Monthly Archives: May 2010

Book Review: Jane Eyre

Toward the end of last year, I set out to read more of the classics. While I’ve always enjoyed reading, I never really ventured into the world of classic literature (or even modern classics) outside of what was required during high school and college. When I decided to go into education, and pursue a career as a high school English teacher, I knew that I would have to become more well-read, especially in regards to the classics. After reading a couple modern-day classics, I decided to take on something a bit more challenging, something completely out of my comfort zone. Late last year, I decided to read Charlotte Bronte’s Victorian novel, Jane Eyre, a book unlike anything I’ve read thus far. Today, I am happy to report that I finally finished reading it.

I have to admit, this book took me a much longer time than usual to get through. At times, I would even go months without even picking it up because I lost interest. Despite this, I knew that I wanted to finish it and I am sure glad that I did. I lost interest in the book before the plot really developed. After I picked it up again (rather recently) I could not put it down. I found myself cheering for Jane, the story’s independent, strong-willed, and passionate protagonist. I wanted her to find true love and happiness, while at the same time find peace in her life. And after reading about her life, I feel that I have learned a few things from her. We can all use a little more Jane Eyre in us – passion, integrity, and morality. She was a strong-willed woman who held true to her convictions and had (what would have been then) radical ideals about a woman’s place in society.

Overall, I loved the book and I wish that it did not take me so long to read it. I enjoyed the story so much that I just called the library to have the movie delivered to my local branch so that I can watch it. If you are looking for a good classical read, look no further than Jane Eyre; it is suspenseful and deeply romantic with a small hint of horror and Gothicism.

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What to Do With All of Those Race Medals?

With every new race, runners add more race medals to their collection. If I hadn’t injured my foot in the beginning of the year, or injured my knee shortly afterward, I would have added three more medals to my collection. Next week, with the Rock and Roll San Diego half marathon, I would have added four medals to my collection. But, this post is not about dwelling on raced I’ve missed. It is about celebrating races I’ve completed and deciding how to store my growing collection of marathon and half marathon medals. Currently, I keep them in a little plastic shoe box in the downstairs closet. This simply, is no longer acceptable.
 
   

This is how I currently store my race medals. They are just hidden away in this plastic shoe box.

I went through my plastic shoe box filled with medals and I tried to organize it. For now, this will be as good as it gets.

 I already shared with you how I store all of my race bibs: https://christinaruns.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/running-scrapbook/. I keep them in an “All the Places You Will Run” themed scrapbook along with picture, D-Tags, wristbands, and other race related trinkets I collect.  Now, I need to find a way to display my medals with pride.  

 After looking at various marathon medal display cases and racks, I decided that I want to store them in a large shadow box, with the ribbons neatly folded behind the medals. I probably will not get around to this project soon, but I am looking forward to the end result. Below, I posted some examples of what I have in mind for my medals.  

This is Lonnie J. Harris, a legacy runner for the LA Marathon. This is how he displays all of his LA Marathon medals. I love it!

This is what I will try to accomplish with all of my medals. I know a display like this will be a great addition to my home office.

How do you store your medals, bibs, and other race memorabilia?  

Another Knee Update

Today is my eleventh day out of surgery and it has been a while since I last posted an update about my knee. Things look and feel better, but I won’t know much more until this Wednesday (June 2) when I go in for my first post-op doctors appointment. I have so many questions for the doctor and I am interested in hearing my doctor’s opinion on my progress thus far. Also, I am really hoping that I am able to start physical therapy right away because I am itching to step in anything that remotely looks like a gym. Here is another picture. As you can see, the swelling has gone down some more.  The downside is that I am noticing that my leg is shrinking right before my own eyes. Atrophy seems to be getting the best of me so far. I guess 11 days of not using your leg muscles much will do that to you. After Wednesday’s appointment, I will have a more thorough update about my knee.

Christina Runs 101

 I put together a short question and answer blog entry. I think you might find it intriguing. If you like it, feel free to post the questions and your answers on your blog. Enjoy!

