Packing for Hood to Coast

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Well, I’m all packed!!! Let’s go! Where’s the van?!? I’m ready to run Hood to Coast in… 8 more days. Yeah. Still got a little while.

In my defense, I have actually already left home to go on my HTC adventure. The kids are staying with my parents in Chicago while I runcation, so we left Tuesday so we can visit some family and friends in the midwest before landing at the homestead.

Which meant I had to pack early. BEFORE THE 10 DAY FORECAST was available. I am a 10-Day-Forecast-Stalking-Enthusiast, so this caused me no small amount of displeasure. However, we were driving (read: lots of space), so I was able to throw in a lot of stuff that won’t necessarily make the final cut when it’s time to get on the plane. Here’s the initial stack. I’m on team watermelon, so, lots of pink.

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We have been warned about overpacking. I mean, they haven’t threatened to withhold the Nuun or anything but I’ve relayed enough to know: you always need less than you think, except when you need That Thing You Didn’t Think You Would Need. I have dug out my old backpack from my Appalachian Trail hiking days and am planning to carry-on to Seattle. I’m also planning to take three pairs of running shoes, as I was recently informed that it takes 24 HOURS for shoes to get their ‘springiness’ back after a run. All of which means… I must muster some major packing ninja skills in the next six days.

In light of that, I am trying to be REALLY self-controlled about what I will bring to wear when we are not at Hood to Coast itself. We will have Wednesday to see Seattle, with dinner & bowling at what I am sure is a far-hipper-than-me establishment. Then on Thursday, a visit to Oiselle HQ (yeah, I know. *dies*), a run at Green Lake, and then we will be Riding the Ducks. I’m expected to wear clothes for all that, right? But, I, who struggles with being cold except on the hottest of Atlanta days, will put my fashionable pride aside to be warm during the night at Hood to Coast. I will be warm at Hood to Coast, I will be warm at Hood to Coast, I will be warm at Hood to Coast…even if I have to sacrifice style in Seattle–Seattle of all places!– to do it.

*chanting* I will be warm at Hood to Coast, I will be warm at Hood to Coast, I will be warm at Hood to Coast. I can do this, people. I can do it.

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Ten day forecast. Still not sure how to pack.

Complicating matters, is my little technology addiction. I LOVE our videos from Ragnar, and so I’ve got two GoPros, gadgets to affix them to both things and people, another video camera, chargers for the cameras… Plus a power converter and a wifi hotspot. That’s a lot of gizmos for one backpack.

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I suppose at some point I should study my legs, but I think they’re all pretty straightforward, on trails and country roads without many turns (huzzah!). Simple and somewhere in the 4-5-7 range, mileage-wise. I’m not too concerned–roll me out if the van and I will run. I’m runner 11, so if YOU would like to study my legs and report back, please, feel free.

I’ve finally let myself get excited about the race, something I wasn’t sure would happen while I was trying to recover. I’m more undertrained than I would like, but it’s better to be undertrained than injured. And what I’ve lost in training, I hereby solemnly promise to make up for in witty van banter and amusing tweets and Instagram pics for all to enjoy. Deal? Deal. Now, I’m off to go purge my packing list…

I will be warm at Hood to Coast, I will be warm at Hood to Coast, I will be warm at Hood to Coast. I will…

Running is Easy

I started running, really running, when I was a new mom of two. I needed a quick calorie burn and mood lifter that would get me home in time to nurse the baby and care for a newly-minted two-year old. It didn’t feel easy, but it was easy to fit in.

Years later, after repeatedly being told “You’re crazy!,” I still maintain that running is one of the easiest things I do. Every time I have to take time off (which, if you’re keeping track, has been the Summer of 2011, Summer of 2012, Summer of… do you see the pattern here?), I am reminded of how simple it is to roll out of bed, put on some super-comfy clothes, lace my shoes, and GO. No bike, no helmet, no travel, no washing-of-hair after a swim.

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Don’t be fooled–I look happy , but I’d rather be running.

I really like the gym I go to, but I hate driving there. I love to lift weights, but I don’t have room or money for a set of weights at my house. I adore yoga, but when I do it at home, my monkeys want me to teach them how to do the poses, and I just want to be IN the poses. I’ve detailed my relationship with swimming, but that thing that makes it most un-easy is total vanity–it’s my long hair, that I have to do again after swimming. Just No. Ew. Way too much work.

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I had to get up at 4:40AM to get this swim in and make it to Yoga Challenge class. See why running is easier?

So I always come back to: Running is Easy. I want to do it, so I do it. There are so few barriers to running. If I want to just go and enjoy the run, I can leave my Garmin at home. If I want to get faster, I can do repeats. If the run is rough, I can either adjust my pace or adjust my expectations. There’s just nothing about running that is inherently complicated.

