GIRL WINS!

From Zero to half-Ironman. Ask about my T-Rex.

So This One Time, I Ran a Half-Marathon…

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I never buy race photos. But I bought this one. I’ll tell you why. Read on:

 

So this weekend was pretty cool. I randomly decided to run a Sunday half marathon on Saturday afternoon. Go, go Gadget planning! But before you decide I am completely cray-cray and need a nice white jacket so I can hug myself all day, listen to this line of reasoning. I think you’ll decide (as I did) that it was meant to be.

“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

–Talking Heads

So I’m at work. Working. And texting my friend Jen who was on the eve of attempting her first marathon, the ORRRC Xenia Marathon, the next day. Jen said she planned to come cheer on local runners and members of our team (S.T.A.R. Racing, shameless plug) at the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon next month, where I am running on a relay team. I was toying with the idea of getting up early on Sunday to cheer her on. But the logistics! Where to park? Who to hang with? Where to spectate? Should I make a sign? Bring a cowbell? (Jen is the Queen of Cowbell…)

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My new lucky number for the next time the Powerball is in the gazillions.

Jen asked if I could pace her for a few miles since it was an open course. That sounded fun and solved the problem of when I would get my own long run done that day. I ran 11 miles two weeks ago and was needing around 13 this week. Hrm, what’s 13 miles, runners? That’s right, a half marathon! And what happens on Sunday, April 7th, at the Xenia Marathon??  Mmmm hmmm! The Xenia HALF marathon! It wasn’t sold out. I could get up early and register. Then, Fate knocked via social networking. A mutual running friend, Terese, posted on Facebook that she was offering her race bib on due to injury. Sad face for Terese :( We’ve all been there. Then, happy face for me! How often do you get a medal at the end of a 13 mile training run? Um, never. But as we know, I am stupid for bling.

Twist my arm! Ohhhhh-kaaaaaay I guess I’ll run a half-marathon tomorrow! *Big dramatic sigh.* Sign me up! Let’s do this! I mean, really, it would be a damn shame to let that bib go to waste and never realize it’s full potential. So Terese and I met at the McDonalds in Xenia (the one on Main, not the one on Rt. 68, which I found out after I read my text messages for comprehension…) and in the parking lot like a drug deal we swapped goods. Ok that’s a lie. I wanted to repay the race fee but Terese would NOT accept my money!

Dear Karma, when Terese’s stress fracture heals and she gets back to running again, you have a heckuva job to do. Let her train and race injury-free and get her back to the starting line soon. Please and thank you. Love, The Girl

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Love me some black and yellow! Note: I opted for a pink shirt to match Jen’s outfit.

So now I’m running a half marathon. For free. In fourteen hours. SWEET. So I had two choices at that point… skip my usual race-eve freak out or cram a taper-week’s worth of excitement and nerves into the remaining waking hours of Saturday night. I started out on the upper hand… took a hot bath… picked out my clothes without too much hemming, hawing, swapping, or tearing my hair out. Perhaps the most important decision on race day is what to wear! Duh. And don’t forget your sunglasses.

I did some yoga. I foam rolled. I drank a lot of water. I went to bed early. I was ready for this. No pressure? Tell that to my subconscious. I slept about two hours. Forget you, sleep! Lying awake with my heart pounding, worrying about injuries flaring up, wondering if I’m ready to race this distance again after three years, is a  much more relaxing way to start the morning. However, I did not have to wake up to my alarm. Bonus! Totally makes up for how much time I spent wide awake…

I was too nervous to eat more than a piece of toast, which is normal and I’m a big fan of gels anyway, no biggie. Schlurping from a packet while running is a talent of mine. I’m truly addicted to anything that tastes like cake icing and yet is still billed, “nutrition.” Drove to Xenia, got rock star parking by the Y.M.C.A. just steps from the start/finish, got my registration changed to be in my name for the results, stood in line for the bathroom outside, found some friends and THEN I felt so much better. It’s either the peeing or my buddies. Or both. You guys rock.

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Ah, the Lovely Ladies! And Tracy, who is a dude. He has a kayak.

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Springfield, represent! Me and Jen are in the front, Terrible Terrier and T-Rex. We have a thing for goofy nicknames. Honey Badger is in the back.

The race itself was surprisingly uneventful. I always look at the course map and it never means much to me. I just go where the volunteers point me. As a quick aside, thank you volunteers! For holding back buses at intersections with nothing more than a commanding presence and a little orange flag! For the strongly-mixed red Gatorade which, although delicious to me, stained your fingers (Lisa…) so you look like you killed someone! For riding on a bicycle looking for stragglers but not fast enough to make me feel even slow! For the shouts of, “You look great!” and the signs that say “Beer just ahead!” Lie to me, I don’t care, I love you all! Seriously, when you race, thank a volunteer. You’ll feel better.

Jen asked me for a 12:30/pace doing a 5:1 run:walk ratio. I’m sure she blames me for us not even being close to 12:30/pace during the miles I paced her. You’re welcome! It was a beautiful day although windy on the way out (and really, really windy on the way back). We loped along at a conversational pace, me worrying about my IT band flaring up and Jen worrying about the things that marathoners worry about, like dying. The walk breaks annoyed me, I’m not going to lie. But they were good for me, physically. The entire field was in front of us. That was good for me too, mentally. Because here’s what happened: I got awesomely warm and loose and hungry. Not to eat. To run. Faster. Soon we started seeing friends who were running the half on their way back and we cheered them on at embarrassingly loud levels of sound. So motivating, right?

There was a split at Mile 7 where I left Jen and headed down a weird dog-leg of the bike path where the turnaround for the half marathon was. I hadn’t looked at my watch AT ALL. I had no idea how far I had gone thus far. I know, completely unheard of. Having a friend to talk to really passes the time! I was surprised to see 7.5 on my watch. Ok, legs, time to turn it up. I started playing my favorite game. You may have heard of it. It’s called “negative splits” and can be loosely described as picking off other runners in the final miles of a race. Let’s face it, I’m still pretty slow. I had started with a goal of “just finishing.” I didn’t really care about my time but I wanted to finish strong and with a smile on my face. I <3 passing people. So what if my style is somewhat predatory? It works for me. Rawr! :F

My splits, because I almost never brag about them:

  • Mile 7: 10:52
  • Mile 8: 10:20
  • Mile 9: 10:06
  • Mile 10: 10:20 (Gu and water)
  • Mile 11: 9:58
  • Mile 12: 9:53
  • Mile 12: 9:09
  • Mile 13: 8:25

I finished! And I discovered that chicken noodle soup is pretty much the best post-race food ever. I went to my car and iced all my trouble spots and did a lot of “Yay! I just finished a half marathon!” texting and Facebooking. I waited for friends to finish. I cheered for other people finishing. I stretched in the sun. I ate my weight in cookies and more soup. I enjoyed the the feel of the medal around my neck. Best training run ever!

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Another one for the wall. So pretty, right?

If you studied my race photo above in detail, you’ll notice the clock says 2:25. Yeah, that’s pretty slow. In fact, it’s almost 30 minutes slower than my previous and only half time of 1:58. So, not a PR but any means. But I felt awesome at the finish, and oddly though, I felt fast. I guess speed feels different after two foot surgeries and a year away from running. And relative feelings of speed are eclipsed by the fact that I wasn’t hurting or completely spent at the end. I think this might be the smartest I have run. Obviously I didn’t “leave it all out there.” But I didn’t want to either. I stayed within the pace range I have been training at. I paced myself well enough to have gas in the tank at the end. I hydrated well enough that I had to pit-stop twice during the race. I wanted to run within myself, stay on pace and stay healthy. Mission accomplished. We’ll work on that race-night sleep thing…

Girl vs. half marathon on a day’s notice…

Girl wins!

