Custom Search

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My third knee

A month or so ago, I fell running and bruised my knees badly. While this picture shows most bruising on my right knee, it's my left knee that hasn't healed. Once the surface wounds closed, I was left with a big lump on my kneecap. It hurts, and I still can't really kneel on the knee. Plus, when I rub the surface of the kneecap, it's very coarse and crackly. It feels like sand or small gravel is sitting on top of my patella.
And annoying.

I think the big, rather hard lump of a third knee is a hematoma. My knee was bruised pretty badly, and I think this is how it healed. I know it will eventually break down and be reabsorbed into my body, but for now, it's just a weird blob. I still don't know what the rough, crackling feeling on the surface is. Often inflammation can feel this way, but I would think inflammation would affect my joint mobility, and it's fine. I just don't know.
Have you ever had a long after-effect from a skinned knee? A hematoma, or unidentified lump? Should I just keep ignoring this?

Monday, August 29, 2016

I owe you one

August 29th. And a Monday, at that. This anniversary forever brings back the frantic scramble of those first few days after Katrina: the hectic eye on the news, the hunt for loved ones, the frustration of out-of-service cell phones, the soggy rescues, the shock of death over and over until you were numbed and it no longer bothered you.
But weeks and months later, when the immediate need for food, water, and medical care had been met, the grim reality set in.
Houses gone. Neighborhoods gone. Workplaces gone. Will we come back? And come back to what?
The city was dotted with FEMA trailers and clogged with debris, and many residents still remained exiled, barred from return by areas too damaged to salvage, or finances too scant to make the move.
Now, Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes face these same hardships. The city that reached out to many New Orleanians, that opened its homes to those who lost theirs, needs our help now. Many areas were never expected to flood, and few residents had flood insurance. Entire towns flooded.
We in New Orleans know how to help - the only good thing about this whole mess is that we certainly have practice! But families need your help, too. Please consider giving to one of the charities listed here.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Marathon training, week 8

Training for Twin Cities Marathon, October 9:

Monday: Speedwork. 10 total. This was done late on Monday because of work travel.
Tuesday: Off.
Wednesday: 11 total with 9 at tempo: 7:12, 7:10, 7:07, 7:11, 7:10, 7:07, 7:16, 7:06, 7:11. Don't let the faster-than-usual paces fool you: I took two water breaks and this felt really, really hard.
Thursday: 10 easy. My quads were killing me! I did an Iron Strength workout on Tuesday night, the backbone of which is jump squats, and DOMS set in Wednesday night. Every step of this run was like knives in my thighs.
Friday: 6 total. For this cut-back week, I got two easy 6 mile days, which were really nice. The weather was nice, too - just 83F and breezy!
Saturday: 10 at 7:44 pace. I have been doing most of my runs in a jog bra this summer, because I don't want to die before my 34th birthday, but the relative cool (80F at the start!) this weekend meant I wore a shirt. Except when the sun came out, I ditched it - I folded it neatly and placed it in a hollow trunk up on the fly. When I returned for it after a short loop, it was gone! I saw a crew of janitors and stopped and asked them - sure enough, they'd picked it up with the trash and threw it out! Oh well, guess I need to run more races and get more shirts!
Sunday: 6 easy.

Total: 53 miles.

One thing I've really been slacking on is my strength over the past few weeks. I can tell, too, because the Iron Strength workout really killed my legs! That's a wake-up call to fit more strength in (in all my free time, haha).
I still feel like Hanson's is making me tired and slow. Hm. Not the goal, people, not the goal.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


These mornings - phew. The earlier I get up, the more humid it is! I hit the park yesterday and ran into a wall of fog. It was dense and warm - just like entering a bathroom steamed up by a hot shower. It was such a sweaty run - my clothes were soaked!

This year, here are a few things I've done to help with the summer sweating:

Newspapers in my shoes. By mile five yesterday, my shoes were squelching with sweat. I stuff my shoes with newspaper when I get home, and the paper wicks the moisture up out of the insoles (the gross part is pulling sweat-saturated newspaper out of your shoes when you get home after work). It definitely helps keep your shoes dry!

Nuun at the track. I am actually not a fan of Nuun. It contains sorbitol, which in the medical world is used to get stuff out of someone fast. Like if we need to remove excess potassium, we give you a drug that binds potassium, and we give you sorbitol to get it out of you fast. As in, diarrhea. Not on my list of things to drink while running! But someone gave me some tablets, and I've been bringing one in a cup of water when I go to the track. I drink it before my cool down, so I'm not too far from home just in case, ha ha. But it does help keep my blood pressure up when I've lost a ton of electrolytes to sweat.

