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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Six years

David bought me beautiful flowers for our anniversary. Six years today!
I love white roses

The blooms are as big as my fist! And they smell amazing!

And I forgot to even get him a card.
David: 1
Grace: 0
You know you're an old couple when you start keeping score!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

They won't let me quit this contest.

Somehow I got nominated as pharmacist of the year for some competition. My "big boss" nominated me, so I felt obligated to complete the application. 
Totally a Rising Star pharmacist....with my right hand tech! 

But then I made it to the next round. Now they wanted an essay. My boss emailed me congratulations, so...I wrote the essay.
And I made it to the finalist round: one of three pharmacist competing for Rising Star of the Year. 

Here  is where I decided to quietly drop out. The assignment for finalists included making a video tour of your pharmacy and interviewing yourself! Please! Who has time for this crap?! I pretended I didn't receive the letter in time and missed the deadline. 

Nope, not happening. The good people at the Next Generation Pharmacist convention called me and basically told me that I had to submit a video, deadline or no. This was at 5:00 pm on Monday. Luckily, I have two pharmacy students and a phone video camera. In the last hour before we closed at 6:00, we wrote the interview, filmed it, and submitted it! 

It is hilarious. I hope it is up on their website soon so I can link to it - I kept forgetting my "lines" and making up complete nonsense instead. But I finished the darn thing! Meanwhile, the company keeps sending me these stupid FedEx envelopes with free tickets to events at the convention and a hilarious card with a Sharpie attached, tempting me with visions of crowds asking for my autograph. Basically, it's on big push to try to get me to attend the stupid awards ceremony. 
I got 7 pieces of mail about this contest in ONE WEEK.
Sorry, but my ten measly vacation days are NOT going to thrown away on a trip to Las Vegas to hang out with other pharmacists (certifiably the most boring people in the world). Dear me. Do they not understand that we're pharmacists? We're busy! We don't have time to film videos in our pharmacies, and we certainly don't have time to fly to Vegas for awards conventions! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer running

This summer we've been quite lucky in the weather department. Steady light rains have kept the humidity high, but the temperatures absurdly low. It's been in the 80's for most of the summer, with the occasional excursion to the 90's. Some mornings, like yesterday, it was even in the 70's when I woke up!

This is not normal for July: I remember waking up on my wedding day (end of July) and noting wryly that it was 96 degrees at 6:00 am.
After an evening wedding in June: still 95 degrees at 10 pm

That's really the biggest problem with New Orleans summer weather: there is no early morning relief. The temperatures only barely drop at night, and sometimes I'd rather wait longer in the morning to run.
Early run = lower temps but higher humidity
Late run = slightly higher temps once the sun comes out, but it also burns off some moisture.

This becomes the weekend conundrum to ponder. During the workweek, there's no choice: I have to get up early. But on weekends, I have a legitimate excuse to sleep in.Luckily for me, my lower milage this summer means I haven't had to fret about temperatures too much anyway, but I remember some summer long runs that pushed me to the brink of my endurance.

Your summer running: Shorter runs? Slower? Just grit your teeth and do the 10 miles anyway?

Friday, July 19, 2013

2-mile PR on...achy legs!

Home, sweaty, happy with my time!
Well, my calf knot from last week is starting to subside, but I'm still recovering from shin splints. And much to my dismay and anxiety, the achy femurs are back - but controlled with stretching and icing. As in, I stretch and ice: no pain. I forget to do so: mild aching.

So, I stretched and iced, and headed out to the NOTC's free 2-mile summer race tonight. It was much hotter than last time I ran the race: we had lucky cooler weather a few weeks ago, but Wednesday was hot, humid, and sunny. I warmed up with about 2 miles plus two strides in the grass right before the start, just like last time, and prayed that my leg would behave itself.