Why do I run?

I could go on and on about why I run, but to make it short and sweet, I love the way running makes me feel. I love pushing and challenging my body, I love the sense of accomplishment I feel after every run, and I love how running cleanses my soul. I am unable to run right now and it is killing me. I can’t wait to get back into it.

 Why do I race?

I race because I am competitive. Scratch that, I am very competitive. Racing keeps me motivated and keeps my eyes on my goals. I am always looking to run faster, stronger and harder and racing is a great medium for this. Plus, I’m not going to lie, the medals are pretty sweet!

When is my favorite time to run?

I prefer to run early in the morning. I am the type of person that can wake up, get dressed, lace up my running shoes, and be out the door in 15 minutes ready to go. Last year, while training for the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon in Las Vegas, I met my group at 5 a.m. to complete our long runs (18-23 miles). We would run for about an hour in darkness before the sun rose. Those runs were so awesome because in the blackness of early morning we would encounter the other dedicated marathon runners in our area. Then, the sun would slowly rise and it would feel as if we were running an entirely new run.

What is my favorite race distance?

My favorite race is the half marathon. In my opinion, nothing compares to the half marathon. It is long enough to be a distance race, but still short enough to run it quickly. Apparently, this has been my favorite race for quite some time now. Back in 2008, I posted a blog entry about my love for the half marathon. https://christinaruns.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/of-all-the-distances/

What is my favorite treadmill workout?

I found this workout online (I wish I could remember where I found it at because it is amazing) and I fell in love with it the first time I tried it. In fact, I blogged about it here: https://christinaruns.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/good-week-of-running.

This run is a speed workout that consists of only two ladder sets and it is designed to make your goal race pace for marathons seem like a piece of cake. Here is the kicker, each ladder set is a combination of distances put together and you must run each different distance at a certain pace. Plus, in order to do the workout correctly you CANNOT stop or rest in the middle of a set.

The workout is 2x 400/800/2400/800/400. You run the 400M distance at your best mile pace, the 800M distance at your 5K pace, and the 2400M distance at your goal marathon pace. Trust me, by time you reach the middle of each ladder, that goal marathon pace feels like you are practically walking! Plus, the last 800M and 400M runs are pure torture. It is a great workout.

What is my favorite speed workout?

I must say I am a traditionalist here. My favorite speed workout is 6x 800M with a 400M recovery jog in between each set. I do not even know how I managed to do 8x 800M repeats in high school. Six is enough for me.

 When did I first realize I wanted to run a marathon?

I first realized that I wanted to run a marathon before I even quite knew exactly what a marathon was. I was 17 and on my school’s cross country and track teams. I knew that running a marathon was one of the ultimate running experiences and I knew I wanted to run one.

 What was my most frightening running moment?

In February of 2007, I was running an 18 mile training run in the early evening on a weekday with some members of my running group. The run started out nice, but about three miles in it started pouring. We were running through a trail that crossed through many (slightly major) roads every so often. At each road we crossed though, we had a stoplight and a cross walk. We approached this one and the rain was really coming down. One of my friends stopped to tie her shoe and I proceeded through the intersection. I didn’t realize it, but the rest of my friends stayed back with the one who tied her shoe. I was a little more than half way through when I heard my friend Alex yell my name in a panic. I didn’t see it, but a car was about to run a red light at the intersection I was in. If I didn’t stop running when Alex called my name, I would have been hit. The lady driving the car was on her cell phone and she saw me once it was too late, slammed on her brakes, and swerved to a stop about ten yards past the intersection. I was literally inches away from the car as it screeched passed me. I was completely shaken up. After the rest of my group caught up to me and we made it to the other side of the road, I glanced over and saw the driver of the car sobbing. That was by far my closest call to date.

What is my most memorable race moment?

