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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Coming up next: The Great St. Charles Ave Road Race

The training plan I'm loosely following for the CCC 10k calls for a training 10k or 5k on March 29th. And can you believe it? There's a 10k a mile and a half from my house on that very day! It's the Great St. Charles Ave Road Race, and I ran it two years ago and won it. It was squished into the middle of a long run (18 or 20 miles, can't remember), and included an emergency bathroom break. Luckily, only about three women ran the 10k so, hehe, I won it. The joys of tiny races!

So that's my next race, unless I find a 5k to run two weeks prior to that, but I don't see any options so I'll probably skip that. It's on my training plan, though.

The Great St Charles blah blah race is a double loop into Audubon Park, which is good (flat! familiar!) and bad (walkers! joggers! bikers!). The Crescent City Classic is a faster course, but a little later in the day and later in the year, too - so it will be hot. Sometimes those humid April days are the worst running conditions. The earlier Great St bler bler bler race might give me a better chance at a PR, even if it's not my goal race.
My current PR is 40:58 and of course, yes, I want to beat that!

So about yesterdays' post - some people wanted to know what happened after I demanded the Respect for Cars Remedial education at the Cross Fit Box.
Well, I anticlimactically had to get on a conference call and ended up kind of sheepishly waiving and mouthing a "thanks!" as I tried to figure out how to mute my cellphone.
So much for that. I'm sure the minute I left the whole "box" laughed their heads off at my pettiness. and then threw a tire against a wall.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cross-fitters are jerks

Last week, I was driving home from a meeting in Metarie, and turned onto my street. At the end of my street is a Cross-Fit "box" (also known as a garage). I'm well aware of this fact, and well aware that the cross fitters often run in the road. They do some sort of short sprint or run, and because they park up on the side of the road, they usually do it in the middle of the street.

I know this, because it's my street, and I drive on it all the time. So I'm always very careful when I pull onto the road.

That afternoon, sure enough, runners were in the road. I held way back from them, inching along well behind until they turned around and could see me, and I passed the group with plenty of room. I did this because -
1. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way!
2. Yeah, they should be on the sidewalk, but I know what New Orleans streets are like. You can't always do that easily.
3. And most importantly - as a runner myself, I am hyper-aware of the safety of other runners.

But despite this, Jackass Crossfitter guy swung around my car and SLAPPED THE BACK OF MY VEHICLE.
Oh, man. I was furious. I mean, it's stupid to try to retaliate when you have an aggressive, rude, unfriendly driver who cuts you off in a crosswalk or something. You have nothing to gain. But you absolutely have nothing to gain by hitting the car that was extremely careful to stay out of your way! I mean, I have a New Orleans Track Club sticker on the back of my car. If anyone is watching out for runners, it's me.

I slammed on the brakes. I opened the door. I did the low-and-deadly, "How. Dare. You. Touch. My. Car." Then I turned my little car around, parked, and marched into the "box" (I've been inside one now! It's just a garage). I demanded the manager, and made him call all his little cross-fitters in and hold an impromptu policy meeting to set out rules and expectations in respect to drivers.

This is why Cross Fit gets a reputation for creating jerks. Because this dude was a jerk.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fresher legs

Last week I mentioned that my Monday night track workouts with Varsity Sports were a little slow and heavy, probably because I was doing the bulk of my running on Saturday and Sunday. This week I tried to change that.
Over the weekend I only ran 16 miles, 13 on Saturday and just 3 on Sunday, hoping to feel well-rested for Monday. But I didn't plan exactly right. I bought those new Saucony Guides (uh, I mean, Mirage, seriously a blog reader caught that and I didn't?!) awhile ago, and took them with us to a weekend at David's parents' house in Bay St. Louis. I wore them for my Saturday run on the very windy Bay Bridge. I always get "hills" in on the bridges when we're in Bay St. Louis! The hills plus the stiffer feel of the Guides tore my legs up. I had sore calves and achey feet all weekend.

