How I finished my Summer vacation...

Yesterday we played tourist (or, as my folks call them, "tourons" = tourist + morons) and visited a popular local attraction, Mac Wood's Dune Rides.  We had an absolute BLAST!  Dane had already done the ride with his grandma and grandpa a few years back, but this was a super awesome treat for his dad and I as first-timers.  We've lived in this area for over 8 years and wonder why we waited so long to partake in this fantastic treat only a half hour north of us.
At left are my guys posing with a "dune scooter" while sporting their cool shades and goofy hats.

Our 40 minute ride consisted of some fast and thrilling rides up and down the dunes of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan...beautiful vistas, humorous tales and punny jokes from our driver/guide, Ron, and a bit of a wet splash along the edge of Lake MI.

More photos can be viewed here (though it was difficult to get really good shots around other riders' heads, unfortunately - the actual views and experience were so much more impressive than the photos can convey).

Today I had a truly awesome run with a local friend.  We did an easy 5 along the paved rail trail to the library and back.  Well, I take that back...we did 4.75.  Heather told me at about 3 miles in that she had a cooler with 2 bottle of Bell's Oberon in her car, so we picked-up the pace for the last almost 2 miles, drank our beers in the covered picnic gazebo near our cars...then got the bright idea to go for ice cream a short walk away--so much for any calories we may have burned.  But I think I now have someone to go hashing with me in Grand Rapids.  A couple other local girls have expressed interest.  Definitely sounds like a fun activity once marathon training (and recovery) are over.

On a crummy note, I wore my BRAND NEW, $48 runningskirts.com skirt (pictured in prior post) and it's already permanently stained.  I used the SportShield roll-on -- which has never stained any other technical fabrics -- on my inner thigh "chub rub" zone to find that after 4 soakings and washings in a variety of things (laundry detergents, OxyClean, Shout pre-treater, Dawn dish soap...seriously, Dawn gets out EVERYTHING!) that the stains are still there and haven't faded at all.  The skirt has not been in the dryer (I don't dry any of my running skirts in the dryer), so it's not as if that would have set the stains.

Needless to say, I'm pretty pissed.  I had planned to wear that skirt for a warm weather marathon, but it looks like I wet myself.  My identical skirt in a different color has never had stains from the SportShield, nor have my compression shorts or any of my running tanks.  DH thinks I should smear SportShield on the entire thing so that it's fully stained...I am tempted.

The SportShield is a silicone-based skin lubricant and I have seen threads online asking how to remove silicone lubes from bedsheets (yeah, it's kind of similar to those types of lubes).  A couple of recommendations refer to heavy duty degreasers and acetone--neither of which would be kind to nylon/lycra type technical fabrics, I'm guessing...

Any suggestions?  I think I am going to e-mail the company to see if they have any thoughts of what might work and not damage my skirt.


USPS Inspiration!

Since the moment I dragged myself out of bed this AM I have been dreading my scheduled 8 mile run.  I am exhausted...this flaky late-Summer weather has it often too cool for the window A/C unit to run, but too warm to sleep comfortably.  This has gone on for the last week or two.  Add to that my Fall allergies kicking-in (word on the street is that this year is expected to be particularly dreadful for us allergy sufferers), the stress of my knee continuing to act-up (just as it seemed like I was out-of-the-woods I had a set-back), and DS refusing to sleep-in and I'm in pretty rough shape.  

Right now I am counting the days until I am done with my 2nd 20 miler (2 weeks, 3 days, to be precise) and can officially begin my pre-marathon taper.  It's bad when a runner actually starts hoping for an illness to sideline them for a few days so that they can rest a bit extra.  Earlier this week I did absolutely NO workout of any sort on my "cross-training" day and felt no guilt (though I did do the abs work and quad-strengthening stuff before yesterday's easy 5).  Never has running made me so tired.  I guess this is not all that abnormal as one finds themselves 2/3 through training, but it's kind of blowing that whole "runner's high" business.

Anyhow...I was completely thrilled when we arrived home from a family fun day (more on that in a later post--I do have a run to get in) to find that the postal person left me this flashy little number...

I have been gradually amassing my "wardrobe" for race day.  Since I will be wearing my bright aqua blue NB 902 trainers I thought it might be fun to build my race day outfit(s) around the shoes (is it sad that I NEVER give this much thought to "regular" clothes?).  I knew I wanted another RunningSkirts.com skirt for a warm weather day and will wear a plain white short-sleeved top with that.  If it's cool weather I have a pair of Nike compression tights that come just below the knee and a matching long-sleeved top (I'll post more about that later, too).

