Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SO Behind

I meant to blog a week or so back-really and truly. It's been an action packed week, though. Oh well. Here are the short (okay, not at all) Cliff's Notes:

-I did a speed workout at the track a week ago. I was scared going into it, worrying that I could potentially mess up that lower leg with the mystery tweaks. The run was awesome, though-even if I felt like Clark Griswold. "Look! Mesa State College! Papa Johns! Hey look! Mesa State College! Papa Johns!" Repeat. Something about being able to really run free of tension and fear of slipping on ice made the track a lot more fun than I ever remember, and I was rounding the corners in a relaxed state. I'm not going to question the insanity of actually enjoying running on the track in the dark, and plan to stick with this weekly deal until I come to my senses.

-I went back again last night to the track. Decided to be the zen runner and just run for time and feel. I guess I got too relaxed and didn't realize that I'd shut off my Garmin roughly 38 minutes in. I finally noticed that my elapsed time and distance looked oddly spot-on each time I got around to the well-lit end of the track where I could read the watch. Oh, yeah. Because it HAS been the same each time. Ah well.

-In non-running news, some crook thought it would be really cool to get into our garage, ransack our vehicles, and steal various items from them, including my purse in the family truckster. Yeah, yeah. I know. Don't leave your stuff in your vehicle-and I usually do not. Occasionally, though, when I am corralling 4+ kids in the house with backpacks, groceries and other crap-I go back later for my stuff. Even more occasionally, I forget to go back for my stuff AND my husband doesn't grab it either (he almost always saves my bacon if I've left my purse in the car and brings it in if he sees it in a vehicle in the garage). As Murphy's Law would suggest, those rare occasions when one lets their safety guard down is when no-good crooks are most likely to monkey with your stuff. Just a reminder from your friendly neighborhood blogger that if you're the "Almost Always Removes Personal Possessions/Almost Always Locks All Doors" type, make a conscientious effort to become the ALWAYS type.

-A couple of excellent neighbors found aforementioned purse, ransacked in front of their house, about an hour after we'd reported the break-in. They called the sheriff's department first, and then discovered that my wallet was still in there, and called me. I've never been so happy to declare that I have such a cluttered purse, they got impatient and only made off with my phone and the few dollars in the wallet. I didn't even own a cell phone for two years and it chapped my behind to think of someone with MY stuff. Between nobody getting hurt, and not having to go through replacing my driver's license, though, I felt lucky given the circumstances.

-Between the good workout at the track, and the flurry of emotions that come with having someone violate your stuff, it seemed like a good weekend to race, and it just so happened that the annual $2 entry fee, no frills running club 4-mile race was taking place. It's a Wayne's World event in the best sense-just a small handful of people, a couple of dollars thrown in a collection box or jar on a folding card table, and everyone slides off the road into the shoulder just before the start to let a pickup truck pass. There were fewer than 25 people there and only four or five women.

Just trying to test out my leg and run on feel, my mile splits looked like 7:15, 7:31, 7:16, 7:11, and a 6:39 pace for the last 1/100 mile the Garmin recorded. Total time 29:16. There was a hill coming out of mile one into that second mile, and I never looked at my watch other than the mile lap times, so I liked that they looked so even. Not my most spectacular day of racing EVER, but taking into context that I haven't done any racing or speed work in over a month, just logging easy miles, I was pleased with this as a 2010 starting point. My only time goal had been to beat what I ran two years ago, six weeks after my partial thyroidectomy, when I ran 31:18. Though I'd only been back running for two weeks at that point, my runner-surgeon gave me carte blanche to cross train like a mad woman as soon as I was ready, so my fitness was all right when I toed the line in 2008. Beating that time into the ground in 2010 was a nice way to finish a crap week.

-One last footnote to the "no frills" race-okay, they actually had a frill this year. A frill that's really useful to me. Someone provided a couple of boxes of energy/protein bars that were sitting on the sign-in card table. For someone like me who sometimes gets headaches after the shorter distance, fast-paced races, this is worth a gazillion times more than yet another cotton race tee shirt, and I left the race headache-free after chowing down.

-The plot thickens on the robbery. I assumed our stuff was long gone as is often the case with these deals. Surprisingly, my husband got a call yesterday from the police. They had brought in some dope for questioning who had been bragging about his NEW PHONE and other stuff that he and a partner in jackassery (already in jail for something else) had stolen. He even had it on his person when the police were questioning him, though he wouldn't talk. The cops did notice it, though, and it sure resembled a certain running blogger's recently stolen phone. As of right now, we've provided the cops with all the numbers/details on that phone (wow-how did we manage to save that receipt AND know were we stored it?). We're now just waiting and hoping this is the guy, that he hasn't ditched the phone, and is held accountable for his actions. Either way-even if it's not MY stuff that was stolen-it's a silver lining that someone who stole things that didn't belong to him will be held accountable. That's very satisfying. I'm crossing my fingers, though, that these guys have things that belong to us, and that we get to prosecute.

