Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Happy Halloween!

My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the terrible storm on the east coast; I hope life returns to normal for you all very soon.

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I can't figure out this running thing.  After struggling for so long, I had my best long run yet on Saturday.  Who knows why - I can't believe it really boils down to temperature, although everything seems to point that way.  We ran 11 miles and pretty much everything about the run was perfect, from the very cold morning temperature of 44 degrees, to the amount of layering I guessed at wearing (it's been so long since I've had to wear warmer clothes that I'd forgotten what I should wear), to the not-quite-as-hilly route, as well as our fueling along the way (we've thrown in a Honey Stinger Waffle, or cookie as Jeff calls it, in place of one of the GUs), and our steady pace - the only glitch was the dead deer lying on the side of the road that startled me when we came upon it in the dark (poor little Bambi). 

The run went so well that we kept being surprised when our Garmins rang in another mile - we hit 4 miles, and then it was 7, and then 9, and boom - we were done!  A run like this does so much to not only restore the faith in my running ability, but also is a huge confidence booster for our upcoming race.  If I can run 11 miles, surely I can run 13.1, right? 
I ran more miles than I have fingers, so I had to hold up my Garmin to show the distance!

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Yesterday Jenny and I had a good run.  Finally!  It was another cool morning - just 40 degrees when we set out.  We walked for about half a mile to warm up, and then set out to run 3 miles by way of 1.5 out and 1.5 back.  As it turned out, most of the way on our "out" path was downhill, which of course meant that we'd be running uphill the whole way back.  We ran in comfortable silence for a while, and then I said "If I were Oprah, I'd have a driver waiting at the bottom to take us back up to the top."  Jenny countered with "If I were Oprah, I'd have someone else do this run for me" - that's Jenny, always thinking a couple of steps ahead!  Since neither of us magically turned into Oprah, we finished the entire run with an average pace of 12:37, which, considering how we've been running together lately, is a miracle.

Tomorrow I'll get another 2 miles in, although not with Erica, as she hasn't been feeling well.  Luckily for me, Jeff is in town this week so I'll run with him.  And then, one more long run on Saturday, followed by several hours of a coma.  We live the wild life, yes we do!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Running - Why in the WORLD Do I Do This?

Why do I run?  Why do I do something that hurts, not only during the long run, but for a couple of days afterward as well?  Why do I run when my muscles ache, my wonky ankle protests, and my left foot hurts so badly that I can't wear most of my shoes?  Why do I run when I spend much of the first mile trying to not hyperventilate?  Why do I run when I'm one of the slowest people in my running club, as well as in the local 5K races?  What kind of fool would do this to herself?

You might be wondering what I'm getting out of all this - I admit, from the outside, it sounds pretty miserable.  Heck, some days it IS miserable.  But, truth be told, I like it.  Getting up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning.  Meeting a bunch of like-minded people at a park, before the sun has risen, and setting off together on a long run, no matter how hot and humid it is, how hard it's raining, or how cold it might be.  We're runners, and this is what we do.  Running toughens you up - we might complain about the weather, but we do so WHILE we're getting ready to run.  I like that I don't let things like the weather, or how comfortable my bed feels when my alarm goes off, stop me.  I like knowing that my running club peeps are out on the same course, working as hard as I am.  I like that we all come together afterward with a sense of pride as we revel in the fact that we conquered yet another long distance.

I like that I am following a training plan in my goal to running a half marathon.  I appreciate having friends who are willing to run with me during the week to help me stay on track.  It's definitely been a challenge, from sweating it out during the summer runs, to doing hill workouts (something I skipped last time I trained), to completing each and every long run as the distance has increased.  Our training program started in June, and I'm still going strong.  Last go-round, I made it just over four months before I got injured and had to stop running.  The end is in sight now...after nearly six months of training, we are just two weeks away from running the San Antonio Rock and Roll half marathon, six weeks from the end of this season of running club, and with that, our goal race of the BCS Half Marathon on December 9th - and I'm obviously feeling a little reflective about my running experience.

Even though my body hurts, I still run. I like TO run, and I like that I CAN run.  I like how I feel once I get into my groove with running, and I like how I feel when I'm done.  I like knowing that even though I have tons of support, both in person and online, when it comes down to it, running is all me.  No one is going to tow me to the finish line, nor am I going to ride anyone's coattails - every mile that I run is because I am pushing my body to move forward in a somewhat speedy motion.  I'm running, and I marvel at that fact, because I didn't used to be the kind of person who would push herself to do uncomfortable things.  It's hard to explain how good you can feel while doing something that is such a physical and mental challenge, but that's the lure of running, and that's why I choose to do it.
 
For me, running is more than having that medal put around my neck after I cross the finish line.  It's the fact that I worked so hard to get to the start line.  Over and over, I got up and ran the miles that were on the plan.  And as our Saturday long runs got longer and longer, I kept going - and discovered the true definition of gutting it out to the end even when my body said I was done.  Running does not come easy to me, nor does it come without a lot of aches and pains.  But every time that pain makes me doubt myself, I think about how hard I've been working to get to this point and how strong I'm becoming - and that's why I do this crazy thing called running.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Mishmash

I made toast for breakfast this week, just so I could open up a jar of my homemade peach jam.  I think I'm down to three jars and will be sad when they are all gone.  Next summer, when peaches are back in season, I'll have to make a lot more - it's THAT good!

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Sit and Knit update:  I bought some acrylic yarn to make baby hats to donate - hospitals require that the hats are washable, so I went with the easy stuff.  Love how the yarn striped itself:
 I didn't put a pompom on it because I wasn't sure how well it would hold up to a washing machine.  But I think the hat looks sweet, anyway.

