The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Love the Oatmeal

It’s not just because of his amazing comic telling us all about the Mantis Shrimp. (for which I have the signed poster hanging up in my bedroom…)

It’s not just because of his amazing comic describing what every runner feels in a colorful, humor filled manner. (I have the Blerch 0.0 sticker on the back of my car….) (and I preordered the running book)

No, it’s not just because of those things, but those things are a major part of it. I just love reading his stuff, and usually I am blown away by how much I can relate to what he says in his comics.

In September there’s a race called “Beat the Blerch” in Washington. I don’t live there, I can’t make it there. I would totally run it if i did, though. I don’t like races… the idea of running with a bunch of people and expectations seems like it will take the fun out of running for me. I run for the quiet. I run for the sake of running, and my anxiety nearly kills me every time I’m expected to do something scheduled. Even in the Tough Mudder, I had side stitch within half a mile of beginning the course just due to stress alone.

I can’t run the Beat the Blerch race because it’s too far away and completely sold out… or can I? They’ve added a VIRTUAL OPTION. Meaning, I can do what I’ve always wanted to do: run a real race BY MYSELF. There won’t be anybody running around me making me feel bad about my slow pace, and there’s no pressure to even finish it. I can run 6 miles or 13. (nope, not ready for a full marathon yet) I can run it on the race day weekend, or even the weekend after. It’s okay… because The Blerch will always be there, ready to be beaten back time and time again.

And also, you get a Blerch stress ball in every race pack. That means every time I get pissed off, I can squeeze his little fat body to my heart’s content.

The Oatmeal is a genius. For his humor, for his insight… he’s a genius.

Blerch on.


Don’t Forget the World Around You

Yes, I love to run. I love to run 2 miles, but I especially love it when I make it all the way to 13. (FTR, I’ve only done this once so far) One thing I got caught up in for a little while was the running hype. The training… the increasing speed times, the keeping a regular schedule and adjusting everything just so so that I’d go farther and faster. Recently, I threw all that out the window. Running for the sake of competition took all the fun out of running. I couldn’t stop and pick a pretty flower for my daughter because it would mess with my lap times. I couldn’t jog leisurely along, just enjoying a beautiful day because I had to go faster.


Fuck that.

I am running… for what? I am running for my mental health. I am running for my physical health. I am running for alone time and fresh air. Running an 11 minute mile feels just fine to me. Stopping to take pictures is just an added bonus.

Along my favorite running trail there’s one piece of graffiti that I particularly love. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be, and I don’t know if someone even put it there intentionally. I love looking at it, though. I think it’s beautiful. This is just one example of what I love about running.


Do you see that? What does it look like to you?

I think it looks like a woman. A woman in a pretty flared dress, and huge wings coming out of her back. I guess you could say she looks like an angel…

What does it look like to you?


Tough Mudder Mom

(this post was originally posted on another blog of mine. i didn’t want it to die with the blog, so i transferred it to this one.)

6 months before September 22nd 2013, my husband declared his intentions to run the Tough Mudder. for those of you who don’t know, it’s a 10-12 mile obstacle course with 18+ obstacles that are not made for wimps. after milling it over in my mind, i decided that i’d run it with him if we had a team. to be honest, i had my doubts that we’d be able to pull together team. after all, the race (actually, it’s not a race- it’s a challenge) is hard. somehow, we managed to pull together a really awesome team, and our start time was set. 

The Day Before

for the last 6 months i had been training. when i signed up, i couldn’t run more than 3 miles in one go, i couldn’t do any pullups, and i was utterly terrified. The entire 6 months i tried to stick with my training schedule. sometimes i didn’t succeed, but in the end i got results that made me happy. when i finally worked myself up to running 5 miles, i ran a minimum of 5 miles every other day. when i wasn’t running, i was working on my calisthenics… i did 1 round of 20 burpees-ups, 30 burpees, 100 crunches, 60 pushups, 50 squats, 50 lunges, and 30 supported pullups. Then, if i hadn’t run earlier that day, i did it all again. by the day before the Tough Mudder, i could do pullups, had run 10 miles a week ago, and actually felt confident that i had done everything i could to get my body in shape. i’m not a fast runner, but i didn’t need to be. it was the cardio fitness i wanted. i couldn’t do a million pullups, but i didn’t have to. i just needed enough upper body strength to pull myself over an obstacle one at a time. the day before the race, i did nothing except drink 96 ozs water and freak out. when my husband first pointed out the Tough Mudder race, i flatly told him that i would never be able to do that…. and there i was, about to do that. 

