Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pop. Six. Squish. Cicero. Lipschitz.

New discovery: running to the song "Cell Block Tango" from the musical Chicago is exhilerating. If you listen to the rhythm of the song (I have the version from the movie on my iPhone), you'll naturally find yourself doing intervals of medium/high intensity and sprinting. Just try to keep your feet tame when Catherine Zeta Jones snarls out, "They had it coming."

What are your favorite interval tunes?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Goodbye Garmin (for now)

Before I was pregnant, I'd use my Garmin as a guide for how fast to run. My average pace tended to be in the low 9:00s, so if I glanced down and saw myself edging towards the 10s, I'd speed up.  That's not really working so well for me right now, at almost 6 weeks post-partum. Just trying to maintain a pace in the 9s in this period of recovery shoots my heart rate into the 180s.

The problem with a heart rate in the 180s? It makes me HATE running! And it's not healthy. It's also really hard to run a decent distance when you're so overtaxing your heart. I hate to think that my old comfortable pace is now "sprinting" to me, but it sure feels that way to my heart!

So now I'm running instead with my Polar F6, which just monitors heart rate and calories burned, and figuring out my pace after the fact by cross-checking my mileage with my time spent running.

It took me a lot of months of running and a leaner body weight to get to the 9s, and it's going to take a lot more miles and pounds lost again before I say goodbye to the 10s again. For now, I'm proud that I ran 3 miles this morning while my newborn slept at home.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I couldn't wait any longer!

Pssst. Don't tell my doctor, but I had a pretty good time defying her orders this morning.

I know I was technically supposed to wait until mid-December to start running again, but I've been feeling pretty strong (and fat! and tired! and in need of running therapy!) so I decided to kick off my post partum boot camp a week early with a short run today, on my old path.

I'm proud to say that after nine months of pregnancy, including three of them with prenatal yoga as my only exercise, I did 2.48 miles in 26 minutes, 19 seconds. I ran the whole way and felt pretty good.

No incision pain, no bleeding, no freaky sensation that my uterus was about to fall out.

I am pretty certain I could have done the 3.15 mile short run that I used to do on a daily basis, pre-pregnancy. But at the halfway mark I got what could only be described as "boob telepathy."  That distinct burning sensation that had to correspond to my baby waking up and wanting Mommy. (Indeed, when I got home, he was hungry and mad, and my husband confirmed that it he began stirring in his sleep 10-15 minutes earlier.)

Next time I'll pump or feed before I go and go for the full 3.15. Hopefully as the weeks progress and the pounds come off (I still have a lot to go), I'll get back into my old groove.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What, me, exercise??

Doctor's orders: don't exercise until you're six weeks post-partum.

Question to the doctor: "OK, but what about walking with a baby stroller? That's not really 'exercise,' is it?"

Doctor: "You can walk, but don't 'power walk.'"

Hmmmm, what is this "power-walking" business she was talking about? I think it entails walking with your arms out like you're about to flap your wings and fly away. It's hard to do that when you're pushing a stroller, so I think I'm in the clear.

Since Charlie was one week old, he and I have retraced my old running paths--first with him in a stroller, then snuggled up to me in the Baby Bjorn. We did a 3 1/2-4 mile path with a friend on Wednesday (very slowly, no arm flapping involved), and although it wasn't easy by the end, my legs said, "We missed moving! Thank you!"

Walking a few miles at a time isn't so easy after a few months of no exercise, and four weeks of modified bed rest, followed by a c-section. But it's getting easier. Charlie will be three weeks old on Monday--and I have a feeling I'm going to need to bind my arms to my sides to keep my steps unempowered.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meet my new running buddy

Charlie Joseph Mark
November 1, 2010, 8:05 a.m.
8 lbs., 9 oz., 19 in.

We're in love!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The final countdown

Just 7 days...then 6 weeks

In exactly one week from today--if not sooner, should my water break unexpectedly--our third and final kid will be entering the universe via scheduled c-section.

Not being a huge fan of life as a human incubator, it's been a long nine months. I have unapologetically whined through every moment of heartburn, back pain, false labor contractions, insomnia, exhaustion and hysteria. Those women who revel every kick and every extra pound? I'm not one of them.

But finally, in this last week, I'm experiencing the true elation of pregnancy, for two reasons: (1) because it's really and truly ALMOST OVER!!! and (2) I can't wait to meet our little guy (or not so little, going by the size of my belly).

I'm so excited, I can barely sleep. And I don't blame the hourly bathroom trips for the insomnia, either. At night, I roam around the house like a ghost (big, clumsy, waddling ghost), peering into my kids' rooms to watch them sleeping...and to wonder.

I look at my 7 1/2 year old son and almost 5 year old daughter and wonder if the baby willl look like them (at birth, they had identical faces, and you can still see the similarity when they are asleep).

I wonder if he'll be introspective like his brother, strong-willed like his sister, playful like his father, intense like his mother...or none of the above--or a "combo platter" of all or some of these traits. (An intensely playful, introspective, stubborn little boy, perhaps? Sounds like he'd fit right into our crazy clan.)

And speaking of things I can't wait for, I also can't wait to run again, which, if memory serves, I'll be able to do in exactly seven weeks from today (six following delivery).

I stopped working out at about seven months when I got hit with paralyzing hip and leg pain (pelvic girdle pain, if you've been so lucky to have experienced this pregnancy condition yourself) and during that same month, in the most blatant example of "retail therapy" I can think of, I scored myself a BOB running stroller, in chic baby blue and chocolate brown, which I'm just itching to break in.

I can't wait to see how my little running buddy looks strapped into this bad boy.

And I can't wait to move quickly again, to feel my feet hitting the pavement, to break a sweat from actual physical activity not just from trying to heave my body in and out of the car, to feel my heart race without worrying if it's going too fast for a growing fetus.

See you all on the road soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sanity is a reason in and of itself to exercise, right?

You know those women who don't even look pregnant until they are 6 months along and even then it's just a teeny little bump, like they might have just had one serving of too much pasta?

I'm not one of those women.

I am, and have been for several months, very very "knocked up" looking, with a giant, distended belly, heaving bosom and waddling walk. Despite exercising 3-5 days a week, I have gained a lot of weight, perhaps not enough to trouble my OB, but enough to make me a little bit annoyed at this body of mine--which apparently likes to pack on the same (substantial) number of pounds during pregnancy whether I don't exercise (pregnancy #1), exercise moderately with step aerobics and walks (pregnancy #2), or run, spin and elliptical myself into a tizzy (this third pregnancy.)

Anyway, I never ran to lose weight, precisely. You can lose weight by eating a lot of salad and broccoli and grapefruit sections--you don't need to rack up the miles for that. I ran to clear my brain, enjoy the outdoors and my 'tunes...and yes, to get away with more pizza than someone my age and metabolism should be able to eat. But honestly, if the number on the scale were all that had concerned me, I would have found a method that didn't involve oozing blisters, shin splints, the consumption of gross sports drinks, a gimpy knee, "runner's trot," expensive races, pace anxiety and all that jazz.

So I guess I shouldn't be that upset by the fact that running (and now lower-friction versions of cardio like walking on inclines and the elliptical) hasn't given me a Hollywood-esque maternity silhouette.

Because cardio has allowed me to maintain my sanity.

That in and of itself is a reason to keep at it, right?

Plus, I keep reading this statistic that babies of moms who exercised during pregnancy have higher IQs and leaner muscle mass than babies of couch potato mamas. So hopefully one day my clever, sinewy son will kiss his mama with gratitude and say, "Thanks for all those miles you clocked for me back when I was a fetus. I know I wouldn't have made the honor roll without you..."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Time for the spin shoes to collect some dust.

