Friday, November 30, 2007

In case you were wondering . . .

The CALL OF DESTINY WELCOMING ME TO MY HAPPY NEW FUTURE has STILL NOT happened. The important potentially life and career changing meeting of last Monday was SO warm and fuzzy. I was so certain that once I left the room they were all like, "can we keep her? huh huh can we keep her?". Maybe they were, maybe the PEOPLE WITH THEIR NAMES ON THE DOOR are just busy setting up a care and feeding chart because they don't trust that the minions really know how to take care of me. And that they're just blinded by my cuteness and don't realize how much trouble I'm likely to be. And that I'll need to be walked and will want someone with whom to eat lunch.

I feel like the one that got left behind at the sidewalk adoption event.


Little Bunny NOT Foo

I really did go to camp this morning believing it was possible to have two great workouts in a row. Apparently I at least sub consciously knew what was coming because at the last minute I decided to wear my Little Bunny Foo Foo t-shirt courtesy of artist Ronnie Land (same design as above, you can purchase the magnet on his website). So I shouldn't have been suprised when I saw the pile of jump ropes.

I AM improving. Now, in my THIRD bootcamp I can occasionally manage to get both of my feet off the ground at the same time but it is extremely challenging. And very hard on my poor shins (the SuperFeet insoles are designed to cushion more for the heel strike of running, not for hopping on your toes or full footed). So I spent more of this workout grimacing and cranky and less of it blissfully at one with the universe than I did yesterday.

I actually have a sneaking suspicion that the workouts that feel like they suck might just suck because they make me work harder than I want to, and that the ones that rock are actually just rocking because they are full on in my comfort zone. I dunno, its just a sneaking suspicion. Not so in my face yet that I can't happily kick it to the curb.

I also touched base with Tim about my plan to try and run 5 miles around the base of Stone Mountain tomorrow. He thought it was a great idea because it is such excellent HILL training. This, you will be amazed to discover, was actually a SHOCK to me. Yes, I've said that I was topography challenged in the past but this probably will convince you once and for all. Because although I realize that Stone Mountain is a huge piece of granite sticking out of the ground (and a place I have been countless times) I for some reason was absolutely convinced that the road around its base was perfectly flat, all logic and prior experience not withstanding. Tim said it is a great course to train on for the Georgia Half though, and he gave me permission to walk some of it if I absolutely have to (cause I really need permission from other people, I don't like to give it to myself). So, its still my official plan. I'm accepting volunteers to come hang out along the road and cheer me on. Apparently all the elves I requested are too busy making toys or some such nonsense.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Supafly on Supafeet Dancing with the Red Red Dawn

Somedays you just need a moisture wicking sequined jumpsuit in which to run and workout. Wow. It’s amazing. Just when I find myself becoming seriously motivationally challenged . . . (and this morning I had to practically slap myself into getting out of bed, I tried and tried to talk myself out of it) . . . somehow everything coalesces into an absolutely delicious workout where you feel strong AND cute AND fast AND just IN TUNE with your body and your surroundings and your peeps and everything just works so well that you feel like periodically laughing out loud. Believe me, I have so many, “well that was good, I should be proud of myself, but it wasn’t really buckets of fun either” days and occasional, “that was torture, why am I doing this, I’ll NEVER get better, I’m not worthy” days so I KNOW what a jewel a morning like this morning was.

The air was so crisp and clear this morning. And we did 12 Pack, which is hands down, along with Guts & Guns, one of my FAVORITE boot camp workouts. It’s just perfectly paced for me I think. And Heidi was there (one of the FOUNDERS of Operation Bootcamp) and it was really cool to see her there and to remember the last time she came to a Candler Park bootcamp workout was on my VERY first day and she and Jeff and her dog Casper had kindly nursed me through that agonizing and endless FIRST MILE on this journey. Ok, truth be told Casper had totally scoffed at me for not being able to go faster, but I won’t hold it against him. He’s cute and fluffy. Anyway, I loved having the opportunity to show off for her, and I was a total show boat (although hopefully it wasn’t annoyingly obvious). Running strong, extra mindful of my form on all the exercises. Whether she paid attention or not (and she did have some very nice compliments for me on my progress, thanks Heidi) I enjoyed seeing myself through her eyes. I really am changing. I am capable. I am not stuck. I am not resigned to just daydreaming about feeling strong and healthy.

Everything about being outside this morning was such a treat too. The moon and stars were so clear, and the patterns of clouds scudding at a runners pace across the sky just fit with my spirit at the time. Dawn was a gorgeous and unrepentant shade of red in the sky, with the newly naked trees appearing to greet the rising of the sun with arms raised. And we laughed a lot today. And Tim and Jojo wore flashing light up antlers and flashing light up candy canes respectively.

And, although I don’t want to get TOO excited yet, I’m cautiously optimistic that the SuperFeet insoles that Tim recommended really are going to help with my shin pain. My shins bothered me so much yesterday that I nixed the idea for a short run in the evening. This morning, with the new insoles, they weren’t completely pain free but they were much less troublesome than I expected, which also contributed to my ability to really enjoy myself. So we’ll see how it goes. They do feel weird, the arch feels like its too far back in my foot but the guidebook says that’s normal, its just that I’ve likely not been getting support in the right places before. They aren’t uncomfortable at all, just feel a bit strange still. I’ll keep you posted.

Planning on a 5 mile run this Saturday, possibly on the loop around the base of Stone Mountain because it would be a nice change of scenery and it is just about exactly 5 miles to do the loop one time. I have a pet peeve about back tracking, when driving, walking or running. I’m a big fan of loops. I was also excited to hear the announcement this morning that Bootcamp will be organizing some group long runs to train for the Georgia Half, that will really help me a lot. Honestly, although I hope to someday be as worried about letting myself down as I am about letting other people down, it REALLY helps to know that Jojo and Tim and my fellow campers would miss me and worry about me if I stopped coming. It was that more than anything that won my argument with myself this morning about getting out of bed. I’m so thankful that they’re there to keep that door propped open, even when I sometimes try to duck back through it the wrong way.

Ok, I’ve added some new blogs to the blog roll. And I’ve added a FAVORITES section that I’ll use for cool non blog stuff. I’ve linked to my training log on so I can be accountable to everyone who reads this!

