Sunday, April 28, 2013

When Cross-Training Meets Fear

I have some hefty long-term running goals, a couple of which I hope to tackle in the next twelve months. I'm hoping to run my first full marathon in November. I've joined a Ragnar team to run my first relay in February 2014. But one running goal I have no interest in is the mighty triathlon.

I think it's an awesome and lofty goal, but there's this one little issue...

I hate deep water. I'm deathly afraid of anything having to do with incalculable depths, sea creatures, and simple idea of floating above who-knows-how-many lurking dangers.

No no no no no no no no no no no no no.
This weekend, I was strong-armed into paddle boarding with Matt and his friends. Some pros of going: I would get a full-body workout, strength-training, cardio, and basically good cross-training.

Cons? Well, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, I could drown, get eaten by a whale, be bumped off my board and drowned by a manatee...or a million other scenarios involving watery deaths. (This phobia is called Thalassophobia, and I have a tendency to talk about it jokingly, but yesterday I really got to experience what this fear does to me.)

I've successfully stood on the paddle board in twelve-inches of warm, still water, but getting me out into the ocean was another matter.

I'm not ashamed to admit that in first ten minutes, my nerves got the best of me and I cried a little. I was hyperventilating and my legs were shaking.

Closer to shore, I really enjoyed paddling. The water was so clear, you can see the board's shadow!
But after the tears passed, I was able to tamp down my nerves enough to pretty much enjoy the trip. And I'll probably give it another try in a couple weekends, but I'll definitely hug the shore more.

Paddling is a great cross-training workout. You entire body - especially your core - is constantly engaged, your muscles are constantly working to keep you balanced, and the paddling itself is great for your arms.

Afterward, we stopped at Whole Foods. I wanted more GF poptarts, but they weren't shelved. After talking to customer service, we were able to walk out with half of the stock they had in the back...I have a feeling it's enough to last me until school lets out.

Two cases of poptarts...nothing wrong with that.
I also picked up goat's milk soap from Canus. I like the smell and it seems nice and mild; I'm hoping it will have good effects on my eczema.
I've only used it twice, but so far I like it.
A friend invited us to another friend's for a potluck, and we had some awesome food, including fruishi (fruit that look like sushi) and homemade pulled pork. But by the end of the night and a couple glasses of wine, I was done in. I knew I had to get up early for a run the next day, and sure enough I regretted the wine this morning.

This morning AP came over and we did a short run. I wore my new Patagonia sports bra that I bought off a friend who had ordered the wrong size. I usually wear sports bras from Target, so it's kind of nice to have a cute, brand-name bra to throw into the mix.

I was surprised by how much I liked the skinny straps!
I was sore and tired from paddling, and she had taken two weeks off, so it was slow going. But I'm glad I met my goal of running three times this week. (It's a goal that will go on hold again for this next week because I'll be in DC with the students and won't have time to run.)

Another weekend gone. I wonder how much productivity and basic happiness would increase if the US adopted a 4-day workweek instead of the typical 5.

What did you do this weekend?

Have you tried anything new lately?

What is a fear you've faced?


Friday, April 26, 2013

I Wish I Knew Then...

Tonight's run had me chanting in my head that old saying:

Quote by Scott Tinley
It was steamy hot, a good 86 degrees, and still sunny. I had planned to go later but ended up being pushed out the door a bit early. My calves were the good kind of sore in the beginning, the anaerobic-exercise kind of sore, and I pushed to the end with an average 9:32 pace. Not too shabby.

Sun and heat are my Kryptonite, but I won this round.

I've been thinking lately that I'm in another growth stage, and while sometimes I feel I'm starting from zero, there are definitely things I benefit from knowing now that I didn't know when I first began.

When I began running, I wish I knew...

1. Every run is not going to be the epitome of freeing/awesome/spiritual. Conversely, every run is not going to be sluggish/painful/shuffling/draining. Running is 90% mental.

I wish I had known progress was slow-going, even once you've gotten some races and long runs under your belt. Running takes work.
2. Walk breaks are acceptable; planned intervals take the defeatist feeling out of walking.

3. Strength-training is so important! Even if you're just doing squats and leg lifts, keep your hips, butt, and core strong to avoid injuries, especially in the knees. On a related note: a foam roller will become your best friend and the best $24 you've ever spent.