At first I could make it the full hour without needing a bathroom break. Then, about a month ago, I could get away with going once. But today I needed to get up three times. And the third time I slipped on my own sweat, wearing cleats, in the bathroom, and came pretty close to a bad fall.

The dismount/remount has gotten to be a hilariously difficult feat, too. Plus, todays's class featured a lot of jumps, which Baby clearly didn't like, as he kept kicking me in the pelvis every time I sat back in the saddle.

I have to say my spin teacher seemed really relieved when I told her goodbye till November. She probably saw me as a walking--or waddling--liability. "You'd be better off walking on a treadmill," she said, placing her hand to her heart.

Mmmm, let's not go overboard. If Biggest Loser contestants can amble themselves on top of an elliptical, I think I can handle that for another few months. Even during today's awkward and slightly dangerous session, I still feel great after cardio. And while it might not be keeping me slim or even holding back the pounds from piling on, having done this twice before, I know training my heart will mean a much faster postpartum recovery and a quicker return to the road and the spin studio.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mama's little baby likes...

...big, fat doughy pierogies. And gnocchi. And those Alexa organic red potato slices with rosemary and olive oil.
No need to get fancy, of course. A big hot steamy baked Idaho with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt is just as divine as the pasta-ensconced varieties.

I have a feeling the kid will have a special place in his heart for Mr. Potato Head one day. (Though he might try to eat it, not play with it.)

When he's not making me pine for potatoes, he's got me jonesing for dark chocolate.

And--this is weird--really dark, bitter green vegetables. (Tonight I had brussel sprouts cooked in lemon juice, garlic and olive oil with my pierogies and Baby and I had a little post-meal reverie. It was wonderful.)

Plus, it's hard to go to bed without some pineapple or watermelon. Or both.

But peanut butter, any kind of meat, finfish and bananas? Blech.

This kid is picky!

As I feast on carb-o-licious deliciacies, I just keep reminding myself that running and nursing will be one hell of a calorie- and pound-zapping combo post-partum.

For now, though, the Tater Tot and I are boasting quite the appetite!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pffffffffffft. (That’s the sound of my bubble being burst.)

It’s 5:30 a.m. I squeeze myself into one of my last pairs of non-maternity workout pants, make a mockery of my size-large sports bra with my size-XXXXL maternity cleavage, grab a t-shirt, heart monitor, socks/shoes, and off I head to the gym.

I offer a cheery hello to the nice lady at the YMCA reception desk, deciding to ignore her comment, “I am surprised YOU are still here!” and bound up the stairs.

Just like any other health-conscious working man or woman, I find myself a spot on the row of elliptical machines, strategically position my water bottle, towel and iPhone, hit start—and off I go to the Black-Eyed Peas.

And let me tell you…Imma Be workin’ it just like I did when I didn’t have a bundle of joy growing in my uterus. Whoop, whoop!

I’d set the timer for 30 minutes, but what the hell, let’s make it 40.

Pregnant lady? I don’t see a pregnant lady. Looking across from me at the mirrors by the weights, my baby bump obscured by the elliptical, I just see a flushed face, still-relatively-slim arms and legs pumping, no different from the face and limbs of the flat-bellied chick next to me.
Forty minutes later, I am admittedly a bit wobbly legged when I hop off the machine, but I get dizzy all the time these days, whether I am climbing off an elliptical or getting out of my chair at work. All that extra progesterone will do that.

Dizzy spell aside, I am filled with confidence as I head down the stairs, mentally patting myself on the back for having burned almost 600 calories and for clocking in an extra 10 minutes.

That feeling lasts all of about one minute: At the bottom of the steps, the YMCA receptionist is looking up at me with a tsk tsk expression on her face. “You know, we do have an elevator,” she chides me, likely in the same voice she uses for the Silver Sneakers YMCA patrons. “Climbing all those stairs is a lot for someone in your condition to handle.”

Ugh, my condition? Can’t we just forget about that for one 40 minute period? The little guy had been ellipticalled to sleep and politely hadn’t given me a single nudge during my entire workout…so why did she have to nudge me? Is it so wrong to want to escape from feeling like a human incubator for one short time period a few days a week?

Then, rubbing it in all the more, YMCA lady adds, “You look a little peaked. Are you sure you don’t want to sit down for a minute?”

Um, nope, I’m good.

I’m starting to understand why back in the day, being pregnant meant entering a period of confinement.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A few new developments in the life of a pregnant running enthusiast

1. It's a BOY! Yay! I think I like the sibling birth order of boy-girl-boy. For one thing, I'm really happy that our oldest gets a little buddy to follow him around (and to inherit his incredible collection of Thomas the Tank Engine trains, which he lost all interest in exactly one week before his Thomas the Tank Engine themed fourth birthday party three years ago.) And as nice as it might have been for our daughter to have a little sister, hey, she won't have to share her lipstick (or boyfriends) with anyone...and speaking of boyfriends, I do pity the ones she brings home, with two protective brothers now surrounding her on both sides.

2. Running, like cinch-waist dresses, Pinot Noir, and demi-cup bras, has joined the growing list of things I'm looking forward to enjoying once again...after November 2. (Perhaps after December 2, or January 2, for that matter--anyone know how long it takes to be able to run again after recovering from a c-section?) It's very hot here in South Florida, even at 6 a.m. when I used to hit the trail, and I now have this large appendage that bounces unpleasantly when I'm in motion. Plus, last month I managed to score myself a case of mastitis, an infection typically suffered by breastfeeding mothers, not pregnant women, by what I'd originally thought was a brilliant solution to my jogging bra friction problem: wearing two sports bras, both at least two sizes too small. Who knew this solution could cause a painful bacterial infection that led to a fever and really awful pain? Anyway, consider me benched.

3. Please don't say you told me so, but I like yoga now. (I'm ducking.) After railing against yoga for being too blah for good old Type A me, I am now an enthusiastic student at the prenatal yoga class Monday nights at the Weston Yoga Studio. An enthusiastic student, but not a particularly good one: standing in the tree pose on my gimpy left foot (those running injuries and plantar fascitis are worse than ever now that I'm sporting so much extra weight) for a mere 120 seconds caused me to sweat like I was sprinting. And the first time I tried Downward Dog with a big belly I accidentally almost did a somersault. But this is something my body really needs to learn how to do, especially now. (Clearly!) And, the afterglow is pretty awesome.

4. I now have a love-hate relationship now with my spin class. What I love: (1) that in positions 2 and 3, it really feels like I'm running, weightlessly, (2) I can safely enjoy the adreneline rush of intense cardio without worrying about falling on my face, (3) it's in the pitch dark at 5:30 a.m.--so no one else can really see how absurd I now look, and if they did see it, they'd probably be too sleepy to process the image. What I hate: (1) I am so tired now and it's really hard to peel myself out of bed for a workout, (2) sitting in position 1 to pedal causes my belly to rub against my legs and strains my back, not to mention that the tiny little seat seems to have shrunken as my no longer tiny little seat has grown, (2) I am so testy and hormonal these days that something as minor as the instructor choosing to play a Country-Western song incites the spinner's equivelant of road rage. (Country? Seriously? Seriously?)

So that's it. I might not be updating much these days, but I'm still a runner at heart. Well, I'm off to go research jogging strollers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things not to say to the pregnant lady in your spin class

1. That's a lot of water under your bike. Did you sweat a lot, or did your water break?
2. Come on move it, move it, PUSH!!! PUSH!!! You can do it. PUSH!!
3. Hey, my friend came too late to get a bike. Do you really need yours? You know, since you're pregnant and all...
4. Bet you're gonna have a big hot fudge sundae after this one, huh?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The bump in the road is getting bigger.

