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

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,, Chaney Events,,, 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

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.

November 7, 2010

Two steps forward, one step back

I read a story once about a town who took the cliche Two Steps Forward, One Step Back literally. They celebrated the incremental progress with a parade, each participant moving two steps forward, one step back, until they'd traversed the length of the town. 

I search periodically for a copy, even mention of that story. It is as elusive as the Bubble Joy album I wanted to share with my children, which I enjoyed so much as a child. I still search Google every now and again, though my children are now grown.

A funny thing just happened. I searched, as I have periodically for the past 20 years, and this time I found Bubble Joy! Not only that, I found the album I've thought for the past 20 years
was Bubble Joy is actually Free To Be, You and Me. Now I want both, and this gives me hope eventually I will find the story mentioned above.

I think about that story on days like today. In fact, weeks like this past week. Last week, if you remember, I was blazing trails and breaking PRs. This week, my running seems to have fallen apart. My regular Tuesday run got bumped to Wednesday, and Wednesday was hard! My regular Thursday run was bumped to Friday, then canceled due to exertions at my parent's house.

Superman joined me on today's long run. It was miserable. I feel like I've lost my mojo. I was in tears the first mile, stiff, sore, and unable to find the stride that carried me so well last week. I couldn't breath, and my knee hurt. We didn't even start out fast, which I always do. I had to walk, to catch my breath and calm down. The whole time I was saying "wtf!?" and "I don't understand!"

I can make some guesses. With my run schedule thrown off, I did not move as much as I should have. Yesterday was spent entirely in front of the computer. I knew I was stiff, but didn't do anything about it. Last week I stretched before bed and stretched when I woke up. This week, not so much. I spent some time with the foam roller Wednesday, but barely did more than nod at the ankles and hamstrings as I rolled out of bed each morning. It's not like I was in a hurry to get anywhere, either.

I've also been eating like a fiend, eating out as if I could afford to, and today was no different. Superman and I went to an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. We knew it was a bad idea, but we went anyway. We waited a few hours before heading out, but that just wasn't enough. All day may not have been enough. While I know in my head that diet and PRs go hand in hand, I haven't had much luck getting my behavior to listen. Maybe today's experience will help.

I walked for a while, calmed down, did some dynamic stretches, then reset Jog Log and started up again. Still slow, knowing today there would be no PR. I was content to just get the mileage done.

That didn't happen either. We got about 2 miles out and my body let me know what it thought of all that bacon and bread this morning. We made a pit stop, which helped a bit. I decided I didn't need to fuel when I obviously still had food in my stomach. We got 5 miles out and turned around where the sidewalk ends. Shortly after that I started bringing up bile.
I tried to keep going, but within another mile I was walking again. I picked it up, but again had to stop. We walked the last 3 miles, for a total of 10. It was an hour after I got home before my stomach finally calmed down, and it's still not really right, now.

*Sigh* I know I have a lot to learn. Some lessons, like this one, I have to learn over and over before they finally stick. This lesson is one I fight, and one I know I'll have to adopt if I ever want to consider myself a Runner. Which I do want, btw. Someday. Apparently not today.

So this week was my one step back. I've made progress in strength, distance, and pace. I haven't lost all that in the course of a week. I have 1 more week until taper, 2 weeks until my final race of the year. I WILL PR that race, and I will run through the winter. I'm signed up for a race in February, and one in April. I have running plans and goals into at least 2012. I will take my lessons from today, move forward, and never look back.

1) I simply CANNOT eat like a trucker and expect to run like a gazelle
2) I absolutely HAVE to stretch for optimal performance
3) A warm-up wouldn't hurt
4) A day without motion is a precursor to a day like today

I also happened to completely forget today was World Run Day. If you haven't already, go get your run on! It doesn't have to be pretty, to count.

November 6, 2010

A Letter to My Crush

I bailed on yesterday's run due to heavy lifting and a lot of stairs at my parent's, so no run blog until after tomorrow's scheduled long run. Last long one before taper starts next weekend, and it looks like it will be in my neighborhood. 12 relatively flat miles, here I come!

Because I feel guilty when I don't blog for days on end, I decided to write the 2nd letter in my letter writing challenge. This one is to my crush. Feel free to leave now and tune in tomorrow if you'd rather read about running.

Dear Crush:

I go by the Urban Dictionary's definition of crush: a burning desire to be with someone who you find very attractive and extremely special. I've only had 2 crushes in my life, and one of them was Chuck Norris.
Crushing on Chuck in high school led me to my first love
This letter is to my other crush. 

I met you in high school, but we weren't really friends. We didn't hang out together, at any rate. You spent more time with my sister than you did with me, outside of band camp. I thought you were nice, and I believe we were friendly, but we each had our own circle, our own idea of fun. 

