Thursday, February 25, 2010

Some new shoes

Confession: I never REALLY got fitted for running shoes. When I first started running I went to one of those bigbox retailers, some teenage boy watched me walk around a bit, told me I was a pronator and gave me a bunch of shoes to try on, and that was about it. I ended up with Saucony Omnis, because they felt the most comfortable, and I've been running with them ever since. Since I've had no real problems or pains, I figured all must be well.

Today I went to a running store in Marin just for some recovery socks, got to talking with the salesperson, and ended up getting properly fitted, gait analysis, running outside in a variety of shoes, talked about how they felt, and ended up buying not one but TWO new pairs of kicks.

I have a very narrow foot and even a narrower heel, and apparently the best shoes for that foot (or at least MY foot) are Asics. Alls I know is they immediately felt wonderful, like I was wearing nothing, or at least like the shoe was made of air. Since my arches are almost nonexistent, I also tried out some Arch Molds, and these just heightened the comfort.

So I walked out $300 poorer, but with a pair of Asics Evolutions for the road (ugly and white -- for now) and a pair of Trabucos for the trail (awesome and pink and black, which I decides a few weeks ago were going to be my "race colors", so was a happy coincidence), the arch supports AND the recovery socks. A good day for the salesperson (way to upsell, lady) and hopefully a good change for me. Bye bye Sauconys, which I never really knew how to pronounce anyhow.

Of course, I did all this when I was supposed to be actually RUNNING but I am just plum tuckered out. I think I might be a little overtrained what with the running skiing yoga that I've been doing at LEAST one of just about every day for the past week or two. I feel fine, but just have no reserve. Tom says it seems like my suitcase full of courage has turned into a suitcase full of porridge (any Phil Liggett (sp?) fans out there?).

So I went shopping instead. Now, to bed, work tonight, and will try for my long run either in the morning or tomorrow afternoon. All this new gear should make it a snap, right??

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cold! Cold! Cold!

Do you use the trick "Oh, I'll just force myself to run for 15 minutes, then I can quit if I want to"?  I use this little mind game all the time, just to get myself out the door.   And then those 15 minutes roll around and you're out there and everything's fine and Boom! there's another 10 miles under your belt.

Today, I got to that 15 minute mark and threw in the towel.  It was 39 degrees out and I thought I would be just fine with my usual minimal clothes . . . well, I've certainly learned the importance of The Wind Chill Factor.  I think I had way too much surface area exposed, and got myself pretty damn cold.  Hence, my 7 or 10 mile run turned into a paltry 2.5.  I did not feel at all bad for cutting the run short, though, because otherwise I think I might have been dealing with chilblains or something if I had continued.

There's snow forecast for tomorrow, which means skiing! in the morning, and then I'll probably mishmash some indoor track with some treadmill and try to get some milage in for the afternoon.  I'm still planning on reaching my 24 mile weekly goal.

Monday, February 22, 2010

This post is Boring!

Today dawned bright and cold, emphasis on the second descriptor.  When it came 'round time for my run, I decided indoors was a better place to be. For me there's a fine line between running around in the cold weather like an idiot bad ass wearing shorts and tank, and me saying Ooooh, dear, it's cold out there I'd rather stay in.  Oddly enough, that barrier hovers 32 degrees, which seems to be the temp that requires the addition of pants.  For me, running in pants (or tights, or capris, or anything below the knees) is just WEIRD.  And 30 is cold!

So I looked at the temp and just said, Not today! and headed off to the Rec Center to take my run indoors.  Round and round and round, 12 laps to the mile, and my outer leg was just feeling it for the first mile or so, then I tried to get hypnotized by the monotony.  This worked pretty well for the longest time, and I ran there more comfortable than I have in the past.  I think next time I might try alternating miles with the treadmill, or at least interspersed with the treadmill, for a little variety.

3 miles in 35 minutes, I've got some longer runs coming up this week.  This week I am really going to try to run my weekly milage goal, for once.  I've missed the mark every week since January!

In unrelated news, I've decided that the uniforms/outfits/getups of all of the Olympic athletes, and the USA in particular, are ugly as sin.  I always pick the wrong outfits on Project Runway, and dress the same way I did 20 years ago, so my opinion might not be the most educated, but seriously?

