Thursday, April 18, 2013

stupid leg

So.  Quite a week, huh.

The city of Boston holds a special place in my heart.  My family is all from eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, the Red Sox, and New England clam chowder form a very large part of my heritage.  To see these places sullied pokes at my tender spots.  But I also know how very stubborn and wicked strong this clan is, so I have no worries that the people of Beantown will come back in a big, big way.

Tonight was Olympia's memorial run - Run On.  It was very cool to see a couple hundred runners gather at Marathon Park for a loop around the lake.  It was also very good to see the returning Boston runners, home safe and sound, as well as everyone who'd previously earned their Boston race shirt show up in them.  We've got a pretty awesome running community in this little town.

But...<grumble> I'm super-NOT happy about my leg.  Last Saturday, four miles into a nine mile run, my left calf cramped.  I rubbed it out, worked through the range of motion, but kept going. (Really, what else was there to do? We were at the farthest point of a loop course, it was flippin' cold and POURING.  Run on, friend.)  I thought it odd that the cramp hadn't released, but since I hadn't actually ever experienced a cramped muscle when running, I just figured it was what would happen.

Yeah.  So much for that.  I spent the rest of Saturday hobbling around, then spent all of Sunday in my pajamas and compression socks, leg propped on the bed, sorting through piles of clutter because I could not move. At all.  Maybe not a cramp?  I'm calling it a pulled muscle and resting it.  I'm sure it didn't help that I used heat the first two days instead of ice, or that I haven't used any ibuprofen at all this go-round.  Really, I don't know what to do.  Other than try not to panic about lost fitness.


I will say, though, we accomplished a never-before-attempted feat on Sunday.  At 3:37 pm, for exactly 57 seconds, we had four humans and three cats on the bed.  Amazing.  And then it was over, and cats and claws went flying and skittering and racing out of the room.  Hilarious.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Growth spurt

No, for once, not my boy.  He actually hasn't grown more than half an inch this week.  Pausing for breath, I assume, because he's tall enough that the air must be thinner up there.  (Yes, I'm having difficulty with the sheer height of my yes-still-twelve-year-old son and the fact that he's fully FOUR INCHES TALLER than me... though he's been taller than me for months now, you'd think I'd be over it already.)

No, this is my own growth spurt.  I'm a little shocked at my new "easy pace" that has made itself evident over the past few weeks.  Case in point, yesterday and today:

Tuesday:  Easy four miles.  Final stats:  4.12 miles, 37:07, 9:01 average pace.  Splits of 8:21 (whaa?!?), 9:16, 9:31 (trail), 8:58, and 8:31 pace for the last little bit.  Did not believe the numbers until I saw the map online.

Tonight: Grrls run group, five mile option.  Final stats: 5.70 miles, 54:51, 9:37 average pace. Started with the "party pace" group, drifted forward to the "peppy pace" group, settled right in between with a friend I haven't seen in years (who's more amazing than I can say, given this was her first run out in months and she kept the pace - yea, P!).  Splits ranged from 9:10 to a 10:00 mile for the brewery hill (~150 ft elevation gain).

I keep thinking back to a year ago, when an 11:30 mile would leave me gasping.  Eleven months ago, when standing on the start line for the Capital City five miler, I just wanted to maintain 12-minute miles.  I finished that day with a 10:15 average pace, and realized that maybe I could actually do something with that.  And now...

it's just weird, people.  I don't want to put expectations on it.  I don't want to put weight to it, because I don't want to fail.  And yet, I'm enjoying blowing past these boundaries. My darling husband keeps laughing, reminding me that these boundaries really only exist in my head.  He's right. I love him for being right, by the by.

* * * * * * *

In other news, I had the serendipitous privilege of meeting Ms Amy of Run Mom Run tonight when stopped for water at the running store.  Since Amy posts pictures (which, I admit, I choose to not do), I recognized her immediately when she and her running buddy came in for a drink.  Hopefully she wasn't too startled by my (loud) "You're Amy!" (artful, no?), and I missed the opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in person (darn migraine brain).  They were finishing a hilly run - I believe the word "sadistic" was used - and yet looked fresh as daisies.  Amy, I'm very happy to meet you in real life!  (Oh, and if you're reading this at all timely, go check her blog - she's doing a birthday giveaway.  Fun stuff.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

So many things...