It's getting tough to run.

For one thing, it's hot and humid in South Florida this time of year, and since it's only May, the summer heat wave has just begun to unfurl.

For another, at 4 1/2 months pregnant, I'm carrying around enough extra weight to really feel the difference these days, and since that weight is all in my belly and chest, when I used to be a "pear" shaped runner, my center of gravity has really shifted, and I'm not quite used to that. My heels and arches have been aching lately, and I'm wondering if it has to do with a change in gait.

And then there is the "jiggling" issue. I've tried running in two bras. I've tried running in bras that are too tight. I've tried running in the $50 Enell bra specially formulated for "the well-endowed runner." Lack of movement is better than flopping all over the place, but constriction on the most sensitive part of my pregnant body is no picnic, either. I won't go into details, but it's led to some nasty rashes.

I'm not taking my decreased speed personally. I know that once I've had the baby and lost some of the weight, I'll likely return to my old pace and old gait. (I do fear running with nursing cleavage, though--that can't be fun!!) That being said, to spend a really difficult and uncomfortable half hour running, even walking a quarter mile or so of it, only to return and find out I've gained 90 seconds on my former comfortable pace, is kind of annoying.

As I lose much of the joy I used to find in a brisk morning run, I'm starting to wonder if I'd be better off in an air-conditioned spin studio, where I can still hit those adreneline peaks, where there's no jiggling, and where it all still feels really good.

I am spinning twice a week--maybe I should make it a more frequent thing, and make the runs less frequent. I do have a 5k that I'll be sludging through next Monday on Memorial Day (a pregnant 5k is like a non-pregnant half marathon for me, I kid you not)...I just fear taking a break from running altogether, because I don't want to lose what I worked so hard to gain.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Clothing conundrum.

I know that I am not the only woman on the planet who is exercising while pregnant. I have friends who ran marathons-for-two. My spin teacher told me the day before her water broke, she taught a kickboxing class.

So why are there almost no decent maternity workout clothes on the market? And why are the ones that are available so expensive? (OK, the answer to my second question is a simple supply and demand one...but I don't care how scarce the supply is, I'm not spending $68 on a maternity running skirt!)

A sampling of some of the clothes out there for anyone who happens to Google "maternity active wear."

 Old Navy Maternity Long Layering Top
It's 100% cotton. Does Old Navy not realize how cold and stinky cotton gets after even 10 minutes of cardio?

And horizontal stripes--yikes! Do we really need more emphasis on our growing girths?

Old Navy Maternity Gauchos

When I'm not pregnant, I don't wear gaucho style pants because (a) I'm not 87 years old, and (b) they make my thighs look like wider than they are and make my calves look short and stocky.

Why would I want to look geriatric and short-and-stubby-legged when I also have a big belly and enormous, porn-star boobs?? Isn't that just adding insult to injury?

Plus, what kind of exercise does one do wearing gauchos? Running is out--I can just see those drapey pant legs itching my knees with every step. I'd feel pretty silly in a spin class, too. Even Pilates: do a jack-knife and those pant legs would fall right on your face.

Motherhood Short Sleeve T-Shirt Crew Neck

This model might be training for sleepless nights and lost pacifiers, but it's hard to believe she could be training for a 5k in heavy, dark cotton that doesn't breathe. Those shirt sleeves are the perfect length to chafe your upper arms if you don't grease them in Body Glide first. A cute concept, but obviously miscategorized as "active wear."

Motherhood Fold Over Belly Jersey Knit Yoga Maternity Yoga Pants

I think these pants are great--if you're a yoga mama exercising in a comfortably air-conditioned yoga studio. But what about if you're a runner mama exercising outside in 80 degree South Florida May heat? You'd probably be better off running pant-less. I get especially annoyed by all the maternity yoga stuff because it's like when you're pregnant, there's no other form of acceptable exercise other than yoga! Not everyone transforms from a cardio-crazed lunatic to a Zen, ommm-humming yogi just because they've got some extra HCG in their blood.

Well, I guess my vent is over.

Now I'm off to check out the plus-sized women workout clothes and the men's workout clothes to see what else is out there. Hopefully something that will accomodate a big belly without drowning the rest of me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bump in the road

I have a confession to make.

My lack of interest in pursuing a third half marathon or a first full marathon really isn't because I've become all zen about running and have lost interest in races.

My inattention to the Garmin results isn't because I'm too cool to care about my speed.

I really don't have a new, laid-back attitude about running that's all about the joy of the ride and not at all about the numbers.

What I do have is a new running partner: My baby.

Yep, I'm pregnant! With kid #3. Due November 2.

Honestly, I'm as Type A as ever, but I've had to direct my Type A energies into things other than beating a 9 minute mile pace as all kinds of normal but annoying physical alilments have made it difficult to make every run a test of my personal best.

At my first prenatal appointment, my obstetrician was happy to hear that I was a runner, but she gave me strict orders not to overdo it. I'm not allowed to sprint, for one thing, and I'm not sure I'd want to, anyway, especially lately.

My old "easy" runs have in recent weeks become a challenge. Recovering from my 6 mile Sundays reminds me of how I felt after my 10-12 mile pre-race runs. It's not really the weight gain (I'm bigger, yes, but not so big yet that the weight should have this much of an impact on my running) as it is the shift in the center of my gravity and my breath capacity.

I sweat more. I stink more. I've had to change my routes so I no longer pass McDonald's (blech!) but do have at least one decent restroom on my path, just in case. I also have dropped a few days off my schedule because I truly do need to sleep in more now.

I have new running equipment requirements, too: a big water bottle on even a short run, two sports bras at least one size too small, more mellow music so I won't inadvertantly go faster than I should. (I also cannot locate moisture-wick maternity clothes under $60 anywhere. Apparently most women either don't exercise while they are pregnant or don't mind soaking through cotton tank tops and underbelly shorts.)

But I love it. I still love it. There's still no greater high for me than running outside with a good song playing, cruising down a hill, hugging a curve. It keeps me sane, it keeps me at peace--and it probably helps undo the damage of all the cream cheese I am craving lately.

And I think the baby loves it, too.

I had an ultrasound on Friday and wasn't surprised to see a cute little fetus (with a turned up nose just like his/her big sister) running in place in the womb, little arms waving at me.

What perfect form. And I mean that in more than one way.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A run with my son

My son, Jacob, who turned 7 on Thursday, is the keeper of my race medals and the logger of my miles. ("How many miles did you run today, Mommy? Three? Why not four?") He's also pretty swift-footed himself when racing around the Little League diamond or up and down the basketball court. But until today, running was a Mommy-thing, not a Jacob-thing. He had never seemed that interested in running just to run--not to win a race or score a run.

About a month ago, I signed up to do the Weston 5k on Memorial Day and had noticed that there was a kids' 1/4 mile fun run afterwards. I asked Jacob a few times if he wanted to see if he could run a 1/4 mile with me, just to see if there was an interest in doing this run, and his answer each time was, "Maybe another time." But today, even after a baseball day an a half hour of catching with his Daddy, he said he'd try it.

So we put on our shoes, I grabbed my Garmin for accuracy, and off we went.

I did give him some advice first: I said, "This isn't a race to see who's fastest. If you want to run the whole time and not stop, you can't run so fast that you get out of breath."

He said was OK with  the slow-but-steady plan of attack.

And I'm glad he did: Jacob and I easily completed the 1/4 mile without stopping, in 2:37. I high-fived him and whooped up and down for him, and he looked pretty proud. Then he said, "Can we try to run a whole mile?" I grinned. "We sure can!" So off we went again.