In so many ways, running only gets hard in your head. Anyone who has run consistently for a period of time can attest to that. You’re body gets stronger as you run, and it becomes more and more of a mental game. If you take care of your body, it’s your mind that will threaten to get you every time. As much as I hate the forced period of rest I’ve had to take from time to time, I love the desire it builds for this thing I love to do. Once I’m running again, I can remember how I hate to be denied that pleasure if I’m feeling low on a run, or beating myself up for a bad race. I can remember that running is easy. Being out there is a gift. Being denied the joy of the run is what’s hard.

P.S. Speaking of joy–I’m running again!!! Three very difficult weeks of COMPLETE rest from anything but weights and swimming let me all better. I am just working to build up more endurance in the  very short window of the next 10 days. It will come–I’m not really having any issues during my runs, thankfully, but I’m pretty sore after the run. Lots of foam rolling, stretching and my beloved Frozen Peaz should fix that right up. *jumps, clicks heels*

A Great Change

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Often, the change that we see as we run is slow. So slow. Progress takes time. The same is true for life–over some amount of time we become someone that we want to be (hopefully), or someone that we do not. Those changes are almost imperceptible, and then suddenly they are part of us. I’ve always thought this marks the progression well:habits

And then there are days when the changes are huge, and undeniable, and, if we are lucky, they are awesome.

Yesterday, I had one of those days.

I’d been counting down to yesterday, as I was set to finally cleared to swim by my podiatrist after having an ingrown toenail removed two weeks ago (yuck). I even moved my appointment up in the day because I wanted to make sure I’d have time to go to the gym and swim.

Yesterday came, and my appointment, and her approval for me to get in the water. But as I started to get my things together to go, it became very clear that I did. not. want. to. I dragged my feet getting ready. I let the children play computer games for 15 more minutes. Time started creeping toward 2:30, when lap swim would start. I sighed and got everyone in the car and went to the Y. I walked slowly in. (I got caught in a conversation with a guy with a Hood to Coast 2012 shirt on. And in full disclosure, I actually consider that a legitimate use of time.) I dropped the kids off at the Play Center, and then I messed around on my phone for a couple of minutes texting my husband and two friends about how much I didn’t want to swim.

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This… is not me.

See, I have always hated swimming. I’ve never really even been able to do it. I mean, I took lessons once, lo some 27 years ago, and I knew how to locomote my person across the distance of the pool. But my family were not, and are not, ‘pool people.’ It is not a part of our lifestyle, so all I really needed to do was know how to Not Drown. I learned that and I was kinda done. I’ve never felt comfortable at the pool. I get discombobulated by all the splashing and the not-being-able-to-see. Then are the unfortunate associations from all those teenaged years where I was just incredibly uncomfortable with how I looked, and how much worse does that get at the pool? Like, a bazillionty times worse. I look at a pool and feel like this:

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I repeat: I did not want to swim.

I went to the locker room. I fought with my disobedient swim cap (I won). I sighed and showered off. Then, I got in the pool. Slow lane. By myself. I carted myself through the length of the pool and back a few times. The water felt good, but I felt extremely self-conscious.

There were only a couple of people in the pool when I started, and they actually left soon after. I asked the lifeguard about the distance of the pool, as I’ve never known, and soon he came over and asked me about my swimming.

“You look pretty comfortable in the water,” he said.

“Ha ha ha NO! I need to take lessons. I want to take some lessons this fall. ” I replied.

“Really? You want some help?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said, thinking he’d give me some tips and send me floating off into a slightly-happier state.

“Let’s just do this right now,” he said “Come here.”

Jocquell then proceeded to spend over an hour with me, privately teaching me… well, teaching me how to actually swim. Face in the water, blowing bubbles, pushing off, kicking, stroking, breathing. Since I’d never met him, and since he was being an above-and-beyond kind of kind, I wanted to do what he asked. So I worked really hard to impress him–did things I’d never have felt comfortable doing if it was coming from someone I knew, or during a group class, or whatever other excuse I’ve dreamed up in the past. Perhaps the ability to do the uncomfortable also came from running, from the confidence I’ve gained from that. I have seen what happens when you work to be better, and I always want that: improvement.

This guy is a great teacher. Patient, encouraging, but challenging, too. He pushed me approximately 324 times beyond what I thought I was capable of.

I got into the pool with great hesitation.

I left with great confidence.

And that is how, things changed for me yesterday. Not slowly, and not over time. But swiftly and with both great difficulty and great joy. Now I get to continue the change. Though changed, I did not morph into Natalie Coughlin yesterday. I need a lot of work on breathing. And kicking. “Whitewater! Let me see whitewater!” Jocquell kept shouting. But now I won’t dread getting into the pool–I have a starting point. I have goals. I have a need to practice and maintain what this incredibly nice and patient person did for me.

The takeaway: Push yourself! Do it! EVERY time you push yourself, you get rewarded. Somehow, and often  in ways you could never imagine.  You’ll see the change, even if it’s not sudden. You’ll see it. Just look for it.

Tha-tha-tha-That That Don’t Kill Me…

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(…can only make me stronger. Thanks Kanye). Here is my current love letter to lifting:

I’ve always, always been a fan of weights. I’ve loved weight workouts for far longer than I’ve loved running (mainly because they embarrassed me less–never left me red-faced and panting the way running does. That was long ago, though.). But I wanted to share what I’ve been doing during my strength workouts, since I don’t have any awesome tempo workouts or hill repeats to share with you right now. BOO.