Still, I think it did help to take Sunday easy. Track last night was 20x200m with 30 second rest. You were supposed to run the 200's in the number of seconds that your 10k time is in minutes. So a 42 minute 10k = 42 seconds for a 200. I easily completed the workout, averaging 39 seconds, varied from 38 to 40. Now, this is a short workout, so of course it felt easy on the muscles, but I liked not feeling dead, so I'll try to stick to the shorter/easier Sundays from now on.

As for the Saucony Mirage...jury is still out, but I don't love them. They're a tad narrow for me, and a lot less cushioned than I'm  used to. My Mizuno Musha flats on the track last night felt more pillowy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Olympic thoughts

The Olympics are finally over, and I can have my life back. Wait, no I can't, Walgreens still has it. Darn.

Here are my rambling post-Olympic thoughts:

- We need to develop some more USA talent. Especially at cross-country. Aren't there any young Minnesotans burning to medal for there country in skiing?
- The Olympics are the only time I watch TV at broadcast times. I decided that commercials are little letters from Satan. They're boring, they aim for the lowest common denominator, the humor is pathetic, and I'm pretty sure there are only six commercials in the whole world and they're just on constant repeat. 
- Whenever our speedskaters bend over, they look like they have baboon butts. 
- Figure skating is no longer beautiful or interesting. The scoring has forced programs into a cookie-cutter of combinations and jumps, and has massively increased falls and errors. This is especially true for the men, who feel obligated to attempt quads when a triple could be just as beautiful and more easily landed. 
- Viktor Ahn, I don't understand you at all. 
- I adored Kostner's figure skating. She is so graceful and talented! And yeah, Sotnikova didn't earn gold. She just didn't. Still a great skate, though. That's what happens when results are judged, and why a timed sporting event is always more satisfying to watch.
- Short track: Edge of my seat! 
- Every skier in every event wears tight spadexy stuff, except moguls skiers, who wear tents. Why?
- Are you sure Bob Costas didn't have a viral eye infection? That just took too long to heal for regular pink eye. I mean, assuming he had medical attention early.
- Russia still gives me the creeps. 
- The designers of the following uniforms need to be lined up and shot:
The team Christmas sweater uniforms, the Desert-Storm-meets-garbage-collector snow boarder outfits, and OF COURSE the speedskater suits (it couldn't be that we're old and not as good now, could it?!).

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Fairgrounds

A few weeks ago, we spent our Saturday at the Fairgrounds in Midcity. It was cold but clear, and we stood outside at the track to watch the races. It was the first time I'd seen horse races! They actually eclipse people races in excitement!

The Fairgrounds has free races every week, although they charge $5 for "better" races with well-known horses. There's food, a bar, and a covered area, plus the grandstands in the clubhouse for $10 entry. We liked it better on the grounds, especially because you could stand by the Paddock and watch the horses being brought in up-close.

Friends making bets...

Observations from the Fairgounds:
1. People get really excited when they win $6
2. Jockeys are somehow shorter in person

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Busy at work, squeaking by at the run

The last week or two of work killed me. I launched a big project at work that had me under a lot of pressure and working extra, not to mention collaborating with my senior account executive, who routinely shows up to meetings without her phone/calendar or a writing implement. I am so sick of lending her pens. It just makes her seem unprepared.
When I'm busy at work, I start wearing totally unprofessional garb.

Plus I hired a new employee who needs a lot of training, as she's new to pharmacy, and I have two new students. And I also started a series of classes that my company is volunteering to teach for HIV patients. I've been so rushed that I realized that I wore the same thing to work twice last week. Oops. The busier I get, the more of a bum I am about my outfits.

So, a lot is going on, and I find my running is getting squeezed. I got a 10k training plan from, but I've been struggling even to fit in the lower mileage during the week. What happens is that I end up back-loading my running, running most of my miles on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is a bad idea, because then I'm tired for group track on Mondays.