This is a newborn size, and I have enough to make either one more in that size, or I could possibly squeeze out two preemie sizes (if I can find a pattern that corresponds to the yarn).  Here's a confession:  I also bought another skein of the acrylic yarn with every intention of making more baby hats for donation...but I love the colors and am thinking about making a hat for myself instead.
The only things holding me back are lack of an adult pattern for this size yarn, and also I'm wondering if the acrylic will give me a massive case of static electricity with my hair - I'm not really a hat wearer, so I don't know - would wool do the same thing?

I started knitting a sweater on Wednesday.  It's the same yarn that I from last summer, when Debby helped me get going on a different sweater pattern.  But I set it aside when I came home (I had baby blankets to make!) and when I finally picked it back up, I was pretty lost.  So I found a different pattern that thousands of people had used with success (that's the cool thing about Ravelry.com - you can see what people have made and read their comments about the pattern, yarn, etc. to see if it's a good match for you) and got started with it.  Now, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants knitter and can't be bothered with things like a gauge swatch, which helps with sizing, so I have no idea if this will actually fit me...but hey - I figure it will fit someone that I know, and in the meantime, I'll get good practice at knitting a sweater!  I had a little trouble with the one buttonhole, but got help from my running/knitting friend, Cary, and was back to knitting it again after a couple hours.  Then, I ran into a part that intimidated me and I hemmed and hawed about continuing, but finally decided that at worst, I'd have to unravel it - and it's not like I haven't done THAT time after time - so I plunged in and did it!  Here's what I have so far:
It kinda reminds me of Cleopatra's collar, but I promise, this is the beginnings of a sweater.

I'm also knitting some small things for Christmas (which I can't show you yet as certain recipients read my blog), and I'm working on my one bigger Christmas present.  I like having several projects going at once, because some of them require a lot of concentration (like the sweater) where I have to refer to the pattern often and, repeat the sequence out loud as I knit - so there's no TV or other distractions on.  But others, I can just knit away, and that's when I get to clear out my DVR or watch something on Netflix.  And this is probably more than you care to know about my knitting process, I'm sure!

Finally, here's a picture of baby Helen wearing her newest hat:
Such a cutie!  And there's room to grow with this hat, which was my intention...she lives in Minnesota and it's COLD out there!

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I really appreciate all the comments on Monday's post - it looks like we all struggle with finding clothes that fit well.  Nice to know that I'm not alone...and I hope that in the future, we ALL can have esteem-boosting success in the dressing room!
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After one last hurrah of near 90 degree temperatures on Thursday, a cold front blew in overnight, and we are going to be chilly for the foreseeable future - which means that tomorrow's 11 miler will be done in the upper 40s - and you better believe I'm doing a happy dance about that!  Ahhh...I'm not going to focus on the distance; I'm just going to enjoy running in cool weather for a change!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - 10 Miles

Remember when I wrote that you'll never come here and see me write "I had an easy XX mile run today"?  Yeah.  Running long distances is just not easy for me.  Case in point, the 10 miler we had on Saturday.  We ran a different route, and while it started off pretty well - in fact, good enough that I began thinking "OK, I'm about ready for that half marathon in three weeks" - it ended up being pretty dang hard.  It was a very hilly route and the backs of my legs were aching while I was running...never a good sign to have sore muscles during the run.  At one point, just past mile 6 or 7, had there been an errant foam roller just laying on the side of the road, I swear I would have stopped to work on my achy body.  This was definitely a run where I had to grit it out to the end - I am discovering some inner strength that is helping to propel me along when my physical energy feels like it's not there anymore.  Any case, I finished...10 running miles (as opposed to 10 run/walking miles the previous week) is in the books:
Ten plus hills equals one tough run.

Notice anything different in that picture?  Besides the flip flops - no, I didn't run in them (although one man recently ran a marathon in flip flops, how crazy).  Capris!  It was cool enough that I got to wear capris under my running skirt!  Perfect temperature to start - about 54 degrees.  Ahhh...now THAT is the weather we've been waiting for!

I spent the rest of the day lazing around, watching some football (the Aggies ended their game with a last play of hot potato...watch this video - it was hilarious), and stretching, taking Motrin, icing my foot and rubbing my arsenal of topical creams on my sore foot and ankle.  Yes, I am a hot mess on Saturdays!

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Here's something that I've been struggling with:  for whatever reason, when I run with Erica on Thursdays, we do our 2 mile route without stopping - we run slow, sure - but we get it done without fail.  But lately, when Jenny and I run, we have more stops than either of us would really like, and except for a great 3 miler a few weeks ago, I wouldn't say our Tuesday runs have been all that wonderful.  Don't get me wrong - the company is excellent, but we can't seem to find the groove we once had.  So yesterday, we decided to do a hill workout along with some running. 

