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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Detox Dash

I found out about the Detox Dash at the Varsity Sports booth at the Greek Fest 5k. They gave away tank tops with flyers about this event the next morning: a detox dash for those who had a little too much wine and ouzo the night before!

It was held at Wood, a pizza place right off Lee's Circle, so it was a straight shot down St. Charles Ave for me. I decided to run it, and get David to join us for the group run and drive me home (still being so responsible! Limiting my miles post-race!).
I ran on the soft streetcar tracks to save my legs, and man, was it a lovely run. The sun was out, the temperatures and humidity were actually kind of under control, and the streetcars clanged their bells at me when I waved. It was a morning to love New Orleans! I reached Wood at about 7:50 after my 4.5ish mile run there, with enough time to check out the Asics table. They sponsored the run, and in addition to providing free tech T's (nice, since the Greek Fest 5k the night before gives out socks, and I'm running low on shirts that don't smell like death), they offered shoes to try for the run.

We had a large group - maybe 40 people - and set out on a 3-mile route up on the Mississippi and through the French Quarter. It was good to catch up with the Varsity people since I haven't seen a lot of them lately thanks to, you know, crutches and stuff. I returned back to the pizza place with about 8 miles - and starving. Nothing like pizza at 8:30 am!
The patio at Wood, full of sweaty runners. We all smel
Except wine. Wine at 8:30 is even better. A to Z winery was there offering tastings of three of their wines: a chardonnay I didn't try, a passable rose (super acidic in the mouth, but with a really nice fruity aftertaste), and a truly awful pinot noir. Like, spit-it-out awful. Or maybe I just shouldn't have wine for breakfast. The pizza, by contrast, was delicious: I tried a wild mushroom with fried egg, and a spicy tomato and pepperoni. And some other slice I forgot. It was all good, although we had a long wait for it - not to knock free food, but they should have had it out by 8:30 when the runners started coming in, and it was easily 9:15 before the put out the first pizzas.
Group pic
Either way, it was a really fun run, and totally unique - who has pizza in the morning after a run?! Loved the idea, and loved the free shirt perk. It's hot here: a white tech T is never something I turn down.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Greek-festing

After the Greek Fest 5k Friday night, I saved my race bib: it got us in free the next day, when I finally toured the church. This congregation is the oldest continuous Greek Orthodox congregation in America, and we heard their history during a brief presentation in the church. Fascinating. 

The presentation included chanting by two talented cantors. I got some video before the presentation started and I put my phone away, lest it irritate the woman behind me, who rattled a plastic bag full of baklava for 45 minutes straight. 

video


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Last-minute racing: Greek Fest 5k

For some reason I thought we'd go to Mississippi this holiday weekend, maybe get away from the business for a few days, so I didn't register for the Greek Fest 5k. But then I realized that we have orchestra tickets in town tomorrow night, so we can't do that - and then I thought, why not race?
If you run the Greek Fest race, you get free beer and free entry into the fest the whole weekend - so it kind of pays for itself, since a. fest beer is pricey and b. I intended on returning to the fest the next day. Not like you really need two days of gyros and ouzo, but I've always wanted to tour the Greek Orthodox church, and I never can do it on race night, because there is a strict dress code inside the church. So Friday morning, still in debate (knowing I was not in 5k shape at all, and knowing that my left leg has felt vaguely weak for about a month now), I packed a bag of clothes, shoes, and Garmin.
I finally decided to race, and texted David that we'd just figure out how out of shape we both were!
Start of the one-mile
David got off work earlier than I did, so he registered us, while I drove around helplessly looking for ways to get around blocked roads. Finally I parked and found him, and we put our bibs on and tossed spare shirts and sandals in his boot.
By the time I'd done that, chatted with a friend, used the bathroom, and run back to my car for chapstick, the one-mile race was almost done, and the 5k was lining up. My Garmin said I had about 10 minutes to the start, so I decided to jog a mile, then do a few strides. But luckily, I didn't go too far - I heard the national anthem, and turned around to barely make it into the crowds as the horn went off. No strides for me, and barely a half-mile warm-up as the race started about five minutes early.