I didn't notice when you disappeared from high school, and I don't remember how you reappeared in my life. I have a vision of a drive-by near my mother's store on Cedar, but have no idea what year that was.
My strongest memories of you are after I came back from the Carolina's, running from that life with baby boys in tow. I believe there was a day at the beach, and I distinctly remember visiting while I cleaned my car. You were confident, intelligent, interesting, and I wonder sometimes if you had pushed your case at the time, would our history be different today. Knowing what I know now, I can't answer that. I had a lot to learn, so should probably leave well enough alone. I ultimately returned to my high school sweetheart, my first love, and you disappeared again.

You reappeared when we were living in that one bedroom apartment, my first love, my 2 boys and I. You were with your fiance, though I don't remember if she had that status at the time. Both our chosen mates had issues, and we both were trying to make things work. I remember long walks, discussing the problems in our relationships. You were my best friend, at that time.

You were there for me after the move into his boss's house. You promised a flight in the glider you were learning to pilot, for my birthday. I still bear the mark from that motorcycle ride, and through our conversations in the back yard you were elevated to crush status. I remember sitting at the picnic table, being more aware of your body next to mine than of what you were saying. You were kind. You were attentive. You were intelligent and interesting. You were exciting, and you seemed to have all the answers I needed. I was (as you later put it) "trying to shoot the moon" with my first love. I was trying to make things work. I was attempting the near impossible with someone who, while a good man, treads a path I cannot and do not wish to follow. 

Somehow, for some reason, we lost touch again. I now know it wasn't all bad, but at the time I hated my life. I started using marijuana, eventually every day, to escape. I moved on, moved out. I found someone to give me the attention I craved, though he couldn't give me the love I deserved. Heavily depressed, still using, you recognized me, out with my boyfriend and my boys at a chinese all-you-can-eat. You were too shy to approach, and had your brother's girlfriend come over. I was thrilled to see you again! We exchanged phone numbers and my day was made. 

That was a very low period in my life, and I was not at all happy with myself or my situation. You can actually read about some of what I was going through, and some of my confusion over you, here. That was my first real attempt at blogging, and I was trying to use it therapeutically. I stopped taking or returning your phone calls. I let you go, believing I was too messed up, that you would hate me when you found out who I really was. I hated me at the time, so of course that made sense.

I never truly let you go, you know. You were the one who got away, the one I couldn't forget. Through years of attention but no love, then through years of love but no connection, I thought of you. I cleaned up, cleared my head, and decided I wasn't half bad after all. I quit smoking cigarettes, in part because you had quit the last time I'd seen you. That wasn't the only improvement made because I felt inadequate when speaking with you last.

I found MySpace, and thought of you. I looked you up, and lo, there you were! This time I was the shy one, the one who still felt inadequate, as well as guilty for shutting you out. I looked up your address. It was near the holidays, and I planned to gift you with the return of a book I'd borrowed way, way, way back when we were friends in the back yard, sitting on the picnic table. Christmas passed, giftless.

I finally mustered up the courage to write you on Myspace, asking if you were, in fact, who I remembered. You were, and we met up again after so many years, at a Martin Luther King Day celebration. Of everyone I'd invited, you were the only one to show. I guess that's a good thing, because you would have been the only one I saw, anyway. We talked. We walked. We talked some more. 

Our relationship, from then until now, may be the subject of another letter. For now, you should know I still find you brilliant, and intelligent, and interesting, and exciting. You offer the love and attention I crave, with no strings or hidden agendas. You inspire me to better myself, just being who you are. You are, and always have been, my only real life crush. You are my superman, and I believe without a doubt that our history means we are meant to be. My heart would break if you disappeared again, my dearest, bestest friend.

November 3, 2010

They can't all be PRs

Superman and I had a date scheduled with the neighbors yesterday, so our standard Tuesday run was bumped to today. This also meant the run was in Superman's hilly territory. I appreciate what hills do for my run. Really I do. I know they're good for me, in the same way drinking enough water and eating a lot of vegetables is good for me. For some reason I find it difficult to like that which is good for me...
I started the day by stretching and rolling out my hamstrings, which have a tendency to get and stay tight. I'm convinced my tight hamstrings exacerbate my planar fasciitis, so have been working toward relieving them, as well as the tendons in my feet. What I did not focus on were my ankles, forgetting I'd worked them to exhaustion on Saturday's 11-miler. 

I had trouble tonight right from the start, with the knee pain that always accompanies tight ankles. I originally wanted to do 6 miles, but was concerned I wouldn't even make it 2 as we pushed uphill in the fading light. I've become accustomed to running at night, and in the rain, but am still uncomfortable running on piles of leaves, where I don't know what the sidewalk looks like underneath. I've been caught up in hidden sticks, as well. 

I also learned an important lesson tonight. Running before dinner, but at the dinner hour, I chose to have a snack before we left. Popcorn seemed quick and easy, of the choices in Superman's larder. Popcorn is of course laden with salt, which is apparently the key ingredient that cramps my stomach when I have sports drinks on the run. I of course experienced that effect tonight. Now I know, no salt before a run!