We did a half mile walking warmup, and then four hill repeats on the same hill that I did them on with the running club over the summer.  Holy crap, was that difficult...I felt like I'd never done them, and I was doing twice as many just a few months ago.  Amazing how fast I lost my hill stamina, even though I've been running longer and longer distances.  We definitely need to be doing these more often.  Anyway, after we finished them, we ran on a flat straight road for a while; then took a walking break.  I was out of breath - we probably should have left the hill repeats for the end of the run.  We ran some more, walked some more, and ended up covering about 3.5 miles, but again, it wasn't quite what either of us were happy with.  I'm at a loss - we keep trying to get a good solid run in, but it's just not happening.  Any suggestions from my running readers?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Surviving Clothes Shopping

When I was overweight, I hated shopping for clothes.  Well, wait - I liked shopping for clothes, but I was either with normal-sized people and we were in stores where nothing would fit me, or I was shopping in the plus-sized section, where yes, things fit, but I didn't particularly like how I looked in them.  So this was a big motivator for me, as I was losing weight, to go try on clothes and see what new size would fit.  I had some pretty exciting dressing room moments, as I dropped from a size 24 to an 18, to a 14, and then when I finally was too small (!!!) to fit into the plus sizes altogether - now that was a huge milestone.  I was normal...NORMAL!!!

One thing I didn't expect, being a long-term dieter, was that my body shape would end up being different than it was when I was 20 and thin.  I'd had it in my head, during all those years of being overweight, that if I could just lose the weight, I'd look the same as I did when I was 20. 

It didn't happen. 

Too many years of pushing my skin in the wrong direction, too many years of storing fat around my middle, plus, I'm sure, a bit of natural aging contributed as well - the end result was that I didn't recognize this body.  Not going to lie - while I was thrilled to be smaller, I was also disappointed that I didn't look how I thought I would.  Even with all the exercise I was doing when I worked out with my trainers didn't change certain things.  It's taken me a while to come to terms with how my body looks now, and figure out what works for me, clothing-wise, and what - no matter how cute - just doesn't.

So now, when I shop for clothes, I have a few sanity-saving rules, because otherwise, it's amazing how one bad day of trying on clothes can make me feel like I'm right back at my starting weight; and yet, the very next day, I can have a great day of trying on clothes and feel like a million bucks.  Here are my rules:
  1. Ten pairs of pants/jeans is my try-on limit for the day.  You pretty much know when you've found a pair of pants that fit; for me, if I can't find anything within the ten, I'm usually hot and tired and either try to talk myself into something that isn't perfect for me, or I get disgusted with my body.
  2. I have to love it.  Now that the majority of what I try on fits, I have more options and am no longer stuck with "well, this is the only one that fits so I'll buy it" thing that quite honestly, WAS my life for a long time.  So if I don't completely love what I'm trying on, I don't buy it.  
  3. Know what I'm comfortable in, and only try on those styles.  Sure, it sounds like I'm not being open to new things, but really - I don't like my upper arms and therefore will not wear a sleeveless top in public.  I just won't - so why waste time trying something on when I know I won't leave the house in it?
Along with these rules, here are the other things I consider as I shop for clothes:
  1. Fabrics.  My body has lumps and bumps, and as I'm not willing to wear smoothing shapewear (hello, hot Texas weather), I've discovered that heavier fabrics - twill and denim vs. thin cotton, and heavier knits vs. fine guage - make me look better.  
  2. Patterns.  On the top, they help camouflage my belly.  I still have to be careful not to go too "old lady" with patterns, as I have always been drawn to bright florals, which my close friends have gently pointed out to me are not in my age demographic.  No patterns in pants, though - that's an area that I don't want to draw any extra attention to.
  3. Cut.  I have one skirt, bought a few years ago at Target, that I like.  Last fall, I tried to find another, and absolutely despised how I looked in every single one I tried on.  My shape is odd for skirts, but I discovered, with the purchase of my favorite Adidas running skirt, that the dropped waist, lightly-pleated look works for me.  Now that I know this, I'll look for a regular skirt in that style.  Understanding how certain cuts of clothing work for me saves me a lot of angst in the dressing room.
And the most important thing to know? 

It's not me, it's them.

Saying that this article of clothing doesn't work for me, instead of saying "Oh I'm so fat, I can't find anything that fits, my thighs/butt/stomach are horrible" - NO.  There are a lot of clothes out there that are not right for me - the manufacturer/designer didn't do a good job of making it for ME.  Turning the tables on the offending clothing - instead of feeling bad that my upper arms are squeezed into this particular top, I can see that the designer messed up on proportions - has helped me immensely.  I realize that not everything is going to fit me - after all, we all have different body types - but I know that lots of cute clothes are out there that will fit me, and I'll look pretty good in them.  I just have to find them, and not settle for less.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Mishmash

Why does trial and error have to contain so much error?  I found out the hard way that if you cut fleece in one direction of the fabric, it rolls onto itself, shreds, and makes a terrible mess.  Since I am not good at estimating what I need I'd bought plenty of fabric and was able to do another cut in the right direction.  The result?  This crazy rasta topper for the hat I knitted for baby Helen:
 
This is a bigger size than the other one I made for her; hopefully she'll get some decent wear out of it.  I love the crazy fleece topper - it was a challenge to get it on, but I think it came out so cute.  

I also knitted a newborn-sized striped hat for baby Davis, to match his striped baby blanket:
I need to get this to his mom soon so he can start wearing it - and also get my baby fix.

Honestly, I still can't quite believe that I am able to knit in the round and make baby hats!  They really are fun to knit and I can get one finished in a few hours, provided I don't twist my stitches when I join the first round (yeah, that's happened more than a few times...)(see trial and error reference, above).

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We had a little social run for frozen yogurt earlier in the week, and since I was planning on running the next morning, I went but didn't run.  Which meant that I was dressed in regular clothes, and had my hair down for a change.  Two people didn't recognize me right away.  I laughed, but I get it - normally I look practically bald from the front, what with my hair pulled back with a headband and ponytail, not to mention bleary-eyed and no make up.  Too funny...but you'd be surprised how often that happens when you normally only see people dressed to run.