It's well past bedtime, but I can't sleep.  So many things stuck on repeat in my head.  I often have a sleepless Sunday night, sometimes it's just anticipating the workweek and its resident chaos.  I've added to that chaos a bit this weekend by ignoring such things as, oh, laundry and food shopping in favor of a day shuttling my son to a school competition an hour away (and using the early rounds to get in my 13-mile long run, woohoo!) and a day sitting on my heinie recovering from said 13-mile run.  Well, not really - there was a walk around a local park to take pictures of examples of erosion for an upcoming science project (the nagging of which I am certain will dominate my life for the next six weeks) and a three-mile run with S this morning.  So, in about eight hours, I will wake up the kids - and I have no clue whether the boy child actually has clean pants to wear.  I comfort myself with the reminder that he is twelve, it will not be the first time he re-wears dirty pants off the floor of his room, and it certainly won't be the last.

The runs were lovely.  And COLD.  Mid-thirties temperatures - haven't run in that cold a temp since December, maybe.  S admitted to me this morning when she arrived that the ONLY reason she got out of bed was because I was waiting.  I told her it took all my willpower not to text her a cancellation myself.  We were rewarded with a beyond-words-gorgeous view of the clear sunrise, the rose clouds, Mount Rainier, and the state Capitol all in one fell swoop.  And hot coffees afterward.  I think even S took hers hot instead of her usual iced-caramel-latte.

Yesterday was Knowledge Bowl for the boy.  This is sort of like team Jeopardy, random academic questions and the kids have to buzz in and have a few seconds to sort out the right answer.  However, they do it in teams of three, and they cannot communicate verbally during the round - only hand signals to determine who thinks they most likely know the answer (closed fist is "no clue", five fingers is "I absolutely positively with every fiber of my being know this answer").  It's comical to watch the dynamics amongst these smart, assured, competitive kids - and very very difficult not to blurt out the answer myself.  I wish I'd thought of this before, but that turned out to be a really good reason to go for a run - the actual reason is, I knew I'd be bored if I sat through five rounds of this with the added stress of restraining myself.  Besides, a long run takes a good chunk of family time out of the weekend, and I'm trying really hard to minimize that absence when it will be noticed (hence, 6:00 am runs).

I started planning this run two weeks ago.  Turns out there are some quiet neighborhoods and lovely paved trails along the rivers and dykes out where we were in Grays Harbor, which fit well into my planned route.  I would meander through the neighborhoods for a bit, head north on one trail, cross through town, then head south on another long one that skirted the harbor to a large athletic complex; then turn around and head back the way I came.  Turned out to be a great run - lovely (if cold) weather, solid 10:00-per-mile pace, gear and fueling worked well.  My gear belt stayed in place, rather than riding up to my ribs like it has been of late, and I made the right shoe choice with my Brooks (that took way too much brainpower early in the morning, let me tell you).  (And no, I don't think anyone cares, but want to make note for my own memory.)  However, there were some lessons learned...

Lesson Number One: route maps on computer screens don't look the same on the ground.  I hadn't anticipated things like, oh, VERY STEEP HILLS up into those neighborhoods, or the fact that the neighborhood is only half-built and many of the roads were incomplete or impassable.  But once I was able to orient myself, it proved about impossible to get lost.  I met some lovely big dogs with their people on the trails - thankfully all were friendly.  The harbor trail was utterly deserted - three miles straight of seeing absolutely no humans.  A little freaky, especially when the song that pops on the playlist is "Every Breath You Take" by the Police ("...I'll be watching you...").  It was about that time that I realized the pepper spray, which I'd remembered to put in my run bag, was still sitting in my run bag back in the car.  Sigh.  Same thing on the return stretch, no other people in sight until I left the trail.

Lesson Number Two: running with music is a learned skill.  For the first time, I ran outside with some music.  I had a single earbud in, and put some random tunes on my phone so I wasn't carrying multiple devices.  I really liked it - more than I expected I would.  However, sometimes your feet don't go at the same rhythm as the music.  Sometimes breathing in a staggered pattern (in on three beats, out on two) takes great concentration to overcome the driving 4/4 rhythm of most music.  (And sadly, even though I have "Take Five" on the list, it didn't come up.)  Sometimes you really don't want to hear that song, but you don't know yet which button to push to advance it because you haven't used this setup before...  I'll certainly do it again, but I didn't anticipate the little oddities.

