Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time is Relative

7 minutes

When you think about it, 7 minutes really isn't that long. Just 7, little, measly minutes. I've waited patiently on hold for that time. It takes me longer than that to eat my lunch, shave my legs, vacuum the house. Seven minutes seems so trivial, but oh how daunting they can be in the running world.

I am 7 minutes shy of breaking the 2 hour half marathon mark and those 7 minutes are going to be the death of me!

Seven minutes means lowering my average pace by a little over 30 seconds. Again, 30 seconds....pffff...what's that?? A 30 second difference in pace is the difference between pushing to win and pushing to throw up! I am determined to shave those minutes and seconds off, one race at a time.

I went out this Saturday to run the Jazz Half Marathon with three other ladies that I run with on the weekends. I picked it up at the last minute because my plans to run the Napa half with my husband fell through. Now, keep in mind, I really hadn't trained for a half. Not trained well, anyway. Napa was going to be my husband's first half and I had been running longer distances with him. Being a new runner, we kept the pace slow and easy. Good for the mileage, but not much for improving speed for me. We were just going to go have fun with the Napa race, so I hadn't pushed myself too much. Not until these last two weeks when we officially started training for the R&R Mardi Gras Marathon did I run at even a "tough" pace. I had a few tempo short runs here and there and kept my long runs right at 8 to 9 miles. Good enough for a fun half, not good enough to conquer it like I want.

So, I had no expectations whatsoever about Saturday's race. I just wanted to run a half with some great, fun gals and damn the time. Ok, so I had a bit of a goal time to try and meet (2:10) but I wasn't going to be upset if I didn't reach it. Again - hadn't really trained for this. The weather was perfect for the race - mid 50s to 60s and NO HUMIDITY (which is rare for Southern Louisiana). The race was kept small at about 2,000 entrants. I had run the route before on prior New Orleans half mary races. It's a nice, flat, easy course. The gun fired and we were off. That first mile is always a little rough until the field opens up. Between dodging other runners and crappy New Orleans street potholes our pace was good, but slower that what we usually run. Then the field opened up and in the next several miles we found our groove. We hit the halfway mark in stride and I realized that I could easily hit my time goal if we kept up the pace. I was feeling great until about mile 10/11....right where my long runs usually ended. Mile 11 was torture for me and it shows in my mile splits. I slowed down quite a bit. But, as I hit that mile 12 marker I looked at my Garmin and realized my time. I was going to not only beat my time goal, but smash it! I found a new energy reserve somewhere in the bowels of my running soul and kicked it in. I burned in that last mile for a 2:07. A new PR for me!

I am so proud of that time considering everything I've been through these last several months with the knee issues. The knees felt great and were relatively pain-free post race. I was ecstatic. If I can pull that time in a last minute pick-up race, imagine what I could do if I actually trained. So, I went right home and developed a new training schedule. I can add speed work back to my running routine now that the knees have healed. And I have signed up for one half a month over the next four months. Hopefully, I will keep creeping closer and closer to my sub-2:00 goal!

7 minutes....thy name is Jennifer.

Today I LOVE: post race highs that last for days!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Free" Running

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by technology? I have a love/hate relationship with it. With all the great running gadgets out there it is easy for a nerd-o-file like myself to track exercise data for everything: pace, speed, mileage, elevation, heartrate, power songs, nike+, calories burned....I could go on and on and on. And don't get me wrong, for the most part, I love doing it. Minnie has totally changed how I think about running and I owe her superb pace tracking to the fact that my pace is faster than it was a year ago. But, I find myself often tied down to the technology. I have even been known to postpone a run because Minnie couldn't find the satellites. When I go out for runs, I'm thinking about everything all at once - my mileage, my pace goal, my mile splits, my halfway splits, my stride, my breathing. I have found that sometimes it clouds the purpose of those 6 miles in the first place: to just run and enjoy it.

So, I have made a pact with myself to add one day of "free" running to my weekly workouts. Technology is not allowed on these runs. It is just me and the road and pace be damned. Exact mileage be damned! If I run 4.68 miles..so what? If I run a fun, free run at a slow pace...so what? I think I need these runs to get back to running fundamentals and to just go out there and, well, do it. Running is fun and it's very easy to lose that aspect when surrounded by the pressures of training runs, upcoming races, stats, pace, strides, goals...all of it.

So, I'm off to run a fun and "free" 3 or 4 or 5, or maybe 6 miles. I don't know, and I don't care to know.

Today I Love: the cool weather we're FINALLY getting!!! It finally feels like FALL!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Off Celebrating My Birthday!!!


I'll be back to post shortly....meanwhile I'm tearing it up for my birthday this weekend!! :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

How do you define a runner?

I get this question all the time..."When did you become a runner?"

I took up running about three and a half years ago. And I mean really running: running several times a week, tracking my mileage, signing up for races, and reading books, articles, and magazines to learn more about training. Committing to the sport. Before that I was a part time runner - just on occasion here and there. Before that I was a gym rat. Running was for "those crazy people". What pushed me to running? Well, really two things:
  1. A rough engagement break-up (not the amazing man I'm married to now). The stress of ending a seven year relationship and engagement, moving, working and commuting in a completely different city pushed me to find a way to relieve stress. I was also traveling 90% of the time with my job and had a hard time always finding a gym at the hotels. With running I could just pick up and do it pretty much anywhere.
  2. Meeting some amazing friends on-line through another blog (believe it or not) who supported and encouraged me through signing up, training for and completing the Chicago Half Marathon - my first race EVER!
I have met up with these gals at various races and we still keep in touch, supporting each other through our running aches and pains.

But I never really know how to answer that question. When DID I become a runner? Am I a runner now? What truly defines a runner?

For the most part the running community is such an amazing, supportive, open-armed accepting group. If you run, then well, you're a runner! I have run with several groups and although I am always nervous that I won't fit in, or I'll be the slowest person there, I am never disappointed that I went. I have always been welcomed and encouraged no matter my speed. That is one of the draws that I find so appealing about running. If you go out to any race now you will see runners of all shapes, sizes, and ages and they are all cheering each other on.

Running is hard work.

Only a fellow runner can know what you are going through training for that big race. Only a runner can relate to the shin pain, knee pain, hip pain, sore muscles, fatigue, and bad run days. And only a runner can understand the amazing stress relief of a good run and your elation during those AWESOME run days when everything just clicks.

But there are those few runners who still place themselves in a special running clique. If you don't run a 7:00 mile then you are not a "runner". You are a jogger/schlogger/part-timer. I simply detest this attitude and find it both elitist and insulting to all the amazing people out there who are middle to back-of-the-packers like me. Do I not throw up my dinner during tempo runs? Do I not hobble around for days after a hard race? Do my knees not scream at me after upping my mileage? Are my clothes not drenched in sweat from the long run?

ALL runners have to start somewhere. My friend Melissa just started running this year. I love reading and hearing about her training and all the great strides she's making. It reminds me sooo much of myself three years ago: the struggles to fit in a run, the struggles of "can I do this?", the struggles with finding pace, the struggles to define myself as a runner. She just amazes me everyday with her training commitment and "can do" attitude. To me she is MORE of a runner because this is so new and such hard work for her - yet she keeps coming back for more.

I guess the point of this post is how do you define a runner and when did you define yourself as a runner?

I think after that huge endorphin rush of my first race I knew I was hooked. I knew I was a runner. The previously non-existent athlete in me came out and said "Hey! This is something we can do!" For me, I will always be a runner at heart - even if hobbled to schlog on my knee pain no more than twice a week. I will find my way out to the pavement.