Bad Race. No Biscuit.

I have a secret. I had a bad race.

I know we’re buds and all but I didn’t want to talk about it. It wasn’t even that bad. I finished. My time wasn’t terrible. I hugged a penguin.  The Powerade was blue. MY FAV! Mostly I had fun. But I had my hopes set sky-high and I fell far short of my goals. As you can see from the photo below, I was crushed. And now I’d like to vent.

I'm a photographer. When I'm working, I hate people like me.

I’m a photographer. When I’m working, I hate people like me.

I’ve read many a blog post from runners about having a bad race. A lot of run-blogs are written by, well, good runners.  so bad races involve such horrors as not being able to hit 6:30 pace for the last three miles of a marathon (I’ve never even done a marathon) or being 30 seconds off a PR goal that’s, say, ten times faster than I could even cycle the given distance. These awesome runners look rapturously happy in all their photos as they float along in miniscule shorts, a tank top, with the most extensive bodily coverage coming in the form of all-the-rage compression socks in neon colors. Oh, and marching band gloves because “it was cold at the start.” Oh, and they’re always tan. With perfect hair. It would be easy to hate them. Not going to lie. Sometimes I do.

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Shorts NOT on backwards! Nailed it in T2, T-Rex!

To say that I have nothing in common with these run-bloggers would be a lie. We all know what it’s like to grunt out a sub-par performance. Among my teammates and friends, I’ve seen road rash, tears, queasiness, panicked swim starts and mechanical failures. A bad race can crush you, from the slow runners to the fast, the amateurs and the veterans alike. You psych yourself out with nerves, have bathroom issues, get caught in traffic, or forget your watch.  I’ve experienced  many”before” the race issues. Heck, you’re talking to someone who regularly gets stuck in her own wetsuit and once did an entire triathlon with her shorts on backwards. BUT. Nothing is as bad as when something happens during the race that you just can’t do anything about. When you’re coming back from injury, guess what’s on your mind every step of the way? Yep. Injury. And exclamation points. Because during a race, everything is awesome (!!!) or it majorly sucks (!!!)

Finishing the 5K at the Great Buckeye Challenge in 2011.

Finishing the 5K at the Great Buckeye Challenge in 2011.

My inner monologue goes something like this: “Ok I’m running and my IT band doesn’t hurt! Yay! This race is great! This race is awesome! I’m awesome! I’m running on pace, I feel good, I’m on pace and I’m running and WAIT what was that? Was that my IT band? Is my IT band starting to hurt? Does my glute feel tight? I’m ok I’m ok just keep moving! … Dang I think my IT band feels weird. Does it hurt? Keep running! Awwwwwww crap! My IT band hurts! Loosen up, damn you! Ok, I’ll be nice, please loosen up and stop hurting?? Please please please? I just want to finish! Slow down, maybe it won’t hurt as much. Ow ow ow! Please stop! Man, can I finish the race like this? What if I change my gait a little? Ow! What if I run on my toes? OW! This race sucks!  Argh, nothing is helping! Ow ow ow! I hate you, IT band!'” And so on. You get the drift.

Polar Dash Expo. Lots of penguins but not real ones.

Polar Dash Expo. Lots of penguins but not real ones. So bummed.

So a quick recap of the events of January 23rd, 2013, wherein I attempted to run The Polar Dash 10K in Chicago. It really did seem like a good idea at the time. Dave was going for work, I was tagging along. We were going to make a long weekend out of it, try some restaurants, see some sights, the whole “big city” whirlwind tour. Ironic that we were IN the Windy City, no? Oh, and there just happened to be a race on Saturday morning that started, I kid you not, right outside of our hotel. What’s more convenient than that? The Polar Dash offered a 5K, 10K and a half marathon. Having done a few 5Ks already and knowing that I was in no shape for a half-marathon, the 10K seemed perfect. I was scheduled for a long run that day anyway, plus I had never done a 10K before. Automatic PR! Bonus!

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Attempting to stretch my hamstrings while covering basketball. Fail.

What I did NOT account for was spending five hours sitting in a car on the drive north and my legs tightening up. Glutes. Hammies. IT band, which is an attention whore. I was so tight I thought Boy Scouts had been practicing knots with my ligaments and Heloise had shrunk my fascia in a hot-water wash. I immediately took action in the form of a hot bath, foam rolling and some (not enough) stretching before I covered a basketball game. Let me tell you, adding even more sitting to the mix was awesome. Hardwood gymnasium floors are the freakin’ bestest.

Free hugs?! From a guy in a penguin suit?! That's not weird at all... right?

Free hugs?! From a guy in a penguin suit?! That’s not weird at all… right?

I felt good the morning of the race. I was calmer than usual, which is to say, not running around and peeing frequently like a small yappy dog. I took another hot bath. I nom’d some banana bread and Sport Beans. (Breakfast of Champions.) Getting to the race was as crossing the street. I had plenty of time for a slow 1.5 mile warm-up, some leg swings, a stop at the loo and some photo ops. One day I will run race wearing a costume or at least something incredibly goofy that will make people question my sanity. Until then, I’ll just take pictures with the folks who have already succumbed to silliness. One more reason I love the running community.

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Are we running or skiing? I have no clue.

Also love the part of the Runners Code that reads: The automatic response if anyone asks you to take their picture at a race is, “Why yes! Will you take our picture? Thank you!” With all the swapping that goes on, I’m going to end up taking home the wrong iPhone one of these days. Until then, thanks running peeps who I will never see again! May I take some pictures of you in silhouette under a bridge?

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Tag yourself if you recognize your butt!

Also this was pretty cool. And hardcore.

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These guys bear-walked the 5K.

Seriously. Awesome.

Obligatory race start photo.

Obligatory race start photo.

I don’t have any photos of me running this race. That sort of happens when you’re concentrating on doing everything according to The Plan.  I was running a little faster than I was used to and begrudgingly taking walk breaks but not as frequently as I was used to. I should have known that running non-competitively during a race would be hard for me as there is nothing in this world harder than my own head. But I wasn’t killing it by any means and I thought I’d be ok. Famous last words.

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The rec trail along Lake Michigan makes for an awesome view.

The course was an out-and-back along the rec trail that borders Lake Michigan. The weather, since I have not yet mentioned, was perfection and ridiculously warm for January in Chicago. I believe the temperature at the start of the race was near 50F?! That is craziness and downright UN-POLAR! False advertising! I demand a refund! For once, I was perfectly dressed (shorts!) but boy I’ll bet the guy in the penguin suit was just dying…

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Hello turnaround, so nice to see you! Chica ahead of me, love your outfit.

Right around the turnaround, which was around Mile 4, I started to feel a little… something. Ok, I felt my butt. Hurting. My glutes by the way are like the direct pipeline to my IT band problems. I held my breath in suspense, which is pretty hard to do when you’re running. I stretched a little during a walk break near the water station and then… it was like watching a Jenga tower slowly come crashing down after you’ve carefully poked free an innocent looking block. That chat with myself  from above? That actually happened. And I was seriously unhappy.

Here's a happy pic of Dave killing the 10K in 49:-something.

Here’s a happy pic of Dave killing the 10K in 49:-something.

To the trainer's table, stat!

Taking my brave face to the trainer’s table, stat!