It was a good 2 miles before my ankles finally loosened up enough to relieve the pounding on my knees. By then we were coming up to the big intersection, with a long slow downhill just around the bend. I actually enjoyed feeling I could finally run, as we practically flew down that hill. We hit the turnaround, started back up, and suddenly it wasn't fun anymore. My legs were tired. My knee was sore. I found it difficult to lift my feet, and actually tripped at one point. I didn't faceplant, but the recovery wasn't good for my knee either. I'd bruised the ball of my foot at my Dad's Monday, and tripping started that bothering me as well. 

This is where I decided I didn't have 6 miles in me, tonight. I could take the knee pain earlier because I knew it would eventually go away as my ankle loosened. Continuing on refreshed knee and foot pain did not seem prudent, as I do not want to injure myself with a race coming up. 

Yeah, that's the ticket...
We took the turn that made the route 4 miles. 4 has become my new standard, the short weekday run, so I am ok with 4. We were able to cross the main street without stopping, and made it up the hill. The last time we ran this route, I was not able to run up that last hill. I ran it tonight, past Superman's house, until Jog Log announced 4 miles. 

In the end, we still ran that 4 in 11:55, which is below race goal pace. I have another run scheduled for tomorrow, which I can't bump to Friday because of a standing date with friends. I hope tonight loosened my legs, ankles and anything else that needed loosening, so tomorrow's run will be better. Not that this was the worst run ever. I just always want to aim for better. 

And in other news...

Barefoot Neil over at Because All The Cool Kids Are Doing It recently held a contest, asking for one hit wonders and a lot of love (like). The prize was a free RoadID. Guess who won? See, this is my lottery luck in action. I find pennies, nickels and dimes while out and about, and I win silly blog contests. I'm not complaining! I've already ordered an ankle ID in blue (which looks awfully purple to me!). 
This is a neat item, allowing me to always have emergency contact info easily accessible, just in case. God forbid anything happen while I'm out running, at night, in the rain, with crazy drivers who don't stop at stop signs (it's happened more than once)!!! I plan putting it to double duty next season, when I hope to start running races barefoot! According to Neil, it's a good place to put a timing chip. 

If you're interested in a RoadID of your own, they sent me a $1 off discount coupon code to share with all my friends. Just go to their site and build your own RoadID. When you get to the checkout, there will be a space for a coupon code. Enter ThanksJan858746. The first 20 will get the discount. 

In addition to outdoor athletes, this is a great idea if you have allergies or a medical condition EMTs might need to know about. If your young child has a tendency to wander at public events, you could have one with your cell #. You can put whatever you want on the 6 available lines of text. I'm tempted to put mine on and never take it off. The AnkleID is neoprene with a velcro closure. They have a WristID Elite with a watch buckle closure. All styles come in a variety of colors.

All the cool kids are doing it. Dean Karnezes does too. Let me know what you think of the idea, and how you might use one. I think it's tre' cool!

November 2, 2010

what the...?!?

I am aware some of my behaviors have changed since Ninja left the nest last month
 I should take out stock in Clorox Wipes,
for the amount of wiping I do
It takes a lot longer to come up with a full load of dishes
Spaz and Odin get my undivided attention (and nip!) more often
What I did not expect was that I would hoard. I have a freezer and refrigerator full of food, but that is not what I'm hoarding. I'm hoarding junk. Specifically, candy. I don't even eat it very often! 
My cupboard holds enough candy to last at least a year!
Yes, there is something to be said for the ability to have candy in the house, which I have not for over 2 decades (holidays notwithstanding). There is something to the fact that today's foray into the candy aisle resulted in only Stage Three Halloween Candy:
I don't know why I keep going back to that aisle though, and I wish I would stop. 

Superman asked if I'm worried, and I agree that is likely a factor. While I have my focus and am moving toward goals, I am not happy with the uncertainty of being unemployed. Not usually political, I'm now watching to see what Congress does when they return to Washington in their lame duck session November 15. There is a lot of noise about federal jobless benefits expiring November 30, but not much said about renewal being on the agenda. I'm one of the people who were let go too late to benefit from federal aid, so my benefits run out the end of April. 

There are supposedly 5 applicants for every job right now, and an eerie silence wherever I send my resume. I realize much of that is because my job history is secretarial, and my applications are for information technology. Honestly, my focus is more on getting ready for a new career, as opposed to finding one right now. Still, extension of federal aid would give me more time to prepare. Without it, I will HAVE to find a job, even if that job is working a register somewhere, before summer 2011.

I should be hoarding canned food, not candy. *sigh* I am confident I'll land on my feet, and that I will be better off in the end, but this uncertainty is hard. Spending $$ where I shouldn't isn't helping. Hopefully today will be the last foray into the candy aisle. Hopefully everything will fall into place, before it falls apart. 

Tootsie Pop, anyone?