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Speaking of running, I stocked up on our favorite GU flavors recently:
Some people buy wine by the case; I buy GU by the case.  I think this should get us through the rest of our long runs and races this year!

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Paco's allergies have been really bad the last couple of days, and he's chewing himself raw.  The cone of shame had to come out, and to say he was not happy about it would be an understatement:
I can hardly stand to look at you, mean mom.
Might forgive you if you throw food in my mouth.  Right now.

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It's supposed to be in the 50s for our 10 mile run tomorrow - the 50s!!!  Now THAT is going to be nice.  Other than the run, we probably won't be getting out much, as LSU is coming town, and apparently those fans are all kinds of crazy.  Best for us to avoid the madness and watch it unfold on TV - it's funny that we can watch the A&M game on TV and go outside and hear the marching band play - feels a little Twilight Zone to me.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Did I Run?

Well, I'm sure you were all on the edge of your seats, wondering if I was going to attempt to run on Saturday after being sick with the stomach flu...after all, I was still dehydrated, had barely eaten anything for four days, and hadn't run in a week.  The smart, sane thing to do would be to hold off, give myself more time to recover, and pick up with my training on my regular Tuesday run.

I think by now you all know me pretty well, and won't be surprised by this:
Ten fingers for TEN miles

Yep.  I did it.  Now, I will say that I was feeling mostly good on Friday, and figured I'd give it a try on Saturday, but I really didn't plan on going the distance.  I checked our route and had a couple of drop out points planned, where I could easily end the run and get back to the park.  We started out and immediately I could tell that I was not up to my normal running ability - namely, my legs felt like Jello.  I think we ran about a mile and a half and I told Jeff that I needed to walk a bit; we ended up doing the run/walk thing the remainder of the way.  I will say that after mile 3, when I had my first GU, my legs began to feel closer to normal, but I didn't see any point in killing myself over this run, so we continued to take it easy.  And as it turns out, we ended up leapfrogging back and forth with two women who also had been out due to illness, so it didn't feel like we were complete slackers out there.

The weather was awful...seriously, Texas - give us a break!  We ran through your stinking hot summer; the least you could do is reward us with some cooler mornings.  But no...it was 93% humidity and 71 degrees when we started - ugh.  Except for my shoes not being soaking wet, I swear I was as drenched after this run as I was when we ran 9 miles in the pouring rain!  When we got back to the park, everyone was wiped out.  These conditions can really beat a runner down.

One bonus I noticed from not running for a week is that my arch pain/tendonitis was nearly non-existent.  Rest IS recommended as the cure for tendonitis, and hey - hopefully this did the trick...or at least gave me a reset back to a better starting point.  The top of my foot is still touchy as ever, but I think that's how it's going to be until I get it fixed.

And now, the prize:  I've had a new pair of Newtons - a special edition hot pink color, sitting in my closet for over a month now - they were a limited release, and I really wanted these shoes, but didn't quite need them yet.  So we decided that they would be my reward for reaching the 10-mile mark in training...and on Saturday, I earned them!  They are the same style as what I've been wearing, but it's amazing how bouncy new shoes feel!  I wore them on a run with Jenny yesterday:
I do believe these are the flashiest shoes I've ever owned! 
Team Jelly!

Jenny and I met at a different park - we're kind of bored with our usual Tuesday spot.  We set out running, but I could tell that I'm still not at 100% - my legs were just not quite there.  So we ran and walked for a couple of miles, and then the running felt better, so we ran and walked some more - we ended up covering over 5.5 miles!  

Tomorrow morning I'll run two miles with Erica in what should be decently cool weather, and then I'm looking forward to (yes, I said it) another 10 miles on Saturday. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Running and Weight Loss

You might think that running and weight loss would go hand-in-hand.  Well, yes and no.  I guess I should preface this by clarifying "at least for me" - but I figure you know that, seeing as I pretty much write from my experiences without any supporting clinical data (because that would involve reading numbers, and you KNOW how I feel about numbers).  Anyway...I recently noticed that I'm looking a little smaller - more compact, if you will.  As you know, I stopped weighing myself over a year ago, so it's not like I have an exact number to do a comparison with, but things are definitely changing for the better.

The one thing I noticed two years ago when I was doing my half marathon training was that while I actually gained about five pounds, my body was the smallest it had ever been.  Running made me much more solid.  A lot of the jiggle was gone; I look at pictures from fall 2010 and marvel at how small I was (and yes, want to retroactively slap myself for STILL being dissatisfied with how I looked):
  
Here's a blast from the past - return of the closet mirror self-portraits!

Cut to 2011, or my 'Annus Horribilis' (stolen from the Queen - I'm sure she won't mind)...the year of angst, no running, and coconut M&M's.  Let's just forget about all of that as things have improved greatly on all accounts. 

I was able to start running again this year, and while I've not been actively dieting, I have been making decent food choices most of the time - this is just how I eat, day in and day out.  I hoped that the running would get my body to start shrinking again...while I've come to better terms with the fact that my legs are always going to be on the sturdy side, and my stomach will never be tight and flat, I preferred the body of 2010 a little more than the body of 2011.  Finally, it's starting to happen.  I noticed about a month ago that my clothes were getting a little looser, and some of my running shirts were getting really long - at first, I was all "I swear it wasn't this long when I bought it" but then I realized "dur - you're getting smaller so the shirt seems bigger" - ah ha!  Then in the past couple of weeks, a few people have commented that I'm losing weight, so obviously it's starting to show.  That said, if you're looking for a quick weight loss, I don't think running is the answer...but if you're willing to be patient, it will happen over time.

