Monday, July 25, 2011

how did i ever do this?

Monday, July 25, 2011
3 miles

Really Noel? 35:57? As in 12 minute miles? Ugh.

It is hard to believe that just a few years ago I could fly through 3 miles as a fun run and today I was dripping with sweat and gulping down my Gatorade/water cocktail from my camelback and praying that I could make it home in time for The Bachelorette.

It is Tucson and around 6:30 when I got back home it was about 90 degrees, but still. Aren't I used to the desert heat by now? Isn't that why I carry a camelback? Should that really impact my ability to run 3 miles?

Anyway, these are the types of questions that come along with making myself run every day (or almost every day). I have to do the kind of thing that I coach my families to do at work: anticipate obstacles and make sure I know how to deal with them should they arise.

Read: Figure out my game plan if I get ridiculously overheated.

One option is something I had been doing before: running at night. I suppose I could go back to that. I had been running around my neighborhood since I returned from Colorado, and my neighborhood does not have as much lighting as the park where I used to run.

Another option is to accept that my body might have some limitations and that if it gets overheated, it is okay to stop and re-hydrate and stand in the shade. I did that today a couple of times, and maybe that might have to be a reality for a while. Tucson is not going to be scorching for much longer. When the weather changes so that the temperature is 80 degrees at 6:30, my hard work now might just pay off and I might actually be able to keep a decent pace.

Now that I have brainstormed possible solutions, maybe I can use both of these alternatives to overcome this dehydration/heat-exhaustion dilemma and continue enjoying this hobby of mine.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

slowing down?

Sunday, July 24, 2011
2 miles

as well as...

Saturday, July 23, 2011
2 miles

I ran about ten miles this week. Last week it was about 17 and the week before it was around 14, and I had hoped to build up to about 20 miles per week by the end of July. This week, however, the motivation and drive that I had been building just was not there.

Why? Could be energy, motivation, diet, stress... I honestly have no idea. I do know that I am going to try harder to throw in some high mileage runs this coming week. It has been a lot of work to build up to exercising every day and I do not want to get out of that rhythm.

All I really have to write today is that commitment: I am going to be better next week. More running, more writing, more growing.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

running in the rain.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
2 miles

I started to write today's post about my failed relationship and the legal ramifications of that failure, but I erased it all because I had a fun run in the rain tonight and I want to talk about something that makes me feel as happy as running does: work.

Yes, I know exactly how lame that sounded. I guess if I read that last passage I might think "she has really sunk low if work is the thing that makes her happy." But the truth is that it really does. I picked a profession where I know I am never going to make a ton of money or climb some corporate ladder, but that gives me joy whenever I am working. I feel like I am making the world a better place, and I am good at what I do, and that can be the difference between just tolerating and truly enjoying what you do.

So I am talking about work. I feel like my vacation to Colorado and New Mexico was exactly what I needed. I came back and here I am, week three back in Tucson, feeling so energized and so focused on what I am doing. On top of that, I just got some pretty exciting news today. I interviewed for a position this morning that would be a second job at the same agency with a few extra hours per week.

Let me start by explaining my current position and how I got it. I work with a program called Healthy Families Arizona. I work with 15 families with children ages 0-3, visiting them once a week or every other week to teach parents about their children's development and positive parenting techniques, as well as teaching families problem solving and goal setting skills. I got the job because my previous job with an early literacy non-profit had a long standing relationship with the program. When the funding for my previous job was coming to an end, I sent my resume out to all of the people and agencies that I had worked with in the past two years and inquired about any open positions. That is how I got such an awesome position with Healthy Families.

Around the same time I was transitioning into my new job, the Operations Director for another agency I worked with at the early literacy organization had also gotten a job with a brand-new program at the agency that manages Healthy Families: Child and Family Resources. Now fast forward about 8 months and that same former colleague is hiring for part-time, seasonal instructors for the after school program she is directing: Tech Girls. I told her I might be interested in the position, sent her my application, and got the interview!