This was a lot harder on Jacob. He said a few times, "Can we take a break?" and I said, "Let's just try running really slow instead and then if we have to, we can." Slowing down really helped and I am amazed to say we did the full mile (right after running the 1/4) without stopping, in 10:13.

I'm not sure if I have a future high school track star on my hands--but I do suspect I've got myself a running buddy. Because he loved it. He said to me, "Even when it was hard I still really liked it, Mommy." I said to Jacob, "That's how I feel, too!"

When we got home, Jacob wrote me a "book" about his running adventure. I typed it up for him and am pasting it here.


By Jacob Mark

We have fun
We feel good.
It’s cool.

It makes you happy.
It’s good for your heart.

It makes your family happy.

It makes you happy and makes you sweaty.

That’s why I like running.


So my son runs with me--then writes a little poem about it. Running and writing. Did Mother's Day come a few weeks early this year? Be still, my heart.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A bad run is still a run

On my long run this weekend, the stars were just not aligned.

My running group ran on Saturday, and because of scheduling issues, I had to do it alone, Sunday instead. And, it was very hot outside and I didn't remember water. Plus, I just wasn't feeling it. Ever have one of those runs?

After doing 4 miles, with 2 miles left on my trail to get me home to my doorstep, I did something I have never done, not since I began seriously running last winter: I walked. I walked for a mile.

Then, after doing that, I did something else I haven't done in my history of runs: I jogged home. Not ran, but jogged. Like an 11-12 minute mile.

I wasn't proud of my Garmin read that day, but I was still glad I'd laced up that morning. Even though that walk 1/run 5 journey didn't do much to boost my runner's ego, hey, it was better than skipping it altogether, right? And it certainly burned off breakfast.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How to get faster without even trying.

With no race to train for, I stopped caring about how fast I was.

And then I got faster.

Here's how I inadvertantly became a nonchalant speed(ier) demon.

1. Stop trying to run fast. Just run to enjoy the outdoors, your music, the lightness of your feet on the pavement.

2. If you see someone out on the path running faster than you, don't speed up. It's OK. People will be faster than you.

3. You can use a Garmin, but don't look at it while you're running. Just glance at it at the end to track mileage and shrug off your pace. Who cares if you ran a 5 minute mile for three seconds while dashing through a yellow light?

4. Run more often than you had been before, but stick with shorter runs that won't wear your body out, with the long run being in the 6-8 mile range, and the everyday run in the 3-4 mile range.

5. One day, look over your Garmin history over the past month, and watch your average pace drop off several seconds a week. It'll be the fastest "minute" you ever lost. Without even trying.

6. Do a very modest happy dance, trying not to be too self-congratulatory, as it was a very zen, "speed, schmeed" that made your quicken up in the first place.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What to do about spin class clowns?

How did I end up in junior high school again? If you're lucky enough to have forgotten what that was like, just snap your own bra straps and memories will likely instantly return to you of the two jokesters in the back of the class who find something sexual in every other word to come out of the teacher's mouth, even when the lesson is about a right-angle triangle.

I know spinning can make you feel young--but I am not sure I want to be that young again. (Does anyone want to go back that far in time?)

There are two fortyish men in my Tuesday 5:30 a.m. spin class who spin in the back of the room and make jokes of the "That's what she said" from The Office throughout the entire hour.

Let's call them Beavis and Butthead.

Yeah, the spin instructor is hot. She's gorgeous, in fact, and she spend four hours a day working in a gym, so she has an amazing body.  And when she shouts out things like, "Come on, move it!" or "Work it, people!" or "Gimme all you got!" I can see how that can inspire the lustful glee of hormonal teenage boys.

But men who have two or three kids a piece, who have good jobs, Lexus SUVs, receding hairlines and all of the other trappings of middle-agedom?

I mean, seriously!

I can tell B & B think they are hilarious. They are nice men outside of spin (yes, I know them--I have run into them at children's birthday parties) and they probably think they are adding some humor to what otherwise would be a grueling workout.

The thing is, I didn't get up at 4:50 a.m. for humor. I got up for the grueling workout. I like it grueling.

They clearly don't, because could you really sprint at a grueling-indeed intensity of 8 without your voice getting even the slightest bit breathy as you yelled out, "Yeah, do it to me baby!"

I did say something to the teacher, and she said, "Believe me, I know!"

But what I really want her to say is, "Hey, Beavis! Hey, Butthead! Shut the f&^%$# up and move your flabby asses!"

If she doesn't say it, I might actually have to next Tuesday.

Of course that would make running into them at birthday parties very awkward.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Puny arms and all

There are only so many hours in the day, and I must confess I would much rather run 4 miles than spend 40 minutes at the gym doing bicep curls. As a result, I simply lack biceps. Think Popeye before he ate a can of spinach. Fortunately, the constant back-and-forth arm motion of running has made my arms lean rather than grandma-flabby, but their lack of bulk creates a major problem for me: that I can't just go into a running store and buy a regular iPhone armband and expect it to fit. I actually spent my first half-marathon with my left arm squeezed against my side to keep the armband from falling off.

Oh, and when I went into a running store in Doral to ask their advice on what armband to buy, the woman who waited on me frowned at my arms and suggested I take up some more strength training. Not exactly what I was hoping to hear.

I did find a cheap Nike iPhone armband at that fits, but it lacks the features other armbands have. It's simply a black Spandex holder and there's no way to navigate the volume or channels while you're running, unless you take it off, make the change, and then stick it back in the holder. (Which is hard to do if you're going at a good clip--but necessary if you accidentally forgot to disable "Shake to Shuffle" or had unintentionally put a song on repeat.)

I am not a tiny person by any stretch of the imagination--I see runners out there who are much smaller than me, including their arms.  So what do you wear when you want to run with music? Fortunately it's still short sleeve weather around here and I have shirt fabric bulking up my arm span, but in a month or two, we'll be back to tank tops, and I'll have to run with my left arm in a weird position again if I don't find a solution soon!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Love hurts. Your bra shouldn't.

I'm stealing that line from a lingerie shop in Philadelphia where I was fitted for a bra many many years ago. (It's probably my favorite business slogan ever, so I jump at any opportunity to use it.)

So in this case I'm talking about a sports bra, not anything frilly or delicate or French enough to be found in that shop. But, a stretched out sports bra can cause just as much pain as an ill-fitting demi-cup underwire--and I think my fellow female runners out there know exactly what I'm talking about.

What's your bra of choice? And how long would you say it's lasted? I loved my Target Champion bras when I bought them last year, but they started to get stinky and mildewy after about six months, and now they aren't really doing any bra-like duties at all for me. I need support!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Seriously, Nike??

I'm in the market for a new pair of Nike Lunarglides, since my shins protested as soon as I hit the 200 mile mark. (I know sneakers are supposed to last for 300-400 miles, but I either run my shoes too hard into the ground or Nike just makes a softer shoe.)

So I see there is a Sports Authority shoe sale, click on to their site...and look at this.


This is the color combo on sale in my size. The one that's not on sale, in gray and hot pink, is a marginal improvement.

Can I ask what the point is of making a shoe look so ugly?? I wish I had the luxury of buying a running shoe based on looks, but with my funny feet, I've got to stick with what fits.

And I thought the white/orange combo was bad.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fun with the playlist

Sitting on the sidelines is no fun, but the one thing I can do as I wait for my shin splints to heal is perfect my playlist. I've taken out some over-played (on the radio, and by me) Top-40 snoozes and added some new tunes to power up my runs. Here's what I've got.

Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) US3
Misty Mountain Hop 4 Non Blondes
Straight Up Paul Abdul
Zero Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Song 2 Blur
Can't Get Enough of You Baby Smash Mouth
Beverly Hills Weezer
Rockstar 101 Rihanna & Slash
Paper Planes M.I.A.
Cheryl Tweedy Lily Allen****
Are You Gonna Be My Girl JET
19-2000 Gorillaz
Only Happy When It Rains Garbage
Imma Be Black-Eyed Peas
Telephone Lady GaGa
Heart-Shaped Box Nirvana
American Boy Estelle
Where Did You Sleep Last Night (MTV Unpplugged version) Nirvana
New Soul Yael Naim
Shut Up and Let Me Go The Ting Tings

*** I am in love with this song. I think Lily Allen's "Cheryl Tweedy" is just about the most perfect song to run to. It's got beat and power, but the lyrics are also interesting. Maybe a little menacing. I'm all for anything that's got force and thoughtfulness.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Black-and-blue shins?

I'm a prettty light sleeper, so I think I'd notice if someone kicked me in the shins in the middle of the night. (My poor husband can barely exhale without me snapping at him to "stop snoring!" so it definitely wasn't him.)

My shins are achy and mysteriously black-and-blue.

I've only logged about 200 miles on my current shoes. Time to get a new pair, perhaps? I never heard of shins looking as bad as they felt due to shin splints, but running is full of new discoveries for me, some of them less thrilling than others.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Define a "good run."

A month ago, I ran 6 miles in 54 minutes and felt great about it. I wasn't trying for a specific time or anything--I was just running to recover from the ING half, and I felt good the whole time. It did feel "fast" as I was running; my whole body felt in synch, almost like I was dancing.

Today, I ran 6 miles (tapering for next week's Miami Beach 13.1) and felt lousy about it. It felt like I was pushing through mud and I thought unpleasant things the entire time. My iPhone armband kept slipping; I was overdressed in fleece-lined leggings for 45 degree weather; I nauseated by the road kill and angry at the motorists who seemed to be driving as close as possible to the runners, rather than steering away from us.

My time for the run? 2 minutes and 23 seconds slower than the run a month ago. I was shocked by this. I was expecting to have been a good 10 minutes slower, given how much of a struggle it was for me to complete.

Which leads me to conclude that a good run doesn't have very much to do with speed. A good time might be an ego boost, but I think that's all there is to it.

I think a good run is 100% in the brain. I've run with blisters and still enjoyed it. I've run with a shooting pain in my left calf and soreness in my right heel and still felt good about it. Today I had no such injuries, but had only run once this week--and I think I went into the run assuming it would be a slow, bad one. And so it wasn't exactly a triumph.

I have to say there's no better cure for a bad run than a good one. I'm looking forward to lacing up tomorrow morning and getting all traces of today's 6 miles out of my system.

What do you think makes a run good rather than bad?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Run, Kelly, run!

I just wanted to give a shout out to my longtime friend, running inspiration and "virtual running partner" Kelly, who is running the Tokyo marathon today. I say virtual because, well, she lives in Japan, I live in Florida, and we've never actually run together, physically. (If we did, I think she would have dragged me into running a full marathon by now.) But I often think of her courage when I'm running the suburban streets of Weston to keep myself going when I am dragging--and when I'm really loving the run, smiling with the beat of my feet on the asphalt, I think of her, too. Because I know she knows what that feels like.

Kelly and I never ran together, but I think you could say we built our base for prolonged cardio when we were high school kids, and used to walk from West Philadelphia (Unviersity of Pennsylvania campus) to the very most eastern point, Penn's Landing, talking the entire time, stopping into bookstores and coffee shops in that pre-Starbucks and pre-Borders era that was the early 90s, and doing it just because we could. We'd easily walk 10 miles on a Sunday afternoon, and unless I was wearing uncomfortable shoes (I remember dragging her into CVS more than once for Band-Aids), the physicality of what we were doing was never anything we thought about. We had so much to talk about it that it honestly isn't until now, as an adult who hopes her kids will also one day be that effortlessly active as teenagers, that I even considered the distance, or recognized that those walks were actually "exercise."

Kelly, you're going to do great! When you get tired, just imagine you're downing one of those enormous iced coffees at Caribou, or that we're racing to catch the Speedline together. I can't wait to hear how it goes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

After 93 running-related posts, here's one about credit cards.

Sorry, runners, but I am just so amused (in a bitter cackling kind of way) by this letter I got in the mail from my Chase Freedom Card that I have to stop the running-related presses and blog about personal finance instead. Because this is a personal finance matter I'm taking very personally.

So this will not be a running-related post, except that it's (a) about how a bank is giving customers a "run for their money" (sorry, couldn't resist that pun, and (b) it annoys me so much I probably would benefit from a run right now.

This is what happened. Just checked the mail, and I got this pretty dark blue-and-cream letter from Chase saying that I've been "upgraded" from my current Chase Freedom Card (no annual fee; 3 points per dollar spent in your top three spending categories; redeem 200 points for a $250 check) to the new Chase Sapphire Account (1 point per dollar spent; no option to redeem 200 points for $250.) Some upgrade, huh?

I called the customer service line to refuse the upgrade (which fortunately, you can do) and had a little fun conversing with the woman about Chase's use of the word "upgrade." She explained that it was an upgrade because even though you were getting fewer points per dollar spent, you don't have to wait on hold for a long time when you call Chase if you're a Sapphire member. You get your very own "account manager" on the horn everytime! Well whoop-de-doo: I can count on my hand the number of times I've actually called Chase, today being one of them.

Also, you can get double points if you shop from Chase's Web site, which features an impressive 300 vendors. Yawn.

I said, "Yeah, but exactly how is that an upgrade? I'm busy. I already have my usual online shopping behavior. You're asking me to change how I shop, use your Web site instead, and meanwhile get fewer points for groceries, gas and Starbucks?"

Chirpily, she noted that Chase offered a price-matching system so if I found an item cheaper on another online store, they'd match it. If I called my own personal account manager to complain.

If I had time to do all this, I would really rather spend it on more important things. Like, um, my family. Sorry, lovely Chase account managers of the world, but I'd rather squeeze in another game of freeze tag with my kids than challenge you to top the deal I found on Turkish cotton sheets. No offense, of course.

I'm really annoyed. Does anyone have another no-annual-fee, high rewards yielding card they'd recommend? I'm staying "downgraded" at the Chase Freedom level for now, but they are taking away the $250 checks for 200 points for Freedom cardholders to as of March 10. So I'm looking to shop around.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Flat feet, revisited.

I have flat feet. Non-existent arches. I'm sure the nice lady at the nail salon who paints my toenails "coral rose" must feel like she's been given the odd assignment of decorating two foot-shaped Wheat Thins crackers.

Running on flat feet isn't impossible, but sometimes you get random aches and pains and when you type your symptoms into Google, invariably the phrase "common among runners with flat feet" will pop up.

The good thing about flat feet is that you can stick a little silicone or plastic under the arch (orthodics) and kind of train your feet to sit the proper way in their shoes, instead of just sitting their flaccidly while the rest of your body absorbs the shock of asphalt. Kind of the way a corset forces you to have correct posture. But who wants to wear a corset?? That's exactly how I've felt about orthodics.

About six months ago, I got expensive, custom-made orthodics at Foot Solutions, and because they weren't properly fitted, the blood and goo that resulted (blisters on every toe and on my heels) was so terrible that I decided I'd rather deal with the consequences of running on flat feet than ever have to run wearing those evil orthodics again. The owner of Foot Solutions actually called me and re-made the orthodics from scratch for me, going out of his way to make sure they'd fit in my running shoes, but I was so spooked by my first experience running with them that I only would wear them in my walking shoes.

