Posted tagged ‘running’

How to Mess Up a Perfectly Good Saturday Run (and ache for days afterward)

February 7, 2012

After several years as a runner, I should know that my performance on a run depends as much on my mental state as my physical state.  I should know this.  I never seem to really remember it, though.

I do my long runs on Saturday.  I wake up early.  I head out no between 6:30 and 7, so that I am finished no later than 9.  Amy respects my need to run, but I don’t want to make the whole family’s Saturday revolve around my running schedule.

I started feeling a sneaking dread about last Saturday’s run on Friday night.  I felt tired.  I didn’t want to blog.  I didn’t want to do anything.  In fact, I laid about on the couch from the time Janie went to bed until I went to bed playing the free version of Scrabble on my phone.  That’s right… I don’t care enough to buy the actual app, yet I wasted an entire night messing around with my online Scrabble opponents.

Maybe dread is too strong a word.  It was really more like apathy.  I didn’t want to do a long run.  I hadn’t run more than 5 miles a pop for more than two weeks, and I felt ambivalent at best about putting forth the amount of energy a 13.1 mile run takes.  So, I kept hitting snooze on my alarm.  Even though I knew I needed to get up and eat, so I could get out of the house on time.  Even though I could smell the brewed coffee waiting for me in the kitchen.  Snooze.

All this is a long lead in to say that, while I made decent time on my Saturday run, it was painful.  In fact, I decided to cut my run down to a 10 miler, because my right calf began cramping around mile 8 and my left quad tightened a bit more with each mile.  And my knees felt every connection with the pavement.  I am not fan of stopping short of my mileage goal on a run, but I also know running shouldn’t hurt.  Especially not in a training run.  A stubbornness inflicted injury also would not get much sympathy from Amy.

Why all the aches and pains?  Remember that apathy/dread I mentioned?  It manifested itself in tension in all my muscles, an obsession with my pacing, and a bizarre (and misguided) need to push off with my calves to gain speed.  My head just wasn’t where it needed to be, and my body responded by completely freaking out.

I am actually looking forward to this Saturday’s run.  My calves finally feel normal again (I could barely walk for two dang days), and I am excited to see what I can do out there.  And this is a much better way to approach a run.

13.1 miles.  Bring it.


Five Fingers Debut

January 30, 2012

Over the Christmas holiday, I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

I know, I know.  I had a hard time admitting that I wanted a pair.  But, after reading Born to Run, I felt like giving my feet and legs a chance to perform more naturally could really enhance my running.  And the idea that a barefoot-like experience could help my feet naturally rebuild their arches got to me.  One of my arches collapsed when I was about 13–completely excruciating pain.  Over 20 years later, I still cannot relax enough to get a decent foot rub for fear someone will accidentally touch my arch.  And Jane once swung her little foot around and landed it right on my arch, and I almost puked.  So, yeah, if my arches could be less sucky, that would rock.

Since I have a  race coming up in March, I am leery of overdoing the Five Fingers.  I have heard that too much mileage too quickly can really trash a runner’s legs.  So, I opted just to wear them to the gym for their inaugural outing.

Now, I will freely admit that for whatever benefits they may offer, these things sure are crazy looking:

When I walked into the YMCA today, people could not stop staring.  Truly.  As I was dropping Jane off at the childcare area, a woman stopped me to ask me if I ran in those (as she pointed to my shoes).  I gave her too much credit and actually assumed she wanted a real answer.  But as soon as I said, “Well, not really…”  She jumped in with “Well, why are you wearing them then??”  Okay, Captain Combative… Do I really owe you an explanation for my footwear?  Then she proceeded to (very loudly) discuss with the woman next to her how much shoes like that cost.  Lovely.

After the initial encounter with a rather confused public regarding my choice of footwear, I made it into the gym and actually began working out in the Five Fingers.  Um… RAD.  I could feel the muscles in my feet and legs working as I went through my routine.  Heck, I could even see the muscles in my legs responding differently.  And I was comfortable.  I felt athletic… and natural, somehow.

I guess I will get used to people staring, because the Five Fingers will be making a regular appearance at the Y.  And I am hoping next week to ease them into a short run on one of my off days.  I really didn’t foresee crushing this hard on these crazy shoes.  But the three year old at the Y really got me (and the shoes)… he squatted down in front of me and petted them lovingly.  His horrified mom could barely drag him away.  And the whole way out, he kept talking about the shoes with the toes (over and over again).  Yeah, little dude, I totally know where you are coming from.

