Saturday, November 28, 2009

Could you kindly take those voo-doo pins out of the left side of my body?

I've figured it out. I'm on to you, hater.

The left side of my body is the only side that has given me trouble. I sprained my left ankle years ago, and occasionally I still have a feeling of "looseness" there after a long run. My left calf is the one that had the muscle strain; the left kneecap is the one that's been tingling lately. It actually hurt me today during my 11 mile training run, and after over-hearing me blurt out an expletive when I felt a "popping" sensation, my coach insisted I stop and get a ride home because once your knee is trouble, you're pretty much out of the game.

What I've figured is that I've really hurt or angered someone who has witchcraft powers, and they've made a small doll of me and are stabbing the left side of it again and again with a needle.

Maybe it was that nice elderly couple who I've run into, deliberately, when they ignored my requests to please move out of the way.

Maybe it was the mother at Wal-Mart who called her 2 year old a motherf&*% and smacked him on the arm. I looked her right in the eye with total disgust and said in a loud, cheerful voice, "What an adorable child you have. Aren't you lucky?"

Maybe it was the waitress at the Japanese restaurant who, a half hour or more after taking my order, long after the people I was dining with had been given their meals, gave me a platter of all white fish sushi when I specifically told her I wanted the number 7 but with no  white fish, please. I let her have it. My coworkers still talk about how I can go "sushi style" when encountered with incompetent service; as far as I knew, though, there were no consequences to demanding of a bad waitress, "Did it ever occur to you that you're in the wrong line of work??" aside from regret later on that I'd been such a snot. But maybe she went into the kitchen after my tirade and voo-dooed me in.

I'm not saying I didn't have the voo-doo coming. I'm generally a nice person (honestly, I am!!) but I definitely have my moments of passive-aggressive malice, kind of a non-driving road rage that slow-moving walkers, abusive mothers and bad sushi waitresses tend to inspire.

But I get it. I need to calm down, and be nicer. Voo-doo practioner, O powerful one, I promise I will.

So could you please remove the pins from my left leg? I've got some major mileage ahead of me and I can't do it if my knee truly is in trouble. Right now, I'm looking at taking a few days off.

It's possible, I think, that my body is just very, very tired. But those pins sure aren't helping.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Not the knees!

Thus far in my marathon training, I have suffered--and recovered--from the following conditions:

1. Shin splints
2. Oozing, bloody blisters
3. IBS attacks brought on after long distance runs
4. Calf muscle strain

Until a few days ago, I was plagued by #4, so I'd made an appointment with my orthopedist. But right after I made that appointment, I began using Zensah compression socks during my runs, and the two month-old calf injury finally and quite suddenly bid me adieu.

I was going to call to cancel the appointment, but just in case my lack of calf pain was a momentary reprieve, I thought I'd wait until the day it was scheduled just to make sure my calf still felt fine after my morning run.

My calf indeed felt fine.

But my knees (both of them) were tingling.

Not hurting, but tingling.

I live in fear of injured knees. I'm a "toe runner" so the injuries I'm most prone to are calf problems; "heel runners" are more likely to have knee, achilles and hip problems, my ortho says. And for this I consider myself lucky: a calf injury is a lot easier to train around than a knee problem.

For someone training for a long-distance event like a marathon or half marathon, in fact, a knee injury can be the kiss of death.

So I kept the appointment so I could get the tingling checked out. My doctor examined my calf (and affirmed that it had healed) as well as my knee...which he promptly diagnosed with the beginnings of "chondromalacia patella," or "runner's knee," which is an irritation of the undersurface of the kneecaps.

Oh no. Not the knees!

The doctor then told me that unlike my previous injuries, this one I was developing was actually quite serious. If it got more painful, I would have to stop running altogether, or else I could end up needing surgery that might sideline me from running indefinitely.

I sat there with my teeth chattering. "Is there anything I can do to make it better?"

"So you say you've only had this tingling sensation since you began wearing compression hose?" he asked.

I nodded.