I did a 10 second search for an appropriate image, and all I found was plaid.  'Nuf said.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

13 miles

Yesterday I headed out with Tom and our mt. biking friends for an "escape from the snow" trip down a few thousand feet to Cool, Ca.  That's gotta be the best mailing address ever, Yeah, I'm from Cool, that's California, man.  In addition to being very cooly named, there was some fine trails to be explored as well.  Trails!  Yay!  I was soooo happy to find myself running on trails again, my natural element.  

First, everyone's got the get all the gear together.  Thank goodness for trucks!

I'm all ready to go.  I have no idea what the trail is going to be like, and Debbie's memory of the terrain is a little hazy.  I'm not apprehensive, just curious.  We all head out together at the trailhead, and it's the last I see of the bikers for a while.  Because, this is what the entire trail is like:
Lovely, huh?  A beautiful trail running along what I think is the south fork of the American River, in any case this waterway dumps into Folsom Lake, 10 miles from the trailhead.  I've got 13 miles on the plan, and am supposed to run 12:01 miles.  I'm close to that goal for the first coupla miles, and then just let it go.  I'm not sure that stated street running goals can really transfer directly to trail running, anyways, because it certainly FELT like I was laying down some effort, but my time certainly doesn't reflect it.  I've decided to take those time goals as suggestions, anyhow, because I'm lazy, it's easier, and I don't really want to make running something that is a consistent struggle.  I can't imagine ever running hard enough to puke . . . that's just not in me.  I'm happy plodding along at a nice lope.  Then I can enjoy sights like this:
And between that photo and the one before it, you pretty much get a good idea of what the entire trail was like.  Heaven.  Gentle rolling hills pretty much running alongside the river, with occasional forays into live oaks or big meadows.  Some sections were a little technical but mostly it was like groomed dirt trails.  Nice!

I celebrated my return to the trails with these cool gaiters, which definitely kept errant rocks out of my shoes and just looked really cool.  Between these and my hand-held water bottle (along with a big ol' belt that holds just about everything you could imagine) I friggin' look like a trail runner!

I just love this trail, and think I'll return again, maybe when I've got one of those 20 milers to do . . . 
At the 6.5 mile mark, I sit myself down to exchange water bottles and have myself a gel.  My mt biking companions chose this time to catch me on their way back -- I feel like I've been caught sitting down on the job!

At 7.77 miles, I'm looking over my shoulder at the river or whatever and the trail gets a little technical.  I decide to pay more attention to my footing, and as soon as my eyes focus on the trail ahead of me, my foot catches a rock and down I go, as over tea kettle down the hill.  This is nothing unusual and barely deserves mention (I fall walking across parking lots), but as I chase down my handheld, I come across GARY, who has popped out of his wrist strap and bounced down the trail as well.  I'm just glad I dropped the bottle in the fall, or I wouldn't have realized the little bastard had escaped.  I didn't think this could happen!  Yikes!

The day was pretty overcast, my favorite running weather.  Soon after my fall, the skies open up and the rain comes down!  It proceed to rain and rain pretty hard for the next half hour, and I've decided that I really enjoy running in the rain!

All in all, it took me somewhere around 3 hours to run the 13 miles.  

Friday, February 19, 2010

Speedwork FAIL

Today's scheduled run (well, Wednesday's scheduled run, but who's tallying, here?) was supposed to be more dreaded speedwork, specifically 6 miles with 3 mile-long intervals of 9:48, with 1/2 mile "jogs" in between.  Well, that didn't happen.  My first mistake, and probably the fatal flaw, was that I had Tom drop me off away from home.  That, in itself, no big deal, but I forgot my damn inhaler and only realized it once we were off and it was too late.  O Well, thought I, this'll be a decent experiment to see if my (strictly exercise-induced) asthma has gotten any better.

One word answer: FuckNo.