Tiny towels. This sounds silly, but collecting those give-away towels from sports games and events and storing them downstairs in the kitchen makes them easy to grab and use to towel the sweat off before I go dripping all over the house. Because who wants to mop more than once a week?

Salt packs. For longer runs, I have been bringing a little salt. Sometimes I don't need or want calories (especially if it might upset my stomach, like during a tempo), but I do want the sodium that a gel or Gatorade would have. So instead I bring some salt in a piece of foil. I know others use those little paper restaurant salt packets, but anything wrapped in paper would last about 4 minutes in this humidity before melting to nothing! I just pour some kosher salt into foil, twist it up, and pull it out when I stop for water.

Wring, rinse, wring. When I get home, my clothes are saturated with sweat. I peel them off in the bathroom, wring the sweat out into the sink, then rinse them before wringing out a second time. The quick rinse prevents that awful sweaty-clothes smell from lingering after the clothes are washed.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Home miles

This week I had training in Covington, an hour away on the Northshore. My work training conflicted with my marathon training, which called for an interval workout on a day when I needed to leave New Orleans by 7 am to be in Covington on time. But I would get out of training early - 4:30 pm. I decided instead to combine training with a quick visit to my family (who live on the Northshore), and run my workout on my old street.
As I recalled, my parents' street was a totally flat half-mile of heavily-wooded loneliness, perfect for intervals. When we moved to that house when I was 15 (I can't believe it's been so long!), there were two houses on the whole street, with a Catholic retreat center at the very end of the road. Since then, I knew the retreat center had closed.
Oh, but so much more had changed. I rarely visit my parents for many complex reasons, including that my mother is an insane hippie and a hoarder, and to my shock there were TWO new subdivisions on the street! One was directly across from my parents' house, and the other - a large subdivision with many streets of identical, soulless houses - was in the location that the retreat center and a large wood used to occupy. I was saddened to see this development, as I used to love exploring the old retreat center, especially an area buried deep in the woods in which a tiled pool surrounded by marble statues was hidden.  Now, it was all long, shingled roofs, closely mown lawns, and leased Lexuses pulled into two-car garages. Bleah. I detest subdivisions.
But I had a workout to do, and sterile surroundings weren't going to stop me! Neither was 90 F with no shade (sadly, nearly all the trees were gone, since further up the street two large areas were cleared for two MORE as-yet-unrealized subdivisions). Or the fact that humidity was sky-high, thanks to the quaint Covington tradition of digging deep ditches on either side of narrow country roads to catch the drainage. I changed into my running gear as I watched steam rise from the ditches.
My workout was 4x1.5 miles at 7 to 7:10 pace, with half mile active rests. I warmed up, then decided to hit the subdivision at the end of the road for the intervals. Lo and behold, the streets were firm white concrete, and I was flying! I always find concrete so responsive (if, perhaps, more likely to induce injury). So much for intended pace - I couldn't slow down more than 6:47 pace for any of the intervals. I think part of my trouble pacing is just that these intervals are meant to be run SO slowly, and part is other factors - in this case, the unusual environment, the firm surface, or the fact that this was an afternoon run, which meant I had actually eaten, unlike most mornings.
It was so very odd to be cranking out miles in a place I had been so many times before, but that was so incredibly changed since the last time I'd been there. My total workout was ten miles, and I easily completed that within the subdivision, with little doubling back, which tells you something about the size. A full 1.5 mile repeat plus a half mile cool-down didn't even take me to the end of the main road, and if I had ventured any farther I'd be too long away from my water: dangerous in this weather.
Right at my last interval, the sky opened, and heavy tropical rains poured down. I was soaked in seconds, and my shoes squelched all the way home. By the time I'd cooled down, the rain had stopped, and the steam was now all over the road. I collected my shirt (discarded by the first half-mile) and discovered that I'd conveniently placed it in a fire ant mound. Not good.
But it was good to wedge my workout in despite challenges, and it was good to lay eyes on my crazy family. It wasn't good to see the street all developed; it saddens me to see trees cut down. But oddly, as soon as I'd showered with hippie shampoo, visited, and left, I reverted to picturing the road the way I'd always remembered it - trees, shade, and two little houses.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Another one bites the dust