"Just stop wearing your compression hose. Now that your calf is healed, there really isn't any reason to wear them anymore."

Phew. Not wearing garish purple hose while running v. wearing them and possibly destroying my kneecaps...hmmmm, not a tough decision.

I had told the doctor--proudly, actually--that the compression hose had changed the way I ran, so that I was using my upper legs more and putting less pressure on my toes. I thought this was a good thing; I'd been reading a book on why it was better to run with your head forward, neck elongated and less pressure on your lower legs.

But according to my orthopedist, converting from being a toe runner to a heel runner was what probably caused my kneecap irritation in the first place and that I should go back to how I was running before I wore the socks, because that clearly had worked for me.

Right now I'm wearing the Zensahs as a recovery tool, in between runs. But tomorrow when I do my own little turkey trot around my neighborhood (I'm not signed up for any of the local 5ks), I'll be doing it naked-legged.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My new Zensah-ation

I was on the verge of spending hundreds of dollars on sports rehab, in a desperate attempt to find a solution to my two-month-old pulled calf muscle injury (which still was hurting in a way that no two-month-old injury should hurt.)

"It will be about one-fifty for the first session, then you'll need a half hour session every other day for two weeks, and those will run you $75," said the charming sports rehab doctor, after breaking the devastating news to me that his clinic didn't take my insurance.

Those "sessions," he warned me, would involve something that sounded "medeival." He was going to use shiny metal devices on my left calf to break up the scar tissue that was preventing my calf strain from healing.

I asked if it would hurt and he paused for a moment and replied, "It hurts so good."


I told him I'd sleep on it, and the next day at my Team in Training practice, I asked my mentor about this clinic, because Doctor Hurts-So-Good had listed her as one of his patients.

"Oh, he's the best," she raved, causing me to ponder whether the expression "marathon runners can be masochists" was sometimes literal rather than metaphorical. "But if you have a calf strain, why not just wear compression hose?"

Compression hose. Those ugly purple Zensah socks I'd bought, wore once before I actually had the calf strain injury, and then decided I already looked clownish enough between my bright orange shoes and pastel running skirts to add Olive Oyl-like hose to the mix?

Yeah, I guess I could try them again.

I tried them out for the first time on Sunday, and after I got used to the sensation of running with my calves bound, making me feel like some small animal was grabbing onto my legs and squeezing them as I ran, I have to say I am a fan of my Zensahs. Although I didn't like it at first, the pressure on my calves actually forced me to run using better form: falling forward, shoulders relaxed and neck long, rather than putting the weight in my calves and running with my upper body all scrunched up. (I knew what proper form was, thanks to my father-in-law Lou, who gave me a book on the Alexander Method, but have to admit it's been hard to kick the habit of running hard on my legs--which is probably what got me into this calf strain mess in the first place.)

So, miraculously, one ten mile run later, the pain is pretty much gone. Not better, but gone! I just asked my husband to press right in the spot that had been so tender before that if he accidentally kicked me there in bed in the middle of the night, I'd scream out in agony. He pressed, and I felt nothing. I don't know where the pain went, but I can't say I miss it.

I'm so relieved that I didn't need to have the scar tissue tortured out of me with stainless steel devices ("hurts so good" indeed) to the tune of almost a thousand dollars.

I just wish Zensah offered the socks in my size in a color other than purple. (Not the pinkish color pictured above; we're talking Flying Purple People Eater grape.)  I'm starting to think that the universe is conspiring to make me look as absurd as possible when I run. It makes me feel a little bit like a court jester--and look a lot like one.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Just call me Chumbawumba.

Remember Chumbawumba? Think back to the summer of '98. They had this catchy drinking song, "I get knocked down, but I get up again..." Well, that's officially my theme song (since we're talking about the late 90s, I guess I have Ally McBeal and her theme song on the brain.)

I'm not talking about mixing whiskey and vodka, falling down and then gathering myself up and staggering upwards again--though I have to say that a week after running a half-marathon, my runs have felt kind of like a slow, drunken stagger. But what I mean is that something gets hard, the asphalt kicks me instead of me kicking the asphalt, and I get down. Then I get up again, and I keep going.

