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Monday, July 24, 2017

So much support

I only own one pair of athletic compression socks. They are CEP socks I won on a blog giveaway, and once in awhile I wear them.
But I actually prefer these:

They are high compression medical socks, and I like that they have open toes. I get some support for my tired feet, but I don't get squished toes. I don't like that cramped toe feeling, especially since I have such a wide ball to my feet. Of course, you will notice that at $30, they are not much cheaper than athletic compression. But you can often find them on sale, buy-one-get-one-free, or coupons. Plus, as a Walgreens employee, I get a discount. For me, they're cheaper PLUS they are much higher quality.

So if I'm wearing compression, it's often these stylish beauties.
Do you wear compression socks, and if so, do you wear them for recovery or running?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summer runs and life updates

Sure, I'm totally in shape and not
completely out of breath after every
single run (also, dang, that sweat-soaked
shirt! Ugh, summer!)
I am working my way back from time off rather painfully. I didn't do any cardio while I was off running, so not only am I out of shape aerobically, I also have some creaky joints and muscles suffering from disuse. But running has been going pretty well.

Right now, I'm on my very last class of this long, drawn-out MBA (due to program changes that limited how often classes were offered, my initial spring graduation date was extended to summer; my last four classes were taken alone rather than doubling up). Luckily, this class is not at all demanding, so I don't feel a time crunch affecting my running. My last class was seven weeks long, and every week required me to:
- read two chapters
- take a diagnostic quiz for each chapter
- take a quiz for each chapter, with content based on results of the diagnostic
- write a 1000 word essay
- complete an assignment (variable)
- take a 50-question test.
You know what that meant, of course. It meant that the essay content was pathetically poor, because the volume of work was just too great. Such a waste of time, and so little real learning involved! So I'm really enjoying this class, which is based entirely on your grade from three exams, no busy work required.

Anyway, I hit 40 miles this week, and did my first workout back: a fartlek I barely survived (it was very humid and I'm very out of shape). I also did some hill repeats today, since I think they really help with stride economy, glute strength, and power. I'm still doing my myrtles and some hip strengthening before every run, and I either do a quick stretching routine or a short strength routine post-run. Some routines I use are Coach Jay Johnson's "Grant Green" routine, a Runner's World strength routine, a glute medius routine, Peanut Butter Runner's 100-rep core workout, or a Nike training club stretch and strength routine. It varies - but about ten minutes max.

I'm feeling pretty strong, but honestly, my calves (yes, both!) don't feel 100%. I don't know if they're just weak, or tight, or what, but I keep feeling the need to stretch, and I often get sore after a short run. Hopefully all that works itself out soon - I've got races to run!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spillway Classic trail 3 miler

I decided to carefully run the Spillway Classic, since it is just a 5k and it's slow and easy - it's on the trail. It sounded safe, and I promised to take it easy.

Timing for the race was going to be an issue: It started at 8 am in Norco, a good 35 minutes from the house, but I have church at 9:30. I'd have to run the race, drive home, shower, and get to church in an hour and a half. It would be cutting it close, but I thought I could do it. I left the house at almost 7, but that cut it a little close. The parking at the spillway was a mess, with no one really directing to the open lots, and plenty of cars parking on the roads or in very muddy fields. I found a spot, but then packet pick up was a mess, too - as usual at NOTC races, there wasn't any good signage, and for some reason the line for pre-registered runners was separated into n-z, a-e, and f-m...in that order. Not surprisingly, everyone was in the wrong line! I don't know why the track club doesn't invest in some whiteboard signs that they can put up where the line forms to tell runners which line they are in. But I got my number and had time to get in a mile and a half warmup before the start...because it was delayed. Of course. The packet pick up was such a mess that the race start was postponed, which meant that I was REALLY cutting it close for church!

I knew from experience that position matters in this race: it starts on a narrow levee for a mile, then you descend into the swampy woods and a narrow trail. It's really hard to pass on the trail, and the levee can be crowded, too. So I lined up closer to the front than usual. I planned to go hard on the levee (well, as hard as I could, since it is dirt and large gravel and I was in flats!), and then pick and stomp through the mud as best as I could. I sprinted out with the gun, but I was definitely not close to the start for the girls: I was probably 9th or so along the levee. Mile one beeped at 6:27, which was perfect.

The levee was hot, hot, hot, and pretty rough on my feet. I knew it was my only chance for speed, though - the woods were definitely going to be really messy as we've had a lot of rain recently. Sure enough, by the time we turned and charged down the slippery levee into the swamp, I could already hear the splashes of runners ahead of me.
That's my teammate in the white hat, and I'm behind him in orange putting my shoes back on!

