musings on running, life, and everything in between

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Trail Tuesday 

Because I can tend towards the self-destructive at times, I will ignore good advice and do what I want. There’s a part of me that believes that’s a sick part of being an endurance athlete…or at least the tension of negotiating what you WANT to do and what you SHOULD do. Recently on one of my running group pages, someone talked about having heart palpitations with their ultra running training and saw a doctor who questioned their extreme training. Briefly, there is a link between endurance sports and enlarged hearts. It’s believed, by some, that the strain of constantly pushing yourself to such limits damages your heart. I can’t get too much into the science of it, but you can find plenty of articles on it I’m sure. My brother-in-law’s father, who had run dozens of marathons, including one on every continent, was finally told he had to quit running altogether because it was too much of a strain on his heart. (That’s a nightmare of mine)

I was surprised by the number of people who chimed in with similar stories and different words of advice on how to handle it. Many suggested getting a different opinion, as well as work arounds for how they handled such a suggestion. The comment that stuck out to me, though, was one that questioned whether seeking a diagnosis from multiple doctors until you found one that said what you wanted to hear wasn’t akin to a junkie seeking out multiple doctors to get the drug scrip they wanted. Ouch. And all of this is to defend that I went trail running this weekend. Ha. Not EXACTLY the same as prescription drug abuse, but trust me there are plenty of multi-addicted folks out there running ha.

To be fair, this was a shorter long run (a “short” 12 miles) and it was just above freezing (hear the excuses?) so I thought this was my chance to do it. I’ve also been starting to worry about my lack of ultra/trail training. I’m concerned that my lack of training towards the Ice Age 50k will get me hurt racing…Although Patty and Jen would argue that this behavior might predispose me for getting hurt before. Pish posh! It was fine, although admittedly it was tougher than I thought it would be because of the snow and the above-freezing temperature. My pace felt faster than it was, which seems to be the case for trail running, and the snowed over ruts in the trail were a bit tricky at times (which raises a whole other thing about the responsibility of trail users to not go out on them when it’s soft because it’s destructive for them).

Let me back up a bit. I ran with Kelly, who I can only describe as a machine. This woman is a rock star and runs at like 3 am before she heads into work. She also just finished her first ultra event, the Chill Billy 8 hour event in a total mudfest. I mean, extreme, sucking mud. It took her that time to complete a marathon because it was such utterly slow going. She’s also signed up for her first 50k, the Ice Age, with me and Amy.

I hadn’t run with her in a long while, and hadn’t run alone with her in over a year! We vacillated back and forth about where to go–Bull Frog in Palos, Swallow Cliffs, or Waterfall Glen. Concerned about the trail conditions, we decided to try Swallow Cliffs, which has more multi-track and is more shaded (i.e., more likely to be frozen/snowed and not melted). We decided to go with Swallow Cliffs, my first time there! They are infamous for their crazy stairs, which we did one round of. I forgot to take a picture though.

Anyhow, we were surprised to see that we were the first ones on the trail. It was pristine that morning after the previous night’s snow. Well, pristine excepting the animal tracks. There were a whole mess of prints that we couldn’t identify (if you look at the two pictures on the right below). We decided based on the shape and size that maybe they were coyotes? Any trail trackers out there? I had thought coyotes weren’t ones inclined to travel in packs but I’m not sure.

The trail was mostly just snow-covered, although there were a couple of muddy, icy, or wet sections. This section was the worst, and Kelly and I both got a foot bath. Mud is good for the skin, right? For the shorter water crossings, my wool socks handled it fine, but the big dunking was enough to soak my socks and cause some chafing on my arch. Fortunately, it was only for the last 3 miles or so and not a huge issue. And yes, Kelly is wearing a running skirt! We did see several guys out there later wearing shorts so she wasn’t alone in her apparel choices 🙂

Lately, I’ve been forgetting my Garmin. Gasp, I know! I had to rely on Strava to track it, and it was WAY OFF. So Kelly was kind enough to forward me the data from her Garmin.


All in all, it was just over 12 miles and a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning. I’m not going to lie, my feet, Achilles, and calves were tight, but I don’t think I made a mistake going out there. If anything, it affirmed my need to continue to do some trail running so that I don’t hurt myself at the Ice Age or not meet the cutoff. I also need to start doing more ankle and footwork. I’m not going to lie, though, it all seems like a lot to fit in–the core work, strength training, drills/footwork, and running. It’s all going to the end of keeping me strong and healthy…and happy! So happy trails to you, my friends on this Tuesday!