Ok, off to test my new skirt.  I'm sure I'll love it just as much as my garish blaze orange and pink one. :D


Funny I-can't-sleep Story (non-running content)

So somehow Dane and I got on the topic of general anesthesia today and I explained to him that when a person has general sedation that they are "asleep" and unable to feel pain or be aware that they are being operated upon.

This leads to him asking "mom, have you ever had general anesthesia?"  So I told him that, yes, I have had it a couple of times, most recently 4+ years ago when I had "my boobies made smaller" (I can now run, because I am a D, instead of a DDD/F...which is his fault, anyhow, as I was a D pre-pregnancy and then lactation blew my boobs all to hell).  His response...classic... "well, they're still pretty big."

*snort* Nothing like a little boy to state the obvious with full candor.  He also seems to be a pretty apparent boob man at a relatively young age...gee, wonder where he gets THAT trait. ;)

I'm going to have to drag out some old photos so that he can see mommy "before."  The ones pre-reduction and pre-weight loss are particularly fascinating...I don't even look like the same person.  I don't think he'd recognize his "old" mommy... :)


My butt hurts.  Yesterday (my "rest" day) I decided to do one of the leg workouts that I haven't done in a while.  Apparently all those lunges and squats work my glutes in ways that running doesn't.  My butt muscles are really sore and my inner thigh muscles a bit, too.

In addition to soreness I am REALLY tired.  This marathon training business is really exhausting.  Good thing every other week for the next few is easy, then taper.  Guess that's why 18 week training plans work this way.  Beat a person up for the first 2/3 of the plan, then throw those hardest runs in only every-other week before a 3 week taper.

Of course, I could be tired from simply not sleeping well.  It has been really stuffy in our room the last week or so (and I think we had a full moon in the past week, too).  I wake all sweaty, toss and turn.  Too cool for the window A/C unit to run and we should have had the other window open more, I think.  Apparently it got down into the high 40s last night.  Tonite the forecast is calling for mid-40s.  Wow, Fall seems to be coming a little early this year...NICE! :D

Today I have a 5 miler planned after DS's dentist appt., then tomorrow 13 miles.

UPS came a bit ago and delivered my 3rd pair of NB 902s--my favorite discontinued shoe.  That should hold me over at least until the 904s come out (in Jan., from what I hear)...assuming that I like them.  The 903 is a nice shoe, but they changed the fit of the upper and I don't like them as well.  The 904 is going to be a complete overhaul of the shoe, so I hope they don't mess it up completely.  If they do I am SOL.


2/3 done...just 6 more weeks

6 weeks from today is race day.  Dang, that's getting a little too close for comfort.  On the bright side, I only have 2 more really long runs before it's go time.  Next week I have my first 20 miler, then 2 weeks after that I do it again, then taper time, baby!

I am exhausted...and my morning coffee did little to cut the fog.  The last 2 weeks have really kicked my booty.  My knee is definitely better--the good days outnumber the bad and even when it does bother me on runs it usually takes longer to start talking and doesn't scream nearly as loudly when it does.  Now that I'm down to hard, long-run weeks only every-other I expect my knee to really improve greatly.  I'm even hoping that my almost 3 weeks of taper time will have it nearly 100% on race day.  The last 2 weeks were, thus far, my most challenging weeks during training and it held up pretty well, so I have high hopes.

Yesterday's 8 miler was supposed to be at "race pace," so I attempted to run at 10 minute mile pace (what I estimate my actual race pace will be, given what the various online calculators spit out when I enter my half-marathon PR pace)...which should have been relatively easy, but 75º and 94% humidity had me struggling to stay under 10:40.  My lungs were really freakin' angry with me and using my inhaler pre-run didn't seem to have had any positive effect, unfortunately.  Race day should be a good 10º cooler even at finish time...and FAR less humid.  I'm guessing humidity on race day wouldn't be much above 50%, as long as we don't have a day like last year's Chicago Marathon (which I believe was actually the same day as Milwaukee).

Today is a quiet "rest" day.  At some point I need to muster the energy to do my abs workout and some leg/knee strengthening stuff.  Also have laundry and bedding to do, and clean the bathroom.  Whoohooo...such an exciting weekend.


