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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In which my feet drown

In just 15 minutes the street and sidewalks merged into one big puddle. That's my car back there, letting water in the driver's door as usual. 

I've been doing some really easy running lately, trying to keep my muscles and tendons flexible and perfused. This morning I headed out for a quick 4 miler and ran smack into a thunder storm. I got drenched, and my shoes will never be the same, but there is something so beautiful about running in a storm. The sky was filled with rolling black clouds and the river was practically whitecaps.
Signs of an enjoyable rainy run? Soaked clothes laid out on the front porch!

Rain in the forecast: Do you run your schedule, take a rest day, or head indoors?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stretch it out!

I've been doing the very occasional 20 minute Yoga for Runners class offered for free from Yoga Download in an attempt to stay limber. But recently I started using this version, and I like it even more:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Aggravating tendons.

They are aggravating, and I am aggravating them right back.

After several sessions of Graston on two tears in my hamstring, I am pain-free in the muscle. The tendon still hurts like a you-know-what.
The thing is, tendons take forever to heal - and I am aggravating this one on a daily basis.

I am running a little, lightly, again - I had sworn off any running for all of January, but the chiropractor I'm seeing said I actually needed something to get blood flow to the tendon to help it heal. So back out I went, even though it still hurts. But that's not what's aggravating the injury. It doesn't feel much worse after a run. What hurts it is standing all day, specifically standing all day in a low heel.
I have these boots in black and brown

For years now I've been wearing either medical-style clogs to work or, more often, cowboy boots. I've found that cowboy boots with a light-weight rubber heel are the most comfortable shoes to wear if you have to stand up all day - plus, some of them are sort of cute. I actually learned this from a friend of mine who is a model: whenever she is not on the catwalk or at a photo shoot, but has some sort of other event (meet and greet, sponsor parties, etc), she wears cowboy boots to add some height but keep her comfortable. Brilliant.

The problem is that the heel, which is normally comfortable, is causing a very uncomfortable pulling on the tendon. By the end of the day I'm sort of limping! Now that I've figured that out, it's flats for me until this pain goes away.

Next up in my treatment plan? Dry needling. Yes, at this point I'm just trying anything you can sell me!
Any success stories with dry needling? Two runners in my running group tried it and had amazing results, but they did not have tendon involvement. '

Friday, January 25, 2013

New cuddly nephew

I finally met my new nephew, already a week and a half old!

I wanted to stay away until I was sure the flu was gone for good. He was very good for me and cuddled for hours!
Then he needed a diaper change and dropped him onto the changing table like he was a hot potato. World's best aunt, right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arm check

I forgot to tell you the best part of working gear check at the Louisiana Marathon.

Someone checked his arm.

As he walked up I stifled the urge to ask, "Can I give you a hand with that?", but I did permit myself to tell him he didn't need to put his number on it. "Pretty sure we'll know it's yours," I joked. And then when he picked up I quipped, "I'm going to go out on a limb and say this one's yours".

Pretty awesome to race with one arm, right?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Louisiana Marathon: David's first

Another beautiful finish festival at LA marathon
Well, I pretty much got eaten up by jealousy this weekend watching runners complete The Louisiana Marathon in beautiful weather on a fast and beautiful course. The temps were perfect (40's to low 60's), the sun was shining, and the breeze was light.
David and I got up at 4:00 am (bleah) and were in Baton Rouge by 6:00 so I could volunteer at gear check. Gear check was busy - the race starts at 7:00 - and somehow in the rush I didn't get time with David to tell him good luck and give him last minute advice. One thing about David: he is very good at doing as he is told. So I was hoping to give him last minute explicit instructions for race day that would stick in his mind. But after a quick kiss he disappeared and before I knew it I could hear the national anthem at the start.
It took us about an hour to organize all the bags, then I headed over to the finish to watch the half marathon winners. I went back to gear check for another hour, then got ready to watch the marathon winners. I was feeling uneasy as I watched the race. David never "hit the wall" in training, but I was worried he would today. I never gave him the "Don't go out too fast" talk and I was fretting that he was going to run out of fuel. After a little while I headed out on the course, deciding to meet him and run him in to the finish.
Running against traffic on the sidewalk was like a "This is your racing life" experience. Since I've run everything from a 4:08 to a 3:06, I've been in ALL of those shoes. I saw the faces marked with determination, the ones glazed over with fatigue, the ones clearly showing defeat. Been there, been there, been there! 
When I saw David at mile 23 and change, I knew immediately that he'd hit the wall. He was still on pace - actually, ahead of pace - but his face and slow, short steps told me the story. I ran with him, encouraging him. I kept an eye on his pace and it kept creeping up, but he was still on pace overall. Somewhere in the middle of mile 25, though, I was losing him! We were on a long gradual uphill and he was running 10:30 pace. Quick math told me that if he kept this pace up he would miss his goal by just seconds. "Look," I told him, "If you want this, you have to work for it. This is where it counts. Hit the gas pedal!'
And he did. I zipped ahead to watch him finish and he sprinted across the line in 3:39:08!