Finally, one of the blogs I added was Kate Harding’s very popular Shapely Prose. Everyone MUST read this post: The Fantasy of Being Thin. Very thought provoking, and much of it very true for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Doing it with Intention

[FYI - this post is in reference to Tuesday. I stayed up too late and I'm posting after midnight on Wednesday morning.]
I'm in limbo on a couple of significant life altering issues, waiting to hear back from people, and it is unpleasant. I feel the need to pass the time by such productive time pacers as hand wringing . . . and chewing . . .

After succumbing to the call of a chocolate bar today (on top of totally not drinking water and not icing my shins and generally not taking care of myself) and the last piece(s) of homemade apple pie WITH ice cream (it was better to just go ahead and finish it ... really) I finally got smart enough to resort to some sugar free gum to satisfy my urge to chew, and chaw, and roll something over my tongue. I REALLY don't understand why we haven't perfected the WONKA meal gum yet, that would solve a lot of problems for me.

The gum is a fairly new thing, but it seems to be very helpful. I don't know that I've ever had such strong oral compulsions (ok . . . go ahead . . . say all the inappropriate things that have popped into your head out loud . . . . giggle and smirk and get on with it. Done? Ok, good). It even extends to speech. I've been nervously chattering non stop lately, even to myself (Clint TOTALLY busted me in mid conversation with my imaginary boss in the closet, I used to be a therapist, I've got that empty chair routine DOWN!). I was so annoying today, a fact that I was totally cognizant of but in a spectator way, like, "ohhh listen to yourself . . . that's really irritating the way you keep interrupting people and prattling on about yourself . . . you should really stop doing that" and yet apparently lacking any ability to stem the torrent of gibberish. So I kept shutting my door and trying to externally contain myself in my office, I certainly had plenty to do there, but even though I know I was objectively productive today, it all felt like I was spinning my wheels. Because in reality I was just waiting for my phone to ring, and measuring the time in ridiculously small increments. I ate another pink jelly bean (oh, did I fail to mention the jelly beans?). Look I wrote another sentence. Hey I found another fact in my box of facts. Wow, I managed to not throw the Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure at my partner's head even though he has popped into my office for the 18th time in the last 20 minutes to poke and prod at me. Yay me! The day passed, but it passed very mindlessly. In retrospect, it was a pretty unhealthy day, even though I started off with bootcamp (and the workout was Colonel Crunch . . . yay abs!).

Realistically speaking, tomorrow will also probably be a waiting day, not a finding out day. And whether I get the calls I'm waiting for or not, I still have to finish these work projects regardless. And I need to take care of myself. There's no reason I couldn't measure my day with sips of water, carrot sticks and kegels at my desk (hey its all about exercising the WHOLE body). And I should plan to keep gum on hand, just in case. As Jojo says . . . I should do it with intention. So many of my unhealthy self-destructive behaviors are so mindless. They are things I do to fill a void that I didn't plan to fill with something better. Resisting the mindless, embracing intent in every act, is a scary thing. If you do everything with intention, then you can never say you didn't mean it. But by the same token, you become a creative force, not a passive one.

I want to BE a creative force. That means creating a healthy life for myself. It means not cruising along unhappy because I lack the energy to resist the status quo. So here's to doing it with intention. To waiting with intention by planning healthy time passing and anxiety reducing behaviors. To working with intention so that my work projects get done, and done WELL. To exercising with intention so that I do continue to improve.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Well, I missed bootcamp this morning. I'll just have to use my PT test times from November 16th as my benchmarks. I left my office at 10 minutes past 6 am this morning after 18 hours at my desk. You'd think I was a doctor or something. That I was doing something important and life affirming. Sadly, you would be wrong. 5500 pieces of paper relating to cracks in some concrete some 1500 miles away have been reviewed, indexed and synthesized. Turns out the partner who said the world would end if we didn't send this information to the client today has now realized that tomorrow, or even the next day would be ok too. Apparently it took me cutting my holiday weekend, and my health and well being, short for him to have this revelation that we shouldn't be in such a rush.

Being sleep deprived usually makes me very very cranky but today, I feel like I'm beyond cranky. I am listening, gently drifting on the ebbs and flows around me . . . bobbing up and down in the what ifs. Remember that potentially career changing meeting I had this afternoon? I think, with my senses sharpened by the sharp pangs of hope, that it might have gone well. So I'm listening . . . intently. If you hear my future first, give me a heads up will you?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Breathing easy

(The pendant above was designed by Margaux Lange)
I'm taking a break from work. I've been digging my way through boxes of really boring documents for the last 9 hours or so and I've still got to write a summary of the enlightenment I've gained from said boxes before I can go home. And figure out what I'm going to wear tomorrow. And sleep so that I can function at the start of my THIRD BOOTCAMP! And brace myself for the big blood pressure follow up appointment at the doctor. And successfully placate the partner who will be annoyed that I'm not done with his project yet because I've been sucked into these boxes by another partner. And be mentally fresh and ready for a very important and potentially totally career changing meeting in the afternoon.

Deep breath in . . . . . Deep breath out . . . . .

Ok, wierdly enough, I do feel like I'm breathing pretty easy, all things considered. I ended up just chilling out all day yesterday and it was really nice. We even had a family outing to see the giant Christmas tree at Atlantic Station and wander the open air market and see the movie Enchanted (which I actually really really enjoyed although no one else seemed to). So, I kinda have myself to blame for not being more on top of things.

This morning I skipped church to run and had a wierd, somewhat spiritual, certainly transcendental kind of experience along the way. Continuing to have fun with I mapped out a 4 mile course, taking particular glee in the fact that it involved running the other way down Kirk Rd. which has kicked my ass this week with one particularly nasty hill climb. I felt so wicked and devious at the idea of running DOWN that hill! Ultimately I'm an idiot when it comes to topography. When I began descending that hill in the last mile of the run I was actually SHOCKED to discover that I had been descending before climbing it in the other direction during my other runs this week. get it.....I still had to run uphill on Kirk. DOH!

I know I don't really want a flat course, I just don't want the hills to get all smug and self righteous on me. Because hills have feelings. And personalities. Hmmm... maybe this is the dawning of that whole "runner's high" thing?