The Living Dead

This is what I feel like today.  Yesterday I ran my longest run ever--18 miles.  I won't say that it was easy or comfortable...because it wasn't (how in Hades am I supposed to run 8.2 more miles at race pace?).  My 17 miler the previous week was MUCH easier by comparison.  My body is SO ready for long runs only every other week from now until the marathon.  I can do weekly long runs comfortably as long as the distance is no more than about a half marathon, but once it gets much beyond that those back-to-back weeks with a long run are pretty miserable.

My knee bothered me more than any other run since I started wearing the Superfeet insoles...but my knee was still in far better shape than before the insoles.  Today it's still a bit tender, but the discomfort is still relatively minor.

Last night I didn't sleep particularly well...fell asleep hard and fast, but woke 4 hours later in need of "vitamin I," aka ibuprofen.  Chase kitty also wanted lots of lovin' (he's always an affectionate little bugger in the middle of the night), so I had him on the bed for some snuggle time before the Advil kicked-in and I felt back asleep.  Then Dane woke too early, so I think I managed maybe 7 good hours of sleep when my body really needed probably closer to 9.  Right now I'm considering a nap.

Today is supposed to be cross-training.  I need to go do my abs workout and a few miles on my bike once DH is home.  But mostly I just want to sit here.  I have all the energy and motivation of a sloth right now.


A bonus "side-effect" of running

In addition to the obvious physical and mental benefits that most runners experience, there is one benefit that may trump them all -- meeting like-minded people.

In the past year I have met and formed close friendships with several other runners in the area...women I likely never would have met "in real life" due to the lack of social gathering places in our small town and since none of us are into the usual mommy draws like scrapbooking or other crafty pursuits.

The first mom I met was through a run/walk site geared for moms.  Eventually I dragged her to runningahead.com and we finally met in-person.  

The second mom I met was indirectly through our sons' school.  We were there in the evening picking up school photos and she was in running attire, so I struck up a conversation with her and gave her my e-mail address.  Under normal circumstances our paths never crossed, since she dropped her son off and picked him up earlier than I did Dane.  We have run together and raced together several times over the past year.

The third mom I've met through running found Running Ahead and the Michigan user group.  Said she lived in my town...small world!  She and I have now run together several times, as well.

And today I did my first run with another mom from the community who is so much like me in personality and interests that it's almost horrifying.  She is only a couple of months younger than I am, she and her hubby share the same wedding anniversary (to the exact day), we both have ADD/ADHD boys, we both talk non-stop, we both are anti-mini van and pro-manual transmission, both abhor scrapbooking, both LOVE Bell's Oberon beer...the list goes on.  We've both been in the area for 8 years and are amazed by how much we have in common and how sad it is that our paths have never crossed until recently. 

One thing these women and I all share is that none of us grew up in the area.  We have all found that this community is pretty insular and the locals stick to themselves and aren't particularly eager to open up to new members of the community.  As a result we transplants find it hard to forge friendships.  Without running I'm certain I'd still have to drive at least a half hour to meet up with a friend or two for some social time.  With the current price of gas it's kind of nice to have a regular social outlet that costs so little and offers so much in exchange.



I would walk (run) 500 miles...and I would walk (run) 500 more...

And I did...plus a half mile as of this evening.  Since Jan. 1 I have logged 1000 miles, so I am a bit ahead of pace to complete 1500 for the year.  Pretty good, considering I have had a couple of full weeks I've had to take off for illness (flu/bronchitis) and the knee.  Also dealt with the miserable asthma issues this Spring and struggled for a couple of months to find the right treatment to control that.

I'm already thinking that if I could stay healthy and uninjured that a 2k mile year is definitely not out of the question. 

Superfeet really are...SUPER!

I'm a happy happy girl.  I have been wearing the Superfeet "berry" insoles for nearly a week, now...and the quality of my runs and relative comfort of my knees has been outstanding compared to the last 3 months.  Amazing!  Why the heck did I not try these MONTHS ago?  And why when I went to the running store and explained my "issues" did they not recommend trying insoles that they CARRY in shoes that I already love and know is a good fit for my foot before a different shoe?  I know most people recommend shopping at local running stores and that is probably good advice for a truly new runner, but in the past year or so the 3 trips I've made to the top-rated running store in our area has not yielded a single pair of shoes to work for me.