And Everyone Breathed a Collective Sigh of Relief…

January 25, 2012

Yesterday I ran for the first time in almost a week.  Since running replaces therapy for me, no one really wants me to go that long without a run.  I get edgy.  And my head starts freaking out and bombarding me with words like “bad,” “can’t,” “won’t ever”…

Does a run fix all that?  In one word:  yes.

But… the first run back after a hiatus of any kind (and yes, even less than a week counts) is pretty darn painful.  And I had been really sick.  So, I promised myself I would just do an easy 5k to get back into it.  Easy, my butt.  There was nothing easy about that run.  My lungs felt a bit wheezy.  I got tired about a mile in.  I felt like I was running through watered down Jello.  But I did it.  And I still completed the 5k distance in less time than I used to run a 5k on race days.

M0st importantly, though, it was easier to smile at my daughter and mean it after my run.  For Jane and I, there was more singing, more dancing, more giggling yesterday than there had been in almost a week.  And that is worth all the effort I had to put into that run.



Croom Zoom 2012

January 17, 2012

Sunday morning, at 4:00 a.m., my alarm went off.  I groaned and hit snooze.  Then I startled awake.  The Croom Zoom, my first 25k, started in 3 hours, and I had only a vague idea of how to get to the race site in the Withlacoochee State Forest (yes, that is totally a real place).

I scrambled into the kitchen to slurp down some coffee and eat a piece of peanut butter toast while I checked the weather forecast.  In the low 30s for the first part of the race.  Oh. my. Lord.  I put on the warmest running gear I have (which isn’t really all that warm until about 5 miles in) and zipped out of the house for the hour ride up to Brooksville, Florida.

I have driven by Brooksville about a hundred times headed north on I-75.  But when Google Maps told me to take a small highway road up to Brooksville instead, I just assumed the good folks at Google knew better than I did.  So, at 5:00 a.m., I found myself driving in the pitch black through areas that looked like they might have been the inspiration for Deliverance.  I had pre-race jitters; I had lost-in-the-middle-of-nowhere jitters.  And I really had to pee.  But there was nowhere to stop.  And I do mean nowhere.  All the gas stations were closed.  Even the Wal-Mart had so few cars that I felt sketched out about swinging in for a potty break.  And, remember, I had slurped down that coffee and a healthy amount of water before I left the house.  So, I spent the last 20 minutes of the ride praying that I wouldn’t pee on myself before I got there.

I turned off of the little highway onto a littler county road that my map said would lead me straight into the park.  I kept peering to the right and the left, into the pitch black, looking for a park sign.  It was already 6:15.  My race started at 7, and I couldn’t find the damn…

And, suddenly, I was on a dirt road.

I just kept driving, hoping I was headed in the right direction.  My dot on Google Maps was still on course–but did I mention I was on a dirt road?!?

And then I saw him–the traffic directing guy.  He was shivering in the cold.  Uh… that didn’t seem like a good sign.  I parked, opened my door… and shut it again.  DANG.  I steeled myself, opened the door again and hopped out just in time to be greeted by a string of profanity from the guy parked next to me… something about Florida…damn cold…someone’s mother…something, something.  As interesting as his diatribe was, I needed to pick up my race packet, finally pee, and strip off my warm sweat pants and fleece and stand around in lycra running garb.  And freeze.

I did all of those things.  In that order.  I have never wanted a race to begin so badly.  I was so cold that I forgot to be nervous.  No joke.  And I am totally valedictorian of being nervous.

The airhorn went off, and all the 25k runners set off down a limestone road.  We did 3.5 miles on that road.  At mile 1.5, I realized that my hands were achingly cold.  At mile 1.8, I felt like nails were being driven through my thumbnails, and I noticed–with great alarm–that it took tremendous effort to move my fingers.  At mile 2.0, I began to seriously concern myself with frostbite.  I thought for a few minutes about quitting then and there.  No kidding.  I don’t remember ever being in that much pain from the cold.

By mile 3, I didn’t remember that my hands had ever hurt at all.  But I did realize that my Gu was too cold to be gooey.  Instead, eating it was like breaking off pieces of chewing gum and swallowing them whole.  Thank goodness I had plenty of water in my Camelback to negotiate that mess.

I finished my Gu just in time to turn onto the trail and realize that my shoes were tied too loosely for trail running.  Oh, and I was running in my old running shoes that have next to no tread left on them.  Awesome planning.  I ran for a bit and found myself at the start point again, right before the start of the 10 mile trail loop, where I stopped to tie my shoes.  I hate stopping while I am running, but the retying of the shoes seemed like a necessity, lest I fall and bust my booty on this run.