Where My Body Falls Apart and I Grow Up

I woke up yesterday with a swollen LEFT ankle and stiffness–almost like it was a few days into recovering from a sprain. This is NOT the ankle/foot/leg I’ve been having issues with. What gives?! After running 8 marathons under 2 years with no injury? This reminds me of a theory that Mr. UnRunner (he’s back to not running, ha) has about massage. He refuses to get one because he believes that the tension is what keeps him together. Knock out one knot or muscle contraction and the whole thing tumbles like a Jenga puzzle. Perhaps all this enforced time off has forced my body to realize it’s time to collapse…

Let me back up, though. I saw Magical Craig twice this week. And he highly suggested I NOT race this weekend the F3 Half Marathon I’d signed up for months ago. He knows I’m prone to not listening to him when it comes to things like backing off on running, but I’m going to be a grown up and DO THE RIGHT THING. Which means, NOT run it–just in case you weren’t sure. Here’s why. Craig suggested I skip the cardio stuff this week, or the cardio stuff that would have impact. I tried a barre class on Wednesday thinking it was going to be low-impact. Wrong. It was an odd cardio version and there was a lot of jumping. My foot started bothering me during the class (more on the class in a bit). If just jumping jacks and dynamic lunges were bothering it, hauling out a half marathon would not be great. Craig did say I could finally try running on it Saturday to test it out, but I had to stop if it hurt. An out and back loop in a race doesn’t really fit well for that. I think I’d rather have a DNS (did not start) than a DNF (did not finish)…at least if it’s for an injury. I also know that I probably won’t accept the idea of not finishing and further set myself back. If I really want all this time off to count for something, I need to make sure I’m not continuing to draw out the injury. Growing up sucks. I’ve already scaled back for two weeks, I can’t take it much longer.

So, what does “recovery” look like when you can’t do cardio with impact or that involves alot of ankle (he also banned the ellipticals this week)? Well, you can swim (barf, but also more on that in a bit) maybe, or I forced Craig to let me at least cycle. Seriously, what else is there?? Here’s what the week looked like.

Monday: Botched 2. 5 miles

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Cardio barre class

Thursday: 50 minutes of cycling

Friday: Nothing right now…maybe some yoga or strength training.

It hurts me to look at that. I swear I’ve gained weight in the last two weeks. Depressing. I know it’s better to work all this out now, then, rather than potentially not running or finishing Boston. Still.

Here’s the scoop on some things I’ve been trying in the meanwhile.

1) I really like yoga, and doing a partial supported headstand against the wall is safer. I go to the studio when I can, but I also like to do some different yoga apps and YouTube videos.

2) After my second attempt at barre, I’m pretty sure I don’t like it. This class reminded me of a mom’s 80’s aerobics class. Except my mom didn’t do aerobics. So maybe YOUR mom’s aerobics class. I totally spaced and thought the class was almost over when I saw it was 9:55. When it was 10:04 and didn’t seem to be ending, I realized that we were only halfway through (the class started at 9:30). I almost wept in disappointment. You see, the reason I run is because I AM NOT COORDINATED. Following a variety of dynamic movements with garbled-sounding microphone directions, especially when I’m afraid of jumping on my right foot, was a nightmare. I still have one class left on my 3-class Groupon, though…so I’ll be back to torture myself (I’m also cheap about getting my money’s worth).

3) I really hate cycling inside. It feels indeterminately long. Give me a bike ride outside any day. Oh wait, I left the garage door open months ago and someone stole my bike. Sigh.

4) I need to learn how to cross train differently. i.e., swimming. Swimming is like the arch-nemesis of my athletic-ness. Well, after aerobics. So maybe it’s just a nemesis… Anyhow, I had a scary drowning-ish moment in a pool when I was a kid (think of getting fished out by the lifeguard but no resuscitation but lots of spitting out of water and maybe some vomit) so I tend to get panicky if I feel like I am getting too much water in my nose, or I don’t have control. To try and get over that years ago, I took private swim lessons and signed up for a super-sprint triathlon. I knew how to swim, but I wanted to learn how to feel comfortable in the water and work on my stroke, etc. The swimming portion of the triathlon got canceled because of too much bacteria in the water (I know, gross) so I never got to have my moment of triumph. And I’m still uncomfortable in deep water. So I’m considering signing up for a triathlon again to force myself to cross-train in the pool more. “Just” swimming for exercise sounds awful. I need something to hold me accountable and motivate me. Oh, and I’ll still need to buy a bike. And because I am friends with crazy people, someone’s already trying to egg me on to do a half iron distance triathlon in the fall. CRAZY.