I was in training--I didn't want to have to take a week off from running just to heal from blisters, which is what had happened the first time I wore them.

Well, my official training is over, and just recently I noticed a return of my plantar fascitis. So I decided to give the newfangled orthodics another shot.

The added weight underneath my feet did take a little getting used to...but no blisters! And not only that, no knee pain after an 8 mile and a 10 mile run! I actually seem to have better form, and my pace wasn't slower. So I'd have to say that my Foot Solutions orthodics really were worth the money. Now I can't imagine running without them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Two-paced liar

I'm an honest person, but I'm wondering if I should fake it a little when I register for the Miami Beach 13.1 when they ask me what my expected finish time will be.

In the past I've been honest--if anything, modest. But what does honesty buy you when you're signing up for a race?

In my case, at the Miami ING, it bought me the horrible experience of weaving through a thick throng of walkers and slower runners who were put in the same pace category as me. I'd put myself down as a 9:15, because that's typically what I ran in previous races. I think I would have had a better experience if I'd shaved about a minute off of that time, because the non-walkers who actually ran at my usual speed were put way ahead of me. I wonder if they all had said they ran an 8 minute mile just to get put ahead of the walkers?

(And who could blame them? I cannot stress enough how awful it is to spend three miles simply weaving through people! It's exhausting and potentially dangerous--I banged into the sweaty shoulders of more than a few race participants.)

I'm not going to lie about my age (I'm almost 36). Or my weight (please don't ask.) But my pace? I'm thinking that in the next two weeks, I could surely get down to an 8:10 minute mile.

Sure, yeah, that's the ticket...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How many times have you had this conversation with yourself?

I hate to invoke the image of the "angel on your shoulder" and the "devil on your shoulder," because I don't think skipping a run should be considered "evil," nor should completing a planned run be considered "angelic," but I'm at a loss for how else to describe the following back-and-forth I go through several times a week--and I'm sure you do, too.

Angel: It's 5:30! Time to get up and run!
Devil: It's 5:30. Time to stay asleep.
Angel: Come on, we set out our running clothes the night before. Let's go.
Devil: No. It's cold out there. And this bed is so warm...
Angel: How are we going to run 10 miles this weekend if we skip the short runs this week?
Devil: Maybe we could just not run 10 miles?
Angel: Get UP.
Devil: Will you please be quiet? I am trying to sleep.
Angel: Well, now that you're awake, let's get a move on. If we wait any longer, we'll only have time for 3 miles.
Devil: And that would be a tragedy because...?
Angel: Come on, we'll just have a nice, easy run today. No speed work. I promise.
Devil: Why even bother running if we're going to do it half-assed? How about we skip today and do a really good job tomorrow?
Angel: Look, we're wide awake. The running clothes await us. The running path awaits us. And have we ever regretted a workout after it's been completed?
Devil: Afterwards, no. But during? Sure.
Angel: Brat.
Devil: Nag.

So Angel wins, and off I go for my run, half enthusiastically, and half grudgingly. I hate the first 10 minutes. The second 10 minutes are bearable. And then after that, I don't want to stop. And yet, the Angel/Devil conversation repeats itself again and again. For some reason, the Devil almost never wins. (Which is why I really hate to refer to the running-adverse part of me as "the Devil," as the non-goody-goody part of me often wins during much more pressing moral debates.)

Do you have this conversation, too?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who wants to run 13.1 miles on her birthday?


My birthday is in three weeks, and so is the Miami Beach 13.1. We have plans to go out the night before and celebrate, but I'm thinking as long as I don't eat or drink too much, I should be in decent shape for another half-marathon.

And besides, is there a better way to enter your 36th year than with a triumphant run through Golden Girls territory?

I can't believe I'm actually contemplating this. No, not contemplating: training for it! I ran 8 today and plan to do 10 next week. I had actually sworn off racing right after crossing the finish line at the Miami ING a few weeks ago. I remember thinking, why would anyone intentionally put themselves through the agony of sore quads, gastrointestinal distress, the visual and olfactory assault of Port-a-Potties, lips so dry they were cracked, bruises in bizarre places from iPod armpands, sports bras and who knows what else?

Why would anyone put themselves through this? Well, I really can't answer that, except to say that it reminds me of childbirth. Ask any woman recovering in the maternity ward whether she'd want to give birth again, and you'll get a HELL NO. Check back even a few months later, and you'll probably get a much different reply.

There's just something great about racing that extends beyond the race itself. Even a miserable race where you hate every second of it and wonder why you didn't just stick with 5ks. I can't really explain it. I enjoy having something to train for, and I enjoy looking back on a race and remembering how hard it was, and the fact that I finished. Even if the race itself isn't so hot.

The woman I run with, who was my mentor when I ran with Team in Training, was wearing a headband today that said, "I love to run. I hate to run. I love to run. I hate to run." Which basically sums it all up. Especially with regard to racing. Yep, I'm an addict.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Naked jogger

Yesterday I took a really intense spin class. One of those 5:30 a.m. killer sessions where only the true masochists stay for the full hour--about half the class had melted off their bikes and limped out the door by the time we were on our fifth sprint up an imaginary steep mountain.

When we were finally cooling down (because I was one of the masochists), the instructor advised us to do "recovery cardio" the next day. "Walk or go for a fun run," she said.

A fun run? What's that? Like not try to go really fast, or go really far, or both? That sounded pretty difficult to me. But I decided to try it.

So this morning, I found some mellow iTunes (it's hard to go too fast when running to Crosby, Stills & Nash) and decided I would jog. Not run, but jog. Of course the first time I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that my pace was two minutes slower per mile than usual, I got kind of anxious. But anxiety isn't fun, and I'd been told to go on a "fun run."

That was when I did something crazy (for me): I jogged the rest of the loop without looking at my Garmin once. It really felt like running naked--I'm usually so conscious of how far I'm going, and my pace. But this time I just went merrily along.

It was a fun run!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Miami ING half marathon photos (and 2 second video of my biggest fans!)

I think I finally mastered the art of smiling while racing; I look downright gleeful in these pictures. (You wouldn't know that I was suffering from pretty severe GI distress, or that I had a blister on my baby toe the exact same SIZE of my baby toe.)

I think that's because I really was happy. I was proud of myself, and it felt good to be among other runners.

Click here to watch a very short video of my daughter, Rebecca, cheering on the thousands of people passing her by at the 12.5 mile mark, while her big brother, Jacob, goofs for the camera:

Monday, February 1, 2010

The good, the bad, and the amazing: My Miami ING half-marathon experience

I didn't beat my time from my previous half-marathon. But on the bright side, I did avoid pooping in my pants. Here's my story.

