Starting from scratch in an elite fitness-blog-world full of expensive gear, and Personal Records she couldn't beat with a car.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's official! I'm an... um... something?

I'm not entirely sure what exactly is it that has become official, but running The John Theissen Children's Foundation Freaky 5K: a for-real brick-and-mortar 5K in Wantagh, NY (my old stomping grounds) sure does feel officially SOMETHING. And so in celebration I have added the giant magenta DailyMile 5K badge over there on the right side of this blog. Woo!

I totally get the appeal of races now, though I'm still roundly unsold on the "waking up at butt o clock in the morning to go make myself sweaty and tired and sore in the cold... and also a bit nauseous for that one stretch there, but hey at least I didn't actually throw up!" aspect.

It is however pretty funny to realize that the only thing that varies from my usual run experience in the above statement is the morning part. Me and the predawn hours are none too friendly, that is of course unless I'm meeting up with them from the back end.

This was an especially bad weekend for it as I helped throw a Halloween party on Friday, slept VERY late afterward, and then lived underneath (and attended) a Halloween party Saturday. I left the party early, but by six am on Sunday my body had pretty much given up on the idea of a cohesive sleep schedule.

Luckily for me my boyfriend is a walking, talking, Hey Girl meme and got up with me, made sure I was properly nourished, and then drove me out to the race; all on even less sleep than I had gotten.

We got to the race with plenty of time to spare, and then we parted ways so that he could park and I could get my bib and snazzy commemorative long sleeve tech shirt. I met up with some friends and we spent the half an hour or so before the race stretching, chatting, and wondering where my boyfriend had gotten to (McDonalds, as it turns out). Start time snuck up on us before he got back so we ended up stashing our gear in Purple's car and scootching for the start line, which I like to think provided that last necessary bit of warmup.

Here I am (in the Batman themed gear) in a pre-race photo with my friend Purple (ironically NOT the one wearing purple, she is the one dressed as a Star Trek Red Shirt) and Gigi of Running On Candy (The Motley Shues Proud Momma Bear as she put it. Her impression of the race is in this post). This was my first 5K race, Purple's first 5K where she planned on running, and Gigi's first weekend back after a foot injury.
We moseyed up to the start *mob* and I tried to find the right pace group, but before I knew it the race started. I got my Nike+ and watch going but the start was slooooooow and I didn't see where the actual line was so my personal device times and distances are pretty far off. I also completely failed to set up my running playlist so I was stuck with whatever came up on shuffle from my iPhone. Luckily it never went too off the rails, though I think I'll pass on running to Captain Beefheart or one of the slower Editors songs again if I can avoid it. 

Due to the confusion of the mob at the beginning I started out on my own. I caught sight of Gigi pretty early so I followed along behind her for a while just sort of keeping her in view. I caught up with her sometime a bit before mile one and we kept pace for a bit, but then she apparently slowed for a water stop and I lost track of her for the rest of the race. She later reported that she spent the rest of the race following my butt as it was *ahm* rather easy to find in the crowd.

I love these shorts, but I'm REALLY glad I opted for the leggings
From that point on I just sort of trucked along, tried to listen to my body, and did what I could to avoid careening wildly into others. It's pretty humbling to be struggling along and seeing eleven year olds and women with double strollers flying past you, but if this was all about ego I think I would have been out months ago. It was cool to have different scenery, people in costumes to watch, and that one family toward the end that gave me a well timed "Woo, Go Batman Wooooooo!".

The race situation had me pretty disoriented and my phone was giving me mile marker updates at some really bizarre points. I had this weird moment pretty early on where I totally lost track of how far in I was and pushed it a bit more than I should have so early, which caught up with me at the end. According to my Garmin I spent a LOT of this race paced between 9:00 and 10:00 though I had a lot of short recovery slowdowns which took my overall pace to 10:35 (chip time). On a whole I felt really good though, my legs were really happy with me and though I definitely was aware of the effort I was putting in, for the most part my stamina kept up with whatever I asked of it.

My main issue I think was in the disconnect between the course distance and the distance shown on my personal devices. My Nike+ was giving me mile marker alerts a good quarter mile early and I really wasn't sure how off my Garmin watch was reading. This was mostly an issue at the end because I knew I wanted to give a final kick but I wasn't sure when I could reasonably do that and still have enough juice left to actually get over the finish line. 

True story. My boyfriend for-real rocks the way people PRETEND Ryan Gosling rocks.
I actually think is Ryan Gosling is faintly weird looking... except for his torso, that part's pretty okay.
The answer to that by the way is that per my Garmin I hit a 5:37 pace at roughly 2.95 miles and varied wildly between there and about 8:30 maintaining a HR of 206 until I finished (except for that one blip at 207, which I'm pretty sure is when I caught sight of my boyfriend at the finish line. Yeah, we're gross). This was rapidly followed by a good two minutes of "Yes, I know you're there my Love, but leave me alone to walk this off or I'm going to puke on you" during which I apparently forgot to turn off my devices for a bit and also missed Gigi's finish. 

Once I settled my system (and stopped my devices) we went back to the finish to wait for Gigi and Purple. Purple finished a few minutes later, and Gigi came back from the medic area with an ice pack while we were trying to figure out if she was still on the course. 

