December 30, 2010

The week between Christmas and New Year's has always been one of contemplation, reflection, and usually depression. Have I grown in the past year? Have I accomplished anything? I gave up New Year's resolutions several years ago, but never gave up the end of year scrutiny. That scrutiny was always harsh, and ultimately unproductive. This year has that same sorrow, but I think I'm a bit more realistic in the review. It's been a very hard year in a lot of ways, but there is good mixed in there, making the pain worthwhile.

Both my boys are now moved out and moved on. One is in Germany, one on the other side of town. I'm still adjusting to the joys and sorrows of an empty nest. That nest also happens to be completely and utterly underwater. I read somewhere that the housing crisis did not hit my area, but it certainly hit my neighborhood. I paid almost $50K for a little 2-bedroom condo in 2001. When I tried to refinance my mortgage earlier this year, it was appraised at >$20K. I heard someone sold theirs for $1,200 a few months back. This isn't a huge issue right this minute (other than paying interest over 2x the current rate). It does, however, push out plans to move in with Superman once we get both our houses sold and find one we both like (he doesn't like mine, I don't like his). It may be another 5 years before we can both get our houses in shape and sold, so we can move on with our personal plans.

This year I was fired from a company that at one time liked me enough to hire me back, after I left in 2002. I haven't been fired since I was 16 and lied about being on break at Corn Dog on a Stick. This time, I found myself on the wrong side of a person who had no problem blaming me for her mistakes, in an effort to look perfect for the decision makers. I understand, had she been held to the same measure she held me, she would also be out of a job. I understand the person I replaced was in the same position, and only avoided being fired by finding another job first. I understand the person who replaced me is also having issues. This has been a difficult adjustment, but in the end I believe it's actually for the best. I no longer have the stress of working with an unreasonable person who expects perfection, without knowing what results equal said perfection until I'd somehow managed to come close.

I was already working on a degree that would allow me to change careers. Jobless, I can now focus more fully on that degree. As this is an on-line degree with no real-life experience to show on my resume, I'm also working toward a certification I hope will open the doors I need. I will have to do some fast talking. I will have to start near the bottom. It's worth it though, as this is the field I've wanted to be in since I started working for corporate America. Both degree and certificate will be complete in 2011.

Jobless, I can help my parents fix their house, which has severe water damage and is in varying stages of repair. They've put on a new roof and windows, but my father is not as strong as he once was, and the interior job is daunting. So far we have completely remodeled the 3rd floor. He had the walls stripped and replaced several years ago, but with declining health and depression over the market never finished the job. I helped scrape, mud, paint, and replace the flooring. We've moved on the 2nd floor bathroom, which was left as unfinished drywall something like 6 years ago. Again, the job was too big for my father alone. I spent 2 weeks sanding and mudding, sanding and mudding to get everything smooth. I sanded and stained the woodwork. This past week we papered. We still have to level the floor and lay tile. We will then move on to bedrooms, all of which need ceiling and plaster work before paint. If I were working right now, I would not be able to spend this time with my parents, and I'm not sure how they would get the work done.

This year also started my running career. I'd run off and on, a month here and there, over the past few years. It wasn't until I signed up for a race that something clicked and I started running regularly. I've been sidelined for the past 2 months with hip and knee issues, but I still have races to run. I've given up on the February trail race, but am signing up for the Y so I can work out in the pool until my hip and knee can support running again. I have races on the calendar for April and May, and fully expect to toe those lines.

This year I also started blogging again, and found a world of insight and encouragement I hadn't found in all my previous attempts. This is officially the longest I've ever blogged continuously, and I fully intend to continue into the new year.

I don't have resolutions for 2011, but I do have goals. Yes, I'd like to eat healthier. Yes, I'd like to lose weight. These are not on the top of my list, and I know if I achieve other goals, these too will come. This year, my goals are to finish my degree and certification, and to get a job in the field of my choice. To help my parents finish remodeling their house. To race several months out of the year, and hopefully to PR. They are modest and achievable goals, built on plans already in progress. Come this time next year, I will have concrete accomplishments to list. That's the plan.

Happy New Year everyone. Welcome to 2011.

December 17, 2010

Making plans

Ibuprofen is my friend. With it, I was able to walk 2 miles today. I had twinges in the knee early on, where it felt I would hyperextend it, so adjusted to a shorter stride. After warming up, I had only mild discomfort. I believe even more now that moving is helpful, as it was with my back. Oh, and I found a penny. 8-)

I spent some time thinking while out walking. I was thrilled to realize how far I could go, and how my knee felt. I wondered what else I can do, to keep moving. I screwed my knee up once with aerobics, so that's out until I heal. I can walk regularly, but that's not working as hard as I'd like. I started thinking about Beth at Shut Up And Run. She has a stress fracture in her hip, but is still training for Boston by water running. I have a pool right near my house, at the YMCA.


The original Village People video doesn't allow embedding, so you get this one.
This isn't how I learned the dance, but I may have to change that!

I've had memberships at the Y off and on for as long as I've lived here, but had some issues with management the last time I was there. I'm also on unemployment, so can't really afford a membership. I ended up walking over to pick up the literature anyway. I'm glad I did.

Turns out they are waiving the joiner fee in January. The last time they offered a program like this, they told me I didn't qualify because I'd had a membership at some time in the past. I asked about this specifically, and they said anyone without a current membership qualifies. They are under new management! They also suggested I apply for a scholarship, which could pay all or part of my membership (and possibly get Ninja a membership as well). I will have to reapply every 3 months, and if I start working I no longer qualify (which makes perfect sense).