The Good

There was lots of good. Some of my favorite moments:

  • What it felt like to see my friends Lucy, Ali, and Meri and my coworker Carolyn right before the race started, and to begin the race running next to my running coach, Ana, and my best friend from college, Ava, who flew in from NYC to run her first half-marathon with me.
  • The thrill of passing the first few miles without feeling like I'd run at all, making terrific time.
  • Seeing my husband and my two kids one mile before the finishline. Rebecca, age 4, was calling out, "Go runners, go!" and Jacob brags he managed to score 40 high-fives. I had to stop and hug and kiss them, I was so glad to see their faces.
  • Being greeted by my wonderful friends, Shari, Julie, Samara and Karen with a sign that read "RUN JORIE RUN" and a bouquet of flowers. What amazing friends I have!
  • Knowing that I raised almost $3000 to fight blood cancer--how awesome is that?
  • Knowing that I finished the race at all, given the "Bad" I'm about to describe.
  • Knowing that I very thinly avoided a disgusting display of public poopery. (Again, the rest of this story lies under the "bad" part.)
The Bad:

OK, here is where the story gets messy. So if you are put off by "TMI," just skip down to the "amazing" and we can just say I had a bad case of what's cutely described as "Runner's Trot," but isn't cute at all and really doesn't involve trotting.
  • I began the race with the goal of beating my last half-marathon time of 2:02. Sometime between mile 4-5, suddenly seized by painful cramps, I revised that goal to simply "finishing" the half-marathon. And by mile 6, when those painful cramps had become more urgent and no unlocked Port-a-Potty was in sight, my goal simply became to not poop in my cute little running skirt. Seriously.
  • The mood of the race started out so wonderful. I waved and smiled at the people standing on the sidelines. "You go, girl!" some nice Team in Training lady shouted at me. "Whoo-hoo!" I called back. But forty minutes into the race, as the cramps took over, I realized I needed to go, and go NOW. "Rock on!" shouted another nice sideliner. "BATHROOM???" I cried back. Mis-hearing me, she said, "Yeah, WHOO-HOO!" And then looked puzzled when I made an anguished face at her.
  • Port-a Potties are disgusting. That was my first impression when I finally found one at the 7 mile marker, but after waiting five minutes to use it, I had to admit I was grateful they existed. My next experience with a Port-a-Potty made me realize the first one I'd been in was actually BEAUTIFUL compared to the second one, which had no toilet paper in it. Just a banana peel. I want to bathe in Purell just remembering this experience.
  • Severe diarrhea combined with sweating for over two hours equals incredible dehydration. At one point I really just wanted someone to catapult me over the finishline, I felt so weak.
  • During my frantic attempts to find a bathroom, I lost pace with both Ana and Ava, who I'd hoped to run to the end with.
The Amazing

As awful as being sick was, as down as I might have been about not breaking 2:00, which had kind of been my goal, there is one thing really special about my time: it was the exact same time Ava came in on. I didn't even realize that we crossed the finishline within seconds of each other, but once we were through, she tapped me on the shoulder, and sure enough, she'd been right with me all along. Here's a picture of us right before we crossed.

Ava and I lived together for eight years--from when we were college freshman until I moved in with my now-husband. She was my maid of honor at my wedding, and even though I don't see her very often now that we live so far away from each other, whenever we do meet up it's like we're still two twentysomethings in our pajamas, staying up late and watching "Love Connection" together on basic cable.

She's the one in black, I'm the one in purple.

Anyway, I did it! I'm done! And now Ava is asking me when we're going to run our first marathon together. Hmmmm...I would guess the answer might be, "When they find a cure for Runner's Trot." Which I'm sure does exist. It might entail a diet of Immodium and bananas. But if it does exist, I'm all over it!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Off to the races!

I've got a busy weekend ahead of me. I'll be spending Saturday at the Miami ING Expo, then partying (in a non-alcholic, early-to-bed, bland food kind of way) with my Team in Training teammates. I'll also be sure to spend at least a few minutes carefully selecting my race day outfit to avoid looking like Punky Brewster this time!

And on Sunday at 6:10 a.m., I'll be waiting to cross that start line...

You know, it was only a little over a year ago that I first discovered that I loved running, during a cruise over MLK Day weekend when I decided to take a break from the buffets and spent an hour on the treadmill instead. I hadn't intended to spend that long running, but after a few miles, I realized I didn't want to get off. 

And about 500 miles, six pairs of running shoes and maybe a dozen or so (relatively minor) injuries later, here I am.

Thanks to everyone who has supported my fundraising efforts for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Thanks to everyone who has supported my running mania by reading my blog, putting up with me gabbing about my tales from the trail, and my hogging of the bread basket at restaurants.

Thanks to the experienced runners for the advice and patience with my rookie enthusiasm and silly mistakes; thanks to the new runners who've embraced the asphalt right along with me.

I'll be running with a lot of friends on Sunday in Miami and wish them all lots of luck! But I feel like I'll be running with a lot of friends on Sunday who are not in Miami, too, and I want to thank them and let them know they will be with me, too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So what happens after the finish line?

I don't mean to get ahead of myself, but after all of these months focused on the finish line January 31 (which is in less than a week!) I haven't thought at all about what I'm going to be doing, running-wise, on February 1.

Well, maybe not February 1. I plan to spend that day sleeping in and maybe catching a little South Beach sunshine, as I'll be staying at the hotel closest to the Miami ING start line.

But what about February 2, or 3 or 4...? I'm sure I'll want to train for a race again, eventually. But I also know I want to take some time to go back to just running for fun. (Which is why I got into racing in the first place.)

How far does a just-for-fun runner run? How often?

I have to say I am kind of looking forward to just running as far as my legs want to take me and not sticking to a schedule; to just glancing down at my Garmin out of idle curiosity to see what my pace is, instead of to make sure I'm going at a good speed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taper time

Ten days till the Miami ING Half Marathon, and it's time to taper. Ahhhh. Let's everyone take a nice, deep breath.

I've actually never "tapered" before, so this is all new to me. And it sounds fun. Decadant.

I foresee sleeping in, maybe treating myself to a massage or pedicure, and lying around on a crushed velvet divan while eating dark chocolate-covered cherries. (Does anyone have a crushed velvet divan I could borrow??)

Oh, and instead of my 5:15 a.m. spin classes for my cross-training, I'm thinking yoga. Or Pilates.

Or maybe...sleep.

This weekend, I run six miles with my team, and my weekday workouts after that run are supposed to be quick little runs in the two to three mile range. After months and months of hard training, I can only imagine how luxurious it will feel to leisurely trot around my development, waving "hi" at my neighbors and at all the kids waiting for the school bus instead of muttering under my breath, "Git outta my way!"

I'm off to fix myself some nice herbal tea. I'm going to make it a decaf.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"You'll shoot your eye out!"

Today I had my 12 mile run with Team in Training. And today, as usual, like all runners on my team, I passed the pedestrians pretty early into my run.

Because I was running, and they were walking.

Trying to be friendly, I said, "Good morning, how are you?" to the TNT walking coach as I trotted past her.

She said, "I'm fine, but how are YOU?" with a weird emphasis on the you.

I said, "I am wonderful, thank you!" (I felt pretty good, as a matter of fact.)

So she shouted back (as I was now significantly ahead of her) "DON'T OVERDO IT!"

This really irritated me.

I shouted back, "I DON'T OVERDO IT!"

Then I heard her cackle, "Yeah right!" and the walker next to her cackled right back.


Perhaps I sometimes I do overdo it.

But who is this random woman, who is not my mother, who does not know me at all, to tell me to slow down?

And maybe I'm not overdoing it. Maybe she's under-doing it.

After all, she's walking. I'm running. She's...not the healthiest looking creature on the planet. As for me, at my last check-up, my internist positively beamed at my chart and told me my blood pressure was "delightful."

You don't get a "delightful" BP from underdoing the exercise.

Sorry. I'm getting mean.

I'm not really sure why the walking coach's matronly advice pushed my buttons so much. I feel very much like the little boy in The Christmas Story who is told by every adult he encounters, including Santa Claus, that he can't have the toy gun of his dreams because "You'll shoot your eye out."

I have shot my eye out, figuratively speaking, with all of my injuries, but doing so got me to discover my inner tough guy. I've gotten a lot of scrapes and blisters and uses for an Ace bandage along the way, but I've also said goodbye to the wimpy, squeamish little girl I used to be before I learned how to sprint over dead possums. "See ya, I don't wanna be ya!" I told that girl. And she left, for good.