Today I LOVE: the running community!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I am addicted to O.N.E!

I had read several runners talking about coconut water through their blogs and Twitter. I was curious what the hype was about. The extra potassium and fluid sounded great! I had to try it. I tried our local grocery store and could only find another brand of coconut water. They were infused with juices and lots of sugar. I bought one of each and one O.N.E. Acai Berry juice to try. I blogged about it several weeks back and the wonderful people at O.N.E. offered to send me some samples to try out of their coconut water and juices (and to get me addicted, IMO - smart little juice pushers, they are!)

I am now addicted to this juice!!!

The coconut water is outstanding! I really love the fact that they don't load it down with sugar. This stuff is so refreshing after a run - especially in the summer during my sweat-fest, long runs. My favorite by far is the coffee berry juice, made from coffee fruit (the fruit around that little bean of heaven). I figured anything with the word "coffee" in it had to be a sure hit. It has 950% of your RDA for vitamin C....that's right....950%! Holy smokes - that's some killer anti-oxidants. I really like the cashew fruit drink too. It's a little sweeter, but a great juice to start your day in the morning. It's chock full of vitamin C too - 148%. The Amazon Acai juice is a little different. It's definitely an acquired taste. I didn't care for it too much, but the acai berry has substantially more natural anti-oxidants than a pomegranate or blueberries.

So I highly recommend the O.N.E. juice line - very refreshing, great nutrients, and natural ingredients. I'm sold on it and I'll be a repeat customer for ages. Oh - you can find it easily at any Whole Foods store or buy it by the case on amazon.com.

Running Report

I am happy to report that I have started to ramp up the running mileage with good response from the knees! I ran 6 miles with the girls on Saturday and 9 miles with the Hubs on Sunday last weekend. The knees were sore - but normal running sore - no severe pain. It felt good to go out there for a decent, long run again. Running with my husband has been fun. He's a newbie to these distances and it's interesting to watch his inner battle of running confidence, "I can't go that far. I'll have to walk some it. I'm not sure I can make it." Of course, he makes it. Of course, he runs that far. It's always a bit a chore to get him out the door for the run. He grumbles the whole time. But when we are done, and he completes the mileage, he is so excited and proud of himself. I'm proud of him too. He's really doing great! Napa Half - here we come!

4 miles ran today AND had physical therapy an hour later. Whew - I got my butt kicked! I may try for 6 tomorrow, depending on how I feel. It will probably be good to run out some of the soreness. Another long run planned with the Hubs on Sunday.

Today I LOVE: my O.N.E. juices!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I have a sore boo-twah!

I had my fourth session of PT yesterday and my therapist (here on out referred to as "Gorgon the Torture Master") has been upping my sets and weights each time. This time we added a bunch of bootay work. I was like, "Pfff - bring it, Meat! I can handle it!"*(see footnote) Umm....Gorgon won this round. Yesterday's torture session consisted of:

  • IT band stretch on the roller of death (10x each leg)
  • Resistance band hip flexors of torment (4 positions, 3 sets of 10 on each leg without holding onto anything. Balance AND resistance - whew!)
  • Single leg dips with Gorgon pulling on leg with torture resistance band. Had to stabilize and dip at the same time. (3 sets of 15 on each leg)
  • Bosu ball balance on single leg w/ Gorgon nudging the ball periodically (3 sets of 30 sec each leg)
  • Clamshells with higher resistance band of death - it was red - go figure , to remind me of the firey depths of hell maybe? (3 sets of 15 each leg)
  • Bent leg 90 degree leg raises w/ diabolical ankle weight resting on knee (3 sets of 15 each leg)
  • Straight leg lifts laying on side - no extra weight but to failure at this point anyway (3 sets of 15 each leg)
  • Booty bridges with heels on Swiss exercise ball of malevolence. Had to stabilize and lift my booty. (10x, holding at top for 10 seconds)
  • Leg Press w/ unholy amount of weight (3 sets of 15)
An hour and a half later I am hobbling out of there like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. My hips and general buttock area were already getting stiff last night. I keep trying to get my husband to rub my butt but he's just not jumping at the offer. Maybe it's the smell of the Ben-Gay or the zombie man walk I'm doing now?

I met my running girls this morning for a nice 6 mile run to hopefully work some of the soreness out. One of the other girls is just coming off of an injury too. So, we're pacing ourselves right now. I love running with these gals though, we're all about the same pace. The humidity was KILLER today. I was seriously soaking, freakin', wet by the time we got back. But we managed to hold a 10:06 pace and push through. Not too bad running with two injured gimps. LOL. Tomorrow is supposed to be an easy, slow 7 with the Hubs. It should be in the 60s, so I'm stoked. MUCH better running weather.

Today I LOVE: Girl talk and dinner with friends.

* Note to self and others going to physical therapy - Do not antagonize or "f" in any way with your therapist before your session. Leave that to after the session - or even better after your LAST session.

Friday, August 14, 2009

PT - also known as legal torture

I am SUCH a bad blogger lately. I'm so sorry guys - life's just getting in the way and work is always crazy this time of year. It's the end of fiscal year so time to spend, spend, spend which means work, work work for poor lil me. (but I have a great job - I ain't complaining).

I had my first week of PT this week. Tuesday I went in for the initial evaluation and I really, really like the head guy. He said a lot of things that really made sense to me. And he says that we can alleviate a lot of the cause oh my issues through PT. He said my main culprit is that I have weak hips. He said it's very, very common in girls and that my injuries and pain are very common. Yeah! - not quite as jacked up as I thought. He even said that we can fix a lot of that leg length difference through stretching and strengthening. Women's hips are flexible (for birthin' babies) and he said it doesn't take much for them to get out of whack, especially if they are weak. We did some stretching and adjustments and man, I'll be damned if the suckers didn't even out! We measured before and after and I was shocked! So our focus over the next few weeks will be hips, IT band and evening out upper legs (quad & hammies - about 2 cm difference).

Today I went for my first full session and boy did we work out my hips! Here's what I had to do:
  • Clamshells: 3 sets of 15 on each leg with resistance band.
  • Leg raises laying on my side (don't know if there's a nifty name for those): 3 sets of 12 on each side
  • Bent knee (@ 90 degree angle) leg raises - kind of a cross between a clamshell and leg raise: 3 sets of 15 on each side
  • Reverse clamshells with ankle weight: 3 sets of 12 of each side
  • Hip drops (stand on one leg on a stair and drop opposite leg a few inches and back up using only your hips): 3 sets of 15 on each side
  • Bent knee quad lifts with ankle weights: 3 sets of 10 on each side, holding in top position for 5 counts each time.
  • IT band stretch and massage: THIS SUCKER HURT!!! OMFG!!! Back and forth across the ITB 8 times on each leg.
It was a tough workout, but it really felt good. And I could feel a big difference with the ITB stretching. I was just walking easier afterwards. So, I'm feeling really good about PT and hoping for good things to come out of it. He gave me some exercises to do at home and I'm supposed to concentrate on standing correctly when I'm on my feet. No shifting side to side and re-distributing weight. Both feet firmly planted on the ground and weight evenly distributed. Otherwise it distorts the hips.

I've been running moderately lately. Just 3 miles here and there, nothing too strenuous. The knee is doing much better, but it lets me know if I overdo it. I was on my feet all day these last two days doing building inspections and that was rough on both knees. But I'm just working on short distances and consistency in cardio. Working it back up. I'm a little slower than I like right now, but I know it will come back with just a little work.