It’s Friday. I’ll try and do a run tomorrow. And take stock from there. It’s hard recognizing that you have limits, and you need to take time to recover. I know I write about that alot, but it’s still hard to swallow. I need to listen to my body and take the time to do things right. Good luck to anyone racing this weekend and high fives to all those doing rehab/recovery work–in any sense.


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Why I won’t be trail running for a little while

I got the question, “Do you want to run Boston or do you want to run trails?”


I have now had my two main men (other my family, duh)–my magical myofascial trigger point massage guy, Craig, and my awesome running coach/massage guy, Bill–tell me that trail running was my downfall and I need to quit that sh*t out. For now anyway. Um, let’s not talk about the fact that I signed up for a 50k TRAIL ultramarathon one month after Boston, mmkay? I just need to focus on Boston right now. At least with ultras, you can run slower than molasses and no one will disrespect you (meaning, worst case scenario, I’ll just turtle it along). At Boston, however, my friend who ran it years ago told me that people seem to not cheer as loudly for you at the back of the pack. They assume you are a charity runner and didn’t really earn your way in. She had gotten pregnant after she qualified (and this was the good ol’ days where you could postpone your race entry a year) so she was running several months post-partum the following year.

Let me back up, though.

As you may recall, I took last week off to let my plantars be less angry. I ran 5 slow and easy on Jenny’s treadmill while watching a gnarly bear attack movie (Backcountry). It felt ok during and after. Although, I will admit that it felt like I had taken longer than a 5 day break. This led me to believe that I could try my long run, or at least attempt 9-10 of the 14-15 planned. I made plans to run Waterfall Glen with a friend, but she messaged me late Friday night saying she was coming down with whatever her kid had earlier in the week.

Admittedly, while I was disheartened to think of running a couple hours alone, I ultimately was glad to run alone. I got to stop and stretch and curse myself without anyone witnessing. Ironically, I did see a fellow BFF’er running by at one point. My calves both felt super tight, but my heel didn’t hurt during the run. I eked out a painfully slow and never-ending 10 miles. The thought of running anything more than that made me want to tear my hair out AND I was on a tight schedule.

I thought I had “gotten away” with my long run, but my heel and calves got steadily tighter during the day. I stretched and rolled and prodded, but I still had some twinge-ing Sunday morning. I opted for an hour of yoga at home, wherein I almost broke myself further in attempting a supported headstand in the middle of my bedroom. I discovered that I could get up but toppled over immediately, and belatedly realize I should probably have done it against a wall as I twisted to avoid landing on various furniture in my bedroom. Yeah, I’m definitely not the most astute person at times. The rest of the day was spent rolling, poking, and pinching my calves every opportunity I got. I began to wonder if my soreness was actually from my run or my obsessive jabbing.

Monday morning still tight. Since it was below freezing BEFORE windchill, I decided to forego the pain of running outside and ran again on Jenny’s treadmill. This time opting for Walking Dead, which about described the way I felt after running 2.5 miles. I had to stop because the pain was bad enough that I knew I was doing more damage than good. Thankfully, I had had enough sense to decide to call Craig and set up an appointment for later that day.

I saw Craig and the doctor he works with in the office. It was my first time meeting her and she was great. She assessed me and remarked that my “weak ankles” were not that, but my tendency to collapse my ankles in. She called it something, but I didn’t catch it. Essentially, it’s overpronation, your feet and ankle rolling excessively in. While some pronation is good and normal, too much causes your calves and lower muscles to work too hard and get irritated. Sound familiar? She had me stand up straight and pointed to my ankles sticking out further (ankle and leg should be in a straight line), as well as my calluses (on the outer part of the balls of my feet) and my baby bunion. The trail running probably exacerbated the issue exponentially. So I have orthotics to immediately correct the issue.