That means poor performance at the track. The last few weeks have been meh. Last week I felt fast, but I didn't have a watch (Garmin was being dehumidified in a bowl of rice in hopes of prolonging his life). So I don't know. This week I'd noticed that longer runs on Sunday slowed me on Monday, so I took it easy on Sunday and showed up to track hoping for a great night.
And then my nose starting bleeding. Luckily I had paper towels in the car, but this was a bad one, and I bled all through the warm up and workout review. Finally a discovered that one of the teams had dumped an ice chest out on the grass, and managed to stop the bleed with an ice cube to the upper lip.
But the first mile of our workout was tough! I bounced back, but I felt a little light-headed at first!

I ended up with a good workout, though, keeping pace between 6:20 and 6:30 for two sets of 1 mile, 2x800, and 4x400 - all at 10k pace. Since that felt pretty good, I am really going to try to get my running back to schedule this week and prevent dead legs on Monday.

We'll see how I do. I'll report back!
Right now I'm off to do some park loops on dirt to recover from last nights track.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wanted: The right shoe

Also, a left shoe.
Kidding, I mean I'm still hunting for the shoe I'm comfortable - and safe - in. A few years ago, I wore the Saucony Kinvara for every run, and I loved that shoe. I still do. I'm mourning it, really. I had to stop wearing it because my foot was collapsing a little, causing undue strain on the adductors (my problem area). Switching to a slightly more stable shoe made a difference, and I don't want to take any chances going back to the Kinvara, even though I'm pretty healthy now.

When I decided to move away from such a soft, neutral shoe, I picked the closest thing possible: the Brooks PureCadence. And I've been pretty happy with the PureCadence, with two big exceptions:
1. They wear out way too quickly. I used to get 1000 miles out of a Kinvara. I hit 500 in the PureCadence and they were barely even held together still.
2. I lost 6 toenails after my last half marathon. I'm wearing a men's 8.5 because my foot is so wide, but it's a tad too large. The 8 was too narrow across the bunion, so I had to go up to my regular 8.5 just for width, but my toes are sliding forward and I'm shedding toenails. I normally might lose the same nail on my longest toe, no big deal, but SIX?! I don't want to make that a habit. I need a better fit!

I went over to Varsity Sports to get some suggestions. Whenever I buy a new style, I try to buy it locally. I don't like taking chances with fit and feel, and I do like to boost the local economy some. Since we get a discount for running with the Varsity group, it barely costs more to buy locally than from an online retailer.

Jessica had me try two shoes:
First, the Mizuno Sayonara, which was an amazing fit but didn't meet my qualifications at all (it's quite similar to the Kinvara and does not have any stability features). Of course I loved it and couldn't have it. But Jessica just thought it looked like a shoe I'd want, which I did. Darn.
Second, the Saucony Mirage. I'd tried on the mirage before, and didn't like it at all. It felt stiff, heavy, and tight in the toe box, with too much heel. But that was an older model, and Jessica said I'd like the improvements. And I did. The upper now has "Flex film" instead of overlays, which not only drops the weight, but helps a lot with fit over my wide feet. It still felt a little stiff to me, and it has a padded tongue, which I try to avoid on my shoes (they get sweat-soaked and disgusting in our summer heat). But I'm not looking for perfection. I just want some other options. So I bought it. I can comfortably fit a men's 8.5, without my foot sliding, so that is a plus.

I tried them out yesterday, and so far, so good. They're a touch tight at the bunion and do feel stiff during landing, but no major complaints. They feel like more shoe than I'm used to, but not necessarily heavy, which was a nice surprise. I think they're just over 8 ounces, which is not too terrible. Of course, I'll know more after I've worn them more. Sundays are a tough day to try out a shoe, because I go really easy on Sundays since it's sandwiched between a long run and a track workout on Monday.