Today I LOVE: the after endorphine rush from PT!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Knee-mesis

Sigh...good and bad knee news at the doc. As suspected there is some damage and deterioration of the knee joint. The MRI shows damage to the PCL, a new lateral cartilage tear and wearing on the patella which is causing some of the inflammation and fluid retention in the joint. My options are:

  1. PT and take it easy. Ease back into exercise - especially anything high impact. The doc said no running more than twice a week, especially until I can get that right quad strengthened to stabilize the knee joint or I risk damage to both knees. (the right b/c of the damage and the left b/c it's taking all the compensation from the right) I can bike, elliptical, walk, swim as much as I want - just keep it low impact.
  2. Cortisone shots. But this is mostly for inflamed joints in a lot of pain. I'm really and truly not having pain.
  3. Scope the knee to repair that lateral cartilage damage and poke around. Surgery, but with fairly speedy recovery.
  4. Meniscus replacement where they grow me new cartilage using stem cells and then repair and replace the damaged cartilage on both sides of the knee joint and smooth out my patella. This would constitute flaying my knee open and would ultimately result in longevity of the knee, but would constitute lots of pain and a long recovery.
I went for option 1. I just don't think I'm to the surgery point yet. I'm honestly and truly not in pain. The knee does feel weak, and it definitely lets me know if I overdo it. But, I think I can overcome a lot of that with PT and by strengthening that leg back up. And any pain I do have is manageable with ibuprofen and topical creams. So I'll be hitting PT twice a week for the next six weeks. At least I know I'll be getting a minimum of two workouts a week. LOL.

I'm trying to stay positive about the whole thing. I'm bummed that I have to cut way back on the running, but the doc suggested just putting that same effort into the elliptical until I can get back out on the roads. That way I'll keep my stamina and cardio fitness up and may even strengthen my legs even more if I crank the resistance way up. I'm hoping I come out of this stronger and better! Plus, it's really hard to run as much as I like in this summer heat and humidity anyway. So, I'm thinking hit the gym like a maniac, get my legs strong, lose a few lbs that are lingering around and the come back like a bull in the fall. (that's my plan anyway!)

I have to go back in 10 weeks to see where we are and re-visit the options. If the knee is still really bothering me in 10 weeks, then I would say, yeah, we may need to discuss surgery. But I really want to try out all non-invasive options first and then work our way down.

On that note- I'm heading to the gym! :)

Today I LOVE: counting my blessings and the power of positivity!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm back, I passed and feelin' alllright

Thanks everyone for the AWESOME words of encouragement. They really, really helped! And I PASSED, I PASSED, I PASSED!! I don't know my exact score yet, but I do know I passed. They print it out at the end of the exam whether you passed or failed and thanks to little baby, tiny Jesus, and my brain stuffed with safety regs and measurements I passed. Whew! This test was grueling. Five hours allotted time and it took ALL - FIVE- HOURS. My brain was so fried afterward. I seriously could not even speak. I couldn't think of everyday words like refrigerator and gasoline. No joke. Only one more exam to go to get my safety professional certification. I want to take it ASAP while the knowledge is still fresh. Then I'm on my way to super nerd-dome.

Knee update:

I went to a new orthopedic doctor a week and a half ago. He was great - loved him. I had the initial x-rays done on my knee and he could immediately tell from the x-rays that I have some osteoarthritis going on (which I suspected). I still have the scope pictures from when they scoped my knee back in '93 (they're my little trophy, to say "Hey - see what's been taken out of me! Cartilage here, here, here, and oh yeah...here...") They helped him determine some of what's going on based on past and current trauma. He found some old and new stuff:
  • He suspects an old ACL AND PCL strain. The knee is really wobbly, but I'm also very, very flex jointed. Most of my joints will bend freakishly backwards with no pain.
  • Floating patella - old - knew that.
  • Possibly a new cartilage tear on right side of knee
  • AND my legs are crazy different lengths. Just a rough measurement, but almost 1/2"! No stinkin' wonder I have so many aches from running.
He ordered an MRI so we could find out more about what's going on with Princess Patella. I went for the MRI on Monday (which is a crazy, weird, soul-finding experience...YOU lay perfectly still for 35 minutes in a tomb and tell me you don't do some thinking.) I go back in on Friday so he can tell how really messed up I am.

Oh, funny thing though, my knees are so wonky, weird that he wants to use my films, etc to teach his interns at LSU. FUNNY! I'm famous for being so jacked up! All genetics...thanks Mom and Dad. But he did say he was WAY impressed that I run as much as I do and that I compensate for everything that's going on so well.

In other good news, the darn thing is finally starting to feel better! I ran 5 miles on Sunday and 6 miles on Tuesday with little to no pain. I was stoked! And very little swelling in the knee afterward. I'm a little stiff today, but my whole body is stiff from lack of running. Getting back into it is a little frustrating after all the work I put in before, but I know I'll get there. Just taking it one run at a time.

OK - time to get back to it. Going to check on everyone's blog and respond tonight. Gotta catch up!

Today I LOVE: The promise of a rainy day. It's looking mighty overcast out there!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Brief Update
















I'm here - just swamped with studying right now. I have a major certification test coming up next week and I've been studying like a mad woman. My test is on Wednesday. (Ack - just five days away!) Please send some good luck my way. I need all the help I can get here!!

I ran a good six miles this morning and the knee did great. I had my knee compression sleeve on coupled with my patella band and it was a relatively pain free run. I LOVED it. I was totally sucking wind the first couple of miles. I could definitely tell I hadn't been running. I was wheezing like a 300 lb fat guy who smokes two packs a day out there. But after about two miles my body settled into it and we had a great run. And I felt like I sweat off about 10 lbs of crap. My clothes were SOAKED, but man it just felt great to get out there and push my body again.

I'm heading to the orthopedist this afternoon so he can check out the knee. Of course - it's feeling better today, but I'm going anyway. I want to talk to him about possible orthotics (if they would help me) and anything else I should be doing for the knee. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

I'll chime in next week and check on all you guys. Sorry I'm MIA, but I'll be back soon. I promise.

Today I LOVE: making flashcards...the best way to study!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Knee Update & Book Review

Ok, so I've been wearing my patella stabilizer band for most of the day the past few days. I also upped my glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Believe it or not the temperamental sucker is feeling a lot better! SO much so that I ventured out today for an easy 2.5 mile jog to test it out. There was some pain during the run, but nothing crazy. I took it slow and easy and warmed up walking and cooled down walking for a total of a 3 mile workout. I was worried that it might swell up when I got back home but it didn't!! I'm more stoked about that! No swelling is a HUGE improvement. Fingers crossed and praying to the kneecap gods that I'm through the worst of it. Now to just ease back into running. I'm going to keep the mileage low and the pace slow for the next week and just try things out.

One of the things that I think might be contributing to my knee issues are my new shoes. Yes, my brand stinkin' new ones!! I think I'm really overpronating on my right foot. I can feel it when I run/walk in those shoes. I don't think they're giving me enough support and stability. I threw on my Asics today for the short run and I could tell a difference. The Saucony shoe I'm in now is more of a neutral shoe. So, I may go to the running store this next week and see what they recommend.

I hope, hope, hope that I can get back on track. So many great Fall races that I need to start gearing up for!

Book Review

I have read/skimmed through a number of running books in my running life. I've read through beginner's running guides, women's running guides, nutrition for runners, nutrition for endurance athletes, guides to run faster and longer. Each of the books had something to offer and I usually took away an interesting tidbit of knowledge or some valuable coaching advice, but usually it was nothing new or nothing that I couldn't find on runner's websites or magazines. This book however gave me something the other books didn't: Full on stitch-in-the-side belly laughs.