I tried to get a little closer to the start this time so my time would be more accurate, and I did well: maybe 4 rows back. I got behind two fast-looking girls who I'd seen warming up with their coach earlier. The horn blew, we were off, and I tried to pace myself conservatively. The first half of the course has some shade, so it is an easier mile, but the second half is in the broiling sun and is always tougher. At the mile mark (6:06), I passed first one, then the other girl who had been running with their coach (he was still with the girl in front). Now I was fourth. As we entered the final half mile, I had slowed a lot - we were in a head wind and at one point I saw 6:40 on my Garmin! But I was closing on two ladies. I decided - why not pass? I hate passing people. I feel guilty, and I also risk being re-passed since I have ZERO kick at all at the finish. But a free, casual race like this is the perfect chance to practice! So I passed the first girl. As soon as I saw who it was, I chuckled, "See you again later!" It was Kristie, the same lady who blew by us all to win the bridge race, and I knew she'd pass me with her amazing finish later. The second girl put up a fight. She ran with me. I ran faster. She ran faster! I all-out sprinted and dropped her....but was quite exhausted as I neared the finish. Sure enough, Kristie blew past me with some amazing speed. I finished third female (first was under 11 minutes...couldn't even SEE her in front of me!) in 12:19. That's a new PR!

These races are so much fun: afterward we had hotdogs, fruit, beer, peanuts, and snowballs, and all for free if you're a track member! Hard to beat that deal!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Brooks Pure vs. Saucony Kinvara

Wel, I gave the Brooks several solid weeks of monopoly. so now I think I'm qualified to compare the Brooks Pure Cadence to the Saucony Kinvara, my former go-to shoe and the one I wore for all my current PRs except the 10k (Mizuno Musha).

I didn't want to switch out of the Kinvara. I love how that shoe fits my foot, and I love the lightweight cushion. But I've noticed a few signs that the way my foot rolls at landing could be contributing to injury. I got the Cadence to add a little support for my pronation-prone right side without changing my strike too much. I have worn stability shoes before, and had terrible knee problems, which were alleviated by switching to a neutral shoe. So I wanted just a touch of stability. Since I've worn and loved the Kinvaras for two years, it would make sense to get a pair of the Saucony Mirage, but I tried this shoe on and did not like the stiffness of the sole at all. It felt nothing like the Kinvara.

The Cadence feels more like the Kinvara in terms of cushion and flexibility, although it seems slightly less squishy to me - probably due in part to the stability part of the shoe! It also has a nice wide toe box, so my wide feet are pretty comfortable, although there are some overlays on the Cadence that rub along my wide bunion area. I tried on the Flows as well as the Cadence, and they fit more closely to the Kinvara and had almost as much mobility - still a little less cushion. But the feel was similar, especially while running.

The heel-toe drop for the Pure line and the Kinvaras are the same: 4mm, so the two feel the same as you land, but the Kinvara offers a wider heel platform. The heel on the Candence is undercut, so you just can't sit around on the heel. It's supposed to encourage forefoot strike but I personally did not notice a difference except when standing; the Cadence almost feels like you're rocking forward. No change when running, though.

I think the Pure line compares well with the Kinvara: similar fit, similar toe box (a little more round in the Cadence, more pointed in the Kinvara), similar weight, similar cushion, similar heel-toe drop.
In contrast, the Pures wear out much faster (I already see compression), allow less mobility on the foot platform due to construction (the "Navband" over the instep), have a slightly firmer landing with slightly better propioception, and in the Cadence, have a smidge more control.

So let's briefly discuss the control aspect: It's minimal in the Cadence, and I suspect it has more to do with the Navband and the cross-over lacing than the medial post. The shoe is really quite a soft shoe, it just isn't as soft as the pillowy Kinvaras, but all that softness does allow some movement of the foot. The Kinvara allows much more because the upper is virtually a mesh sock. I loved that for my bunions (so roomy!), but I didn't love it for my collapsing right arch. The Nav band is just enough to keep my foot in place. Did it do what I wanted it to do? Well, I'm not sure. I have not had as severe medial tibial stress syndrome pain, and my osteitis pubis is very well controlled right now, two things partly attributed to pronation. But I also started a strict stretch and strength routine that is helping, as well, so it's hard to know what is most responsible.