I couldn't do 16 yesterday. I couldn't do 4.1, to be precise. But today I slept in, had a banana, peanut butter and some strong coffee, laced up and ran 9.5 on my own. (I meant to do 10 but I mis-mapped.) The last time I tried to do anything in the 9-10 range on my own, I had to walk home, but this time it was actually easy.

Five miles into the run I stopped feeling cranky and burned out and realized I was back to my old rhythm. Buh-bye, burn-out. I actually wish I hadn't used that word. I'm sure one day I truly will be burned out, but yesterday, I just needed a day off.

I'm really proud of my 9.5. I'm sure I would have been very proud of 16, but yesterday, it just wasn't meant to be. I used to be the kind of person who accepted nothing less than excellence from herself, but now I'm starting to learn that a crappy training run happens to everyone. To me, this is the most life-changing thing about running. You learn to just get over things that have you down. One failure doesn't define your life. It just becomes part of the process.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Burn out.

So today I was supposed to run 16 miles. The only problem was that 3 1/2 miles into my run, I had a mental temper tantrum where I declared I hated running, was sick of waking up at 4 am to run for hours, suffering from stomach issues and sore legs the rest of the day, and would much rather be planted on a couch sleeping, eating ice cream, or both.

A half mile later I was at my car with tears in my eyes. I went home and told my husband that I was disappointed in myself for being a quitter. He told me that I was hardly a quitter; hadn't I just run a half-marathon six days earlier?? Maybe I was just tired.

Maybe I was. So I went to sleep. And when I woke up, I decided that no, I didn't hate running. In fact, I still loved it. Waking up at 4 am once a week isn't all that bad, and the soreness and tummy problems are things I've gotten very accustomed to shrugging off, because usually the sense of accomplishment I get from these long runs overrides these complaints.

But sometimes you have to listen to the complaints. Sometimes you need a break. I'm not sure how long my break will last, but today I certainly needed it.

People have been warning me for months of "burn out" and I always shrugged it off, thinking it was mind over matter. But there's definitely a physical component to burn out, so I'm going to need to ride this break out and practice the New-Agey sounding art of  "listening to my body." I'm afraid that if I don't, it simply will go on strike.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Review of Nike+ Women's LunarGlide Running Shoe

Originally submitted at The Sports Authority

The Nike+® women's LunarGlide running shoe is ideal for the runner with a neutral to mildly overpronated gait. The shoe delivers plush cushioning, springy response, barely-there comfort and mild pronation control. The mesh upper offers lightweight breathability, while the OrthoLite® s...

Great running shoe for flat feet!

By from South Florida on 11/19/2009


5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Lightweight, Stable, Comfortable, Flexible, Good Traction, Breathable, Absorbs Shock

Cons: Wears Out Quickly

Best Uses: Pavement, Wet Conditions, Gym, Track

Describe Yourself: Gym Rat

Arch Type: Low Arch

I ran my first half marathon in these Lunarglides and love them! I have very difficult feet. They are flat, but I am a neutral runner. I am now training for my first marathon and rack up a lot of mileage, and the Lunarglides have served me well. I don't get shin splints and even my plantar fascitis doesn't act up--with no orthodics! My one complaint is that I'm buying a second pair after just 260 miles on the first pair. So they wear out fast. That being said, they offer me the most comfortable, blister and shin splint free runs, so it's worth it to me to go back to the same brand/make.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy race pictures from Sunday's 13.1

OK, yes, I did get dressed in the dark that morning--but hey, at least I'm smiling in these race pictures! (In previous races, I've looked distraught, queasy, and mad.)

Note to self: next time lay out race gear the night before to avoid teal/grape-purple combination, especially because my shoes are white and orange. If there were an atheletic version of "What Not to Wear," I'd be a good candidate in these pictures!