Except for when I first hit the 5 mile mark, my appetite has not increased on my long run days - in fact, as I'm hitting the higher mileage, it's decreased.  I guess it's the whole thing about most of your blood going where it's needed (the legs) and not the stomach - or at least, that's the lore going around our running group.  On long run Saturdays, I don't worry about what I eat beyond trying to get in some protein shortly after the run (usually in the form of chocolate milk because it's portable and we're still hanging around the park), and I don't try to replace the calories I've burned either.  I figure I burn about 100 calories per mile.

What I think is funny about losing weight while training for a half marathon is that I'm doing it while eating traditionally non-diet food like white pasta and rice, mashed potatoes, no veggies in the days leading up to Saturday, not a lot of salads, and I'm even drinking my calories - something I don't normally do - in the form of Gatorade...the real stuff, not even the low calorie drink (it tastes bad to me).  While I know for a fact that it's very easy to outeat any exercise benefits, I seem to be managing my portion sizes well enough that I'm not doing that.

Again, I don't care about the number on the scale, and I'm not about to jump on it to see what it is, because no matter what, it would just disappoint me.  I am thrilled to see that running on a regular basis, week in and week out, is changing my body shape once again for the better.  Along with the fun of running, I'm getting a smaller body, too - what a nice reward!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Mishmash

Not a lot of excitement around here, what with being sick almost all week.  At least Paco was exceptionally happy - "Mom sleep a lot?  I gud wif dat."  Not only did he keep me company, he also protected me from encroaching cats who might have wanted to cuddle.  No jealousy in that dog, none whatsoever - hah!
What Paco does when he's not napping - gnaws on a rawhide chew while keeping an eye out for squirrels.

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I'm sad to report that I won't be sparkling during my race next month - my Team Sparkle skirts arrived, and as cute as they are, they just don't cover my behind enough to make me comfortable.  You wear the skirt over liner shorts or capris, and although I tried it both ways, it was just a little too short for my liking.  I think some runners wear them slightly lower on the hips, but that didn't feel right to me, and the last thing I need while running 13 miles is to be bugged by my outfit.  So I'm sending them back, and will wear my tried-and-true Adidas skirt in plain old black.  Oh well, I tried to be fabulous.  My sparkly headband will have to carry the outfit.

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Last Friday I posted about my foot pain and all the things I was throwing at it.  One of the commenters suggested using a tennis ball on my arch, so I got one out and it did help.  Of course, I had to fight off Paco the entire time, because any ball is automatically his, but it did help.  Then my mom suggested getting a Foot Rubz ball, so I did - and I think it's easier to roll my foot on than the tennis ball because of the smaller size.  Still have to fight Paco off, though.
Size comparison - Foot Rubz vs. tennis ball
...and an instant later, the tennis ball was snatched!  Sneaky dog.

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Running 10 miles is on the schedule tomorrow and honestly, I'm still on the fence.  I ate the best turkey sandwich in the history of the world on Thursday (OK, that may have been because I hadn't had much beyond half a banana and some Gatorade for the previous couple of days) along with some mashed potatoes, and some iced tea.  My stomach did alright with it - not great, but getting there.  Today will tell - there's no way I can run that many miles if I don't get a little more food in me, so who really knows.  And that line from The Devil Wears Prada - "I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight"??  So not worth it.  I'd rather diet than go through what I have this week.

Here's to a healthy weekend for everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update

Hey, guess what?  Running 9 miles is a lot easier when it's not pouring rain.  I know...who knew???  I honestly can't believe it was the same distance - not that I'm saying that it was a piece of cake, because, let's face it, 9 miles is a long dang way to run no matter what - but dry weather made a huge difference.

The run was also fun because right around the time we hit mile 7, runners from the Buffalo Stampede race were starting out on the other side of the street from us - we even saw a couple of our running club peeps among them and got to cheer them on as they ran a half marathon!  We didn't run this race because we're not up to that kind of distance in our training (the people who ran it are training for the marathon, so this fit into their training plan), and also, the course is pretty terrible - they have the runners go down a road that is all torn up due to construction, and then they have to run on the access road next to the freeway...all that, plus it's an out-and-back, which means you do all the crummy stuff twice, so it's not on our list to ever do, even though it's convenient.

I've mentioned before that I'm dealing with Runner Shelley v2.0, and I'm not as fast as I was two years ago.  This go-round, I've pretty much let go of any time goals and am just concentrating on running and building up my endurance.  That said, it took us forever to run the 9 miles in the rain - yes, some of that was due to having to wade/walk through water, along with being so waterlogged and feeling like we had bricks for shoes (plus there may have been a time or two when I pulled a little "this sucks and I give UP" walk).  I didn't set out on this dry 9 miler with any specific time goal, but when we hit mile 7 I glanced at my Garmin and realized that we might be able to finish the run in an even 2 hours (see, I told you I'm not fast).  We kept running along, and I kept glancing at my Garmin.  We had a tenth of a mile to go and I could see it was going to be close - so I sprinted (well, as much as I could sprint at the end of a 9 miler) - the time clicked to 2:00 and I still wasn't there...kept running and as the 9 miles came up on the Garmin I hit the stop button:
I made it - 9 miles in 2 hours!  Discovered later when I uploaded the Garmin stats to my computer that I was at 2:00:50 - whew, by the skin of my teeth I stayed at the 2 hour mark!  Took 8 minutes off our time from last week.

 A much, much happier camper...er, runner:
Another 9 miles - done.