Lesson Number Three:  battery life on the phone must be considered.  Apparently running the GPS, MapMyRun, and the music player all at the same time for two and a half hours will sap your battery to nubbins.  I don't anticipate I'll have to do all that very often - I usually know where I'm going and don't have to consult a map every few blocks.  But next time I do one of these fit-a-run-into-some-other-activity things, I need to remember the charging cord that plugs into a wall.

So that was my weekend.  I thought I'd gotten a picture of these freaky trees with bat houses in them - they looked like something out of a Scooby-Doo episode, or perhaps an Edward Gorey cover - but it appears my phone was so busy doing all its other stuff it forgot to actually save the shot.  Either that, or I didn't leave enough room on the phone with the eleven hours of music I dumped to it.  Next time, pictures, I promise.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I'll take it.

So this was a fun week.  After a rough start Monday, I had twelve miles banked by Wednesday night.  I also got my first group run ever – and it was a blast. 

Math Teacher had a department meeting Saturday morning (!!) so our run will be Sunday.  So I got the long run out of the way – a nine miler with a friend from the budget department at work.  She’s a born runner – tiny, lithe, fast – but she was willing to hold a 10:30 pace with me while we tackled a big chunk of the half-marathon course for Capital City. (THANK YOU!!!)  Oh, and let me not forget to mention it was the part with ALL THE HILLS...
Mile 2, San Francisco Street; Mile 4, Legion Ave; Mile 5, Eastside Street.
So given that, I'm quite happy with the pacing.
What worked: 
  • Running with a friend! So much better mentally than taking it on alone. 
  • Fueling - peanut-butter toast with juice for breakfast; gel at mile 6 (should have taken it a bit earlier, but I forgot), and a bottle of Nuun for the road. 
  • My purple shoes also felt wonderful throughout. Nice to know.
What needs to be looked at:
  • the tights with the zipper down the back … not sure what I’m going to do about them.  I wore them Wednesday and the zipper chewed up the skin along my Achilles quite painfully.  I had planned to wear the tights again today, but the skin is still raw – I couldn’t stand the chafing.  I think if I wear mid-calf socks under it will be fine, but I can’t try again until the skin fully heals.
  • Between that and a couple stupid little owies I’d given myself this week, I had my concerns (seriously, who bruises their foot by crossing their legs?  Me.  I’m so very talented.) but thankfully they didn’t affect the run.  Maybe next week, I can be a bit more careful in the day-to-day stuff.  Or, just not allow myself to wear shoes.
  • Oh – and next time, need tissues.  Or another wristband.  It is allergy season, after all.
* * * * * * *
Training update:
Last week – I hit all my runs.  It was a bit of a wonky schedule, but they all got in.
This week:
  • Midweek – the five-mile option with Run Like a GRRL, as well as one or two four-milers, which hopefully will fit into lunch hours.
  • Next weekend – an easy three miles or so, and about a 10 mile long run.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

That which I have been missing?

So after a rough-ish start, this week's moving along pretty well.  Tuesday night brought 4.7 miles after work, and tonight I joined the Wednesday night ladies run for a shy five-mile loop.  (Between those two, I'm crossing off Run #1 and Run #2, by the by.) I've realized that while my training plans throw in speed work and hills and tempo runs and all that, my first priority is to build my running base so I'm ready to take on marathon training come June. What that means in reality is that I'm willing to blow off the instructions that say "1 mile warm-up, 2 miles tempo, 1 mile cool-down" and just go run four miles at whatever pace feels good.

How have I not tried running with this group before?  They are so much fun!  I screeched into the lot about three minutes late, and saw the group gaggled by the bandstand listening to someone talk about race entries and giveaways and something else... to be honest, I was nervous, and my shy introvert went and asserted itself.  I knew from their Facebook page that this group split into a 3-mile batch and a 5-mile batch, and I definitely wanted the 5-miler... but I couldn't tell if they'd organized or not or what!  So after glancing around a bit, I softly asked the lady next to me if they'd split up yet.  She assured me they hadn't, and she figured out pretty quickly that I was new and graciously took me under her wing. 

The group leader got us to stand for a picture, then reminded folks that the run tonight was to be an easy paced one, since many in the group have a killer half-marathon this weekend.  And then, we were off. I forced myself to chat (shy! ack!) until it wasn't forced; the miles moved quickly, even at an easy pace.  This run felt as easy as a lunchtime walk, but the pace was sub-10:00 miles the whole way.  By the time we returned, I realized that I recognized several faces from around town... or perhaps we've passed each other on runs.  Either way it was all grins and hugs and then back into cars to head home.