Remember, I’ve been doing BodyPump for years, and am only taking a break because I need to focus on my leg rehab, and because I have some issues with putting a bar on my twisty back for squats and lunges. I highly recommend BodyPump for beginners, because it is fast, intense, and highly-motivational. Also, it’s fun. However, if you’re not a BodyPumper, and new to weights, here’s a great guide to how to do exercises, and what to call ’em.

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My world on Weight Days. Hello from post-weights Pigeon Pose!

For now, I am doing weights with some free weights that are stashed in the ladies’ locker room at the gym where I workout. I don’t do machines. I will one day venture into the real weight room, but I don’t feel like getting workout advice from, er, well-intentioned men, so I’m staying somewhat hidden for now.

I try to follow the order of the BodyPump tracks, just so I don’t forget anything. It’s ingrained in my head at this point. I do about a songs worth of each exercise, with very few breaks, a la Body Pump. Here’s a tip: everything in BP is done to an 8-count. Do BodyPump enough and you’ll get a feel for which songs work for which set of exercises. I don’t count reps usually, but I do a bunch. That’s another thing BP will train you to do: push through it. I also will up my weights and do fewer reps if I’m pressed for time. It’s also a good way to get muscle confusion going on.

1. Warmup: I do core work for this. Usually about 10 minutes (2 songs) of dumbbell side bends (8 pounds), woodcutters, weighted crunches, bicycles, bent-knee hip raises, reverse crunches, reverse crunches with twist, Russian twists (with 8 pounds of weight), oblique crunches, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.

2. Calf Raises: They don’t do this in BodyPump and I wish they did. I do two sets of 48 with 20 pound dumbbells.

3. Squats: I do air squats and pistol squats, alternating till it burrrrrrrrns.

4. Chest: Pushups (usually 4 sets of 24) and Chest Press with 15 pound dumbbells.

5. Back, Hamstring, Glutes: Here’s where I wish I had a bar instead of dumbbells, but I use 20 pounds for dead rows and triple rows, and 15 for presses. I alternate between the 3 exercises for the length of a song.

6. Triceps: I’ll start with close-grip presses and skull crushers with 15 pounds. Then dips off the bench and kickbacks (8-10 pounds).

7. Biceps: Curls and more curls. I do fewer reps than in BP here. I start with 2 reps of 8 with 20 pound dumbbells, then I switch to 15 pounds and do them to failure. Success=failure. See why weights are great?

8. Lunges & Plyometrics: I’ll be honest, not doing a lot of these right now because I’m afraid I’ll hurt my leg worse. But I do a lot of static lunges with weight and jump squats normally. I want to do more plyometrics when I’m feeling better, because running is essentially jumping, just in forward motion. And, jumping is fun.

9. Shoulders: 10-pound dumbbells for forward raises, upright row, overhead presses, Arnold presses. If I haven’t hit 100 pushups yet I’ll do more here, too.

10. Abs: More of the above, with some planking and side planking thrown in.

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Side plankety plank, y’all.

After that, I do my rehab stuff for ITBand. I hope to demo some of the stuff for you on the blog, but I haven’t scheduled a time with my film crew (AKA my husband) yet. 😉

Oh, and you know what goes really well with all of this? My new 90’s playlist. It’s so awful, you’ll forget about how hard your muscles are crying:

Here Comes the Hotstepper, Ini Kamoze

Gonna Make You Sweat, C+C Music Factory

Jump, Kriss Kross

Say My Name, Destiny’s Child

Steal My Sunshine, Len (Is this about drugs? I don’t understand it.)

I Wish, Skee-Lo

Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J

Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice

Body Rock, Moby

Pump Up the Jam, Technotronic

How Bizarre, OMC

Tubthumping, Chumbawumba

I Want You, Savage Garden

Spice Up Your Life, Spice Girls

All 4 Love, Color Me Badd

Happy lifting!!!

Diary of an Injury: From Pride to Pain, Part 2

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Read Part 1 here:

It was time to get ready for Ragnar, and I was excited. My sister was on our team this year, and she, my husband and I headed into Chicago to meet up with the team. It was good to see our old team members and to meet the new ones (our team captain Marty had the unfortunate role of putting together not one, but two Ragnar teams. That is a HUGE job.)

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Truer words were never scrawled across the side of a van.

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Our team mascot: a tortoise on fire.

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Heh. Things are not always as they appear…

Trampoline shoes and I be-bopped around that night, decorating the vans and having fun. We drove up to Madison and went to bed at a decent hour. The next morning we got up and headed to the start line. It was, as always, a good time. I had a good long wait in store that day–as Runner 12 I did not expect to start until dusk.

Both teams had the same start time so we sent our runners off and our van, Van 2, headed out to Exchange 6. Where we waited… and waited… and waited. I got to meet Megan from Nuun, who has been organizing all our Hood to Coast shenanigans. We got feedback from Van 1, who were having… well, we will call them Navigational Issues. Finally we were up.