Look at us all upright and not about to puke or anything!
My Nike+ listed me as running a 28:49??? at a 9:36 pace (a total of 34:33 over 4 miles???) and my Garmin had a full 3.29 distance at 34:43 and won't let me trim off the extra bits so my averages are completely off, though it's still showing my overall pace as 10:21, even listing the average pace for my last split as 12:00.

I got my clock results from the FLRRT bus and they listed me as running a 32:53 with a 10:35 pace which was a PR for me by about 8 seconds! Gigi said later that morning that since the slips we got were clock time only she thought that may be off by about 30 seconds based on her watch. She texted me later in the evening to tell me that the chip times were up on I looked myself up on the site and found my chip results...

Which makes it a PR by nearly 45 seconds!

Sorry this post was a bit delayed, there was this hurricane thing going on and I've been a mite distracted.

Both my neighborhood and my office are without power but luckily my landlord has a generator so I'm sitting things out pretty nicely all things considered.

Bonus for you: my totally bizarre race playlist - welcome to the bizarreness that is shuffle on my phone.

Puscifer - The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix)
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Daft Punk - Around the World/Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007)
Editors - Life as a Ghost
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band - Call On Me
The Doors - I Looked at You
Black Sabbath - Lord of this World
Marilyn Manson - GodEatGod
Primus - Puddin Taine
Alice In Chains - I Stay Away

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Freaky5K - In the bag!

Chip Time

Clock Time

Yay another PR!

More on this later, now I'm going to go get some of the sleep I failed to get last night.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's never lupus!

The good news is I finally figured out what was going on with my ankle a few weeks ago.

The bad news is I figured it out because it started happening again after Monday's run.

Saaaaaaaaad panda.

The better news is I know why it's happening now and hopefully how to stop it.

The day is redeemed!

I woke up Tuesday morning and realized that my right foot hurt again, the same way it had about a month ago after the creeper run. This time however I paid a bit more attention to where it actually hurt and realized that the pain was coming from lower then I had previously thought, it was really more in my heel than in my ankle. The main source of the discomfort was on the area inside of my right foot, a bit in front of the Achilles tendon. There was also a more dull sort of ache along the bottom of my foot radiating out from my heel across the arch. It was annoying in general, but it was worst when I had been off of it for a while.

Google is second only to Dr House in medical diagnosis science as we all know, and so I consulted the "medical experts".

Leaving aside the dubious wisdom of self-diagnosis via totally random and essentially anonymous people ranked in order of supposed importance by a for-profit company; site after site points me at plantar fasciitis and this actually does make sense. It didn't start bothering me until I had stopped having problems with shin splints and consequently stopped obsessively stretching my feet, calves, and shins all the time.

I spent Tuesday night and Wednesday daytime carefully stretching my foot and rolling on a Foot Rubz massage ball (get one if you like wearing high heels, you will thank me) and by Wednesday evening my foot was feeling happy again so I decided to run. My weekend is packed between two Halloween parties, my first brick and mortar 5K, a planned evening at Coney Island, and a Frankenstorm so I decided to "take it easy" and run without any sort of specific goal in mind.

This was probably good since I headed out of the gate WAY too fast and then had to stop abruptly right before the end of mile one to keep from getting chased by a particularly sassy terrier. I'm pretty sure it was inside of one of those invisible fence things but I wasn't about to take any chances. Once I had casually strolled out of range of the dog's immediate attention I ran the rest at a more reasonable pace and satisfied myself with having simply run (which really was surprisingly satisfying).

image from

Wednesday's run: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks.
3.10 miles at an average of 11:46 per mile -  total time of 36:30

The data on my Nike+ is crapping the bed, it has three separate days listed as my fasted 1K, including a day I didn't actually run.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sorry, did I say that I PR'd Friday?

What I meant to say is that I PRd today!

Okay, so it was only by thirty seconds, but that's practically geological time scale for some runners.

After Friday's run I decided to see what would happen if I looked at my watch as little as humanly possible. I listened for the mile beeps and watched the distance for that last .10 mile, but I completely ignored all other sources of data beside what my body was telling me.

I felt good overall, but I was definitely pushing myself a bit harder today to get just about the same output as Friday. My first mile and a half was a bit too fast and I could really feel that for the next mile and slowed down between 1.5 and 2.5 miles to conserve some gas. Once I knew I was in the home stretch again I broke into a run to finish out, hitting 7:02 min/mi at one point near the very end!

Yes, I know, that's probably something along the lines of your "easy going marathon" pace, but I'm a beginner and I'm excited. *stamps foot*

Added bonus: not only did I finally get to try out my Batman Bondi Band for a run (that being my C25K completion gift from my amazing boyfriend), but I got to see more than one bat flying around in the early dusk!

They see me rollin'. I can't think of anyone that would be hatin', but that's beside the point.

I could feel some muscles still being creaky from Friday, and if I do run again before Sunday (I hope so!) it certainly won't be at the same pace. I'm hoping to do something fairly laid back Wednesday and rest up for Sunday's John Theissen Children's Foundation Freaky5K which will be my first official meat-space race evar.