To see more about my hip-strengthening routine, click here!
4. Don't overdo it. Rest days aren't a reason to feel ashamed. Smart runners let themselves rest and recover.

5. The right shoes are everything. Have your gait tested, check into the store's return policy, and don't settle for something that costs less if your feet protest the decision. Also, learn to lace your shoes in a way that's comfortable for you. Look into orthotics if necessary, and remember to track your miles, because depending on what surface you run on, you'll need new shoes every 300 to 600 miles.

I wear the Asics Kayano, but that doesn't mean they're right for everyone.

6. Baby powder, Vaseline, Blister Block...apply liberally. Chafing happens, and sometimes it's permanent.

7. Name brand running clothes are nice splurges, but Target sells some pretty awesome gear. Shoes should be expensive; the other stuff doesn't have to be.

8. Black bottoms are key, especially if you have a nervous race bladder.

9. Pee before you run. Scratch that. Pee multiple times before you run.

10. Neon socks, bras, tops, etc, make you faster. This is a proven scientific fact, people.

Someone should really do a study on that, but I guess it would be pointless since we all already know what the outcome would be.
11. Mix up your runs. Do some slow, some fast, some longer than others. Try new paths. Don't let yourself get bored.

12. The right music can change a run. Keep your playlist updated and mix up the order of the songs once in awhile to keep it from getting stale. And don't be afraid to run unplugged once in awhile, either.

13. Running before the sun comes up and running in the rain will make you feel super hardcore.

14. Learning to eat the right foods at the right time takes some trial and error. Running on empty can be just as terrible as running on a too-full stomach.

15. Running groups are usually less scary than they seem; they love to welcome new people, and the friendships you'll make with other runners are some of the most intimate you'll ever have.

Bonus: I wish I had known that running can become an addiction, a go-to cure for all that ails you, a spiritual and mental respite from your hard days, a way to celebrate your good days, and, simply put...a way of life.

What do you wish you had known when you were a new runner?

What valuable things have you learned?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Style Faux Pas

I sometimes wear my compression socks to school. Today was one of those days. I usually wear my purple ones, because they blend nicely with the shoes I prefer to wear to work after running.

Today, of course, I was running late. Without time to find my purple socks in the dark, I grabbed the first pair I could find.

The students could see just enough to notice and comment on the color choices.
Clashing in all their glory.
Clearly, this is avant garde style right here. I probably got about a million comments on them; most were complimentary.

They liked the bright colors, scoffed at the idea of trying to match your socks to your outfit, and thought the color scheme of the socks looked like olives.

Maybe I should wear these when I go to DC with the kids next week. I mean, after all that walking, I'll probably need them.

What fashion "mistakes" do you make in the name of running?

Seriously, how bad is this look?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Good News and Speedwork

First things first today. A good friend of mine (ED, who I mentioned in this post) has taken a forced sabbatical from running. She broke her foot last year and spent months in a cast, then a boot, and basically resting from running (on doctor's orders) for over a year.

I don't know how she didn't go crazy. But today I saw on her instagram that she had gone running! I was immediately pumped! *Warning, adult language below ;o)

 Any of us who have been injured and had to take time off know what a big deal a first run back is. This alone was cause for celebration.

I went out for a run this evening, planning to do some speedwork. My mileage has been pretty pathetic lately, but I'm trying not to push myself too hard yet. My knees, hips, and feet really hurt today during work, but I think it was just my muscles aching for a workout.
Archie REALLY wanted to join, but I just don't trust him to stay put during a run. He's got that mischievous "I'll fly away!" look in his eye.
I used the loop at our park for my intervals. My friend CA asked me this week if I do speedwork, and the answer is "not as much as I should." My plan for this summer, set a few months ago, is to work on speed more than distance until it's time to start training for my marathon in November.

I don't follow a specific speedwork plan. I use a .3-mile loop. I do one loop at a normal warmup pace, then alternate sprinting and running every time I turn a corner. Today my sprints were in the 8:20s, which is awesome for me, and my recovery pace was in the 9:30s. I was very pleased. I had no pain at all during the run.

(I've been having pain under my toes, I think it's Morton's Neuroma, but I'm ignoring it and hoping it goes away. It doesn't hurt during a run; just during walking in normal shoes or barefoot.)

