on being cinderella…

Alright, so time to talk about running shoes. I never felt like I had to a problem finding running shoes. Before this time. How did we find ourselves here, feet?

The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a girl who was learning to love to run. She ran and ran and ran. Just 5ks. Until one day, a 10k. And a half marathon. And another. And then, she thought she’d tackle a marathon. So she registered. Nashville was on the books.

But it was not to be. Not at this time. For she had some serious and persistent IT band issues that kept her from running loooooong. What a pain. Literally and figuratively. Seriously.

She could muscle through 13.1 miles. The first nine were good. The last four were always pain. (I grimace just thinking of it.) Marathons would have to wait.

Eventually, a physical therapist prescribed Superfeet inserts. Some strengthening exercises. Foam rolling (“therapy”… you may recall my feelings on this. And if not, you can find out here). Ah, relief was ahead, right? Wrong.

Years of supportive shoes and Superfeet seemed to do just enough to keep running tolerable. To keep 13.1 within reach (and within her pain tolerance).

And then one day, someone recommended custom orthotics. Well, what the heck. It made sense. Fix the base and the rest would fall into line. Funny enough, it worked. Three glorious years of pain-free running passed, a few more half marathons (faster and faster half marathons!), a 70.3 and a marathon (!) and things were seeming pretty good for our heroine.

Sigh. What a lovely story.

But wait. All good things must come to an end. Three years of near-constant training. Miles upon miles took their toll. Custom orthotics break down, need replacing. And easy fix, right? Ah. Wrong again.

Fast forward to two months ago. The 1st replacements were much too small and much too narrow for running shoes and had to be reordered. And the 2nd set (nearly a full month later) – went into a new pair of the same running shoes I’ve been running in – weren’t a good fit in the new shoes. I felt like I was running on the outsides of my feet. Like I was double-correcting by being in a custom orthotic AND supportive shoes. Possible… yes. But that was also the dynamic duo that got me through 13.1, 26.2 and 70.3. Huh.

So back went the shoes. Out came another pair. A neutral pair with a smaller drop from the heel to the toe. Good, except my fat feet, sitting on top of the inserts, were rubbing along one of the outlays along the outside of the shoe along the outside of my foot. As a side note, my sweet sweet hubby insists I do not have fat feet, just that I have “a part of my foot right under my pinkie toe that seems to be slightly wider than the average”. So sweet. Fat feet. But I digress.

So back went #2. Out came #3 (less support than #1, more than #2) for a run. But potentially too narrow. And? Well. The jury’s still out.  They’ll be running with me again.

I think deep down, the answer is: they don’t work. But at this point, I just. Want. Shoes. Shoes that work. And I’m totally totally totally willing #3 to work. You know, so my feet can have their happily ever after. I don’t want to be the fat-footed running Cinderella. When, oh when did finding shoes get to be so complicated?

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in the blink of an eye…

Yesterday we took advantage of the cool, but very pleasant weather, the Memorial Day holiday (day off) and a really fantabulous 70 mile long multi-use trail we have in the area that we had (remarkably) never used before. We were slated for a 3 hour bike ride this coming weekend (the end of week 11), but bumped it to yesterday because we had all the time in the world and who knows what the weekend would look like.

Along the way, we were graced by 3 moose and countless great blue herons in the river and marshes alongside the trail. It was quite easy to get distracted by the abundance of wildlife. And it would have made the time go by really quite quickly if it weren’t for a persistent headwind that kept us from really cruisin’.

We were making pretty good time despite the headwind. But our heads were on swivel sticks. Looking this way and that to glimpse all of the creatures we could see. And somewhere along the way, I decided to look down – at my shoulder, I think – and in that second, maybe two, I drove my bike right off the side of the trail into the soft gravel that grabbed my tire and threatened to take me down.

Now, I know what you’re thinking right now.  “Didn’t she just fall off of her bike not too long ago?”  I’m not going to justify that ridiculously inquiring line of thought with a straight answer (see answers here and here); suffice it to say I may or may not have some injuries that may or may not have originated from a certain incident approximately 5 weeks ago.