ANYHOO . . . getting back on track . . . This was the longest run I've done since Bootcamp I and lo and behold, cardivascularly it was the easiest! There were large segments of the course where I wasn't even winded. I could smile and wave and say hello to everyone I passed without worrying that such activity would totally throw me off. Unfortunately, lower leg pain wise, it was agonizing. About halfway through the discomfort became more manageble but during the first two miles I took two short walk breaks (walking the distance from one telephone pole to the next) and paused in each of those breaks to stretch my shins and calves. When I resumed running after each break the pain didn't lessen so I was questioning whether it was worth it but, like I said after I got through that first 2 miles it lessened to the level it usually is and I was able to continue without focusing on it.

So, when I came into the office today I stopped at Phiddipedes to pick up those SuperFeet Insoles Instructor Tim keeps raving about but they were closed! ARG! So, I dunno how I'll do on my timed mile tomorrow. I iced a lot today since I was just sitting at my desk, and I did extra lower leg stretches at the end of the run.

Still, I trust that I'll figure this out somehow. In the meantime, I feel like my lungs and I are falling in love for the first time. I love to hear myself breath when I run, it is so soothing and hypnotic and meditative. And if I try real hard I can recapture a little taste of that sense of peace by just breathing slowly and deeply right here and now. I'm facing a lot of hills tomorrow . . . but I'm confident I can breath right through them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Refusing to be daunted . . .

I feel like I'm staring down the barrel of the holidays without my armored vest on. And I know that it is within my power to reframe this, to accept that our first Christmas in our new house will certainly be far from perfect and to be ok with that. I did pretty good with Thanksgiving, not over planning but just letting things flow and not being upset that we didn't have a table to sit at or that we were lacking decorations or candles or that we ended up not eating until almost 5. But Christmas involves a lot more people, out of town guests, all with simultaneous increased stress at work. The same thing happened to me last year, a lot of attorneys plan better apparently and have quiet Decembers. I on the other hand will be in my final rush to bill as many hours as I can. So I guess I should feel blessed that several of my active cases which have just been rocking along all calm and such are now ramping up and my calander of deadlines in December is looking downright frightening. And training for the half needs to start in earnest first week of December so running and bootcamp are NOT things I can let go of right now. So I've just got to dig deep, let go of things that other people ARE capable of doing (despite my constant foreboding that no one else will do it quite the way I want it to be done) and appreciate the love the people in my life will try to share with me despite my best efforts to miss it altogether in a whirlwind of stress.

On the plus side . . . yesterday was a pretty decent day. Got some chilling time on the couch. Successfully ran the 3.56 mile course I had mapped out. Enjoyed some good family time. And got to visit one of my bestest friends and hang with her almost 3 week old daughter for the first time. She is one of those rare BEAUTIFUL newborns that you can just stare at all day. And she was a total doll, sleeping in my arms for most of the visit, treating me to the occasional adorable grimace or smile or squeaks or grunts. Opening her eyes periodically and then settling back in to sleep. Her parents insist that she is their own singing frog, screaming non stop when no one is around and switching into angel mode whenever company is over so that no one understands their shell shocked sleep deprived rantings. Holding a new baby like that is just one of those simple life affirming things that everyone should work into their schedule periodically. It is good for the soul.

The run was easier than the 2.3 miles on Thanksgiving in many ways. I really didn't intend to run the whole way but I just tricked myself as usual with the whole "you can walk at the top of this hill" promise over and over. I really NEVER appreciated how hilly my neighborhood is until now. Its good though, by the St. Pete Classic 10K I should be ready to really rock it on a totally flat course and I'll be able to mentally accept the hills in the Half in March. On the website they have a chart that shows the elevations for the run, starting at mile 6 and ending at mile 7 it appears to be one long steep hill. After cresting that though it appears to be mostly flat or downhill for the remainder of the race. So that will be my big mental hurdle, if I can make it to mile 7 I'll be past the worst of the hills AND over halfway.

I almost thought my prayer for elves had been answered, for the first 1.5 miles I regularly passed neighbors who cheered me on. Then they all disappeared but it got me over the hurdle of the biggest hill on that course. It also made me realize that if I'm running in my own neighborhood during daylight hours I need to look a LITTLE bit cute. I really need some new running clothes, seriously.

For any runners reading this, I'm interested in hearing about the Galloway method. My friend who just had the baby used it to train for her first half and she insists she was faster doing his run/walk method than she was just running. And that she could go further with no pain (she also struggled with shin issues). And I've read similar testimonials online. Thus far for me I've been so focused on NOT walking at any cost that I'm having a hard time getting my head around it. I'd appreciate more feedback if anyone is so inclined. There is a Galloway training group starting near my office on January 5 specifically for the Georgia Half.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Elves needed, inquire within

I started Thanksgiving by getting off my butt after 4 days of inactivity. I won't be able to run a half in March on mental energy alone. So I used to map out some courses around my house and I hit the road. And almost hit a wall. Apparently I am about 50 lbs heavier running alone than I am running surrounded by bootcampers and road racers. It was really really hard to run 2.3 miles with nothing but my twisted mind for company. I've already acknowledged that running is, in many ways, more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge but that run totally hit me with it.

So, I need a team of friendly running elves. Preferably to map out my courses and to keep me in the dark about how far I'm going. They could put little signs along the way. And then they could be on hand to have a cheering section every half mile or so. That should do it. Any volunteers?

Well I didn't get up early and run this morning but it's nice and cold so I'm going to try again, a bit further this time, 3.5 miles. Undecided about whether to take music with me or whether to just confront the mental demons head on and conquer them naked. But if Santa is reading this, a new ipod shuffle might be a good idea! ;-) I'm too scared to risk dropping Clint's ipod video to risk running with that.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Thanks to Rachael Ray I'm pretty darned pleased with how my turkey and stuffing and gravy turned out. I've heard how difficult gravy is to make all my life and mine rocked on the first try! And I had fun doing it! Although I wish Rachael would acknowledge that her published prep times clearly incorporate a sous chef or two. If I get lots of applicants for the elf positions maybe I'll make one a sous elf. The actual cooking was pretty fun, the chopping not so much. I also learned that its a bad idea to cut apples with the wrong type of knife while talking on the phone. It is taking me 8 hours to type this post because I'm missing my left index finger. Well..... technically I'm just missing the USE of it since it is wrapped in a ginourmous bandage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I dreamed about running last night. I can’t remember details, just running, each time I woke in between hitting the snooze button this morning I was running and thinking of distances. That’s one nice side effect of sleep deprivation you know, remembering your dreams. I’ve been getting too much sleep lately and not remembering them because I’m not waking in the middle. Last night I stayed up very very late doing some long overdue blog surfing. I also finally got around to adding a blogroll to my sidebar. It is a work in progress, I’m looking to add more running oriented blogs, especially from Atlantans so I can steal their training ideas. Not all of them are health and fitness oriented, some are actually people I know in real life.