After the interview, the program director went to my supervisors to talk to them about if they would be okay with me having the second job, and if I would be able to balance the workload. Then, later in the day, she came to talk to me to let me know that everyone is supportive of me taking on the second position, that the agency would allow me to have a few more hours to complete all my work, and that she would love to have me on the team!

So now you may see why I prefer to talk about this than the other less-than-perfect parts of my life. It is also why I named this post running in the rain because I also enjoy running in the rain more than I enjoy thinking about the tough stuff. It does not rain all the time, and I do not always have the opportunity to run through it without getting struck by lightning, but I definitely loved it tonight.

I loved running in the rain tonight just like I loved the prospect of this new opportunity today, and I love writing about it now. I just want to be happy and celebrate the small things. Even though there are some big, ugly things hanging over my head right now, I want to celebrate small victories. So to today's interview and to tonight's run, I say "Nike!"

Monday, July 18, 2011

going the distance.

Monday, July 18, 2011
4 miles


Saturday, July 16, 2011
4 miles

I have decided that after this last 8 weeks or so of running regularly I am going to increase my mileage. I'd like to have 20 mile weeks by the end of the month, and hopefully increase to 30-35 miles per week in the coming months.

I am still having trouble with my legs, though. My knees are no longer in pain while I'm running, but I feel like the supportive shoes that I am wearing now are cutting off the circulation in my little toes... ouch! Maybe I'll try switching back to my old shoes.

Last week I really started seeing a change in my body. I am becoming more toned and really feeling more fit. I am not craving fast food or big meals anymore, and I feel like I have been shopping smarter.

For anyone who's ever hung out with me in person, all this talk about body image may seem confusing. I have always been slender without any real weight gain issues. Unfortunately, that has changed recently. I have gained 20 pounds in the last year-- about 10 of which in the last three months or so. I started eating out all the time around May of this year, which was not only brutal on my bank account, but on my body, too. The turmoil in my life over the past few months have been hard on my soul, so it made it all the worse to look in the mirror and not like what I saw and not feel like the person that I had once been.

So the change that I see in my body are not the observations of a really shallow person (well, maybe a little), but I am becoming satisfied with what I look like and what I feel like again, and I think that is important in the healing of my soul.

I will conclude today just by saying that I am continually excited and motivated by the change that is taking place, and I am hoping that God will continue to guide that change and help heal my heart.

Here's to 4 more miles tomorrow!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

new mexico

Continuing my posts about my recent vacation out of the desert, this one is going to be about my time spent in New Mexico. I left my parents' house on Thursday morning and arrived in Santa Fe in late afternoon.

New Mexico

While my drive to Colorado was a 14 hour, one shot trip, my return to Tucson was much more leisurely because of my stop in Santa Fe. My good friend Jenny was staying in Santa Fe for the month of June, and I was meeting her there so that we could drive back to Tucson together.

On Friday, Jenny showed me all around Santa Fe. We walked all over the little downtown area, stopping in her favorite shops and checking out handmade jewelry and assorted knickknacks from the local vendors. I bought a guitar pick with symbols meaning "courage and change" etched in.

We stopped in a dress boutique where the ladies working there had us try on TONS of dresses and model for them. They were cute, but unfortunately for the dress shop ladies, I was having a fat day and did not feel especially pretty in any of them, especially since they all cost between $60 and $80. Notice the face I'm making; not the face of a woman who feels confident in the garments she's!

On Saturday we drove up to Taos. That was a fun day. We took "the high road" which was recommended to us by a local for beautiful scenery. And it was beautiful. We first drove to a little town called Chimayo.

The Santuario de Chimayo is the town's main attraction, and the reason we chose to go. The site is the destination of a contemporary pilgrimage. People come to the sanctuary to rub the dirt on their injuries and wounds and are miraculously healed. When we entered the sanctuary, there was a wheelchair and several crutches left as a testimony to the healing power of the Chimayo soil. Jenny and I rubbed some on our heads. As I walked out of the sanctuary, I took time to see some of the other memorabilia left behind. Not all proclaimed miracles. They was a whole wall dedicated to pictures of fallen men and women in the service. That was sad. On the opposite wall was a shelf lined with tiny shoes. People brought the shoes of their babies and toddlers that were taken from them far too early and placed them on this wall. I was so overwhelmed. I sat outside of the sanctuary on a bench and cried. I was not mourning, and I was not even contemplating anything that would normally make me cry. I was just overwhelmed.