Looking forward to getting both my Halloween and my run on at the same time with Running On Candy and our friend Purple.

Not looking forward to that 8:30am start time though.

Today's run: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks.
3.10 miles at an average of 10:39 per mile -  total time of 33:01

I was all of two seconds off of getting negative splits across the board today too :p

       Time         Distance  Pace
1    10:55.0     1.00          10:55
2    10:56.3     1.00          10:56
3    10:19.8     1.00          10:20
4    00:50.4     0.10           8:16

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Victory is even sweeter when it's a little salty

Cupcakes taste WAY better when there's a little bit of honestly earned salt on your lips.

I ran Run With Jess's Cupcake Classic virtual 5K last night.

My warmup stretching was complicated by my inability to find safety pins, I left late, my left knee felt kind of crappy, the roads were covered in wet leaves, and I had plans for the evening I was a bit afraid of missing. Two blocks out, (watching the sky go dark rather rapidly) I felt kind of like a marionette with tangled strings and very nearly turned around to go home.

5K later I had finished what I think may be the best run I've ever done.

It had rained all day and I figured (incorrectly) that the overcast conditions might give me a little more daytime. I think I made up something about the sunset refracting through the cloud cover (something like that anyway) to justify it to myself but by fifteen minutes in it was DARK.

My knee was protesting a bit for the first mile and it took some time to get my coordination, but otherwise my legs felt good. No protests from my ankles or shins at any point, even after turning my right ankle a bit stepping on a hidden stick. I couldn't see my watch very well and didn't want to look away from the road more than I had to so I paced pretty much entirely by feel. I knew I was pushing my pace a bit but it felt good so I went with it. While I was definitely pushing myself the whole time I think I am developing a good feel for when I need to back off a bit and I never felt like I was killing myself. I think the four days I took off really helped out with the fatigue I've been feeling the last few weeks.

It was full on night time by the end which had be a bit freaked out between general safety concerns and footing. I really feel like I could have pushed the last half mile far more, but at that point I was on a busier street with fewer streetlights and with the wet leaves I didn't want to chance stepping wrong and ending my illustrious running career.

I walked a few blocks to cool down, headed inside to stretch, and that's when I saw this...

I beat my PR by just under three minutes!!!

Friday's run: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks. Negative splits throughout!
3.11 miles at an average of 10:47 per mile -  total time of 33:34

mile 1 - 11:26
mile 2 - 10:42
mile 3 - 10:21
that last little bit - 1:04 (pace of 9:37)

Lessons of the day: 
Night running is rather pleasant aside from that "constant fear of imminent death" part.
The fact that I felt this much better after four days off leads me to believe that I'm probably over-training, I need to figure out how to address this.
Listening to your body works, who woulda thunk it!
Getting better is still happening, if I continue doing this the right way I may not be half bad at some point.
Victory is sweet indeed, but sometimes you can help it along with some vanilla cupcake and a healthy slathering of lemon curd.

Achievement unlocked: shiny pink medal!

image via

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In lieu of personal content

Here's a video of a pretty man doing pretty things in a pretty place in a decidedly fit manner.

Happy Hump day!

Video: Primal Movement
Equinox's newest program Animal Flow brings training back to basics. Watch creator Mike Fitch unleash the beast within.

Okay, turns out I lie, so here's a little bit of personal content.

I don't know that I'd call this a "new" system as this similar sort of free-flowing animalistic workout/warmup has been in my you tube favorites list since something like 2008.
The featured video is however pretty as heck (at least when that guy goes it, I don't know that I would do it the same justice)  and a combination of a lot of things I have had interest in for a number of years (running, Parkour, yoga, shirtless men with tattoos), so I'll let that "new" thing slide as advertising hyperbole since this is an ad promo.

I had a brief interest with Parkour around 2008ish which abruptly ended when I totally blew my knees out by running in the wrong shoes. I suppose you could also say that I had some interest in it as a teen, but it was called "juvenile delinquency" back then.

I kind of like the idea of trying it out again, but my upper body strength is approximately nil so it wouldn't be an immediate thing. I will say that every time I get too creeped out while running I am glad that those fence-hopping, cutting through someone's back-yard at speed memories from my teens are there for me, and I feel like beefing up those skills wouldn't be the worst idea.

From Qblog by Equinox via's Links We Love
This shift in biomechanical thought is evident in Animal Flow: A new system of fluid, fundamental movements that combines Parkour, break dancing, gymnastics, free running and circus arts, and was born out of creator Mike Fitch's fatigue of free weights. “There were years when I was lifting a ton of weights, and it was too much on my joints — I felt inflamed all the time,” says Fitch, “So I decided to see how my body would change if I explored purely body weight disciplines. I noticed that there was a common theme: Animal movements, or the quadrupedal movements, and that really resonated with me.”
Fitch combined these animalistic movements with his own understanding of traditional biomechanics (he started his career as an Equinox trainer), in an attempt to optimize ancient primal forms for the modern exerciser. The result: a freestyle flow that works through multiple planes of motion. “It connects all of our stabilization systems and creates synergies throughout the body,” says Fitch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bears, and headwinds, and pumpkins, oh my!