I do not like orthotics. In fact, since reading Born to Run, I’ve worked really hard to get away from the stability shoes I’ve worn and move towards more neutral, and partially minimal shoes. With great success I thought. But perhaps it was just luck. I was remarking to Craig earlier that it was hubris, noting how so many runners I knew dealt with plantar fasciitis and thinking how great it was that I was so amazing to not get it. HUBRIS. Anyhow, I got the orthotics to wear for now. I have already started Googling away exercises to fix the issue in the long view. I don’t want to rely on orthotics to compensate for an issue I’d prefer to correct. I get that my current foot/ankle/leg stuff is creating this issue, but I also feel that unless it’s something structural I can correct it…There is a good information page on the BOSU website with exercises. I have to confess, though, that the mere fact that they used the WRONG FORM OF BREAKING–your big toe breaking is very different than it BRAKING–is physically keeping me from linking the page for you. I have standards you know.

Craig went through his usual repertoire of torture techniques. One major difference between him and Bill is that Craig uses a full gauntlet of tools to make you acquiesce. He will be using his crazy sound machine on me probably Wednesday, but today I only got the manual knobs and jabbers. In all seriousness, Craig doesn’t want me writhing in pain. Just a little uncomfortable. I’m the one that tries to gut it out. Cuz I’m sick and I think that more pain equals more bang for my buck. Sick.

One big thing I learned today was about how to use self-massage. I have vague ideas and many tools for doing home treatment. What I DIDN’T know, though, was when to use just pressure and when to roll. I should use both, but I use prolonged (at least 30 seconds) pressure first on a spot that seems too painful to roll. I need to actually get the muscle to release a little bit to maximize the benefits of rolling. So my random, haphazard jabbing and rolling this weekend wasn’t as effective because I wasn’t giving my muscles a real chance to release. Oh, another tidbit I learned. When your muscles get all tight and irritated, he called it “armoring.” I kind of liked the visual of my muscles getting all suited up. Haha. Oh wait, that’s a bad thing.

Long story short, I’m out of any cardio exercising until Wednesday, when I’ll see Craig again. Patty pointed out to me that I could still do core work to do SOMETHING. She’s so wise. I have a half marathon race this Saturday. Not sure what’s in the cards for that. I wasn’t really concerned about racing it per se, but it would help my mental state to be able to do a long run. Feel free to chime in with thoughts, resources, corrections (ahem, Craig), etc. And wish me luck…


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So…Saturday’s long run was rough. I started having pain in my heel and my right calf felt like it was going to snap because it was so tight. Not good. I limped around the rest of the day because both my calves were so sore and tight after. Argh. I have not had to deal with a running injury (sans various sprained ankles) in a long while. I guess that streak can only go so long though.

I made the big girl decision of taking most of this week off from running and trying a short run on Friday to see if I can get up to speed for the long run Saturday. If Friday’s run doesn’t go well, I’ll forego the long run this week. Better to take the time now to deal with this before training really takes off. I hate it.

This means I have done some of the first cardio cross training and gym workouts in a long long time. I will do a workout video or various exercises at home, but I have really gotten away from the gym. Well, my friends, the gym has changed! There are sorts of newfangled cardio machines out there! I felt like a newbie. However, it was also cool to see how much has changed.

WhenI don’t run, I usually do the elliptical as a good substitute. Mostly because I can read on there. However, the elliptical type machines have changed. Now you can do all sorts of different movements in the middle of moving instead of just the same plane and level. There’s one that I’ve done that lets you change your stride and form while stepping up and down. In the past I’ve hated it because it feels like my legs are all over the place and I can’t get any kind of rhyme or reason to my movement. This time I was brave and did a better job. I even did a long stride that made me feel like a Kenyan with their super gazelle moves.

I hate the stair master. However, the new ones (that are actually revolving stairs) were more tolerable. I also felt better that I was working my weak glutes.

But this…this was the piece de resistance. This is a crazy elliptical type machine that works your lateral muscles. Hello hips and glutes! You can adjust your lateral width to work different muscles. You can also change the way you’re standing to switch up muscle groups and sides as well. Woah. It was hard. Like I decided to not overkill and only used it for 20 minutes hard. I will definitely be coming back to do this. 

For your dizzying pleasure I have included a horrible video to try and show you how it looks.

While I can’t say that I’m loving all this stuff in place of running, I can’t help but feel some satisfaction that this forced rest is taking place during a week of single digit temps. I am definitely not missing the “realfeel” -11 degrees today. 
I also saw Bill this weekend at Roadrunner and bought some new, cushier shoes–the Saucony Triumph. I tried on the Hoka Clifton but didn’t like them all that much. I also ended up really liking a pair of Nike Free (RN Distance) but they were really more for speedy days. While Jen did buy two pairs of shoes, I stuck with just one since I have a pair of Kinvaras I still need to rotate in.