This will allow me to participate in their aquajogging classes, which they hold 3x a week. I will be able to take a Yoga class 2x a week. I will also have access to a treadmill, when my knee and hip are better. I was concerned about running in my Vibrams on ice and snow. I know Barefoot Neil is doing it, but I can just see myself slipping and sliding, and ruining my knee for good. It seems there may be hope for February's race after all!

It means I will have to adjust my schedule at my parent's, as the aquajogging doesn't end until 10:30. We are making progress on the 2nd floor bathroom, and have started mudding the bedroom with all the staple holes in the walls. There is still a lot of work to be done. I'm sure they will understand if I start showing up closer to noon.

I've also recently taken on another class. In addition to the Masters of Information Systems program through University of Phoenix, I'm now participating in a program that will result in my A+ certification. Both programs end at approximately the same time, and with both pieces of paper in hand I should be able to get a fairly good job in the field I prefer. 

All of this means I'll be a busy little beaver in the new year. Come January 2, you know where I'll be!

December 16, 2010

Penny-Picker-Upper

I want my bathroom tiled this way!
I am a penny-picker-upper. You know the person who, while out walking, makes you stop and wait as they stoop down to pick up 1/100 of a $1? That's me. People dismiss the penny as worthless, but as far as I'm concerned free money is free money. It's not always pennies, either. I make more in penny-picking-upping than I do interest on my bank account. In fact, it's painful to see a penny while out on a run, and not stop to pick it up. Stopping is not allowed on a run.

Superman believes pennies found tails up have drained all their luck, like an upside-down horseshoe. I believe I'm lucky to find a penny, regardless which side is up. It can be standing on it's edge for all I care. Leaving free money on the ground just wastes the luck I had in finding it, and I can't simply waste luck! That's like laughing in the face of the Gods. The joke in my household is that my penny-picking-upping burns my lottery luck. I'm lucky to find a penny, ergo that luck cannot then be used to win $356 Million and retire to a life of luxury on a my own personal, small island somewhere.

Well, I haven't been out walking in a while, with this bum knee of mine. I guess that's why I had enough luck built up to win Beth's Ultimate Stocking Stuffer Contest over at Shut Up and Run! I'm so excited, in part because of the super schwag, but also because she actually commented on my blog and emailed with me. Beth's was the first running blog I found, she has 1032 followers, and she's run with Dean. I feel as if I've touched a celebrity. I may not ever wash my keyboard again!

I'm joking of course, but it's still pretty neat. Buku Gu. Road ID socks, hat (I've been needing a hat), and gift card. I also got 2 new pairs of Ryders sunglasses out of the deal. Now I can be a Cool Kid like Barefoot Neil! My eyes are super light sensitive, so I make sure to have a pair of sunglasses, as well as an emergency backup pair of sunglasses, wherever I am. I'm already being teased about adding 2 pair to my collection.

I'm still hoping for that $356 Million, but I certainly can't complain about the way my luck went today!

December 15, 2010

This is getting old

I had friends over Saturday for game night, which was great fun. We played Apples to Apples for hours, ate good food, drank a few Brandy Alexanders, and basically had a blast. As my friends were leaving, I turned to give one of them a hug and my knee complained. A lot. I'm back to square one with my knee swollen, and I can't walk any real distance.

It's difficult not to get frustrated or depressed, when body parts hurt all the time and refuse to work right. I have to say I am a LOT better than I was 10 years ago. Back then I had unexplained back pain, which had me bedridden when I wasn't working. It hurt to move, but it turned out moving is what made it better. I'm working on the same premise now, albeit carefully. With the knee swollen, I have to be careful how I stretch, but I continue to stretch. Stretching is better than not stretching, even if it doesn't make the root cause of the problem go away.

I believe this is all due to the arthritis in my S1 and my hip. Things get inflamed, they press on tendons, tendons get inflamed and start pulling things out of wack. At least that fits what I know about my body, and what I've been feeling. I can't exactly afford all the tests involved in finding out for certain. Honestly, considering my experience 10 years ago, I'm not at all confident paying for all those tests would give me an answer. It didn't back then.

I've about given up on February's race. I can't imagine I'll be healthy enough to get back up to 15K in time. I'm still hopeful for April's 10-miler, as well as May's half marathon. I just find out Wonder Woman, who inspired me to start racing, is also racing the half. It would be great if we could pace each other to new PRs!

December 10, 2010

Goals and Challenges

This is for EMZ...
I just signed up for the Cleveland Half Marathon, which is the race that started all these fun and games, this past January 3. Well, it was the 10K then. Wonder Woman had signed up for a couch-to-half program, and this was the race she picked. She inspired me. I KNEW there was no way I'd get from couch to 13.1 miles in four and a half months, so opted for the 10K. Running a 10K had always been on my bucket list, anyway.

Superman and I had tried running before. We both enjoy our food just a little too much, and he ran in junior high. He suggested it as a way to control the waistline creep. His father is an ultra marathoner, so running is definitely in his genes. Not so much, mine. Most of my siblings are active (Big Bro races cyclocross, Dr. J runs but doesn't race, and Princess used to play soccer). We were all on the swim team at the local pool. Myself, The Energizer Bunny, and Dr. J all swam in high school. I only found out after I started racing that The Energizer Bunny has been running since college, or that she even ran in college. I remember distance swimming, not running.