I'm not gonna lie, Sunday's run pretty much sucked.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I finished up happy and all, and my initial temptation was to use the smiling smiley on my Nike App, but it's easy to rate a run as good when the endorphins have already kicked in.

Nope, large swaths of it out and out sucked, and (now that it's over) I'm pretty darn glad for it.

It usually takes me a block or two to get into the rhythm of running but after that I can usually (thankfully) let my legs go on autopilot. When there is the usual lack of pain or fatigue in my legs I can focus on directing my energy toward pacing and getting more air into my lungs, so I can hopefully not puke or keel over into someone's prize azaleas. I did feel a touch less winded throughout than usual, for which I am HIGHLY thankful because otherwise I felt a bit like a confused drunken bear.


It took two and a half miles for me to forget my legs enough to just run, oh and also there was a headwind.

Since when do I care about headwinds? Since Sunday, apparently.

My ankle pain seems to have finally calmed down, but only to be replaced by a sort of dull pain in the opposite knee (probably after effects of compensating for that ankle)*, some sub-threshold shin splint action, and some good old general muscle fatigue. It's nothing I'd call deal-breaking, but it certainly wasn't fun and I had to sternly talk myself out of taking more than one walk break.

I had a lot of trouble with pacing at first and found myself edging up on 10:00 more than once very early on. I think my body was just trying to get it all over with, potential for exhaustion blackouts be damned! Still, with much cajoling, and more then a few "suck it up buttercup" type platitudes I got through an entire 5k without pause. I even beat Wednesday's overall pace by four seconds per mile.

Once I forgot about my legs I actually felt good enough to end with a bit of a kick, but getting there took far too long for my liking. I spent that half a mile swinging between 7:30 and 10:00 and still ended up with positive splits up around the 12:00s, which I think says a thing or two about how bad the beginning of mile three was.

Why am I so cool about this sucking so much? Because it actually kinda sorta counted for something. Sunday was when I chose to do RunningInSanity's The Great Pumpkin Race. Times aren't being entered, there are no official winners or losers (though the last time she did this sort of thing there were a whole lot of randomly picked schwag winners, so that's something to look forward to) and yet... and yet...

I feel like I solidly earned my very first medal (virtual though it be) and I'm going to be rudely shoving this run in my own face making "nyah nyah" noises for a while to come. I really struggled with myself, and I won out against my doubts, and you can bet I'll be dragging out those bragging rights out over the parts of me that want to walk it or go home early in the future.

Pumpkins are already a huge thing for me and I couldn't ask for more welcome addition to their symbolism.

On a more technical note: I find it's taking me longer to regain my equilibrium after running and despite it being an afternoon run I don't feel like I really got my brain back until after dinner. I think my cool down stretching is actually suffering a bit as I often find myself just sort of holding my toes and staring off into the distance for long swaths of time.

After something like the fourth "give me a rare steak now or forfeit your left arm" meal planning discussion with The Boyfriend this week I'm starting to think I am missing out on some essential cow vitamin and I have to wonder if that has something to do with my sore muscles and extended post-run space cadet time.

Once I had fortified myself with some shrimp fondue and a petite sirloin (it was medicinal fondue, I needed nourishment, don't you judge) we hit a dollar store for cheesy decorations and a Trader Joe's for pumpkins and then spent the rest of the evening watching cheesy 80s horror (House II and Night of the Creeps, in case you were wondering) and eviscerating gourds.

I do carve a sexy pumpkin.

How do you kick your own butt?

Do you have any personal symbols that work into your running?

Have you ever found yourself drifting a bit too far into LaLa Land after a workout?

My Sunday run: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks.
Official running of RunningInSanity's The Great Pumpkin Race
3.1 miles at an average of 11:50 per mile -  total time of 36:43 max pace of 6:49 (?!?)

Next up is another virtual run - The Cupcake Classic. It is "open" now and runs until Sunday (click on the image below for more detail - registration is still open!). I have not yet decided which day I will be running this but signs point to, uh, not Wednesday or Thursday?

Reply Hazy. Ask Again Later

*I had a physical today after writing most of the bits above and mentioned my knee pain, after a bit of manipulation he declared it tendonitis and basically said "rest it if you can, but as I'm realistic I'm going to say also hit it with anti-inflammatory meds as you must". 
I am quite curious to see what my iron levels look like.

Friday, October 12, 2012

No plan survives contact with enemy

I went out for a run just now.

It was too late, Garmin batteries too dead, and I was too cold, too headachey, too hungry, too tired, too shin splintey, and too stiff.... and I didn't care enough about ANY of that to stop me for one second.

Until I got about two blocks in and my left knee went:

"SERIOUSLY WOMAN? Are you an idiot? Do you need it in sky writing? GO HOME!!!"

(Knees are a touch overly fond of all caps I think.)

So in case anyone was wondering, the knees are apparently running the show here.

I will say though, catching that bit of sunset was TOTALLY worth it. I'm very sorry I didn't get a picture.

Technical difficulties - Please run by.

Wednesday's run was not the most awesome time I've ever had, I wouldn't call it bad exactly, but some technical difficulties made the evening noticeably more challenging than usual.

I had a couple of loose goals in mind when I set out and I was surprised to find at the end that I managed to hit them!