Immediately, we were in a puddle over my knees. And immediately, I regretted my shoe choice. I was wearing my old Musha flats, saved just for this purpose: I'd never wear shoes I want to keep to this race! But the mud sucked them right off my feet. Luckily, I managed to hang on with my toes and shoved them back on rather than lose them forever in the muck. I trudged through, and was rewarded by semi-dry trails ahead. Man, was I winded after that! And the toes of my shoes were full of packed mud. The rest of the first mile was sort of dry; at least, it was more mud than water. I had gotten a little separated retrieving my shoes in the first big puddle, and I followed the guy in front of me...off course! Luckily we both realized it, not too late to cut through the woods and rejoin the race. I'd lost my position by several runners, including one girl I saw far ahead, so by now I assumed I was way back. The first big puddle cost me - mile 2 was 8:29.
We had several more puddles to wade before we were over, and then the hot run on the grass to the finish. Mile 3 was 8:17.
Emerging from puddle #1
I was a little annoyed at myself at the finish for not sprinting it in. I am still in recovery mode, but I was only seconds behind the girl in front of me, and should have tried to catch her - especially when I figured out that I was closer to the front than I thought. Several girls got lost! I finished in 23:17 gun time. I'm not sure my exact place, but I won my age group. I was covered in mud (although I caught myself and prevented any outright falls during the race), and ran over to the fire trucks to shower off. Then I jogged to the car, toweled off, put my shoes in a bag, and drove home. Somehow, I managed to shower and walk to church on time for the 9:30 start! I was still pouring sweat, but I made it!
#proof (although, really, I suppose I could have taken this at any time, haha)
I was happy with today's race, for the most part. I ran the best I could on the trails, didn't fall, had a solid first mile, and didn't hurt. It will still be a long road back to racing fitness, but I think this was a safe race with which to ease back in.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Testing speed at the summer series 2 miler

My injury and the weather collaborated to ensure that I didn't miss a Summer Series Free for All race this year. Since I went out with a bang finishing first female at the last summer series, and came back at the next summer series a month later, I didn't miss any of these free 2 mile races. There would have been one sandwiched in the middle, but it was cancelled for rain.
I obviously wasn't going to be racing this one. I just got back from injury, and a casual 2 miler while out of shape isn't the way I want to re-injure myself! I talked to Jimi, who did my acupuncture, and we discussed a fast-ish mile to see how I felt, then dialing back for the next mile. That would allow me to still run the race without attempting two fast miles just a few days in to comeback.

I wanted to be at the race because the Powermilers were sponsors (we provided food), so this sounded like a good option. I drove over to City Park straight after work, and it jogged through stifling humidity to the start. It wasn't a terribly hot night, just really humid after an afternoon of hot summer rains.

I ran into a couple of the guys during my warmup, and they cheerfully informed me that there was a 100 meter stretch of ankle deep water near the end of the course. Great! It seems that drenching new shoes is what I do at these races (last race I stepped in a puddle in my new Musha flats; this race, I wore my new New Balance 1400s). I shrugged and lined up - I'd done about a mile and a half warm up, no strides or anything. I did get closer to the front this time, and the start wasn't as terribly crowded as the last race. I was clicking along nicely, felt fine, but my half a mile, I knew that my effort was too great for the pace I was running. I began to feel like I was struggling as I drew close to mile one, and my breathing was labored. I hit mile one at 6:13 and began dialing back. Behind me, a friend kept shouting, "Pick it up! Catch yellow shirt! High schoolers come back!" but I was too winded to explain to him that I was running mile two easy. The truth is, if I'd felt great, I probably would have tried to race this thing, but since I could barely breath, I wasn't tempted at all.
Basically walking. What am I doing?! 

I practically walked across the finish line with a Garmin 12:56, and after lamenting my lost fitness for a while, joined the guys for some fried rice courtesy of the Powermiler track club!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

First steps back

I finally got brave enough to get out for a run, and it was a success!
I started out with my usual return-from-running: three miles. It's long enough that it doesn't mask the injury by simply being too short of a run to irritate the injury, but it's not so long that it would be overdoing it. Since everyone in the sports medicine world recommends starting with intervals, I interspersed my runs with walking for a total of about six miles. And it was fine. I actually felt some tightness in my calf on the injured side, but it was the back of the calf. By the next day, everything felt 100%. It was like I'd never been injured. Phew! I probably took off more time than I needed (a month), but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Plus, it was time for a break. I haven't had one since the fall, and that's probably a contributing factor to the injury.

That, plus three new pairs of shoes in a short time span, and ramping up miles, and continued high intensity of my long runs. As I ease back in, I'll need to reconsider some of these things to avoid a re-injury. I also need to stop skipping my strength workouts!