So many of my runs are solo.  A few are run with one, maybe two others.  This was a different experience - and a new challenge.  Maybe this has been a missing link?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Not every run...

Not every run can be awesome.  Not every run will inspire you to keep going.  Not every run will feel light and springy and effortless. 

But that's okay.  Because not every run will have you gasping 100 yards into it, struggling to put one foot in front of the other, heaving your weighted carcass across the sidewalk step by excruciating step.  Not every run will end in a lightheaded jumble two miles from your starting point, leaving you wondering what on earth you forgot to do (like, maybe, eat?).

These things balance out.  Most runs are nice, middle of the road, doable runs.  It's the work we put into it to get those lovely advances in our speed, strength, and svelte-ness.  Some are absolutely fantastic - they leave you singing praises to the Creator for this beautiful planet and these wonderful bodies that let us enjoy it all.  And some... some we wish to never speak of again.

Not every run can be fantastic.  And not every run will be miserable. 

* * * * * * *

Not that today's run was anything so absolutely terrible as all that.  It was just a very tired run, with a messed up schedule.  I ate a poor breakfast, but it was timed for a noon run.  It wasn't until 11:45 am that I remembered I was scheduled to be on a conference call for the noon hour.  I literally had my bag in hand, headed for the ladies' room, when the reminder popped on the screen.  (AAAUGH!!!)  So instead I grabbed my sandwich and refilled my water.  That turned out to be my big mistake - when I did finally get out at 1:30 pm, that sandwich was stuck in my gut.  I also underestimated how tired I was from the kids' swim meet this weekend - a weekend of super-early wakeups, managing anxious, sometimes-cranky, sometimes-elated youngsters (our own and many many others - the swim community is one big family, after all) and randomly getting drafted for various "volunteer" duties I thought I'd avoided this weekend (which ended up being fun, and not too egregious, it was just not planned for).

Hmm... "Not planned for."  That sums up a large part of what derails me.  I plan things.  Carefully.  I even plan for when I'm going to take things easy, be spontaneous, decide on the fly.  Here's a week where I'm just going to go with the flow and see how it goes.  Back to normal schedule next week.  I think I'm just really understanding as I type how very goofy that looks. Heh heh...

* * * * * * *

Speaking of plans... I have no idea what or when I'm running this week.  This is the first "post-swim season" week when the schedule is all jumbled, the usual patterns are ignored, and everything is topsy-turvy.  The boy won't be going to evening practices, so I don't have my built-in run window - which means, I will probably have to find a different way to plan those in.  Probably the same thing, just run right after work on the way home.  Soon he will have baseball practice, which ought to afford me the opportunity to get a run in.  But this week will be an odd mix of creating that spontaneous space AND still trying to make mileage goals.  I guess we'll see how it works...

Run #1: 4 miles, mid two at tempo pace
Run #2: 5 miles, negative split
Run #3: 3 miles easy
Run #4: Long run, 8-10 miles

We won't count today's run unless we have to (it was 2.5 miles @ 10 min pace).  I want a mulligan.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When did this happen???

So, this week - two mid-week runs.

Two six mile midweek runs. 

When on earth did I start being the runner who could do mid-week six milers?  When did that become not-a-long run?

I'm stoked.  I realized on my run that once I gain some confidence in what I'm doing, I start having fun doing it.  It's that way at work, at home, with my kids, in the community... and now with running.

The other midrun musing I had - I seriously look like Mrs Whatsit when I run.  Remember the character from Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time who wears the crazy, mismatched patterns and socks and layers?  Yeah, that's me.  Every single run.  Tonight it was red long-sleeve shirt with neon vest, white hat, crazy-pattern orange/blue bandanna on my ears, white-and-purple skirt, over black tights, and pink striped socks.  Add a headlamp, a blinkie on my back pocket, and a pair of knuckle lights and I must have been visible from at least 400 yards.  (Either that or they should not have been driving.)  I tried to get a picture of it after the run, but my arms are apparently too short to do that very well and there were no mirrors around...

* * * * *

On another note, be sure to check the "Team Weebee" page (up top, to the right) and leave a comment if you are thinking of joining our team for You Go Girl! in September.  ALL are welcome - we're basically a team-for-the-sake-of-the-discount. :)