Things went pretty smoothly for our first legs. Tim is our captain from last year and became our de facto captain once we started the race, since Marty was on the other team. He is big into support, and so we made sure to see each runner at least once, and we all walked to every exchange to welcome our runner in and send the next out. Trampolines Shoes were excited to make each of those treks with me. Kiss, kiss, trampoline shoes.

My first leg was 6.7 miles, and I can’t let the story of the shoes interfere with me telling you about how utterly bizarre this run was. It is on a trail through with Wisconsin, which was once a rail line but is not a well-maintained recreational trail. Woodlands surround it, but you are often within sight of or even right next to a road. Trampoline shoes and I set off on the leg. It was flat, the sun was setting, and the weather was perfect.

Within the first 1/2 mile, I saw a man on a bike, who we had seen earlier on the course, and who clearly knew what Ragnar was and what we were doing. And yet, on a bike, he should have been far ahead of us at this point. It made me slightly uncomfortable to see him out there still, but I knew there were enough runners coming behind me that he was probably no threat. Around this time, I passed a still pond and happened to notice, among the vegetation, a dead bird floating in it. Ew.

Things would get creepier still. But first, I got passed by a couple of fast dudes, and I hated to be the roadkill, but I was having a good run so I didn’t really care. Nothing I could do about it. Then the bugs attacked. These tiny little gnat/fly/moth things were every where! And drawn to my headlamp, even though the sun had just set and it was still quite light. They swarmed my face and I had a few as an unintentional snack. I put my head down and ran on, wondering if this would last the rest of the leg (it didn’t).

As I came up on a road crossing at mile 3.5 my van was waiting for me. I saw some people and heard my sister yell, “Is that a mermaid I see?” I laughed and yelled back, feeling good and happy.

Mile 4, there was a water stop manned by cheerful volunteers, and then I came to a more wooded area of the trail. That was when I saw a figure headed toward me. A Male. Who was shuffling–no, limping! I turned off my music and pulled my pepper spray off my waistband. And as I got closer, I could see, he was wearing a hoodie, jeans, and a backpack. This was no recreational walker or Ragnar spectator. And while he had every right to be walking this trail, the guy looked… out of place. I passed by him and picked up the pace. As I did so, I also called my husband and put him on speaker. “Hey, I just saw a creepy guy on the trail; I’m fine but wanted someone on the phone just in case. Just stay on the line with me.” I looked back and did not see the man, but did see what appeared to be a male Ragnarian with a headlamp coming up behind me. I got off the phone with my husband and asked the runner, “Is that guy still going the other way?” He said “Yeah I think so,” and went on. I’m sure as a male, he probably didn’t think twice about seeing that guy on the trail, but I’m pretty protective of my person, so I’m glad I had my phone and my pepper spray and my wits about me. (side note: my other plan during a Ragnar, should something happen, is to turn around and run BACK on the course, because there will always be runners behind you, but you may not be able to catch anyone in front of you, and going forward only puts you further away from safe people. Learned this from Caroline.)

Okay, so are you ready for the next part? About a quarter mile later, I saw something else. From a distance, I could tell only that it was dark and inanimate. As I got closer, I saw, on this tree-lined, beautiful recreational trail that so deftly showcases Wisconsin’s early-summer beauty… a black rolling office chair. With an old computer monitor sitting atop it. And it occurred to me: I am not running a Ragnar. I’m being Punk’d. I’m starring in a David Lynch movie.little manSomething. Because it was all too bizarre. I would’ve stopped to take a picture, but I really just wanted to be back around people at that point.

It was newly dark by the time I got to Exchange 12, and the place was ablaze in headlamps and headlights. I got passed by with about 200 meters to go by two guys who were just flying, and I could not catch them. But I picked up the pace and finished strong, and felt good. I’d just ran my first leg at goal pace and hey, Hoodie Guy hadn’t killed me, so really, what was there to complain about?

I won’t go into all the details of the race from the standpoint of a recap, but there were typical overnight shenanigans: navigating, eating, trying to sleep. Also, a sudden craving for pickles and french fries (which I think calls for a new game: Pregnant, or Ragnarian?), waiting at McDonald’s for coffee at 3AM (new, new game: Out Carouing, or Ragnarian?), and so forth. But overnight, Trampoline Shoes dealt me a blow. Somewhere in that first leg, they’d decided to break up with me. And they wanted to hurt me doing it. As the night wore on, I could feel my right leg get tighter and tighter. “That’s weird,” I thought. I stretched out my leg in the van, tried to get it to loosen up. No dice. It got worse. It felt even worse-worse when I tried to bend it. I had already planned to wear my ASICS for leg 2, and I put them on. I also taped my leg with KT Tape for IT Band, just because it was tight in that area.

The sunrise was prettier than what was to come...