I tried everything. What other choice did I have? I stopped and stretched. A lot. I walked some. I ran on my toes, which sometimes helps but I think would make other parts of me hurt in the long run. I pouted. I thought mean things about people passing me. I felt sorry for myself. But I kept going. Dave came to find my with a mile or so to go as I hobbled to the finish for my medal and a much-needed post-race stretch. Athletic trainers of the world, on behalf of athletes everywhere coming back from injury… we love you. I finished in 1:09, which wasn’t bad for a “training run.” But time means nothing if you’re hurting. Truth.

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Pretty race number, I love you so. Giant fleece that I will never wear, not so much.

I told you that story to tell you this:

The Polar Dash 10K is in the books. It will probably not go down in history as my greatest fail ever because things could always have been worse. Doc reminded me to think about where I was just a few months ago and to remember all the progress I have made. He’s right. Of course. I didn’t end up last, do something embarrassing like poo myself or sustain a lasting, serious injury. My body simply wasn’t ready for the mileage, compounded by the tight muscles from travel. End of story.

Thus, I call “Do Over” on the Polar Dash! And there is a silver lining to this particularly frustrating race experience. It just so happens that I’m going to Chicago for work again next week. I’ll be staying in the same hotel near the race course. So just because I like to have the last word on things, I’m doing a… wait for it… re-run! Ha ha ha! I kill me…

Although I hope to run about the same distance (8 miles) everything else will be, of course, completely different than the day of the Polar Dash, almost exactly a month ago. The weather will probably more typical for Chicago in the winter. There will be no colorful crowds, no National Anthem, no one shouting “Go!” when the appointed time rolls around. No one will hold traffic as I cross the street, tell me I’m looking great or hand me a cup of blue Powerade. I’ll eat a regular breakfast, wear anything but the “perfect race outfit” and zone out with the iPod. Being completely different is actually The Point. I’m going to exorcise my demons from the Polar Dash with 8 chill miles of actual training this time. That, my friends, is The Plan.

Sue, resident of The Field Museum.

Sue, resident of The Field Museum. Rawr!

And then I’m going to the aquarium! Girl Wins!

On Not Dreading the Treadmill

This morning, I am as the Marines (might) chant in boot camp, “motivated, dedicated, and downright caffeinated.”

Joint pain (thank you, Sjogren’s) got me out of bed. That, a very annoying kelpie who needed to be walked and the “feels like -8 degrees” but oh-so sunshiney weather. On a morning like this, everything feels better when you get moving. And come home to coffee.

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The lonely runner. Actually that’s not true. I’m rocking out with my friends Beyonce, Cher and Florence.

Donning my super stinky Livestrong tee shirt (and about six layers on top of that), I was ready to face the world. Or at least the treadmill. Ok, tell me you don’t recycle your running clothes! Liars.This particular shirt got drenched in the perspiration and good vibes from my last run, which was awesome, thank you for asking. I’m bringing that sweat equity to the gym with me again today.I might need it. Or I might not. I’m feeling that good. I will rock on with my bad self. And no one will be around me cuz I stink. Dibs on the treadmill in the sun! Ahhhhh Vitamin D. Yes, I always wear my sunglasses. Haven’t we gone over this already? That late-morning sun is blinding! Plus I feel extra-awesome when I wear my shades. Rawr! :F

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Snow! I love snow! I’m a timber wolf! Grrrr!

I walked the dog in the artic-ness and happily my eyeballs didn’t freeze shut. Radar did his best stork impression every time rock salt lodged between his toes. He thinks he’s a timberwolf but really he’s a big ol’ wussy lap dog. I ate my favorite breakfast: peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich on french toast. Starbucks and Ghiradelli teamed in my cocoa cup (the one that says, “Hot Shot Photographer”–thanks Mom!) Heck, even my pills went down easy this morning, thank you, slumbering gag reflex and working-for-once salivary glands.

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I’m watching my feet a lot since my gait has changed since surgery. I’m also admiring my pretty new Brooks any chance I get. Still clean! Thanks treadmill runs!

I’d head right out the door now with my shades and iPod but “The Price is Right” isn’t on for another hour. I’ve come to love the treadmill but I need a certain amount of distraction. As with eating broccoli and seeing the dentist regularly, this wasn’t always the case. I got in trouble with the treadmill at the beginning of my last training cycle by doing a WHOLELOTTA speedwork in preparation for the Seven Mile Bridge Run in Key West, which I didn’t even get in to thanks to a super competitive lottery system. I felt like a badass ripping off 7:00 miles right and left. And then I just felt bad after all my IT band got inflamed. Nice job there, hot foot. But as 2013 is the “Year of Being Smart” I’ve learned that the dread-mill can be a very handy training tool. Especially in Ohio in the middle of winter.

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My fav quad stretch. Those are Dave’s car magnets. I’m jealous.

Stretching, for instance. Way more comfortable indoors! Besides the obvious hazards of running on a recent layer of snow/ice/winter mix (which does not sound like a cute snack, National Weather Service in Richmond), the gym is a much safer place for me to run. Of course I’ll have more of an audience if I trip and fly off the treadmill (a vision that haunts my dreams) but being indoors I can… do a good warm-up and cool-down… keep a steady, comfortable and flat pace while I build my base… and/or immediately STOP! (collaborate and listen…) if I feel any pain. I can hop on the machines or hit the weight room and this feels like the “smart thing to do” at the gym. If I’m out on a run and I feel pain, I try to push through it (“it’s cold, I’m bored, it’s not that bad”) with the kind of stupid pep talks that I should use when I really need the motivation. I have plenty of motivation to be a goof ball, but obviously, I need less motivation to be an idiot. It’s a fine line, people.

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The shirt I ran my one and only half-marathon in. Getting good vibes two years later.

I’m happy, no, proud, no, in your face excited that I’ve been hitting my goals of regular sub-one-hour five-mile runs on the treadmill, with walk breaks at regularly (although decreasing, yay!) intervals. These are not fast, between an 11:00-11:30/mile pace. But do you want to know a secret? These runs are slightly challenging but mostly comfortable. They are building my leg strength and my confidence at the same time. Some days I even feel fast. And that, my friends, feels amazing.

I have more things to write you, a recap of all the awesomeness that has transpired since I’ve been A.W.O.L. but right now, I have a date with the treadmill and I have a feeling I’m going to tear it up today. I leave you with one last Instagram of me on the treadmill, because it’s the prettiest.

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Good morning, Wittenberg! It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood.

Girl Wins!

Not Another New Year’s Post

I’m skipping the obligatory New Year’s Resolutions blog post. You’re welcome. Many of my posts are about good intentions vs. bad habits anyway. Instead, I’m bringing you my plans for this week which fall under the “trying new things” category. You can call them goals if you want to. I’m calling them “random winter fun disguised as training.” When all is said and done, I will have new PRs, a shiny medal or two, a tent-sized fleece jacket and possibly some bruises or a case of pneumonia. If I survive.

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Speed demon takes her place at the back of the pack with the walkers.

 

I ended 2013 on a high note with a gratifying performance at the 12.31 Run 5K. It was slow but solid. After some heat and stretching with Doc, I go the race an hour before the start and ran the longest warm-up I have ever done. This is a humungo step in racing maturity for me. I usually prefer warming-up my pie-hole because I’m a social butterfly like that.  This race was different. Monday I shuffled for a good mile and a quarter and got a lovely sweat going. I kept my fashionably baggy warm-ups on until two minutes before the start. I’m learning that my legs like to be toasty warm like Pop Tarts if I expect a good performance out of them. I’m definitely not as cool as the guy who won the race wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Brrrr!

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Smiling because I’m almost done and not in pain and ooooohhh it’s snowing, so pretty!