Anyway, off to yoga and trying to p/rehab (I’m pretending it’s prehab and not rehab for my foot/leg). Feel free to check in with other ideas.


Friday Failures

In the last two days–actually on Wednesday, I discovered two things: 1) I couldn’t put my full weight on my right heel when I got out of bed and 2) my semester was starting a full week earlier than I had been thinking. Epic fails.

Wednesday morning, I got out of bed and could barely put weight on my right heel. My right ankle/foot had been bothering me a little bit, feeling super tight, but I thought little of it. The minute I realize I had heel pain, my mind flashed to plantars fasciitis. I’ve never had it, never really looked into it, so I wasn’t even sure if I was on to something. However, I had heard people say that the pain was the worst immediately after getting out of bed.

I’m not going to lie. I thought with all my form stuff and partially minimal shoes, etc., I was “immune” from this common runner’s injury. So I started Googling the heck out of it and messaging the friends who’ve dealt with such issues in the past. The most useful link in my VERY brief Google searching was actually on Wikipedia (here), mostly because I liked the image of the various locations and degrees of pain. I had thought plantars happened more along the arch and midpoint of the foot. When I saw that it was most concentrated smack in the flat of the heel, I freaked out. I quickly flipped through various strategies of dealing with it–rocking back and forth and keening in horror was one. I went with contacting my running coach/massage therapist/nerd of all trades, Bill Underwood. I knew he would be able to give me some ideas as to WHY I got it, treat it, and give some tips on treating it further. I’m not going to lie, if I already have a good idea what the issue is, I’d rather bypass the whole doctor/PT thing and go straight to my own remediation plan. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to go somewhere X times a week and pay someone to watch me do exercises I could do at home…

Getting a massage from Bill is like childbirth. Unmedicated childbirth. You know it will be rewarding, but it’s painful as f*. There is screaming and cursing, though no tears. Or blood. There is sometimes bruising. But he’s awesome and it works. He’s also funny and free-flowing with the running advice and nerd talk.

Anyhow, we did a rundown of why I was getting plantars now when I “hadn’t” changed much. Um. Except, it turns out I had. I have been doing suddenly some longer trail runs. Oh, and the last two trail runs were in new shoes. Oh, and I’m switching up shoes that are drastically different (stability vs neutral). And I’m still heel-striking like a mofo…So. Yeah. Bill was like, “Um, just going for all the stuff, huh?”

Ok, so let’s start with the trail stuff. Whenever you drastically/significantly switch up running surfaces, you want to be careful. Different surfaces require different things of your feet and legs. Sudden long mileage (ahem, particularly in new shoes) on a different surface doesn’t give your body enough time to adapt. I also foolishly believed that switching to another minimal type trail shoe (Altra Superior) would be okay without a huge breaking in process, because I was already running in partially minimal shoes and the trail would make it okay (for some reason, I want to act like the trail is a “buffer” for things…yeah, no logic).

I also tend to have a “stable” of shoes I rotate through a lot, because I’ve read that can be better for you–having more than one pair to rotate through. So, this is my shoe collection from the semester. To be fair, I was getting ready to rotate two pairs out, one was a mostly recovery pair, and one was a pair I kept mostly from cross-training. But still…


Row 1: Saucony Kinvara 5 (both, although I swear that white one is different). Row 2: Saucony Guide, Brooks Pure Cadence, and Newton Energy.

The Kinvara’s are hands down my favorite. I like the Brooks Pure series, but I’ve read they’ve been getting narrower in their updates so I’ve avoided them (I’ve run in the Flow and the Cadence). I WANT to like Newtons, and I liked the Gravity ok though it felt a bit clunky at times. The Energy are more streamlined, but I found them lackluster. And the Guides were an attempt to actually listen to what the “experts” say, which is that I should wear a stability shoe. They felt really chunky, though, and have the highest heel drop in the lot (8 mm) so I’d been using them primarily for recovery runs. However, I decided to take them to California last weekend (I was visiting my sister and her new baby, post to come on that) and wear them on my long run (13-14 miles). I can’t remember my reasoning for it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the most logical or rational-thinking at times… I think it was because my ankle had been wonky and I thought they would better support them? Yeah, bad idea.