What's in your shoe rotation? Have you found the right shoe for you?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What are you wearing this weekend? Five years running

It's hard to believe, but the Mardi Gras marathon has been owned by Rock 'n Roll for a full five years now. And I've run them all - three fulls, two halves.

I thought it was cute that RnR rewarded that with a T-shirt and a special race number.

All 5-year runners got one of these rather nice T's - a play on the iconic New Orleans water meter covers!

Hats off to RnR for doing something right and playing to the locals a little. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A chiro who isn't a quack

After my bad experience with a chiropractor last year, I hesitated to see another one. But this winter, I went - mostly just because I had met my deductible, and wanted to get some free visits in!
I saw one who came highly recommended from multiple runner friends. I explained my odd leg pain and showed him my xrays. After reviewing film and testing and prodding all my muscles, he said the same thing my doctor said: I looked as healthy as a horse.

But he did some good stuff: tests to see if pain originated from bone (negative) or muscle (negative). But if neither of those - what?
View of the obdurator nerve

Which is exactly what Char suggested a few posts back.
When I went to the chiropractor, I'd been feeling the front-and-back thigh pain a lot, and the pain in front of my thigh was still waking me up some times. The chiro tried to move some muscles around to relieve impingement, and as soon as he did I felt the burning pain stop. It was weird. And relieving.
Sadly, it sort of came back when he let go of my psoas. But since then, the pain in front of my leg is slight, intermittent, and hardly noticeable. I was given a list of stretches to try to keep my muscles limber and off my nerves, and told to return if I wanted.
So, I actually got something positive out of this visit. No trickery, no quackery, and another assurance that there is actually nothing major wrong with me. Perhaps some odd healing and clearly a lot of shifting of soft tissue to accommodate the lumpy bone I was sporting for awhile, but physically and mechanically, all is well.

I've read more on obdurator impingement, and here's a good summary. I think in my case, my long healing course coupled with chronic groin strain/pain is the cause. The good news is that stretching, strengthening, and warming up work wonders!

I felt obligated to post this because I kind of slammed chiropractic last year. But the guy I saw this time was excellent, so I will go ahead and tell you who it was: Source Chiropractic in Metairie. Tell Dr. Dave I sent you!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Insane news of the week

My brother and his wife are expecting another baby.
In September.
They are due a week before current baby's first birthday.
I'm excited, but sheesh, I don't think my sister in law will ever sleep again.
Let go of me! I can sit up by myself!
Oh crap, no I can't. I'm going down! 
I bet they have another cutie like the first one!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Moving on to the 10k

Last week I sort of relaxed, recovering from the half-marathon. I felt fine, but since I've decided to stop being dumb, I took time off from running anyway. Some of it was accidental, but I'm sure I needed it. Last week looked like this:

Sunday: Race
Monday: Speed work, slow: our group often does speed work the day after a race, but slowly. It gets blood flowing in short intervals with lots of rest, so it's a good recovery run. The rule is just that you join a (significantly) slower group. We did some mile repeats and some 300s. Plus 10 min abs.
City Park track

Tuesday: Iron Strength workout
Wednesday: Nothing, had the busiest day ever and couldn't fit anything in.
Thursday: Slept in and managed 3 miles before work.
Friday: Seven miles
Saturday: Slept WAY in and did 12 very easy. I ran into so many people in the park and ran with them or stopped to talk a lot, so this took me forever! But it was a beautiful day for once, and I was enjoying the weather.

Post race injury report: I really feel very, very good. Not perfect, but I'm inching towards 100%. I'm starting to feel a lot more natural on my runs, more like my old self, with less hesitation and more even weight distribution and stride (I realized that running on my injured left leg for so long taught me to be very dependent on my right leg, in a bad way!).

My next major race is the Crescent City Classic, and I think that's my goal race this year. It's the end of April, so it will probably be hot out, but I want to focus on a shorter distance since I now realize just how little base I have. It'll take me at least a year to feel like I can tackle a marathon again, and I won't be ready to PR in the half marathon for probably just as long. When you get out of shape, you have to take your time to build it up!
Therefore, 10k it is!
Now I just need to locate a training plan. I have plenty of time, so suggestions are welcome.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Jello shot at mile 12.