Dawn Dais writes the book as a beginning runner training for her first marathon. She takes you through her trial and tribulations and gives some helpful hints and advice along the way. She also gives a HILARIOUS look into the runner psyche. In her initial "Should I Train for a Marathon" test she asks the "real" questions:
  • "Any sport in which people have been known to literally die of exhaustion while participating is just the kind of sport I've been looking for. T/F"
  • "I'm interested in finding out exactly how many muscles I have in my legs. T/F"
  • "I have no problem being athletically inferior to someone twice my age. T/F"
  • "I've been sleeping in way too much, so I've been looking for something to take up a few hours on my Saturday mornings. T/F"
  • "I want to perfect the art of peeing in a shrub without being seen by anyone. T/F"
  • "My knee joints are overrated. T/F"
  • "Sometimes when I'm driving long distances of, say, fifteen miles or so, I feel the overwhelming urge to pull my car over and simply run the rest of the way. T/F"
  • "I have a very good health plan. T/F"
The book is just hilarious. Having completed my first full this last year as a beginner, I could TOTALLY relate to everything she was going through. Through the laughing and tears I must have said, "Oh yeah, I've done that" or "Oh yeah, I've been there" at least a dozen times. Her diatribes on spandex, chaffing and the "water-holder butt thingy" (her words - not mine) are so on the spot that you think she was somehow channeling your last few runs.

The NonRunner's Marathon Guide for Women isn't going to give you any major running revelations. The training plan is a good beginner plan and straightforward. It's the author's brutally honest portrayals of her marathon journey that make this book a must read.

Oh - and I almost forgot - I'm up to 60 push-ups and 60 sit-ups three times a week! Slowly working my way to 100.

Today I LOVE: Jelly Belly sour mix jelly beans!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Still struggling

I'm still on the running bench. I have really been taking it easy; laying off the knee and letting it heal. It was starting to feel substantially better this week. I was going to try to put in a few miles this weekend as a test run. I had to do some field work on Tuesday - tromping around an open warehouse and looking at a bunch of old transformers (the electrical kind, not the cool alien-robot-that-changes-into-a-car kind). This required a lot of bending over and squatting to try and find the ID plates. Well - that aggravated the knee again. By the time I got home it was really swollen again. Soooo...back to ice, elevation and rest. Again, it's really not that painful. I can just tell that the knee is weak and swollen though.

So, that means no four on the fourth race for me. I don't think it's a good idea to push it. Depending, maybe a few easy runs next week.

This one has me a little worried. My knee will flare up on occasion, but I can usually baby it for a few days and it's back to running form. This time it's taking a lot longer and I've noticed more swelling than usual. I must have done a good number on it. *sigh* This may require a doctor's visit.

Today I Love: My four day weekend!! Yeeehaw!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Knee update


After having completely rested for 4-5 days, much ice, ibuprofen, lots of Tex-Mex, and a few margaritas I took the ole princess (my right knee) out for a spin around the block to see how she did. I over-geared up trying to give it as much support as possible: extra thick thorlo socks, zensah compression sleeves, patella stability band. My runner nerdness was ready to go. My goal was an easy, 3 miles. No records here, just nice and easy does it. I took it slow and played with my pace and stride some to try and find the most comfortable spot for my knee. I finished in 30:33, decent considering. The run was relatively pain-free, but I could tell that the knee is still a little weak. And it's already starting to swell some (that's why it's puffy in the picture). So, I'm slapping some ice on it. I don't think it's quite ready for the long run or any races just yet, but it's progress. I'll keep the runs short and easy over this next week and try to just ease back into things. There's a local 4 on the 4th race that I really want to do next week. Hmmm....may just rest, rest, rest and have a fun race.

Today I LOVE: iced coffee on a hot day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sidelined


...for the moment.

I've mentioned this in past posts, but it's back again - I have bad knees. Both are bad, but my right knee in particular gives me the most problems. I've had them both scoped at different times when I was younger - mainly for torn cartilage. The right knee suffered the most damage and had the most cartilage removed. In addition I have a floating patella - meaning my kneecap just floats around willy-nilly thinking it can do whatever the hell it wants and go wherever the hell it wants, damning the pain it causes the rest of the joint. (my knee cap is such a princess...it gets that from me).

My knee injuries and pain stem from a number of reasons:
  1. I'm a spazz - I run, walk, crawl, talk, chew like a spazz. Very uncoordinated.
  2. I'm a girl of German heritage = I'm a curvy gal. I have wide hips which means my legs are at an angle (think V). This angle means I put a funky pressure on my knees when I strike the ground.
  3. I have less cartilage which means less joint lube which means bone on bone rubbing.
  4. I should be wearing my patella stabilizer band all the time during runs, but I don't. I'm lazy and impatient and I forget where I put it and decide "ahh, the heck with it" and run out the door anyway.
  5. I think I'm superwoman and can just run and add mileage without any problems.
So, needless to say my right knee is very, very angry and swollen now. My knee had been a little sore last week, but nothing crazy. I noticed it was more sore after the long run on Friday morning. By Saturday it was really sore. I decided to take the day off and just give it a rest. Then it started to swell up. By Sunday it was really swollen. I would ice it and elevate it and it would go back down. As soon as I got up to go outside and help my husband plant it would swell to the size of a grapefruit in minutes. I did a good number on it this time. I'm really not in much pain though - just some soreness and stiffness. I'm hoping if I just lay off of it for a few days it will calm back down. So, looks like I'm stuck to the bike and elliptical for the next few days. Good thing is, I'm on travel this week and I can easily go to the gym and get a few non-impact miles in and I won't feel guilty for not joining the running groups.

I think this is my body's way of telling me to slow it down. I think I upped my mileage too quick, too soon. I think my knees are stupid.

Stop by The Happy Runner's blog for another cool contest and giveaway!!


Today I LOVE: A clean house (ok - my closet's still a mess, but the rest is clean.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

You know you're a runner when...

...you try and coordinate your wedding anniversary celebration and a half marathon! LOL!


Well, I managed to do it. I found a great half marathon that will segue into a nice little anniversary vacation for me and the Hubster. We're doing the Healdsburg Half Marathon this year in Sonoma County, CA. Some super cool things about the race:
  1. We get to run through 22 wineries.
  2. We start at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. His claret is one of my favs!
  3. We finish at the Wine & Music Festival near lake Sonoma.
  4. It's on Halloween so there will be some crazy costumes
  5. It will be the Hubster's first half!
  6. And did I mention there will be WINE!!
I'm so stinkin' excited about this race. The Hubs is getting all into it, comparing different half training plans. I can't wait to start training with him. We're just doing an easy novice plan to get him into running consistently. He runs on occasion and works out like a crazy person - he's more of a gym rat than I am. But, we just have to work on his running consistency. We're totally going to take this race nice and easy and have fun with it. Mainly it will be a "just to finish" fun race because it's his first and I want him to enjoy it and I want to stop and take lots of pictures too.

The BitchImage of The Bitch via Snooth


So, if anyone wants to come out and join us, come on out!

In other news - it's hot, hot, hot, hot, hot. WARNING: From now until October I will continue to bitch, moan and whine about the heat. Yes, I am a high maintenance, bitchy runner and I want the weather to be 60 degrees with low humidity all the time. Is that so much to ask? So if you don't want to read about it just skip that section unless my whole post is about the heat and they very well could be. You'll just have to muddle through my whining then.