So I was unfamiliar with running. The most I think I ever ran as an adult was around the bases, and that was never a non-stop trip. Superman and I did a lot of walking, which we converted to walk-run-walks. He was very patient with me, as I bitched my way through every run. I actually ran a full mile once. Everyone was astounded, including me. I don't think those attempts ever lasted more than a month or so.

After I signed up for the Cleveland 10K, I had a goal. I had a distance. I made up a random couch to 10K plan, nothing proscribed or written down. I mapped out a 10K route, and walk/ran it a couple times a week. I would run one block, walk one block. Somewhere along the way I determined I would have to actually run the distance, so tried that. I didn't make it that day, but eventually I did. I signed up for more races.
LOVE. THIS. SHIRT! (http://www.zazzle.com)
I was sidelined for several weeks by plantar fasciitis, early in the year. In my bullheaded style, I ran through the pain, figuring with no baseline in fact that it would go away. I thought it came from stomping on the ice and snow, to keep from slipping. It wasn't until I started reading that I learned the probable culprit. I've had knee problems sideline me for a week or two, here and there, as well. I have arthritis in my S1. All of this - any of this would have finished my running career, before this year.

At some point, I decided a half marathon would be more of a challenge, so signed up for one of them. Then another. Along the way, I realized I wasn't experiencing as many symptoms from my thyroid disease. Running appears to help burn off the excess chemical my thyroid produces, reducing my blood pressure and the need for the medication I'm supposed to take. When I stopped running because of knee or back pain, the symptoms would come back. I like not having to take medication.
I decided 2012 is my marathon year, and that I would like to run an ultra. I believe having a goal, a date by which I have to be able to cover a certain distance, is what keeps me going. That's why I continue signing up for races, even though I know I'll never win one. They are the carrot that keeps me running. The health thing is all well and good, but for some reason it doesn't get me out the door the way a goal and a challenge do.

I'm dreading when I can start running again, because I know it's going to suck. I'm going to have to start slow, with short distances, and it will be very uncomfortable. It will always be uncomfortable. Even so, I know I'll feel better, because I'll be accomplishing something difficult. I'll be pushing my comfort zone, and learning things about myself along the way. That feeling is also a goal and a challenge.

December 9, 2010

Huh...

I have an aversion to calling myself a runner. I think about it, and something in me says "Oh, no no no no no!" I don't know if this is because, like Iris over at Stet That Run, I believe I will have accomplished something by adding that title, and therefore stop. I don't know if it's just an inferiority complex because my runs suck so bad. I don't know if I believe calling myself a runner means I have to stick to the diet, or run 5-6 miles every day (with a long run on the weekend). It's probably a combination of them all. That's why it's so funny to me my mother dubbed me "Runner Girl" in her blog, and that mine has become a running blog.

I didn't start this as a running blog, but it turned into one rather quickly. I think that's because when I run I feel more confident, and I feel accomplished. I feel I have something to write about. When I'm not running, nothing I am doing seems worthy of a post. I post several days of activities instead of my single 3 mile run. Even though I know not everyone who reads this is a runner, I think "my audience" won't be interested in anything but my runs. Even when all I do is bitch about my runs.

The funny thing is, now I can't run I spend a lot of time thinking about when I'll be back to running. How I can start slow and not injure myself again, in snowy Northeast Ohio. How I can get myself back on track to run the Run With Your Heart 15K Trail Challenge in February. I read avidly about how to treat plantar fasciitis, ITB band issues, and piriformis syndrome, all of which match issues I've had or am having. I stretch. I roll. All with the goal of getting back to something I really don't enjoy doing, but which somehow has a hold on me.
Yes, I've jumped in with both feet
My latest treatment is to sit on a ball, slightly larger than a tennis ball and filled with sand. I move it around to press against the different areas that bother me. Since twisting my knee the other day doing dance aerobics, I can't do Pigeon Pose, but I just found a similar stretch I can do standing or sitting.
Pigeon Pose courtesy of elsiesyogakula.com
Modified Tree Post courtesy of elsiesyogakula.com
The ball and stretches seem to be working, as my knee is not nearly as painful today as it was 2 days ago. I still have hot spots that are bothersome, but I can move much more comfortably.

As many of you know, I have no concept of moderation, but I'm trying very hard to not push until I'm healed. Low impact aerobics with minimal range of motion. NOT walking on icy sidewalks, even though I want to get out and see how far I can go. I'm concerned about February's race, but pushing only gets me more injured, which keeps me sidelined longer.

Funny how running involves not only physical improvement, but mental as well. Even when I'm not running.

December 4, 2010

Dance like no one's watching

I was able to walk 1.5 miles today, normal pace, normal stride, with only a few twinges from my knee. It doesn't sound like much, but it is a mile and a quarter farther than I could walk last week. I call that progress!

Unfortunately, the twinges tell me I shouldn't rung yet. I'm a little worried I won't be back up to distance, not to mention speed, by mid February. That's when I'm signed up to do the Center for Families and Children 15K Trail Run. I guess I'll just do the best I can, and walk it if I have to.


Running has been my main form of exercise for the past year. I did a bit of riding over the summer, but haven't had the bike out since September. There's talk of getting me a stand so I can ride over the winter, but that hasn't happened yet. I'm not sure the knee would hold up, at this point, anyway.

