3.31.2009

Gettin' recognized on the run

Today I stopped by the post office to pick up a package from a friend in Alaska (a very funny cross-stitch that says "do not f*ck with me"...there is a long and silly story behind that). While I was there the postmistress (who is about my age, I'm guessing) asks me "hey, did I see you out jogging the other day?" I smile and say "I'll bet you did!" She says "I used to run, but I have terrible knees and had bad shin splints all the time."

I reassured her and said that my knees were not great (I've had arthritis since puberty...I can predict cold fronts with my knees just like an old woman), but that running doesn't seem to have worsened them--perhaps the opposite.

I also told her that the combo of knee pain AND shin splints made me wonder if she was in the right shoes for her biomechanics, as I have had similar issues in shoes with either too much or not enough stability. I hope I planted some seeds of possibility in her head. Her story is a common one. I think a lot of people believe they are unable to run because it's been painful in the past. I really believe that for most people the pain is result of improper footwear and/or too much, too soon, too fast training.

I believe this because it is my own running history.

Yesterday I had a nice 10 miler...not fast, but it felt pretty good considering only 2 days prior I had run a brutal 15k race. Today I enjoyed 5+ miles of speedy feet in my new shoes. I had to force myself to slow way down after the first 2 miles, as today was supposed to be an easy run. I still managed to run a good 30 seconds/mile faster than planned.

Tomorrow I will do my upper body and abs workout. I think from here on out I won't be doing the leg strengthening work, since my miles are starting to really pile up each week. Last week I ran my highest mileage week ever--just over 44...including a race. This week I have 48 on the schedule.

I have also decided to do a half marathon (Borgess National City Half Marathon) on 4/25. It fits in MUCH better with my marathon training plan than did the 10 miler I had originally planned for the previous week. I would already be doing a 12 miler that day, so might as well run a fast 13.1, instead.

It will actually work out nicely. 4 weeks out from a marathon is the perfect time to run a half. A week after that I will run my 2nd and final 20 miler, then start my pre-race taper.

I just can't get over how much better training is going this time around. *knocks on wood* This time I am not battling major knee issues...my right knee still gets sore and stiff, but it's not feeling weak and there are no stabbing pains and minimal clicking/popping (which I have always had...no better, no worse than usual). Not only was training painful and scaled-back to help heal my knee last time, but the mental stress was significant. I was not physically overtrained, but I was unable to relax with the constant threat of having to DNS or DNF on race day. Now my only real concern is dealing with the potential for killer leg cramps in the middle of the race, again. Hopefully I get the electrolytes right for marathon #2.

My iron issues also seem to be better. I think that runner who suggested I may be anemic was right on the money. 10 days of increasing my iron supplementation has helped significantly. I don't feel like I am dragging. The thought of running more miles doesn't seem at all daunting. My pace seems to be improving, as well. And I'm sleeping better. I was so tired before, but overtired...running on fumes.

Between the higher mileage, lack of injury, increased iron, and increased electrolytes this gal could potentially be ON FI-YA come race day! :D

That sound you just heard...

...was my sigh of relief. Yesterday 3...THREE pairs of shoes arrived for me to try on via UPS. 2 pair had to go back to RRS, but one will be returning in a half size larger. One pair that arrived is a keeper as is (this pair had also been ordered a half size larger from the ones I originally tried on).

When my first pair of New Balance 749s arrived they were too small--in length and width. I didn't really hold out much hope of them fitting even in a half size larger. But the 8D pair arrived and they really fit quite well...especially for an $80 pair of entry-level shoes. The things they lack that their higher-priced counterparts possess are those bumpy NB laces, reflective trim, and a seamless "Phantom" liner. But none of the seams feel like they will be problematic and I don't run at night, so the lack reflective trim bits are no biggie. I also always double-knot my shoes, so the bumpy laces are really of no big benefit to me (and I have an extra pair somewhere, should I decide I miss them).

Today I did my first run in them...almost 5.5 miles. Felt really good. Perfect stability, good cushion (a bit firmer than my 902s, but this is not a bad thing, per se), excellent forefoot flex, decent fit, light weight (the only lighter-weight NB stability shoes are the 90X series, which are classified as performance trainers--this shoe is considered an everyday stability trainer). The heel height is a tad taller than I like, but not bad. I could probably happily do at least a 10 miler in these things. The heels started to slip just a tiny bit toward the end of my run, but this was almost certainly due to the shoe stretching a bit as it breaks-in. Next time I can comfortably tie them a hair tighter and the heel fit should be better.

I like the color, too (it also comes in 2 more sedate versions). Kind of makes me want to dress all in black and run in stealth mode.

Verdict: $80 shoe that feels like a $90 shoe.

One of the other shoes that arrived was the Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 12 (or something to that effect...people criticize NB for their seemingly cryptic number names, but brevity is kind of nice. Heck, my car is a Mazda 3s. All those long names are marketing mumbo jumbo in my mind). Seems like a nice, cushy shoe with a flexible forefoot, minimal difference in heel/forefoot height ratio, and a VERY generous toebox (perhaps moreso than any of the SL-1 lasted NBs ever were in the same size), but my heels were kind of swimming. NB seems to be the only manufacturer that has figured out that wide forefoot ≠ wide heels. So the Nikes were one of the pairs I returned.

But what made me the happiest girl yesterday was trying on the New Balance 904 (latest update of my favorite shoe ever--the 902). They were a tad too snug and a tad too short, but nothing a half size larger won't help on both accounts. Heel fit was fabu! They definitely seem to be a bit narrower than my 902s, but it doesn't appear like the difference will be so great that it will be troublesome--especially with the lightweight socks I wear except in the Winter. The 903 was actually too wide and had weird overlays...this shoe actually seems closer to the shoe I love. I am as giddy as a school girl!

Bonus: Since RRS doesn't do "returns" -- it's either exchanges or store credits, I am opting to take store credit from the returned Nikes to spend on the 904 trail shoe, which has a release date of TOMORROW, IIRC. This will be my shoe for the North Country Trail Relay in June and for all of my trail runs until cold weather. My current trail shoes are nice, but heavy and Gore-Tex...not so comfortable in the heat of Summer and overkill on dry trails.