Anyhow, back to the Superfeet Insoles...Monday night I ran 4 miles in the size D pair I had (they were pretty long, so I had to trim them to fit my shoes in length, width was good).  The run was so good that I was a LOT less apprehensive about my 17 miler the next day...AKA my longest run ever.  And while my knee did complain a little on that long run, it didn't really start until nearly 10 miles AND never became more than a relatively mild annoyance.  Sweet!  Yesterday I ran my fastest 5 mile training run in months.  It was still pretty slow, but given that I've run about a minute/mile slower for all of my runs in 2-3 months it's going to take time to get my body accustomed to some "faster" paces and avoid any further injury.  Slow and steady is good stuff.  I have still helped build my aerobic capacity through the knee issues.

Since I was kind of between sizes on the insoles (the Cs were perfect in length, but maybe a little narrow, Ds perfect width, but kind of long and the plastic orthotic section came up to just under the back of the balls of my feet) I had DH pick up a pair of Cs for me to compare fit to.  I did one 8 miler in the Cs and they definitely were not as good a fit or support as the Ds, as I felt knee issues earlier and my arches felt less well supported, so Ds it is for running and the Cs I will save for casual shoes.  Maybe now I can pick up a cute, cheap pair of Chuck Taylor's at Target--only thing that has kept me from buying those in the past is the knowledge that they have no arch support.  But they are so stinkin' cute! :p

I'm just so amazed that something as simple as a small slab of molded plastic can do so much to position my entire body better and correct slight biomechanical issues that cause injury.  But in a way this should not come as a surprise.  Growing up we didn't have a ton of money, but footwear was the ONE place where my folks would not scrimp.  We always had quality athletic shoes that were replaced before they were too worn...and never hand-me-downs, since shoes adapt to the first wearer's foot and my mom always reasoned that they could cause harm to subsequent wearers.  This has always stuck with me.  And having stupid wide feet has forced me to wear fairly high end shoes all my life, too...but no heels.  I'm a big fan of Dansko clogs...those babies are wide and orthopedic.  In the Summers I live in my Keen sandals.  No flip-flops...ever.

My RA buddy Rick and his family didn't manage to meet up with me while they were vacationing 45 minutes away...too much going on and flaky cell phone coverage.  Hope I will get to see that bunch in Oct. at the Grand Rapids Marathon/Half.  Dane and I will be there cheering our Running Ahead friends while Derek is in Death Valley on the JDRF ride (which is why I am not running my marathon in GR and am doing Milwaukee 2 weeks earlier, instead).

Last night we rented The Darjeeling Limited.  Normally I like quirky, "deep" films (particularly if they are British), but I was having a REALLY hard time following this film.  There were some neat symbolic bits, but mostly I was kinda bored and wishing we'd chosen to watch the Olympics, instead.  We had wanted to rent The Serpent and the Rainbow for some zombie fare, but it was already rented.  I think we may look into a Netflix subscription, especially once school starts and life quiets-down.  We rent a fair amount during the Winter months and our local video stores are often kind of limited.  There are always so many movies that I mean to see, but never get around to renting.  We'd probably rent even more with a Netflix subscription.


We're back...

Got back Sunday night from a few days road-trip to my MIL's place in IL.  Highlight of the trip was meeting up with one of my RA gals for a 6 mile run.  We also had a really nice afternoon in the pool at the complex that DH and his folks lived in when we first met.  We were able to swim there as guests since my MIL is friends with a lady who lives there.

My knee is still giving me fits.  Today I have my longest run ever planned - 17 miles.  I'm semi dreading it, but have high hopes.  Yesterday I picked up a pair of Superfeet "berry" insoles and did a 4 miler in them last night.  It was honestly the BEST run I have had in probably 3 months.  I felt great during the run AND after.  Knee feels a little better this AM, too.  If a simple pair of $40 insoles is the key to solving my knee woes I am going to be seriously pissed at myself for not having tried this solution MONTHS ago.  These OTC orthotics really seem to control the lateral/medial movement of my feet, while still retaining the forefoot flexibility that my feet/arches require and most moderate stability shoes lack.  Those Mizuno shoes I bought are being relegated for walking, since they are really comfortable and supportive for that, just not for running.

Hopefully the next week or so things improve with the knee injury.  If this is not the case, well...I have pretty much decided to bail on the marathon for now; instead I would take the rest of this month off and shoot for a new half-marathon PR at my favorite race on Sept. 20.  There will be other marathons, but I only get one set of knees.

My RA buddy Rick is in our area (well, about 45 minutes North of us) this week, so I'm hoping to go meet up with him and his family at some point before they head back to the SE part of the state, where they live.


No news is good news...I guess...?