I can't think of anyone but Patton Oswalt when I see this kid.

Now that I've finished C25k I don't have any specific goal with running in mind beyond "not kill or embarrass myself overmuch at the upcoming Freaky5K". I am not looking to torture myself particularly and I'm nowhere near what one might consider "competitive" physical condition, so my main aim at this point is to find the point where things are challenging rather than punishing, and to start pushing that point back as far and often as I reasonably can.

I'd like to start doing that with heart rate training, but clearly my calculated heart rate is not appropriate for me or I would be pretty much keeling over from exhaustion every time I run. According to my Garmin I'm consistently averaging just about 100% of my max calculated HR, which should mean I'm completely 100% exhausting myself at the top edge of my output... for 35 minutes at a time? Don't think so.

A max HR test pretty much involves repeatedly pushing yourself as hard as you can and recording the highest HR. Doing that on a grumpy ankle is probably not the best plan, so a more personalized measurement is going to have to wait for happier joints. I figure hill work will probably be a good way to work that out.

The Good:
I decided that my main run goal for Wednesday was to keep as close to 12:00/mile as I could. Since my average pace was apparently 11:55 I appear to have rather soundly nailed that one. My secondary goal was to see if I could get negative splits again, or at least not terribly positive ones (since I was trying to hit a specific overall pace I wasn't too overly concerned about that) and very much to my surprise I managed that too! I averaged 12:08, 12:06, 11:45, and 9:40 (respectively) for each "lap" of the 3.1 miles (broken up by mile).

I can feel that I'm getting more consistent with my breathing and making a point to count footfalls during each breath not only does a LOT toward keeping me aware of how I'm pacing myself but it also satisfies a bit of my minor OCD tendencies. This provides an awfully handy mental distraction from the less pleasant things my body is telling me about what it feels like to breathe that intensely for that long

The Bad:
My attempt to solve the wandering belt problem backfired on me in a couple of ways. I tried out an active Old Navy bra core tank top I've had for a while so I could put the belt on over something smooth. The top is a bit overly long and fits everywhere but on my hips so it had a tendency to crawl up on me (especially when I first started running and it was a bit tighter everywhere), so I usually just go with a sports bra and a large trapeze shaped tank top. I have about five of these tops and I like that they are very open at the top, and loose enough to camouflage any muffin top and/or cans of mace I happen to have strapped to my hips.

I folded up the bottom of the active tank, fitted the belt to my waist, tossed on the rest of my usual gear, and went out. I was going pretty good until about 1.5 miles in, when I realized that there was a stinging pain occurring in the top of my left arm, right up by my armpit. I think the underarm area of the active tank to must come up higher and tighter than my usual bra and so my skin was squished out in what must have been an insanely sexy show of armpit cleavage, which was then rubbing against the flesh that was squishing out above my armband. I was approaching one of the higher traffic areas of my run so I had to wait it out until I was in a place safe enough to loosen my armband. I am noticing more of these little raw spots from various seams and buckles, so I suspect it's time to suck it up and cough over the cash for some Body Glide. Luckily I caught it before I really rubbed the skin off, but it's still a bit raw.

Once I started running the majority of my body was shockingly happy in the cool weather, but I apparently vent heat from the belly like a Care Bear because having something tight around my torso was driving me MAD. This tank (actually I have two, but that's not important right now) might be a good layering piece when it starts getting cold, but for now I'm going stick with my old setup and find another belt fix. At the very worst there's always safety pins.

This is a 100% accurate portrayal of my experience, note especially the expressions of horror.
The Ugly:
My ankle was doing pretty ok, but my left knee got pretty pissed and is still grumping especially on down staircases. It was never bad enough to stop me or change my stride, but I was awfully close a few times. I think I will switch back to wearing a brace for a while, though I'd like to see if a patella strap will do the job. I don't know if I was just under rested - but my legs were definitely tired and kind of fighting me the whole time and that is very unusual for me. Occasional joint tweaks aside my legs are typically among the the last things I notice while running.

Who knows, maybe keeping my pace more reasonable meant I felt "well" enough to notice more about what my legs have been feeling all along? Somehow I doubt it though.Whatever it was I came home and effectively shut down for a while, my brain is usually scrambled for a bit after running, but I think the only thing that kept me awake after my shower was a DIRE need to go to the laundromat and acquire foods (mmmm chicken bacon ranch pizza, I did NOT need to find out how tasty that stuff is). I know I say this constantly, but I really need to sleep more (says the woman typing the blog at one in the morning).

I wish this was a 100% accurate portrayal of the rest of my evening.
We will not even get into why I ended up getting out of bed at one in the morning yesterday to bathe a part of the kitten in the above picture (a good sense of smell can be both a blessing and a curse, and I'll leave it at that) ...and again at three in the morning to chase him away from my suddenly growling other cat, who was attempting to sleep behind my knees. It's a good thing he's both gorgeous and insanely affectionate.

My Wednesday run: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks.
Negative splits throughout
3.1 miles at an average of 11:55 per mile -  total time of 37.02 max pace of 8:34

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A farewell to flip flops (for now) and some neat lacing tips

I have a shoe problem.