In other shoe whoring news...I just found out from another NB fan that NB already has the replacement for the 904 (the 905, duh) scheduled for sale in Oct. Mind you, the 904 only came out this past Jan. or Feb. NB really can't leave well enough alone (which is the at the root of all of my recent shoe-related stress). From the video I saw on RunningWarehouse.com it appears that the changes are only to the upper.

I'm not sure that I like the new appearance, though. The 90X series has always been trademarked by garish colors...the women's color will be baby blue. Huh. Better than white, but baby blue with lots of orange like on the 904 trail shoe would be cooler. Since this series began the women's shoe has gone from chartreuse to cyan to persimmon to white/orange...to baby blue. Eh, as long as it fits and functions well I can't complain. I am just uber relieved to know that come marathon day (7.5 weeks away) I won't be left shoeless. I'm not really keen on trying this whole "barefoot running" thing.

3.28.2009

15k PR...and MORE!

More = highest mileage week...ever!

I knew it would be a course PR...last year this course was covered in 6" of snow the consistency of wet concrete mixed with Vaseline. By all accounts my time could have been a lot faster, but with marathon #2 on the horizon I didn't push myself nearly as much as I could have...took it easy up the hills, allowed myself to enjoy the flat areas (of which there weren't terribly many), blasted down the hills. I still managed to PR, so my 15k in late June on a relatively flat course should be a piece-o-cake...assuming I recover well from marathon and trail relay.

Woke at 6:30 (mostly due to hungry cats accustomed to rising at that hour who would not be ignored), putzed around with coffee and breakfast, made my way out the door before 8. Had to make a potty stop 15 minutes down the road (coffee = crazy bladder...better before race than during--no port-a-johns on the course), finally arrived at race site at 8:50.

Got my packet and had a half hour for attaching chip, bib, stretching, and last potty break. Also met Buffalo Gal from RunningAHEAD.com and her friend, Shelly--one of the local NPR affiliate on-air personalities (she is planning to register at RA soon--yay!). Very cool!

My bestie (Eryn/backroadrunner) also ran. She was ahead of me for most of the race, but we followed our typical pattern...she creeps ahead of me on the uphills, I catch her on the downs, then I pull out all the stops for the finish (I think she put a hex on me at Milwaukee, since my cramps at mile 20.5 allowed her to finish sub 4:30 and I was 20+ minutes behind her). She did awesomely for someone whose work has been a major barrier to training and has had a week of insomnia and serious back issues. With adequate training I wouldn't stand a chance against that whipper-snapper.

According to my Garmin we were off at 9:33. 1:28:35 later I crossed the finish line.

This race is pretty much hill after hill after hill for the first half. Then the next couple of miles are a little more gently rolling, with a couple of last long and gradual hills (into the cold wind--ow) before the last half mile or so spill downhill. I friggin' LOVE that part. I get to combine burning the last sprinter blast of "speed" in my legs with gravity and pass a handful of people--YES! According to my Garmin I hit max speed of 6:29mm. Ummm...holy hell! My average training pace is usually in the 11 minute range! I wish I had remembered to stop my Garmin at the finish to see my actual pace for that last .3 mile.

My AG placement was 7/11, overall 148/211. Last year there were about 90 fewer people (thanks to weather, in large part), so I didn't place this year. Apparently all the slow people came out last year. Nice medals for all finishers. This is only the 4th year, but this race is already up by over 60 people compared to the first year. It's nice to see a small town race like this do well. It's a beautiful, challenging course.

Last year I vowed never to run that race again...then I placed and reconsidered. This year I didn't place, but can't wait for '10.

3.26.2009

Lust is a 7 deadly sin...right?

And I don't care. This was found on a Swedish website by some fellow Forerunner 305 fans with text saying "release in 2009". The current 405 is a dog, from much of what I hear. Too small and "fashionable" with its smaller round face and bezel to be as useful--and more $$. But this...this...oh, not. Smaller, sleeker version of my beloved FR305. I don't even care if it lacks the HRM--I've never once used mine in well over a year's time. My asthma keeps me from overdoing it.

This new one looks more water resistant. I would get moisture under the face of mine from runs in heavy rain. If they could make the case waterproof it would appeal to triathletes, I'm certain.

If that baby is released this year I would likely grab it and give my existing 305 to my best friend, since she has always wanted one (and could desperately benefit--her training runs are hardly slower than her race paces, then she ends up injured over and over), but never can seem to justify the expense (I think staying out of the doctor or PT's office would be reason enough, personally...).

I'm skeered...

And feeling butterflies. Less than 48 hours until I feel the pain, again:
Kent City Ridge Run 15k -- that's last year's race report

I'm not running today...need to go do my ab and upper body workout. Tomorrow I plan to only run 3.5-4 miles EASY. And I need to get my butt into bed MUCH earlier the next two nights. I keep getting this annoying second wind late in the evening, then being up until midnight or later...of course, I still end up awake when DH's alarm goes off, so I'm lucky to get 6-7 hours of sleep this week, when I really need closer to 8-9. The added iron I've been taking is wreaking havoc with my GI tract, so that's making sleep a bit less comfortable, too. I think tomorrow I may avoid the extra iron supplement to give my gut a break and make it less likely that I will have "issues" on race morning.

Race day forecast is for temps in the low to mid-30s with windchills about 10 degrees cooler. Not bad. Earlier they were predicting rain, but it looks like that may not show until later in the day. Phew! So it will be a long-sleeve, long-tights race, but at least the ground will be clear and dry.

High Hopes

I'm feeling fairly confident that the Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 12 will work for me...mostly. I won't know until I can actually run in them. At least in photos they LOOK very wide...look at that forefoot (right shoe) compared to the NB on the left. That NB is the one that has given me the stupid baby toe blister, especially on my right, wider/bigger foot. That rounded, snubbed nose on the Nike is more like NB's shoes USED to be. The midfoot also looks very snug, so the lack of the N-lock/arch-lock feature that NB shoes possess will likely not be missed. The biggest issue I am concerned with is forefoot flexibility. If the forefoot is too stiff my peroneal tendons (outer arch) will start giving me fits.