The sunrise was prettier than what was to come…

Ah, I was so excited about my second leg. It started on the north side of Racine, Wisconsin, and I was to run along Lake Michigan and into Exchange 24. It was just past sunrise and beside Lake Michigan in a summer sunrise is just one of the prettiest places you can be. I got out at Exchange 23 and got ready to run. My leg was tight. It hurt. Tim remarked that I looked mad (I always look mad if I’m not smiling). I told him I wasn’t mad, but I was worried.

David came into the exchange and I took off. My right leg immediately started barking angrily at me. By .35 miles I had sharp, shooting pain down my right leg. I ran some, walked some, and tried to process what was happening.

Now, I am not fast. Never have been. But I have always, always, been able to go, for forever. I don’t peter out often, and if I do, I can generally take a short break and just keep going. I’m also not a wimp. I’ve delivered two babies–one with a 28 hour labor and one with 7 hours, with no drugs. This leg was 4.7 miles and I could. not. run. it. So when I tell you I was shocked, truly, I was in shock. It came out of nowhere, and in a matter of 8 hours I’d gone from being at one of my strongest, fastest points, to reduced to hobbling.

I made it to .7 miles and I pulled out my phone to call my husband. Before he could even answer, the van happened to turn the corner and pass me. They hit the brakes and tumbled out of the van. “WHAT IS WRONG?” they said, with a mixture of concern and surprise. I looked at them and said, “I can’t run. I can’t run.” “Get in,” they said. And then they mobilized. My husband popped out of the van and said he’d take the next 2 miles. Off he went. My sister took the last two. I got in the van and tried to shove my anger down inside of me, as it would do not good now.

After my heroes finished up the leg, we had time off for food. We went to a breakfast joint in Kenosha, and while we waited on a table, I foam rolled in an empty lot next door. I still wanted to try to run my next leg. Since I was out of commission, I drove the van, too. We came up with a plan for me to try and take Tim’s shorter 6-mile leg and for him to take leg 36, which is 8 miles.

Foam rolling & waiting for breakfast.

Foam rolling & waiting for breakfast.

We got to exchange 30 and I went to medical for ice. I foam rolled some more. I tried to stretch. I already suspected that Trampoline Shoes were breaking up with me. Like, over text. So cruel, but I kept them on because the ASICS had been even more painful. I made it a mile into my third leg. It didn’t hurt until the mile mark, but it did hurt, and was getting worse. The van was waiting for me, and David was outside. I gave him the thumbs down, and he came over to take yet another set of miles for me. My sister traded off with him halfway through, and so we finished up my doomed set of Ragnar legs. We headed to the finish line, and I took my medal, even though it is still very hard for me to look at it–I don’t feel like I ran a Ragnar.

Iced and taped at Exchange 30. Trampoline shoes mocking me.

Iced and taped at Exchange 30. Trampoline shoes mocking me.

Faking happiness. Really angry on the inside.

Faking happiness at the Finish Line. Really angry on the inside. (that’s race director Meredith Dalberg in the front–she did an amazing job with the race!)

I haven’t run in Trampoline Shoes since. They seem unfazed by our sudden and tragic breakup, and by the pain they have caused me. Best I can tell, they caused me to rely on my ITBand more than I was ready for. And I’m still paying the price. It is extraordinarily frustrating. I wonder if I’d broken them in more slowly, would it have been better? Or would it have accumulated anyway? I also wonder, since I’m no longer running in those shoes, and have bettered my form, why does it still bother me? I know the MO of the ITBand is: once inflamed, it will stay inflamed for quite some time. While I no longer have active or acute pain, and I can run, I just know it’s not 100% better, either (it gets achy after I run).

So, here’s what I’ve done so far this summer, in no particular order: Cross training with the bike and rowing machine. Active Release Therapy and Fascial Distortion. Chiropractic. Rest. Massage. Form work. Ice. Compression. Some running.

Here’s the plan for now:

1. Do the PT exercises I have found everyday, not to ‘strengthen’ the IT Band, but to strengthen all the other muscles I need to be using in order to not rely on the IT Band.

2. Core work every day.

3. Foam rolling twice a day.

4. Upper body weights three times a week.

5. Swimming 4-5x a week starting next week when I can get back in the pool (I had an ingrown toenail removed last week so I’m forbidden to swim until next week. Yes, this is also a source of frustration.)

6. Sleeping in my compression pants.

7. Icing 3-4 times a day. I am taking another complete rest from running, biking, and rowing for at least two more weeks.

8. Staying far, far away from inflammatory foods. I already avoid wheat and dairy and most processed foods. But I have a sweet tooth and intend to limit, if not cut out, sugar entirely.

The plan above allows me to strengthen what is weak so I can rely much less on the ITBand when I do run, while still maintaining my cardio fitness level. My plan is to be able to complete my miles at Hood to Coast without worry. I think the plan above will allow me to do that. I modified my pace goal online so that I don’t have to worry about pushing the pace at the race. And even if painful, I will push through.  Afterward, I am prepared to take another complete rest from running if necessary. I’m not going to push through any sort of training right now, though, and risk Hood to Coast. I’m going to show up happy, healthy(er), and, while possibly somewhat undertrained, ready to do my part to run the race and share the Nuun love.