While I only have one functional pair of running shoes at the moment, my general shoe collection is... prodigious. I own innumerable flip flops, a few pair of boots, a lot of peep toes and sandals, some kicky flats, and more than my share of "how do you even walk in those?" stilettos. I'm especially fond of 50s retro mules, T straps, and Mary Janes.

My boyfriend is *ahm* supportive of this collection.

And, of course, sexy lady-pirate boots.

Oddly enough I also have a problem with shoes. Unless I'm dressing up I really hate wearing them.

I have been fighting against ingrown toenails all of my life (it's genetic, the natural shape of my nails is overly curved) and if I am not very particular about the style even "sensible" flats can get intensely painful for me. I rejoice when it finally gets warm enough to ditch the constrictive shackles of footwear, and spend as much of the year as I can totally barefoot or in open sandals. I don't really mind a fair bit of heel as long as my toes can move freely.

Part of the reason I love my running sneaks so much (Saucony Hurricane 14s) is the lovely giant open toe box. As much as I was into the idea of running it gets so painful to wear the wrong shoes that I put off even trying for a long time. I honestly wasn't sure I would be able to really run at all until I found them.
I think it's pretty safe to say that my early (read as: injuriously premature) interest in minimalist running shoes comes directly out of this barefoot love. Unfortunately, as much as I loved the idea, my knees REALLY did not. On that note: anyone looking for a lightly used pair of size 37 (i.e. 6.5/7 us) Vibram Bikila LS in grey/blue? I do dig a good barter, heck I'll even wash them!

Despite what my earlier swollen ankle post might lead you to believe I take pretty good care of my feet and a large part of that is letting air get to my skin, moisturizing with all natural products (petroleum doesn't breathe!), and avoiding the constrictive deforming effects of closed shoes whenever possible.

I spent most of my youth getting yelled at by my dad to put on some shoes before I stepped on or in something, but to tell you the truth one look at his feet was all it would take to settle me right back in my barefoot ways. I'll take the occasional cat barf or sharp rock encounter over scary man feet any day!

I also step on/trip over my cats way less when I'm barefoot, which I think we all appreciate.

Unfortunately however I don't deal well with cold at all, so in the Fall I cling to the last days of sandals tenaciously. I ignore the fact that my feet are turning alternately red and blue in the autumn chill until the day I am finally forced to pull out the more sensible kicks along with the hoodies and scarves. Today was sadly, that pivotal chilly fall day.

I was a teen in the 90s, so my baseline casual shoe is (but of course) the low top Converse All Star.

These are my faves. The chickens which say "blah" make it that much more OK to be wearing shoes.
In honor of today's Abandoning Of The Sandals I offer you a set of pretty darn useful links. I dare you to try out at least the first technique for a week and see if it doesn't change how you tie your shoes forever. All it took was one good trip up on a busy street to convince me that better knots are worth a few days of learning awkwardness.

The first is a TED talk entitled "How to tie your shoes".
You  might think this was sort of a given but I suspect that you (like me) have been long suffering under the delusion that a bow, was a bow, was a bow.

Not so, there is a better way! This appeals to both my desire to not fall flat on my face AND my OCD-ish desires for non-cockeyed shoe lace bows.

So far it's been working out well for me, but just in case you needed extra convincing or weren't sure it was applicable to running... here is an article from Runners World dealing with the same knot.

If that wasn't enough mind blowing revolutionary shoe info for you, Running off the Reeses posted this neat tying tweak on Friday showing what to do with those random extra holes a bit further back on the ankle of your shoes. I always wondered what those were but never thought to look it up.

More toenail protection via a more stable tying method? Yespleasethankyou!

I only tried this for the first time Monday so I can't speak to how it will work out in the long run, but after the initial, "Whoo, this is different! Firm!" reaction it certainly didn't seem to hurt anything, so I for one am going to continue with it.

Any neat feet tricks?

Have you tried these knots and if so did they do anything for you?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

These hips don't lie... flat

I didn't takes official weights or measurements when I started running as I did not have any specific goals, but I have lost about seven pounds and the better part of a pant size off of my hips and waist.

While I'm not ready to enter any bikini competitions yet, I have noticed both a considerable reduction in my abdominal squishitude and a definite upward mobility in my gluteal regions. While this is AWESOME when it comes to my wardrobe it has made using my running utility belt pretty much intolerable.

When I first started using the belt I could sort of cinch it down tight low across my hips and trust in the awesome power of my muffin top to hold it down in place while I ran.

September 25th was the first time I ran 5k all the way through and not incidentally, the first time I got a friction burn from a piece of my gear. The belt popped up over my hips to settle around my waist and I quickly forgot about it... until I hit the shower and the confusing burning sensation started.

No, not THAT kinda confusing burning sensation. Get your mind out of the gutter, sheesh!
I got a small friction burn on my back from the belt which I couldn't see until the next day. I'm pretty brain dead for a while after running so I just couldn't make the connection.

I didn't think much of it at the time, but I realized today that it's been a pretty much continuous fight with this thing during every run since that day. It doesn't matter how tight I cinch it or how often I yank it down, it starts slipping upward within seconds of starting to run which gets distracting to the point of near danger when you consider the busy roads. It's a minor miracle I haven't fallen flat on my face or been run over by an inattentive SUV driver as it is. Not for lack of their trying though, driveways are fun!

