“In touch with the ground, I’m on the hunt, I’m after you…and I’m hungry like the wolf.” – Duran Duran
“I got my toes in the water, my ass in the sand. Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today. Life is good today.” – Zac Brown Band
My new pint glass!
“Toes” is a good title song for this week because I had a lovely Staycation with Carly and while I did not have my toes in the sand, I did have a cold beer in my hand! I also need to post about feet. You may want to stop reading here if you are grossed out by feet.
So, one thing on my body that does look like a real runner are my feet. As I travel longer distances by the power of my two feet, I am in danger of losing toenails. I have two that are completely black but still attached but their continued attachment to my foot is questionable, at best. I have one that is half black but seems to be making a recovery. I am completely worried about the ones that are totally black. I really don’t want to lose my toenails. I like them. For non-runners, my toenails are black because of bruising under the toenail. In some cases, the bruising is really bad and the blood won’t drain. If anyone has any toenail saving tips, let’s hear them. My running shoes are already a half size to a whole size bigger than my regular shoes. I keep my nails short. I think it just happens.
This presents challenges for me because I live in flip flops when not at work or in my running shoes. I own a lot of nail polish but pink does not cover black. This week, in my spare time, I went in search of nail polish that will cover black. I think OPI is missing out on a line of nail polish for runners to cover black toenails. I don’t know what this color is really called but I would call it I Wish I Could BQ Blue. (See how the big toenail on the right foot looks a little off? That is the suspect one.)
I also bought a dark shade of purple OPI could call Pick Up the Pace Purple. There could be Medals Aren’t Earned on Race Day Maroon, Blood Sweat and Tears Black and Toenails Are Overrated Teal. Anyway, you get the picture.
This week’s runs were fun because I did not have the pressure of trying to fit them in around work and school for the kids. I ran nearly 14 miles on Saturday (not all of it consecutive) but I got the mileage in. I ran the last three miles with Carly to get her on track for the Carrboro 10K to earn a corral time for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge races at Disneyland in January. Our times have to be submitted by mid-October so she needs to get in gear. She cried on the run. I was not pushing her hard; she just started to cry. I told her there was no crying in running. I actually used that line from A League of Their Own. She stopped crying and we moved on, albeit at more of a fast walk. We all have to start somewhere. I know she will get there. Earning those three runDisney medals mean a lot to her. I reminded her we have plenty of time. Still, one cannot get off the couch and run 19.3 miles.
Crying was a theme for much of the day on Saturday. My new Fleet Feet marathon training group is coming together. We’re Team Indiana Jones (named after 80’s movies this time instead of Will Ferrell characters – 80’s movies are more within my frame of reference). There are 5 of us. Sara I run with regularly on Thursdays and Saturdays. Lena, one of the new group, used to be a Marine. She said we handled long runs better than her recruits, who would cry. We all agreed there is no crying in running, which is why I used that line on Carly later in the day.
That also made me think of this line from A League of Their Own:
I realize I probably make running sound awful. It is hard. Sometimes, it makes me puke. Sometimes (often?), it makes me hurt. Sometimes, it costs me body parts that have been attached to my body for years. But, much like parenting children, when it is hard, it is really, really hard but when it is great, it is totally amazing. I am convinced the runner’s high exists. I don’t feel it every run but when I do it is worth all the other miserable times. Running truly allows me to feel free. So, I will puke on the run from the heat and exertion, I will lose my toenails, I will take ice baths to relive the pain and I will run, run, run.
So, I’m clearly going with song titles for the titles of my blog posts. I thought this title was fitting for my post about how I used to worry that I don’t look like a “real” runner. As I’ve mentioned before relating to my weak glutes, I don’t really have much junk in my trunk but I have plenty of junk in my belly and my chest. Thanks to my 70 pound weight loss, I now have some extra skin I am waiting to shrink up. I also have about 15 more pounds to drop. I am not gazelle-like or light on my feet or anything else anyone uses to describe a “real” runner.