As for Trampoline Shoes? They are in my closet, buried beneath a pile of other shoes that have not caused me nearly so much grief and pain. But I confess, I sometimes catch a glimpse of them, laying there benignly, looking so pretty with their wings on, and I think, “What if?” Deep down, I still love them. I still miss what we had together: speed. lightness. happiness. They were cruel in the end, but for a time, they were…perfection.

Diary of an Injury: From Pride to Pain, Part 1

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It started with shoes.

(doesn’t it so often start with shoes?)

But this time, it started with a benign pair of shoes. I’d decided to start rotating in to my arsenal a pair of Brooks Ravennas, that are exactly like so many other pairs of Ravennas I’ve had. Problem was, it was the week after the Boston marathon, and my mind was so muddied with anger and confusion, and there was so much Anger Running going on, that I failed to do what I know I need to do with a new pair: re-lace my shoes so that they don’t press on the top of my high instep.

I ended up with extensor tendinitis, which affected my training for the Brunch Run and for my part of the Wisconsin Marathon. And when, by late May, the pain still hadn’t gone away entirely, I made a visit to two different shoe stores to try and see what I could do about getting into a different shoe (maybe) that would hit at different spots on the top of my foot and not aggravate the tendinitis.

At Big Peach, here at home, I was told to wait and see. Take the pair of discontinued ASICS that were alleviating the problem and use them till I needed to replace them. Then see where I was with the tendinities. Fair enough.

But when I traveled to Illinois to see my parents, I got a very different opinion. I went in about shoes again after being shin-splint-y after the Soldier Field 10-miler. Between that and the tendinitis, it felt like everything was going wrong. I was falling apart. The employee at the store was enthusiastic about using this as an opportunity to see what was right or wrong about the shoes I’d been in. He started from scratch–which was refreshing because no one has done that since the first time I bought real running shoes in early 2010. We spent a long time talking. He asked about my scoliosis, my injury history and why I have custom orthotics. I told him I have the customs because a PT once told me I had a fallen arch.

He watched me walk barefoot.

“You don’t have a fallen arch,” he said.

“What?” said I.

He watched me run on, videotaped, on a treadmill.

“You also don’t need as much support in your shoes as you have.”

“Wait, what? What?”

My mind was blown. Me, the world’s gimpiest runner, didn’t need so many of the supports and crutches I’ve been using in order to run? Could it be? How could this be?

He put me in several pairs of shoes, some that had way too little support, some that just didn’t feel good, and one pair, one pair, that felt…. amazing.

Like I was running on a trampoline.

Like a thousand tiny cheerleaders were on my feet, lifting me up and springing me forward.

Like I could go forever and never notice that I even had on shoes.

He cautioned me that the break-in process could take a couple of weeks, and sent me on my way, with my trampoline-shoes clutched under my arm.

I was over the moon. Y’all, I will be very honest with you: I thought I had accepted my station in life, but I do hate being The Gimpy Runner. I hate that I blog more about injuries and pain than I do PR’s, that I’ll never have a story for you of training my heart out and then breaking tape. I understand that that’s not my lot in my running life, but I do so want to feel light and airy when I run, to not have to worry about having inserts and support, to not have to spend more time making sure my body is adjusted and massaged and foam rolled than I do actually running. I’m not an elite athlete–I’m not even an average athlete, and yet it sometimes feels like staying running-ready is a full-time job.

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A taste of being a “normal” runner. I could not resist them.

And here was my chance for a taste of freedom from all of that! This new revelation… that I could get rid of a few of the things that make me feel so constrained in what I can do… well, it appealed to my pride. And we all now what pride goeth before. Right?

I had almost two weeks until Ragnar Chicago. I ran an amazing mile in the Trampoline Shoes the next day. “You are light and airy,” they whispered. Then I waited a day, and then I went two delicious miles in them. “You are a mermaid,” they cheered. We spent more time together. Some running, some walking around Chicago. I bought them wings to wear, since we were flying together. Oh, I was still alternating with my other shoes, as prescribed. But we didn’t have what Trampoline Shoes and I had together. A couple of days before Ragnar I ran 2.5 miles in them to the gym near my parents’, then 2.5 miles back.  “We love you,” they declared. “We will always love you.”

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This is how I felt when I was with Trampoline Shoes.

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I even bought them gifts. So we could keep flying together.

“I love you, too, you enchanting, delightful Trampoline Shoes!” I declared back. “Let’s run away together!”

 

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Even upside down, they were still the star of the show, those trampoline shoes.

They made me feel good. They made me feel happy. I was in love.

And then, things turned bad.

(to be continued… painfully, heartbreakingly continued…)

 

This is Me… Part 4

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You might also enjoy:

This is Me 1

This is Me 2

This is Me (Ragnar Relay Edition)

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THIS IS ME…

When someone wants to tell me about how barefoot running would solve all my problems.

TIM3 cover-ears

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When someone asks me if I’m worried about having a heart attack/blowing out my joints/needing a new knee because I run.