What I have been doing is DVD yoga, which I have to be careful with. The last time I took yoga classes I ended up in the emergency room with a migraine. I thought it was an allergy from the candles, but it turns out it was from being inverted, and likely high blood pressure from my thyroid. I can only stay in down dog for so long before it becomes a problem. I also have to be careful of my back. I've a blown disc, which I was reminded of this past week. My new yoga DVD has me rolling back and forth on my back, and I ended up feeling queasy. Overall, it's good to dedicate to stretching again, though. I'd gotten away from that, and forgotten how good it feels.

I've also been playing with dance aerobics. Hip Hop. Burlesque. Latin. Again, I have to be careful. The first day I twisted my knee, which may be why I'm still feeling twinges when I walk. It's all low impact, and it's fun learning new moves. I can't wait until I learn the routines enough to really let go. It makes me think of how I used to dance with abandon in my living room, back when the boys were young and I wasn't so crippled with image issues. Maybe it's time to just break out the iPod and crank some dance tunes...

November 28, 2010

I'm not dead

I have been in something of a food coma the past few days. Four Thanksgivings: his family, my family, a good friend's, and the one I do at home because there are NEVER enough leftovers (well, of turkey anyway).

My bird has barely been touched,
and I've a pot of turkey soup on the stove as I type this.
I've been active as well, though I still can't run any real distance. 

I spent a few hours sanding and mudding my parent's bathroom Wednesday.
Superman and I went for a 5 mile walk on Turkey Day. 
I was very excited to find I could actually run across the street without pain.
Friday, Ninja and I broke out my parent's 3-tub, 90-year-old,
concrete utility sink, and dismantled part of the wall.
5 and 10 lb. sledgehammers were flying for about an hour,
and another hour to scoop up all the rubble and carry it outside.
Saturday I went rock climbing with The Energizer Bunny,
Big Bro, and their assorted family members.
I belayed more than climbed, as my arms are trashed from
sanding and sledgehammering.
There were also
several sets of curls involving a 3-year old in a harness...

My knee is still a little swollen, and it still gives me twinges of pain. Surprisingly, it didn't much mind climbing. I keep thinking I'm going to go out and run a mile to see how it feels, but then it tells me how it feels and I decide I'd better wait. Maybe tomorrow, when it's supposed to get back up into the 50s.

This morning I had trouble brushing my teeth. I'm definitely building some arm muscle! I will not be lifting, pushing, or pulling anything (if I can help it). I'm writing a paper, and planning to get out for a walk. Maybe I'll do a walk/run, the way I did when I first tried to run.

See what I mean?

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving All!

I'm thankful this isn't me! 
That, and the same things everyone else is thankful for, too. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful National Pig Out Day!

November 20, 2010

Taking the High Road

My knee is swollen. It hurts to walk. It hurts more to run. Much as I want to run the Cleveland Fall Classic tomorrow, I believe it is in the better interest of my running career to DNS.

I've been through this before. I think (hope) it's just from overtraining. It happens every time I start feeling good, start pushing things a little. Last time it was pushing the mileage. This time it was pushing the speed. The problem is, I don't know what my body feels like just BEFORE it decides to complain in such a loud and uncomfortable fashion. I don't even know at what point the complaining goes from low steady grousing to loud and obnoxious. The whole process is uncomfortable anyway, and I don't hear the difference until it's too late. Then I end up here.

I'm taking some time off from running. I know, this will set me back and I'll have to work my way up to where I was at the end of October, all over again. I'll have to rebuilt slowly and carefully, so I don't send myself right back where I am today. I'll have to find another activity, or group of activities, that will burn my thyroid excess and keep my muscles strong until I can run again. I should be ready in mid-February to run the Run With Your Heart 15K trail challenge.

At this point, my plan is walking, stretching, rolling, and lots of ibuprofen. I should be able to do short, 1-milers again in a week or two. I'll just work my way back up from the beginning again.

November 18, 2010

Back to Life (Back to Reality)

I have a half marathon in 3 days, and it's time to face facts. The reality is, I am not yet over my cold. I am no longer taking cold medicine that makes my heart go pitty pat, but I am still using nasal drano at least once a day, and I still have a several-tissues-a-day habit. I have been stretching, but I am still stiff.

Yesterday's run (a measely 1.5 miles) was just as dismal as last Saturday's run, and my run the weekend before. I did not even make it a single mile without walking! Looking back, I haven't had a good run since the end of October. I was hoping to PR this race, but the reality is that's highly unlikely. I'll be lucky if I can finish in 3 hours, before they close the course down.

I've truly lost my mojo, or whatever it was that made me feel like I could run. In truth, I can't blame my cold for this. This is 3 weeks of progressively worse results, as my body progressively broke down. My S1 is inflamed, which affects my hips and ITB, which makes my knee hurt. Rolling and ibuprofen help some, but it hasn't gone away.

My thyroid is acting up again, too. I had a whole other post written in my head about my stupid thyroid. I'm not sure it's the cold medicine making my heart race so far ahead of me. I know the swollen ankles make my legs heavier than they should be. The thyroid is a tightrope I walk, because running helps keep it in check, but if it gets out of line it makes running difficult.

I've ruled out the Sauconys as a race shoe. The heel is too low and I've not enough time to adjust. I am now considering my old Asics over the pair I've been training in to date. I'll give them a test run tomorrow, to see if they really are too worn out. I've been using them as walking shoes. They may have one more race in them.