Sweat Sixteen

Is there anything sweet about running sixteen miles? I hope so. That’s how many I’m running on Saturday (alarm is set for 4:15 a.m.—ack!) and I have been trying to psych myself up for the run by silently chanting the phrase, “sweet sixteen, sweet sixteen,” because I actually do find that having a positive attitude about an upcoming run usually means the run will be a fun one; it’s when I fear the mileage that I find myself dragging.

So, yeah! Sixteen miles! Around two and a half hours of straight, uninterrupted running: easy-peasy. Bring it on! Can’t wait for my sweet sixteen part-ay!


Yesterday at work, with this chant of sweet sixteen sweet sixteen still in my head, I called our help desk because I needed to get a new temporary password. The help desk attendant (who clearly hadn’t been an English major) typed noisily on her keyboard for a few minutes and then told me my new password was SWEET.

I tried typing this in and when it didn’t grant me access, and she said, “Oops, sorry, I spelled it wrong. Try SWEAT.”

That worked.

Hopefully this won’t be an omen that my 16 will be all sweat and no sweet. I mean, I expect the sweat. But I also expect the sweet. (Which indeed might be expecting too much.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good times: My first half marathon

I survived my first half marathon! Actually, I did more than survive it. I rocked the Ft. Lauderdale 13.1 Wooo-hoo!

I ran at a happy, comfortable pace the whole time, enjoyed the feeling of the sea breeze on my face--oh and speaking of my face, I also made very goofy faces for the cameras (since I take terrible race pictures anyway, I figured I'd rather look happy and awful than miserable and awful, as I have in all my other races).

I'll post the race pics as soon as they are up, but be prepared for some very hammy smiles and a few sucked-in-cheeks mock-model moues.

Oh, and the time. I ran it in 2:02:02. I think that's a good time, especially because it was my first half, and I was going for fun more than speed. I won't lie: because I've had a few long runs that were below a 9 minute mile, I was hoping not to crack the 2s at all. But as soon as I crossed that finish line, I didn't care so much about the time. All I could think was, "I did it!" Because, I did it! 

To me, a fun run is more important right now than speed, which I have the rest of my life to work on. (You should see some of the senior citizens who flew past me at the half marathon! They left me in their Bengay-scented dust.) Considering how Type A I've been at all my previous runs, I think my new mellow mentality is a really big accomplishment. Having a good time was actually a tougher obstacle for me than acheiving a good time, if that makes any sense.

Stay tuned for my wacky race pictures!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feeling iffy about Cliffy.

I have mixed feelings about Clif bars.

On one hand, they seem to be the only food I can consume immediately after a long run that doesn't make me sick to my stomach--and they also help keep my hunger in check the rest of the day. Believe me, I've experimented with everything else, from a modest packet of apple slices to a fluffy pile of pumpkin pancakes.

What I've found is: eating less than a 250 calorie Clif bar ultimately results in dizzying, staggering hunger several hours later (the kind where you could eat an entire pizza and still want more); much more calories than a Clif, though, and I can't even tell you the bathroom misery I experience. (I will never eat pumpkin pancakes again!)

So I'm grateful to Clif for settling my stomach and preventing me from becoming one of those rare, legendary but not mythical "fat" marathon runners.

But taste-wise, Clif, my man, the thrill is gone.

Eating a Clif bar once a week is actually starting to remind me of my fling with Slimfast shakes in the summer of 2003, when I was trying to lose brand-new-baby weight fast enough to wear a size 6 dress to a cousin's wedding. (In case you're wondering, it worked, but to this day just seeing a Slimfast commercial makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth.)

At first I thought the Clif bars were yummy, just like I remember thinking, "Mmmm, chocolate milkshakes!" But now I'm beyond bored. I have a Clif bar aversion. I'd like to throw my stash of them off a cliff, if truth be told.  Bring on the real food, please! Something that doesn't vaguely remind me of carrot cake, without actually being carrot cake. Something that isn't inspired by a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, without actually being a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie.

So help me out, please. Tell me, what can I eat that won't make me sick? That's in the 250ish calorie range and has the same balance of carbs and protein that Clif has?