 

Finally a cold-weather race where I dressed right! I wore my Gore-Tex shoes because a recent snowfall left the roads somewhat icy and slightly precarious. I kept everything covered including my eyeballs. Sunglasses, for the win! Another perk: this race was literally right in my neighborhood, so there was virtually no chance of getting lost. I cheered on my (faster) friends, thanked the volunteers and spectators, and enjoyed a comfortable run at a not-ready-to-hurl pace. Oh yeah, and I negative-split each mile. Boo ya! Bring on the champagne! Or in my case, sparkling grape juice. Dear Race Director, the bubbly was a nice touch. Can we maybe arrange for no ice on the roads next year? Save the slip n’sliding for summer. K, thanks!

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Chip time: 28:05. 6th in age group. Girl Wins!

 

A few goals for 2013 are: getting good and warm before a race, not going out too fast and running even or negative splits. Done, done and…. DONE! I guess I got a jump start since this was way back in 2012. So last year! I did an hour of yoga when I got home too. It’s almost like I’m getting smarter or something. I had almost zero soreness the next day, which was faboo.

After New Year’s came and went, the gym was open again, and more importantly, the pool was open! I missed you, chlorine-induced sneezing fits! I missed you, freezing locker room! I missed you, old men in ill-fitting speedos! (If your cap covers more square inches than your bikini bottom, there’s something wrong…)

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Warming up before the Tiger Tri in October.

 

I do actually really love to swim. I must be in the 2.5% minority of triathletes that enjoy the first leg of a race. I’m not what you’d call fast but I’m fairly confident in the water. Over the summer, swimming was the only cardio I could do while my feet healed. So I got kinda halfway decent at it. You might even say “good.” My last competitive swim was the Wittenberg Tiger Tri, where I was the second overall female for the 400-yard serpentine swim. After swimming, I consider the run leg of a race to be a strength despite my history of injuries and elective foot surgeries. So you can imagine that I was excited when I heard about the Ohio Road River Runners Club hosting a Splash n’ Dash. That would be a 1,000-yard (indoor) swim and a (outdoor) 5K. An activity where you wear almost zero clothing and get all wet and then immediately go outside during the first week of January?! Seriously, who wouldn’t think that sounds like the ultimate in fun? Temperatures will be above freezing later this week, but almost certainly NOT tomorrow at 8 a.m. Not by a long shot. Should be the best thing ever, right? I’ll report back once I thaw out. Oh, and I’ll automatically PR since I’ve never done a Splash n’ Dash before. Bonus!

Actually going back to that “thawing out” part… I probably won’t. My good friend Mark has convinced me to go skiing tomorrow afternoon. He promised to write a guest post telling you all about it if I wind up in a full-body cast. But hey, I’ll try anything once. You know what else I’ve never done? Stayed up all night nursing a concussion! I’m going to be checking a whole ton of stuff off the bucket list tomorrow. So productive, I know.

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Vaycay time! Chi-town here we come.

 

As if this week wasn’t already exploding with plans, Dave and I are headed to Chicago next weekend. I voted for someplace beach-y but apparently whoever planned the basketball tournament Dave is covering has a fondness for windy cities. I was on the fence until Dave found a race in Chicago that weekend, the “Polar Bash.” We registered for the 10K. Never done one before. Instant PR! We will get shiny medals and XL fleece jackets (the only size left, apparently–I’ll make it into a sleeping bag). I get another shot at dressing for a cold race, warming up thoroughly, and even pacing. I actually haven’t run 6 miles since I last angered my ornery IT band but that distance was coming up again on my training schedule. My plan is to run this at long-run pace with my 5:1 run:walk ratio. The 6.2 miles will be good practice for the Olympic-distance triathlons I will be doing this season in preparation for the Half-Iron at Rev3 Cedar Point in September. I’m all about the volume right now. Christian Slater told me to pump it up, so that’s what I’m doing. Or was that Ah-nuld?

Either way, there are more important things to worry about. Like what I’m going to wear when I get out of the pool tomorrow so that I don’t turn into an Eskimo pie. And how to stay healthy and limber this week before the upcoming 10K (I’m pretty sure “first attempt at skiing” does not make that list). January is shaping up to be a fun month! Stay tuned for more fun in the, um, snow. I’ll report back after I thaw out.

Reindeer Games

Remind me again why I thought running at the crack of dawn in the snow on a day when I could have slept in was a good idea. It’s dark. It’s cold. I am never awake that early and I had a bit of a scare with my IT band earlier in the week. Simple answer: I needed my peeps. Yes, the peer pressure made me do it. That and the sweet headlamp. Too dark for sunglasses, but I still felt a need to make a statement. And, you know, SEE.

For the record, I am not an early riser. My sister Laura can attest to this after years of literally pummeling me awake on school days. I now work second shift and it’s a beautiful thing. A “morning run” means “just before noon.” I’m a big fan of mid-afternoon races. If there’s one thing I do right in my training, it’s not skimping on sleep. 7 a.m.? That’s just crazy talk. But I thought it would be fitting to end the week on the same note as it began: with my fellow runners.

Quick race fun run recap from Monday’s Ho Ho Ho 5K. Now in it’s fourth year, this run was the brainchild of one of my running friends, Cathy aka “Sarge.” It’s on Christmas Eve morning, it’s free, people bring donations for the local food bank. This year we upped the ante, using social networking to spread the word and handing out jingle bells as medals. Last year: around twenty runners. This year: a walloping sixty! Girl wins! And I must say, we sounded just like a herd of tiny reindeer… if reindeer wore thermal tights and ugly sweaters (swanky theme for a run, Sarge!).

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My shirt reads, “Ask Me About My T-Rex”
You know you’ve been wanting to…

It was also an opportunity for me to run with my sister for the first time in pretty much EVER. Laura’s saying, “Hey! It’s cold. You guys suck…” She wore antlers that play music! So festive for so early in the morning. Laura is a morning person. We may or may not be related…

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11:00/min miles look super fast with a camera pan. Good job, Dave.

It’s dark and early. You see where this is going right? If I can get up for a fun run, I can get up for a group training run. Right? Maybe? Incidentally, why am I wearing sunglasses?

It wasn’t actually the best run. I was so excited to see everyone that I didn’t really warm up. I didn’t dress right to warm up during the run. I was basically freezing the entire time. It was icy and my IT band was not a fan of the mincing steps I had to take to avoid slipping. We passed a cow farm but luckily I couldn’t smell that. Thanks, head cold! You’re the bestest!

I did have some fun. For instance, this happened:

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Red Rover, Red Rover, bring AAAAAAAHHHHH DUCK!!!! (Good job, reflexes, nice to know I can count on you at sunrise.)

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FYI: Really hard to run looking through a t-shirt!

And the T-Rex came out at the turnaround. RAWR! I’m making my fierce face but it’s hidden in this fab t-shirt that Dave got me for Christmas. Awesome, right? It’s amazing what Boys can find online these days. Go, go, Gadget Google!

Somewhere around here, we started singing songs from camp. “Alligator,” “Black Socks,” and of course, the prune song. Whatcha doin’ prune? Stewin’? Hmmmm??

I know what you’re thinking and you’re so right. We are hilarious.

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And finally, a group photo. I’m annoying like that. Good lookin’ bunch, right? The smart (and fast) people fled to their cars and sped away before I could wrangle everyone. Peer pressure works both ways, y’all. Muhahahahaha! *Click* You’re captured for posterity. Shoo, go eat your healthy post-run breakfast. (For the record, we had cinnamon rolls. From a can. Yum. And coffee. Of course there was coffee!)

