Monday, January 28, 2008

Florida is faster!

I always run faster in Florida. So nice and flat!! I managed an overall 9 min, 30 sec pace for this 10 miler (ish) last Saturday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

running in Charlotte

I'm in Charlotte this week for work. Last time I was here I was afraid to venture out of the small, familiar downtown business district to run, but then I wasn't training for a marathon. I was deteremined not to let my travel interfere with my training, so I looked up Charlotte Running clubs and found one that shared a nearby running route on their site. (Here's the route info.)

I managed to start both Wednesday and Thursday's runs by 4:30, while it was still light. It's a little scary running into unfamiliar territory by yourself in a strange town. After the first run though, I could see that it would be quite a safe route even after dark. It was pleasant too - old churches, charming houses and tree-lined neighborhoods.

There were lots of pedestrians, many of whom appeared to be commuting home on foot. I didn't see a homeless person on my run at all. Charlotte does not have any significant presence of homeless people - quite a change from Atlanta.

Wednesday's 5 mile run was in a downpour of rain, but no thunder or lightning and I found it kind of refreshing. I didn't see any other runners until Thursday's 7.5 miler, when the weather turned sunny. Apparently the runners of Charlotte are fair-weather people. :) I don't really blame them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Never trust the local weather

I should know better than to let myself get scared by our local weather reporters. Last Friday evening all the stations predicted that there would be 1"-3" of snow on the ground by sunrise on Saturday. They were telling parents to get their kids up early and go play in the snow. They were warning about horrible road conditions. They ran a ticker of all the meetings and events that were being closed over the weekend... (the monthly Meeting of Jesters and the Barry Manilow concert were both cancelled!)

While it was bitter cold this past weekend, the actual conditions were nowhere near the biblical scale that had been forecasted. The dawn light of Saturday morning showed no trace of snow nor any rain. It had sprinkled a little around 5am, but then let up.

At 7am, I began to curse myself for getting duped by those weather reporters. I rushed to get dressed in appropriate running gear (2 layers of running pants, sports bra, 2 cold-weather technical shirts topped off with a kangaroo pocket rain jacket, a face warmer, hat, ear muffs, gloves that convert into mittens, socks and shoes - I was dressed like I was ready to lose every hand of an all-night game of strip poker).

8-9am Saturday was perfect running weather. No rain, cloudy and cool but not cold yet. I stripped off the face-warmer, ear-muffs, and gloves and put them into the kangaroo pocket. 9-10am, the temperature dropped, sprinkles of rain fell and I put the face-mask, ear-muffs, and gloves back on and pulled the hood of my rain jacket over my head. 10-11am, snow. Lovely, puffy snow. I warmed up a bit again and had to pull the ear-muffs and face-mask back off.

I never loved my kangaroo pocket rain jacket as much as I did Saturday. In addition to the above mentioned items, the following also found their way into the pocket by the end of the run. 2 vanilla-flavored cliff shot wrappers. 1 heavily used snot-rag. 1 empty water bottle. 1 set of keys.

Can I blame all that extra weight for the really slow pace that I ended up doing?

The next long run will be a stark contrast to this one. Flat and sunny Florida awaits!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Map my fitness

The weather is not cooperating with me this weekend. If I run today, it will be a wintry mix of rain and snow, but the temperature will be 37 degrees. If I wait til tomorrow, it will be sunny but the temperature will be 20 degrees and possibly icy. What to do, what to do?!

Here's my planned route - it follows the marathon route. I signed up on this Map My Fitness site a long time ago, right before I injured my knee and had to stop running for a while. I forgot about it when I started back. I think I'll start using it more. With the other mapping site I was using, I bookmarked the route to my local computer, but that's no help when I'm over at MOB's trying to plan a run. Plus, this site has nicer editing options to go in and update a route, copy a route, etc. You can also find other people's routes that they've saved in the same area. Pretty cool.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Torn ACL

No, not me. My good friend tore her ACL and possibly her meniscus too on the dance floor last Saturday night... I told you we were really grooving. I feel so bad for her!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Overdress for success

It's been COLD here the past few days, and I'm convinced that the weather sites were mis-reporting the temperatures to be higher than they actually were. Tuesday and Wednesday both, I checked the temperatures before dressing for what should have been a mildly cold run, only to have chilly fingers from start to finish.

I don't run well in the cold. I am stiff and completely miserable. Much of it is probably mental, but rather than overcome my bad attitude, I prefer to over dress for the temperatures. I layer on until I'm sweating standing still in minus zero temperatures. I know it's not the recommended approach for cold-weather running, but that's the only way I can get myself out the door.