Okay, the real  reason I am still thinking about this woman hours later is that--and I cringe to type this--I found myself automatically slowing down after she shouted out her advice (once I was out of her line of vision.) It could be because I was at the 8 mile mark, which has always been a toughie for me, but I actually think I have this inner good-girl desire to please that made me second-guess myself and crank it down just because a woman than older than me told me to.


Next time she tells me not to overdo it, I'm going to shout back, "Careful, there's a turtle behind you and he's hot on your trail!"

No, I won't do that. That would be really uncool.

After all, she's a nice lady, out there every Saturday, and at every Florida race. She's dedicated to raising money to fight leukemia, and she's probably just worried about my health because she's that kind of a person.

So I won't say it so wrong if I think to myself, maybe even whisper it, "Catch me if you can!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Speed drills

I'm a new subscriber to Runner's World and I have to say, this magazine rocks! It's been years since I read a magazine that contained truly useful information. (In between their ads for fat-free yogurt, health magazines are all about reaffirming what you already know; parenting magazines are really only helpful to people who aren't actually parents yet.)

This month's issue had a recommendation for treadmill speed drills caught my attention, as our recent cold spell has made me spend more time with this mechanical beast than I ever wanted to.

Here's the RW plan:

Run 5 minutes fast (I chose 7.0 on the treadmill but choose whatever's "fast" for you)
Run 5 minutes easy (I did 6.0 for "easy," but do whatever is a casual jog for you)
Run 4 minutes fast
Run 4 minutes easy
Run 3 minutes fast (around this time it dawned on me that I was getting my ass kicked by the treadmill)
Run 3 minutes easy (had to drop down to 5.0 here because my heart rate was 175)
Run 2 minutes fast
Run 2 minutes easy
Run 1 minute fast (the longest minute of my life)
Run 1 minute easy

Of course you want to add in a warm up and a cool down, but the heart of the workout is 30 minutes. And a tough 30 minutes it is indeed.

If you're like me, you'll hate every second of it while you're doing it but be grateful for the training a few days later when you do your long run outside and notice you're running much faster than you used to, with less effort.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rain fell, and so did I

Conversation with my mother-in-law.

Her:  "So, are you running this weekend?"
Me:  "Yes, 10 miles. Unfortunately, it's going to rain and be very cold tomorrow."
Her:  "Please be careful! You don't want to fall."
Me: " Oh, I won't fall."

Ha ha ha ha HA! What a perfectly absurd thing for the clumsiest runner in the United States of America to promise!

Of course I fell. I mean, falling was the only running injury I can think of that wasn't on my resume of boo-boos, and that's only because I never ran in major rain before.

It wasn't that bad. I'd completed about 7 miles, and it was cold and pouring. I was doing well, as far as runs go. I was averaging a 9 minute mile, my fastest post-injury pace yet, my knees felt fine, and I wasn't that miserable despite the fact that my clothes were soaking wet and I'd gotten lost in Ft. Lauderdale, which was a change from my usual training territory. (I missed the turn at Los Olas, which is the most clearly marked street in Broward County. Ran right past it and didn't even notice this until I'd gone several miles longer than I should have on A1A.)

Anyway, rounding down a hill, I slipped on a wet grate in the sidewalk and went flying wildly, ass-over-tea-kettle (I am not sure exactly what that expression means, but it seems appropriate for how my feet were circling helplessly in the sky like an overturned hermit crab's), landing hard on my back and my wrist.

It hurt. But, aside from a bit of blood and a black and blue palm, I'm fine now. Which is wonderful because I was pretty sure I'd broken my wrist at first. Just because the whole thing was kind of scary and shocking when it first happened.

An extremely nice runner named Mona saw me lying on my back on a sidewalk grate and came to my rescue. When she discovered I was OK, she offered to run back with me (we were both three miles from the same ending point) as long as I was OK running "a 10 minute mile," because she'd seen me running very quickly before I fell. Staggering with a sore back and arm, I told her I didn't think I could keep up with her but I'd try. It was a tough, wet, cold, slow 3 miles back, but when I finally arrived, I felt pretty good.

Mainly because it was over.

It feels really, really good right now to be home, and dry.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hot pants.

Apparently, calling a running store to ask for “cold weather running pants” in the middle of a Floridian cold snap is like calling a toy store to ask for Zhu Zhu pets in the middle of Christmas shopping season.

No one here has pants. So pants are hot.

I did all this web research comparing Under Armour to Adidas, only to discover I'm a beggar and can't be a chooser. The Runner’s Depot has exactly one—yes, one—pair of pants suitable for almost-freezing temps in my size. I had to sweet-talk the lady to hold them for me until tomorrow. My 10 mile run is on Saturday at 6:15 a.m. and the forecast is for 35 degree temperatures with a 90% chance of rain.

Great. I can already smell the delightful odor of wet fleece. At least if the Runner’s Depot lady is true to her word, I’ll be running through the almost-icy rain wearing pants and not capris or shorts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Treadmill Hatred.

So my choice is to run outside, in the dark, in biting 30 degree weather—or run inside, in a heated gym, on a brand-new, state-of-the-art treadmill complete with an iPod docking station, fan, super-cool water bottle holder and clear view of CNN, HGTV or ESPN.

Odd as it might sound, I’m torn between these choices. As a Florida girl for going on four years, I have that “thinned out blood” and hate to be cold.

But as a runner who enjoys the sights of the road—whether it’s the funky way my knock-kneed neighbor runs as if his right leg and left leg are trying to have a conversation, or the occasional dead reptile on the sidewalk—being banished to the treadmill is like a punishment.

Tuesday was a treadmill day and it was absolutely miserable. I'm not really used to having my running performance being advertised in size 90 font and I got a little anxious by the constant updating of miles run, calories burned, pace, etc. In fact, I got so obsessed by the numbers blaring in my face that I ran way too hard, got my heart rate in the call-the-paramedics zone, and ended up almost collapsing afterwards. And almost puking, too. It was both the shortest and longest three mile run of my life.

I’m thinking tomorrow I’ll run with a towel covering up the read-out on the machine. Better to go a little slower and below my game but get caught up in the enjoyment of the running than run really fast, hate every second of it, and possibly need to be removed from the gym in a stretcher.

On second thought, running in the cold is sounding more and more attractive.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Great Eight

I'm so glad the little cold spell we've been having was still in effect this morning. It was windy and in the 40s when I embarked on my eight miles (six with my team, two solo to catch up on some of my mileage I lost while recuperating).

A lot of people get watery eyes when cold wind blows in their faces, making it look as if they are crying. I'm not one of those people, but hopefully anyone who glanced at my face during today's run doesn't know that, and assumed I'd just gotten some soot in my eyes. It's kind of embarrassing to admit that in truth, I wasn't teared up from eye irritation but from elation.

I'm a big sap, and very prone to waterworks. Still, I was surprised to find myself quite so choked up by the ease and the glee of my limbs moving swiftly and without pain for the first time in weeks--maybe even months. (When I look back on it now, I think I've been run-down since late October, although I didn't start to lose the joy of running until late November.)

I finally remembered why I'd gotten myself into the serious business of setting the alarm for 4:30 a.m. to run when the rest of the world is sleeping; why I'd braved burst blisters, pouring rain, pounding heat, wardrobe malfunctions, iPhone and earphone malfuctions, sore muscles, runner's knee, runner's stomach, and all the rest of it.

It's because I love running. In the absence of injury or exhaustion, it truly is one of my greatest pleasures.

I'm just so happy to be back.

Now please, pass the Kleenex.