Then when I was finally getting ready to go to bed I remembered the crickets. They came two days early because of the holiday and I wasn’t ready for them. But I couldn’t bear the thought of going to bed and leaving them for another night and day in their cold and soulless shipping tube. So I retrieved the cricket keeper, temporarily housed the remaining crickets from the last batch in a plastic bucket, and cleaned cricket poop and sheds and left over food so it was all sparkling and shiny and welcoming. Then I transferred the older crickets back in, gave them fresh food, and then dumped 50 new crickets on their heads. I don’t think they were impressed. But they all looked settled in this morning. Good cricket husbandry is one of those things that I spend way too much time fretting about but had I gone on to bed last night I would have woken this morning feeling all guilty like only a bad cricket mommy can. Which is ultimately ridiculous because I simultaneously have NO compunction about dumping 20 crickets into the terrarium of death and cheering as Bindi the Beard Dragon systematically, prehistorically and awesomely hunts them down. Sometimes Chase and I even make voices for the crickets and carry on silly conversations wherein they are super excited about the spacious new digs, then confused when their friends start disappearing one by one, then . . . CRUNCH. I guess I just figure I owe them clean and well fed final days. And, in the scheme of things, it’s pretty easy to make crickets happy. Its satisfying to serve the crickets in my life. It makes me happy.

I’ve devoted so much time to controlling and complicating things in order to “create” happiness. And I think there IS something admirable in that, but there is also something somewhat pathetic in it. Because my manufactured happy moments are never as satisfying as the ones that catch me unawares. I used to spend a lot of time researching work out techniques and buying workout equipment and clothing. I would read motivational books and get really really really psyched to MAKE THE CONNECTION. And I’d be really focused on how I looked working out, and how it felt to tell people I was working out, and not so much on what was going on within me. And the gear would lose its novelty. And all I would really perceive was pain and effort and the lack of instant results. And the gear would start gathering dust. And I would feel a bit stronger in my conviction that I just couldn’t do it.

What was different this time? I don’t know. I just didn’t think too much, which is a real fundamental accomplishment for me. I just showed up that first morning after only 2 hours of sleep with my stomach in knots. Then, after fighting the urge to hurl and after a thoroughly horrible day on every other front in my life, I just got up and went again the next morning, without really thinking about it too much. I did start blogging that second day, but the blogging has been less about controlling the process and more about merely documenting it. Certainly this blog is full of those unexpected moments of happiness that I’m only now fully realizing would never have happened had I tried to force them. Maybe I’ve just finally reached a point where I’ve stopped expecting happiness as my due. And now I’m finally free to fully appreciate those moments when I stumble across them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

0 to 13.1 . . .

It's official. I'm now registered for the ING Georgia Half Marathon on March 30. I'm very very excited about it RIGHT NOW. Lets hope that excitement doesn't completely fizzle out in the next 130 days. I was thinking about signing up for the Indy 500 Mini Marathon so I could run it with one of my blog heroes, PastaQueen and because the boys in my life would think it was REALLY REALLY cool that part of the course involves running around the Racetrack. But I have friends and family and so much support here, and it will feel like such a huge accomplishment to run a race through my hometown, where I already know the streets involved so well. I have a lifetime of memories along the route, it will be very healing to create a memory of me successfully running a race down the streets that I often find myself driving stressed out and anxious.

I'll be running as part of the Operation Bootcamp team. Jojo and Tim have assured me they will keep me on track and help me with my training schedule. So, I'll keep you posted. I might try and create a new element on the page to track my training. Hmmmm, if Santa is reading this a GPS watch thingamagig would be really cool.

I broke the 160 point this morning on the scale. I've also given myself permission to indulge in some comfort food this week so I'm not going to freak out if I regain that half pound sometime this week.

I read a really interesting post at the Angry Fat Girlz Blog today about the tension between the Fat Acceptance movement and the Weight Loss community. Bootcamp has been such an eye opener for me in terms of body acceptance and confronting the assumptions I often lazily rely upon. There are bootcampers who are bigger than I am, and stronger too. There are many bootcampers who are skinnier than I am, and not as fit as me or as other "fatter" people. I know someone who has struggled with weight but has also, simultaneously, maintained a rigourous workout schedule and who was often more cardio fit and stronger than I was, even if I was smaller and lighter.

Fitness is important. To accept yourself as unfit, to resign yourself to being incapable of movement, is incredibly self destructive. But so is working out like a demon and then hating yourself because you don't hit arbitrary number goals. I haven't lost MUCH weight, or really, in the scheme of things, too many inches. But I feel so empowered and strong that it doesn't really matter too much. Ok, it matters more when I'm depressed and looking for something to flog myself with, but today its not mattering so much so I can speak with some sort of moral authority.

So, Fat Acceptance is an important and empowering movement. And the suggestion that Fat Acceptance and weight loss can be incompatible makes sense when weight loss is a self-destructive self-denying tool. My six year old son lamented the other day that he thought he was fat. I take responsibility for that, I've certainly never suggested to him that I think HE is, but over the course of his short life he's seen far too much of me abusing myself over my weight. I'm so thankful that I'm finding this new path NOW, before he's a teenager, while its still relatively easy to influence him. Weight loss can be a side effect of fitness. Of eating properly to fuel your body. Of nurturing your fit self. But, to a certain extent, you can be fat AND fit. If we all just focused on fitness, there'd be no way not to connect with each other. Because fitness is an ACT, not an acheivement. So every step is progress and we should NEVER feel bad about progress, no matter the pace.

Racing makes this so clear for me. Each step closer to the next mile marker is cause for rejoicing. I never know if the scale or the measuring tape will directly reflect my efforts to lose weight or inches. But no matter what happens tomorrow, NOTHING can subtract the steps I took today.