Speaking of heat: it just completely obliterated me yesterday and today. We had our usual Thursday night speed work session last night. It called for 6 x 800 repeats with one mile warm up and one mile cool down. Only three people showed up - one of which only because I guilted her into coming. :) We start at 6:00 p.m. and it's getting to where that's still too early to start in the evening. It was 95 degrees with a heat index in the 100+. We brought water knowing it was going to be bad. She made it through 2 and half 800s. I made it through 4 and we were done. It was just too damn hot and I started to get that light-headed, nauseous, over heating feeling. We just slowly jogged the last 2 800s and then took it back to the shop for 5 total miles. It was bad.

This morning I met the girls for our usual 8 mile maintenance long run. We started at 6:00 a.m. to try and beat the heat but it had different plans for us. It was already 83 degrees F when I woke up at 5:30 and the humidity was through the roof. This run was especially hard today. All three of us had to stop for the occasional walk break and that's unusual for us. We usually keep a good, steady consistent pace. We just could NOT get our bodies to cool down. There was no breeze and no relief. I felt like I hadn't run in weeks. My body was tired, my legs were lead bricks, my head was spinning. It was just awful, awful, awful. We managed to keep a 10:30 pace which is pretty good considering all the short stops and walk breaks.

I think I'm going to take tomorrow off. Either that or just head to the gym for an easy 3 or 4 and maybe some weights/elliptical work.

Today I tried some of the Carb Boom! Energy Gel on the long run. I had the apple cinnamon flavor because a few people had recommended that as one of their favs. I'm generally not a big goo or gel fan, but it's one of the necessary evils on long runs. And I've tried, but I just simply cannot do the chews. The thought of physically chewing something while running just makes me want to urp.

The apple cinnamon flavor was surprisingly refreshing and the texture wasn't as thick as some other gels I've had. The flavor wasn't overpowering and it wasn't sickeningly sweet. It also went down a lot smoother and it didn't take as much water to flush the taste out of my mouth (another thing that bothers me - gotta have a clean mouth. I told you guys I was high maintenance!) These gel packets are bigger too - 1.4 oz as compared to the normal 1.1 oz in other gels. My running shop just got these in and the flavors they had were really limited, but I'd really like to try out some of the other flavors. I may order a few more online to check them out. But, I'm giving it a thumbs up.

AND please go send out shouts of support to RBR who has the Ironman Coeur d'Alene this weekend!

Today I LOVE: That the weekend is MINE to toy with!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Running in the a.m.

Six miles logged this morning - start time 6:30 a.m.

When I started running a few years ago I would talk to other runners and read running blogs about the crazies who got up at 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning to go run. Now I liked to go workout and was an elliptical gym queen, but never in the morning. I tried working out in the morning several times and it just was not for me. I couldn't get up. I would grow faint. I had no energy. I had every excuse in the book. Now generally I was a night owl too. Mornings were not my thing. Ever since I switched jobs and was forced to take on a more "morning friendly" schedule I've had to adjust. Now I wake up at 6:00 or earlier regardless of the day - weekend, weekday - it doesn't matter.

My schedule allows for me to work at home one to two days a week. I love it because I don't have to deal with the hour commute into downtown those days. I gain an extra two hours a day. It's heaven. My long run gal pals are both morning runners. They have convinced me to get up early and start running with them these one to two days I'm at home AND on Saturdays for the long run. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really enjoying the early morning runs. My main reasons:

  • It gets my butt productively out of bed
  • It's the coolest part of the day (rated in temperature - not awesomeness)
  • The trace is less crowded (less bikers running over me)
  • I get my exercise in and I'm done for the day. No thoughts of the gym looming over my head.
  • The energy I have for the next few hours is amazing.
The only drawback I see is that I am ready to gnaw off the arm of anyone holding anything resembling food all morning. I'm completely famished. So, if you don't want to draw back a nub, don't come into my cube eating a cookie or crackers or popcorn or even have the faintest smell of Cheetos on your breath.

And I have found that if I don't fuel properly before and after the run I get faint during and then crash around mid-afternoon. So I eat a light high-protein cereal bar before and a big breakfast is a MUST afterward. Carrying healthy snacks with me to the office helps too - almonds, light popcorn, fruit, V8 juice (spicy only!), etc.

So, now being all "morningy" (I swear I'm turning into my mom) we decided to up the meeting time to 6:00 a.m. for our long run this weekend. Yup, I'm now a crazy morning runner.


On another cool note:

Between the Miles
wrote a post comparing coconut water and Clif Shot Electrolyte drink powder. This really got me curious about coconut water. I had never heard of it but really liked the nutrition facts and tend to enjoy and consume mass quantities of coconut flavored liquids (Pina coladas, coconut rum, for example...). I figured I should probably try a coconut liquid that doesn't leave me in a stupor a few hours later.

I couldn't find the O.N.E. coconut water but did find the O.N.E. Amazon Acai flavor. My grocery store did have coconut water made by Vita Coco though. I picked up three different flavors and threw them into the fridge to cool down. I just sampled the coconut with pineapple and must say that it was really refreshing. I love the Vitamin C counts (240% PDV) and the potassium is great for a real sweat fest (680 mg) to replenish. The sugars were a little high, but from the ingredient list it must be coming mainly from the pineapple. I'd like to try just the plain coconut water and see how I like it (less sugar and calories). Overall though, I give it a thumbs up for a nice treat away from sports drinks.

AND I learned today that I am a "flexitarian" from No Meat Athlete's blog. I do not eat red meat or pork and only limited chicken, turkey and fish (about 3 days a week). If you haven't already, go check out his blog. He has great recipes, tips, advice for exercise, living healthy and eating healthy (and NO you do not have to be a vegetarian or flexitarian).

Today I LOVE: Target's C9 Long and Lean running tanks. I need to go buy a few more. They adequately cover my bellah without riding up. Love 'em.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend-ish recap

Sorry for all the multi-day posts lately. I'm having trouble keeping up more frequent posts. Darn life's just getting in the way of my blog. :D

THURSDAY

Group run speed work was on the agenda for Thursday night. I was seriously tired all day Thursday and my legs were pretty tight AND it was scorchingly hot and humid. I had a case of the "don't wannas" but I made myself go, deciding to just give it my best. The speed work called for 10x400 repeats with a 1:30 minute rest in between each one. Ryan figured out our pace and said I should be pacing myself right at an 8:00 mile for each 400. That felt a little slow for the first few, but I was very glad by the time we were hitting our 6th and 7th ones. Whew. I really didn't think I'd like this speed workout. I'm not a fast runner and not a good sprinter at all. I tend to run flat footed. But, I really enjoyed the 400s. It gave me a chance to open up my stride, but I still had to pace myself. It was a challenge both mentally and physically. I held an average 8:02 for all 10 of those bad boys, in the 90 degree heat and 86% humidity!

SATURDAY

Varsity just got the Zensah compression sleeves in the store this week. A few people were trying them out during the run Thursday night. They said they could really tell a difference in how their calves and knees felt during and after the run. I've been toying with getting a pair of compression socks anyway for recovery after long runs but have just been a lazy butt and haven't ordered them online. Since I could now buy them locally I ran by the store and picked me up a pair on Friday - in PINK of course.

I wore them around on Friday night for about an hour just to see how they felt. They do take some work just to get them on. Picture stuffing 5 lbs of poo in a 1 lb bag. :) I was worried I had gotten the wrong size, but once I struggled and got them on (after a bit of cursing, a decent tri workout and some blood, sweat and tears) they felt really good. They really support and squeeze the calves.