Mile one: I was not terribly far back, since I'd scooted up the side of the start, but I was still passing people for the whole first half-mile. Plus, this race tends to get a big crowd of weekend warriors, who start close to the front, and fall off pace FAST. So there was a lot of weaving. I wanted to run about 7 min/mile pace, knowing that right now that was about all I had, but 6:55 felt comfortably hard, so I stuck with that pace. I focused on normal breathing and using both legs evenly (I've been struggling with that). It felt good to race again, but I resolutely held back! 6:56.
Mile two: Mile two was the interesting one. There were two "incidents" in mile two. The only water stop is in mile two; because of my rushed start, I wanted a water, so I stayed to the left and grabbed one. The problem was that the young boy in front of me (high school runner) grabbed a water, too, then stopped dead in his tracks. No biggie - I put the brakes on, swerved, didn't collide with anyone. But those occurrences just throw your race off when it's a 5k, you know? It wrecks your momentum. And right after the water stop was a hairpin turn, which I knew also wrecks momentum! I'd planned to follow Chris' advice and take 5 quick strides after the turn to get back on track. But that didn't happen. I approached the turn with an older gentleman who is an incredible local runner (he actually holds some national grandmasters titles). I've gotten the impression in the past that he doesn't necessarily race clean - he uses track tactics. And I also have this impression that he's always competing with me, since we are similar paces. Well. We turned. He was on the inside; I was outside. And then he started drifting hard right. And harder right. And straight toward me. He basically ran me off the road: I was in the grass! Very weird. I didn't know what to think about that, but...benefit of the doubt? Maybe he didn't see me. Anyway. Mile 2 was 6:54.
Mile three: I felt pretty good at mile three, and I passed a lady I'd passed *right* at the line last year. I wasn't exactly speeding by the third mile, but I was passing plenty of people, and only one person passed me - my friend Rob, whom I'd been trading places with for a mile and a half. I almost caught a really tall, very long-legged girl: I'd seen her in SECOND at the turn-around, but at the third mile she was walking! But when she saw me she burst off in smoking speed. Weird way to run a race - but when you are over 6 feet tall, a short burst of speed carries you far. 6:53.
Last bits: No speed for me. I just don't have the leg turnover anymore. I finished in 21:33 by Garmin; they haven't published official gun times yet, but it should be a bit slower based on my start place.
Sweaty picture in front of the Greek church. 
Thoughts: 
- Older runner apologized after the race (I know his name but I don't want to say it). He said, "Sorry I ran you into the shoulder. That's how I cut my corners. Wide." I said no problem, and really - it's not. But I have this feeling that it wasn't an accident. BTW I beat him, so nyah nyah.
- My leg turnover is seriously slow. Bad.
- I worked hard to land with even foot pressure and to use my glutes for power.
- All comeback races suck. This is similar to my first 5k back after the last hip surgery - not fun, not fast.
- But I'm really happy to use this time to work on pacing and negative splits. It's time to put the work in and get it right!
- I need to stop weaving so much: I ran further than I should have, and that hurts you in 5k.
- I am painfully aware of my extra years and extra pounds. Age and weight'll get ya.
- It was an unusually cool morning, so Friday when I grabbed my clothes I packed a black technical T-shirt. Terrible decision: I was HOT.
- I'm happy that I felt fairly comfortable all race. I know there's a lot of work to be done, but it's good to get back out there.
*EDITED TO ADD* Oops. I am entirely to blame for ever listening to my husband on time...he is wrong about 60% of the time, after all. The 5k started at 7:20 and it was actually five minutes late!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A late ode to Coeur Sports