Some things I noticed today:

1. Wearing my headphones instead of just listening to my music from my iPhone speakers makes a huge difference. I felt more motivated and focused with the music pumping directly into my brain.

 I wear my head phones through my shirts like this. I pull the excess wire down under my shirt so it lays against my stomach. I love Yurbuds because they NEVER twist, pull, or fall out.
2. Wearing my compression sleeves takes a lot of pressure off my legs and helps control pain in all aspects.

3. Doing my hip and core exercises has really helped my knee pain.

4. Seeing a bunch of runners and walkers on the loop today kept me motivated. I think I scared a couple of them by "commenting" on their Rays "commenting" I mean "shouting at them in an uncontrolled, excited manner and then giggling maniacally."

5. A drop in heat and humidity today helped me acclimate and made a huge difference. It was still in the 80s and a little sunny, but the break in humidity allowed my sinuses to rest and helped my breathing. I know summer will be brutal, so this little relief made a huge difference.

A gorgeous evening glow.
I have begun drinking soy milk in place of normal chocolate milk after a run. I wonder if it has the same magical properties?

Do you do speedwork?

Do you prefer morning or evening runs?

What's the longest time you've had to take off from an injury, and how did you deal with it?

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, April 22, 2013

A Million Reasons to Celebrate!

Okay, so two days away from Bloglovin and I have 44 unread blog posts?! Sorry guys; I need to call that a loss. There's no way I can catch up there.

This weekend was one of those that was absolutely filled, but in the best possible way. Matt and I jumped in the car and left town the minute I was out of work. 
Only two days, and I took up half the suitcase. Can you catch sight of the stowaway?
 We had a 4+ hour drive to Daytona to celebrate all kinds of occasions. We listened to CNN on XM the entire drive in order to keep abreast of the manhunt in Boston, took a half hour break to eat dinner, and returned to the car to hear that the suspect had been apprehended! (That quickly became yet another reason to celebrate this weekend...I'll get to the rest shortly.)

I was seriously ecstatic; we spent the rest of the weekend trying to glean what information we could while being surrounded by old friends.
The boys surrounding the groom-to-be...I'm loving all the primary colors.
The first reason for our visit was our friends' engagement party. Secondarily, a handful of people were celebrating birthdays.
I am a sucker for sugar.
And the final, overwhelmingly fantastic reason for our trip was that our friend TG had just returned from his second tour of the Middle East, unscathed. Obviously, we had a lot to celebrate.
The ladies with the bride-to-be
Despite being up a good twenty hours Friday, I peeled myself out of bed and went for a short, leisurely run Saturday. I like running at Mark's because his street is a circle, and the main road the loop connects to is the connecting point for many other looping streets. It's impossible to get lost, and you can add whatever mileage you like. (I like running in neighborhoods, so that's a bonus, too.) Still, I was exhausted and it was threatening rain. I only did 1.52 miles, but I'm glad I did any at all.

Perfectly overcast. I got my wish for one more cold front!
Running while on a short, intense trip is hard, and it takes a lot out of me. This run was a humbling moment; I need to start eking up my weekly mileage a bit if I want to be in good enough shape to start marathon training in July.

Saturday we had the engagement party. I swear, you'd think I'd be used to talking nonstop, but catching up with old friends and Mark's family left me almost voiceless! 
Appropriately shocked and amused.
If you aren't easily offended and are a little bored with Apples to Apples, I can't recommend this game enough.
After the party, we went to World of Beer (our favorite!) to have a couple drinks and play a round of Cards Against Humanity before frequenting our traditional dinner establishment of choice when we're all together: Steak and Shake. We're usually there are 3am, so it was different to be there at the same time as other customers.

Our age showing, we called it quits by midnight. We stayed for brunch Sunday, then hit the road. Rain and traffic kept us from fulfilling any kind of errands, and I was not ready for the rude awakening that was the work week this morning.

We took up two tables; at the second, a more appropriate game of Apples to Apples was played.
Over all, it was a great weekend, despite the lack of running. This time of year is insane. I have the DC trip next week, then a million festivities for 8th grade "celebration" (commencement)...but once May comes to an end, I know life will return to normal.

As normal as it can get, anyway...

Getting a little crazy.
What time of year is busiest for you?

Do you run when you're physically feeling run down?