As is always the case when you’re falling off of your bike, it all happens in slow motion. Well, steering off of the trail happened in the blink of an eye, but what happened after that was Matrix-dodging bullets-slow.

“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

“Not…”

“a-”

“-gain…!”

“(insert self-scolding)”

“@#%$^%)*!”

“Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Fortunately, in this particular instance, I was able to steer myself back onto the path and slow my bike to a stop. Rather gracefully considering the circumstances if I do say so myself.

And eventually, I was able to swallow my heart and put it back into its rightful place in my chest and get it to beat at a less frantic pace. Eventually.

Talk about a close call. I mean, really.

And I can hear you judging me – “GOOOOOOD-ness! Someone get that girl some training wheels!”  At this point, I can’t say I blame you. I will certainly not turn down training wheels. Elbow pads. A-D-D meds. Whatever would help. This is madness.

All I can say is this – please be careful out there. You may not have the same tenuous relationship with your bike as I do, but all it takes is the blink of an eye to steer off the trail, hit some gravel, or lose control and turn your training ride into a trip to the hospital or worse. I’ve had enough mishaps on my bike for a lifetime (or at least it feels that way with how things have gone lately). I think I might even start taking my own advice: Take ‘er nice and easy out there. Happy riding.

finding ‘normal’ again…

A week out of the saddle makes you realize really quickly that 9, 10 weeks of 9 workouts a week (whoa- that’s 80 -90 so far and counting) has created a new habit. A new sense of normal. Whether you meant it to or not. You become accustomed to spending most of your waking mornings, lunches and evenings strapping on your helmet and hitting the trail.

So I noticed something this past week. Despite our best efforts to be active while out of town, I quickly realized that one workout a day (as was  the norm on this week’s work travel) feels very, well, NOT normal. One workout a day felt like nothing. One workout a day is surely not enough. What a slacker I am.

Strange. I never used to feel that way. One workout used to be plenty. 5 workouts was an achievement to be proud of, for sure.

Today I attempted to return to the usual 2-a-day workouts only to find that after a week of one workout a day, normal had gone and shifted on me. A week of recovery reminded me just how nice it was to relax. I found myself liking the idea of the new one workout a day norm. Skipping this evening’s workout and relaxing seemed like a fantastic idea. It would have been nice to take another evening off. But for me, one evening often turns into two turns into four and before you know it there’s another week down the tubes. And with 10 weeks to go, this is no time to let up. At this point in time, that simply will not do. I’m staring Week 11 straight in the face… on the down side of the 20 weeks. Seems like time to get down to business.

Besides, you know what they say about working out: “I never regret it when I do it, but I always regret it when I don’t.”  (and by ‘they’, I mean David McDonald VinsonAnd now me too). Don’t ask me about Vinson. I know nothing about him except that he apparently said that.

So I hopped on my bike, popped out a quick ‘n’ (surprisingly) easy 20 miles. A little warm up ride, if you will. Along the way, I was pleased to find myself sliding back towards my old normal. Maybe I’m not ALL the way back into it. But it was kinda nice to be back in the saddle cruising back in that direction.

It’s just that a vacation sounds so lovely right now.

 

 

(Guess that means I’m not quite back to “normal” just yet…)

the week of the (semi-) slacker…

Well, it was inevitable. Somewhere along the line, there is always a bump in the road. And I found it this week when I had to leave town for a week-long work conference on the coast.

A trip that required a flight (read: a bike-less trip).

A conference that, as with most, requires me to be in sessions all day (read: to work out each day, I could get up early – ha, SO not gonna happen – or count on it being nice enough to go after work. Do you feel lucky?)

A conference that, as with most, provides an abundance of food that is NOT good for you (read: uh-oh, not only NOT working out, but also NOT eating good. Talk about a recipe for potential disaster!).

And a trip to a coast that tends to be rainy more often than not (read: a weather pattern that presents a challenge to running and staying dry…) and windy more often than not (read: rain, I can do, but wind? ICK.).