The other thing you should probably do after a run is stretch. I didn’t. I got cold and then all my muscles tightened up. I didn’t stretch later, either. I sat in a dark theater for three hours and watched, “The Hobbit.” Theater should really have massage chairs, don’t you think? That would be ridiculously efficient and way more comfortable than the kinda-lean-back-and-get-sorta-but-not-quite-comfy seats we had on Christmas Eve. I did some foam rolling when I got home but the damage was done. I ran the Christmas morning and to say I was tight would be the understatement of the year. I baked all morning and didn’t do a proper warm-up. I stopped to stretch multiple times but after a loop around the cemetery, I was hobbling. I swallowed my pride at Mile 4 and walked home in an attempt to be smart. I stretched and iced and took the foam roller to Christmas dinner. At least my roller is a bright and festive red. Wassail, anyone?

I admit to some pouting, grumbling, and perhaps a mild freak-out. I hate pain (really great trait for an athlete, right?) and after so many instances of not paying attention to my body, I’ve boomeranged into a complete hypochondriac. Maybe I’ll get some benefit out of playing it safe? Luckily it snowed and my gym is closed so I haven’t had much opportunity to get out and pound the pavement. I’ve been in rehab mode since Tuesday, with some yoga and strength training to keep me chill. And luckily Doc is still my best friend and is incredibly patient and kind and spent some time assessing both IT bands this afternoon. I got a clean bill of health (which means he can actually pick up my IT band through the skin and manipulate it, ewwww but also so cool). The Rx: light through the weekend, keep rehabbing and start back slower next week. Slower than the last few weeks. Slower than snot. But if snot can do a triathlon, I’m down with that. I’ve got time. I was doing Jeff Galloway’s half marathon plan. Now I’m starting back with the 5K plan. Building my base! Yeah! I’ll be looking forward to getting back to the safety of the treadmill next week. Until then…

How about a run in the snow??

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Good morning! Try to stay between the… lines?

Saturday morning, some folks I run with were going out early. I didn’t have to work until the afternoon. 7:30 a.m. with 100% chance of snow showers seemed like a perfect time for some craziness. I was so excited I couldn’t stay asleep. (I’m kind of an overly excitable idiot like that.) The flakes stacked up to a few inches overnight and were still falling when Dave and I hit the road for Yellow Springs. The drive was a bit messy but I only *almost* slid off the road once. No problem. I’m a professional.

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Some picturesque snow scenes from Dave, the official blog photographer.

We made it in time to catch the 7 a.m. group after their “first pass” of about two miles. I strapped on my Gore-Tex Asics Gel Trabucco’s and my Yak Trax and we took off. It was slow going as the sun rose (and we are all multiplying our miles accordingly, ha ha!). There were twelve of us in all lumbering down the road in various states of bundled-up-ness. I quickly fell to the back of the pack but Jen “Ankle-Biter” by my side. I was seriously sore from doing some of my physical therapy exercises the other night but in a totally tolerable way. My legs benefited from the extra insulation I wrapped myself in this morning.  Two layers all over is apparently the way to go during winter weather. I even wore gloves! Yes ladies and gentlemen, she can be taught.

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Yellow Springs is a great place to bike and run. Also chock-full of artsy-fartsy photo ops. Check it out. Hit Dino’s for coffee.

I stuck to The Plan and did a 4-mile out-and-back run with 1-minute walk breaks every 5 minutes. I really thought I could do more. I really thought about doing more. I really thought about how much it would suck to have to walk back in the freezing cold as traffic was picking up if my IT band got cranky. I decided to stick to The Plan. A few of my friends poked (completely justifiable) fun at me. I’m notorious for adding mileage during a run just because I feel good at the moment. I deserve the jokes and the raised eyebrows. I’ve earned that reputation and not to my betterment. THANK YOU FRIENDS FOR KEEPING ME HONEST AND PAIN-FREE! T-Rex loves you! Rawr!

Dave and I peeled off and turned around just before the rest of the group did. They caught up to us because I am just that slow. We made pleasant conversation, discussing such hot topics as who was where with their winter training and the rudeness of drivers who spray you with slush. Then some people went one way (headed to the public restroom), some people went another way (headed I don’t know where but it was kind of hilarious), and Dave and I went to the car. In the car is the wallet. With the wallet, one can buy coffee. Bonus! We hit Dino’s Cappuccinos for warm beverages and headed home.

It was a great run in that it was nothing spectacular as far as mileage or time and also nothing to speak of as far as pain. It was cold and dark and sloppy and so much fun can we do it again next week? Running is awesome. Running with your friends is better than awesome. Left to my own devices, I probably would not have run this morning, what the the cold and the dark and the wet. Really, who wants to dodge snow plows alone? There truly is strength in numbers. I’m so glad my friends made me do it. Ok, they didn’t make me. But I couldn’t have done it without them. Thanks, guys. Girl wins!

Guest post by Olive

Christmas Eve-eve greetings! Today, please address me as Olive. You know, Olive? Olive the… other… reindeer? (Duh.) Yeah that would be me. Because two days before Christmas is the absolute freaky bestest time to get a head cold. My nose? You could even say it glows. *Honk* *Snert* *Achoo* *Whine*

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Who wuvs you Hubbie? Crazy Aunt Barbara wuvs you. Oh yes she does! Ah boo boo boo!

My usual five-foot package of concentrated awesome is now a ball of congested, achy woe that, while unable to focus on anything for more than five seconds, can’t sleep either. I keep waking myself up sneezing. I’m picking up where my nephew dog Hubbell left off. My sister Laura discovered he is allergic to nylon, which is the main material for most dog collars. Wearing a dog collar, like, most of the time, caused him to huff and puff and try to blow his nose clear, Big Bad Wolf-style. Poor Hub would sneeze six, eight, ten times (always an even number) in a fit of “sneezures” that often cause him to bang his head on the floor. We called him Snot Rocket. I have assumed the mantle. (Not a dog collar, though, that would be weird.)

Yesterday I had to work. It was, by the grace of everything, slower than snot. (Except my snot, which seems to be doing speedwork in my sinuses.) I went to a fire call, which was nothing so I stopped at Speedway for 99-cent cappuccino. I took photos of an empty field. I went home and rotted my brain “Beavis and Butthead Do America.” I was hoping that rotting my brain might make me feel better. It didn’t but at least I was entertained. I went to a car accident, which was nothing so I stopped at Speedway for MORE cheap, caffeinated beverage full of chemicals. I don’t know what’s in that stuff that makes it so tasty and utterly appealing but anything that comes in a five-gallon bag and has forty-five ingredients is probably NOT good for me. I cut it half and half with regular brewed coffee so I’m only going to die half as young, right? Sounds logical to me.

I went home to sit on the couch, listen to the scanners, and continue to drown my sorrows in junk food and hot beverages. I popped some Vitamin C. How much? I passed the recommended daily limit before lunch. The saying is supposed to be “Feed a cold, starve a fever,” right? Because when you have the attention span of a fruit fly, that’s how you pass the time: junk food and junk TV. Eating healthy pretty much went out the window. Broccoli kills cancer, but I hear Oreos are the cure for a cold. Mint Oreos. At least I hope so. Because that’s what I’m craving. Mint Oreos. And that lovely, delectable summer sausage that you only see in grocery stores around the holidays. I’m fascinated by meat that is multi-colored, even-textured, overly salted, comes in a wax paper wrapper and doesn’t have to be refrigerated. But not the kind with MSG. That would be gross.