Good old Louisiana Running Company. Someone always has a camera!
And a jello shot.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's on my fast rack

During some quiet time at work, I re-organized my "fast rack", the shelves over the pharmacy counter with easy-to-reach, often-used drugs.
In most pharmacies, is the same old stuff:

Lots of cheap, older drugs. Lots of generics.

Not my fast rack! Mine includes Myfortic, Prograf, voriconazole, and Zyvox. Lots of high-dollar stuff, often drugs that are over $1000 a bottle.

But a new drug (not on my fast rack) really takes the cake - I just got access to a limited distribution hepatitis C medication that costs $28,000. That's MY cost. I pay $1000 a tablet wholesale!

The thing is, you aren't paying for the tablet. It's not expensive to actually make the drug. You're paying for:
1. The cost of developing the drug
2. The chance to cure hepatitis C. Who can set the price on a cure?

Meanwhile, my profits? Ha. On one prescription last week, I cleared a full $0.09. Yes, nine cents. That doesn't even cover the cost of the label I put on the bottle.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

RnR New Orleans 2014: Weird weather, slow field

Thanks to the weather, our elite field was a little bare this past weekend. Ben Bruce came out and won it for the men, far ahead of any other runners:

But the women's field wasn't as speedy as usual: the top finisher ran 2:58 and the third place woman ran 3:07.
The half was pretty slow, too: we had some speedy men and women, but overall the heat and humidity slowed the field, so much so that I actually got 2nd in my age group.
Last year my almost identical time landed me 29th woman - bad weather = slower field.
The women's winner ran a fast 1:20 and the men's winner ran 1:11. I think the guys' side was a little more competitive. I love that the guy who won, Liam Burke, was in town checking out college choices and visiting Tulane University! I hope he moves here and comes and runs with Varsity Sports!

Fog on Esplanade
Let's Run has a pretty good recap here.
This was probably taken at 8:00 am! Look at the fog! When I passed this point, there was no fog. Courtesy NOTC.

Someone told me something interesting about this race: Because it started out hot and humid, then a cool fog rolled over the city, people who ran the half/started in an early corral felt like the race was hot. But people doing the full or starting in a back corral felt chilled! So we have opposite impressions. I also heard - but cannot document - that the starting temps for the first corral was 10 degrees warmer than for the final corral. If that's true - crazy! But runners dramatize, so that could be made-up.

One more thing I should mention about my race this year: I really suffered after the race with stomach cramps. Just awful, painful stomachache. After about two hours of misery, I suddenly realized that Sunday was much more humid conditions than I was used to. I grabbed a pinch of salt and washed it down, and in a few minutes my cramps subsided. This anecdote is included here just to remind you: never underestimate your body's need for sodium!
And that's your running tip for the day :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Best race sign ever

We win for best race sign ever.

Who Dat!
(At least we didn't get completely mutilated by the Seahawks, right?)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Not a great race

There will be other races. Sunday was not a good one. I wasn't in the shape I thought I was in, and it was not ideal weather.

Getting to the race, bathrooms, and corral was fine (although RnR placed the port-a-potties right against the Mardi Gras viewing stands, which are basically bleachers, so there was no place to line up! Fail!). I squeezed into corral one, said hi to people I knew, tried to re-think my game plan. Saturday, I was convinced I had a 1:30:xx in me. In fact, I thought it might even be 1:30:30 or below. But the weather Sunday was worse than originally thought: in fact, Deena Kastor didn't start after seeing the forecast. Nevertheless, I really thought I could do 1:30:something, even if it was :59. But I overestimated my fitness.