A hotel that does NOT have a full sized swimming pool (read: looks like no swim training either…).

Ah. Challenges abound.

Fortunately, the breakfasts provided have a lot of fruit, so if I need mid-morning snacks, there’s my easy standby.

Fortunately, I brought my running clothes.

Fortunately, running on the beach is a very magical draw for me. (Running on the beach always brings to my mind sunshine and shiny happy things. I never watched the show, but we’ve all seen the intro to Baywatch, yes? Running on the beach is ALWAYS like this, right? Right. In Oregon?…right…maybe not so much in May.)

And fortunately, rain, especially the Oregon brand, was expected. I brought my rain jacket.

It’s true – half the battle is planning ahead and being prepared.

And a few days into the week, I’ve been exorbitantly lucky on the post-conference weather. While each night has threatened rain, it’s been dry in the evenings. And if you run with the wind at your back on the way out, you have no choice but to suck it up and make it back to where you started (that may not be the most ideal way, but facing into the wind is not a great option either…).

Well. Maybe this week won’t be such a big setback for me after all… at least there is running.

Image

fear as a motivator…

You know what they say about birds of a feather, flocking together? So no big surprise that I know a few other folks who are training for 70.3 distance triathlons. And a number of people who are training for the Ironman distance this year as well (more on them later…). It’s interesting, in talking to people, how much their attitudes towards the race and towards training vary.

For example, I have a colleague here at work who is training for a 70.3 a full five weeks later than mine. I asked him how he was feeling about the race and his response was that he was worried. He may have even used the word “terrified”, a word I commonly reserve for those nights when I’m home alone and things go bump in the night or when I’m being chased by a zombie. He’s one of those people who just learned how to swim in the past year or so, and I assumed he was referring to the swim. So me, trying to be reassuring, told him that he should feel good about his swim – he’s come a long way and he still has MONTHS to practice. Funny enough, his response was that he was totally NOT worried about the swim at all. It was the REST of the race – the other 69.1 miles that he was worried about. Ohhhhh. Hmmm. Yet, I know for a fact that he’s already done 60 mile bike rides (further than what’s required on race day), while I have topped out (pooped out) at a mere 32! There’s NO WAY he should be worried about that. But eek, now that I know that, maybe I should be worried? Should I be doing more??My hubby, on the other hand, said the other day that he’ll “be glad if he makes it out of the swim” – I can only assume he means he’ll be glad if he makes it out alive – and that he’ll be home free once he’s on dry land. As a result, he has been diligently swimming his heart out. Fear of drowning and he spends all of his spare time in the pool. Very impressive dedication to something so hated. (And as a result, he has made drastic improvements, in my biased opinion.)

And then there’s me. Even though I have one of these distances under my belt, I’m still being pretty rigid in my training schedule. A little less so than last time around. I’ll give you an example – last time around I was not working. It was my first time. I was scared. Intimidated is maybe a better word. And that fear or intimidation meant that I missed very few workouts during the course of the 20 weeks.

This time around, I would say I’m significantly more comfortable with my odds of success. So it’s ok for me to miss a training session during the week – things happen, and I recognize that one session is probably not going to make or break my race day. (Plus I’ve found ways to combine bike workouts – “foundation” rides get hills thrown in to them, making them longer hill workouts and theoretically killing two birds with one slightly more grueling, but hopefully just as impactful stone.) But all in all, I’m sticking pretty close to the nine workouts a week for 20 week program. I’m hoping to drop a wee little bit of time off my last race. And while I’m not “scared” per se, I do want to be prepared enough that this race goes very uneventfully for me. Uneventful = Good. Sorry friends, post-work meetings, social engagement, nights off – out of necessity, you’re limited to one or two evenings a week max.

Anyway, all of this to say that despite our difference in attitudes towards training and towards race day, fear is a funny little motivator that seems to be keeping all of us in check and on track.