The good news is, I can walk down stairs normally, which I could not do earlier in the week. I was able to climb some hard walls with my sister yesterday. I'm not looking forward to this race, but I will run it, and I will do the best I can. I am stretching and rolling every day. I am getting enough sleep, so will hopefully be over this cold by Sunday. My goals at this point are (progressively):

to finish without crying
to finish within the 3 hour time limit
to finish within the same timeframe as my last race
    (if I'm over the cold, this should be doable at 2:47)
to finish in 2:37
    (if everything miraculously comes back together within the next 3 days)

I'm not even going to post an "if angels sing and I sprout wings" goal, because I truly feel the 2:37 fits in that category. I'm going with the same race plan I had when 2:37 was almost a certainty. Drink from my camelback so I don't have to walk through water stops. Find my stride and stay there.

Not every race is a PR, but every race is about overcoming challenges. Sometimes those challenges are just dealing with my life, and my reality.

November 16, 2010

Pulled the trigger

I bought a new pair of running shoes today. I wasn't going to. I told myself when I bought the Vibrams I would use them all winter, and be ready for a barefoot season next year. I planned to purchase the Vibram Bikila before the snow started to fly, as they have more tread than the KSOs my closest Vibrams dealer had in stock.
                           KSO                                      Bikila
I haven't run much in the KSOs, mainly because I've been focused on next weekend's half marathon. There was no way I had time to get my Vibram or barefoot mileage up to match either my weekday or weekend runs. I tried to throw a mile in here and there, but that didn't happen as often as I'd hoped.

Meanwhile, I've been running in my Asics 2150s.
Asics 2150 - my current shoe
This is the 2nd pair of 2150s I've worn, and while the last pair (a smaller, woman's version) was better, I do not believe it is the shoe for me. This particular pair is a full size larger than my normal walking shoe. The idea at the time was to give my toe room, so it didn't rub and hurt. The larger shoe did not solve this problem. What it did was give me a clunky, heavy shoe with a rigid sole. It has arch support, which I do not believe I need, and also happens to have a very high heel. I'm not certain this shoe is the cause of my knee pain. What I am certain of is, when I took them off on Saturday's run, the knee pain went away. Not immediately, but quickly.

I started thinking about a new pair of shoes several weeks ago, soon after I signed up for the February 15K trail run. I did not believe I could get my Vibram or barefoot mileage up to 15K by mid-February. I wanted something more comfortable; a shoe that fit, with a more flexible sole. Maybe something like the Nike Free. I didn't want to buy just a race shoe, though. I wanted something I could train in. I also did not want to put the big bucks into a shoe I would wear out in a month or two.

It is possible my Asics are the perfect shoe for trail running. Trail shoes are supposed to have sturdy soles, to protect feet from roots and sharp rocks. I just don't enjoy running in them. Saturday's run was the last straw. While I believe my inability to walk yesterday was the direct result of running 2.5 miles barefoot, my knee was considerably more comfortable without the shoes. If I'd built up to that 2.5 miles more gradually, I believe I would not have had the issues I did.

So I went out to Fleet Feet today and purchased a pair of Saucony Kinvaras.
Aren't they pretty?
I asked the sales person for a shoe with a flexible sole and a low heel, that I can use for training and racing. I added the low heel because I still intend to transition into Vibrams and barefoot running. I just can't build the requisite ankle and calf muscles fast enough for the races I've already entered. The Kinvaras are very comfortable, very light, and exactly what I asked for.

When I came home I Googled Saucony Kinvara, and found Pete's review over at Runblogger. I read Pete regularly, and had forgotten he wore this shoe for his recent BQ (the male version, which does not come in pink!). Pete mentions something else I'd conveniently forgot. I may not be able to run these in Sunday's race. I was hopeful, if I ran the week in them, they would be serviceable Sunday. With the lower heel, this will probably not be the case. I may not even be able to run in them all week, and be capable of running 13.1 miles Sunday! Not if my calf and ankle soreness from this past Saturday is any indication.

I am anxious to take these babies on the road, but with continued ankle, calf, and knee issues, I decided not test them out tonight. The ankles and calves are just very stiff at this point, so extensive stretching tonight and in the morning should hopefully solve that problem. Tomorrow I will certainly get at least a couple miles in, before rock climbing with The Energizer Bunny. If the ankle and calf issues persist Thursday, I will switch back to the Asics and consider them my race shoe this weekend. I have a bit of time between Sunday and February 13, to mainstream the Sauconys and further the Vibram/barefoot program.

November 15, 2010

Oops, I did it again

Overdid it, actually. I am completely oblivious regarding the line between enough and too much, in many things. When do I go from hungry to not hungry? When do I go from pushing, to pushed too far? I have no idea when I hit too much, but I certainly overran that line with gusto this weekend!

After Saturday's questionably intelligent, dismal 7-miler, Superman and I went to a friend's house for dinner. Homemade chicken pot pie = yum! So of course, I had two plates full = too much.
After dinner, we went out to karaoke with Goddess and the crew at Michel's. I am a karaoke addict, and will sing at the drop of, well, just about anything. All it took was Neil Cash's suggestion, for me to get up and bogart Alanis Morrisette's Hand in My Pocket from 2 guys who were singing their hearts out. Honestly, the one guy did hand me his mike... My buddy "the Destroyer" (his choice of moniker) collided knees with my sore one, and I continued to dance the night away as if I felt no pain. I didn't keep track of how many drinks I had, but I wasn't feeling my knee, my cold, or the run. I didn't puke, swirl, or get a hangover. I didn't have to ride home with one eye closed (Superman drove). It was a lot, but at least here I didn't cross the line into too much.
Me singing, this past August
As usual, we stopped at Taco Bell on the way home. I certainly did not need two chalupas and a taco. That definitely = too much!
I had a bit of trouble getting out of bed Sunday, not because I drank too much, but because my legs were stiff and sore. I felt every one of the 7 miles, as well as the dancing. Superman must have been feeling a bit off as well. He slammed his toe on the way upstairs from switching a load of laundry. He says it's jammed, but I really think he fractured something. We had a bit of coffee and some breakfast (because I needed breakfast after that late night Taco Bell run. Too much!). Then we headed back to my place.