Well, so much for the awesome deal that my $20 Ebay Garmin 305 was. It's dead. Or at least, well on its way to dying.
First of all, it has no battery life to speak of. If I take the fully charged unit on an eleven mile run, with no button-touching except to restart laps at the end of the warm-up and workout, then it's beeping "low battery" by mile 10. I haven't tried, but I could probably get 16 miles out of it. Just barely. Obviously, that's a problem with a 26 mile race coming up. I have already been thinking about replacing it due to battery life, and David advised me to buy a new one, since battery life was the most important thing I was looking for. 305s are so old that all of them available right now risk minimal battery life. But the new models - the 225 and 230 - have a lot of activity tracker features that I don't want, and don't have enough data fields for the run. The 630 costs more than I spend on my monthly rent, but the older versions - like the 620 - don't have the most recent connectivity.
But it must be replaced, so I have to make a decision - and soon.
Decisions, decisions! What's your recommendation? Keep in mind that - for someone who claims to never really use a Garmin - I insist on seven data fields (pace, average pace, lap pace, lap time, lap distance, time, distance). And hopefully time of day, too. That's the minimum to do races, intervals, and regular running without having to change data fields!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Marathon training, week 7

Training for Twin Cities Marathon, October 9:

Monday: Off.
Tuesday: 10 total. This was the week I switched to the longer, slower repeats I'll be doing for the remainder of the training cycle. Rather than run on the track, I did my mile repeats in the park. It was dark when I started, and I didn't have my backlight on, so I struggled a tad with paces at first. The workout was 6x1 mile with 400m active rest. It seemed very easy, too easy, and my pace was much faster than it should have been (more like 7:05): 6:59, 6:51, 7:00, 6:52, 7:02, 6:50. Hm. No way this could come back to bite me, right?
Wednesday: 8 in the blazing sun at 7:55 pace. Bad idea. First, my workout was too fast. Then, my easy day - the most important easy day, between two hard days - was faster than prescribed. 
Thursday: And Thursday was payback time. I headed out for a tempo, and at mile three and a half, I bonked. Just like the end of a marathon. It was incredibly humid, and I'd gone to bed hungry and didn't eat that morning, but I really think the bonk was from veering off my training plan as far as paces go. I jogged back home for 8.5 total.
Friday: Off. I was scheduled for 8 easy, but I took off because I was worried that Thursday's bonk was a sign of overtraining. Plus, I had to take a final that morning. It was poor timing, because this was the first week with a long run of 16 miles, which is supposed to be on tired legs, but oh well. 
Saturday: 16 at 7:47 pace with 20 levee hills. I keep doing a lot of my runs on the levee, and I have no idea why. It's broiling out there. As soon as I hit the park, the shade under the trees changed everything. My last two or three miles were the fastest because I was in the park. I felt fine for this run, which was a relief, but I'd rather have the experience of a long run on tired legs like the plan calls for. I still kind of feel like this plan isn't working well for me - but maybe with the longer speed work and increasing length of easy runs between hard days, I need to go back to a full day off between speed work and tempo. The tempos just seem harder than they ought to. The pace I am running them at matches my fitness based on recent races, so why so tough?
Sunday: 8 easy.

Total: 51 miles.

This should have been 61 miles - so the workout I quit plus the skipped day had a big impact. I feel kind of bad about that, but I also think that a bonk bad enough to quit a workout should be followed by a day off. Plus, the final exam schedule really gave me no choice (unless I took it late Friday after our dinner reservations). Regardless, I feel like a big failure for flopping on the week. 

Have you ever bonked on a workout? What did you do, and did you take time off after? 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dirty linen night

I like dirty linen night so much better than white linen night. For one thing, I wore this:
Just kidding. That was actually art in a gallery!
Dirty Linen Night is on Royal Street, so it's both a little more funky than White Linen Night AND a little cut above as far as art goes. Julia Street is mostly galleries of new or current artists, but many galleries on Royal are art dealers, and some sell Picassos, Warhols, and even Rembrandts.

We finished our stroll through the galleries with dinner at the Pelican Club, which has become a tradition. We love taking advantage of the August pre fixe Coolinary menu! I had an appetizer of homemade fettuccine with short ribs and a seared tuna entree that I couldn't finish (the portions at Pelican Club are unusually large for a fine dining restaurant). We gave up on dessert and brought it home - it was just too much.