I've tried turning it around to the front, making it tighter, making it looser, putting it directly around my waist, putting my shorts on over it... and yet nothing seems to work any better.

Why do you vex me so?

I've actually gotten to the point that I'm considering breaking out my belly dance costuming skills and either installing snaps (or some other place holder) on all of my shorts, making it into a solid fitted belt, or constructing a fitted belt from scratch to serve the same purpose. I'm loathe to just buy a new one as a) I have one, duh b) there are so many other pieces of gear I want to buy and c) my vet bills are through the roof lately (stupid cat).

Incidentally, my solution for this evening at least was to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Take that disappearing muffin top!

How do you carry your keys/mace/Batarang/running essentials?

Do you have gear mobility problems?

Any recommendations for design tweaks?

My run today: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks. Negative splits throughout!
3.14 miles at an average of 11:35 per mile -  total time of 36.24

My Garmin claims that this is my fastest 5K so far, though my Nike+ thinks this was the 25th.

My ankle has been pretty good since Saturday so I figured as long as I was mindful of what my body was telling me it was worth it to try a run. I was aware of it a few times but it was never painful and at no point did I feel I was changing my movements to favor it at all (which is my hard line "stop running and go home" determiner). I definitely did not have as much of the mile two doldrums either, though I do still have the most problems maintaining an even pace then. While I certainly wasn't sprinting to finish I was still able to speed up considerably at the end and spent most of the last half mile between 8:00 and 10:00 per mile.

Not only did I do really well in terms of running, but I managed to get my heels to touch the ground in Downward Dog during my warmup stretches. This is the first time I've been able to do that in years! I am a bit stiff overall in my lower legs now (especially my right shin, which is a bit achy in a shin-splint-ish way) so I feel like I probably need to step up my cooldown stretches a bit.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ankle? What ankle? I don't see an ankle here.

My ankle was finally starting to feel better yesterday. I had full natural motion and no stiffness... and then the swelling started.

I think I re-tweaked it playing with my boss's puppy, Belle. She's about nine weeks old and VERY energetic, so when he brings her to work we take turns walking her and trying to tire her out a bit.

Can you blame me? This picture is pretty much to scale by the way. She's a peanut.
Apparently I romped around in the fall leaves one too many times and I must have twisted something the wrong way. I looked down at my ankle at some point in the afternoon and realized that all signs of my Achilles tendon had disappeared without so much as an abracadabra.

Swollen AND ashy! Clearly the embodiment of sexiness. You have to admit though that I do ROCK an aqua nail polish.
This sounds like a job for R.I.C.E. right?

Great idea, but hard to implement when your boyfriend is going to be a groomsman at his sister's 5:30 wedding and you have so little time after work to get ready that you have had to borrow a friend's spare key to avoid putting on makeup in a restaurant bathroom. My wardrobe (and more importantly, shoes) had been packed the night before and going home (twenty minutes each way in the very best of traffic) for footwear substitutions was not an option.

On the bright side I no longer had to worry about whether there was going to be any good dancing music!

So after locking my keys in my car (I got them back in less then five minutes but it involved running up and down a set of steps about three times and a lot of adrenaline), and a lightning fast wardrobe change and makeup job... I still missed the ceremony by about ten minutes due to a combination of holiday weekend traffic and GPS fail. *sigh*

I danced the requisite "join the couple for their first dance" swaying in place, and then sat as much as possible after that... but still ended up looking like someone had sculpted my calf out of dough by the end of the night.

I hate hounds-tooth and pointy toes, and yet I LOVE these shoes! Go figure.
The bright side is that my ankle never did hurt, though just below the back of my knee was a bit tender and also a touch swollen. I got some ice on my ankle the minute I got home and after a long night of sleep with it elevated it is mostly back to normal.

I am going to continue with R.I.C.E. protocol along with anti-inflammatories for a couple of days as I really need to be back on my feet in full fighting form ASAP.

Click image for more of Ray Villafane's pumpkin sculpting awesomeness
I am tentatively hoping to be back to running Monday as I have TWO virtual 5ks next week (The Cupcake Classic and The Great Pumpkin Race) and my first for-real 5K on the 28th (John Theissen Children's Foundation Freaky 5K).

That's not even taking into account the requisite pumpkin picking, haunted houses, and general pre-Halloween awesomeness of the season.Limited mobility is not an option.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hey Good Lookin' what you got cookin?

Oh wait, never mind. I can smell it from here.

I have always had a ridiculous sense of smell but I feel like it goes through the roof when I run. After the last couple of months of running in the same neighborhood I now know who barbecues a lot, whose dog likes to pee on the fence near the road, who is messy when they top off their gas tank, and which cars belong to Jersey Shore wannabees.

Here's a hint, if I can taste you after you drive by for even longer than I can hear your "sweet kicking bass" it's time to back away from the axe body spray. You are going to suffocate an entire poor unsuspecting night club full of people.