According to my ticker it is exactly 2 months until my marathon... *hyperventilates*

I've been pretty remiss in keeping up with my blog in recent weeks.  When running is going great it seems I have lots to blather about...when it's going bad I still can muster some gab.  Lately it's just mediocre, so I'm not feelin' the bloggin' love quite so much.

A few weeks back I scaled my training back from what was roughly equivalent to Higdon's Intermediate II plan, in favor of doing his Intermediate 1 plan (with the days rearranged a bit to fit our schedule better).  My knee seemed pretty appreciative of this move, even though the rest of my body seems pretty bummed.  Aside from the knees I'm certain that I could have comfortably peaked at 50 or so miles, but plan B is to peak at 43.

I also spent last week on a quest for the elusive "perfect" shoe.  As much as I adore my NB 903s, I think they played a role in the knee thing.  A very common cause of "runner's knee" is shoes with insufficient stability.  So on Weds. I made the hour-long trek to the nearest large running store.  Tried on several shoes and ended up with the Asics GT-2130.  Ran 4 miles in them the next day...meh.  The heel fit was just not good.  I have a hard time finding heels that fit me well (and from past experience should know enough to stay away from Asics--the Kayanos I tried on last Summer were no better).  I also think they were too narrow, even though they had a generous forefoot for a medium width shoe...and they were definitely stiff.  The sales woman was convinced that I needed the medium width for my relatively narrow heel, but they were still too big in the heels and the forefoot was still snugger than I like, too.

So back they went on Friday.  Again I tried on a bunch of different shoes.  The kid helping me seemed to want to put me in $$ top-of-the-line shoes as much as he could (which are usually too heavy and controlling for me) and also was giving me mediums that were all far too narrow.  I really got the feeling that they are trying to unload specific shoes to make room for new colors and models due out for Fall...was kind of put off by that.  

The shoe I wanted to try (Mizuno Wave Inspire 4...lightweight, flexible, moderate stability) was not in stock in my size in either medium or wide widths, but I liked the fit and feel of a similar Mizuno shoe, so I special ordered the Inspires.

Unfortunately they gave me an ETA of 10-14 days...which is a bit long to continue running in shoes that are not helping my injury issues, especially since I am now in the second half of my 18 week training plan, so I decided to check a couple of other running stores closer to me to see if they might carry them--they do, but not in wides.

So I bit the bullet and ordered the shoes online--since they were about $25 cheaper that way...and then paid the difference in the form of overnight shipping.  I wasn't sure if I needed the 8 or 8.5, so I ordered both and planned to ship the non-fitting pair back.  Smart move, as the 8s were too small.

I've logged 11 miles (2 runs) in the shoe and like the overall fit a lot, but they are SO much stiffer than what my feet have become accustomed to (and the Inspires are actually one of the most flexible and soft moderate stability shoes according to Runner's World test labs and reviews I have read)...hopefully my feet will adapt and this will eventually not be an issue.  My knees honestly feel so much better after wearing shoes with a bit more oomph than the 903s for most of the past week.  If it's a choice between unhappy feet or unhappy knees that risk permanent damage...well, I think I'll risk the cranky feet.  It's easier to ignore cranky feet than it is a knee that won't function...fall-down-go-boom!

The other minor issue with the Mizunos is a seam that runs medially from the laces down my arch (underneath the logo trim, which likely adds a little pressure to the seam, too).  I've had issues with this same sort of seam in other shoes--my feet are pretty delicate when it comes to chafing and blistering from seams and overlays.  NB has gone to seamless liners in most of their shoes which I ADORE.  I wish all manufacturers would do this.  I can Body Glide the offending area of my feet and eventually the shoe should soften and the seam won't likely be an issue, but it stinks that companies are still manufacturing their shoes using such "old school" methods when superior ones exist.  Perhaps they are in kahootz with the manufacturers of Body Glide and Blister Shield...hmmm....

This past weekend we attended a fun JDRF ride team pool party and then met up with DH's cousin and her hubby for dinner, as they were camping for a night in our area as part of a trip they were doing around the perimeter of Lake MI. 

Tomorrow we head out for a few days with my MIL and will return on Sunday.  I hope to meet up with a fellow RA friend for a run at some point while we are there.  I also hope it's not too hot and humid.  Our weather today is pretty brutal.  My lungs are struggling just sitting here typing.  I need to get in an 11 miler at some point today...and still have laundry and packing to do.  But this weather is killing my motivation.  Yuck.