My personal conclusion is that I really like the Pure Cadence, and I will almost certainly buy it again. I think it is a well-designed shoe, and the slight control is just enough to keep me healthy. As far as running experience, the Kinvara's freedom offers a slight edge; I miss the light, cushiony strides. But I have to compromise to stay well, and the Cadence is a compromise I'm very happy with.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A mile PR on marathon legs

Thursday night was this summer's second NOTC All-Comers Track Meet. Since I attended last time (my first ever "track meet"!) I felt like an old pro this time around. As soon as I arrived I knew it was a better day: following a heavy rain, the track was soaked and humid but far cooler than the last meet. I decided to try for a mile PR.
This should have been easy, since my fastest timed mile was just under 6 minutes. And it was, with the exception of one good-gracious-awful mishap.

I ran a nearly effortless 5:46, negative splitting the second half by 9 seconds. Yay for a mile PR on tired legs!!!

But the mishap is far more interesting. I was wearing my new shorts - the ones whose praises I was just singing - and this was the first time I put my heavy car key in the key pocket.
The key pocket is really soft and stretchy.
As soon as I started running, the key flopped out and landed in the built-in briefs. Yep. Now go ahead and think of all the painful scenarios, and they happened.

I now have a new mile PR and an abrasion that looks like an amputation attempt on my left leg.

The rest of the meet sucked a little. Although the mile felt pretty easy, it tired me out, and for some reason these late, fast races kill my blood sugar. Just like last time, my hands were shaking by the 800m and by the 2 mile I was downright woozy. I ran a 73 sec 400, a 2:50 800. and a 12:50 2-mile. By the end of that I was so tired and hungry I didn't even have the energy to jog to my car.

And now in the bad news column, as you might have guessed, I did too much this last week (marathon unprepared, speedwork, track race). I have pain in my hamstrings, some nagging thigh-splint type pain on both legs, and an appalling knot in my left calf that I cannot, cannot, cannot massage out. It is the size of a walnut and visible externally. So, basically, I did stupid, over-zealous, post-injury runner stuff. I do not want an injury returning, so I took off three days and will probably take off more until the aches go away and my calf looks like a normal leg again. A week or two off won't kill me, and I have no races coming up to train for, so backing off again won't mess up any plans. However, I am mad at myself for doing too much. I distinctly promised myself not to get into this situation, and until now have been very good about a slow, moderate return to running! So, bad choices. Will try to do better in the future.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Botanical Gardens of City Park

After Sunday morning's marathon (and mad dash to church), David and I headed to the Botanical Gardens to take advantage of the post-rain cool weather (the rain kindly waited until we were in church and my run was complete).
Actually, first we went to brunch, where I inhaled Eggs Benicio, jalapeƱo corn muffins topped with pulled pork and poached eggs. THEN we went to City Park.

It drizzled a little while we were there, but mostly we had overcast skies and beautiful flowers.

Gigantic succulent

In the Japanese Garden

Since the Botanical Gardens are just $6, this is a lovely laid-back way to spend an afternoon in NOLA. You could do the Gardens, then go to a relaxed dinner at Lola's in mid-city and BYO wine.
We, however, went home and crashed in a stupor thanks to our activities of the night before!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saucony coupon code

Whoop, free shipping on any order!
Use the coupon code "FREE".

I bought two pairs of the now-discontinued Performance short in black. Which is all that's left. I mentioned last week that I ran in the shorts and liked them, but didn't say why. So here's why:
- No leg split to display my flabby thigh
- Inner pocket
- Very lightweight and cool
- Loose enough to run easily, but no poofy diaper butt like Nike tempo shorts create.
- The thin waist band doesn't press annoyingly on my bladder at inopportune moments, like the end of a coffee-fueled long run.
Ok, so I have no idea why these shorts look so awful on the model. Maybe because she has them pulled up to her ribcage?! I promise they don't do that in real life.

Know of any shorts that fit those same criteria? 

What else would I buy from Saucony if I actually needed more running clothes?

- The men's performance short, on sale for $21.

- Running tanks for cheap

- Classic, plain-jane sports bras for under $30

- This half-zip top that would be as warm as I'd ever need in Louisiana

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hotter than Hell Marathon Race Recap

Oops, I ran a marathon.