Big Brother had a cyclocross race literally right up the street from my house. Two miles up the street. Superman and I decided to walk. I took the 50 degrees, windy weather into consideration for the walk, but not for standing around watching crazy men ride around in the wet grass and mud for an hour! My brother rides A level Masters, so they circled that course 7 times. I am certain I would have been done after one lap! Guess that's why he's got thighs like Dean Karnazes.
Big Brother finishing ? of 7 laps. Check the thighs!
Superman surprised me with a pumpkin spice latte to warm me up, and we walked back to my place. We were probably a mile and a half  before I finally loosened up to walk at a normal pace. We got home around 4pm, Superman went back to his place, and I sat down to write this week's paper. By 6pm I was distracted with email. By 7pm, I was ready for bed! I actually did go to bed before 7:30, thinking I could work on the paper at the inevitably early hour I would be up. I was awake at 3am, up at 4am, and back in bed by 5am. At 8:30am I called my parents and told them I would come work on the house tomorrow. I could barely walk.

I can still barely walk. I've stretched. I've used my foam roller. I've hobbled down to the drug store and back (about a mile, round trip). I'm working on this paper (almost done and due tonight), and making myself get up to move around every little while so I don't stiffen up even more. I did NOT get a run in (even the mile I had in mind). The walk was difficult enough! Never, anywhere in the entire weekend, did I think I was crossing the line. I knew I was pushing in places, but I did not think I was going overboard. Will I ever learn?

Do you consistently cross the line? How do you reign yourself in, or judge when you're pushing too hard?

November 13, 2010

A very difficult virtual race

I'm calling today's run my virtual race report for P over at Adventures of An Average Athlete. Not my best race, by far.

I apparently have no sense of when a good time to run is, when I am ill. I relied on Superman's judgment when I was feverish. He relied on mine when the fever broke. Now I'm not certain that was the best idea. Today was hard in much the same way last Sunday was hard. Again, I believe days of inaction, sitting at the computer, is the cause.

The run was in Superman's neighborhood, which means even the flattest route has hills. 65 degrees and sunny, which is unheard of in November. I've been having S1 issues and knee issues, so tried to stretch a bit earlier in the day. Even after a walk around the block to warm up, I was stiff and my knee hurt. I decided after about half a mile to try it without shoes. That helped quite a bit. I made it about 2 1/2 miles (the farthest I've ever run barefoot), then decided I was warm enough to try it with shoes on. At least I'm smart enough to build the barefoot mileage slowly!

The original plan was 6-8 miles. The first 3 were ugly, with a lot of walk breaks. In addition to knee pain, my legs were heavy, my stomach was unhappy, my breath was shallow, and my heart rate was high. I blame the cold medicine, and the fact that I am not quite over my cold. After a bathroom break, Superman and I decided to go for the middle distance. 7 miles. I really wanted to have a decent run, as I'm heading into taper week.

Things did get better, but not best. I still had several walk breaks as my breath left me and my heart rate reached uncomfortable levels. At 4 miles I tried a strawberry Cliff gel. The gel didn't upset my stomach any more than it already was, but it was not exactly flavorful. The strawberry was more an aftertaste. I won't use that one again!

We did actually cover 7 miles, but I am glad this is taper week and I can justify slowing down a bit. I want to be in good shape for the race. I  have goals. I just have to nurse my knee a bit to get there. I've been here before and I know it will go away. I just have to be patient and let it!

November 12, 2010

A Letter to My Parents

I've been to ill to run (though getting better) so today you are all gifted with another installment from my 30 Day Letter Writing Challenge. For those of you who aren't interested in the following letter to my parents, you can watch this video instead:


Dear Mom and Dad,

I've thought long and hard about what to put into this letter; about what NOT to put into this letter. Just like everyone else, I had issues with my parents growing up. When I think about those issues though, I don't think of YOU, the individuals I laugh with and chat with and am still coming to know after 40-some-odd years.

When I think about those issues, it's like pulling them out of a shoebox I'd stuffed under the bed so many years ago. I find them old, dusty, and honestly invalid in the face of everything that has come after. I have always been one to focus on the negatives (thus the title and meaning behind this blog). I can now laugh at the small child curled up in tears on my bed, insisting I must have been adopted for the sole purpose of doing chores. I understand the angry teen who really never did go to New York in 9th grade, but certainly cost you enough in theft and damages to warrant the tab you kept on me. I can console the young woman who didn't understand love doesn't necessarily come on MY terms, and just because you didn't give me the attention I wanted (and craved even more for being in the middle of 6 children), that doesn't mean you didn't love me.

There is a lot of good mixed up with my "issues," in that dusty old shoebox. There are birthday cakes and Christmas trees. There are camping trips and scout meetings. There is the dresser full of old clothes, set aside for dress-up and Halloween. There is a thick, rubber-banded stack of memories centered in your huge, countrified kitchen: taffy pulled, corn husked, grapes, apples, peaches, and I don't even remember all the produce we processed. There were sing-a-longs and family games.