So, in writing this I've realized how skewed my side bar is and I've rearranged to reflect the important stuff at the top. Even posting my weight FIRST in the sidebar is a way that I unconsciously minimize my self-worth. My weight is just ONE of many measures that, taken together, present a complete picture of my health. I DO like me some charts and graphs. Easily measured numbers are easy to track. "Feelings of Accomplishment" in and of themselves do not chart easily. Do not discount those feelings though. I don't think knowing that I weigh half a lb less than I did last week is going to propel me through any finish lines. But knowing what it feels like to meet a fitness goal will.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Photographic Evidence!

Taken after the Kids Chance Race (Chase grabbed one of his soccer trophies so we'd match!)

My Race Wall (taken after the Paideia Slither)

Breaking Records

Just my own, but still, I'm worried I'm getting a bit complacent about the fact that I break my own records every time I run under timed conditions. As you can see in the side bar I took another 2:09 off my 5K time at the Paideia Slither this past Saturday. The amount of time I drop each run is less each time and I intellectually understand that eventually I will plateau and I might even go long on some runs due to conditions or the course or me not being ready. At that point I will have to overcome the urge to stop trying. But, that point hasn't come yet and it is a ton of fun to shave the minutes off in the meantime!

The Paideia Slither was much hillier than I anticipated (and it was hillier than the Kids Chance which makes it extra suprising that I ran it so much faster!). It was also VERY cold at the start, and although I tried to stretch some I was afraid to stretch too much given how cold my muscles were. But I do like running in the cold, and I had stripped off my jacket and my gloves by the time we passed the first mile marker. Yes, I said "we" because one of my bestest childhood friends ever, Katy, ran with me! I encouraged her to not slow herself down to stay with me but as it turns out (although she's an accomplished runner with a few half marathons under her belt) she hasn't run in quite a while so I apparently wasn't too painfully slow for her. I was a little nervous about the prospect of someone running "with" me. I knew that even if I was capable of chatting through the race I probably wouldn't feel like it. Running is an intensely mental game for me. But Katy was GREAT. She matched herself to my pace and didn't make me feel anxious about running where I was comfortable. She has some sort of wierd malady which makes her feel the need to talk a LOT while she runs. But she stressed to me that I absolutely did NOT need to respond, she wouldn't be offended. So, sure enough, other than the occasional affirmation from me Katy kept up a pretty steady monologue throughout the race which I found quite pleasant and distracting from the fear I always have that I'm just steps away from walking. And she was instrumental in pushing me to find some sprint power at the end to make it to the finish at 34:00 minutes when I really felt like it was impossible.

So we averaged 10.83 minutes per mile, which is so much faster than the 12:14 minutes it took me to run just one mile on October 5 when I was running flat out for my first end of bootcamp PT test. The speed with which I'm improving is astonishing to me. It's like my body is all of a sudden "getting" it, on some sort of cellular level. I wonder if averaging 8:31 per mile will ever be possible on a 5K?

Sorry no photos yet. I PROMISE to get on it this evening, we were just too busy catching up from Clint's trip yesterday evening. There is a picture of me and Chase with my trophy and a picture I took of my "wall of numbers" in my closet. I also took a picture of the blisters I developed during the Kids Chance run because I was really proud of them but I've since decided not to gross you all out. No blisters at that Paideia race so my "new" shoes are officially broken in. As I suspected, my shins hurt at the start of the race but stopped hurting once I was warm, and then were sore and tender after the race. But they didn't hurt during the race like they do during bootcamp so I think it has to do with intensity or perhaps my form when I'm jogging as opposed to sprinting.

So my current plan is to rest this entire week although I'm already feeling kind of grossed out by that plan (wierd huh?) so I may do some stretching and strength exercises at least. And maybe I'll go for a short jog, I want to map out some routes around my house. I'd love to run a race a week but that could get ridiculously expensive! I want to give my legs at least 4 days off though so that my shins and my right hamstring (which has been tight since last week's sprint day at bootcamp) can fully recover. And then Bootcamp III starts next Monday!

Friday, November 16, 2007


OK, I'm tight on time at the moment but I'm again without internet access at home this weekend so I wanted to at least give a quick post to commemorate completing my second bootcamp!

I ran my little heart out this morning and handily beat my goal of a 9 minute mile by 29 whole seconds! Yep, my fastest mile time is now 8:31, which was a 1:12 improvement over October 22. I was actually suprised to see such a big drop, now I'm determined to get under 8 minutes!

Didn't see such huge improvements in the other tests. My second best improvement was in push ups and I did the exact same number of sit ups. I really crank them out and I think I'm almost maxed on the physical number of times my body can make that motion in a minute at 39. Although one of my instructors says he maxes out at 45 so I'd like to at least squeeze 6 more in there!

My husband is in Tuscany for work and keeps complaining about all the hours the clients are making him sit down and eat 6 course meals. I'm SO excited about him gaining weight. I'm evil. But seriously, all he has to do to drop 10lbs is think about it hard so don't feel too sorry for him!

BIG THANKS to my friend Shane and my Dad who slept over at my house this week so that I could make boot camp in the mornings. It is CONCRETE support like that which makes ALL the difference. I'm really blessed to have it from so many quarters.

I'll find some way to check back in tomorrow after the Paideia 5K and I promise to post a picture of me with my trophy once my husband gets back with the laptop!

I've removed the "Goal Weight" from my sidebar. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I wasn't really focused on that at all. My goal was an arbitrary number that I vaguely remember weighing almost a decade ago. I may add a "goal inches" category but I was too lazy to measure myself at the start of bootcamp so I'll have to call Jenny Craig and get the measurements they took of me back in May and compare them to now. And then I'll have to resist the lure of Jenny Craig. I really do love their food. It's hard to resist the convenience but I know that I want to eat fresher more REAL foods from here on out.

One final note: my underwear is too big. Luckily its too cold to be wearing skirts without pantyhose or I'd be risking an unfortunate incident. Maybe that's what happened to Brittany? Maybe she inadvertently danced her panties right off! I've got some Victoria's Secret coupons but I'm a little nervous about using them . . . on the one hand, I might love how I look in everything and I'll buy half the store. On the other hand, I might still get over critical and devolve into a ball of self-loathing in the dressing room. I THINK I've developed some resistance to the second scenario but just not sure yet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Splintastic dawn rising . . .