My friend Celeste put pressure on me this week to run the Hotter than Hell Marathon. It's a tradition: the race starts at midnight, but you can start anytime after that as long as you finish by 9 am. You keep tally of your 2+ mile laps on a white board, and you bring your own fuel and supplies. I've always wanted to do it, but I've always been injured!

This year I reluctantly agreed, making Celeste promise that we could both drop out if anything hurt. I rolled out of bed at TWO a.m. and got dressed. I made a risky choice and wore a jog bra and booty shorts. I don't wear that combination often, and neither for a race of this distance, but I did NOT want saturated shorts or a wet T-shirt slapping against my legs all morning.
This is basically the most flattering picture of me EVER. My thighs are twice as big in real life, I promise. Seriously, I'm questioning even posting this inaccuracy. 

I drank a cup of coffee, skipped breakfast, and loaded up my cooler. I brought:
- Five mini sample packs of Sports Beans
- Three Powerade fruit pouches
- A bottle of water (there are fountains for refilling)
- Two bottles of Gatorade
- A liter of club soda
- Extra socks and shoes (rain was forecast)
- Spare shorts in case I didn't like my outfit choice
- Garmin and ipod (didn't use the music and barely used the Garmin)
- Chapstick and sunglasses

I arrived at Audubon park at 3 am. David, bless his soul, actually woke up and came out with me to check the scene out. It was surprisingly crowded! The Louisiana Ultra Runners had started running at 8 pm, doing a dusk-to-dawn event, and since many people had started at midnight, they were starting their last few loops. The shelter area was full of coolers, chairs, a big white board, heaps of sweaty clothing, and a table with water and Gatorade coolers.

Celeste was a little late, so we didn't actually start until after 3:30. The course is 13 loops around Audubon park. Normally the track is 1.8 miles, but turning down the drive to the parking lot to get to the shelter makes it over 2 miles. We ran the first few loops in the dark (the park is pretty well lit for most of the course, though), and right away Celeste told me to slow down, or she wouldn't be able to finish. I was surprised, since she's super fast, but we settled in to 8:30s. She confessed by mile 10 that she was impressed she'd made it to ten - the furthest she'd run in months was 8 miles two weeks ago! Crazy child!
See Lisa's name to the left? She completed 13 laps alternating walking, running, and biking. She's PREGNANT.
At the end of each loop, we stopped at the shelter to put our hash mark on the board, grab something to drink, or - more often than not - stop to chat. I knew a lot of people out there, and everyone was very chatty. The ultra runner crew, especially, were very talkative. I started with sports beans at mile 8, and alternated sips of water and Gatorade at each stop. I never used any of the other things I brought. The weather was not bad at all - it was 78 or 80 the whole night, but humidity was over 95% for most of it as rain threatened (it never rained on us though!).
The sun started to rise a little before 6 am. By that time, Celeste had hit the wall. She said her feet hurt, but let me tell you, I know a WALL when I see one! We still had far to go, but from this point on I was really dragging her. The funny thing is that I felt fine. The slower pace felt completely effortless and I was brimming with energy!
Part of the Hotter than Hell joke: the T-shirt is long sleeved!
I did have to make several potty stops, though. Something about the weird hour of the race was messing with my stomach (perhaps undigested dinner?!). This allowed me to do a little faster running, though, since I would run ahead of Celeste, take a bathroom break, and be done by the time she got to the shelter. When we had two laps left, David met us and ran the rest with us. Poor Celeste was a trooper: she was miserable. But she kept plugging, although our pace plummeted (We ran 8:30's for most of the race, but 10 min pace the last four miles, and our overall pace was quite slow counting in all of our shelter stops).
Finally, we were on our last lap! I had left my Garmin on the whole way, although I didn't really look at it, and we were at 26.5 before we even turned into the "finishing chute" (a line of plastic turtles pointing at the finish). Final time? 4:28. Longest, slowest marathon ever. But I felt great. I grabbed a beer and some jambalaya, then drove home, showered, and got to church early!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Four on the Fourth: another four-miler!