TIM3 angry-eyes

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When someone goes on and on about being so slow… when they are way faster than me.TIM3 crushed so-sad

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When I’m not able to run for a while and my endorphins are low.

TIM3 emotionally-compromised

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Crushing my speedwork

TIM3 gtfo-kick

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When I go to the running store and see the Great Wall of ShoesTIM3 happy-yes

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When I get woken up prematurely from my post-long run nap.TIM3 huh

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When my training is going great, then I get injured.

TIM3 Sheep-hates-dance

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When I’m late to get into my corral at a race.TIM3 Train-station-doors

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When my running friends and I are Rungry.TIM3 Owl-chugs-rat

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if I tried to do hurdles.TIM3 Girl-couch-jumping-fail

Delightful New Running Words

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I confess, that one thing I love almost as much as running, is a good, interesting word. I remember Molly, a girl in my sixth-grade class, taunting me by asking “Hey Lindsay, been reading the dictionary again?” after I’d used a particularly impressive word (the answer was most likely, yes. Dictionaries are my friend.)

So I was delighted to see this post on Buzzfeed recently, about 27 delightful obsolete words. And as I read it, I thought, ‘Egads! These words are made to be used by runners!.’  We already have our own obscure words (fartlek, Yasso, tempo), so why not add a few more?

In light of that, I am sharing with you Buzzfeed’s words, definitions, and origins, but have changed the usage examples to resound with you, fellow runners. Enjoy!

Meaning: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them.
Origin: Unknown

IN RUNNING: I hated to groak her, but I was starving after that tempo run.

Meaning: To act in a secretive manner.
Origin: 1530s

IN RUNNING: We talked about training together, but I think I’m too slow for him. He hugger-muggers whenever I ask him about meeting up.

Meaning: To feel ill because of excessive eating/drinking.
Origin: 1530s

IN RUNNING: I always overdo it in the post-race food tent. I go from ravenous to crapulous in no time at all!

Meaning: Sullen. An alternative to grumpy.
Origin: 1720s

IN RUNNING: I haven’t been able to run in two weeks. So yeah, I’m a little grumpish, okay? OKAY?!?

Meaning: Freshly melted snow.
Origin: 1590s

IN RUNNING: Let me just put on my Yaktrax, then I’ll be ready for this 12-miles in the snowbroth.

Meaning: To confuse, bamboozle.
Origin: 1690s

IN RUNNING: When I get jargogled on a run, I know I need a GU to raise my blood sugar, stat.

Meaning: The sun’s warmth on a cold winter’s day.
Origin: 1620s

IN RUNNING: It’s so hard to know how to dress for a winter marathon. The apricity can really get you late in the race.

Meaning: To gossip, or talk idly.
Origin: 1600s
As in: I wish you’d quit twattling and get on with your work.

IN RUNNING: I had to get around the gaggle of women who were doing more twattling than running.

Meaning: Tangled hair, as if matted by elves.
Origin: 1590s

IN RUNNING: Running in the humidity is brutal–plus it always gives me major elflocks.

Meaning: To have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect on someone.
Origin: Early 17th century

IN RUNNING: The elites are just incredible to watch. I get so gorgonized I can’t even cheer.

Meaning: A little man with a high opinion of himself.
Origin: 1710s

IN RUNNING: Don’t let the mouthy short guy intimidate you. He’s just a cockalorum.

Meaning: A good-looking person.
Origin: 1500s

IN RUNNING: Man, runners are good-looking. Races are just full of snoutfairs.

Meaning: Slang term for a fat person.
Origin: 1780s

IN RUNNING: I’m so glad I found running. It saved me from becoming a complete jollux.

Meaning: The shock one feels upon first plunging into cold water.
Origin: Scots, 1800s

IN RUNNING: Not the ice bath, not the ice bath! The curglaff is worse than the 18 miler.

Meaning: To argue loudly about something inconsequential.
Origin: 1530s

IN RUNNING: Look, I’m not going to talk about the effectiveness of the Hansons method for the recreational runner with you anymore. It always just turns into brabbling.

Meaning: An alternative to twilight.
Origin: Early 1600s

IN RUNNING: The best thing about an overnight relay is hearing your team cheering for you out in the twitter-light.

Meaning: Walking while smoking a pipe.
Origin: 1820s

IN RUNNING: When I was younger, I went lunting at noon. Now, I runch.

Meaning: Stupid, imbecilic.
Origin: 1590s

IN RUNNING: Runners at dusk in all-black are about the most beef-witted people I’ve ever seen.

Meaning: Wonderful and extraordinary.
Origin: 1810s

IN RUNNING: If only people knew how monsterful the runner’s high is, everyone would be lacing up their shoes.

Meaning: Having beautifully shaped buttocks.
Origin: 1640s

IN RUNNING: I’d like to be more callipygian, so I started doing squats and lunges after my easy runs.

Meaning: To make drunk, intoxicate.
Origin: 1910s

IN RUNNING: I know I was pretty fuzzled on endorphins, and what’s wrong with that?