When's the last time you got to have a reunion with your close friends of yore?


Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Manhunt Ends

I am so relieved and my heart is full of joy. I hope this means we'll have answers and closure, and hopefully this will be a balm for the victims and their families.

As I hear the cheers for all the officers involved, my heart swells. I feel choked up.

This is a good day, and we needed this.


Posted from iPhone

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Long Distance Runners (Not That Kind)

*Don't mind the smiley faces in the pictures below. If I haven't asked permission to post faces, I like to give people the privacy they deserve. :o)

I don't mean "runners who run long distances." I mean "runners who live far away from me and make me regret my choice of location."

I began thinking about this earlier today. Cori over at posted about what running has taught her (you can read it here; it's very moving), and as I was ruminating on what running has taught me, the words changed a bit and I ended up thinking about what running has given me.

And one of those things, perhaps the most surprising and rewarding, is a reconnection with my far-away friends.

Distance can be a pain in the butt and a relationship killer. Unfortunately, after spending years bonding with girls through major childhood events, the magic of sisterhood, and small living spaces, my years as a student ended and we all went off in our own directions. And then there are those who have always lived far from me, and running has helped to strengthen those friendships, too.

KS (of Fast & the Furriest PR fame) and I were sorority sisters who shared a suite. We (and two others) were inseparable. Now her little, BE, has begun running as well, and completed her first half marathon recently! Even my little has decided to try her hand at running. Our support of one another has helped to solidify our sorority bond post-college, and we're hoping to gather all the AXOs who have become runners to participate in a race together...What a great reunion that will be!
BE is one of the most positive, energetic, and genuinely fun people I know (as you can see by her facial expression in above photo). She could make the most boring community service project a blast. I am dying to run a race with her!
While none of us ran in college, many of us have taken it up as we near the big 3-0. Whatever the reason (maybe we're seeking to rewind the aging process before we even really begin it), it's amazing to see how many of my friends have become runners. A few of them are friends from my childhood who I've reconnected with on multiple levels, running being one of them.

We went to elementary and middle school together, and I was able to reconnect with these ladies despite being a plane ride away. We found running separately from each other, but seeing their progress online helped us bridge the gap. Here we are atop Masada in Israel in June 2012.
Some of you may remember my mentioning AG; she's BG's best friend , and was one of my closest friends in middle school when I moved. We reconnected at BG's baby shower. I cajoled her into joining me for the 6 weeks to 6 miles running group, even though she's never been a runner. I intend to encourage her addiction to running as much as possible!
 There are those I never lost touch with, but through running have now found a deeper level of understanding.

The first friend I made when I moved to FL, BG has been with me through everything, even when she went off to live in various countries in Africa. She even came back stateside to be a bridesmaid at my wedding! Now that she's back home for awhile, I can't wait to run with her...but I'll need to be patient, as she's due to give birth any day now!
Some saw me through the hardest, darkest times in my life, making themselves irreplaceable, becoming a pillar in my life that upheld well-being, happiness, dignity, and honesty.

When ED and I met, neither of us were runners or in the best shape. Our friendship grew based on mutual loyalty, respect, and the ability to listen to hours-long conversations...
...we live on opposite sides of the States, but our love for running has made us closer than ever. Bucket list: run a race with ED. It has to happen.
Running has given new life to my relationships, and of course this makes sense. As runners, running becomes part of the fabric of our lives. It's in our very being, in our soul, and to share the love of running with those we care about outside of adds depth that I cannot put into words. It's like...friendship inception. A bond within a bond within a bond...

Today, I am so grateful that I have been able to add another link in that chain that is friendship, not just with these ladies mentioned, but with so many others as well. I urge others: join the club! There's always space for more, we're a welcoming tribe, and your friends will thank you!

Have you inspired anyone in your life to begin running?

Do you like to run with others, or by yourself?

How has running changed your relationships?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Memorial Miles

I'm following Alyssa's lead in this post. My heart absolutely aches for Boston, but dwelling on the terror of Monday's events, especially before more information has come to light, isn't doing anyone any good. I hope that as details are unearthed, we in the running world will have a sense of closure. Until then, I need to lift running to the light. After all, runners have within them an indomitable spirit; I intend to honor that.

We spent Sunday around town. We went to the beach to see the sand sculptures. There were a few that were really striking. I love the ones that really use symbolism to create a story.