Today I decided to ignore the reported temperatures and dress as if I were running around the arctic circle. Two pairs of pants, 4 layers on my upper body, a hat with ear covering and gloves. A little chilly starting out, but finally, about 2 miles into it I broke a sweat. Aaah. That's more like it.

Oh, and 3 days of running in a row! 8-5-8. They were not the best runs I've had, but I'm proud of myself for just getting out there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

There will be blood

Wouldn't that be a great name for a really tough trail run? (It might have applied to a run another blogger recently attempted.)

Things are hectic for me lately and I don't do hectic well. I get stressed, tired, start procrastinating and not doing things I should do. And I have a lot to do right now. Something to do with a wedding.

I am trying to justify the fact that I haven't run in three days or done my strength training by countering (to myself) that I did some pretty intense dancing with some very good friends last Saturday night. One of my friends even injured her knee on the dance floor and is going to an orthopedic doctor this week. That's how intense it was. (Or that's how old we are.)

But I'll get out there for 8 miles somehow today.

Non-running related, I saw There Will Be Blood last week and really loved it - except for the end. The ending was pretty over the top and somewhat out of character for the rest of the film.

SPOILER ALERT - if you haven't seen it yet you may want to stop reading now. I'm going to give away a little bit about the ending. This is an example of how I procrastinate when, for example, I should be trying to find the right stationary for my wedding invitations. I came up with an alternate ending to the movie instead.

In my version of the ending, everything is the same up to where Daniel gets Eli to repeat the line that he's a false prophet. After Daniel then tells him that there's no oil on the land and Eli is sitting there crying into his drink, they should go back to the silence that was so effective earlier in the movie. You just see both of their faces for a minute - the grief and shame on Eli's and the mirth and hate in Daniel's eyes. Then the butler guy comes down and asks if Daniel needs anything. Daniel gets up, shuffles to the door, and before leaving, then turns and says "I'm finished."

I'm going with my ending. It makes more sense to me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

back on the plan - 16 miles

16 miles - whoo hoo! And even better than the last 16-miler I ran. This time I brought water and a Clif-shot which went down pretty nicely around mile 9.

Note to self - not a good idea to bring carbonated water in a leaky bottle with you on a run. I filled my little hand-held bottle with rasberry seltzer water (I just really don't like my tap water) and within the first 10 yards it was fizzing and spurting out of some little gaps between the lid and the bottle. About half the bottle escaped, but I managed to keep just as much as I needed to wash down the Clif-shot.

Even though I felt great to get back to the long run after my little back scare, it was a slower run than the last. Not to make excuses, but it wasn't me. Another good note to self may be to avoid running downtown at lunchtime. I hit every red light at every crossing, sidewalks were either closed (Atlanta's building boom) or milling with working folk enjoying the nice weather on their lunch hour. I was stopped by one woman looking for a library, and after seeming confused by my directions, to which I responded by giving more and more detail, she pulled out an address for a different library than the one I directed her to. So, really, it wasn't me. I was great. I rocked.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

a test of two tasks

test one - can you hear me now? I have a good feeling this post will be my first one to show up in the Running Blog Family feedburner. I've been reading all of you on the RBF for years now - gathering inspiration and motivation, laughing along with your stories, and feeling more sane from them too. It's nice to find people as (or more) addicted to and obsessed with running as I am. I was on the RBF originally with Midtown Life, but changed my blog and never crossed the 't's or dotted the 'i's to get back in with the family. I hope I'm home now! Thanks to Mark for your help getting set up (if this actually works! if not, I take it back. :)

test two - my first 10-miler post back injury/recovery. It felt great, I feel great. So far, touch wood, I'm still on track for the Georgia Marathon on March 30th.

testing - can you hear me now?

this is a test post - Mark from the RBF is helping me get set up - not sure what my problem is but I'm very happy that he's reached out to help me!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Let's twist again

Really great progress with my back. I was able to do 6 miles on Saturday on a flat gravel path - I probably could have even done more, but thought it better to be cautious. Running did not seem to trigger any back pain at all. On Sunday, I did another 3 miles on a hilly gravel path. Monday, I did my first round of the new core strength routine - the "Pedestal Routine" - pdf downloaded from And today, I'm going to get back on my training plan and do an 8 miler. Cross fingers!

I'll be doing a little maintenance work on the blog today to get it listed with the Running Blog Family Directory. I've tried to get Rundoodle on that thing in the past to no avail - possibly from my own technical ineptness, hard to say, but I hope I'll get picked up as they start with a fresh slate.

Oh, P.S., the cats now watch me scoop their litter-box with new interest and seem to be hoping that I'll do something entertaining again. Poor things live such boring lives, I really should play with them more.