In my training journal for those runs, I wrote that I hated the Guides. They feel really big and that it forces a heavier heel strike from me. Bill scolded me for switching between so many neutral shoes and a stability shoe, and then throwing in the trail shoe and the trail running, my legs and feet were PO’ed about all the changes I was throwing at them. So I need to make up my mind and decide if I’m stability or neutral. I’m going with neutral, but I also know that I am by nature a heel striker, and somewhat uneven in my strike as well. See picture below.


I didn’t have a photo of the heels before I donated them, but you can see from the tread on the lugs of these Newtons, that I’m pushing more heavily from my left foot. Being asymmetrical in running is never good–especially for distance runners.

Because I know I’m a heel striker and this is putting a lot of load on my heels/calves/feet, Bill really encouraged me to make sure I was activating my glutes by either raising my knees higher or really thinking about kicking back when I run and really trying to get on my midfoot. I’m over-relying on smaller muscles in my lower legs and being inefficient in my form, which is causing all kinds of wacky things. I also need to stretch seriously and rekindle my romance with the Grid roller and my Orb. I’ve been getting lazy, which was obvious to Bill as he tried to break my ITB in half and then proceeded to gouge my very tender hips (something I wasn’t aware was tight or sore, sigh).

So. Plan of action. Stick with neutral shoes. I think I’m going to try and see Bill at Roadrunner Sports where he works this weekend to try some new ones. Work on my form. Fit in yoga at least once a week. Foam roll/massage like crazy. And I took two days off from running. I even *gasp* cross-trained. Seriously, that was the first time in almost a year. Bill doesn’t think it’s plantars yet, just angry tight feet and legs, but I need to get on it if I don’t want it to get there.

Anyhow, gonna head out and try to do a short run to test the waters before tomorrow’s long run. And it’s misty raining. Great. Happy Friday everyone! And hope you get out there and do something.


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Pool running and proof that Jen still runs with me

I’ve had ALOT of friends deal with injuries the last year or so. I honestly think that my semi-regular massage work and my fixation with foam rolling can take a good deal of credit for me being relatively injury-free. That is not to say, though, that I’m not constantly aware of every extra bit of tightness or creakiness. I really like all the “prehab vs. rehab” stuff I’ve been seeing lately. That’s why I found this post about pool running so fascinating. It actually starts with a story about two ultra runners that do a fair bit of pool running as part of their cross-training. Pool running is usually relegated to the domain of those who CAN’T run and are already injured. These folks use it regularly as part of their running/training regimen. I was fascinated. I like the article alot because it provides a variety of ways you can tackle pool running from my version–running back and forth in chest-high water while pushing/pulling my kids (i.e., sneaking in a workout without them knowing) to the more familiar weighted vest/best deeper water to ankle-deep water running. Either way, if you’re in the pool a good amount this summer, there’s some things to try out!

This morning was a 10 mile run with 5×1000’s at 5k pace with recovery in between. Yup, Fun times. In 80-degree weather with alot of humidity. Thankfully Jen had 5×1200’s on her plan with a 2 mile warm up and 1 mile cooldown, so we did most of my 10 miles together. For those uninitiated into the joys of track workouts, most standard tracks are 400 meters and 4 laps are a mile. Usually with intervals, a good recovery is half the distance or half the time of the interval (depending on your goals, etc.). Today’s recovery time for me was supposed to be 50-90% of my interval time. Here’s the splits. My goal 5k time (according to this convertor for my marathon goal time) is 22:22, which translates into a 7:12 time. Based on my over-involved calculations, I think that means I needed to hit a 4:30 for 1000m.

Lap 1   4:29

Lap 2   4:37

Lap 3   4:41

Lap 4   4:41

Lap 5   4:41

Sadly, you can see that I only hit it for the first lap. To my credit, I had a different time in mind based on a different calculator I was looking at before I left the house (ahem, at 5:45 this morning, sigh). But I realized prepping for this post, that I was looking at the wrong thing. I think I could have pushed it a little harder for at least a few more laps if not all of them. I really dislike intervals, but nothing works up a sweat like some nasty fast runs on the track. I’m not a naturally fast (nor inclined towards fast) runner, and I often find them somewhat demoralizing. In some ways, that’s why I like speed/interval workouts based on feel rather than specific times. On Bill’s marathon plan two years ago, his speed workouts were based on just going as hard as you (un)comfortably can. I might go with a combination of time and feel this time around.

Anyhow, here’s a lovely shot of the sun rising behind Jen on the track.