Now 9:48 is superduper fast for me, in fact I don't think I've ever really run that fast for more than a minute or two, certainly NOT a mile, but it's what my plan calls for and sure, I'll give it a shot.  First mile? 9:32, baby, 9:32.  Yay! says me, I'm a RAWKstar!  It was a really hard mile, but I did it!  Stopping to take a sip of congratulatory water, I soon dissolve on the side of the road and become a wheezy, coughy, phlegm-producing mess.  That fast.  I pick myself up and continue on for the 1/2 mile jog, but even that's not easy, even at a comfortable 12:30 pace.  Even at a walk.  So the 1/2 mile passes, and I try for the next interval, psyched 'cause it's downhill, I can do this!  About 3/10 of a mile passes, and No, I cannot.  I drop down to a more reasonable pace, and pretty much I can't do that either.  It's not that I couldn't breathe, per se, but more like the air I DID breathe wasn't feeding my muscles.  Just -- no gas.  I plodded on in fits and starts for another mile or so, to a total of 3.3, and called it quits.  I could see no point in "soldiering on" when I could not maintain a run of any pace for more than a tenth of a mile or so.  It felt like I didn't really even have a choice.

On an altogether different note, I solved another problem, namely freezing my ass off in the beginning mile of a run (temps in the 30s, me in shorts and tank, comfortable once I get started) -- armwarmers.  I borrowed a pair of Tom's, and they totally kept my arms, uh, warm.  A mile in, I whipped 'em off and tied them to my waist belt.  Eureka!

I came home, semi-changed, and headed off to yoga.  Ah, yoga . . . I am really falling in love with you, all over again.  I can almost feel my body healing with every move.  That's sumthin' else.

So, I accomplished previously uttered goals.  I cleaned up a bit, shopped, cooked something tasty, managed a run, and yoga . . . the run may have been a FAIL but the day turns up as a WIN.


Now, off for some Olympics.

I'm blaming it on the Olympics . . .

. . . my utter lack of constructive movement, that is.  Really, here it is Friday, and my sum total of activity for the week has been 1 yoga class, 1 morning skiing.  This is NOT how to train for a marathon!  I easily justified losing a day or two of running to my work schedule, and being a little unduly tired from it ("Oh, I'll run tomorrow after gettinzzzzzzzzz . . . . ), but this level of laziness is approaching ridiculousness.  Yesterday Tom did manage to pull me up to Squaw for a morning's fast skiing (haven't had any snow for a while around here, so the runs are packed out hard), during which I talked about going out for my 3-day-overdue 6 mile run, and an evening yoga class . . . after which I came home and went immediately to couch and Tivo and Olympic speed skating (which I oddly find absolutely fascinating), snowboarding and downhill.  I barely managed to rouse myself to cook dinner, never mind running or yoga or anything constructive.

So, as one of this blog's main stated functions is to hold me accountable, I hereby state it's time to get off my fat ass and fucking DO something!  Today's goals are the same as yesterday's, ie. that damn 6-miler dangling over my head like Damocles' sword, and another go at yoga.  Do some cleaning, shopping, prepare something to eat that requires more than opening a can.  Put on some clothes that don't just slip on.

If I do some all of the above, I can reward myself with an afternoon of Olympics.  I gotta keep caught up on that Olympic stuff, because tomorrow I'm joining the mountain bikers for a 13 mile ride/run.  As this is an actual plan, requiring meeting other people, I know I'll at least get this done this week.  That's a day away from home and Tivo, and about 6 more hours of coverage from Vancouver, so I've got to Be. Ready.  Plus, there's lots of biathlon and whilst I know that's even less popular/watched in the US than speed skating, I find it even more fascinating.  At least, every 4 years I do . . .

If I type it, I gotta do it.  So there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quik post

Sheesh, I gotta throw something up here before everyone thinks I've died again, or something.  So this'll just be really brief, for now . . .

I've continued with the running schedule, and am pretty much on target.  I've been having a hard time hitting my time and tempo goals, but am close (always seem to be within 3 miles) of my weekly distance goals, so I'm relatively content with that.  I may have over-reacted to the back thing, because after a day of drug-induced couch coma, I was pretty much totally healed, which is a little odd.  I expected to suffer for at least a little while, but I woke up the next day feeling relatively normal.  So who knows?