Am I proud of him? You bet! That's not so shabby for a first marathon!
The splits tell the tale:
Last fast mile. The mile before you hit the wall is always fast, as your body releases stored glycogen and you get a momentary boost.
First 22 miles: Started a little fast, got caught up with the 3:35 pace group, but felt great. 
1 8.08
2 8.05
3 8.00
4 7.52
5 8.08
6 7.57
7 8.08
8 8.14
9 8.07
10 8.05
11 7.58
12 8.00
13 7.55
14 8.07
15 8.05
16 7.58
17 8.00
18 7.57
19 8.08
20 8.07
21 8.03
22 7.57

23 8.23 Middle of mile 23? WALL. 
24 8.42
25 9.08
26 9.37

Yes, he started fast and hit the wall, but really I think this is a pretty well-run race for a first marathon. And the fact that he could push through for those last few miles and still make his goal is just impressive!

He says "There won't be a rematch", but I think he's got a 3:30 in there. What do you think? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Your grandma

I've become your grandma.
I just sit around and do needlecraft all day.
Since getting the flu, I've had a chance to finally finish a cross stitch sampler I've been working on for 9 months (I only work on it while on plane flights, and that wasn't getting it done, so I finished the pesky border while sick).

And I made a little sweater for a certain brand new family member - I got a new nephew this weekend but I can't go meet him because I'm a germ-face (this makes three nephews age three and under - God bless their mom).
The blue stripe = boy, right?

Of course I haven't been running anyway, but with the flu I've been downright sedentary. I got the sickness on Wednesday, and luckily I had a pharmacist covering my store on Thursday so I could go to an all-day meeting. The meeting was canceled due to weather, and I got to stay home sick! But it was back to work on Friday - sick as a dog. I didn't feel like I could exercise until Saturday, when I did a very light, very short yoga download class. This was a gigantic mistake. I mean, the flu will really knock you down. Just a few minutes of activity had me back in bed. And I am still so weak!
But I did go to the gym yesterday and did easy elliptical just to get some blood flowing. It went ok, so I will head back today for bike or elliptical. And yes, I'm cleaning my germies off the machines :)

Hopefully all this forced rest will heal my hamstring fast! Already there is no bruising in the area, so that's a good sign. Next time I post I'll probably have a quilt to show you, haha.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Keeping your premiums low since 1982

My health insurance requires members to have a biometric health screening each year in order to earn money for an HSA. I like the idea, but I wish they'd let me earn money off my premiums for being healthy.
Because I am SO healthy.
I mean it.
Here are my numbers:
Ht: 5'7"
Wt: 126
Waist cir: 26" (hips: don't ask)
BMI: 19.7
Blood pressure: 110/66
Total cholesterol: 198
LDL: 99
HDL: 83
Triglycerides: 47
Blood sugar (supposed to be fasting, but I had actually eaten since my appointment was at noon): 92

In other words...I am reducing costs like crazy for all the other members. So I want some money back.

After I was tested, I had to go online and enter the data plus answer a questionare about lifestyle. As I answered the questions, I could see my responses from last year: virtually identical! Maybe a weight change of a pound or two and slightly different blood sugar, but all the rest was the same. So I should also get a cookie for consistency.

But anyway, that is not the funny part of the story. The funny part is that I went to a clinic to get this done, and the nurse practitioner was out at lunch (despite my appointment, hem). He wandered back in about 10 minutes later wearing one of these:
This has to be the exact hat. How many companies make purple velvet floppy newsboy caps?
And a flamboyant multicolored coat. And a thick coating of marijuana smoke. Seriously, the man REEKED of weed. I was gasping for breath in the tiny office.
He briskly started the exam, apologizing for his "coffee break", and then proceeded to forget just about every other step required. I was dumbfounded, but I knew I had to get the bloodwork done, so I just kept helping and correcting him (at one point the BP cuff was on my right arm and the sphygmomanometer was on my left, I kid you not) and trying not to breath. Mr. Stoner managed not to kill me, finally figured out how to use a company voucher for payment, and I staggered out for some fresh air.
Some health care provider.

But on to more interesting stuff: What's your take on lowered premiums or discounts based on better health? A large area hospital offers both premium deductions for healthy cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure and gift cards if you document physical activity!
I'm for it. You?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

David is tapering!

David almost getting beaten in a half marathon by a ten year old
After 16 weeks of training (during which he did not overtrain or tear a hamstring like I did, lucky dog), David is out on his last long run before his marathon next week.
The only running I'm doing, however, is running a fever. If you ever want incentive to definitively take a break from running, no cheating or temptation even, I recommend you contract the flu. Just the thought of moving like that is making my head throb (and the mild backlight of my computer screen is still so painful to my eyes that I'm actually not looking at the screen, so please excuse me if I leave any typos).

When I signed David up for this marathon, he had just run a 10k in 1:02. Yet he insisted that he didn't want to "just finish" a marathon,he wanted to break four hours. I accepted the challenge!