Now, I don't know what's up with my Garmin, and hopefully it was just the very overcast weather, but it went nuts Sunday. It beeped a mile at 2/3rds of a mile! And then the pace went blank, and didn't return for miles. I ended the race with 13.42 on my Garmin and I KNOW I am not that bad at tangents. Sadly, this might be the beginning of the end for ol' Garmy.

The first few miles I think were fast: I am estimating 6:50 - 6:55 (my Garmin helpfully has miles one and two sub-6, lol!). There are mile markers and time on course, which is the only reason I have some idea. I didn't slow down because I thought I could run that pace.
I was hot. It was damp, humid, sticky, and gross. It was in the 70's early. But things were going ok until we got to the French Quarter. It was so humid that the roads had turned into an oil slick! You could see the oil sheen on the roads and I slid around like a crazy person. I know this was a problem for a lot of people: so many runners mentioned it to me after the race.

I took a gel during the race and it might have been a bad idea. It was a Roctane, and my stomach cramped right away. I've had that problem in the past with Roctane. That was when I started to slow down.

At one point in the race, we turned a corner and SPLAT! ran right into a wall of cold, wet air. The fog rolled off the river and we rolled into the fog! It was quite dense, and visibility wasn't great. Such strange weather! So humid!
I saw David and threw him my sunglasses - yeah, didn't need those - and finally finished the race. The last few miles felt hard for me, but I was actually slowing down. In my delusional Garmin-less state I thought I was speeding up....
Me throwing sunglasses and Gu at David

If I can believe my Garmin (I can't), I had a few miles right at 7:00 and two over 7: one when my stomach cramped right after the gel, and the other was mile 12. That is because I did a jello shot at mile 12. What?! I figured why not? I was already way off pace. (I did a bloody mary during Louisiana two weeks ago!). The Louisiana Running Company guys were out there and were pressuring me, so I took one - OMG it was so strong. Perhaps I need to stop blaming my Gu for my stomach cramps and start blaming green jello shots!
Is it me or is my foot turn-in a little better?  :) Yay for hip strengthening! 

I finished in 1:31:31, not even close to what I wanted, but it's a good lesson. I wasn't in condition to run faster. Yes, it was a tough day out there, but fit runners can overcome. There were some signs today that told me I was not as prepared as I should be: my feet hurt, and my stomach cramped. Cramping usually means I'm working too hard and losing too many electrolytes. So, I know what to do. Keep working, and keep stretching and rolling and strengthening so I can keep working!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The world is conspiring against my race

Eh, no fast racing tomorrow. Let's see, what went wrong so far:

1.After a few days in the 20's this week, tomorrow's high is 72F, with 90+% humidity (culminating in rain, but after the race is finished hopefully).
Really,  NOLA? It was 27 degrees on Wednesday. Inverted temps.

So much for nice running weather, and I've proved multiple times that I run poorly in humid weather.
2. Bad time of the month for me. So very bad. WHY does this always happen?!
3. My legs decided to die yesterday and I have been unsuccessful in resurrecting them. And they gained about 6 pounds each. I swear, it's like I can barely lift them. Annoying heavy leg syndrome. I can't trace this to anything I did: I took all week very easy, and didn't do any heavy lower-body stuff or fast running.
4. Even though Competitor Group dropped the "competitor" part last year and eliminated the elite program, we still have rock stars racing our streets. Tomorrow I'm racing Deena Kastor. 
I guess that means I won't win this year, darn. They should definitely keep those elites where they belong, which is not at some cheesy RNR race. Or ahead of me.
5. My Garmin, my trusty 305 that I got for Christmas four years ago, gave up the ghost this morning. Actually, it was dead Monday for track, but I just thought it needed to be charged. I haven't used it since then, but I did a pre-race battery check this morning and the thing won't even turn on. I have to research repair options, etc., but obviously it's out for tomorrow.

So, boo to all of that.
Yay to running a half marathon on my own streets and celebrate being healthy enough to do so!

*EDIT* My Garmin lives! It woke up of its own accord on try #15 to get it to turn on!