I ran a 10 mile run on Saturday, down in Marin, in between 12 hour night shifts.  I don't think I'm quite ready for this, as my legs just went ppphhhhllfffffftttt at about 1 am and I really didn't even feel like moving at all.  I guess as I get used to these longer distances I will be less affected by them, but right now 10 miles makes an impact.  I should have gotten in another 2 3-mile runs while there, but I couldn't bear getting out of bed at anything other than the last minute so those plans were shelved.

Therefor, I'm looking at packing something like 25 miles into what remains of the week, and I'm not sure how I'm gonna make that happen.  I should have gotten a run in today, but instead got an hour and a half massage -- lovely.  I'm also headed out right now to yoga (I figured that would complement the massage better than that pesky 6 miler).

So hopefully I will put down all of these other activities and get up and RUN.  Sound familiar?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

. . . and setbacks

I got up this morning and went directly to yoga class first thing.  Coming out of aptly named "Awkward Pose" I felt my back go "sproing!"  As I have alluded to before, I have a bad back due to a fairly serious back injury about 10 years ago.  Mostly it's fine, mostly these days I just have lots of arthritis and problems with stiffness.  I'm gimpy in the morning but usually 1/2 hour after I get up all traces are gone and off I go without another thought.  I think it's been about three years since I have had any significant Issues, but I think today's the day to reset that counter.  Whatever I have going on back there is very different from the arthritis "pain" that I am used to.

It's not that bad, mostly muscular pain in the low back, a little weakness and definite pain when I bear weight on one leg (like going up or down stairs).  Having been through the wringer and back in the past, though, I really respect and listen to what my back is telling me.  I have learned through experience (and through Tom, who has MORE than his fair share of back issues) that the thing to do when confronted with unusual back pain is to hit it soon, and hit it hard, and don't wait for things to get worse (which they almost inevitably will).  I just got out of a nice warm shower, and am sitting here with an ice pack to that lumbar spine.  More to the point, I've just ingested a prodigious amount of drugs (yes, it's true, nurses ALWAYS have the best drugs) and am predicting that I'll be drooling in about 45 minutes with the onset of ibuprofen, norco, soma and just a touch of xanax.  Fuck yeah, that's a LOT of narcotics and other things which I don't usually take, ever, but experience has proven to me that if I do this little cocktail soon enough, and spend a significant time off my feet, out of pain and with muscles relaxed, the spine just kind of deals with itself and sorts itself out without getting lots of collateral muscles involved and really turning into something serious.  It seems a little extreme, but I would rather lose a day to drugged-out numbness than lose a week (or more, much more) to pain and weakness and exacerbation of existing nerve damage.  The last time this happened, it was after a really scrambling-type backpacking trip, and I spent 2 days in bed only getting up to pee, and I was fine after that two days.  This does not seem as serious, and I'm hoping (almost against hope) that it will work and I'll be back to my normal self tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'll sit here in a narcotized puddle and watch stupid things on TV.  I am trying to put a positive spin on this, and am thinking that this is just a little roadblock to having a much more limber spine.  I don't blame the yoga and will get back to it as soon as possible, for it has vastly helped me with spinal issues in the past and has already made a considerable difference in just the 2 months that I have been seriously attending class this go 'round.  Tom brought up a good point in that this morning I woke up, sat on the couch checking emails, then went right to class without ever really moving around much -- I might as well have been asking for it.  In the future I will spend more time limbering up or just walking around prior to going; perhaps I should concentrate on evening classes as opposed to the morning ones.  Something to consider, anyhow.

Yeah, ok, the shit's starting to hit the fan now and I'm feeling a little floaty.  But when I start drooling in another 5 minutes I'm not going to be entirely sure it's from the drugs -- it might be from Shut Up and Run!'s awesome giveaway of lots of cool Champion gear.  I love this brand and really want to win this one . . .

Monday, February 8, 2010


I had lots of plans for yesterday, and the day started out fine with a yoga class.  Then I sat on the couch for about 5 hours, then took a 2 hour nap, went out to dinner and then spent a nice evening with Tom.  Oooh, life is tough.