Chimayo is also famous for its chile, but seeing as how we had this moving spiritual experience in the sanctuary, we decided we did not want to break the spell by checking out the chile stands, wherever they were.

We drove the rest of the way to Taos after our short stop in Chimayo. Our drive there (and back) had some notably funny stories. Jenny and I are both sound minded women who do not frequently lose their way, but I cannot remember the last time I made so many wrong turns, missed turns, and everything in between in my life. At one point, the directions we had said "turn left at such-and-such a road." We turned up that road and we confronted with several signs that read "DO NOT ENTER, FORREST FIRE." So after about three of those ominous signs we drove back down the road, assuming we had missed a turn. We stopped at the local general store of whatever town we were in and went in to ask for directions. Inside, their were five guys drinking beer and looking like nobody had come into the store all day. We asked how to get to Taos, and the conversation went something like this:

Townie #1: Oh so-and-so here can take you. He's a good chauffeur.

Noel: Oh that sounds like fun but we have a good truck for the two of us. Do you know which road we turn on?

Townie #2: It's that road back that way. What are you girls up to today?

Jenny: We just came from Chimayo. It's that road that goes into the forrest?

Townie #3: You get some of that good dirt?

Noel: We did! We rubbed it in our hair.

Townie #3: You gotta mix it with some tequila and it will have you seeing crazy things!

Jenny: Haha that sounds like not a good idea.

Noel: So it's the road like 20 yards that way (gesturing over shoulder)? Thanks. You guys have a good day!

(Exit Noel and Jenny)

Townie #4: Hey nice legs!!!!

Noel: Right back atcha.....

As if my curt manner and our refusal of tequila and a chauffeur had not already tipped them off.... oh townies.... ;)

And so we got back on the road. We drove into the forrest where there were signs clearly posted to leave, and somehow we came out on the other side in Taos. In Taos, we stopped by several little stores and art galleries before visiting what we later learned was the oldest living Native American village in the country. It was so beautiful, and also so strange that in the same place that people come to marvel at American history, there are about 150 people still living in that little piece of history.

That's me showing off my nice legs in front of a house in the pueblo.

When we left Taos, we had plans to go to a hot springs spa and resort called Ojo Caliente. Jenny had heard that they had seven different pools, all different temperatures with different healing properties, and there was even a mud bath! So we began our trek to Ojo Caliente. The directions took us down a winding road that paralleled a river, and we dreamily looked on while we talked about our excitement over reaching the spa. And so begins our next bizarre transportation tale.

The road got even windier. We crossed a bridge and suddenly the road got incredibly bumpy, too. And steep. And did I mention that not only did my Explorer have Jenny and me in it, but we were also carrying random pieces of furniture and other belongings of mine that I was transporting from my parents' house to my own?

And the Explorer has a manual transmission.

So we were slowly climbing this bumpy road, my cargo in the back rattling noisily all the way up. We crept up in first gear the majority of the time (if anyone comments on this lecturing me on when and how to change gears, we will no longer be friends). All I kept thinking was "I do not want to drive down this thing."

We finally emerged at the top and although the signage was poor and confusing and possibly manufactured for the sole purpose of making me go insane with doubt over which direction we were going, we arrived at Ojo Caliente Spa and Resort in the late afternoon. Hooray Team!

The spa was great. We sampled each pool. We baked ourselves in mud and sat in the mud pool. The iron pool was my favorite. I dug my feet into the pebbles on the bottom and could feel bubbles coming up. It was a perfectly relaxing end to a great day!

We headed back in the direction of Santa Fe just before the sun started to go down. And our story would not be complete without another travelling mishap. Thankfully we did not have to take that treacherous road back, because there was a more straight shot to US Hwy 285. I guess there's no way to make this sound clever or funny or glamorous: we went in the clear opposite direction of Santa Fe on 285 for the better part of an hour.