The Morning Of

That morning, my alarm was set for 6, but i was wide-ass-awake by 5. i planned my wake up time so i’d have plenty of time to eat, drink coffee, and get dressed in a leisurely fashion. there’s nothing worse than being terrified AND in a rush. i packed dates in a belt pack because I am a vegan, and i heard they’d have energy snacks along the way, but wasn’t sure what kind. i didn’t want to introduce dairy into my diet while i was under that kind of stress, and end up making myself sick. i dressed in moisture wicking under-shorts, tight yoga pants, and a moisture wicking tank top. (a sports bra is a given) i wore my Merrell Pace Gloves, the shoes i bought a year and 2 months ago when i began my fitness journey by running. i knew that whatever pair of shoes i wore in the Mudder would be destroyed, and since i got those shoes i’ve clocked in over 400 miles. They were falling apart, and it was time to retire them. i figured it would be a fitting send-off for the shoes i have loved so much, and for the shoes that began it all.

Upon Arrival

when we got there, i was jittery and nervous. i had never seen so many fit people in one place in my life… it was awesome. they wrote my number on my forehead and my arm, and i pinned my number to my waist. the only thing i forgot to do was put sunblock on. i accepted the fact that i would be burnt to a crisp by the end of the event, and moved on. i peed for the umpteenth time, i took nervous sips of water. i stretched, and made jokes, and bounced on the balls of my feet. we were the last heat of the entire event, so we were pretty special… we got to sing the national anthem instead of just listen to it, and my favorite quote of the day was said: “you are the Sunday mudders. you don’t need any time to rest. you’re going to go to work on Monday bloody, muddy, and drunk. you’re going to put your feet up on the desk, and ask your boss for a raise.”

The Race

the race…. well, it was actually pretty awesome. our track was 11 miles long and had 18 mapped obstacles, with a few surprise obstacles thrown in. when i examined the map before hand, i had picked 4 obstacles i would skip over. i am not a strong swimmer because i can’t go underwater without holding my nose. i can swim, but if i’m underwater, i need a hand free to plug my nose. i decided beforehand that all the obstacles involving tight spaces and water immersion weren’t for me, and there were 4 of them. in the end, they were do-able. only 2 obstacles proved themselves too tough for me to handle. the first was Dark Lightening. that’s basically a crawlspace filled with several inches of water and hanging electrical wires. our team consisted of 3 women and 3 men, and all the women decided to bypass that obstacle. upon seeing the faces of the men as they exited this obstacle, we were very, very happy we did. there isn’t a single shred of regret in my mind for having bypassed it, because those dudes were pissed off and miserable. getting repeatedly shocked while crawling through water in a dark crawlspace? no thanks. i’m here for fun-torture, not torture-torture. 😉 the other obstacle i skipped was the Berlin Walls. i didn’t skip it because i didn’t want to do it… i skipped it because i physically couldn’t do it. the walls were 12 feet tall with no handholds, and by the time our group got to it, they were so slimy and muddy that i would say over 75% of the mudders in our heat skipped them over as well. only 2 of our group successfully completed that obstacle. i actually did 3 of the other obstacles i initially said i wouldn’t. mostly it was so i could get in the water to wash the mud off. in one obstacle, the Boa Constrictor, our teamwork was at it’s best. in the Mudder you can go in with a team, but once you pass the starting line, the whole group is a team, and you don’t leave anybody behind. without a teammate to pull me out of the Constrictor, i don’t know if i could have pulled myself out because it was so slippery and tight. the rather large and muscley guy who went in behind me actually got stuck…. i heard him begin to get panicky saying “oh shit, i’m stuck. i didn’t know i was claustrophobic until now…” i told him that if he promised not to pull my shoe off, i’d shove my leg down in there and pull him out. i braced one foot on the edge of the tube and thanked every single squat i had done over the last 6 months as i pulled this very large dude out of the pipes. when he finally got out he said “thank you so much, you’re my hero.” 🙂 i’m not gonna lie, that made me feel pretty good. throughout the course of the event i was being pulled up and out by many different people whose faces i will never remember, and did the same for others. it was definitely an experience for the books. (or the blog!) my mantra for the day was “keep breathing, and keep moving forward”. it worked pretty well.

The Conclusion

it’s been less than 24 hours since i crossed the finish line of my first Tough Mudder, and my husband has already signed us up for the next one… 8 months from now. i am bruised (i bruise easily, so this isn’t a surprise) i am exhausted and sore, but i feel good about what i accomplished. i retired my favorite pair of running shoes by donating them to a good cause, i finished an event i never thought i would be able to.