I decided to go all geek runner on Saturday and wear them during the long run. I figure if the running cap, huge pace watch and completely unflattering fuel belt didn't geek me out enough, these pink compression sleeves would definitely clinch my status in dorkdome. But, as a runner you tend to get past that. Having to drop trow for unexpected bowel issues or throttling snot rockets so you can breath gets you over that real quick.

The 8 mile run went smoothly (as smooth as can be expected in summer in Louisiana). It took less time for my legs to warm up. Usually it takes a good mile for me to feel "good to go", especially after speed work days. I noticed less calf pain during the first mile too. AND, not sure if this is attributable to the sleeves, but my knees (especially the really bum right one) didn't feel fatigued toward the end of the run - AND I wasn't wearing my patella support band at all.

SUNDAY

My test was going to be how fatigued and sore my legs and joints felt on Sunday. Usually I roll out of bed Sunday morning and it takes my legs a few minutes to function properly. I do the old man shuffle to the bathroom and then the stiff, tin-man walk to the coffee machine. I rolled out of bed with...(wait for it!)....FRESH LEGS!! No joint pain. No stiffness.

I. Was. Shocked.

I'm sold on these things. They were a little warm for the run. I'm not sure if I'll wear them during the long runs or just throw them on after to aid recovery. I'm thinking about wearing them during Thursday speed work though to see if they can make me run REALLY FAST. :D

Today I was going to go out for a leisurely 5 or 6 miles, but my stomach is rebelling right now. Not sure if I have a stomach bug or fiber overload. Either way, I can't stray too far from the bathroom (TMI - I know!) Hopefully I'll feel better by this evening.

Today I LOVE: That I have the flexibility to work from home.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New R&R Mardi Gras!

The original Mardi Gras Marathon and Half Marathon has now partnered with Elite Racing as one of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathons. This is exciting because it will increase the race size, hopefully improve the support and entertainment on the back 13 (which I heard was the worst) and improve race organization (which wasn't terrible but they had a few kinks to work out). AND the first 500 people get in for only $50 for EITHER the half or the full!! I took advantage yesterday and signed up. You can sign up here. I'm also excited because that's one more R&R race that I can do cheaply and work toward my multi-race R&R medal!

I've run the half a couple of times and it's a great, fun race. The course is flat, flat, flat and the scenery along the way for the first 13 is amazing. I wouldn't aim to PR on this one because the first few miles are through the French Quarter which is very narrow and you can easily get boxed in, plus the roads down St. Charles to the park and back are full of cracks and potholes. So, you're dodging obstacles the whole time. But, it's still a really fun race. Something about running through the French Quarter at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, watching all the drunks come out of the bars to cheer you on is hilarious. I encourage people to come! Even COOLER my friend Sarah is signed up and coming!! I'm so excited!!!

I've pretty much made up my mind to run Tulsa too. I'm just waiting for payday so I can pay for the race entry. Now to decide on marathon training plans. Anyone have a favorite that they can suggest? I'm thinking of using an intermediate plan this time. I've averaging about 25-30 miles per week right now.

I LOVE starting training for a new race. I get so excited. Fall marathons are killer for me though. I'm running my long runs in the killer Louisiana heat and humidity. At least Tulsa is in late November so it should have cooled off a bit by the time I'm hitting 18+ miles.

SUMMER SERIES 2 MILE FUN RUN RACE REPORT (Whew! That's a mouthful!)

Yesterday was the first 2 mile race in a four week summer series of fun runs sponsored by our local running store. Yesterday's run was entitled "Mystery Run". The e-mail they sent out said this race would be more of a physical challenge than a running race and the words "chill out" were used, alluding to something to do with water. Ack! I put on some old running clothes and older shoes just in case. You had to have a teammate for this challenge. Susan and I decided to suffer this one together.

They didn't reveal the mystery until right before the race. They had frozen 50 wet t-shirts. The shirts were balled up tightly and frozen in zip-loc bags. The challenge was to thaw out the t-shirt as quickly as possible. You couldn't take off running until you could put the shirt on: head and both arms. One person had to put the shirt on and run with it for one mile and then you had to switch out with your partner at the turnaround for the last mile. It was hilarious!

It took us about 10 minutes to finally thaw that sucker out! I was holding it between my legs. We were rubbing the heck out of it. We were banging it on the ground. We were pulling and tugging on it like crazy (it actually ripped holes in a couple of places). Finally we got most of it free - enough to put in on....so I thought. The neck hole was still frozen up! I'm trying to put the shirt on and it will NOT go over my head and we already started to jog off. Ha! I finally wrangled it free and we took off.

If you've never run in an XL cotton t-shirt that is soaking wet and has been previously frozen and is covered in dirt from banging it on the ground, I do not recommend it. It felt good at first in the 90 degree weather and ungodly humidity. Then it just got icky. It felt like it weighed a ton. It didn't breath for anything and it just made you hotter and sweatier. Ugh.

I really struggled with this run. We managed a crisp 9:00 pace, but I really, really had to push through the pain. I was tired from the 4 mile elliptical lunch workout and ripping that t-shirt apart really wore me out too. But we finished strong and it was a nice, fun workout.

Today = speed work. I don't know if it's 800 repeats or 400 repeats today. The website changed the schedule. I guess I'll find out this evening. Wish me luck!

OH and stop by The Happy Runner's blog for a GREAT birthday giveaway!!!

Today I LOVE: My hot pink cardigan sweater. It keeps me warm in the office and the jolt of color makes me smile.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shorts Run Race Report

Whew! Another crazy week/weekend just full of activities. Let's see...since I last posted I will catch you guys up and break it down by the day.

THURSDAY

Speed work at Varsity Sports again. They called for 4x1000 repeats with recovery in between. Ryan, the owner, calculated what my split times should be based on my last 5K. He said to aim for 5:15 (about an 8:30 pace) for each 1000 and to really just try and pace myself and keep it consistent. Last week I went out too hard and too fast for that first 1600 and just wore myself out. This time (with a lot of help from Minnie and Susan pushing me) I managed to hold 5:15 for the first three and 5:09 for the last 1000. It was a great workout and I was so glad that Susan came again. She and I are perfect pacers for each other. She would push me and I would push her to keep the pace up and consistent. It was a total 5 miles in all with warm up and cool down jogs. My legs were tired, but I wasn't dead like I was the week before.

FRIDAY

I had intended Friday to be a rest day in preparation for the 4 mile Shorts Run race on Saturday and to recover from the speed work on Thursday. Thursday night Claudia and Lourdes (my long run friends on Saturdays) e-mail me saying they can't run on Saturday and ask if I can meet them for an 8 miler on Friday. I was off on Friday and figured I would go ahead and run it to get my mileage in. So, I got up at 5:30 and met them at 6:30 for our morning run (yes - ON MY DAY OFF I GOT UP THAT EARLY....I AM a crazy person). We had every intention of running it slow and easy on Friday morning but a nice little cool front had rolled in the night before and really cooled things down. The cool, breezy air just made the run pleasant and the conversation carried us easily to the 4 mile marker. The 4 miles back came just as quickly and easily. I checked Minnie when we got back to the car and I couldn't believe that we held an average 9:47 pace for all 8 miles. I think that's the first time I've broken a sub 10:00 pace for that distance. We all went to Starbucks after to sit outside and cool down and drink some coffee to re-energize. It was a great run.

SATURDAY

Susan really wanted me to come run the 4 mile race with her so I decided to just suck it up and go run and have fun on Saturday morning. My legs were pretty tired from Thursday and Friday's runs. She got her booty kicked at boot camp on Friday, so she was tired too. We decided just to treat this race as a recovery run and have fun with it.