As a couple of friends have pointed out, the Nike SHOULD work for me...after all, it has "zoom" right in the name. That has to be a good thing, right? Perhaps it's fate. My beloved little Mazda 3s has zoom-zoom, my running shoe should have zoom, too.

I'm feeling less nervous about the NB 904, too. The forefoot definitely looks more tapered (that's the 902, aka my favorite shoe ever, on the left and the updated 904 on the right)--but not as severely so as the change to the NB 769 from earlier versions. The upper has fewer overlays and is bound to have more give, too. Granted, all of these photos were likely taken using medium-width samples, but it still allows for a rough idea of the overall shape and proportions of the shoes...I think.

I only need one of these shoes to work. I also have a larger pair of the entry-level NB 749s on order, but I'm not real confident that they will work. They were too short, way too narrow and curved (like the 769s), and just kind of a weird fit, so I won't be surprised if I end up having to exchange them for something else. It would be nice to have 2 different models to rotate, but I would happily settle for one shoe that works for me...a shoe that I can lace-up and forget about for 26.2 miles, just as I was able to with my trusty blue 902s.

3.25.2009

Fed up

The new "performance" (PL-1) last that New Balance is putting in the bulk of their running shoes (replacing the SL-1 last) has ruined the brand for me. And I'm 8 weeks out from my next marathon without a clue what to do. I am rapidly wearing through my last 2 remaining pair of favorite shoes and my single pair with the new last gave me a nasty blistered right baby toe. Left toe was starting to feel squished, too. Mind you, I ran an entire marathon with nary a hot spot in my beloved NB 902s with that nice, wide SL-1 last.

This new and "improved" (ha, that's a laugh. No, not really) last is more streamlined...which translates to narrower and semi-curved, instead of wide and straight. I have wide, straight feet. NB was pretty much the last company to offer a completely straight-lasted shoe. So now I am, to put it bluntly, fucked. Asics don't fit my heels (I have tried the 2100 and Kayanos), everyone else is too stiff in the forefoot or it's heel issues, again. The Saucony Guide wasn't bad, but bloodied my achilles. I could take an X-acto knife to the back of the shoe to make them work, but I refuse to cut into a $90+ shoe on principle.

Today an entry-level (ie fewer bells-n-whistles) NB stability shoe arrived. It isn't as pointy as the 769s I have been struggling with, but it's just as curved and this pair was short and even narrower. I am exchanging them for the next size up, but I don't have high hopes. I think the arch is going to hit me in the wrong spot with that shoe...so I will likely be returning the larger pair, as well.

I also have a pair of 904s on order--the update of my very favorite shoe, the 902. But several people have reported that this shoe is ESPECIALLY narrow. So I have very little faith that I will have any luck with that shoe, either. Which leaves me with NO New Balance shoes that will work for me. For the 3 years I have been running NB has been pretty much the ONLY brand that fits my foot. Now I don't even have that. Right now there are a lot of former NB fans in my predicament. For years NB had a reputation as company whose shoes fit people with feet outside the average medium-width, curved footed individual.

Maybe those barefoot runners are onto something. The shoe thing sucks.

I'm desperately trying to find *something* that might work, but time is running short. I have 1 more 18 miler, then 2 20 milers, then it's race day. I don't have much time to experiment or "dress rehearsal" a new shoe. On paper the Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 12 (what kind of looped-up freak is naming Nike's shoes? Seriously, brevity, people...) sounds good...it comes in a wide, the shoes are even wider through the forefoot (the 11 was a hint snug), made the forefoot more flexible in the women's version, heel was fairly snug, IIRC. The lack of color choices kind of sucks (seems that wides always get white and blue *yawn*), but beggers can't be choosers...even if they are spending > $90 for shoes to last a couple of months. At least NB still offers a wide variety of color choices to wide and narrow-footed runners, but if the shoe doesn't fit...I ain't wearin' it--even if it does come in flashy colors.

2 days ago I had an uneventful 18 miler (other than the blister issue). It went surprisingly well after my 12 miler late last week that nearly had me collapsed for a nap in the ditch. I asked about my recent sluggish and miserable runs and another female runner suggested anemia. This suggestion was like a lightbulb moment for me. In college I had such a low hematocrit that they wouldn't let me donate blood. I took iron for a while, but hated the "side effects" and stopped.

Apparently anemia is fairly common in runners--especially female ones. Increased blood volume and the common (and benign) sorts of minor internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and foot pounding leeches a lot of iron out of the systems of higher mileage runners. Plus I still have endometriosis, which means I am losing blood every month via endometrial tissue in random parts of my abdominal cavity with every cycle (don't get me started on that...25 day cycles. I can't wait for menopause).

So I am increasing my iron for a bit...maybe in a month I will have my PCP do a blood draw and see where my levels are at. I saw at least one recommendation that female runners have their iron checked 4x/year. I found some older threads on running message boards where women had corrected their iron levels and knocked a minute or more off of their average per mile pace. That would be really nice. My miles have increased over the past 3 years, but my pace has been stuck for about the past 2. Heck, maybe a sub-4 marathon is even possible...I mean, assuming the whole shoe thing doesn't have me packing it in. :p

3.22.2009

Marathon Training: mid-plan fizzle

9 weeks down, 9 to go.

After this past week I've decided to adjust my training plan for marathon #2 (Hal Higdon's Intermediate II plan) just a little bit. I have been pretty wiped-out this week (leftovers from last week, as this week was a scale-back in mileage) and this coming week is sure to be a real butt-kicker, too. Tomorrow the weather looks best for my long run, then Saturday I have a planned 15k race (Kent City Ridge Run) that will be brutal. I know this because I ran it last year and it was and still is one of the most challenging race courses I have run.

This week's schedule calls for a 19 mile long run and 45 cumulative miles. Not so bad...but then next week it jumps to 50 miles and the first of 3 20 milers--ow. My cumulative weekly miles have gone 29, 30, 27, 32, 36, 40, 41, 38...the jump from here to 45 and then 50 is setting my warning bells off. As it is my right knee has been mumbling at me towards the later halves of longer runs.