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No running this week - I woke up around 1:30 am on Tuesday with the stomach flu.  I can't remember when I've felt so awful.  Just hoping that I'll recover in time for Saturday's run.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Running - What Works For Me

(Because I know you haven't heard enough about running from me lately...)

Not being a seasoned runner, nor one who is in particularly great shape, has brought me lots of challenges this year.  While I'm thrilled to be able to run again, I have to say that it's not easy for me...you aren't going to come here and ever read that I had an "easy 8 miler" - oh heck no.  I'm not that kind of runner.  Between my ongoing aches and pains, my non-lithe-runner-body, the fact that I only ran for about a year before being sidelined with my ankle injury and then had to take a year off from running, it's become apparent to me that I will probably always be a runner who struggles.  But, I like running.  So I've had to figure out how to make it work for me, seeing as I'm working pretty hard for it.  Here's what I've figured out, so far:

Nutrition
Against most recommendations, I don't eat anything before my weekly short runs, and I only eat half of a Powerbar Fruit Smoothie bar before my long run on Saturdays.  My stomach just doesn't do well with food early in the morning, which is when I run, and by giving myself permission to not try and force food, I've been much more comfortable during those long runs.  Now that I'm into a lot of miles on Saturday, I eat more carbs toward the latter part of the week - usually something with rice on Thursday, and "dry" pasta (spaghetti noodles sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper - no oil or sauce) on Friday.  Fruit works well for adding in carbs, but I have to be careful to not up the fiber too much or my delicate stomach rebels.   I also drink a lot of water and usually have some Gatorade as well on those days...remember, we are still in the throes of heat and humidity here in Texas, and sweat like crazy when we run.

Training
While I follow USAFit's 26-week program for my training plan, I adapt it to work for me and my slightly broken-down body.  I think one of the reasons that I got injured two years ago was that I pushed my mileage too soon - I was training for a race that was three months before our official goal race, and my mileage increased from 4 to 10 miles in just a matter of 4 weeks, which is way more than the recommended 10% increase per week.  This was probably my biggest mistake, and the one thing that has caused the most long-lasting harm.

In the comments on a recent post, Debby asked if the in-between training run distances stay the same. Her question made me look at our training schedule, which is something I haven't done in a while.  USAFit has us scheduled to run on certain days, and while I've been doing that, I don't do everything they suggest (like speedwork; but hey, at least I did do the hillwork).  I made a decision for this time around to take it kind of easy on the daily runs in hopes of preserving my creaky bones enough to make it to the starting line of the race.  For example, when we started out in June, Monday's run was only 30 minutes; now it's supposed to be 40.  Two weeks ago, after my left foot was hurting so much, I decided to forgo the Monday run altogether in hopes that two complete days of rest after the long run would help. 

I think the most important thing about a training schedule is making it work for you as far as how much your body can take - and only you know the difference between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too much.  For me, I'd rather be conservative and make it to the start line of the race, than automatically do every training run just because it's on the schedule.  So from now until December, I'm only going to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - again, my goal is to get to the start line, because it's no fun to miss the races that you've signed up for.

Gear
Everyone has their peculiarities when it comes to running gear.  What one person loves, another can't stand.  I'm always interested in what other runners like, so I figure you might be, too.  Here's a list of what I love (links included to help with visuals; I don't get any compensation from these companies):
  • Adidas Grete running skirt - I bought this in California, and love the lightweight fabric and the gathered dropped waist - I think it's a flattering look, and the lighter fabric has been wonderful for running in the heat.  Their liner shorts, however, are pretty useless - they're not tight at all, and it would be chafe-city for me - except that I wear a pair of my own liner shorts under it.  I should just cut them out of the skirt to omit a layer.
  • Newton running shoes - they aren't for everyone, but I love them.  Just to be sure, recently I tried on some other brands of shoes at our running store and for me, there was no comparison.  I'll be sticking with the Newtons!
  • Flat shoe laces - I have a problem with my shoes staying tight on my feet.  This has always been an issue for me, no matter what kind of shoe.  I tried using Yankz elastic laces, which worked great on my right shoe, but were too tight on my left, where I have a bone spur on the top of that foot.  Since I started using the flat shoe laces I usually only have to retighten my shoes once during a long run, which is a big improvement from the 3-4 times with the rounded laces that come with the shoes.
  • Socks - I'm a Thorlo Experia fan.  Great cushioning, fun colors, and they work for me.  I tried to get Jeff on the Experia bandwagon but he likes a thinner sock.  I'll still run with him, though.
  • Never thought I'd run without a hat or visor, but I've really enjoyed wearing the Sweaty Band headbands, and of course, I have fun coordinating them to my shirt color!
  • Sports bras - I'm always on the lookout for the perfect bra.  While I still think there's room for improvement, the Moving Comfort Maia continues to be my go-to sports bra.  I tried the Shock Absorber, and while the fabric is really soft and comfortable, there was more bounce than I'd like, especially when I was doing a hill workout.  Plus it has a really weird hook system that can be a challenge to get into, especially when you're not quite awake.
  • Technical shirts - as long as they're not skin-tight, I'm good with any brand.  I have a couple of Icebreakers merino wool shirts that I really love, but they're super expensive, so I mostly stick with Nike, Under Armour, and whatever else I find at TJ Maxx or on sale elsewhere.
  • My trusty Garmin 305, aka Ricky Bobby.  While I love the looks of the much smaller new Garmin 10, I'll stick with good old Ricky Bobby as long as he keeps working.
I figure if you're not a runner, you stopped reading this post a long time ago.  If you made it to the end, thanks - I know it was a long one.  And if you have any favorite running things, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Mishmash

Thanks for the comments on my race outfit post - I've ordered the Team Sparkle skirt in turquoise, in two sizes.  Even though they had measurements that correspond to their sizing chart, I couldn't commit to a particular size, so I'll try both on and return the one that doesn't fit.  Hate having to pay for shipping for the return, but I wanted to play it safe.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?  I bought a blue sparkly Sweaty Band last night, and I was reminded that I need earrings to complete the ensemble, so I pulled out the little amethyst earrings that I wore for all of my races in 2010:
 
These belonged to my Grandmother - she had a very gung ho attitude about life, and I like wearing something of hers when I race.