So when we finally arrived back in Santa Fe, we made dinner, packed our bags to return home, and watched a mini-Glee marathon (a nightly routine since my arrival on Thursday) and went to sleep for our final night in Santa Fe.

Jenny had been living in Santa Fe for a month, so it was the final page to a longer chapter in her life than in mine. It may have been bittersweet, but we were both too tired to really take it in. Jenny had said her goodbyes to her friends on Thursday, so there was no grandiose farewell to New Mexico. We woke up early, grabbed some coffee to go, and headed down I-25 for an eight-hour road trip on Sunday.

Other than one outrageously priced gas station, there is not much to say about our trip home. The ten days or so that I was away from Tucson were good. It was a great vacation, a great time to vacation, and in the company of great friends along the way.

I know this was a particularly long entry in Pheidippides, but I hope you enjoyed it. Next entry will be about running again... I promise.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


This post and the next one will be dedicated to the vacation that I took at the end of June and beginning of July.


First, I must say, that this vacation was EXACTLY what I needed to de-stress and just relax. And I would just like to add that that's saying A LOT seeing as how I probably spent more than 50 hours driving in the car throughout the duration of this trip. Yeah... I really needed the vacation.

Disclaimer: You may need to look at a map of Colorado if you are not familiar with general geography in Colorado.

I drove up to Colorado on Friday and spent the night at my parents' house in Conifer. I took a walk with my dad and the dog, and got to work rummaging through my parents' garage for stuff I might find useful in my new house in Tucson.

The next morning I drove to Fort Collins for the Colorado Brewer's Fest. In my opinion this event is among the most fun in Fort Collins. Microbreweries from all over Colorado set up tents in Old Town Fort Collins and serve samples of beer for $1 a piece. It's a really fun time to visit with people that you normally do not get to see, since pretty much every student or graduate of Colorado State University who is of drinking age and still lives in the area (or in my case, visiting) is there. My little brother, Joey, who just turned 21 this year was supposed to go with me, but he had to work so I was left to fend for myself. Luckily, because everyone and their mom goes to Brew Fest and because I happen to be an Alum of CSU and because everyone loves me (just kidding on that last note) I was able to hook up with some friends and spend the day hanging out and catching up and drinking delicious brews.

I left Brew Fest to go straight to a barbecue with some more super fantastic friends from Fort Collins. I got to see some friends that I have not seen in years, many of whom are married or engaged and some of whom have kids of their own. That was really fun. It really felt like no time had gone by at all since I moved away from Fort Collins three years ago, and at the same time, it felt like everything had changed. I wondered that night what my life would look like if I moved back home.

The next day my mom decided we should have a family barbecue. My mom thought it would be a good idea to have the barbecue in Boulder, since my little brothers both live their, instead of in Conifer. So I met my parents, and later my brothers, and later their girlfriends at Joey's apartment and we all sat down together to eat for the first time in a long time. The only people missing were my older brother, Sean, and his wife, Brittany, who do not live in Colorado anymore. The meal was a little chaotic since it was at an apartment located less than a mile from the University of Colorado campus, and the pool area was filled with college students enjoying their summer break, but it was still good to see the family.

I hung out with Joey and his girlfriend, Alli, the next day and I hung out with my other little brother, Patrick, and his girlfriend, Erica, later in the week. Looking at my relationships with my brothers now makes it hard to understand why we fought so much as kids. I really enjoyed hanging out with Patrick and Joey.

So, just in case you are keeping track, moving back to Colorado at some point has earned about 2 points so far during this trip.

The last couple of days I was in Colorado, I met up with my childhood friend Sarah and my crazy Colombian friend Diana. Diana was visiting Colorado for a few days. She flew in from Pittsburgh, where she got her Master's degree and is now teaching, to spend some time in the first U.S. state she called home: Colorado. She texted me the day before she arrived and said "vamos a emborracharnos!" (We're going to get drunk). Some things never change...

Sarah and Diana got along like old friends and, yes, nos emborrachamos.... at Sarah's parents' house in we were 18 and not 25 years old... some things never change...