So I'm thinking this week doing pretty much my planned mileage, perhaps cutting my long run to 18 this week (for cumulative mileage of 44 miles), then next week again doing 18 (instead of 20, cumulative mileage of 48), then a scale back week, then a 20/50 week. It doesn't really change things a huge amount, but allows me to creep a little more slowly up to that 20/50 peak. I will still have 2 20 milers and 2 50 mile weeks this way. And a lot of experts recommend that slower/newer runners not exceed 18 miles or 3 hours on their feet at a time, anyhow. My 20 milers are generally closing-in on 4 hours at my pokey pace. I remember from training for my first marathon how trashed I was for more than a week after each 20 miler.

I think my recent exhaustion is from more than just running, though. My rest/XT days have not been all that restful with 1 hour Cathe Friedrich workouts. It's probably too much to incorporate these workouts into the middle of training. I will still continue to do the ab work and perhaps upper body stuff, but my legs really need 1-2 days of rest each week, which they are not getting with these bootcamp style workouts.

A fellow female runner also has suggested that I may be anemic (I was definitely anemic when I was younger and had heavier periods from endometriosis, though thermal ablation surgery 6 years ago has made the period blood loss a lot less severe). I do take a general multivitamin daily, but she pointed me to a couple of articles about runners and anemia. Female runners, in particular, often require more iron than a sedentary person, partly because they are more apt to sweat away some of their stores and broken capillaries in the feet and stressed gastrointestinal tracts (common for runners training for distance events) utilize more iron. Between my diet and supplements I am probably not getting more than 30mg of iron into my body each day, while many experts will recommend that runners get 30-60, with women at the higher recommendation end.

So I will be increasing my iron a bit to see if I notice any improvement in energy levels within the next month or two. Next time around I will be fitter from this training cycle, so I doubt I will have to make adjustments to my mileage for my planned Fall 'thon, especially if it does turn out that some of my issues are anemia-related and that is remedied.

I did have a nice, slow, easy trail run with a local friend, yesterday. 4 miles...we avoided hills. It was gorgeous and sunny. Only negative was the areas of the trail that are/were groomed XC ski trails--the snow had been so packed-down that it's still a path of crusty, icy snow. Very odd when the rest of the woods are almost entirely snow-free. About 3 of our miles were on this surface, so we HAD to take it easy out of necessity. It was her first trail venture of 2009 and mine, too, if we don't count the 5k trail race I did in the same park last month.

Today I am mostly tired because I let hubby talk me into splitting a bottle of wine with him. This particular wine is most devious (McWilliam's Hanwood Estate SE Australia Riesling, 2006). Not too sweet, not too dry, goes down nicely, makes me want my pillow, wakes me 2.5 hours later feeling like crap and regretting drinking half the bottle. I swear, I have never drank a dry/semi-dry riesling that has had this effect on me. We have bought this wine TWICE and I've had the same experience both times. Fool me once.... So that particular vintage will not be crossing our threshold again any time soon.

I don't think I got a single quality hour of sleep last night. I slept fitfully and with strange dreams. Never really felt like I fell into a deep sleep. This was the last thing I needed after this past week's crummy runs. So hopefully I can sleep hard tonite, or tomorrow's long run is going to feel endless.

3.20.2009

3...ugh!

Today roughly marks 3 years since I started running (first day of Spring, 2006). Back then my sole goal was to drop my last 15-20#s (which are still clinging to my ass for dear life, unfortunately. *sigh*) and complete a 5k race or two. Here I am midway through training for marathon #2.

Life is kind of crazy that way. 3 years ago if anyone had told me that not only would I still be running, but I would already have a marathon under my belt AND be willingly subjecting myself to another one I would have asked them to share their amazing hallucinogenic drugs. ;)

To mark the occasion I "ran" (and walked a bit) 12 miles...all 12 miles I was grumbling to myself "what the hell am I thinking...? Why am I doing this? This sucks donkey balls!" My 17 miler 6 days ago was a breeze compared to today's run.

I had an inkling that today's run would be rough. The last few days I have felt especially exhausted and yesterday had a pretty difficult 9 miler at marathon pace (not a pace that should have kicked my butt the way it did). Today I almost literally dragged myself out the door and from the first few steps I knew I was in for a couple of hours of misery.

I think the erratic weather and my allergies are not helping, but also my Cathe Friedrich cross-training workouts are not really allowing me the rest time I apparently need. So I think I will stick to nothing more than ab work for XT until after next weekend's 15k race. This week is supposed to be a scale-back week and I am feeling more unrested than ever. Next week will mark my highest mileage week ever...and since it finishes with a pretty brutal race I'm really hoping that cutting most of the cross-training will help me recover better.

My right knee is also giving me random issues (again). I'm stuck in a pretty difficult spot. I seem to require a shoe with a LOT of forefoot flexibility to prevent peroneal tendonitis issues, but even with Superfeet insoles I'm not being afforded the level of stability I need to keep my right knee from crabbing in that sort of minimal footwear. So rotating my shoes is definitely a must. Some days I will keep the knees happy, other days the feet. Eventually prescription orthotics will be in order, methinks. I just dread the whole breaking-in process with those.

To celebrate my 3 year runniversary I think I will be scrounging in the fridge for whatever beers are strewn about (I know there's at least one Bell's and maybe a random Leinie's, too) and maybe even treat myself to a white russian...(inspired in part by Sun Runner's recent thread referencing "The Dude").

3.19.2009

*stomps feet* Don't wanna! *pouts*

After a handful of days of unseasonably warm temps we're back to weather more typical of mid-March...high temps just a bit above freezing and windchills in the 20s. Yuck. It only takes a couple of runs in short sleeves and short, lightweight tights to make me a complete weather wuss. I loathe the thought of wearing a hat that covers my ears and gloves, again. I actually have subtle tan lines from my 9 mile run 2 days ago...I can see the contrast on my wrist between where my Garmin sits and the nekkid flesh. Poo.