I left in a tizzy, full of self righteousness and anger, denouncing my relationship with you and refusing for several months to even let you know where I was. You welcomed me back with open arms, babies in tow and no idea how I was going to manage life as a single parent. You haven't always given me everything I've asked for, but when I needed you, you were there.

Mom, I thank you for my love of singing. You nurtured my artistic talent and my artistic temperament. We clashed a lot, in part because we are a lot alike. Have I ever told you how proud I am, how much I brag that my Mother owns her own business, is a Master Knitter you can find all over Google, and who has her own blog? I never fully appreciated how you drew us into your interests, growing up. I learned about sewing, knitting, crochet, latch hook, needlepoint, cake decorating, canning, and candy making. I wish I had some of those pot-holders we made so many of, weaving loops on little square grids.

Dad, I thank you for my love of tools. You don't even know how often I went digging through your red tool cabinet, just to see what was there. Did you know that's where I scratched my cornea? You taught me how to paint a house and a room. You gave me confidence to work with my hands. You are at the root of my fascination with trains, chess, and chocolate. You also instilled in me a love of science fiction and reading. I brag about you, too. My Dad headed an IT department, and is the reason we had computers in the house before there were hard drives and mice, back when you had to load Word Perfect floppy by floppy in order to write term papers on the little blue screen.

I should thank Mom too, for the reading and chocolate, as well as the puzzles, mind games and word games. Many of your combined interests became mine. You both fed the adventurer in me, with travel and camping and canoe trips. Your record collection entertained me for years, and many albums are included in my favorites of today.

I've learned a lot about you over the years... from you, but also from my life and my experiences as a parent. The most important things I learned were that you love me, and you did the best you could. In case you didn't notice, that best turned out pretty darn good. All six of us learned to love, to live, and to be happy. We've all learned to manage on our own.

I am enjoying my chance to help repair some of the damage I caused, by helping to remodel the house where I grew up. I am enjoying my chance to visit several times a week, and to learn more of who you are as people outside of the parent/child relationship. You keep thanking me for my help. What you don't understand is, this is my way of thanking you.

I love you.

November 11, 2010

Freedom isn't free

Ninja
Monkey Boy
Superman, Pearce, and everyone else who has or is serving. Thank you.

November 10, 2010

There's a Fine Line, and Where's the Meets?

There's apparently a fine line between running that's good for you, and running that's not. I contemplated crossing that line for the better part of the day.

My cold seems to have settled in overnight. The medication that worked yesterday is not quite so effective today. My temperature has been up and down. My ears are clogged. I called my Dad last night and told him I have his cold, but I'm not giving it back. That was my way of calling in sick and taking a day off from the remodeling work on my parent's house. Still, through large mugs of tea and an emergency Kleenex run, I contemplated getting my run on. I can... well maybe not sprints today. I can... maybe run a mile? Just to say I ran? I said I wanted to run every day, right?

Wait. That's not exactly what I said. I said 4-5 days a week, with a long run on the weekend. And no one said anything about "in sickness and in health..." It wasn't until Superman insisted a) I stay home tonight (Wednesdays I usually spend at his house), and b) I NOT run, that I decided his was the voice of reason. I took his advice and crawled into bed for the better part of the afternoon.

I feel better now, though certainly not 100%. I'm already contemplating tomorrow's run, and trying to figure out my taper week. I expect to be capable of 4 miles tomorrow, even if they are the same 4 I ran yesterday. Friday will be sprints again. Saturday will be a longer run, but only 6-8 miles. Enough to remember how to run distance, but not enough to exhaust me for the better part of the week. This, of course, all depends on how I feel tomorrow through Saturday. Taper week will be Sunday off, then cut everything in half for the week. Out every day, but for nothing longer than 2-3 miles. Saturday off. Sunday, race.

Instead of actually running, I've been thinking about running. I'm working on my race schedule for 2011, and having some difficulty.
I wish they would post races all in the same place. I'm signed up for Active.com, Hermes.com, Chaney Events, RunningintheUSA.com, HalfMarathons.net, and Ohio Runner. My goal is a half marathon a month, like I did 10Ks this year (until I upgraded to halfs in September). I've found at least one race for most months, but am having trouble choosing. So far I have the following (most don't have dates yet):

Jan -  Winter Buckeye Trail Half Marathon
          Not sure if this one is happening, as the website linked is for this

          past summers race
Feb - Run With Your Heart 15K
         I'm already registered for this one. Not a half marathon, but the
         best I can do in February, in my area. It's a winter trail run, 

         which should be interesting!
Mar - Haven't found anything in March yet.
Apr - Cleveland 10-Miler 
         Already registered for this one, then found
         The Cleveland Spring Classic Half Marathon.
         Considering running them both...

May - Cleveland Half Marathon
          Cinderella's supposed to come in from NY with her Prince
          to run this one with me. Prince runs marathons.
Jun - Towpath 10-Miler
         I ran the 10K last year, but probably will go with either
         Park to Park Half Marathon, or
         Columbia Station Half Marathon
         I haven't decided which.