[Update] 7.5 miles in the bag! My upper shoulders and chest were tight and ache-y from yesterdays strength routine, and I was thirsty, so I walked the last half mile. Overall, it was a decent run - and a big relief!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

not ready to do the twist yet... maybe a light jog though

My back has been slowly but steadily improving since Wednesday. It went from "It hurts everywhere!" to a more specific and manageable "It hurts when I twist or lower my head." Surprisingly, the hardest thing to do is sleep. I like to turn a lot when I sleep and turning requires twisting from the back which ends up causing spasms of pain.

I've determined to look past my age as the cause of this (too depressing), and I think the root cause may have been the first run we did up in Chicago a week and a half before. The snow had melted in most places, so we expected the 9.5 mile trail to be fairly clear and dry. However, because the previous snows had been packed down by skiers on the trail, at that point it was an icy, slushy mess. We ran anyway, and the first three miles were kind of a fun challenge for me, not having been up in any kind of snow or ice in years. (Don't ask me how I felt about the remaining 6.5 miles.)

There were a few slips and slides on the ice - one in particular had my feet sliding out to the side from under me and I twisted my body around pretty strongly to keep myself upright. I think that twist was the culprit. A few days later, I noticed some mild pain in my back - something I dismissed as being a part of "that time of the month." Then Wednesday happened.

Yes, the deeper root cause is probably still lack of core training, but I was glad to have another reason to stick on this. I suspect that I'm not the only runner out there neglecting my core training and I am not reading many posts from other runners finding themselves frozen on their hands and knees with their backs locked in waves of pain.

The same day I hurt my back another blogger in the Running Blog Family, and I'm embarrassed that I didn't record the name to give credit (if you read this, let me know and I'll credit you!), posted a suggestion that runners should make a new years resolution to focus on core training this year. Good suggestion. He also linked to a few videos on Runners World that showed Matt Tegenkamp's core workout. I'm afraid those workouts would not leave me with enough time to actually run, so I found a few others on the site that looked like I could fit into my weekly routine. looks like they have some good videos, plus they have a free downloadable PDF showing a couple of good strength training routines.

After running through my Christmas and New Years vacations like a champ, I haven't run since 8 miles last Monday. I'm feeling fat and unhappy. I'm going to give 3 miles a try today, and if they feel okay, I'm going to do 3 more. I'll have to revisit my training plan for the March 30 marathon, but I think I'm still good to make it. I intentionally made it a longer plan than usual for just this kind of reason.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

oh the pain

Just when I was feeling all smug about how strong my legs are getting, the lack of knee pain, the ease at which I'm able to kick out an easy 8-10 miler... cue dramatic music.... dun-dun-duuunhh... you probably know what's coming but you'd be wrong if you guessed knee trouble again. Nope, this morning as I kneeled on the floor and shoved the kitty litter box back into its spot after its morning scoop, my back suddenly (very suddenly) spasmed in pain and I was unable to move.

That's right. Frozen on my hands and knees in front of the litter box. It was absurdly painful. If I lifted an arm - back spasm. If I tried to sit up or lay down - back spasm. I had a hard time processing this and called out in pain every time I tried to shift myself into a new position, hoping to find a way to get up. At first my puzzled cat sniffed at my face to see if this was some kind of new game but as I continued to grimace and cry out, she quickly distanced herself, eyes wide in fear.

I was desperate. I tried deep breathing, I tried that yoga exercise where you focus on a part of the body to relax it. Nothing but waiting there about 10 minutes worked. Even then I just barely managed to get to my feet, bent over in spasms of pain, reach up (that hurt too) to the medicine cabinet and quickly swallow three advil. In the same bent over position, I shuffled into the living/kitchen area, leaned on a counter stool, and pushed it around like a walker. Somehow I felt like all I needed was a second cup of coffee and this would go away. I couldn't even reach up to pour myself one.

I've had several painful accidents in my life and nothing hurt as much as this - not even falling from a 10 foot ledge, landing face-first into a fallen tree trunk and breaking my nose. Even now, medicated and with a heating pad strapped to my back, subtle shifts of weight in my chair will cause a spasm of pain in my back.

I suppose this serves me right for taking my back for granted and neglecting my core training. For ignoring my recent birthday, which announced that I had reached my "sell by" date and that I have nothing but deterioration to look forward to if I don't start paying more attention to myself.

I had hoped my first post of the new year would be more cheerful than this! I had planned to write about how well I stuck to my training plan despite the cold weather up in Chicago. How well my cold weather gear worked out. How my new years resolution would be to get more core training in...

I've never had a back injury before but judging from MOB's experiences, I should expect to rest for a few days before I try running again. I'll use the time to locate my old Pilates workout DVDs...