For the second year in a row, David and I drove to Covington (an hour away) for the always-entertaining Four on the Fourth state 4-mile championship. There are lots of reasons to love this race:
1. It's flat and fast, although a notoriously hot course (no shade, no breeze, and a very low, humid, swampy area).
2. You get a singlet instead of a T-shirt, which is an automatic reason to run in my book.
3. The four mile race is followed by a fun bikini beer mile
4. You actually get a race swag bag.
5. There is beer, watermelon, red beans, and snowballs after the race.
6. Prizes go to the first and fourth overall!

This year we lucked out with the weather. Early morning rain brought overcast skies and lower temperatures (upper 70's at the start!), albeit with humid air. It was a huge contrast to the race last year, when I was downright cooking in the sun.
Right away I noticed that not a lot of fast women showed up this year. I guessed I'd be third. Lauren from my running group was there and she's always faster than I am racing or doing speedwork so that was no surprise; I recognized another girl who's quite fast, and everyone else there I knew I would beat. Sure enough, we started fast, and quickly settled into a 1-2-3 pattern. Part of the course is an out-and-back, and I was pretty far from #2 (about 30 seconds) and pretty far from #4 as well. But I knew that #4 gets the biggest prize, so I have to admit that I stopped briefly at the last corner and checked behind me for other women. I'm not above getting passed to rack up the big awards. However, there was not another woman as far as the eye could see! So I finished up in 26:01 (if I hadn't stopped, that would be under 26 min....nice decision-making there, Grace). Sure enough, the fourth woman was minutes behind me.
I didn't take any photos, so all you get is this stolen Facebook picture that includes several people I don't even know. 2nd place (Lauren) is in the middle in red and 1st place (Ky) is in black. I'm in the blue T-shirt, and some insane woman is wearing a COAT. I mean, it was cool for Louisiana in July, but it was still 80 degrees at that point. 

So, this race. I felt good. I could talk during the last miles. I ran 6:28, 6:32, 6:26, and 6:31. I could have - and should have - picked this one up. I didn't. I did that terrible thing I do in the last mile of a short race: let others pace me. I realized far too late that Lauren was actually slowing down in mile 4, not speeding up, so keeping her ahead of me was slowing me down. I sped up at the end of that mile, and closed the gap between us to 20 seconds, but it didn't make much of a difference at that point. I must learn to be a better racer! And maybe learn to push a little more. It's not usual for me to finish a race and wonder why I didn't speed up. But still, big PR for me, since the last 4 mile I ran was up a bridge.
As third female overall, I got a dollar store bottle opener shaped like a shark. The fourth place female got A PAIR OF MIZUNO SHOES. Please. Oh, and she got a dozen yard eggs. Ah, the Northshore!

I fully planned on staying for the beer mile to see if David could best his 10-minute beer mile from last year, but he decided he didn't want to do it and we ended up leaving. It's a fun event, but I suppose forcing your spouse to drink four beers mid-mile for your entertainment constitutes hazing, so I let him say no...this time. There's always next year. And I might even force him to wear a bikini for it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Running is easy

When you wake up to an unexpected morning in the 70's! Rain in Mississippi brought temperatures down 15 to 10 degrees over the weekend, and Saturday's run was effortless. I did 10 miles, and since we were staying in Bay St. Louis I included the Bay Bridge and South Beach Road to get some "hills" in.
Since I missed Spring running thanks to injury, I haven't run in decent weather in months (since April), so I was curious to see what easy pace translated to when I wasn't running in 90 degree weather. I'd say it was about 7:20's. I ran a faster average than that Saturday but that is because I picked up the pace for the last mile and a half. Before then, 7:20 felt just right. In the heat, I've been running closer to 7:50 for a ten mile run.
I also ran in these new shorts, the Saucony Performance short. I liked naturally it's a discontinued item. I bought mine at, but when I went back to the site, the price had increased. I bought the shorts for $10.50, which is a steal for running shorts, but now they're $15. If you plan on buying a pair, I sized down to remove a little of the frumpy mom-jeans look.

How has your summer running been? Have you gotten any lucky cooler mornings to give yourself a break?