PS- On a side note, if you’re particularly motivated by fear and the thought of literally running from terrifying zombies trying to eat your brain sounds like a good way to PR, a friend tells me there is such a race, just for you. Not shockingly, the RUN FOR YOUR LIVES 5K is apparently the latest in the run/obstacle course craze, “an apocalyptic 5K obstacle race. But you’re not just running against the clock — you’re running from brain-hungry, virus-spreading, bloody zombies.” A zombie-infested 5k. Sounds awful to me, but talk about the ultimate motivator to really haul…

Mr Zombie

this guy looks friendly, but he’s got some super scary friends…  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

week 8 recap…


Day What I was supposed to do… What I actually did…
Monday Rest Rest? Meh, who needs it?
Thursday’s Bike 1:20
Tuesday Bike Short Hills (1 hour, 10 minutes total with 9×1 minute hill climbs) Wednesday’s run:
47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest
Wednesday Swim (1625 yards)Run Speed Intervals (47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest)  Lame-o Swim Attempt – ALMOST today’s yardage… 1500 yards
Thursday Foundation Bike 1:15 Swim:2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}4×50 scull drill

5×300 (sight 1x per 25)

2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

 

Friday’s Foundation Run:  37 minute predator run

Friday Swim / Foundation Run + Strides set REST.
Ok. I’ll admit it, I guess I do need it.
Saturday Foundation Bike 1:45 Sunday’s Brick WorkoutBike 1:15
Run 30 minutes
Sunday Swim / Brick Workout Combine Tuesday’s hill workout with Saturday’s Foundation RideBike: 2 hours of hills, hills, HILLS!

the 15 minute rule…

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones, don’t you?  When it’s hard enough to convince yourself to change into your gym clothes, let alone leave the house and go workout. The days where you get to the trailhead or the pool or the gym and you’re not sure you have the willpower to even start. The days when you sit with your gym bag on the bench next to you, staring at the locker, just willing yourself to put your socks on. Change your shoes. You know the days.

Yesterday I had one. I made it to the pool. I did. I got that far. I even got into my swimsuit and cap, ready to roll. And I had the place ALL to myself and a quiet, calm water surface that was mine, all mine. Usually a place of extreme peace and serenity for me. Bodes well and I thought I was golden, but on this particular day, it was all downhill from there.

Physically, I felt fine. Well, a little tired. (But really what do you expect?)  But I thought I’d be able to push through. And that’s when the mental tired hit me. Really, I can usually push through that too. I consider myself to be pretty steely. Pretty mentally tough. Very much a mind-over-matter type of gal. It’s a point of pride for me. A hallmark of my character, if you will.

Yet yesterday, lap after lap, all I could think of was “i don’t wanna i don’t wanna i don’t wanna i don’t wanna.” Ugh.

And sometimes, this just happens to me. So every once in a while, I give myself permission to pack it in for the day. There are rules, however (can’t have myself just willy nilly throwing in the towel EVERY day, now can we? Talk about chaos…). Well actually there is just 1 rule. You ready for it?

No matter what, I MUST WORK OUT FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES.

I have to at least make an attempt.  If I’m still not feeling it when the chrono hits 15, then I can call it a day. Running, biking, swimming, whatever. And hey, at least I got 15 minutes of exercise (better than none at all…).

Here’s the beauty of this rule. For me, I almost always feel much better right around 12 or 13 minutes and then I’m in it for the long haul and able to finish whatever workout was on the books for the day. It’s practically like clockwork. But not quite. Almost always.

Yesterday’s swim was more like 25-30 grueling and mentally demanding minutes. But when just could not pull another 50 yards out, let alone another 1000+, I gave myself permission to jump out and hit the showers. And just like back in the high school swimming days, a long hot shower after some pool time makes everything better.

I got back on the horse today. And while it wasn’t a-mazing, you’ll be pleased to know that today’s swim was better. Much, much better.

 

SWIM 5/10/2012

2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}
4×50 scull drill
5×300 (sight 1x per 25)
2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

on moose and motivation…

Late last week, I was looking to run somewhere new so I drove a little bit out of my way to a state recreation area where there were hiking and horse trails that I knew I could run on. Trail running – a great way to challenge yourself and mix up the scenery. This was gonna be good.