Sarah is a beautiful person to be around. She and I have known each other since we were 10 years old. In high school, we ran all of the same relays in Track and we even took away a state championship our senior year together. Maybe I will dedicate a later post of Pheidippides to Sarah, because, this being a running blog, I feel our friendship may be worthy of its own post.

So concludes my trip to Colorado. I left on the Thursday morning after I arrived and drove down to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which I will write about in my next post as the second half of my trip.

I am so happy that I got to see the wonderful people who live in Colorado. I really enjoyed my time and felt energized and excited for my weekend in Santa Fe. Stay tuned for more on that.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

don't just survive it.

Friday, July 15, 2011
2 miles
19 minutes


Thursday, July 14, 2011
3.5 miles


Wednesday, July 13, 2011
3 miles
I don't know... let's say 30 minutes for argument's sake

This week has been a great week for me. As you may have noticed, I ran quite a lot, and I also spiced things up and mapped some new routes for some varied distances. On top of my great workouts, I have had two amazing weeks at work, where I am really feeling confident and supported by everyone around me. My life right now reminds me of this blog's namesake and the reason why I chose Pheidippides as my blog's title.

When Pheidippides ran the first marathon way back in ancient times, he did something that no man had ever done before, and he promptly collapsed and died after doing so. In my first entry in 2010, I wrote about how I would be making this difficult journey (at the time I did not really understand just how difficult, and I imagine Pheidippides felt the same), but that I would not face it alone. Because life transformation, making change, and doing so striving to be closer to God, is hard, and possibly something that our bodies and souls are not meant to do alone.

I have anchored what I write about to running, because it is such an essential, big part of me. Running is something I strive to do, and writing about it keeps me motivated. Writing about running is so easy for me, and I can connect to it a lot of the things that I do in life. But Pheidippides is about so much more than running. I have been successful and happy and thriving at work for exactly the same reason that Pheidippides did not thrive after he ran his 26.2 miles: I have help. I run by myself most days but I live my life every day with friends and co-workers who support and love me. I have a church family who I know prays for my peace. I live in a different state than everyone in my family, but everyone has still shown me that they care, each in their own way.

I guess that is what I want to say this post. I have been building morale and confidence and feeling more and more able to not only survive, but to thrive, and that has a little to do with my behavior change and a lot to do with the people who are helping me do it. So here's to pushing through, growing stronger, and becoming more capable of enduring the hard times and relishing in the good times. I think I have learned, and Pheidippides probably learned, too, that those lessons are best learned in good company.

Monday, July 11, 2011

back in Tucson... back on track

Monday, July 11, 2011

3 miles
i didn't time myself

I am back in Tucson. I have not written in a while, but I have been running. I went on a trip to Colorado and New Mexico at the end of June and beginning of July, which hindered my ability to run because I spent so much time in my car. Nevertheless, I am back in Tucson now and I am getting back into the swing of things by continuing my training. I'll write a couple of entries later this week about my trip, which was fantastic, by the way, but today I think I will focus on my workout.

What can I say? On the surface, today's workout was not too eventful. I ran around Reid Park as always. I came home and showered and got ready for bed. But below that superficial description, I had a mini-breakthrough with my pace. Today was the first day since I came home from my vacation that I was able to run that route without needing to stop and jog or walk. In fact, I ran through without any real fatigue problems at all.

Ever since I came home from my trip, I have been really struggling on my runs. For my first few workouts I felt exhausted after just 1 or 2 miles. It was extremely discouraging. On top of that, since I began refocusing on running a couple of months ago, a pretty severe pain began to manifest in my knees. I have been working on toning my quads for the last month because of that pain. I also invested in a more supportive shoe in hopes of absorbing some of that impact on my knees, and have tried to improve my form as well. With all of this work, the pain in my knees slightly lessened and I was drained of the energy needed to finish a 3 miler. Needless to say, things have not been looking too optimistic for my body lately.

So tonight's run was pretty remarkable in its own way. I really felt myself syncing into a stride and feeling the feeling I had glimpsed for a second just a few entries ago ("i feel like a runner ").

I hope that I can keep up with tonight's momentum and continue to become a healthier person, physically and mentally, through the course of this journey.