Which I did.  At mile 7.  I swear, I have no idea what happened.  I was running; I must have drifted off into thought. Then I felt it… My feet tangled, and I knew I was going down.  I had just enough time to think,  “this is going to hurt,” before I hit the ground with a thud.  The guy running behind me (he was a ways back when I fell) asked if I was okay.  I hopped up to show him I was alright–I didn’t want him to break his stride too much for me–and took off running.  Both my knees were super sore.  I was dirty.  But I knew I could keep going.  Hey, it was either that or walk the last 8 miles.  No one was going to carry me out of that forest.

I hadn’t set a goal time for the run. But I did promise myself I would run all 15 miles.  And I did.  I finished the race in 2:47:21 with a Gu wrapper stuck to my hand (since mile 10) feeling like a badass.


I am more in love with running than ever before.  Crazy, right?  And I am totally hoping to fit in another trail run during this running season… but maybe in April when it is just a smidge warmer.  I am totally a Florida girl, no matter how badass I am.

Ilene (get it?)

January 10, 2012

I am lopsided.  Right now, my pelvis tilts slightly down to the right, making my left leg longer than my right.  This causes some serious issues when I run.  Simply put:  my knee hurts and my lower back pulls constantly.  I skipped my run today, for fear that I would cause damage right before the 25k this weekend.  (I should totally get a gold star for being responsible enough to skip a run.  Who is in charge of the gold stars, anyway?)

And, before you get all up on your high horse, you foes of running:  running doesn’t throw my back out.  It has always been weak and prone to aches, pains and compression.  But, now I have an 11 month old monkey clinging to me a large majority of the time.  Kind of throws a kink in my posture, you know?

I am really looking forward to the visit to the chiropractor tomorrow to sort all this out.  And that will give me two more short runs before my rest day on Saturday.

I am really excited about this 25k.  Running in the woods–and trying not to fall flat on my face–has a zen kind of quality.  And, trail races make me feel pretty badass.  Oh, AND I get to wear my red & yellow trail shoes!

Yep, I am definitely ready to get rid of this nagging pain so I can focus on the awesomeness of this Sunday’s Croom Zoom.


Good, Bad & Crazy…

January 4, 2012

Good news:

The lasagna qualified as normal!  In fact, Amy said she even forgot that the tofu ricotta wasn’t real cheese.  (I think she may have been exaggerating on that one, but I will take it).  Honestly, I am a bit surprised the lasagna turned out as well as it did.  I sauteed the onions, herbs and garlic to the sweet melody of a baby screaming bloody murder from her Pack ‘n Play (which was 3 feet from me, by the way).  I ran out of oregano and basil in the middle of cooking and had to take a fun little jaunt to the store (where I had already been not even two hours before).  Oh, and the the recipe was for spinach lasagna.  Um.  Yeah.  I forgot the spinach.  But it was recognizable as lasagna, and that is what counts–at least for today.

Bad News:

This week, Jane can’t seem to nap.  She falls asleep while I am nursing her (like she always does), but then she wakes up when I put her in her crib.  Typically, this scenario would mean about 15 minutes of crying before she fell asleep.  This week, though, it means crying for 5 minutes and intermittent crying and playing for the next 55 minutes.  That’s right… for one whole hour, she refuses to sleep.  Consequently, she exhibits sleepytime behavior not even an hour after her non-nap has ended.  This is crazymaking.  For both of us.

Crazy News:

I signed up for the Croom Zoom on January 15th.  A 25k trail run.  I am extremely excited.  What?  I told you it was crazy news.

Simple Pleasures

December 14, 2011

Today… I ran.

Thank the Good Lord.

It had been 7 full days since my last run.  Most of those days, I was too overrun by the plague, and taking care of Jane (who has an ear infection), to really lament my missing runs.  But by Monday, I was Cranky McCrankerpants.  I wanted to run, but I just wasn’t sure my body could handle it without going into meltdown mode… and reinfecting itself with the plague.  Normally, I would be willing to take such a risk.  But we have a big trip planned to visit a certain mouse this week, and I couldn’t risk getting sick again.

But today… today I threw caution to the wind, tied on my running shoes, and Jane and I headed out.

It was a slow run.  I only did a 5K.  But it was the most relaxing run I have taken in a while.  It made me remember what is fun about running… how free I feel, how light.  I get to just be.  Not be someone’s mom.  Not be someone’s partner.  Just be.

Glorious.  Truly.