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Who loves the couch? Me. And this guy. Note: one pillow for the head, one for the butt. Always.

As the afternoon wore on, I continued my evolutionary backward slide from a rebounding athlete who just ran a season-high fifteen miles this week (save the woo-hoo for later, it’s pity party time right now) to a nose-drooling mouth-breather who needed the couch cushions to hold me upright. After I became so congested that I could not longer do Cornholio voices to my satisfaction, I settled in to watch reruns of Roseanne for a mind-numbing four hours. Or was it five? Doesn’t matter. I was just killing time until 6 p.m. when my shift was over and The Santa Clause came on. Somewhere in between I carried my camera gear inside and felt blessed (besides feeling crummy) that it had been a quiet day. I also popped some more Sudafed and took a lobster-boiling-hot bath, where I contemplated my strong, straight toes and imagined all the runs I would be enjoying in the year to come. Eventually, I went to bed. Time no longer had meaning. I had eaten everything in the house I was even vaguely interested in. I had the commercials on ABC Family memorized. I had drank enough hot tea that my kidneys called for a temp just to keep up. I was done. It was, oh, 9 p.m. Maybe 9:30.

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Who loves the bed? This guy. Notice the pillow snuggling. Kelpies in the wild do that too.

I admit, I briefly debated attending the Sunday long run at the reservoir. That thought disappeared faster than that bag of mint Oreos. I did a little research on the internet which basically told me that I symptoms above the shoulders were fine to run through. However, I have strong personal beliefs about, you know, like, breathing, and stuff. I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. I had already decided to sit out my husband’s family’s Christmas celebration on Sunday (“Hey kids, what did Crazy Aunt Barbara bring? A game called ‘Cooties?’ Cool!”) and I’m trying this new leaf of being smart. And stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work out but it’s worth the effort to try. Like deciding to DVR the third Santa Clause movie despite it’s rave two-star review so I could go to bed? Who knew I’d still be awake at 2 a.m., a sniffling, crusty mess who could not get comfortable in any position? At least I was resting (ahem, Mom). AND I was still able to sleep in ’til 11 a.m. after a somewhat decent night’s sleep brought to you by our sponsors, Carmex and Kleenex, and my little friend, the warm-air humidifier.

Amazingly, as quickly as my symptoms had appeared, they started to abate. I was actually hungry at breakfast. I had a little spring in my step while walking The Dog. My nose was less red and now covered by a thin, protective coating of what I can only assume is scar tissue. Breathing out of both nostrils at once cannot be far behind! I can feel my fierceness returning! Rawr!

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Actually, not so threatening like that. Smooches!

I’m glad I skipped the run today. My twin sister Laura came over to “take care of me” which loosely translated means making us coffee and pulling up bizarre videos on YouTube. They say laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps, but we still had some mint Oreos. You know, just in case. We had a swell time. While I’m usually a staunch supporter of not putting of until tomorrow what I can do today, I’m starting to learn that sometimes it’s ok

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This is me. Lil’ sick tree curled up on a blanket trying to get my holiday cheer on.

. Because, in fact, I can run tomorrow. There just so happens to be a Christmas Eve morning 5K fun run at 8 a.m. I’ll be there with bells on (and not just because I’m bringing the bells) and my bright red nose. And let’s face it. I ate my weight in cookies over the past few days.

Olive, the other reindeer, signing off.

Sit. Stay. Heal.

I never claimed to be the brightest crayon in the box, nor the fastest triathlete out there (just check my transition times for proof). What I lack in athletic ability, I try to make up for in sheer exuberance. I am after all SPAZ President of my triathlon team. However, all the “Woo Hoo!” in the world won’t save your tail (or your IT band) if you commit the cardinal sin: Too Much, Too Fast. Read and learn from my mistakes, Grasshopper. This is a cautionary tail. Happy ending? Let’s just say I’m making progress.

To recap, and to quote “Moulin Rouge,” everything was going SO well. Regular runs at a pace I wasn’t entirely embarrassed about, two short races under my belt with more planned, and I was a happy Girl. I could live with the times on my watch and I was ecstatic about the mileage I was getting in, albeit slowly. Dare I say, I was starting to get a bit cocky. You know what loves to shoot down Brag-n-Swagger Girl? Karma. And cranky connective tissue.

I got a healthy dose of both all at once around mile 3 of a 6-8 mile long run last Sunday. Idiot that I am, I tried to push through it, to keep up with my friends, to “finish what I started.” In short… owwie. Way to go, Smarty McSmart-Butt. Despite stretching, rolling, icing for the rest of the day, by Monday morning, I was limping around and wondering if I’d completely killed my season before it started. I battled ITBS during my last triathlon season thanks to a numskull dedication to speed work over the winter. (In my defense, going from 8:30’s to 7-minute miles seemed like a perfectly attainable goal at the time. Vroom! Or not.) Classic case of Too Much, Too Fast compounded by my unwillingness to take time off. Rest? Pish. I had races on my schedule! I had to RACE! Obviously, I am brilliant. So I was never really 100%, which made for a very frustrating season. Healing takes time, people, and hindsight is 20/20 (unless the dog knocked your mirror off-kilter during the last R-I-D-E–then you’ve got other problems).

Luckily for me, I have sympathetic friends. Friends who are lifetime runners. With medical training and fancy equipment. Which brings me to Doc.

ImageThis is Doc. He is an athletic trainer with Excel Sports Medicine, where I went for my post-surgery par-tay (I mean, PT). Doc is also a member of the 50-States Marathon club. He is a “lifer.” I consider Doc a role model at the very least and a life saver as off this week. Doc texted me and said “come by and I’ll check things out.” Here he is, assessing the damage I had done to my IT band. He referred to the swelling as “a goose egg” which I thought was a compliment but as it turns out, this goose does not lay golden eggs. It just hurts. Did I mention I’m a wussy?

 

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Ultrasound is cool. This is Doc’s “Mmmm-hmmm” face, which he has perfected over many years of practicing the medical arts. Props to Doc for never once scolding me on my self-destructive behaviors (because really, that would include ALL runners). Over three days, Doc flogged me with ultrasound, massage, a foam roller, some crazy flamingo-type stretches (pigeon pose on crack for you yoga folks) and everyone’s favorite… ICE. I’ve been icing a LOT. Like when I just hear the word “ice” I say, “Stop! Collaborate and listen.” (Tee hee, I’m heeeee-larious.)

For three days, I’ve been showing up and Doc has been working his magic. We’ve also talked a lot and maybe the mental help (shush!) is what I needed the most. As a long-time runner, Doc has a fair amount of wisdom to impart. Probably the greatest nugget of all was, “We all do it.” As in, dumb things. We push. We ignore our bodies. We prioritize the wrong things. We get broken. Pretty relieved to know that I am not the only one following instinct like a lemming. I was pretty Imagesure I wasn’t… but not entirely.

Did I mention the ICE? Just checking. Doc also showed me how to actually get a hold on my IT band under the skin. (Ew ew ew!) On Monday my quad was like a rock. Three days later it is much happier and much more pliable. That’s when I can feel sensation. It’s been rather numb rather regularly from all the ICE. (If there was a problem, yo, it’ll solve it.)