I think this one is called "Can I Still be Your Superman?" I love the strong female figures and the question mark on the cape.
"Childbirth." Something about this is so compelling.
Front and back of "Aah, Romance". It's like a concrete image of imagination and dreams.
We began FCAT this week, and it's taken a lot out of me. I've been so physically exhausted, and the emotions from Monday night really didn't help that. I requested permission to wear a race shirt to work today, but that didn't work out (I wore my running shoes instead), so I put one on as soon as I got home.

Not sure if I should smile or let's just look awkward instead.
(Side note: it was odd to hear people talking about the marathon at work as if it were an abstract, sad event far away, when I feel so personally affected. I realize now this has affected runners a little more deeply than non-runners, because we feel like our own - our tribe - has been attacked.)

As I went into the bedroom to let Matt know I was going for my 2.6 mile run, I saw he was in workout clothes as well. Turns out he decided to come with me. I don't think the news hit him nearly as hard as it hit me, but I really appreciated his support.
My brain-fog is showing.
The run was just what I needed. I'd felt a surreal sense of being underwater all day; like with any grief, it hit me in waves. The run was harder than it should have been for the low mileage, but my physical exhaustion and mental and emotional baggage today contributed.

Always remember...this world is a beautiful place, and the good far outweighs the bad.
But sometimes even awful runs are powerful and wonderful things. I am grateful for my ability to run, to live free of fear, to go about my daily life. I ran 2.6 for Boston today, and some of the weight that settled around my heart last night has lifted. This ordeal has strengthened my resolve to run my first marathon in November.

Were you able to wear a race shirt today?

Did you run for Boston today, or do you plan to sometime this week?

What did you have for dinner tonight?
-I had cold chicken. Am I the only one who loves cold chicken or cold steak better than reheated leftovers?


Monday, April 15, 2013

For Boston

When I heard, it was like a punch in the gut. I had regretted all day that I couldn't watch the live feeds because of standardized testing.

I have no words. As a human being and as a runner, I am deeply offended by the lack of compassion and respect some people have for human life. I feel personally affronted, as if this were somehow an attack on me...which is ridiculous. But there it is.

I know we as a nation will come out of this stronger, but right now I feel shattered. Life is sacred. Racing is an embodiment of life.

In the face of darkness, light will shine through. I leave you with something to warm those who feel as physically sick and shaken as I do.

Yes. We, the good, outnumber those entrenched in evil, and we will overcome.

My thoughts and prayers are with Boston tonight, and with the entire runner-tribe.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Crafts Day!

For the longest time, I have been coveting these race bib and medal holders from Running On the Wall on Etsy:

I mean, it's definitely better than my current "storage" place, which consists mostly of tossing my bibs in a pile on my bedside table and hanging my medals in my classroom. This weekend I realized the pile was getting cumbersome, so I decided to try my hand at making one myself.

I consider myself a relatively crafty person when I want to be. Matt and I went to buy supplies last night. We got a free piece of "scrap" wood, a half-used paint sample in white (for lettering), and some hooks. We already had black spray paint, brushes, a drill, and sanding equipment at home.

Supplies ready to go.
We sanded the edges of the wood last night. This morning, I spray-painted the wood and let it dry completely. Then, we measured the two basic bib sizes to figure out hook-placement.

This is the first time I realized that safety-pin holes in race bibs aren't spaced in a uniformed manner. Annoying.
Archie helped me drill the holes. (I promise, this is safer than it looks. No need to send the animals rights police after me.)

Hooks in, I put a couple bibs on to figure out spacing for the lettering. I didn't bother getting stencils or stickers; the result is a more "rustic" final product:

Now I just need to find time to remove old safety pins and put about 3 dozen bibs on this thing.
I'm going to take this to school, add the medals, and hang it there for the rest of the year. I haven't added the hanging wire to the back yet, but that won't take long. I'm very happy with this final result! It cost us about $12, plus I get to take pride in my questionable craftsmanship.

If you're not crafty, though, I'd highly recommend the Etsy shop. There are tons of designs to choose from, and the rack is sure to look professional.

On the schedule for the rest of the day: errands, grading tons of papers, and maybe a nap.

What's your plan for the weekend?

Do you display your bibs/medals?