Some random thoughts:
1. Now that the annual fall time change has occurred the sun rises about halfway through bootcamp every morning. Sure, it’s pretty and all that but it makes me feel like I’m running late every day. And I always get that uncomfortable feeling that I’ve stayed on the dance floor too long and my makeup is all sweated off and that sexy gyration I was just doing has suddenly become kind of scary when they unkindly turn on all the fluourescents and tell us its time to LEAVE.
2. My shins don’t mind jogging but they’re not a big fan of sprinting. I had almost no problem with them in the 5K but they consistently hurt during bootcamp. Yesterday we did sprinting and I’ve been hobbling around with sore shins and one aching hamstring ever since. This morning we did Altitude Adjustment and tackled hills all morning. My legs are uber annoyed with me right now. But that’s ok. I have a 6 year old. I am impervious to whining.
3. My abs continue to amaze me. Situps are the easiest exercise we do, I look forward to them as a break from everything else. I’m wondering if they were already in better shape than I gave them credit for due to compensating for my weak back for all those years.
4. My back feels good, I still am careful about the way I move it sometimes but so far it has taken everything I’ve dished out.
5. I’ve mapped out five races I want to run over the next 2 months, including the Paideia one this weekend. Three are in consecutive weekends in December, all are 5K. I’m also eyeing the St. Pete Beach Classic on January 19. That’s MLK weekend and my vacation will have rolled over so we could visit family, hit the beach and I could run a really cool race. There is both a 5K and an 8K option. Doing the 8K would rock, then I could shoot for a 10K sometime in the Spring.
6. One of the major stressors in my marriage over time has been my lack of health and fitness and my husband’s concern about same. Given my current attitude I can’t really explain why I resisted exercising for so long. I remember major fights about his expectations that I could do things like “run”. I used to tell him that demanding something like that was totally unreasonable, that I could NEVER be a “runner”. If bootcamp had been advertised as a runner’s camp I’d never have signed up. I would do things like walking, and not particularly quickly. I was all about the “low impact” options. I believe that having low impact options is important, and done properly they are valid cardio workouts. But I abused the “low impact” terminology and translated it into minimal effort. I put great faith into this “8 Minutes in the Morning” workout that was on all the talk shows a few years ago, completely ignoring that the author of that program said you ALSO had to do cardio three times a week in addition to the 8 minutes of sitting in a chair lifting 3 lb weights. So when my back would go out, or when I couldn’t manage something physical, he would get frustrated because he felt like I had put myself in that position needlessly. And he was right to be frustrated. So last week when he was feeling badly due to some health issues going on with him I got really frustrated with him because I felt he hadn’t been taking care of himself and I snapped at him, “I’ve got limited sympathy because your pain is due to the fact that you’re not taking care of yourself!” Even before the sentence was completely out of my mouth I realized how ridiculous I sounded. I turned to him with a stunned expression (and he was understandably looking pretty annoyed). “Can you believe I just said that to you???” I asked. He softened and chuckled, and I started laughing. I couldn’t believe how ridiculous it was that I was at last in a position where I could even begin to say that without being a total hypocrite. As the evening wore on the deliciousness of that exchange just kept cracking me up. I was totally tickled with myself.
7. “Delicious” is one of my favorite words. As evident above, I believe it should be applied in many situations that have nothing to do with food. Although the results can be a little disturbing as when Anne Geddes was quoted as saying that she thought newborns looked “delicious”.
8. We’re hosting Thanksgiving at our house for the first time EVER this year. It will be small (thankfully) but is sure to still be amusing. I’m tempted to purchase everything already cooked but we do have a beautiful kitchen now with acres of countertop on which to screw up. Hey, I can run over 3 miles. Perhaps cooking something that doesn’t come out of a box (“all ingredients included!!!!”) isn’t such an impossible feat either.
9. Pumpkin pies are like Pringles, can’t have just one!
10. Sugar Free Red Bull probably isn’t really “good” for me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mile Markers

Remember how much I hated the mile markers on my first 5K? This time around I enjoyed them. It was nice to have time keepers there and they also reaffirmed my own growing sense of distances. I was pretty accurate in predicting when I should start looking for them and that made me feel competent. I think I’m a competent runner. Seeing those words on the screen as I type them is still so surreal. I found my stride pretty easily on this run. I found the sound of my breathing to be relaxing and almost hypnotic. I actively appreciated my surroundings and wondered at how much more manicured the park is now than it was 15+ years ago. I could picture my teenage self hanging out on the path and I could see myself through her eyes and I was impressed. I kept pace with more people than I thought I could. I passed some folks. There was a first year male associate from my firm who recently completed a bootcamp in Piedmont park running. He started off fast, but then he had stopped to take a break at the top of a hill after the first mile and I cruised past him, then he passed me, then he stopped again and walked, and I passed him and so we went back and forth. Except he started passing me less often. I even hazarded the thought that I would actually beat this much younger, taller guy but he rallied on the final downhill and passed me, beating me by mere seconds at the finish line. I felt the urge to quip at him that “slow and steady wins the race” but I think I wisely kept my mouth shut, especially considering he did take me right at the finish. As we approached the finish I initially focused on trying to sprint past him but when I noticed the clock was at 36:04 I realized that I still had a chance to make a full 4 minute improvement over Candler Park so my focus shifted to besting myself instead of him. Those final 5 seconds were so in slow motion but I felt so strong lengthening my stride to beat the clock and when my friend Shane and my son said I looked fast coming through the finish chute I couldn’t disagree with them.

High on my success, I’m actually thinking of tackling another 5K this Saturday (based in no small part on the constant encouragement of my bootcamp instructor Jojo). I had to miss bootcamp this morning because I didn’t have anyone to hang with my son so doing something active on Saturday will help me feel like it was a complete week. And this 5K is being organized by Paideia, a private school which I actually attended from 3rd – 5th grade. It will begin and end on that campus (which admittedly has grown a LOT since the early 1980’s) so it will be another opportunity to connect with my central self from long ago. I have many good memories of my time there. Although I hated PE there as much as I hated it at any school I remember it being less oppressive, less terrorizing than PE in the public schools I attended the rest of the time. I gained some competence at foursquare there, and I learned to hang upside down by my knees on a bar and flip over to the ground, something I used to do over and over because it felt cool and I was so amazed I could do it. We also went an annual overnight camping trips with our class and I remember completing a 6 mile hike on our third grade trip that made me as proud as if I had scaled Everest. So it feels like it would be the right thing to do to participate and help them raise money for their financial aid program.