Today I got up off my ass, did some housecleaning and just got home from a run.  I think this is what the fancy folks call a "tempo run" and yikes! I feel like I'm entering a whole new phase of running.  I went out for 6 miles, and the middle 4 called for a 10:30 pace.


Once again, I start out feeling like a rock star, then slowly slip on the pace thing.  I set Gary to bleep if I went under 10:30, and he was mostly quiet the first 2 miles (mostly), but really started acting up on the third mile.  I'd hear the bliddely-bleeeeup! and speed up a bit, only to get bliddely-bleeeeuped again a minute later.  Fucker.

All in all, I was pretty happy with this run.  I'm certainly not a big fan of the "speed" thing, but I think it's good to be pushed out of my comfort zone, even just a little bit.  It certainly isn't boring.  I still found myself taking quite a few stopped water breaks, but less than the last speedwork run I did.  I think these'll just naturally fade out as time passes.

Of note, I ran up that unavoidable 250' hill to my house, and today I made it non-stop.  Granted, it was at a pace of something like 15:00, but I didn't stop.  Progress!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

And now, hills!

Yesterday afternoon saw some snow.  Actually, not much accumulated, but at 1pm there was plenty in the air.  I am leery of running on the road in the first place (cars! people! where do I pee?!) and the addition of the fluffy stuff had me wondering if a road run around town was a good idea.  I opted instead to venture off the mountain.  Using Google Earth, Tom helped me plot a likely running route 4,000 feet lower in Colfax, definitely out of snow's reach this day.  Later I found myself standing outside my car contemplating this sign:

At this point I took it to mean "Curvy road ahead" . . . I should have interpreted it to mean "HILLS!!!" because that's exactly what the next 8 miles proved to be.  Hilly!  Hillier than, I duuno, northern California?

Almost 1,900 feet of elevation gain in my little 8 mile run.  I was super slow, I dwaddled, peed, took water breaks and pictures.  It took me 2 hours to run this distance.  But.  I really dug in and ran it.  I motored my way up and experienced a sense of STRENGTH as I ran.  I'll have to remember this feeling and tap into it in the future.  

I would've run another 4 miles, but that would have pushed me into nighttime.  I do have plans to run at night, but not quite yet!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Garmin has a first name . . .

"It's G A R ,um, Y"

In the previous comments, Funderson asked about Gary the Garmin.  Yes, indeed, Gary is its name.  Why?  Well, the short answer is Gary is kind of an obvious derivative.  GARmin, GARy, yeah.  There is a longer, more involved answer, though, one that finds its roots over 10 years ago . . .

::swirly picture fade out to another time and place::

So I dated and lived with this guy named Gary for about 2 years, some 10 years ago.  Lots of red flags in our relationship, right from the very beginning -- he still lived with his parents (at age 30+), my family hated him and he limited the time I spent with them, he was unemployed, I paid the rent when he did move in with me, he walked around bare-chested at every opportunity, played the guitar passably and fancied himself a star, etc., etc. (trust me, the list goes on and on).  Incredibly long and pathetic story short, I finally wised up, broke up with him and kicked him out of my house.  This is where the story veers from Co-dependent Street right on to Mental Illness Avenue.

For one thing, it took the man over a week to actually leave -- and that required an ultimatum of police-department proportions (a theme we return to again later in this story).  When I came home from work that night, every single light in the house was on, the door was wide open, all the pictures on the wall were tilted at a precise angle and every door (including cabinets) was open just so.  Upon further inspection, everything that he and his family (with whom I was quite close) had ever given me was just gone, CDs that I bought while we were together were defaced, and I found the first of the notes that were to  plague me for the next 6+ months.  This guy had taken the time to write these little fortune-cookie type notes proclaiming his love for me and various other sentiments and secreted them all over the place -- like in  cereal boxes, the back of the spice rack, stuck to the bottom of a tampon box.  Seriously, for the next weeks and months I would unroll the toilet paper and a little piece of paper would flutter out, saying how mean I was, or I'd open up a cookbook to some random recipe and there'd be another one of those fucking notes telling me how I wasted a wonderful thing.  Super crazy shit, and it was only the beginning.