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Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my ankle surgery.  While my ankle doesn't feel 100% perfect, it is so much better than before the surgery, and I'm glad I had it done.  Also?  I'm very happy to be able to run again - but you probably knew that, right?

Speaking of ankle pain - yes, it does still hurt sometimes.  Running doesn't usually bother it, unless I happen to step on an uneven part of a sidewalk with my right foot...then, I get quite the zinger of pain shooting straight to my ankle.  And while running is OK, jumping on it (like doing jumping jacks, jump rope, or burpees) instantly hurts.  So no jumping for me (Awww, no more burpees, ever?  I can live with that!).

Unfortunately, along with the remainders of my right ankle pain, I also have left foot pain, in the form of my arch, which I'm guessing is tendonitis, and the bony part of the top of my left foot, which Dr. Google tells me is a bone spur.  Treatment for that looks to be surgery where the spur is either chipped off or ground down, and honestly, it hurts me enough that I'm going to visit my orthopedist and discuss taking care of it - but not until next summer, probably, as I want to be able to finish racing season this spring.  In the meantime, I've been throwing everything I can at it to help relieve the pain - ice, Motrin, and for the last week or so, some topical pain relief ointments.  I was very skeptical about these, but honestly, I think they do help - my foot will be aching, and within a few minutes after putting the ointment on, I don't notice the pain.  At this point, even if it's somewhat of a placebo, I'll gladly take it!
My running buddy Erica brought me the Doctor Hoy's and the Topricin, and I ordered the Penetrex after hearing Helen talk about it.  I haven't used the Doctor Hoy's yet, but the others seem to be helping - hurray for that!

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Paco diet update:  I swear that dog is messing with me.  Now that I've cut his food back quite a bit, he's not even finishing what I give him!  Hunger strike?  I wonder...
Why wud I mess wif you?  Not liek you starving me or anyting...

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Longtime commenter Chrissy asked me last week how my parents and kids are doing - thanks for the interest, Chrissy!  My mom has started learning how to play the ukelele, under the guise of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" - my dad has been playing regularly ever since they went to Hawaii in 2010 - he bought a ukelele there, and then joined a uke group in their town.  That group is going to Hawaii in January to participate in a week-long ukelele camp, so mom figured she might as well play, too.  One of these days we'll have a Partridge family-style band jam session - Sam plays the trumpet, Max can do a little keyboard, and I've got something up my sleeve as well.

Sam is doing great - he's traveled quite a bit for his job and even went to Winnipeg, Canada recently.  He's going to do a guest post for me around Thanksgiving with an update on some major changes that he's been working on.  Max is in his last year of college (yes, we all are doing a happy dance about that!) and is on track to graduate in May with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Computer Science.  I asked him if they were going to give him two diplomas and he said yes...that's twice the framing fun for me, but I don't mind.  We are looking forward to having both the kids come home for a few days around Thanksgiving next month!

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Tomorrow we have another 9 mile run on tap, but it's supposed to be sunny and dry.  Nice.  Then, because we are nothing if not crazy committed, we're going to the kickoff event for the Armadillo Dash, where we'll sign up for another half marathon - this one will be on March 3, 2013.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - No Weather Wimps Here!

Well, our 9 miler on Saturday happened.  So did the rain.  Heavy, heavy rain.  But no lightening, so that was good!  And it wasn't cold, so that was good as well.  But holy moly, is it ever difficult to run in pouring rain.  And as we started just after 6:00 am, it was quite dark.  Which means that it's hard to see giant puddles and avoid stepping in them.  But honestly, we were so soaked that it was more of a mental thing to not step in the puddles than anything else...we were completely, thoroughly soaked from head to toe right from the start.

We set off running with the rain just lightly falling.  Got about half a mile in and it started pouring down...I mean POURING.  No one in their right mind would be out in this kind of rain - and yet, there we were.  Just another example of the insanity of running, I guess.  But we were already so wet that we figured, might as well keep going.  If it was really cold, that might have been a different story.  At least I now know that I can run in the rain like this if I have to - but I'll probably only do it again if it's during a race.  Coach Dale told me afterward that he checked the weather on his phone shortly after we started and saw the heavy bands of rain on the radar and thought about driving around to pick all of us up - it was that bad.  Instead, he went and got breakfast tacos for us so we'd have a hot meal when we finished - nice!

I was wearing a hat to help keep the rain off my face, but my glasses were rain-spotted and fogged up so my overall vision wasn't great - add the headlights of the cars coming toward us and I felt like I was running blind.  We were on the sidewalk for the majority of the run so it wasn't all that dangerous, just more of an annoyance.  Once the skies lightened up a little it got better.  

We hit our first crosswalk and in the darkness, couldn't tell that the road was covered in water until we took our first step in...up to mid-shin.  Yikes.  There were several times where we had to slog through water;  running became wading as we moved forward on this adventure.