My most memorable race moment occurred at the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon on December 6, 2007. I grew up in Las Vegas so this race was pretty nostalgic for me. Plus, this was the first race where my parents were at. In addition to my parents being at the race, my family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins) were waiting along the course with signs and cow bells. I’ve never had that kind of course support before and it was great knowing they were out there cheering me on. I passed by them three times, with the last time at mile 22 where I was able to run past them and give my little cousins high fives. I was totally pumped after passing them. Then, I was nearing the finish line (all the while knowing I would accomplish my goal of running a sub 4) and I hear my mom call out to me. She saw me cross the finish line.

 What is my ultimate running goal?

Even though one of my biggest running goals is to run Boston, I want to use my passion for running and help people. Once I am a teacher, I would love to participate in the Students Run LA program as a mentor and coach. The SRLA program is one that reaches out to at risk teens and challenges them to run a marathon. The program provides the teens with all of the necessary running gear and the guidance and coaching necessary to complete a marathon. In completing a marathon, these students are more likely to finish high school and realize that they can do anything they set their minds to.

Do I run with an iPod?

This question has two answers, yes and no. Yes, I do run with an iPod when I am running on a treadmill, but I do not run with one outside. Personally, I believe it is too dangerous and I do not want to risk anything just so that I can listen to music while I run outside. What if I had been wearing headphones during that run in February 2009? I wouldn’t have heard my friend Alex and I probably would not have stopped. I do not even want to think of what would have happened if that lady would have hit me. I also do not race with music. I like to hear all the sounds of the race. Plus, I like hearing the runners behind me so that I do not cut them off or trip over them.

What kind of awards have I won?

Since I started running again, I’ve only run a few 5Ks and one 10K. Here are the awards I’ve won in these races.

  • 02-03-07 – 5K – 1st in AG
  • 05-31-05 – 5K – 1st in AG
  • 10-03-09 – 10K – Overall Female Winner

Okay, those are all of the questions for now. I will probably have another post like this in the future. Please feel free to answer these questions in your own blog, or as a comment in mine!

Knee Surgery Pictures

WARNING: GRAPHIC KNEE SURGERY PICTURES BELOW

Finally, I got around to scanning these images that the doctor took from inside my knee during my surgery last week. I really do not know what they mean, nor do I know how to read these images, but I think they are pretty fascinating! All I know is that picture 2 contains the space where my ACL is supposed to be and that the white mass in picture 17 is my newly constructed ACL graft.

The upper left image is image number 2

The bottom left hand image is image number 17

I have yet to see my doctor for a post-op appointment, but the knee is looking great. The swelling has gone down some more and I am slowly working on getting back some range of motion by myself. I actually prefer to sit with it slightly bent sometimes because it relieves the tension and pressure I feel inside of it. The only thing though, is that I cannot measure the degrees of range of motion I have back yet because I do not have a physical therapy style protractor. If I had to guess though, I am thinking somewhere between 160 and 140 degrees, but really, I do not know.

 

Anniversary Celebration and a Knee Update

There are so many things to talk about in this blog post. First things first though, Zac and I celebrated our one year anniversary this past weekend. Our anniversary was actually on Sunday, May 23, but we celebrated together on Saturday because he had to work Sunday. (This will be just one anniversary/birthday/holiday that he will miss due to him being a paramedic, and soon a fire fighter/paramedic – 911 does not take days off). Since I just had knee surgery, we had to plan a low key anniversary celebration. Initially we were going to go away for the weekend to Temecula to go wine tasting and golfing, but that wasn’t going to happen this year. Instead, Zac prepared us a nice dinner and we finally watched our Avatar blue-ray. I am so lucky that I married such an excellent chef. He loves cooking and he is very good at it! These past years he has pretty much taught me almost everything I know about cooking. For dinner, he prepared filet mignon, shrimp skewers, steamed artichoke, red roasted potatoes, and salad. The meal was delicious and I loved having leftover steak and potatoes for lunch the next day 🙂

Anniversary Dinner
Zac prepared filet mignon, lemon pepper shirmp, roasted red potatoes, steamed artichoke, and salad (not pictured).