At least we aren't likely to deal with much in the way of snow and ice at this point in the season (*knocks on wood*). Phew. But motivating myself to get out for another 9 miler is taking a lot more effort today. I'm not looking forward to pulling on the long, heavier tights and long-sleeved top...plus warmer socks. Thankfully it's mostly sunny...that's something working in the weather's favor.

The one advantage of the return of colder temps...my allergies have settled back down some. Yesterday I had horribly itchy eyes and have been sneezing a fair amount, too. Just a taste of things to come, unfortunately. I can deal with the allergies...I'm hoping my current asthma treatment regimen allows me a better Spring running season this year. Bayshore Marathon is pretty much during the peak of tree pollen season, which had me in bad straits last year--that's when I ended up on Advair, as I was using my Albuterol inhaler far too often.

After my run 2 days ago my right knee was bugging me...again (I even avoided enjoying a St. Patty's Day beer or two, in favor of some "vitamin I"). Things seem to be OK today, so hopefully it's just a fleeting thing. I've been prone to random knee crankies/arthritis ever since puberty--often when cold fronts are approaching. So I'm chalking-up my recent symptoms to that. I hate that every little knee twinge now has me paranoid of the return of my knee issues from last Spring/Summer. I am nearly half-way through training for marathon #2...thus far it's been a MUCH smoother ride than training for #1 was.

In 9 days I am planning to race the Kent City Ridge Run 15k for the second time, so I'm already following the extended forecast for race day. At the moment it's predicted to be a high of 42 with 60% chance of rain. Meh. Hopefully that changes between now and race day. That temp would be fine, but rain in the low-40s is icky. Anything would be better than the 6" of wet cement-like snow that fell the night before the race last year. Some of those downhills felt pretty precarious.

Last year I placed 3/7 in my age group. This year I hope to place, as well. I'm fitter this year, but I will have run a 19 miler only 4 days prior to the race, so that could leave me feeling pretty beat-up come race day. Regardless, the race will serve as great speed work. Those hills are brutal, too. I wish I had hills to train on around here without having to drive a ways.

3.16.2009

*looks at calendar*

Yep, it's still Winter. Wow. Today we hit around 60. When I ran @11 it was somewhere between 45 and 50...and I was overdressed. Good thing I only went 4 miles, but I was actually uncomfortable in the sun. That hasn't happened in MONTHS! I had on a heavier long-sleeved shirt and 3/4 length tights. I would have been MUCH comfier in a T-shirt with those tights. Boy, it's hard to know how to dress this time of the year. A week ago we were well below freezing and had snow in the air.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get closer to 70. Egads! I'm tempted to wear a skirt, but I always hate how naked I feel for my first couple of bare-legged runs...plus my skin is day-glow white. I'm afraid of blinding motorists and other people out enjoying the day.

That brings up my next quandry...to tan, or not to tan. I'm by no means a tan-a-holic, but for the past 2 Springs I have purchased a one month tanning package...partly to give some color to my raw bratwurst-looking legs, but also to help keep me from burning to a crisp during my first few long runs of the Spring season. I haven't found a sunscreen that doesn't sweat off in the first mile and I only had to make the mistake of putting sunblock on my face once to learn that when it sweats into one's eyes it hurts more than anything imaginable (lemon juice ain't got nuthin' on Coppertone Sport).

The little gym I'm a member of through the end of April offers $16 unlimited tanning/month for members. Part of me wants to go do a month, but then I look at the wrinkles I am gradually developing and consider the cancer thing and am not sure which scenario offers less risk (plus I love my pretty new tattoo on my calf and know that UV exposure will cause it to fade). At least the tanning option will likely mean less pain in the form of a burn...but. Ugh, I wish I were one of those fortunate olive-skinned people who never burned. Scandinavian/Scottish heritage does not make for skin that is resilient against sun exposure, unfortunately.

3.15.2009

Here we go again...finicky feet & legs

Yesterday's 17 miler was under gorgeous blue skies with minimal wind...just a little cool, but really nice weather for running, for the most part. I had a decent run, though not without some "issues."

Lately I have been noticing the mild return of peroneal tendonitis issues that started up for me about 2 years ago. I battled those problems for probably 6 months before I almost accidentally discovered the solution--a shoe with a more flexible forefoot. What cured the problem was deciding on a whim to pick up a pair of New Balance 902s--NB's performance trainer with mild stability. I figured they would be good to rotate for shorter, faster runs and races...5ks, 10ks, etc. Eventually I found that I liked the shoe so much that I was gravitating towards it for all of my runs. And that my peroneal tendon on my right foot stopped complaining...eventually it went silent. I nervously ran my 3rd half-marathon in the shoe and it was perfect.

I wore this model all through that following Winter and training for and racing a 25k last Spring. I still was in love with the shoe. Then 2 weeks after the race my right knee developed "runner's knee" issues almost overnight. The only thing that seemed to help the knee was a more stable shoe, but almost instantly the right PT began to twinge. Ugh. This is where I tried the Superfeet insoles in the 902s in a last ditch attempt to placate my knee...and it worked! By this time I was halfway through training for marathon #1. On race day the knee felt pretty great, but it was always a little troublesome for the duration of training.

The shoe I had been in when the PT issues first reared was the NB 767. I had worn through 4 pair of this shoe before encountering any problems. When NB announced the 769 I was hopeful...it was billed as lighter weight, softer, and more flexible in the forefoot than the 767 had been--this was exactly what I needed.

So right around Christmas I got my hands on a pair. I really liked them. A beefier, stiffer shoe than the 902, but not so much as the 767 had been. After putting ~150 miles on the first pair I ordered a second to throw into rotation. And, dammit...after putting about 50 miles on pair #2 I am finding that they are still too much shoe. Crap.

I still have 2 pair of 902s that I should be able to squeeze 100 or so miles out of--each, but I am kicking myself for selling that pair I still had in a box. I have a feeling I will be wearing a 90x series shoe for my second marathon, too (since I still have 10 weeks of training and will exhaust the 2 pair of 902s I have I may be looking into the new 904...I have my doubts that it will fit as dreamily as the 902 did, unfortunately--that shoe felt as if it had been built from a mold of my duck feet). Apparently I am destined to be the slow, chubby girl who wears fast, skinny girl shoes.