He proceeded to stalk me with a vengeance, showing up at my house at all hours, at work, at other places I might frequent.  He left me flowers and notes on my car, and would call and leave TONS of messages on my phone -- I remember coming home one night to find 58, yes 5-8, rambling phone messages (including some that were just those tones you get when you push the phone buttons, and I'm sure he was sending me "messages" this way).  I was 40 miles away from home, going out for an evening with my sister, and I looked over into the lane next to me at a stoplight and there he was.  He would just show up at places, demanding to speak with me.  Restaurants, work, places I liked to go.  The final straw was waking up one morning at about 10am (I worked nights even then, so that was like the middle of the night for me, a fact he well knew) to find him standing at the end of my bed, watching me sleep.  I got the police involved at this point, and had him arrested for breaking and entering (his crazy fucking logic said that this was a bogus charge, as he had entered an unlocked window and thus didn't actually BREAK anything).  Restraining orders followed, but even that barely slowed him down -- he'd show up at my house at 3am, pounding on my front door, kicking dents into my car, still leaving notes and flowers in places I was sure to find.  I had to have security meet me at my designated parking place at work for MONTHS.  It got so that I would call the police and say "This is Bootchez" and they'd just send a car out to my address to lead him away.  Again.  He never once physically harmed me, though I have no doubt that he was the type that might eventually snap and kill me in some weird attachment disorder break.

I never actually pressed charges.  Co-dependent to the end.

The following and the "anonymous" phone calls continued for months and months, and was certainly a factor in my deciding to start travelling as a nurse.  It never really stopped until I left the area, over a year later.

Good things to come out of this?  It pretty much cured me of the co-dependent pattern that had repeated itself over and over and over again in my romantic relationships (I only needed one more lousy -- though thankfully short-lived -- relationship before I gave up all together, renounced all of my tendencies of falling for unavailable men, and decided to become a lesbian.  Then, totally without warning (and before I did anything more than cruise a gay bar), Tom, wonderful Tom, fell into my lap.  He wishes it was a little later, and perhaps I had a little lesbo experience, but that's another story).  Plus, as I have always said, Tragedy + Time = Comedy, and all this time later I've really let go of the emotions surrounding this experience and appreciate it mostly for the humorous anecdotes it might provide.  Like, I hate Jazz and I hate the Grateful Dead, and thus was totally flummoxed by Gary's invitation, right in the middle of all this, to go see a show called Jazz is Dead, featuring a band covering the Dead with a Jazz flair.  I can think of little else that I would rather do.  Mainly, I can't help but laugh, all these years later, at the sheer craziness of some of the shit that went down.

Which, in my usual long-winded fashion, brings me around to the point of this post.  Gary, the stalker, knew absolutely everything about where I was and what I did, and oooooooh! so does the Gary the Garmin!  Thus, my Garmin has a first name . . . .

Monday, February 1, 2010


I've been keeping up with the running (if not the blogging) while in
Marin. At the end of last week I was supposed to do a 3 and a 5 mile
run. One of those days I couldn't get out of bed, so I combined them
for a very desultory 6.5 mile slog. I do believe I ran this on An
empty tank, food-wise, cause I was hungry as hell, and could barely
run without a serious walk break maybe every half mile. No energy.
Plus I ran by a few restaraunts and seriuosly considered running in
and grabbing food out of diners' hands.

I'm just beginning to appreciate the importance of being well fed.

Today I tried to make up for some off the speedwork that had been
called for in one of those two runs. I think the five miles called for
three miles at 10:29, so today I headed out for just three at that
pace. I set Gary to bleep at anything under 10:30, and off I went. My
splits? 9:57, 10:15, 10:15.

In the interest of full disclosure, I took a coupla water breaks in
there, maybe 5 of them for :30 or so. This running fast shit is
totally out of my league and new on my plate, so my Lazy Girl self
didn't want to take it TOO seriuosly. I'm kinda amazed at my times,
even considering the breaks. It definitely was harder than my usual
efforts, but maybe less hard than I envisioned. Now, if I can do that
WITHOUT stopping, I'd be impressed!