I'm going to assume real carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies are not options because of the fat and lack of protein, but if the recovery grub could be tasty enough that I actually look forward to eating it after a run, that would be a plus.

Monday, November 9, 2009

14 Thoughts on Having Run 14 Miles

1. I did it! I ran 14 miles!!

2. Whoahhhhh, we’re (more than) halfway there….whooo-ohhhh, running on a prayer… (Come on, you knew that was coming!)

3. I have ignored the expert’s advice by flying through the first 11 miles and limping like a one-legged dog through the last three—but HEY, experts, get this: I RAN 14 MILES!

4. Advil and Immodium AD are a long-distance runner’s wonder drugs.

5. The best part of my run was that aside from the last half hour, I was really, really enjoying myself. Big smile on my face (till it turned into a grimace.)

6. The worst part of my run was not the last half hour but the hour after I stopped running, which would have been even worse without the aforementioned runner’s wonder drugs.

7. I know “real” runners don’t like to listen to music while running—they all say that during their “Runner’s World” interviews—but I really want to know how they get through several hours of running with no iTunes. (I give “Right Said Fred” partial credit for my 14 miles—how can you not run gleefully while listening to “I’m Too Sexy”?)

8. Hey Fred, I’m also too sexy for my shirt. (It’s all mildewed and frayed and no amount of OxyClean will remove the stench. Time to hit the Nike outlet.)

9. Two hours, 9 minutes is a pretty good time for a novice runner to run 14 miles.

10. Two hours, 9 minutes is a really long time to spend holding an insulated water bottle.

11. Two hours, 9 minutes is a really long time for me to spend without stopping to use the bathroom.

12. I refuse to pee in a bush. No offense real runners who happily pee in bushes while not listening to iTunes. I’d rather get a UTI from holding it in because I'm too sexy to pee on shrubbery.

13. My first-ever half marathon next Sunday will be .9 miles shorter than what I ran on Saturday.

14. Why do I have a feeling that 13.1 miles in a race setting will be a lot harder than 14 miles on familiar territory?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Frightening Fourteen.

I know what you're thinking. A chick who signs up to run a marathon, which is 26.2 miles, really shouldn't be reduced to a quivering puddle of Jell-O every time her Team in Training coach ups the ante on her training schedule.  If you're in it for the full 26, you need to be prepared to do more than, you know, twenty minutes of cardio in preparation.

But did I mention that this Saturday, I am supposed to be running 14 miles?

Which seems infininitely larger than the 12 miles I completely two weeks ago.

It even seems bigger to me than the 13.1 miles I'm signed up to run in a week from now, when I do the Ft. Lauderdale AIA.

This is probably the point in training when a lot of people change their minds about doing the full marathon and switch to the half.

I haven't had any trouble so far ramping up my mileage...but I also haven't done 14 yet.

I guess I'll just have to see how it goes. I have a feeling that the less I think about the number 14, the easier it will be.

Sometimes you have to just close your eyes, hold your breath and jump in.

So Saturday morning at 5:15, I'll be jumping.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flat-footed. And fat-footed.

An update on my feet, after trying on just about every size 9 shoe in Target today.

They have not grown any bigger. They are just a lot fatter.

Seeing my feet in size 9s reminded my of my almost-four-year-old daughter stomping around the house in my favorite peep-toe pumps (which no longer fit me); there was a good half inch of negative space between my heel and the back of the shoe. But my feet have become so wide that even in a 9W, it was a tight squeeze, especially in the toe area. These little piggies have gottena  little piggish.

So now I don't get to to go shopping for the discounted "big girl" 9s at DSW. If I want new kicks, I'm going to have to find special double-wide 8s at the double-wide shoe store, wherever in South Florida that might be.

In the meantime, it looks like I'm confined to my running sneaks and flip-flops, and one pair of slightly less beachy sandals I can wear to work.

It's a good thing it's still in the 80s down here and I can get away with such casual accessorizing. Just think of wearing boots makes my feet tingle...and not in a good way.