Oddly enough, a friend of mine on the ol' Book of Face changed the following to her profile photo. The timing couldn't have been better for me, and the snark gave me a good chuckle in the middle of a week when I was pissed and upset that someone had violated my personal space and possessions. So, here you go:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I've got a new weapon to fight back against soreness and potential injury, and I'm loving it thus far.

After asking around and getting feedback from several of my trusty runner friends, I invested in a pair of Zensah compression sleeves. My OxySox are great workhorse compression socks, but with all of the pain and achiness in my shin and calf, I wondered what else I could do to stay healthy after taking some off days followed by easy days. Several of the RWOL BQ ladies recommended the sleeves, and I already liked what I read about using them specifically for my problem areas. So, I ordered a pair and two days later I had a snazzy black pair of these puppies:
What can I say about my new calf and shin pain busting little friend(s)? Well, they are TINY coming out of the package, if that gives you an idea about how much these things really do compress your lower leg. They're lightweight but not quite sheer-definitely not as thick as my OxySox, though. I could see myself wearing a Zensah sleeve in the summer if I needed it for some extra soreness or pain, whereas I just didn't lay eyes on the compression socks between May and September last year.

Getting on to how they feel, I honestly never would have spent money on these things if I'd been 100% healthy or just getting over being a tiny bit achy. When considering what physical therapy session co-pays would run, or how much I value running pain free, though-I'm glad I ponied up the dough for the sleeves. As ridiculous as this get-up sounds, the combination of the compression sleeve on the pesky leg, plus my regular compression socks over the top is a match made in heaven. Yeah, I'm compressed all right-but NOTHING HURTS when I do this layering of compression garments. I'm going to stick with this system for awhile. I've been able to throw the sleeve on under regular pants too, as well as at those adult dance classes and toning class that I hit every week.

As far as running goes, I seem to be back on track. Instead of running an 18-week plan based on Pete Pfitzinger's training programs, I'm now considering myself to be in an extended base-building period, with plans to leap back into a variation of his schedule in another two weeks as long as angry leg has become a distant memory by then. For now, it just feels good to be running again without wincing. 2009 was a year of learning to push it and give 110%, but I think 2010 is already bringing lessons in knowing how and when to back off a bit.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Know You're Running In Really Cold Weather When...

  • You wonder if you're going to be warm enough in two moisture-wicking shirts, a fleece vest, fleece jacket, running hat, gloves, insulated tights and warm-up pants on top.
  • Less than half an hour into your long run, despite being fully charged, your iPod says "I don't want to run in this weather-okay?"
  • You're bummed about this because you were listening to the new Phedippidations where that crazy Steve Runner guy was swimming in Boston Harbor on New Year's Day. Now THAT is nuts. Running when it's subfreezing, on the other hand, is perfectly normal.
  • Your Garmin is very slow to update your pace, the display looks faded, and at more than one point during the run indicates that you are a running at a 10:99/minute pace. You think you must be crazy the first time you see this. It happens again and you realize that you did not just hallucinate this.
  • You hear layers of thin ice sloshing around in your insulated hand-held water bottle.
  • Passing that 60-something old-school runner lady who likes to run early on Saturdays, you say hello and think "man, her hat, jacket and face are COVERED in icicles!"
  • The drivers who normally pay you no mind as they drive past on the road next to your regular running trail are turning and giving you double-takes.
  • Upon returning to your vehicle to swap out water bottles, you look at your reflection and think "man, my hat, jacket and face are COVERED in icicles!" and understand why the drivers are giving you the Stone Phillips eyebrow.
  • Your energy gel in no way resembles a gooey, smooth substance, and you must bang the packet against a rock to soften its contents.
  • Double chocolate coffee......caramel delight coffee.......vanilla nut chocolate almond coffee.....straight up hot black Lost a mile there lost in my brain, dreaming about steaming hot caffeinated beverages.
  • You can't see...the no-fog sunglasses are fogging up.
  • OUCH. Just slid on the ice that couldn't be seen through the fogged up glasses.
  • You realize that you only THOUGHT you hated that treeless section of trail that was always so miserably hot in the summer. You soak up the sun's warmth-just a few degrees below freezing on this side of the trail-and realize that this is THE most awesome part of the trail after all.
  • You have the best final mile of a run in a long time, realizing that you didn't die or freeze to death after all.
  • You get home, get in a hot shower, and decide to go back to graduate school just to write a master's thesis proving that indoor plumbing is the greatest modern innovation ever. You commence research with twenty good, steamy minutes.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger-and often isn't as miserable as you thought it was going to be once you take the plunge and get out there! At least....that's the lie I'm telling myself until April rolls around.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Dropped In

To see what condition my condition was in. And, you know-it's not where I'd like it to be right now.