And this Fall--after race season is over--I think I will be pursuing prescription orthotics. I really like my "berry" Superfeet, but a generic orthotic is likely not addressing my specific issues as well as something custom made for me would.

This week's weather is going to be primarily of the gorgeous running Nirvana variety. YES!!! I just hope that 15k race in 2 weeks has such nice conditions. Last year the race was held on beautiful backroads...the morning after Mother Nature doled-out 6" of heavy concrete snow. I don't want any reason to wear Yaktrax again this season!

Phew...what a relief!

My computer (one of the original Mac Minis) has done some relatively minor flaky things with graphical bits in recent months. The little navigation buttons in Finder sort of shrunk down, Mail lost its search field and eventually became non-responsive and wouldn't open (luckily this was AFTER I downloaded Thunderbird, so it wasn't really a biggie after that), but what really was the last straw was a few days ago when I downloaded the updated 8.1 version of iTunes and there were NO graphical bits, not even a scroll bar, and no ability to select my playlists or update my iPod Shuffle (you know, the 2nd gen. one that looks like a little matchbook and is easy to use with whatever headphones I wish *wink wink nudge nudge*).

So I attempted to reinstall the previous version of iTunes and it would no longer recognize my library, since it had been authorized to the newest version--ack...kill me!

It's not in the budget at the moment (hubby just took a 10% pay cut, but still has a job...for that we are very thankful) to buy the recently update version of my Mac Mini and we're expecting Apple to release it with OS 10.6 installed by the end of the year, so we're holding out for that.

My computer is nearly 4 years old and is running 10.4.11. I'd never reinstalled the OS before today, but several Mac-tastic friends on RunningAHEAD.com reassured me that it was easy and would almost certainly fix a host of issues and speed up my 'puter. They were SO totally right! In addition to reinstalling the OS I also deleted a bunch of programs I never use (like Garage Band) and uninstalled others that I haven't used in forever--I can always reinstall them if I ever see the need, which isn't likely for a lot of these memory hogs.

I can't believe how painless that was...I really should have done that long ago. Just to be safe we copied everything of importance to the external HD, but it was unnecessary, as everything was safely saved automatically in a folder on the main HD containing everything from the previous set-up...I can simply delete that folder once I am certain that everything is in order.

I *heart* my Mac! :)

3.11.2009

D'oh! Whose bright idea was this...?

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks the new iPod Shuffle is lame-o (this Macworld.com reviewer is also not bowled-over). I'm really hoping they come back with the "matchbook" sized Shuffle again and call it the Shuffle Classic, or something. I can't see how this new one will do well. Most of the time when Apple comes out with something new it is received with lots of oohs and aahs, especially from those of us who already are drinking the Apple Kool-Aid, but there is no way I would pay $80 for a Shuffle when I would end up having to buy an adaptor to use my existing 3rd party headphones and be able to actually control the device.

And is that little track/artist announcement going to be something that can be shut off? I can't imagine it announcing each track on an audiobook (which is fast becoming my favorite genre of digital entertainment while on runs of more than 90 minutes) with 20 tracks for each hour of audio.

Plus...if I wanted 4GB of memory I'd go back to my Nano. 4gigs on a Shuffle just seems moronic for something that has no choice of multiple playlists. In my estimation, the majority of people who buy the Shuffle do so to have something simple and small to use while exercising. I can't imagine using the controls on this new one while wearing gloves on a Winter run. At least with the one I have I can feel the ridges of the control circle thingy and generally it's easy to control even with a midweight glove on.

Furthermore (doesn't every rant need that word?) I can actually SEE the controls on my current Shuffle while wearing it, as it's either clipped to my waist or to the wrist of long-sleeved tops. I can't imagine that operating the new Shuffle is simplified by having the controls hanging on the cord of the headphones. No protection from rain or sweat on the headphone cord, either. I predict lots of runners battling shorted-out devices. I also predict that Apple will be logging this "innovation" as a FAIL within the next 6 months.

Bad Apple...BAD!

Whole lotta nuthin'

This is what I have accomplished today. It is dreary, windy, and snowing...again. For the love of kittens, why?! Haven't we had enough? I am so thankful that today is not a running day...I'm sure I would be high-tailing it to the treadmills at the gym if it were. Sure, today's weather is better than what we have dealt with for about the past 3 months, but after the tastes of relative warmth we have enjoyed off-and-on for the past few weeks this blustery, Arctic garbage is more than many of us can bear.

Perhaps looking at photos pretty, vibrant flowers can help distract me from all of the brown and gray and dirty white out the window....

Those pretty flowers at right have reminded me of another thing I am fond of -- RunningAHEAD.com's new Garmin integration. I have been remiss in not mentioning this sooner. I was fortunate enough to help the site owner (Eric the Awesome) beta test the uploader. It is fabulous. Previously I had been uploading my Garmin data to MotionBased.com, then transferring the #s to RA manually. I had no way to upload my routes and elevation profiles and splits, however. But now I set my Forerunner 305 on the cradle after each run and with a couple of clicks my run data is automatically entered to my RA running log, including distance, pace, time of run, mile splits, elevation data, routes, and heart-rate info.--should I ever decide to actually wear my HRM strap.

Speaking of other gadgety things. I was pretty bummed to find out this AM that Apple has completely redesigned the iPod Shuffle. The new ones have at least 3BG that I would never need/use, cost $30 more and now have no controls on the iPod itself, which requires that one use the Apple earbuds that come with the iPod, as the controls are on the cord, or something to this effect. I'm guessing these Apple headphones would work no better for me than the crappy ones that came with the 2 iPods I've owned (which were painful and fell out of my ears). I think I had my original 2nd gen. Nano for all of a week before I ordered a pair of the Sennheiser MX-75 earbuds (which are water-resistant and very comfy...customizable fit with silicone rings). The Sennheisers are also designed for good sound quality, but ambient noise still comes through clearly, so I can hear my music and audio books, but still hear cars, pedestrians, cyclists, birds, my own footsteps and breathing, etc.