Today I ran a new route and encountered the most ambrosial Indian food smell imaginable, it permeated something like a half a block radius so it had clearly been simmering for some time and my already normally ravenous post run appetite became like a small gnawing thing in my innards. Luckily my boyfriend likes to cook and can always be convinced to eat, so I "talked him into" throwing together a bit of prepackaged Trader Joe's Indian food with some chick peas for a late dinner. It wasn't the insane deliciousness that I craved, but it still quieted the belly monster.

Running past food smells usually gets me salivating (especially barbecue steak), but this was inspirationally delicious. I actually found myself fantasizing that I would get fast enough to run into the house and get away with some of that delicious food.

I'd feel terrible about abusing the talent of a cook such as that, but I'm sure it would be righteously delicious until my conscience kicked in.

As you may have noticed I have not started any manner of "October Blogging Challenge". I enjoyed some aspects of doing the September one, but at this point in the game I already have enough to talk about without forcing topics and I go to bed late enough as it is: I really didn't need the extra time sink or word count. 

I would love to figure out some sort of consistent weekly topic post though. I'm picturing something like the ubiquitous Wordless Wednesday posts so if anyone has seen anything neat in that vein or has any ideas I'm all for it. 

I will say that given the relative popularity of the Jason Statham post and my appreciation of the majesty of the male form I would not be averse to something like Running Off The Reese's  beefcaketastic Magnificent Men of Monday posts.

My run today: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks
3.10 miles at an average of 11:59 per mile -  total time of 37:07

I'm still having a lot of problems with mile two. I think it may be a mental limitation due to no longer feeling "fresh" but not yet being "almost there". I tend to find myself pushing to a faster pace than I'd like and then having to slow down. I'm not really sure how to get out of that head space though.

My ankle is stiff when I walk but was surprisingly fine when I ran. I did manage to get a good stretch before the run today and I do feel like I loosened it up quite a bit. I was aware of it but at no point was I in pain. 

I have a physical with a new doctor in a week and a half and I will mention it then if it is still bothering me. The missing referral issue I mentioned in my last post cascaded into a phone argument with my (former) Doctor's office manager so ridiculous I was literally shaking with anger when I finally hung up. 

So yeah, new doctor time. It will be nice to be able to tell them I am active though!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Do not meddle in the affairs of Jawas

Today's run was odd.

Apparently calling me on the phone with bad news while I'm running makes me insanely rude. I eventually apologized, but still that was surprising. I am normally extremely patient on the phone.

Today's run was expected to be chaotic because I had an ophthalmologist appointment later in the evening with not enough time to go home, so I ended up packing my gear the night before and heading to my old neighborhood to run right after work. I changed clothes at work but I still felt like a bug under glass gearing up in my car in front of a random house on the side of the road. Warmup stretching was truncated (yoga floor poses and littered asphalt don't mix well) and I was a bit worried about my ankle, which was still stiff.

I was just getting into the swing of things and starting to feel my ankle loosen when I got a call which I pushed into voice-mail. This was about five minutes in to my run and on a main road so I waited a bit to listen to it. It was the Ophthalmologist's office telling me there were some problems with my referral and to call back with my insurance card handy. My card was locked in my car so I figured I'd call when I was done. I was annoyed to be sure, but motoring through.

Twenty five minutes in I get another call from the Drs office which I answered since I recognized the number by this point. Apparently she said "hello, can you hear me???" one too many times because I eventually blasted her with:


Short answer was that my GP apparently never set up my referral so all of that oddness and pre-planning was completely pointless. I could have had a nice run in my own neighborhood, a shower right away, and been settled in by sunset for some quality cat snuggle time. I responded with a string of bad words, but this is about where I started apologizing for shooting the messenger as she was being very sweet and the general problem wasn't her fault at all.

I could most assuredly have handled it better and I think I may have flustered her a bit with my reaction and language; but to be fair she was being quite dense.

"So... uh... I guess you'd like to reschedule then?"

No, I'll just go sit in your waiting room for a few hours, I will be there in an hour as originally discussed. Charge me accordingly please, YES I WOULD LIKE TO RESCHEDULE, CAN I DO THIS AND GET BACK TO RUNNING NOW????

I paused my devices and walked during the exchange and actually ended up back at my car by the time the conversation was done. I decided that with just under two miles under my belt I might as well finish.

At this point my mood was just plain foul and I had lost track of my original route so I was just sort of meandering through the nearby roads trying not to get too far from my car. I also felt like I was just on the edge of having something cramp a number of times and I'm taking that as a sign that I REALLY need to stop skimping on warmup and cooldown.

I finished though, and by the time I was back in my car and headed home I had burned through the worst of the grump but I can feel the effects of running all tight and distracted in that mode and I expect to be sore tomorrow.

Regardless: I'm glad I made the arrangements to run today despite my appointment and I'm proud of myself for sticking to it and finishing even after things went a bit pear shaped.

5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks
3.11 miles at an average of 12:22 per mile -  total time of 38:29

I'm trying to decide how I want to move forward at his point and I may switch to doing somewhat shorter but more numerous runs. I'm thinking something like three, one and a half to two mile runs across the week and one 5k during the weekend when I can do it earlier. Nothing definite, but it's food for thought anyway.

I surprised myself in both positive and negative ways today, have you ever had an experience like that?