I parked about a half mile away from the race start to try and get my legs to loosen up a bit. I snapped some pics on my walk down toward the Lakefront.

This is just a view down the historic street toward the lakefront. I love how it's lined with all the trees and greenery.

Vianne's Tea Room - serves high tea and lunch. Such a cute, cute place.

This always cracks me up! You can get your documents notarized, get married and buy all your Christmas gifts in the same place! One stop shopping!

This little guy was just hanging out on the front porch taking in the morning sun and quiet.

This is a glassworks art studio. The mural is an old soda pop advertisement that they are repainting and bringing it back to life.

Varsity Sports - the race start!

The "official" race course map. I loved that they put "*Drawing not to scale" at the bottom!


Everyone lining up to get their race numbers.

And I was SOOO thankful that they had coffee out there. I was in desperate need of some go-go juice.

Annnddd....we're off!! See - I'm so fast I'm a blur! Heee...

Running along the lakefront.

The finish! Finish time 36:23

I was pleased with my finish time. My legs were pretty tired from the previous two days' runs. I just went out and had a good, fun run with the race. I'm a total middle of the packer in races. I just tried to keep my pace steady and strong. I wasn't aiming for a PR or anything. I ran it in strong and had a great time at the race. Susan had a great race too and finished just a few seconds behind me. It was so good to have her there for the support. We decided to stick around for the awards and bananas and oranges and door prizes. They posted the race results and , yup, there I was right smack in the middle. But, on closer look I finished 3rd in my age class! What tha??? AND I only missed 2nd place by one minute. Argh!! They only gave out prizes for 1st and 2nd in each age group. Had I known I could have totally pushed it. That's what I get. Ha. I'll know better next time. Overall it was a great, fun race.


I'm stoked about my third place finish!

My race shorts (you don't get a race t-shirt with this race, you get a pair of Asics running shorts) and my race number.

SUNDAY

Rest day. I was thinking of running another local 5K, but my knee objected. Three days in a row of running (and 17 miles) my right knee was having none of it. I decided to listen to my body and rest. And I had to drive up to Jackson, MS (2.5 hours away) to pick up my niece, so I figured I should rest up and relax for the drive. I had a full two days of non-stop 8 year old ahead of me. :)

Today I LOVE: Rest...sweet, much needed rest.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lovely Blog Awards

Whooohoooo!! I got an award for something - finally! DC Runner Girl tagged by blog as one to follow. AND I even got a "How cool is that?" from her. Ohhhh the pressure now to live up to the hype. :D And yes, I totally agree with her that the award photo is hideous. It looks like a cross between my Grandmother's "sitting room" (where we're not allowed to touch anything or actually sit in there) and a Southern cotillion chiffon-fest. I can just smell the powder potpourri emanating off of the photo!

The rules behind this award:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are just a few of the blogs that I think warrant a shout out - new and old. They're guaranteed to inspire you or make you feel guilty for being a lazy-butt and eating that last pint of Bluebell ice cream while laying on the couch catching up on the latest America's Next Top Model (not that I've EVER done that or anything...)

  • Of Course - DC Runner Girl's awesome blog. She's a runner, swimmer, cross-trainer extraordinaire. The girl does it all.
  • My friend Sarahthequeen1's blog Belle of the County. This girl is amazing. She coached and supported and inspired me through my first marathon training. I am forever indebted to her. She is also a morning workout crazy-head. She's one of those 4:30 in the morning type people who can actually function productively at that time.
  • Run Bitch Run's blog keeps me in stitches. She's just freakin' hilarious with her trials and tribulations regarding all the biking and running she does. 'Nuff said.
  • Marlene's Mission to (a)nother Marathon blog is fantastic. This girl just slays half marathons like they're nuthin'! I am constantly inspired my her PRs and hope to one day join her in the sub-2 hour half times.
  • Shut up and Run! is a new one I just found through a blog of a blog of a blog... and I love her already. She's running the San Antonio R&R this year - my first full last year. I'm so anxious to hear her race report and how she likes the course.
  • Planet Ynnep Running gets an award (even if she's a Tennessee fan) because she's a runner, she works UNGODLY hours, still finds time to run and she's a fellow dog-lover.
  • And last, but not least I couldn't leave out See Willie Run. Now Willie, I know this is kind of a girlie award, but you can handle it. Willie is like Flash Gordon fast. And he makes it sound so easy and nonchalant. "Oh - I just went out and ran three miles at 6:30 pace and I didn't even break a sweat and it was an easy, slow recovery run day and..." OK - maybe I paraphrased him a little, but he's super fast and just picks up marathon races at the last minute FOR FUN. He's a coo-coo head runner who LIKES the sun, but fun and inspiring all the same.
Argh - so many to choose from. There are so many great blogs out there. I have a running blog list on the side of my blog and they're all fantastic if you need some new inspiration and great support system.

Group run today. Repeats again, but shorter ones. No 1600s today (Whew!). Oh wait, I take that back, I just looked, 4x1000 meter repeats today. Ugh... Hopefully the rain will let up in time and cool things down.

Today I LOVE: all my awesome running blog buddies. Thanks for always motivating me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Great group run, bad long run

I had a good week last week. I am starting to slowly find a happy medium between my running and my workouts. It's taking some adjustment, but I'm starting to make it work. I've divided this post into two sections trying to catch up from last week.

Group Run

I decided to go out on Thursday and meet up with the Varsity Sports running group. They hold a group run every Thursday night at 6:00 around the lakefront area. I've been reluctant to go because I'm a slow runner and these guys are crazy, fast, hard-core. I'd be the one huffing and puffing in the back just desperately trying to keep up. They usually just run 4, 5, or 6 miles at your own pace. Recently they started to do speed work on Thursday nights. I generally abhor speed work and usually only do it on a treadmill and only because I'm bored to tears. I decided, what a better way than to share my misery with other folks? And - I'm not gonna get any faster if I don't try. So, I laced up my shoes and drove over to the store.

For the first 5-10 minutes we're all standing out front of the store waiting, stretching, gearing up. I'm looking around and I'm the ONLY girl. Great. Just great. It's a fairly hot and humid day and all the guys are taking their shirts off to run. I am NOT going that far to fit in. My girls will stay double layered covered up, thank you very much! I'm getting more nervous because these guys have super sleek runner's bodies. Not a jiggly thigh or muffin top in sight! Then Susan walked up. Susan is an older woman (I would guess late 40s?) with ROCKIN' legs! Oh - if I could only have an ounce of the muscle she's sporting in her legs. We gravitated to each other and I found out this was her first time too. Sweet! We can get lost together! We determined that we run about the same pace too. Even better.

We started out with an easy warm up run to the area where the mile quarters are marked off. Susan and I kept a good 9:30 pace and just talked away until we got there (about 1 mile away). Then the hell started. Repeats. I never knew such torture existed. The plan was 1600x2, 800x2, and 400x2 and slow recovery jog back to the shop. A total of about 4.5 in all with warm-up, warm-down. I smoked that first 1600 - 8:34! We rested a bit and hit the 2nd 1600 a little slower (9:00). The heat and humidity were starting to get to me. We attempted the two 800s and then my body was done. Spent. Susan was exhausted too. We decided to just slowly jog back to the shop along the lakefront then. It was so great to meet her and run with her. We just clicked and started talking away and supporting each other on the run. We exchanged e-mails and have agreed to meet for the Thursday runs as much as possible. I have a new running buddy. Yeah!