After finishing the year with a bang and chomping at the bit to really power through the first month of 2010, I was sort of forced to hurry up and wait. I've always said how I am slow to recover and just tend to get lots of aches and pains, and just kind of figured I needed to harden up and deal with it when I had some extreme soreness in the lower left leg that wouldn't go away. It came on right around Christmas, but I didn't pay much attention to it. Frankly, I get things like that which always seem to come and go. You stretch, you foam roll, you get over it slowly. It first seemed like the calf muscle but I could feel it in my shin and front of my knee too.

I finally got to a point when I got real and knew that it was time to punt on third down. Taking a few days off now sucks, but when this pain remained unchanged for over a week, I declared it time, and counted my lucky stars that it's right now, and not the mid-March when this pain cropped up. It could be nothing but I don't want to run my way into a long term injury, so three days off was what I went with, followed by a test run on my treadmill last night (meh-but nothing felt worse), and the regular early morning run outdoors with my running buddy (meh at first-better by the end). It doesn't hurt now other than regular post-run soreness levels, so this is encouraging to me.

One other thing I did-and this was hard to do, after I was all excited to do the ultra-was write to the race director AGAIN and say hi-sorry-not trying to be a total pain in the butt, but I've been dealing with a minor injury and think I'd be the queen moron to try to tough my way through 50+K when it would've been kind of a training cramming session anyway, but had to take injury time off. I was not feeling good about doing the ultra in a month when I just took some days off-and that's not the kind of event where I want to show up feeling undertrained. It would make for a LONG day. Much to my relief, he wrote back and said no worries, he doesn't move names around until two weeks out anyway, so he'd just remove my name from his list of names to shift. PHEW! Seriously. I feel very well prepared to do the 33K already, and it just seemed like the wise thing to do to prevent a more serious injury when my body's already saying "whoa" a little bit.

Another bit of good news-my husband put screws in a pair of my running shoes, and I tried them out this morning. Wow! These things really do work. A lot of our snow and ice has melted from our Wednesday route, but when we hit icy and snowy patches, it was like it had me perched above the muck with a firm grip on the frozen stuff. One little issue I had was the screw near the pad of my big toe. It wasn't poking me but I could feel it pushing just under the surface-just a totally annoying feeling the entire time I was running. When I finished and came home, I found that I had a lovely new blister there. So, that screw will need to come out and go somewhere else. Beyond that, though-screw shoes are great. They sounded funny on the road, but also didn't bother me.

So, off to a bit of a slow start for 2010. I'm trying to stay positive, and remember that there are still 359 days left to pick things up a bit.

Friday, January 1, 2010


That's how many miles I ran in 2009. A little less than two full weeks spent on roads, trails, and other surfaces. It's absolutely not a bragging point-many more have logged far more miles in the past year. It's a shout-out to anyone who has ever watched others completing various physical endeavors and thought "that's cool-I wish could do that!" Because you CAN. Even if you're truly convinced, as I once was, that fitness was only for certain people who possessed certain special athletic traits.

I was a couch surfer not too long ago, and couldn't run more than 30 seconds a few years back. I truly didn't believe I could ever get up and do stuff like that. The truth of the matter is that ANYONE can take that first step-so go for it. What have you got to lose? At worst, it might be a few pounds. What do you have to gain? Pride, enjoyment, and satisfaction in taking the time to take care of yourself-for yourself, and for those who matter most to you. Think about it-people spend hours upon hours watching television, playing video games, or other sedentary recreational activities to unwind and it's a non-issue. Take whatever time you've got each day for free time, and dedicate it to yourself. Though you may not always want to start every workout, I can guarantee that you will leave each one feeling physically and mentally stronger, and more able to tackle anything that goes down in your day-to-day life. Go for it. You're worth it. And you'll be amazed at where that simple "get in shape and get off the couch" choice can take you.

It's taken me over once of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain passes from Ouray to Telluride, through the Canyonlands of Utah, and countless roads and trails in my home state of Colorado. It's going to take me to Boston on Patriots Day THIS year (holy IS this year!!!). It's going to take me somewhere I've NEVER thought of going, and am frankly a little tweaked about-that 34 mile thing in Moab. But, it really all started with a 200 pound woman going out to jog with her kid and be a decent support for her first 5K. Who huffed and puffed her way to a finish where she couldn't even keep up with her kid. If I can do it, anyone can do it, and I just hope that many people this year realize that they've got it in themselves to get moving and shoot for whatever goals are swirling around in their heads. Name that goal, don't apologize for it or consider it unrealistic, and go for it. There's an expression that sounds kind of cheesy but I've found to be true-shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.