Jul - Haven't found anything in July yet.
Aug - Perfect 10-Miler
         I ran this one last year. Best tech shirt ever!
         Buckeye Half Marathon
         I'm considering both, as the 10-miler is right around the corner

Sep - River Run Half Marathon
          I ran this one this year
          Leave No Trace Trail Half Marathon
          But I'm tempted by trails
Oct - Towpath Half Marathon
         I ran this one this year
         Inland Trail Half Marathon
         But am tempted by trails
Nov - Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon
         I'm running this one next weekend
Dec - There apparently isn't anything longer than a 5K in December

November 9, 2010

Wouldn't you just know

Doh!
I went to bed last night at a reasonable hour, feeling good about my new perspective on running. 2 hours later, I woke up with my sinuses completely swollen and plugged. Wouldn't you know? Trying to comfortably breath, I did not sleep long or well last night.

I was determined not to let a little thing like a cold derail my new momentum. A 4-miler was on the agenda for today, and I WOULD get 'er done. If Dean Karnazes can run with a cold, so can I, right? Yeah, cause I'm in the same league as Dean. That's how I roll.

I got myself all medicated and hydrated, dressing warmly in the hopes I could sweat some of this nastiness out, laced up and headed out the door. I actually can breathe when medicated, which is why I even considered this.

It's a beautiful autumn day here in northeast Ohio. A sunny 50 degrees with a mild breeze off the lake. I couldn't ask for better running weather. Taking my bug into consideration, I determined I would not worry about time. Slow and easy was the plan. Whatever it took to get the 4 miles in. I have been thinking about a new 4 mile route, which simply adds a mile onto my 3-miler. I figured today was the perfect day to try tricking myself into thinking the run wasn't as long.

Here is the difference in routes:
3 mile route

4 mile route

I started running north toward the top of the triangle. I'm still stiff, though not as bad as Sunday, and was NOT concerning myself with speed. Forefoot strike and breath. Forefoot strike and breath. I turned at the point, and wondered if I could make it 4 miles. I wasn't exhausted, but lethargic and already fighting the urge to walk.

Jog Log told me I hit one mile just before the turn to my street, and I remembered this article from my new Runner's World, which came yesterday. I made an executive decision. I WILL get my 4 miles in, but I don't HAVE to do them all at once. I turned Jog Log off, walked to my street (I'm on the corner of the circle), caught my breath, then started out again to repeat that first mile.
1 mile route
I ran 4 laps, the last one barefoot (another "shit or get off the pot" moment). I walked around for a few minutes between each lap to catch my breath. I ran slow, trying to sweat some of the cold out, not make it worse by overtiring myself.

When I was done, I soaked in a long, hot shower. I've been drinking huge mugs of hot tea. I'm about to go take a nap.
I don't know yet what tomorrow's run will be, but I know I'll hit it one way or another.

November 8, 2010

Sh!t or get off the pot

Apparently it's cliche week here at TTHR.
I had something of an epiphany today. I've been talking to Superman about staying active, walking and moving on the days I don't run, to avoid feeling like I did on yesterday's run. I believe my inaction Saturday directly contributed to the stiffness, if nothing else.

I've said several times now, to fit my definition of runner I have to run 4-5 days a week, 5-6 miles a day, with an additional long run on the weekend. I currently run 4 miles, 2x a week, plus the long run. Last month I was running 3 miles, 2x a week, occasionally bumping one of those 3s to anywhere from 4 to 6. I had it in my head that I needed my current runs to be 5-6 miles before adding anything more. That is not necessarily the case.

I have been thinking for a while about speed work, and about running just a mile in my Vibrams on the off days (at least until after this race). That hasn't happened, for various reasons, but mostly because I have a set running schedule. I changed that schedule today. It occurred to me, apparently in a way I could finally hear, that I do not have to wait until my scheduled runs are up to the distance I imagine they should be, before adding on. Also, I do not necessarily have to run 3-6 miles every day I run. As I said at the end of yesterday's post, it doesn't have to be pretty to count as a run.

I was determined today to get out and move, one way or another. I did some stretching this morning, I moved a bit at my parent's, and I walked about a mile round trip to the post office and back. The whole time, I mulled over the idea that I do not have to run far, to run today (an "off" day). I decided it was time to shit or get off the pot. Time to just do what I've been saying I want to do. I know I cannot yet run as far as I ultimately want to, as often as I ultimately want to, but I can still run.

I decided I didn't even have to run the entire distance I chose to travel, today. I would do speed work, the 60/120s Ninja keeps telling me everyone keeps telling him to practice, to pass his PT test. I believe they are also called intervals. You sprint for 1 minute, jog or walk for 2 minutes, then repeat. I set Jog Log to tell me my pace every 60 seconds, laced up and headed out.

I started with the idea that I would take the 3 mile route, but soon realized I would not make it that far. I also realized I cannot sprint for a full minute. The exercise turned into something more along the lines of 50/130s. When it was time to sprint, I focused on breathing, foot placement, and kicking my feet up behind me. That's not entirely true, as the first few sprints showed me I had to focus on breathing and foot placement. The kicking was an afterthought as I realized where my feet and legs were throughout my stride.

I covered 2 miles in 26 minutes, sprinting as hard as I could for as long as I could, then walking the 2+ minutes in between. This was hard, but it was also fun to run, to see how fast I could run, to see if I could make the entire minute (I only did twice, once at the beginning and once at the end) and to see how quickly I caught my breath before the whole cycle started again. I figure I did 6 sets. Maybe next time I will concern myself more with how many sets, as opposed to how far I travel. There will be a next time, maybe this time next week. I have other running exercises in mind for Wednesday and Friday, my other "off" days. I'm not sure how I'll handle this new schedule with taper next week, but I certainly want to keep the momentum going after the race.