Early on, Jeff and I decided that if we felt like we were getting blisters, we'd cut the run short at the 7 mile mark but we ended up not feeling any so we kept going.  And although I tried to Body Glide everywhere, because I knew that the rain would make for some extra chafing, I still ended up with some random spots of chafing plus a really bad area on my left upper arm.  Next time, I'll break out the big guns of Aquaphor - apparently Body Glide isn't enough when it's raining.  And when we took off our shoes and socks, we were blister-free - I'm still pretty amazed at that!

When we finished the run, I laid face down on a picnic bench.  Couldn't move for several minutes.  Then Coach Will squatted down next to me and asked quietly, "Does Jeff push you too hard during these runs?"  I considered his question, and then replied "Yeah, a bit" expecting some long-overdue sympathy.  Do you know that Coach Will just laughed and said "Good!"  Mean.  So very mean.

Much later, I'd recovered enough to get my camera out...and funnily enough, when I asked Coach Will to take our picture, he was sitting down and didn't look thrilled at the prospect of getting up, so we've got a bit of a weird angle going...because I was sympathetic and didn't make him stand!
 
My shirt says it all...
(actually, the back says "Where's The Finish!?!" but anyway you look at it, it was the perfect shirt to wear during that crazy run)

This was the hardest run I've done - even worse than the 12-mile death march from two years ago.  I was more exhausted than I've ever been after a long run and didn't do much of anything else over the weekend.  I figured everyone felt like me, until I saw one of our runners post on Facebook - first she ran the 9 miles in the rain, then she went to a tailgate party, then she went to the football game (where we won, yay!), then she posted asking where the after-game happenings were!  I honestly don't know where she found that kind of energy...I'm guessing it magically appears when you're still in your twenties? 

It wasn't a great run.  It wasn't something I'd choose to do again anytime soon.  But I am extremely proud of myself, and my fellow running club peeps, for making it through 9 rainy miles early on a Saturday morning when most of the sane world was still snug in their beds.
 NINE, baby!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Important Decision-Making Time, People!

Recently Jeff and I were walking through Academy, and I told him I wanted to take a quick look at their running clothes for my race day outfit.  His exact words, and I quote, were "you're not going to BUY a new outfit, are you?"  My response: "have you MET ME?"  I mean, really...of course I'm going to have a new outfit for race day.  Silly man.  I think he's forgotten that to me, finally being able to run a half marathon two years after my first, is a major celebration.  And hell's yes, I'll be dressing up for it!

The race is in San Antonio, and if you've lived (or visited) there, you probably think Fiesta when you think of San Antonio.  (Backstory - San Antonio is about the most partying, parade-throwing, celebrating city in the U.S., and I believe they even beat out New Orleans, because Mardi Gras is just once a year, while SA seems to have a parade every time you turn around.  When we lived there, I was shocked that they actually have a city holiday - Battle of Flowers day - where schools, businesses and banks close - for, yes, a parade.  Too funny.)  Anyway, I'm thinking an outfit with lots of fun colors would be fitting.

I have these fantastic new neon pink Newtons, which I'll wear unless it's raining - don't want to get them messed up right away.  But since the race is in early November, in south Texas, it'll most likely be hot, so I'm planning my outfit with that in mind.  I can make adjustments (like swapping out liner shorts for capris, or wear a long-sleeved shirt under my short-sleeved one) if I need to, without really changing the outfit.
A limited edition color for Newton, these are my reward shoes for when I run 10 miles (scheduled for October 13th, in case you're wondering) - until then, they're sitting in a box in my closet.

Socks will, of course, be a pair of my beloved Thorlo Experias - I have them in just most colors, so I'm sure I can coordinated them to my outfit.
Just some of the colors I own - I have to say, these things LAST.  I've had the turquoise pair for over 2.5 years, and they are still in great condition.

For a skirt, I'm thinking about wearing a sparkle skirt, in either purple or turquoise.  I've never worn one, but they seem to be quite popular, so I guess there isn't an issue with scratchiness from the fabric (if you've worn one, please let me know in the comments what you think of them).  It's just a skirt, so you wear it over your own liner shorts.  I'm looking at buying one from either Team Sparkle or Sparkle Skirts - the price is similar, but I think I like the cut of the Team Sparkle skirt a bit more - it looks like my current favorite Adidas running skirt.  The Team Sparkle skirts look sheer; I can't tell by the pictures if the Sparkle Skirts are, too.
Team Sparkle  skirts in my top color choices (photo swiped from their Facebook page)
Sparkle Skirts (photo swiped from their web page) - too bad they didn't have purple with this shot, but you can see the difference in the cut of their skirts vs. the Team Sparkle skirts.

For the top, I could wear something I already own (I know, shocking!) - either a turquoise top if I go with the purple skirt, or a purple top if I go with the turquoise skirt.
 
...and honestly, I have three more purple tops in my closet.  But these are the only two turquoise - maybe I DO need to shop more! ;)

Yes, between the pink shoes, purple and turquoise clothes and a sparkly Sweaty Band, I will be a riot of color.  But why not - it's a fiesta!!!
Sweaty Bands - Viva Diva sparklers.  (photos swiped from their website).  I've seen the purple one in person and it was so pretty - caught the eye of several ladies in my running club when we saw the sweet Kim wearing it!

OK, I know that having a fancy outfit will not make or break my race.  But I like to have fun with my running, and part of the fun comes with the clothes.  So why not go for it?  Any suggestions on things I might have missed to complete the outfit?