Steak Marinade:

Red Wine, Soy Sauce, Worcestershir Sauce, Garlic Powder, Pepper

 Shrimp Marinade:

White Wine, Lemon Juice (from our lemons that grow outside), Lemmon Pepper 

He prepared both the steaks and the shrimp on the grill.

We ordered an anniversary cake from the bakery we got our wedding cake from. She made us a replica of our top layer

For dessert, we ordered an anniversary cake from the same bakery that we ordered our wedding cake from, Sweet Addictions Bakery. I did not realize that an anniversary cake was an exact replica of the top layer! I was so surprised when he brought it home. Ah, I love it. Seeing the anniversary cake brought back so many memories of one of the best days of my life. Our wedding cake had three layers and was two flavors. We had one layer that was called ‘Hawaiian Delight’ which was a white chocolate macadamia nut cake with alternating layers of fresh pineapple and coconut crème. The other layer was a moist marble cake, which alternating layers of rich chocolate ganache and silky chocolate chip mousse. Yay for anniversary cake! 

Yum! This was our favorite layer of the cake. White chocolate macadamia nut cake, with pineapple and coconut creme filling.

On the knee front, while I am noticing small improvements everyday, I also have been having trouble these past two nights. I wake up in the middle of the night in extreme pain, almost in a panic, and with a feeling of helplessness. It is really quite odd. I feel trapped and my leg feels like it weighs a million pounds and it is so uncomfortable it hurts. I really hate having to sleep on my back with my right leg wrapped up snugly in my brace. I also miss bending my knee. These past two nights I’ve had to up my pain medication doses just to get back to sleep. On the bright side though, I went all day yesterday without taking a single pain medication. I didn’t even need Aleve or Naproxen. Wow!

 Finally, I truly believe that animals can sense when things are not right. Ever since I came home from surgery, my cat Lou has not left my side. She sleeps with me downstairs every night, and even for the first few nights, she woke me up in the middle of the night by standing on my chest and meowing at me. I was probably making some weird noises or something. She sniffs my leg brace often and then curls up besides me. She does not leave the room to eat or get a drink until I wake up in the morning. She is my own personal kitty nurse. I think it is just adorable how much she is around me right now and I am totally relishing in the extra kitty attention.

This is my kitty nurse. She has not left my side since surgery.

Any progress is progress

Even though it’s only been a few days since surgery (4 days to be exact), I am starting to notice some progress in my knee. I have slowly weaned myself off of 24/7 pain medications and I am only taking narcotics now to sleep. During the day, I am simply taking 2 Naproxen pills and the pain is tolerable. I pretty much had no choice though; the Norco was beginning to make me sick. I think that I accidentally took too many Norcos on the second day. I had a difficult time staying awake, my breathing was super slow, and I was very nauseous.

 The initial swelling is starting to go down. As you can see in the picture, the big mass above the kneecap has decreased in size. Also, it is much easier to get around. Yesterday, I was able to finally get up out of bed by myself. This was a huge accomplishment because I no longer need assistance to use the restroom.

 I should be getting my CPM machine soon. Once I get it, I will be able to work on regaining my range of motion. I want to start bending it now, but I am a bit apprehensive and I want to discuss it with the doctor first. Even though I haven’t worked on regaining my range of motion yet, I have worked on strength. I am able to do leg lifts with my leg immobilized in my brace. I will do maybe 5 or 6 at a time and take a break. But I discovered that in addition to lifting my leg straight up, I can also lift it to up to the side. This is huge. With my prior surgeries it took tremendous effort to just engage my quad muscle and even raise my leg without the heavy brace on! Plus, I can bend all of my toes and squeeze them while I bend them. I can also place my heel into the bed and press down without pain. These are all good signs that my recovery is off to a smooth start. I am super anxious to be starting physical therapy and unfortunately I still have some time until I am able to do that.