My favorite piece this year was the dress pictured above. I know that my interest in sewing and crafting colors my perception of textiles as art, but this embroidery was truly beautiful. Other pieces in the gallery featured more embroidery, all of nature (for some reason, lots of rabbits), and it was quite impressive.

That's our last outing for awhile. Another school session starts soon, and I think it will keep me busy: I'm taking two of the most time-consuming courses at once. The last session, with just one (easy) class, had me spoiled!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Go, ladies!

I was so proud of our Olympic women's marathon team! To have three women finish in the top ten was impressive, and the way both Flanagan and Linden rallied really showed their guts (although I really wonder about Linden's racing strategy in the heat, going out to the lead and making multiple "surges" throughout...THIS IS SO MAKING ME DOUBT MY HANSONS MARATHON METHOD).
From Runner's World

It seemed to me that the heat training our team completed paid off. The United States was the only country with three top ten finishers, and all our women broke 2:30 on a hot day. I love it!
Flanagan is on a roll, Linden is just simmering, waiting for a break-out race, and Cragg - a marathon newbie - has many great races ahead of her. I'm excited for the future of marathoning in the US.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Marathon training, week 6

Training for Twin Cities Marathon, October 9:

Monday: Off.
Tuesday: Track day! Eight miles total. This was 3x1600, a workout I just did two weeks ago - and failed at miserably. However, this week went much, much better. The weather was a little less terrible, and I easily hit within my pace range, 6:16, 6:21, 6:21 (The first was a little too fast).
Wednesday: 6 easy on the dirt track.
Thursday: 10.5 with 8 tempo at 7:12. Splits 7:15, 7:08. 7:12, 7:11, 7:09, 7:16, 7:13, 7:10. It was a little rainy, a little cool, and this tempo felt good (finally). I cut the warm up short, and it showed with a slow first mile, but mid-80's weather was far better than the 90's I've been running in.
Friday: 10 easy. Pouring rain but oh so nice and cool! 79 at the start and 82 at the finish!
Saturday: 10 at 7:35 pace with 20x levee "hills". Again, lovely cool and rainy weather.
Sunday: 6.5 easy.

Total: 51 miles.

A cut-back week! This week was overall lower volume and difficulty compared to last week, and I felt good all week. I'm sure a big part of that was the change in temperature. We've had lots of rain this week, leaving areas of our state flooded disaster zones, but the bright side is a break in the heat.
I definitely had a better week this week than last. I'm starting to see a pattern: Every other week with Hanson's, you ramp up. The long run gets longer, the easy days or tempos might get longer, the track interval length extends. Those weeks are hard. But the weeks that follow seem easy in comparison. Or maybe I'm finally improving! Who knows.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wrinkled linen night

Same dress, almost every year. It always gets packed for the winter and comes out a wrinkled disaster that no iron can conquer.
As White Linen Night grows, we are less and less likely to see any art. The crowds are too big to fit in some galleries, and frankly, some of the art they display for the open is particularly bad. I'm not saying bad as in, "Not my taste", I'm saying bad as in, "You have no talent." It happens! Although I do admire the young entrepreneur, faking "artist" well enough to get into a gallery.

Most of the fun of White Linen Night is running into friends. This year the highlight was capping the night off with cocktails at the Windsor Court with - of all people - David's old babysitter! Twins, a boy and a girl, used to come over to watch "Baby Davie", as they called him, a good forty years ago. Now, this babysitter is married with his own kids, but he remembers lots of escapades with Baby Davie! It was such fun to hear them reminisce.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Marathon training week 5

Training for Twin Cities Marathon, October 9:

Monday: Off.
Tuesday: 8 total in surprisingly nice temperatures - I think 86? Six repeats of 800m with 400m jog in 3:08, 3:09, 3:11, 3:09, 3:09, 3:11. Plus warm up and cool down. So much easier in mid-80's vs mid-90's.
Wednesday: 8 easy. I had to teach a class early in the morning, so I moved my run to the afternoon. This meant that I ran this at 5 pm, which was nice as far as weather goes (the humidity tends to be worst in the mornings), but meant that I was running a tempo twelve hours later. 
Thursday: 11 with 8 tempo at 7:16. Total disaster. My legs were still tired from the night before. My tempo portion was way off pace, and still felt hard!
Friday: 15 easy. Because of our weekend plans, I had to move this run up a day, meaning it was the day after an exhausting and terrible tempo. So obviously, it was exhausting and terrible, too. The cycle continues! 
Saturday: 8 easy.
Sunday: 7 easy. I ran this later in the day, just like last week, and again it felt easy. Must be that I feel best at noon!
Total: 57 miles.