 

 

Today, I ran a slow two miles on the treadmill while Doc analyzed my gait from all directions. Running already! Didn’t see that coming. IT was super slow. Like 13:30’s. A jog-saunter-mosey. A (pain-free!) walk in the park. It was sooooo nice. I got good marks for my foot falls and pelvis rotation for the most part. Doc’s diagnosis: Too Much, Too Soon. Yeah, I kinda saw that coming. He explained that although my cardio fitness is fine from swimming over the summer, the wheels fell off, so to speak, when I loaded up my body with the tall task of running again. I’d have to take it slow, like for reals this time, and build my base back up. It sounds so simple, right? I’ve been charged with running 10-15 miles a week for the next two weeks, SLOWLY, to let my body adapt. I’ll probably be on the dread, I mean, treadmill, so that I can do this safely. By safe, I mean it’s a giving surface, a steady, controlled pace, and I can stop at the first hint of pain. If all goes well, Doc might let me do the Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s Eve as a “fun run.” That would be a good lesson in itself. Remember the ice? I need to take my competitive self and chill for awhile. My surgeon assured me it would be a long road back. I hate it when he’s right but I guess that’s why he’s got the M.D. And Sandy, my physical therapist, I’m pretty sure she said to take it slow too. I’m surrounded by geniuses! Now why don’t I LISTEN TO THEM? (That’s mostly rhetorical, but if you actually have any idea, please by all means let me know.)

A few other thoughts… I’m going to suck up the expense and start scheduling regular massages. It’ll be worth it, just like the yoga DVDs. I going to reassess the value of my watch. I get way too caught up with time. I like to do things fast. I like to get results. I like to win. Winning, in this case, might be just making it to the starting line of Rev3 next fall 100% healthy. Competitive might mean Girl needs to tackle herself. Helmet to helmet contact would be allowable, I think, in this situation. My mom even offered to tie me down with a cinder block. (Isn’t she a riot? Thanks, Mrs. Hoffa, I’ll keep my Brooks and skip the cement shoes. <3 you, Mom!)

Now I have replaced Pain with A Plan and I’m ready to try this again. With feeling. In four-part harmony. Who’s going to the track tomorrow? This Girl!

Girl wins. (I get by with a little help from my friends.)

My Religion: The Sunday Run

I love Sunday mornings! Especially when I have a group run planned for early afternoon. Despite the Weather Channel saying, “Occasional rain likely to begin at 1:15 p.m,” (They are so FULL of good news…) for today, Sunday mornings are the Besty-Best McBestest. I love the anticipation of The Long Run that has been talked about with friends via Facebook all week, looking forward to upping my distance just a bit (Damn you, 10% rule…) and in short, building my entire day around the pursuit of one goal: slowing down.

Sunday begins my weekend and there is all kinds of time to do all the things that I rush through during the week where my training is concerned. I sleep in. I eat a perfect pre-run breakfast (maple brown sugar oatmeal) not too close to when I’m going to run (running on a stomach of half-digested breakfast is just a recipe for disaster and quite frankly my fleet-footed companions, while lovely and understanding people, do not appreciate the Technicolor Yawn). I can linger over a cup of coffee (not instant!) and still have plenty of time to rehydrate (damn you, diuretic beans). I give The Dog a longer than usual walk and let him stop to sniff. Every. Single. Bush. for as long as he wants. Share the love, right? And no excuses today on getting in a thorough warm-up, using my slapped-together combo of the MYRTL routine, some foam rolling, and randomly running up and down the stairs in search of my iPod, sunglasses, or a bathroom. (Damn you, diuretic beans…). I throw things in the slow-cooker for dinner which may or may not resemble the pretty picture in the cookbook after 7 hours on low. I definitely anticipate a hot bath after the run. 40 degrees is awesome for running but I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to rain, which makes it feel oh so much colder outside than it really is. *Shiver* Speaking of which, now would be a good time to admit that with so much time on my hands I’ll probably try on two or three different outfits to ensure optimal comfort. Or five. Don’t judge me.

Fast forward to after the run. I am decidedly not jazzed about how today went. In fact, I am distinctly in pout mode with occasional patches of cranky. When you’re typing WHILE icing, the reader can assume that nothing good came of this run. Or did it?

Remember that theory about listening to my body? Today I didn’t. At all. I had run a slow and happy six miles a couple of weeks ago before racing. When I run hard, I get tight. When I get tight, I get injured. That’s the cycle. Oh I lightened the load after those two 5Ks but apparently not enough. I started out less than 100% loose after upping resistance on the stair climber and bike trainer this week and skimping on my foam rolling and other recovery efforts. I was so thrilled to be running with my friends and hoping to do another six miles. Or eight. Yeah, eight sounded soooooo good. Fool.

We started out slow enough and after our group separated into two groups of varying speeds, I stuck with the slower-paced group doing a walk/run combo of 5 min/1 min. I felt good for the first few miles but not exactly “float like a butterfly” awesome. I sped up going up a hill (I like hills for some reason) and went with the faster pace group for awhile and that, my friends, is where it all started coming undone. Legs started feeling heavy and tight and pretty soon, I started feeling that familiar and dreaded twinge of pain in my IT band in my left leg. For athletes, there is no amnesia when it comes to the hauntingly familiar signs of an overuse injury. The really dumb thing is, I didn’t stop. I should have, and I know this. I should have stopped, turned around and walked back. I convinced myself to run through it, since I was almost at the halfway point and I was running with my friends and all. I went back to taking the scheduled walk breaks. Heck, I started taking unscheduled walk breaks. I fell back, started bringing up the rear, and eventually watched my buddies fade into the distance. Dave stayed with me although I know I wasn’t very pleasant to be around. I started feeling a blister form on my high-maintenance little toe. A light rain rolled in. I wasn’t sure it would be enough to mask the tears I felt forming from frustration. (Another good reason to run in sunglasses even on a cloudy day.) Let’s get a show of hands from people that like to finish a run in pain. Anyone? Anyone? I hear you, crickets. Moving on…

I eventually made it back to my car, running (ahem, shuffling) a quarter mile at a time, IT band in full-on banshee scream mode, feeling annoyed and embarrassed and dismayed. My big come-back, over just like that? This sucks. Royally.

Well kids, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Time for This Girl to get wise. I always think I know it all until it becomes shockingly and painfully obvious that I don’t. I don’t like to use the phrase “I can’t” but in this case, I will. I can’t not do recovery and maintenance during the week and expect to stay loose. I can’t take a week or more off after racing and expect to pick up my mileage where I left off. I can’t let my ego dictate how fast or far I’m going to run/ride/swim on a given day. It’s time to listen to the body like for real this time, before “Too much, too fast, too soon,” gets etched on my gravestone.

One thing is for sure: I’ve been so focused on getting back into running that I’m forgetting some important things! My swimming has been awesome. I have tons of time before Rev3 next year. I’ve cleaned up my diet (some days are better than others). I have lots of options for staying in shape besides running. It’s not the end of the world.

I admit, I pouted for a few hours. I’ve been icing and rolling all evening. I ordered some “Yoga for Runners” DVDs. I checked out the Jeff Galloway website since I obviously need professional help and A Plan. I’m swimming tomorrow and I plan to keep it light on the legs for the rest of this week. Next week, my mantra is “slowly, slowly said the sloth.” Today didn’t work out how I’d planned but tomorrow is a new day. All I can do is keep trying.

Girl wins!

Unseasonably Warm Weather and the Allure of New Shoes

You know how stores are always running Christmas in July sales? Apparently the idea is that seasonal paradox is supposed to entice the average consumer to spend money like they’re high on snickerdoodle-scented candles. (I’m fairly certain that the mall just pumps that stuff in through the HVAC. Trust no one.) Well here we are, the first month of December, with the forecast proclaiming a high of 65 degrees today. Perfect running weather.  Especially for those of us who despise the treadmill. And guess who has new shoes?

iPhone 024THIS GIRL!

