of the movement of the internal organs as they jounce up and down whilerunning, thus pulling down and straining the diaphragm as it moves up while exhaling.
The liver in particular is usually the cause of this. It is attached to the diaphragm by two ligaments. The liver is the largest organ in the abdominal cavity and is situated in the upper right abdomen. Hence most people experience stitches on their right side, immediately below the ribs. A stomach full of food may cause this as well.
In addition, most runners are "footed". They begin and end a respiratory cycle on the same foot while running, usually in a stride to breathing ratio of 4:1 while jogging and 2:1 while running very fast. As the runner's breathing then becomes synchronized with his/her stride, exhalation consistently occurs on the same leg. If one repeatedly exhales (causing the diaphragm to move up) when the right foot hits the ground (forcing the organs on the right side of the body to move down), a side stitch may develop.


The most effective way to prevent a side stitch is to avoid "shallow" breathing. Shallow breathing can be defined as taking in a small volume of air with each breath, using only a small portion of the total lung capacity. When this occurs while running, the diaphragm remains in a consistently high position and never lowers enough to allow the connective ligaments of the liver to relax. The diaphragm becomes stressed and a spasm or "stitch" results.
Instead, one should breathe "deeply", also known as "belly breathing" while running. This allows the diaphragm to fully lower and reduce the stress on it.
Here's an exercise to try. Lie down on the floor, place a hand on your belly and breathe deeply. You are belly breathing correctly if you feel your hand raise slightly. If only your chest moves up, you are not breathing deep enough.
A technique that is very successful in preventing side stitches while running, is to periodically "purse" the lips while exhaling, as if blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. Again, deep breathing is required to be effective. (This works best for me as well as most of the runner's I work with.)
Another technique that helps, is to exhale as the left foot strikes the ground, instead of the right foot. The organs attached to the diaphragm on the left side of the body aren't as big as those on the right side, so there is less strain on the diaphragm.


Running downhill exacerbates side stitches since it increases the forces exerted on the entire body with each foot plant. Novice runners should walk down hills until breathing techniques are mastered.
Don't eat within one hour of running and only eat lightly within three hours of running. DO DRINK FLUIDS!!! The stomach drains fluids rather quickly. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue and should be avoided.
Preventing a side stitch using the above techniques is preferred. If you get a stitch while running try the "purse" method (blowing out the birthday candles). If the stitch continues, it is best to stop running and instead walk while concentrating on deep breathing. Continue running after the stitch goes away.

I highlighted the good stuff. Can you imagine what my textbooks look like?
Anyway, I tried to push my stomach out while I was inhaling and that made all the difference! Woot woot. I had to run slower than normal so that I could more consciously think about my breathing, but I did it! I went 7 yesterday (only 5 less than I was supposed to...) and it was good, so I think I'm still going to try to do the December 10 marathon. This week we'll have to (GET to) run 13 miles, which is essentially the farthest I've ever gone before, so it should be exciting! I'm loving it.

We still miss the mountains, but are learning to like it here, too. The people and our programs are what make it worthwhile. Otherwise, we would be in Colorado. Ah, someday.

That's all folks!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Biking History

That's right, biking history was made yesterday! At least in my household, it was.
Two years ago, I had only been on a bike a handle of times in my life. I had no desire to ride a bike when I was a kid. When I was a teenager, it was my biggest secret that I didn't know how to ride a bike. In college, I was still embarrassed about it. And then I met Josh, who just happened to be a crazy bike fanatic who did mountain bike races when I met him.
 Before he found out my secret, my two best friends  in Colorado tried to teach me how to ride. I realized it wasn't as hard as I had been imagining it to be all these years. I successfully rode up and back my street with no major catastrophes or broken bones. There was hope in my future.

Over the next two years, Josh learned I didn't really know how to ride a bike and he still loved me. But he also wanted me to get a bike and learn. Ehhhh. I relented and I quickly had my very own first bicycle. I rode back and forth to school in Provo, a total distance of 8 blocks one-way. I crashed once, stopped many cars while trying to start pedaling after a stop sign, but overall had many successful bike rides.

Then we moved away from biker friendly Utah to the crazy busy east. Despite our town priding itself on being a "bicycle friendly" community, it didn't feel very friendly to me with so many roads without shoulders and lots of traffic. I didn't ride my bike for awhile.

Towards the end of the summer, a friend from church asked me to do her a favor. That favor just happened to be doing a bike race that both of our husbands were doing together. She wanted to do a shorter version, but wanted a buddy to do it with. I agreed to do it and I am so glad I did!
 We had to wake up at what felt like the crack of dawn. I haven't been up before the sun in a long, looong time, and I like it that way.
 Our friends who persuaded me to do it. She's pregnant, so I figured if she can do it while she's pregnant, then I need to stop being a wuss and get over my fear!
 Getting ready to go to the starting line. There were several butterflies in my stomach at this point. 
 This was the part I was worried about...I knew I could handle the distance because I have been running, but I get nervous around other people on bikes. I am not very reliable about where my bike will go, so I thought I was for sure going to cause a crash with all of these cyclists right next to each other. My strategy was to wait until everyone else left, then I could go last and not have to worry about other people. It worked and there were no crashes!
 At the start!
Fittingly, the race started with a horse and buggy.
  One of the stops was at an Amish schoolhouse where they served us pie! Delicious. 

 It wasn't just a momentous day for me, though. Josh has had a goal to do a century ride (100 miles) for quite awhile. This proved to be the perfect opportunity. It was a mostly flat course, low key ride. He did super great and finished in a little over 5 hours. I don't know how he did it!
We were quite the victorious duo yesterday. I really loved it and I may be hooked. I loved riding on flat roads with all of the traffic being blocked off by policeman. Too bad it's not like that on a regular basis. I definitely am planning on riding my bike more now and seeing how far I can go!