Seriously, Apple...is making the Shuffle increasingly smaller really worth the loss of functionality? As it is, the current Shuffle is plenty small. I've never heard anyone complain of it being heavy or cumbersome. Heck, I know people who have lost them due to their diminutive dimensions. If hubby had not recently taken a 10% pay cut I'd be buying a second "matchbook" shuffle to stash in a drawer as backup. I'm hoping by the time my current little on-the-run jukebox dies that Apple will have regained some sense and returned to making a truly functional little portable digital audio device.

Another thing making me cranky...I'm still sore from my weight workout THREE days ago. What gives?! I had planned to do the same workout again, but my biceps are still really sore. I think I might do both ab workouts on the video, instead. That would amount to about 20 minutes of challenging core work, which should be plenty to make another part of my body hate me. And I had a godawful 4 miler yesterday...I think residual effects from that same workout. My legs were super stiff and sore, particularly my calves. Lately I feel like the most unfit marathoner on the planet. How does one run 40 mile weeks and still feel like a slug?

3.09.2009

Got DOMS?

(delayed onset muscle soreness) I do! This is not at all surprising. Yesterday was my first Cathe workout in...hmmm...probably a year or so. I can't get decent DOMS using the machines at the gym, but even a relatively low weight, high rep workout like the Muscle Endurance one I did yesterday makes for some tight, achey muscles. Yay! Though this did make for a stiff, slow 8 miler today. I'm looking forward to the metabolism boost that increasing my muscle mass will produce, as well as the lean lines--once my current overabundance of body fat starts to shrink away, of course.

Today's run was otherwise really nice. Sunny, light breeze, above freezing temps. I did make the mistake of choosing a route that takes me over a mile of sandy back road--a road which was under water in spots and sloppy squishy for the remainder. At one point I had to run up onto the snowbanked side to avoid running IN a few inches of cold, muddy water. Whoohoo, Spring!

The best part is looking at the forecast for the rest of the week...it's not predicted to be super warm, or anything, but there are no blasted snowflake icons anywhere to be seen--and plenty of Sun. Sun is something we don't see much of around these parts from about November through February. In face, the West MI coastline is on-par with Seattle for cloudy days...only Seattle has good coffee. I think I would be better equipped to handle the clouds if I had superior sources of caffeine.

3.08.2009

Summer dreams...

In my quest to find the perfect, practical, comfy bathing suit to fit my goofy bod and be supportive and stay put playing in the waves of Lake MI and at a nearby water park, I found this little Nike number. The color I would want (all other combos have a white bottom band, which I have found on other suits has a tendency to get yellowed from chlorine and sunscreens) is not available in any size, unfortunately...which I'm guessing is not an issue of them being sold-out, but due to it not yet being Spring bathing suit selling season and Nike carrying limited stock until closer to beach weather.

Me likey. Me wants. And the choice of coordinating bottoms are fun...skirts, boyshorts, bikinis.... I like the skirt shown at right. Camouflages the saggy, lower mom-gut the best and adds a bit of modesty. At 36 I no longer feel like parading my tushie for all to see. The suit is actually a separate top (only comes in D cups...about damned time that manufacturers start making separates with sporty, supportive designs for women with larger-than-average "girls") and bottoms (each piece is $44...not as cheap as the separates I'd find at Target--but Target doesn't carry anything to fit boobs much larger than a C cup, either. Nike stuff is generally really good quality and durable, too).

I know very few women who find that sets or one-piece suits work well for them. One half almost always seems to be a different size than the other. Or, like me, they have boobs that are disproportionate to their band size...small band and larger bust (my issue...this also makes finding sports bras a real challenge) or larger band and smaller bust. Then we get the top to fit and the bottom doesn't. At my ideal weight my top half is a medium and my bottom is XS/S.

I have sore spots on the sides of my upper torso/boobs where the underwires in my current bikini top dug in and nearly punctured the fabric. My last separates suit fit nice and lacked underwire, but if I bent over I risked boobies falling out. Not so good at water parks. Top on current suit harnesses the boobs, but is painful. The wires actually poke right on the spot where my drains scars are from my breast reduction. 5 years later and those scar areas are still a little sensitive.

Since I'm not one for laying on the beach I have been wishing for something that would be supportive and comfy...I'm thinking that top up there would be perfect. And it even comes as small as a 32D (it's in sizes 32-38D) for any of my fellow small ribcage/big boobs girlfriends. :D

The back is really cool, too...it has a traditional bathing suit clasp to make it easier to get on than it would look from the front, but also has adjustability of the back T-strap.

Today I did my Cathe Muscle Endurance workout, as I had planned. It went REALLY well. On some of the leg work I could almost certainly use the same weight she did...my legs are stronger than I give myself credit for. Arms were pretty much what I expected...I did about 2/3 - 3/4 the weight she did. I'm sure I'm gonna have some DOMS tomorrow, but I look forward to it. I can't get sore working out on the machines at the gym. Partly because they bore me...but they also offer limited range of movement and not enough variety. Give me some free weights and I'll start seeing visible results in a couple of weeks. And no dealing with smelly or rude people at the gym.

I think the two workouts on my new DVD (the other workout is a boot camp style workout) are going to be great cross-training for running. The slow/heavy sort of stuff that Cathe also does is probably not something that would be as beneficial as the lower weight, higher rep work on this DVD. The sorts of work on these two workouts is more aerobic and works a lot of the muscles that runners tend to neglect...arms, abs, back. Also some good quad work to help keep my knees strong and happy. And Cathe is just a fantastic "coach." She often does tours and someday I'd love to get in on one of her live workouts. Using her DVDs is like having a personal trainer in my living room--and she's not the least bit annoying...unlike Denise Austin. *gag*

If I get a craving for more slow/heavy work I may do one day of workout from this DVD and then maybe a day of my Muscle Max DVD...which isn't truly slow/heavy, but is a fairly intense moderate weight, moderate reps workout.

Ok, off to have a salad. I only have a couple of months before bathing suit season (there is a pool at the hotel where we're staying for Bayshore--I don't want my fellow marathon buddies to wonder how in the hell THIS body runs marathons!). ;)

I'm stalling

I really need to get down to business and do one of my new Cathe Friedrich workouts, but it's dreary and rainy for the 2nd day in a row and I'm still tired...stayed up too late and am short on sleep thanks to our night at Great Wolf Lodge a couple of nights ago and last night...then losing that hour for daylight savings. Bleh.