Remember how last year I was an ambassador for Coeur Sports? I bet they loved that choice, signing on a girl who had the skill to manage two hip surgeries in one year. Sorry about that, Coeur.
I didn't reapply for the ambassadorship this year, because I knew during the application window that I would be having hip surgery and miss half of 2015. But I do want to talk about the company a little bit, anyway.
I waited to write this post, because I wanted to not only be honest, but be perceived as honest - and neither is easy when you are receiving free clothes from a company! Now that my ambassadorship is over, I'm sharing the whole scoop - what I think about the ambassadorship, the clothes, the company.
First up, the ambassadorship. 
You might have noticed that I don't have a lot of brand loyalty. I buy lots of different products, and even try the clothes and shoes of companies whose marketing I roll my eyes at (for example, Brooks lost sight of serious running and got into a lot of silly tutu nonsense, but let's face it - that's where the money was at. I still wore Brooks Pure Cadence for over a year). For me to want an ambassadorship with a company, there would need to be a strong reason - and that reason was that I got a very good recommendation from a friend who works in athletic clothing sales. She raved about what she saw (at a trade show, if I remember correctly), so I applied. As an ambassador, I got a great discount plus a "kit" - which was really a huge box of great clothes. They gave you a set dollar amount and told you to order what you want, which is great! Now, I actually never got all my clothes. I would have gotten two bras, two shorts, and a tank - but I never got the second pair of shorts. I didn't mention it, because - free, you know? But it was a great program, and we never had obnoxious, restrictive rules about other clothes. We were just asked once that if we had a profile picture of us racing/on a podium/with a medal, it would be nice if it were in Coeur. A big benefit to the ambassadorship was that we made a Facebook group, and it was fun to keep up with everyone's training and racing. It was a very positive experience, and I was happy I'd applied and was accepted.
Second, the clothes. 
Two words: run shorts. Fell in love. I didn't expect this, but they are perfect for me - stretchy, short, vented but modest, pockets, flattering (I know. Leave me alone, I need flattering now. I'm getting old). In general, I liked the clothes for attention to detail (obviously designed by athletes - seam placement, pockets, material, etc all point to this), the fact that they're made in America, and that they aren't neon (petty, but I'm sick of neon). I didn't actually like the run shirt, because it was more like a triathlon top - tighter, thicker. It's too hot here for tight and thick, and honestly, I run in jog bras most of the summer because it's ten billion degrees on an average early morning. But the bras - POCKETS - and shorts were really awesome. Great fit, great comfort, great performance. The bras are a nice in-between of comfort and restriction. To me, Target bras are too stretchy - comfortable, but useless. And some high-impact bras (a Brooks bra I have comes to mind) are so tight and inflexible that I can barely breath, and the straps cut into my shoulders. Coeur managed to make a bra that moves comfortably with you, but holds your boobs in place without bounce.
Third, the company. 
If I'm going to support a company, I want to agree with its major tenets. During my year of ambassadorship, I learned a lot about Coeur from their blog. Here's what I really liked:
- The personal touch: handwritten notes in your order; free returns (no questions); personal emails.
- The pursuit of excellence. This isn't a company taking on runners who want to sit around and run the same 5k time for 5 years, or athletes on the decline, or people who do the Color Run (sorry, my bias, not theirs!). They encourage hard work and impressive results.
- The interest in issues in athletics, without being pompous jerks about it. Well-thought out articles on gender equality at Kona interest me, even though I wouldn't know a triathlon from the Trianon. It's not a "girl power" rant, it's smart thinking.
- Their ability to support female athletes without what I call "minimizing to feminism". I find so many companies or events take a male or gender-neutral thing, minimize it, and call it female. For example, all-girl races that have lipstick stations, or women's running clothing advertised primarily for its pink color scheme rather than performance design. When you do that, you are implying that women require modifications to reduce challenges in order to perform or compete. That bothers me, especially when the same event or company proclaims that it is feminist or supports women. Maybe you stereotype women...that's not the same thing.
- The don't take themselves too seriously, they have a sense of humor, and they're intelligent. And the vague "they" refers to whoever writes the Coeur blog, which is good reading whether you're an ambassador or not.

Thanks for reading this long post. I just wanted to put into words why I enjoyed my ambassadorship with Coeur, and why I continue to enjoy the company and the clothes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Grace's rules of running

I have learned a lot of what not to do in my brief running experience... and precious little else. But here are my rules of running (applicable only to me!):

1. Speed work once a week, max. Any more than that = instant injury.
2. Drink a full glass of water before running to keep your stomach happy.
3. If you feel great, it's time to back off. Ramping up = instant injury.
4. Spend equal amounts of time strengthening as hard running.
5. If it hurts, stop.
6. See a doctor first.
7. If you're short on time, cut time off the run, not the pre- and post-run strength routines.
8. Dr. Jordan Metzel's Iron Strength workout will always, always, always, always result in an injury.
9. Strong runners have strong cores and glutes.
10. Even the tiniest nibble of food before a run creates a stomach nightmare.

Those are the rules I run by. What are your rules of running?

Monday, May 11, 2015

I have nothing good to say

Besides that my street is finally finished!
We actually have street drains now. We never did before...just ditches that filled with rain water. 

Just a little November through May project to finish up three little blocks, that's all.

Anyway, so no posts lately. Or no posts of substance. The truth is, there just isn't all that much substance going on here. 
For one thing, I missed running for OVER A WEEK, unintentionally. It happened like this:
- Tried mild speedwork, so decided to take the day after off. I'm so responsible now.
- Then I realized that my final swimming lesson was coming up, so I went to the pool for the next three days to practice, so I could actually get something out of my exorbitantly priced lessons.
- Then I started thinking that my left leg felt kind of achy, so I didn't run for a few days. I'm telling you, SO responsible now.
- Then I slept in.
- Then I had early work meetings twice. 
And all of a sudden, ten days had gone by. And then when I started back running, I didn't do much, because I realized that if I were going to gradually increase my strength training by following Coach Jay's progression, I should also slowly progress running, or I would get injured from too much running and not enough strength. 
In other words, I am doing no interesting running at all, and have nothing to write about, unless a slow three miles in brutal humidity is somehow fascinating to you (although I did step on a large snake during my run this weekend, so that's interesting. I can't believe that snake couldn't get out of the way any faster.).

But I do have a new street, so that's kind of cool.