Great idea, only I realized as I was running that it had been raining for the past 4 or 5 days and the trail was muddy. Mostly passable, but in some places, mud puddles much bigger than I wanted them to be. I was on a 5.5K loop and while I had originally planned to run 2 loops, determined that I didn’t want to deal with the mud and I’d just finish the 1 and call it a day. Maybe even call it my “rest day.” Ha.

I honestly enjoy trail running. The hills, the mud. I like channeling my inner badass. It’s fun to be the “hardcore” girl who trail runs, right? Mud splatters on your calves. Maybe a smear on your cheek. Ain’t scared of nuthin.

But here’s the thing. I was all alone on this particular day – the parking lot was completely empty (it was threatening to rain). And honestly, sometimes that’s MORE disconcerting than if there are a few cars. Cause you

are

all

ALONE.

Just me and the mud. Ok. This was peaceful at first. Quiet. No watch, no tunes. Just me and the mud.

So I’m plodding along through the mud and I got to thinking : what if anything were to happen? Well, I had grabbed my cell phone at the last minute (I didn’t look, but I’m not really sure I had coverage). I guess if I were accosted, well, I could throw my phone at them (and hope my aim is better than usual). And run like hell. Those would be my options. Hmmm. Not great.

This all starts to make me feel just a wee bit unnerved. Looking over my shoulder more often. Stopping to listen. What was that in the bushes? A quail? Or another person?

(Now I want to take a minute and tell you that I do not really view myself as a scaredy cat as a general rule. Not really. But I do have an overactive imagination that I have to keep reined in. Once it starts running, it’s hard to reel it back to reality…)

Ok, so I’m jumpy. Alert. Paying attention to my surroundings. Still enjoying the run, but certainly with a heightened sense of awareness. Which is really always good when you’re running alone. I think I picked up the pace a smidge too. Get back to the car and back to safety faster.

I’m making pretty good time and getting fairly close to the end of the loop and watching the trail for roots, rocks and other things I could trip and fall over and all of the sudden, up ahead I hear something jump out of the bushes. Fast.

At this point I jumped out of my skin and, I’m not proud to say, but I might have emitted a startled kind of eeeek / ahhhhh / eeeeee. And I froze.

And just look what I saw straight in front of me:

Holy moly! It’s a MOOOOOOOOOOSE!

Yes, I was practically face to face with a freakin’ moose.

Pretty cool. We stood there, staring at each other for a minute. And she did not move.

If you don’t know, moose can be cranky sorts. Most moose I’ve stumbled across over the years have run off in the other direction. This one stood her ground. On the trail. In between me and the shortest way to my car. Since she didn’t bolt, I assumed that there may be a baby moose close by and that was why she was standing her ground. Not wanting to be the next day’s headline “Stupid Runner Girl Gets Trampled by Momma Moose, Dies Alone in the Woods”, I decided that it was best if I gave her some space and went back the other direction. As I turned to go, she seemed satisfied to have won the stare down and that I was going to go away.

And so back I went. And you know, I made my 1:10 long run of the week. Without that moose, I was considering throwing in the towel and skipping the week’s longest run, settling for two 55 minute runs and a shorter 35 minute trail run (instead of the two 55 minute runs and the 1:10 run I was supposed to do). Maybe that look she gave me as I turned around and left her on the trail was one of satisfaction, knowing she had helped me finish a run I had no intention of finishing without her help.

You never know where you’re going to find accountability. Or motivation.  Let’s just say, I certainly didn’t expect to find it in a moose!

on still not quite being prepared (again…)

The plan for Week 7 included three bike rides:

– 1 hill workout (1:15 total time including a warm up, cool down, and 11×1 min climbs with 2 minutes of active recovery), proposed for Tuesday

– 1 “foundation” ride (1:30), proposed for Thursday

– 1 long ride (2:30), proposed for Saturday

Admittedly, seven weeks in, I’ve been trying to see some friends this week and juggle some after work activities this week. So I decided to squish my hill workout in with my foundation ride and did a 1:35 hill workout one night after work. A twofer, if you will. Legitimate? Yeah, this week, totally counts.