My Advice

jog. you only have to work up to 5 miles at a slow pace, but you’ll be thankful for the cardio during the Mudder.
help others, and allow yourself to be helped. it really is a team sport.
keep breathing, and keep moving forward. that’s half the game in the harder obstacles. they suck, but you’ll finish as long as you keep moving forward. you can even skip some obstacles, and as long as you keep moving forward, you’ll still finish.
drink the water, eat the snacks. even if you don’t quite feel it, just eat a little and take a few sips of water at least. on my Mudder course, there were Cliff Builder Bars and Cliff Energy Chews. they were fantastic. there were also bananas, which i decided to pass on. shortly after passing on the bananas, i got hungry. thankfully i brought some dates along in a belt pack. i wrapped them all individually in saran wrap, bagged 3 in one snack baggy, 3 in another snack baggy, then double bagged those together. then put another ziplock baggy over them. i got them out around mile 8 and they were dry and fresh as they were when i wrapped them the night before. i only ate one, then passed the rest out to my fellow mudders to keep us going. it was fantastic… 130 calories per medjool date, nature’s little energy pack. also, i don’t ever want to forget the grateful look of the guy who lost his shoes on the course when i gave him a date. i’m pretty sure i was carried over the finish line by my teammates and a date. i will do it the next time as well.

My Favorite Obstacle: Just the Tip. i didn’t expect to make it across that one, but i did.
My Least Favorite Obstacle: Mud Mile. it didn’t even occur to me to worry about this one, but it was awful. the hills were over 6 feet high, and a minimum of 3 feet of mud in the bottom. we slid everywhere, got completely covered in mud, and the majority of my bruises were gotten by sliding uncontrolled down the other side. that was the most miserable of all the obstacles, and had they had one more hill than they did, i may have climbed out the side and said FUCK IT.
Honorable Mention: the Arctic Enema. i knew it was going to be awful. i knew my muscles would seize, my breath would catch, and my mouth would curse. what i didn’t expect was for my lower extremities to hurt so goddamn much. my legs were numb, but my lady parts fucking froze. i was very, very, veryveryvery glad i was not a dude when i got out of that one. to the volunteer who stuck that hand out at me on the other side to pull me out: THANK YOU. without that hand of salvation waving in my face, i may have just stood there and cursed until i turned into a meat popsicle.

and that’s that. i’m a 31 year old mother of 2, and i just completed my first Tough Mudder.

Running Shoes [Review]

a good pair of running shoes is everything. well, not really. actually… humans run best without any shoes at all. that’s the way our bodies built our feet, and that’s the way it should be. centuries of uncomfortable shoe-wearing have weakened our soles to the point where “Podiatrist” is a lucrative career choice. in an attempt to keep my feet strong and healthy, i have taken to running with as little shoe as possible. i don’t run barefoot because i just don’t have the concentration levels needed to avoid shards of glass, stones, and other road debris.

Enter: Minimalist Shoes.

my entire feminine life has been filled with flat-soled girly shoes, so buying a pair of minimalist running shoes wasn’t that big of a deal for me. in fact, my first pair of “running” shoes were a pair of these:

Merrell Barefoot Life Wonder Glove

they may not look like traditional running shoes, but let me tell you- they performed the task flawlessly. Merrell makes extremely high quality shoes with a Vibram sole, so they’re practically indestructible. recognize the name “Vibram”? yes,they’re the original makers of those ugly-ass toe shoes. toe shoes are great barefoot shoes to run in, but unlike my husband, i just can’t bring myself to sacrifice fashion for practicality. after all, i AM still just a woman. i love my Barefoot Life Wonder Gloves. they’re comfortable, they’re cute, and they’re extremely functional. except… i didn’t want to run in my cute shoes every day, and wear them out sooner.

once i realized that running was something i wanted to do for a long, long time, i decided it was time to splurge on a quality barefoot running shoe. there are tons of brands to choose from. is a great resource for seeing all of them lumped into one website. i didn’t do much shopping outside of the Merrell website, though. i trust the Vibram soles and the Merrell quality, and knew that i wanted to go with them.

one thing about barefoot shoes that you have to understand, is that they should literally fit like a glove. i didn’t want to buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first, so i waited. and waited. and waited. then finally, while i was on vacation i found a store with a large selection Barefoot shoes. i tried on 3 different sizes before i went for the 9’s. (i’m normally a 9-9.5 in regular shoes, depending on the brand. my Wonder Glove’s are a 8.5, but a little too snug)

meet my new running shoes:

Women's Barefoot Run Pace Glove

so far, i love them. they have a little more sole than i would like in a barefoot shoe, but they grip the pavement beautifully and make me feel like i can fly. they’re super light, and i love the colors. i have big, fat ankles and feet so they were a little tight across the top of my foot at first, but after a couple runs they’ve really broken in well, and i can slip them on and off with no problems. i didn’t realize it until looking at the Merrell website, but they also come in wide sizes, although not in this color, if you need it. they’re a little pricey ($100) but totally worth the cash. they’re put together well, and i expect them to last a long time.

Merrell Barefoot Run Pace Glove gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me… i only took the 1/2 a star away for the slight grip and arch support the shoes have. true barefoot shoes shouldn’t have any, imo. either way… i’d buy them again, and if they still make these in 10 years when mine fall apart from use, i’d buy them again.