Long Run


Sunday I decided to head out for my long run. My goal was the usual 9 miles - from the trailhead to the next trailhead and back. We've had really nice weather, but it's starting to get warm now. I wanted to walk the dogs that morning before it got too hot. I was feeling a little lazy and was just basking in the morning quietness so I didn't get out the door until almost mid-morning. The temp read 82 degrees, but it felt a little breezy and cool. I got to the trailhead and started my run, holding a great pace. My legs felt strong and I was just enjoying the run. I kept it at 9:30 for the first 4.25 miles. I had to push myself but it felt good. It was starting to get hot and I was sweating like crazy. I stopped at the trailhead and stood under the misters for a bit, drank a ton of water and took my orange Gu (I prefer the chocolate) for the run back.

About five minutes into the run back it hit - exhaustion and waves of nausea. Not good. I slowed it way down. Nope - my body was having none of it. I ended up walking back the majority of the 4.25 miles back to my car. Thank goodness I had a huge water bottle and a powerade waiting for me there. I gulped those down and started to cool down finally. The temps read 90+ with 65% humidity. Ugh. No wonder. I overheated. Not a good run - not at all. 8.5 done...slowly. Summer's definitely here - no more mid-morning runs. 6:00 a.m. - here I come, WITH fuel belt in tow.

Today I LOVE: that my husband makes me grilled cheese when I don't feel well. He's the best!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Progress

I was naughty and pushed my Day 4 workout back a day. I was just jonsing for a nice, long, peaceful run. It was overcast all morning which had really cooled things down. I laced up my shoes and headed to the trace to get some good mileage in and try to work out some of the soreness and water retention in my body. As sore as I was, my goal was for a sloppy 5 or 6 miles. It seriously took about 3 miles for my legs to finally loosen up. They felt like lead bricks the entire time before. But once they got warmed up, it was on! My pace increased by about 20 seconds.

I hit the 4.5 mile turnaround and decided to head back. The clouds were really rolling in and I could hear thunder in the distance. Just after mile 5 it started to rain. At about mile 5.5 it REALLY started to rain. There was nothing I could do but run in it. I just ran and had fun with it. The cool rain on my legs felt great! I was soaked from head to toe and thank goodness for my running cap. It kept the water out of my eyes.

I finally sloshed my way back to the car after 9 miles, dripping, soaking wet. I checked my split time on Minnie and I had improved my pace by 40 seconds per mile from the first split! Wow. Now if it could just rain like that for every race I could PR without any problems! :)

The run really worked most of my soreness out and it helped me flush a lot of the water weight I was retaining from the gym workouts. I did Day 4 yesterday and although it was still killer, I had to modify the moves much less. And I really concentrated on my form this workout. I'm still having some issues with the side planks and frog push-ups, but I'm getting there. And I managed a 2 mile tempo run yesterday after the workout. I killed it on the treadmill busting out two sub-nine minute miles. Sweet!

Today is day 5 and then two days rest time. I think I shall enjoy my days off by running. HAHAHA! Sad, I know.

Let me just say though that I have a WHOLE new appreciation for all you CrossFit folks!

Today I love: Sugar free jello chocolate swirl pudding. Yum!

Monday, May 25, 2009

And here I thought I was in shape...sorta

So, I bit the bullet and started the Making the Cut workouts this week. Oh. Mah. Gawd. Let me tell you, Jillian is a torture queen. Those workouts are killer!! Funny that my only respite were the sprints she has you do between circuits. I actually looked forward to the sprints to let me body rest a bit and get back to something familiar...running. Day 1 kicked my ass. (I would have usually opted for "butt" or "booty" here to be a little less abrasive, but ASS seemed most appropriate for how I felt after!). I was dripping in sweat and my quads and arms were shaking from the strain. I thought I would get in some decent cardio afterward...thought. I barely squeeked out a 3 mile run/walk. My body was just spent. The Day 2 workout was a little better. My form on all the lunges is improving and I'm finding the exercises I like and the ones I dislike (push-ups SUCK and I totally cannot do them right).

Day 3 was rest day and BOY did I need it. My whole body was screaming at me. All I can say is that Aleve is my friend. No run after Day 2...again just too completely exhausted. I thought I'd fit one in during Day 3 since it's an off weight training day. Nope. The in-laws are in town this weekend and they're a bit high maintenance. I couldn't break away for a run, plus my body was really, really sore and tired. I figured I might could do with the rest.

Today is Day 4 and I opened up the book to look at the workout. It's a repeat of Day 1. The killer one! *&%$! I can do it...I can do it. Tomorrow is a repeat of Day 2 and then two days off. Sweet!

I'm still struggling to find balance between the gym workouts and running. Hopefully I can get through this first week unscathed and settle into a better routine. And hopefully my body will stop screaming at me at some point. Jillian suggests breaking your workouts up into mornings and evenings - weights and cardio. I may seriously have to start doing that. I'm really struggling to fit it all in at the same time.

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Everyone please take a moment to remember and pay tribute to all of our service men and women and the amazing sacrifices they have made and still make everyday for us.

Today I love: The red, white and blue and everyone who has served to protect it. (Really that's everyday, not just today).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fitness Test

A couple of friends of mine were talking about this book, Making the Cut by Jillian Michaels and how it really helps you lose those last 10 lbs and gives great results. So, I got on amazon.com and ordered me a copy - curious about the program. I really love watching Jillian on TBL (and Bob too for that matter) and would LOVE to have her/him train me just once and kick my butt. This book outlines a 30 day plan of eating and exercise. The exercise routines are really similar to the CrossFit plans that I've seen. Single sets, medium reps on constantly different muscle groups with no rest. So, essentially your body is getting a cardio workout and you are constantly challenging different areas. I think the P90X is similar too, but I've never really tried it - only seen the infomercial.

She outlines a menu that she wants you to follow for those 30 days, but mainly it's about eating within your caloric allowance (based on your BMR) and adhering to the right protein/carb/fat ratio (mine's 30/40/30) based on a short quiz that tells you your oxidizer type. The diet says to limit the caffeine, processed foods, sodium and sugar as much as possible. And of course, drink lots of water. All doable.

I'm seriously thinking about trying this. I've concentrated so much on running that my upper body strength and ab strength has pretty much been ignored. This was blatantly obvious by the fitness test you're supposed to do before and after. There's an aerobic endurance test (doing step-ups for 3 minutes and then pulse check), ab strength test (as many sit-ups as you can do in 1 minute), upper body strength test (as many push ups as you can do in 1 minute) and a lower body strength test (hold a wall sit for as long as you can). I performed pretty much as I expected, but the upper body strength test threw me for a loop:
  • Aerobic endurance = Good (one pulse count away from Excellent! Thanks Running!)
  • Upper body strength = Below Average (seriously...real push-ups are killer. My little stick arms were shaking!)
  • Abdominal Strength = Average
  • Lower body strength = Excellent (I held that wall sit forever...I was shocked! Thanks again Running!)
This was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I just stuck with running to stay "fit", but I'm not balancing out my whole body. I need to focus on strengthening my core and upper body as well. I know it will ultimately help my running. But, I always have trouble justifying those "lift" days and time. I just want to run, run, run. So, I think I may try this plan. The workouts are tough, but only about 45 minutes. Adding that plus running will be tough, but it's worth a try.

Got a good 5 miles in last night while the weather is still cool. I slowed down a little from the previous run, but the wind was pretty brutal. Managed to average a 9:47 pace...still below 10:00 so I'm a happy gal!

My question for today then is how do you guys find balance between running and the gym?

Today I LOVE: four day weekends!!!!