While on my ride, 5 hill climbs in and getting a drink of water at the top, I reached underneath my seat for some strange and unknown reason and I realized something.  Holy geez. My seat pack – you know, the one with all of the supplies? – was not there.  Huh.  We had gone out and purchased pumps and installed them on our bikes so we’d be totally ready for next time. But after that, my husband had taken my seat pack off to give me a spare tube and it never made it back onto my bike. Which meant that all of those tools, and the spare tube, were ever-so-conveniently back at the house. Seriously. After all of my posturing about promising not only to be prepared for my own future flat-tastrophies, but also so that I could help save others if the need arose. You know, so I could pay it forward from last weekend. So much for good intentions. Chalk that up to a big, fat FAIL.

Might as well have been riding here!
Photo by fireflythegreat

Fortunately, I flatted not, nor did I run into any other dudes or damsels in distress. Whew. I didn’t miss my first opportunity to pay it forward…There is still time for redemption.

And, needless to say, the first thing I did when I got home was to locate my bike bag and reattach it to my seat. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proclaim myself ready  prepared for anything.

 

 

p/s – to whom it may concern, that is not be misconstrued as “bring it”… I’m perfectly happy never touching my fixin’ tools…

battles with the evil foam roller…

I’ve recently resumed foam rolling out of, uh, necessity. I find it helps my running – it’s one of the magic components of a flexibility and strength plan that keeps me on track and trucking along. For those of you who haven’t experienced the torture that is foam rolling, let me warn you: While disguised as docile creators and lauded for their many therapeutic benefits, foam rollers are really quite evil, nasty creatures.

Therapeutic benefits may lead you to think… therapy. And therapy’s  a good thing, right? Immediately, visions of serene spas. The peaceful sounds of a gentle fountain in the background. Perhaps some quiet, relaxing music. Maybe the smell of lavender. Ahhh. Well that sounds perfectly lovely, you think to yourself. Why not?

Be careful. Don’t let the vicious foam roller lull you into complacency. Don’t be fooled by its soothing colors (ours is many shades of blue, presumably designed to make you think calming thoughts of nice cool waters, ocean breezes and beautiful blue cloudless skies). Sitting there in the corner it looks so harmless. How could such a little piece of foam be bad?

But once it has pulled you in by convincing you that somehow it will be a peaceful therapy session, the delusions it has created in your mind will come crashing down. You find yourself rolling up and down along your IT band and your world becomes one of violent pain. In no time, you’ll be gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw, cursing its very existence, thinking and at times, maybe even yelling obscenities of which you weren’t entirely sure you were capable. And, if you’re anything like me, within minutes of this torturous “therapy” you’ll find yourself hurling the cursed foam roller out of the room with a yell that is one part anger and one part victory (albeit a small one, one more of survival than anything), leading others in your house to wonder about your sanity and indeed, your very well being.

Experts suggest this so-called therapy several times a week to keep muscles and tendons pliable and flexible. Ironically, this painful therapy is supposed to help with sore muscles, as well as increase flexibility, decrease muscle tension and help to prevent injury. I was introduced to the foam roller years ago when I was first having IT band issues. Unfortunately, I find that if I do not stay up on a few key core strengthening exercises and foam rolling, my IT band starts to complain. Eventually if I slack off for long enough, I’ll be out running and my tight, neglected IT bands begin the mutter and complain. And without foam rolling, this muttering soon turns into a constant yell. Apparently, I have a couple of masochistic IT bands. Dang.

Anyhoo. If you, too, find the need for more pain in your life and feel that trading a few minutes of pain and suffering each night for the promise of less pain in the long term, here’s a video for you to check out and also a couple of links to articles that explain some other foam rolling exercises.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Runners World – Foam Rolling for Runners

Running Times – The (almost) Magical Foam Roller