On a side note, we talked about how her form is pretty good. She has a good natural lean forward (something she didn’t know was actually good) and good stride. One thing I’ve noticed is that she tends to shrug her shoulders up a bit, which gives her a cute “little engine that could” look, haha. It doesn’t seem to impact her too much, though. You lose a little bit of energy, but there are worse things (like my swinging arms across my body, ha). 

Anyhow, I forced her to take a selfie with me, so we took turns looking goofy.

It’s going to be a hot one today, so stay cool!

What kind of speed training do you do? How do you mentally work through hitting splits (or not)?

P.S. My husband has been mentioning that he sees a fair amount of “grammer” (sic) mistakes in my writing in these posts. I will need to proof them better! I follow some blogs of former teachers-turned bloggers and when I see typos/grammar stuff/etc it drives me nuts. Feel free to point them out!

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Cuz even God took a day off

Yesterday was a very well-deserved (in my humble opinion) rest day. And I was thankful since God decided it would be really hilarious to punch us in our hopeful spring gut with 4 inches of snow. So I walked out into this. I was grateful to have done the 20 miler the day before at least.

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I decided to get a massage. I have wonky ankles. Like my ridiculously small wrists, I have small and weak ankles (which only serve to accentuate my radish leg calves, sigh). I used to sprain them every year. No joke. Thankfully I’ve been doing some strengthening, being more careful, and keeping up with their general maintenance, so it happens less frequently. Most recently, I was seeing someone for myofascial trigger point massage therapy (message me if you want his info!). He uses this crazy sound machine (similar to ultrasound except it’s sound waves), which sounds like a doppler radar when it encounters inflammation and can hurt like the dickens. He’s pretty focused on treatment, though, and I decided I needed more of an all-around tune-up so I went to see Bill.

I’ve also been working with a massage therapist (Bill Underwood)), in my chiropractor’s office the last 2 years or so. He doesn’t work in that office anymore, but he does massage out of his home on Chicago’s northside–as well as working as a running coach and for Roadrunner Sports in Chicago. If you want results, and you don’t mind a massage that makes you want to curl into the fetal position and weep softly, Bill is your guy. He zeroes in on your tight and tender points like children to cookies. I had been having some weird tightness around my left knee, and he went to town on my left hip and IT band (which I did not realize were tight). It’s awesome that he’s a massage therapist, running coach, and big runner as he knows what will get tight, what causes what, and what to do to keep you moving. I did joke during it, though, that I have fantasies about getting bodywork done where I don’t cringe in pain or want to cry during it. Maybe after the spring marathon…If this kind of masochistic treatment is right down your alley, you can contact him at  I do believe that regular massages last year kept me running un-injured through all 4 marathons (I think folks call that prehab).

It was funny, though, we ended up talking alot about various runners we follow and some of the races that just happened like the LA Marathon. And we ended up talking about my pet project, which is following (and fan supporting) more American distance runners of color. I realized that during the Boston Marathon, everyone was really hyped up about Kara Goucher, but Desi Linden (nee Avila) totally ran better than her. Yet there was very little press around her, and I began to wonder about it. And you can see this similarly in the adoration of Ryan Hall (although his spectacular attempt to return to the marathon in LA, only to drop out after his wife passed him, indicates this is flagging) I know that distance running in general (in America) tends to be a very white sport, but that’s all the more reason to support runners of color. So at some point, Bill (who is African-American) and I might work on something together…like some horribly ill-named blog like “these colors do run.” Stay tuned.

Finally, because I work a little distance from home, I spend a good amount of time in the car. Most of my radio time is spent listening to Chicago Public Radio. I caught the Afternoon Shift yesterday, and there was a segment on there about “streaming infidelity,” “cheating” on your friend or partner by watching something without them, even though you may have promised or indicated you’d watch something together (and you’re a mean, weak-willed individual who can’t control yourself from the promise of instant gratification and on-demand viewing). Th  at last bit is my own commentary on myself, ha, as I may (or may not) have just done this to my husband. It was an interesting bit, though, about how technology has changed our viewing habits and some psychological/couples talk about what it really means to the person wronged by the other’s viewing habits. You should check it out if you can here. And here’s a random shot I took of one of my favorite driving bits in Chicago–under the el on Lake St. It’s totally like a video game! 2015-03-23 16.19.31

So have you ever “cheated” on your partner or friend by watching ahead in a show without them? Do you think it’s a big deal?

Who are your favorite American distance runners of color?