To get there, I created a plan with a consistent schedule and consistent mileage (just upping his miles, I knew, would cause big improvements in time). Then I added easy speedwork (nothing timed, mostly fartleks) and some goal races to check his progress. As he improved I edited his digital schedule to have him doing more and more miles at goal race pace, including most of the finishing miles of his long runs.

So, his progress? Excellent. He ran a 10 miler in 1:23:29 and a 5 miler in 38:33.
I amended his goal. Four hours? Too easy. New goal? 3:40. 

Well, but then we hit the two snags I expected - and, in fact, that I experienced with my first (terrible!) marathon.
1. He hurt his knee. After his first 20 miler, he had to limp home the next day mid-run. He sheepishly admitted it had hurt the day before, but he though he could run through it. I dealt with this by canceling the next three days of running, icing, and prescribing quad stuff. It was simple runner's knee, and it did go away with ice and rest, but because of the timing he ended up taking almost a full week off prior to a half marathon.

2. He got sick. So common at the end of training, especially with a winter race! He got a cold right as taper started and I made him run through it. End of story. Taper runs are short enough not to kill him and a mild cold will be fine, especially with three weeks to heal. Running matters more at this point.

But with those two set-backs, has there been another goal revision? No. I actually thought this fall that he could do a 3:30. But his December half-marathon was a 1:47 - although this was a warm day, the race started at 8:30, and he had taken a week off. Regardless, that's not predictive of a 3:30. So we are sticking with 3:40.

His longest long run was 22 miles and he hit race pace for the last three. So I feel like he's ready for next week. What do you think?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Foody Friday: king cake again

Last year I posted a king cake recipe...right on Lundi Gras, two days before king cakes were gone for the season. Not really the best timing.

So this year I'm linking back! Now you have ample time to try your hand at the best homemade king cake out there.

I made it again this year and yep, still delicious.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Oops, I did it again...

My easy 7 miles on Saturday led to a re-torn hamstring! Now that is frustrating! I felt so much better than before that I must have pushed too hard.

Now I'm looking at even longer rehab. Me and Lindsey Lohan.

As I tried to come to grips with this annoying re-injury, I decided that I needed a more structured plan than the chiropractor's simple, "Run when it feels better, stop running if it hurts". The truth is that I will always have a problem with this advice because I have a very high pain threshold. Or rather, I'm just good at ignoring pain. Some people are just less sensitive! Combine that with the masking effect of endorphins during exercise, and I'm just a recipe for trouble.
On my file cabinet, right over my Mcmillan 3:05 marathon paces. Grrr. 

So I set out some rules for rehab, which take me hopefully all the way until next January.

Item number one: No running for all of January. Not one single step. I think I can make it. Three more weeks won't kill me at this point.

The plan takes me through a return to running - maybe - but very slowly, not even committing to building a base until July! And it focuses heavily on strength, flexibility, and ways to stay in shape in the meantime.

Meanwhile, I got the flu. That's what happens when you see sick people all day. Chamomile with honey and lemon for me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas wrap-up

My completed advent tree with all 24 paper cranes
Well, well. Happy New Year!
I kind of forgot to post about Christmas this year. For one thing, I was really in poor spirits after the Newtown tragedy. I actually found it hard to feel the Christmas spirit, which isn't like me - I love Christmas, and I am rarely in a bad mood (I'm sure my husband begs to differ). Some things are just so sad, though, you can't easily overcome them.
Despite the enormous depression industry in the United States, it's okay to be sad sometimes. It doesn't mean you're sick. There are sad things in the world, and the correct response to them is sorrow (and maybe also anger, anxiety, frustration, or confusion). Medicating to remove that response is like taking an ibuprofen so you can run through pain. Not right.
Besides just general sadness and less-than-Christmasy mood, I was also very busy for the past two weeks. In addition to Christmas, we had two big events:
1. David's dad retired after many years of hard work.
2. My little brother Joey came home on leave! He has been in Afghanistan for 9 months (followed by a month back at base) so I haven't seen him in almost a year.
Plus we have friends in town and extra church services, so altogether we haven't been home at night in over a week!
Espresso + Christmas cookies: what a delicious snack :)
This was the Christmas of the kitchen for me. I scored two new kitchen appliances from a dear friend (not really Christmas gifts, just niceness on her part - how sweet is that?). We are enjoying our espresso machine AND I finally replaced my revolting crockpot!
Old horrible crockpot missing one handle and stained with red beans. Oh, and the broken switch required you use pliers to turn the darn thing on.
New shiny crock pot - much larger but still fits on my kitchen shelf, yay! Storage is such a big issue in my tiny kitchen.
I also got some Christmas gifts for the kitchen, including dishes to complete my fine china set (the pattern is being discontinued - how could it, it is just white with a platinum band?!) and canisters for my flour and sugar. I have been hunting for perfect canisters for years, and David bought some from a restaurant supply store. I am picky about them having a wide mouth and airtight seal!

I treated myself to a run on Christmas day, too, although it was short and slow. Unfortunately Christmas day decided to be high 70's with hot rain, flash floods, and thunderstorms - so it wasn't the beautiful and peaceful Christmas morning runs of past years.

I hope all of you had a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and have big plans for 2013!