And I know that I am going to have DOMS (likely for days afterward) after doing these workouts, especially for the first few weeks. My next couple of runs (going into week 8 of training for Bayshore) are almost certain to be kind of unpleasant. Yes, I know...HTFU!

Today's workout will likely be the Muscle Endurance one. I don't think I'm ready for the Boot Camp workout...yet. I know that one's pretty brutal. Heck, most of her videos are, but that one has an especially lethal reputation.

I have the 8# medicine ball used in both workouts...but I think for now I'd better grab a 5# hand weight. I know from prior experience with Cathe's workouts that when just starting out I can really not do more than 1/2 to 2/3 the weight she uses and still maintain proper form and the full number of sets and reps. When she uses the barbell loaded with 40#s I load mine with 25-30 and still get one helluva workout.

But I gotta get more muscle tone. The running alone is not doing much for my weight loss and I like eating. I would rather eat the same amount and exercise more. I hate "dieting." Granted, I need to eat better (ie more veggies and fruits, which is easier as weather gets warmer and we enter growing season in MI), but I don't really care to eat less or "lite." More muscle = faster metabolism. I'd also like to have more defined arms...not these little t-rex wimpy things. And the stronger abs will definitely help in those later miles of the marathon when I'm shot and my torso tends to crumple forward.

Heh, speaking of the eating thing...I've done too much of that in recent days. When we weren't playing in the water park at the Great Wolf Lodge we were eating. I had my first buffalo burger (from a buffalo farm just a mile or so up the road from the resort). Man, that is GOOD. Like black angus beef, but even better. DELISH! Also had my first meal at Qdoba on the way home. Wow, everything I had heard is true. And it seems to be really healthy stuff. Not fried, not processed. I had a shredded beef and black bean burrito with salsa verde. My mouth was very happy. I will definitely have to make a point of hitting the one in Grand Rapids next time I am out that way.

The Great Wolf Lodge itself was very nice. Spacious, clean, comfortable room with a fridge and microwave, nice on-site restaurants, awesome water park, great staff. My only complaint was that the walls were paper thin and even though we were at least 3 doors down from the stairwell we could hear people coming up and down the stairs...sounded like thunder. And these were just people walking normally up the stairs. We will definitely return, though. Hubby was able to get a great discount on our room through a deal with his company...about half of regular retail. Too bad the deal is only a midweek Winter thing. I'd love to go in the Summer when the outdoor wave pool and sun deck are open.

On the way home we decided to take the scenic route and hit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Darn it...it was closed for the season. I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised, but it sure would have been nice for DS to be able to look down the massive dune. Last time we were there I was just a few months pregnant with him. Perhaps we will have to plan a Fall weekend getaway so that he can see the dunes before the park closes for Winter. I really love that entire Traverse City/Leelanau Peninsula area. It reminds me a lot of the area where I grew up (Door County, WI), but less overdeveloped, for the most part. I'd love to live up by all those cherries and Black Star Farms Winery, too. I loves me some BSF Arcturos dry riesling.

Maybe we can take the long way home after I run Bayshore in May. Though I certainly won't be up for going up or down the sand dune...I will stay in the car and sleep while the boys have fun on the dune. ;)

3.03.2009

Is it bedtime yet?

I am wiped out. Ran just shy of 16 miles today (15.7, to be exact). This was day 6 in a row of running, including yesterday's 8 miler and 2 7 milers last week...46 miles in 6 days without a rest day. Ow.

Today's run wasn't so terrible...just 3 hours of my legs feeling pretty stiff and dead. But I was able to enjoy the (chilly) sunshine and listen to the first half of Chelsea Handler's Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. audiobook. Awesome. Hilariously awesome. This was my first venture into the world of audiobooks. I have otherwise been listening to podcasts (mostly NPR, some WGN Chicago talk radio) on my long runs for almost the past year, but listening to entire books is really nice. Great way to kill two birds with one stone, too. I also have 2 David Sedaris books waiting in the wings, so now I am debating whether I should finish my current Chelsea Handler book via my computer. I probably will, since I am hooked. And it's not like there will ever be a shortage of new audiobooks to reserve from the library to listen to on the run....

Tomorrow DS is home with me all day, as his school is out for conferences for the remainder of the week (hence the screwy workout schedule). I may or may not doing some weight work. I did get the high step topper so that I can do my new Cathe DVD...but I don't think that would be a kind thing to throw at my legs right now. So I may just do the abs and/or upper body work on the disc. That's the thing that makes her DVDs worth the relatively high price. There are all sorts of pre-mixes and the ability to program custom mixes. Very nice.

DS and I also have hair appointments and a couple of other errands to run before heading out of town for our mini vacation at the nearest Great Wolf Lodge in 2 days, so we don't have the luxury of lying around in our PJs tomorrow, unfortunately. I think I have him talked into sleeping-in, though...phew!

Speaking of DS--we did his conference tonite. He's doing really fantastic in reading--a solid 3 years above grade level (no great shock, as his dad and I were always above-board readers), doing very well in spelling and Math--though he doesn't seem to love Math like he does other subjects (I can sympathize...a lot).

He also still has a hard time with penmanship. He writes legibly (finally), but it's a struggle for him, he can't write fast enough to keep up with his abilities, and his hand gets tired. Poor kid. Next year he's going to have to do a LOT of writing of paragraphs and daily long sentences, so that's something we need to work on over the next 6 months. At the very least we are going to work on some hand strengthening exercises, perhaps using one of those squishy stress balls.

I know penmanship and the ability to write are important, but I do also look forward to the day he can type such assignments. I'm a crummy typist and still type far faster than I write...which is important, since the words seem to flow from my brain faster than I could ever jot them down manually on paper. I already envision this being the case for Dane, as well. And I recall also getting frustrated writing by hand and developing a sore arm and hand from writing.

Ok...it is 9pm. Can I go to bed, now?