This was a week of compromises between life and running plan, and was a flop on the running front. Once I started messing with the schedule, it all went downhill. My tempo was too slow and too hard, and then my long run was run at easy pace instead of long run pace (I didn't want to even try a faster pace that close to the tempo because my legs and joints were already complaining. I am not going to get injured this time around!).
So this week certainly proved the importance of sticking to schedule. I will get back to business next week! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Marathon training week 4

Training for Twin Cities Marathon, October 9:
Where most of my running takes place: Audubon
Park (at the top), which connects with The Fly
(bottom), the park that runs along the river.
Separatingthe two: Magazine Street, and the
train tracks, which always carry the threat of a
slow train to make you late for work!

Monday: Off. I switched my rest day to Mondays for this week to see if it would make my Thursday tempo any easier, as opposed to coming off a Wednesday rest day. 
Tuesday: 8 miles total: 4+ warm up and cool down with 3x1600 on the track with 600m jogs. 6:26, 6:30, 6:36. I kind of fell apart on the last one. It To say the least. But I liked how fast this workout went: with few rest breaks, I was done in no time. 
Wednesday: 6.5 super easy in incredibly cool 78 degree weather! 
Thursday: 11 miles total including 4 mile warm up and cool down. So here was the big test: Would the tempo feel easier without total rest the day before? Yes, it did! I arranged the run so that I'd run out about 4.5 miles on the levee, turn around, and run 2.5 back before a cool-down home. This kept me far from the temptation of a water fountain, but it also meant no water was available on the cool-down, either. That wasn't smart planning, as I was teetering on the brink of dehydration for the rest of the day. But the tempo portion went almost perfectly: I hit my pace, and the only break was at the turnaround. I'm running on the narrow path on the levee, and in my experience, I struggle with an abrupt turn. The portion following the U-turn ends up much slower than planned. So instead I coast into the turn and stop for a few seconds to reposition and begin running straight. I definitely was not stopped for an entire minute, so I think that's okay. Average tempo pace 7:12. 
Friday: Total for the day 12.25ish. In the morning I ran 10 easy, which I should rephrase as "ten slow" since they felt hard despite the slow pace, and in the evening I ran the all-comers track meet: 1 mile, 800m, and 400m plus a short cool down. The track meet was pretty rough on my exhausted muscles.
Saturday: Darn it, I messed this up! 8 miles at 7:46. I was supposed to be ten - I read the wrong line on my training plan :(
Sunday: I had leftover cinnamon rolls, hazelnut coffee, a fat Sunday paper, and no desire whatsoever to get out of bed. So I didn't. Which meant that I had to run after church and mimosas (celebration for a newly married pastoral intern), at high noon, in 90F, with a feels-like of 102. But you know what? It wasn't bad at all. I ran 8 miles at 7:36 and it felt...easy. Yes, I stopped for water four times, but that was just survival. I mean, I don't really want to flirt with death, you know? I actually should have run this much slower, and it was supposed to be 6 miles, but I just felt good and chose to run whatever I wanted. The Hanson's plan is so structured that I already needed a break! Usually that means time off or less running, but today I honestly felt like more. Probably due to the shortened run the day before! 
Total: 54 miles.

I am now in total consternation about this marathon plan. All week my legs felt remarkably tired, yet I hit most of my prescribed paces, and ended the week feeling pretty good. I'm worried that I am running too many miles and just generally feel tired / tired of running - yet when I flipped back through the Hanson's book, the author repeatedly emphasizes that you should feel fatigued, and makes sure to advise that you complete your run even when you feel tired.
Mid-week, I was ready to throw in the towel: I felt like I was slowing down, and all my runs were sluggish; then my really slow track runs persuaded me that this plan wasn't doing anything to speed me up. But then by Sunday I felt like I didn't really have too many miles on the legs at all. So now I think perhaps I should give it a little more time and see what happens.

As regards my switched-up rest day, I like it. I don't think it will mess the plan up too much - either way, I'm running one of my hard days after a rest day and one after an easy day. I just switched which hard day gets the day off before it. I did feel like my tempo went a lot better, so I will keep Mondays as my day off.