I am writing this post because, when I first decided to try out running, I looked at lots of running magazines and blogs. None of the people in those places looked like me. They were slim or muscular or not fat. Then, I found Swim Bike Mom (Meredith Atwood), a wonderful blogger, a wonderful author (Triathlon for the Every Woman) and an Ironman, who said that races aren’t just for skinny people, they are for really brave people in stretchy fabric. I have to say, I found Meredith’s book so inspiring. She did her first triathlon when she weighed 220 pounds. She just got out there and did it and she did not care what other people thought. She also finished. Then she went on to do more races and more races until she completed a full Ironman. Along the way, she lost some weight but she does not meet society’s standard of thin by any means. I also read Slow, Fat Triathlete. One aspect of both books, I really liked was that both authors included a section on where to find apparel to fit the non-traditional athlete and the struggles they felt trying to find something that would work. I want to “pay it forward” and share some of my insights with other non-traditional runner girls.
Athletic clothing manufacturers don’t make many items of running apparel for those of us who don’t resemble real runners. That is why I am extremely picky about the brands I will wear (forget wearing the technical shirt provided by races). I primarily wear Nike, lululemon (yes, the founder is a douchebag) and Oiselle (but only certain items and I am even officially part of Oiselle’s sponsored Flock but they still, largely, design for the traditionally shaped runner). I’ve had some problems with my Saucony clothing order so, I am reserving judgment until my fall items arrive, but so far, I have one pair of capris I really like. I am excited about my fall Saucony items, which should be arriving soon.
I am picky not because I am label-conscious or want to spend a ton of money on running clothes, it is because I know what works and what does not work for me. I may be a really brave person in stretchy fabric but some stretchy fabric looks better on me than others! As a friend of mine said on a recent run when we were discussing pacing, “If you look around you, and you are surrounded by the people in the really short shorts with the slits on the sides, you are running too fast and need to slow down.” First, he was right – I’ve got no business running with those people and will soon be stopping short, gasping for air, and second, I have no business wearing shorts with slits! I firmly believe if I feel comfortable in what I have on, I will be have a better run. With that said, here are the things I have found that work for me (while I do receive some items for being part of the 26Strong program, I will only say I like something if I actually like it – so far I’ve really only tested Saucony’s shoes):
1. Sports Bras – a busty girl’s best friend
Unfortunately, the cute sports bras are not made for the C cup and above runners. I happen to have this bra (Oiselle Strappy Bra) but I can only wear it for yoga and around the house:
Remember that song by Milli Vanilli? Remember when they were not those two German dudes with the dreads but really two middle aged, large sized dudes from the US? I digress, but I bet that song is stuck in your head, now.
So, Week 5 has come and gone and I just did the first training run of Week 6. We’ve had a lot of rain. Like, a Seattle amount of rain. I’m just going to put this out there – I.Hate.Running.In.The.Rain. A short run in a little drizzle is OK but long runs and rain don’t mix. I know I get wet from sweat but getting wet running in a torrential downpour is no fun. I’ve had to do it twice and bad things happened. Things like chafing in strange places and blisters on my heels from wet socks and ruined headphones and really wet running shoes that took days to dry. It is now my policy that I don’t do it because there are other options, like indoor tracks and treadmills. I guess I am a Bad Ass Mother Runner when it is dry and not cold and not too humid. Hey, I never claimed to be low maintenance (friends are snickering here).
I had a really good, sweaty time on Saturday and this happened:
Oops, I ran 13.3 miles instead of 11. I PR’d the half marathon. By 32 minutes. I was just having so much fun and I had to wait until “What Makes You Beautiful” ended and then, “Holding Out for a Hero” came on and I had to wait until that was over, too. Granted, they were treadmill miles, not road miles, and I am always faster on the treadmill but a 32 minute PR is pretty damn good! It was a rough week at work and I needed this run so much. I needed to leave it all on the treadmill and I did just that. It was amazing.