I’ve started my own mile marker program at home. We have a large walk in / dressing closet where we keep all of our clothes along with a full length mirror. I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing myself in that mirror. When I got home Saturday I took the number from the Candler Park race and noted the distance, date, and my time on it with a sharpie. I did the same thing with my number from Kids Chance. I then put them on the wall above the mirror. The mirror is not on a huge wall, but it will take a while to cover it with numbers. Anytime I’m standing there feeling critical, that wall of numbers will stand there demanding that I acknowledge them . . . and acknowledge myself. I am more than a dress form. I am more than my weight. I am a runner. I am a bootcamp vet. The feelings that accompany those acts of fitness are not measurable on any scale. The spirit is weightless when it soars.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Trophys rock!

I think they are vastly underutilized in my life! Just a quick post from my friend's computer since our laptop is in Italy with my husband. I ran the Kids Chance 5K this morning. I'll write more detail later (and add a picture) but I just wanted to get this posted.

It was a great race, much kinder course than Candler Park was. And I was much more confident (which was wierd given my state of mind the past week).

1 mile marker I was at 10:46
2 mile marker I was at 22:10
I finished at 36:09!!!! Exactly 4 minutes faster than Candler Park! And you won't believe it but I got a TROPHY! I came in 3rd in the 27-35 year old female group! Ok, clearly there were not many of us in that category but it still felt AWESOME! I got my picture taken by the official photographer and everything!


Can't wait to post a picture of me and my trophy, not sure when I'll be able too.

Enjoy the gorgeous weather if you're in Atlanta!

Friday, November 9, 2007


This is where I’ll be running the Kids Chance 5K tomorrow morning, God willing. And I think I’m going to need God on this one. My heart is faltering a bit more than I’d like. Despite the new shoes my shins were really hurting after Thursday’s workout which was a pretty simple circuit routine since it was Bring a Friend Day so hardly any pavement running at all. And emotionally my heart feels very defeated. Hardly an ideal frame of mind. But when I searched for images of the park and saw this one I felt somewhat reassured. Perhaps I’ll be able to let go of some of the angst that has been gripping so tight when I’m steeped in a place of such beauty. And history. This park is right behind my old high school. And behind the VA Hospital where I volunteered as a teenager. And behind, on the other side, the primate research facility where I worked one summer in college. I have spent a lot of time in that park. Skipping school and crossing the railroad tracks to burst into the freedom of the sheltering forest. Shyly walking hand in hand with boys I liked, or simply coveting their attention amongst a larger group. Striding with defiance, alone, rejecting the “establishment” of my family and my school for the wild ache of adolescence. Ambling in quiet, yet strident contemplation of my place in the world during that summer of college, feeling like surely no one before me had ever felt things as deeply as I did.

It has been at least 15 years since I have set foot in that park. My connections with those earlier iterations of me are becoming more tenuous. But they are still there. And I can say with some confidence that I don’t ever think I could have imagined myself running a race in those woods at the ancient age of 35. I’m certain I didn’t anticipate that at such a thoroughly adult age I would still feel lost so much of the time.

In retrospect, I hope I do connect with that still malleable younger me. She had a lot of things right in terms of priorities. Things which have gotten muddled in the years of racing to meet goals and responsibilities since. If I find her, if she travels with me for a spell on this race, I think I’ll do ok.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Passing through Between

I missed bootcamp again yesterday morning. I initially went to sleep Monday night but something woke me after only an hour and I began to mentally and emotionally freak out over various issues in my life. I was borderline panic attack for half the night. I kept counseling myself to breathe and to focus on what IS good in my life but it was a very long and challenging night. I finally dropped off just a bit before my bootcamp alarm clock went off. I was scheduled to spend the day assisting my boss and it would have been very very bad for me to have dozed off during all the sitting and listening that my day would involve. So I opted to get the extra two hours of sleep. I don’t think that was the wrong decision but I kept having this nagging feeling that I had forgotten something all day. And I hated feeling so subject to the whims of my night terrors, irrational or rational.

My day involved a trip to Monroe, GA. To get to Monroe, I had to drive through a town called Between. I passed the Between Grocery. The Between Baptist Church. Ho Hum Hollow Rd. I wondered what it was like to live in Between. Do people actually settle in Between? How do they cope with living in Between? Don’t they worry that they should be further up the road . . . or further back down the other way? Are they trying to avoid rocks and other assorted hard places?

Perhaps I should move there. I live in a constant state of Between. Between things I’m fleeing and things I’m running toward. Will I ever get THERE, wherever THERE is? Even if I do, I suspect I’ll still feel in Between, because there is always something further away that I want. Am I simply a wanderer, in a good way, who thrives on the next personal project, the next goal? Or am I actually lost in a place called Between? Incapable of finding fulfillment where I am? Perhaps there’s more to appreciate on Ho Hum Hollow Rd. in Between than I realized.

Last night I slept like the dead. And was wide awake by 5:05 am and on my way. Part of me secretly still expects me to give up on this particular journey. Its always a relief, and a bit of a surprise, especially after a stumble or a step back, to thwart that expectation.

Monday, November 5, 2007

And now for some shoes

Here are my "old" (purchased September 9, the afternoon before Bootcamp started at a big box sporting goods store) shoes.

And here is one of my new shoes (which I was too lazy to actually remove from my foot).

The other thing my Dr. said I must do for my shins was get new shoes. So I have a new pair of Asics Gel 1120s to correct my overpronation and provide me with lots of cushioning. I wore them all weekend and ran in them for the first time this morning and I give them a big thumbs up. I had virtually no pain while running although my shins were sore again after I cooled down. Clint doesn't think they are as cute as my "old" shoes but they FEEL extra cute so I'm cool with that!

Choking on the silver lining

So, I debated blogging about this at all, and it is part of what kept me from blogging all weekend. On Thursday I went to the Dr. so she could take a look at my shins. I've suffered with shin splints pretty much constantly since about halfway through September. In the NOVA Marathon Challenge two of the runners had shin splints. They both got checked out. One runner was cleared to train with some modifications and the other runner had stress fractures and had to stop. It wasn't at all clear to me how their symptoms were different so it made me a little worried that I wasn't attending to my own pain as well as I should.