Since hearing those magic words, “full and unconditional release for all activities” from my surgeon a few weeks ago, it was high time (but not high on cookie candles time) to get a shoe fitting. Courtesy of Runners Plus, I have some brand-spankin’ new kicks. (Insert happy dance here! But not the Y.M.C.A. T-Rex hates Y.M.C.A.) Runners Plus is one of my all-time favorite shoe stores. I love new shoes unconditionally. I could walk around a shoe store for hours staring at all the pretty colors and high-tech designs, wondering which pair will carry me to distance running greatness. It was a slow day at the store and I had not one but THREE associates checking out my scars and weighing the options for my now-unburdened-by-bunions (not to be confused with Guided by Voices) feet. Dr. Berlet strongly advised me to throw away any notion I ever had of wearing minimalist shoes again– a seriously  cushioned shoe would be safest for my still-healing feet. (It’s a year recovery, which I need to keep reminding myself.) Thus, after plodding along on a treadmill with my jeans rolled up and having my pronation analyzed (negative, I’m still a supinator thanks to decades of trying to stay off those bunions), I landed in a Brooks Glycerine, a neutral shoe with Cadillac-level cushioning. Size 7, said Todd, the shoe fitting expert.

SAY WHAT?? I’ve been a 6.5 for-EVER. And now, I’m not. Piffle. I sort of expected this news. Not all of my shoes have been fitting well since surgery. Even though it’s been weeks since I had any swelling, the big toe on my right foot has been getting pounded from the top and front in everything from sneakers to my blue cowboy boots.  Yeah, that’s fun. The only shoes that fit me post-surgery were my (shameless plug) Brooks running shoes. I rotated between the Launch and the popular Ghost models. They’re wide. They’re roomy in the toe box. I loved them and lived in them. Previously I was a huge fan of Asics’ cloud series, specifically the Nimbus, but their shoes have gone on a diet and gotten skinnier and I can’t say the same for my feet. Despite no longer having ugly, painful bunions, my feet are still pretty wide. The worst part of this is that about half the shoes in my closet no longer fit comfortably. This is making me grumpy. My new pair of trail shoes scored for half-price on the clearance rack? Cramping my (big toe’s) style. My too-cool brown leather boots from last year with all the zipper and buckles? Can’t even get ‘em on. Go ahead, tell me to should act my age and not my shoe size, since my standard has risen by six months. The highlights? Did I mention I love shoe stores? Guess it’s time to cull the herd. Hello, e-Bay!

Back to the weather. It’s kind of gray and disgusting and damp out but it’s warm. And when it’s warm, I go running. In fact, Saturday, it was warm. And I went running.

3444_10151165896416279_1119605791_nThere I am! And to the left is Dave, my husband, who got me into this whole running thing in the first place. He’s actually the one who decided on the Boy and Girl monikers, since through various stages of dating we didn’t know how to refer to each other. Dave is a writer who fancies himself a photographer. He and the iPhone make a deadly combination. He is now my official picture-taker for the Girl Wins! blog. The gig doesn’t pay much but it will look good on his resumé. Saturday was gorgeous and we had the morning free due to covering two basketball games later (date night!). Some of the Mama Gladiators were running crack-of-dawn early Saturday morning, which is both something I admire and absolutely crazy cakes. They planted a seed though, and I woke up right around the time they were meeting and all I could think about was running. Actually at first all I could think about was “I have to pee!” but after taking care of business, it was running on the brain. I went back to sleep eventually, but once  I woke up again, there was the thought: You Must Go Run. So we did.

 

 

 

559740_10151165966601279_1964019486_nWithout much fanfare or planning or coiffing (note the dinosaur hair/bedhead mash-up), Dave and I ran to the nearby Ferncliff Cemetery, through Cliff park and back through the campus of Wittenberg University. I love running in the cemetery. Better out that in, I always say. Dave made this nice diptych to document my goofiness, my slick compression calf guards, and my butt. Look at me! I’m absolutely wailing on that hill! I totally raced that car by Recitation Hall. I almost won too because I am so, so fast right now. My secret? I say, “Vroom, vroom!” under my breath when I need a boost. Try it. It works.

Anyway, a few stats… we ran 4.5 miles in 46 minutes, walking for the ninth minute out of every ten, or when I didn’t feel like running down hill. I actually don’t mind running UP hills. It’s the downhills that always killed my IT band so I am suspicious of them.  That’s around a 10 minute pace, which was totally fine by me.

I was a bit sore on Sunday on my left side. This wasn’t a big surprise since that was the side more recently incapacitated by surgery and we didn’t take as many rest breaks. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be balanced (insert unbalanced joke here) but it’s a good reminder that I’m not out of the woods yet. More strength training! More fun with the balance disc! More trying to figure out exactly what my “core” consists of (I think it’s that area between your neck and ankles… yeah, work more on that…)!

For now I’m doing the good ol’ recovery routine… rolling, icing, and a swim today. I have two races planned for January if all goes well…. The Resolution Run 5K in Beavercreek  on New Year’s Eve (a favorite, goes right through my old ‘hood) and the ORRRC Splash n’Dash on January 6th, which is a thousand-yard swim and a 5K. I don’t need to rack up a lot of distance yet on the roads and I pledge to try and just ENJOY running anything in the 2-6 mile range at whatever pace I feel like when I feel good.

But I really wouldn’t argue with a warm winter. Or no winter at all. Speaking of which, it’s 65 degrees, the sun is sort of trying to come out and I just might the Mama Gladiators for a slow 4-miler later. Why? Because I can. And that feels so good.

GIRL WINS!

Building a Better Girl

So I’m sitting here after a lovely, dripping hour on the bike training, pre-foam-roll and currently enjoying a recovery shake (made, I admit, with soy nog–delish!) and thinking about thinking. More.  And differently. Now that I have officially embarked on training for next season, I need to get smarter. Athletes are all about stronger and faster–rest assured, I will be working on those little gems as well. But now is the time to make some promises to myself above and beyond finally listening to the entire Passion Pit album which my sister gave me weeks ago.  I have a Big Goal: Half-Iron at Rev3 Cedar Point, September 2013. To reach the Big Goal, the Girl needs a Plan. (Important parts of my blog will be capitalized or put into parenthesis with the occasional bold font just for kicks.)

We can make her better than she was.  Betterstrongerfaster.

(Don’t forget smarter. I already committed to that one.)

I’m actually patting myself on the back this week for being smart and actually doing what I said I was going to do: take a week off from running after two successful 5k races. This is the lovely part about being a triathlete. There are always other things you can do if you’re not running. Off doesn’t always mean off to a triathlete. We are insidiously sneaky like that. Which is probably why there’s a no-draft rule. Bad things would happen if triathletes were allowed to pounce.

Not to bore you with my training schedule, such as it is, but the week went a little like this: Friday, off with recovery efforts; Saturday, I covered The Game (OSU-Michigan, if you’re not from ’round here) which was a workout in itself; Sunday was a grab bag at the gym with some Stairmaster and some strength training, which I have sorely been ignoring since my return to running; Monday I did 2500 yards in the pool (my happy place)with almost 1/3 of that pulling; Tuesday I wrote you an entertaining blog post about my most recent exploits; Wednesday was a short cycle and two rounds of the weight machines at the gym; Thursday was foam rolling, the MYRTLE routine for my hips and some of my flashy moves from PT; Friday (today) was a long cycling workout of 18 non-mental miles on the trainer which also enabled me to catch up on some reading. See? NO running for a whole week. I’d like my gold star now please.

There was more to this but WordPress ate it. Kinda grumbly about that but more later.

 

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