Sounds great, right? Yes, until I woke up on Sunday and it was holy sore shins, Batman! OMG. I was uncertain if I was going to be able to walk to the coffee pot, which would be a tragedy because I like coffee as much as I like beer and my family does not like me without coffee. I hobbled to the coffee and to the Costco-sized bottle of Alleve (yes, my personal shopper, Heather, bought it for me at Costco), where I promptly took more than the recommended daily dosage (my cousin is a pharmacist and he said the information on the label is more like a suggested serving size). Then, I spent the rest of the day feeling every single step right in the muscle that runs along the side of your shin bone. Of course, being a hypochondriac, I googled it and diagnosed myself with bilateral stress fractures because I always think the worst about illness and injury. I did ice it and then put heat on it. The heat actually helped. Yesterday, I skipped lower body strength training and paid Carly $3 to roll my calves and soleus with The Stick. She used to do it for free but I ask too often, now, and she is no fool, that child, so she has made a small fortune off me since marathon training started. I also foam rolled the heck out of every muscle in my lower body. My calves feel like rocks and not because I am uber muscular but because I can’t figure out how to release them.
Fortunately, I have a standing appointment every two weeks with Smruti (my PT) so I hobbled in to see her today and told her I was sure I had a stress fracture and it was all over. When I showed her where the pain was, she laughed and told me it was all muscle pain. She manipulated the joints in my foot and my ankle, which helped to release my muscles. She Grastoned (is that a word?) the hell out of my soleus. I would say I could not wear a skirt to work tomorrow but everyone I work with is used to seeing my Achilles’ all black and blue so, I am sure no one would bat an eye about my colorful legs, at this point. She diagnosed me with two strained soleus muscles and told me not to run 13 miles on a treadmill ever again, if I could help it. After my appointment, I felt so much better. The tight spots near the bottom of my shin were completely gone. When Smruti goes out on maternity leave the week before my marathon, I am just going to go to the hospital and make her Graston my lower legs!
I ran 6 miles tonight on the dreaded treadmill (thank you, severe thunderstorms and torrential rain, this is getting to a problem) but I was careful not to bounce up too much. Smruti thinks that is what contributed to my problem. This is also going to happen after every run for the rest of the week:
A few folks I know who are “serious” runners (meaning people who have run Boston and regularly, run sub-3 hour marathons) suggested I try yoga. There is a great yoga studio here and the owner is also a runner so she offers a great class called Yoga for Runners. I would love to take it but childcare is a major issue. At the end of the day, I am still a Bad Ass MOTHER Runner and a semi-Bad Ass In House Counsel (my co-workers tease me because I am actually nice to opposing counsel – flies, honey, that whole philosophy), with a 40 hour work week. Fitting in another thing and convincing my long suffering, non-runner husband to pick the kids up so I can do yoga is probably not in the cards unless I give up a running day and that is not going to happen. Alas, I will try to do yoga at home. That should be funny and I am sure my children will laugh at me. Maybe, I’ll sing while I do it.
At this point, I’ve decided to blame the strained soleus on the rain. In legal reasoning, there is a theory called “but for causation”, which goes something like, but for X, Y would not have happened. So, but for the rain, my strained soleus would not have happened. It has nothing to do with the fact that I ran 13.3 miles on a treadmill because I don’t like to get wet, or that I over-strode on said treadmill or that I had too much vertical oscillation or that I ran a long run at faster than race pace (completely opposite of what Dimity told me to do) or set a PR for the half on a freaking training run where it was completely unnecessary. It was the rain.
So, Week 4 is done and tomorrow starts Week 5. Today is supposed to be a rest day but I’ll have to hit the pool because I did not get my laps in on Friday. I hurt my shoulder doing push ups on Thursday night, which just goes to show you, I should not be allowed to do strength training unsupervised! It hurts in the front of my shoulder and it clicks when I move it. Probably not good but I will only pay the specialist co-pay to see the Orthopod if it is something below the waist that prevents running. Everything else will have to heal on its own! In this case, it means I taped a bag of frozen peas to my shoulder every few hours for the past few days and I had Carly apply KT tape in a very colorful pattern to my shoulder. I am not a graceful or efficient swimmer so I don’t suspect that it will make much difference that my shoulder hurts now. I will lurch from one end of the pool to the other, regardless.