Meaning: A wooden puppet, controlled by strings.
Origin: 1850s

IN RUNNING: I was so sore after that hilly half-marathon; I felt like a quockerwodger for three days.

Meaning: The seemingly malevolent behaviour displayed by inanimate objects.
Origin: 1940s

IN RUNNING: I’ve neglected my training plan so long. I’m pretty sure it’s become resistentialist.

Meaning: The fear of oblivion.
Origin: 1700s

IN RUNNING: Yeah, I’m a little concerned that after I get too old to really race, I’ll just feel like I’m nothing. I think I’m developing athletic lethophobia.

Meaning: A slovenly, slobbering person.
Origin: 1650s

IN RUNNING: I have to get back on my plan. The two-week vacay turned me into a legit slubberdegullion.

Meaning: A low rumbling sound produced by the bowels.
Origin: 1880s

IN RUNNING: I thought laying off the caffeine would help my GI issues, but I wasn’t even a mile in before I could hear the curmuring start.

Meaning: Heavy rain.
Origin: Early 1900s

IN RUNNING: My shoes are soaked! It went from a sprinkle to sheer lumming while I was on my 3-miler.

Delightful, I say! Let me know if you get to incorporate any of these into your vocabulary today. Hey, they already think you’re crazy for running. Why not make them think you’re smart, too?!?

Running Scared

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Yesterday I went back to see my Active Release Therapist. Or my Fascial Distortion specialist. I don’t know that I entirely understand what he does. He applies intense pressure on parts of my legs that are causing me issues. It… does not feel good. everything hurts

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Alls I know is, while he’s practicing Fascial Distortion, I practice Facial Distortion. Like this:

spidermanlol

Then, I feel better. I consider it a good session when I don’t kick him.

Anyway, yesterday at my third session he kind of got on me a bit, for not being more aggressive in getting back to running.

Dr. L: Tell me about your pain.

Me: Um, I don’t really have any pain. I have a rubbing, it feels like. Yeah, a rubbing. Maybe? Kind of.

Dr. L: Okay.

Me: I mean, I think. It may not be anything. I’m kind of paranoid.

Dr. L: How much have you been running?

Me: Some. About four days last week. But hey, you know the bike?  I actually really like the bike. And I do really like to row. Rowing is great!

He looked slightly amused.

“Look. It’s time to build,” he said. “I want you running more, and on more consecutive days. Not much, and I want you to run less on your second day. If it starts to hurt again, we’ll back off.”

So, I’m busted. Busted at being a big-fat, injury recovery scaredy cat. Thankfully, he sees that I’m just scared of getting hurt again. And I know, that I have made huge gains in this process. My form is better (as it always, always is after an injury).  I’ve said goodbye (for now) to the beautiful purple shoes that got me in this mess. And I’m being a more conscious runner.

But… I’m… skeered.

I don’t want to get hurt again. I want to go to Hood to Coast and have FUN. I do not wish to be spinning inwardly because I’m worried. Also, the other women on the teams seem awesome, and I don’t want to be hurting and bringing them down with concern. Even beyond that, I want to start looking to training for a fall half. I want running to be fun again.

But, here’s the thing: being scared is not my jam. I think most runners are pretty gutsy. Right? Pushing through the fear is the only way to find joy in running (or anything) again. Because until we get out there and try, there will be fear.

So this morning, I’m going out and I’m going to run, carefully and mindfully, but with an eye toward a BUILD, not an eye toward more hurting. I will smile because I’m out there again, and I will use  my excitement about Hood to Coast as my motivation to continue to take care of myself and become a stronger runner.

STRONGER RUNNING THROUGH FEAR, PEOPLE. Today, that is the goal.

Me? On the bike? And Nuun Giveaway Winner

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Happy Monday! Want to start the week with something juicy? Well, I have a very serious confession to make: I’ve been cheating on running. With a stationary bike. And *shhhhhhhh* I like it. I know, juicy, right? Seriously, it’s part of my cross-training as I rehab my leg and prepare for Hood to Coast. To be honest, I go through fits and spurts with the bike. I’d like to bike more outside–shoot, I’d actually love to do a duathlon one day. Problem is, I do not feel safe on the roads in Atlanta, and don’t have a nearby place to cycle. So it’s a gym thing for me for now, and unless I’m injured I rarely think to do it, because, well, I’d rather be running.

But right now I’m excited to be on the bike. I like working different muscles, I like feeling challenged… I’m coping really well.

I’m also running more, so that’s awesome. And between the two, plus some serious strength training I’ve been doing, I am not sweating my Hood to Coast prep as much as I once was. This is not the training cycle I’d hoped for, but there’s a lesson in here somewhere. Probably patience. Humility. All those wonderful things that running continues to teach me. 😀

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drink all the nuun

Congrats to Amanda, who will soon be a hydrating machine. She won my Nuun giveaway be leaving comment #44 on the blog. Random.org chose that number, and so she wins the Nuun lottery. Congrats Amanda! And thank you to all the people who left the blog some love, and followed my adventures here, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

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