Turns out she doesn't think I have stress fractures. I need to ice more consistently, take anti inflammatories more consistently, do some special stretches and give myself breaks periodically. Up until that point it was a fun appointment. I was last there in August with lower back pain because my back was too weak to carry my freakishly proportioned torso. She prescribed physical therapy. I really had a hard time accepting that, at the age of 34, I needed to see a physical therapist for something that was not so much injury related as it was sitting on my ass for decades related. Shortly thereafter the bootcamp opportunity came up and I jumped on it. My Dr. was so excited that I had taken her advice several steps further. She was so complementary and seemed so genuinely happy for me. I almost got out scott free. And then, she glanced at my chart and remembered something else about my August appointment. My blood pressure had been high. Which is wierd because I have a family history of low blood pressure.

She checked it again and her face grew grave and concerned. Then she checked it again. Then she tried the other arm. Then she shook her head and looked worried. Then she sat down and apologized for having to tell me that, after almost 2 months of high intensity exercise and eating right my blood pressure was HIGHER than it was in August. She couldn't understand it. She stressed again that I was doing everything right and she wants me to continue. BUT, because I AM exercising regularly she couldn't let me leave without officially diagnosing me with hypertension and prescribing medication. So far I'm only on a diuretic. They did some bloodwork and I'll go back soon for additional testing.

I was really crushed by the diagnosis. And I know that there are MANY worse things I could have discovered at my Dr.'s office. And I know that MANY people successfully manage hypertension and live full lives and do great. But I also thought that I had gotten away with it. That I had been self-indulgent for all those years and escaped relatively unscathed. I had started turning things around just in time. Except I didn't. It caught up to me. I didn't start running soon enough.

The label on my medical records feels heavy. I'm dreading checking that box the next time I fill out a form that asks about health history. I'm scared of what else they may discover with the lab work.

If you have been watching my stats you'll see that I've lost a bit more weight. Most of it since Thursday when I started taking the diuretic. My body is shedding all of its excess water and I'm apparently getting lighter by the minute. So, I'll take that silver lining, it just doesn't taste as sweet as I thought it might.

Driving myself

I write this at my peril. I didn't even bring my logbook to bootcamp this morning because it seemed pointless. And I DID stay for "extra encouragement" but I avoided being "tsk tsk'd" by the instructors by staying on the downlow. I went TOTALLY off plan all weekend. I started out ok . . . avoiding the most amazing bread pudding with custard in the world at my firm's annual client seminar. But then I went to a friend's gallery opening and drank wine. And as the weekend took an emotional turn for the worse on Saturday I took a hard turn for the chocolate. And hot wings. And the half a box of snackwells. And the Bangors and Mash and Pims. Ok the last bit was prepared by our English neighbor in honor of Guy Fawkes day, and my South African husband was almost disturbingly excited about eating a big ol' beer soaked sausage on a bed of mash potatos swimming in gravy. And homemade (real butter) apple crisp with full cream ice cream. I feel like I'm describing illicit and delicious sex acts.

So the emotional crap bounced me right out of my wagon. My inner sabatour spoke up and convinced me I DESERVED chocolate and fat because I was feeling sad. WHY do I always conveniently forget that too much of those things makes me feel worse. Every time. Well, ok, I do get some initial pleasure in the eating. And in feeling sassy about it. But then the aftermath is feeling overfull and ick for hours.

So, I'm bruised and bleeding from bouncing on the hard packed earth but I've clambered back on. I just need to learn to do a better job of making a conscious decision to stop the wagon, step down carefully and gently explore the temptations along the way. I need to stop leaping out of the wagon when part of me isn't looking and trying to devour everything in site before I get caught. From here on out I need to drive this wagon. Not just hang on for dear life.

Marathons don't burn fat . . . say what?

Thanks to Pastaqueen’s ( heads up I watched NOVA’s Marathon Challenge special on PBS last week. You can watch it yourself online for free at the PBS website. It was a pretty cool one hour documentary about 12 sedentary individuals with varying history and ages and conditions who were trained to run the Boston Marathon in 9 short months. What I loved was all the cool CGI illustrations of how the training impacted and changed their muscles. It has been fun since I watched it to imagine the birth of new mitochondria in my leg muscles as I work out. Heretofore my entire understanding of mitochondria came from Madeline L’Engel. And really, who’s to say she was wrong? My mitochondria COULD be singing in harmony with the cosmos. That could explain the throbbing in my thighs at the end of a workout, its just the percussion section ramping up.

ANYWAY, I was also stunned to learn that distance running is not a great way to lose weight. In fact, one of the scientists overseeing the group said that the runners had achieved 90% of their fitness improvement by the time they ran 10 miles and anything beyond that was more about the mental goals than the fitness goals. A couple of the runners had weight to lose but the only one who did significantly reduce her body fat was one who ALSO did bootcamp while she was training for the marathon. Woohoo! Bootcamp ROCKS! So high intensity interval training is really the way to go in terms of losing fat and building muscle. But the mental challenge of distance running still really appeals to me. And emotionally I feel like there is so much in my life that I’d like to run from right now that I find running therapeutic. I can drop most of that stuff by the wayside while I run, and I feel more ready to pick it up again at the end. I got all choked up at the finish line scene when they actually finished the Boston Marathon and was sorely tempted to put on my shoes and hit the street right then at after 10 pm at night.

My only other comment about the special was that it felt WAY too short. I’m reality TV and blogosphere primed now. I want excruciating detail about each person’s journey through the process. I want back story and drama about obstacles overcome and those not cleared. I want to know WHY the one runner dyed his hair orange for the race day and WHY another runner completed the marathon with glass in her foot. I just have to wonder why she didn't take her shoes off to check what was causing the presumably sharp pains? But not knowing ANYTHING about it other than that she had glass in her foot at the finish line I don't feel that I'm in a position to suggest maybe she should have dealt with it some way other than continuing without checking first. This is how TV documentaries USED to be and it left me feeling like the whole thing was really unfinished and frustrating. I would LOVE to see a reality show that was all about getting fit rather than losing weight.

Clawing my way back to the keyboard . . .

Well, it’s been the better part of a week since I posted. There was a conspiracy of angry goblins working to keep me away from my computer. Really. And when I did have a moment I was in a dark and evil mood and it can be dangerous to blog from that swampy part of my mind. So, I’ll be posting more than once today to catch up and to keep my posts thematically oriented and therefore more searchable as all the good blog publishing FAQs recommend.