Running this week went well. End of last week, this happened:
I have to admit I was pretty excited about this. Truthfully, I hit this milestone about two hundred miles ago but the Nike Plus app “ate” several hundred miles a few weeks after the Disney Princess Half and I was unable to recover them. I even called the help desk for the Nike app and they were unable to restore them. I was sad, and the girl on the phone was so sympathetic, I am convinced that they train those people in the stages of grief for when runners call mourning their lost miles. I could have manually added back in the miles but I could not remember how many miles I actually had or the days of the runs so, I had to accept it and was still happy to see the 1000.
Then, I hit 90 miles for the month of July. A first for me. On Tuesday, the Half and Full Marathon Training Group resumed at Fleet Feet. I’ve been running in the “off-season” with my old group from the Spring Half and Full Group but I was able to reconnect with several running friends I have not seen since April. We’ll meet new people and it will be fun to do boring track work-outs with a group and have variety for company on long runs. Dimity’s training plan (even the modified version we agreed upon) is a significant amount of miles more than the Fleet Feet plan. I am sticking with Dimity so, that means I’ll have to find friends to run extra mileage with me each Saturday. Sarah, from my regular “off season” crew is training for the NYC Marathon so, I suspect, she will hang in there with me.
My long run on Saturday went really well. First, the weather was mild and nothing like the jungle-like conditions of last week. I ran the first 5 miles with the new Fleet Feet group and the last 7 with my dear friend, Heather. Heather is in the training group, too, training for her first half marathon, the OBX Half in November.
Let me just take a minute to tell you all the reasons why I love Heather. Heather and I met in the Executive MHA program at UNC during the first week. I’ve known her for 5 years but I feel like we’ve been friends forever. I think we immediately recognized fellow Type A folks. Heather puts up with zero bullshit and I love that about her. The entire MHA program is made up of one series of group projects after another and you need people who are going to get it done in a timely manner. Plus, she is crazy smart and gets stuff I don’t, like Excel, math and how to fix Windows computers. She also knows how to make knock-off Sweaty Bands, saving me a gazillion dollars on my Sweaty Band fetish. She can cook, bake, fix a car, and sew. Basically, Heather is a total badass and she is the first person, after my immediate family, I am going to find when the zombies come for us all. Yes, we already have an apocalypse plan, of course we do! She now works where I do and she sorts all my Excel spreadsheets so, that is an extra plus. She is also my personal shopper and buys me things at Costco so I don’t have to drag my kids. My favorite thing about Heather is that she will do races with me and I love, love, love her company. Here is the proof (I have a ton of pictures of races we did together but these are my favorites):
The Ramblin Rose Triathlon in Raleigh in May, Heather was our swimmer (I ran my fastest two miles – ever. Too bad I’d have to keep that pace up for 24.2 more miles to BQ).
We ran the Komen Race for the Cure together in June and, we both, clearly, love pink!
Tarheel 10 Miler in April – her longest race to date!
She got in this dirty, dirty lake that has been known to have dead bodies in it for the Ironman 70.3 Raleigh relay team (because we have this type of friendship, I e-mailed her news stories about the questionable pollution level of the lake and a dead body that was fished out just a few days before we went out to the lake to practice open water swimming – not making light of dead people, or anything, just giving her a hard time):
Proof that we all made it to the finish line, although my finish was in jeopardy (more on my nutritional challenges in another post). Jonathan was our biker.
Earlier in the week, Heather agreed to run my extra mileage with me so I did not have to run alone. After a pit stop back at the Fleet Feet Durham store from the first 5 miles, we headed out down the American Tobacco Trail for the the last 7. Heather kept me energized, entertained and set a great pace. It was her longest run, ever, and she knocked it out of the park because, well, that is what Heather always does! I started to feel sick to my stomach towards the end of the run (I’ll have a post about my long run nutrition challenges later) and she walked a while with me, never complaining. I recovered and we ran in the last mile, hard. Heather has been known to puke on a run and just keep going. I am not that badass. I have to at least walk a minute or two before running on.
I have a lot of friends, whom I love, and a lot of running friends, whom I also love and also keep me going on my runs, but I really owe a ton of credit for motivation to Heather. She promised to enter the Boston Marathon with me in the disabled division and push me in a wheelchair when I’m 70 and she is 60 so, it sounds like we are going to have lot of running and a lot of friendship ahead of us!