Unfortunately, I have both a 2 mile race and a trail 5k this week, both of which I'll probably have to skip, just because it's so soon. Bah! Bad timing! Oh, well. There will be other races, right?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Not yet

I'm still doing mostly weights: no running yet for me. I've tried short (just 100 yards) runs twice, and felt twinges, so I'm being quite cautious. But I'm not in pain right now.
Look! Going downstairs with no pain! Tulane,
please clean your garage stairs a little...

I had two sessions of acupuncture and they both improved my pain and mobility a great deal, but that last nagging tugging in the muscle didn't go away until I broke down and took naproxen. I don't like using NSAIDS when there could be bone involvement (I think this type of injury progresses to a stress fracture, and NSAIDS inhibit bone growth), but I've also noticed that sometimes persistent inflammation in a hard-to-reach area really responds to medication. In the past, I've done three or four high doses of NSAIDS, and that knocked the inflammation out. This time, two 500mg tablets of naproxen left over from hip surgery THREE years ago (Wow, I can't believe that!) got me over the pain hump. And now I'm just patiently waiting the requisite week or two before another try at running.

I'm ready to get back to running. I have races coming up - some short summer distances - and I'm starting to feel gross. For some reason, this running break I PACKED the pounds on, even though I was doing other workouts and was only on a short break. I don't normally gain appreciable weight with a break like this! Perhaps it just coincided with some particularly festive eating, but I'm starting to feel bleah in my clothes, so I'm ready to return to a normal routine.

I can hardly wait to get back out in that 90+ degree weather. Oh yeah! How's your summer running going?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A foray into acupuncture

As my calf pain continued into a second week of injury, I was getting miffed that it still hurt to walk. I wasn't healing very quickly. My body has been pretty resilient this year: I have not really had a break, despite running two marathons in three weeks, so I suppose I can't grudge my joints some down-time. But I want to get back out there for some of the short, summer races, so I looked for some help healing.
Naturally, I decided to go see Jimi at Crescent City Acupuncture. He's the talented fellow who writes the Power Milers workouts, and Allison recommended him; he'd treated her similar calf pain before.

I've never had acupuncture, but Jimi explained that he'd be treating the tissues near the bone to recruit healing cells to the area and stimulate muscle fiber reorganization. So... kind of like dry-needling, but if you say that in front of Jimi he'll probably have a stroke (and never speak to you again). AND. I have to admit that he is right. I've had dry needling before, and I thought it was effective, but acupuncture was much more targeted, and I felt results much more quickly. Dry needling non-specifically stimulated healing to a large area of affected muscle, and as a result, not only did it take longer for the damaged areas to heal, but it sort of gave me that not-quite-satisfied feeling, like when you just can't dig deep enough with the foam roller. Acupuncture hit exactly the irritated spot, and after 20 minutes of electrical current application, felt immediately better. I think a big difference is in the depth of the needle placement: I felt like dry-needling was very uniform. The same needles were inserted to the same depth all over, with varying success. But Jimi was able to insert the needles much more adeptly: he got some into the back side of the bone, and I could tell at once that he'd hit the right spot.
Waiting room full of Runner's World: always a good sign!

I am now a total acupuncture apologist. I walked up the stairs to my appointment with a limp. I walked out without pain. Amazing! That was last night, and the effects have mostly remained. I still have some pain when I stand on my toes or do heel lifts, and NO WAY would I tempt fate by running yet, but I am 75% better. I'm on my way back!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Series 2-miler

 I managed to work my schedule in such a way that I could run one of the Summer Series 2-milers at City Park this year. It was a hot night, and surprisingly windy, but I actually felt pretty good pre-race. That was unusual, since I don't always do well at night races (mostly stomach issues from lunch timing).
I chose that night to break in my last hoarded pair of Mizuno Mushas: I finally had to give up on the maroon pair I'd been wearing for years (they had under 400 miles, but for a flat, that's a lot). I parked about half a mile from the start and jogged around Big Lake to pick up my number...and immediately stepped into a puddle up to my ankles. So much for brand new shoes. I took them off and wrung out my socks and insoles, then continued my warm up.
Dirty new shoes :(

I did about 1.5 miles warm up two shorts strides - only because the ground was so wet that there was no room for anything else. I could have done strides on the race course, but everyone was lining up and I felt silly and self-conscious out there warming up with a bunch of fast people. Where this sudden abashedness came from, I do not know, but I'm sure it didn't do my race any favors. I also wandered several rows back for the start, for the same reason, and I'm really annoyed at myself for that, because a. I knew this course is on a narrow walking path and is pretty congested, and b. I JUST had a bad race start because I lined up too far back at the Greek Fest 1-mile. So what's wrong with me?!

Anyway. Back to the race. We started, and I was clogged up in a bunch of kids. Kids everywhere. Kids left and right. Kids bunched in front. So I struggled and fought through the hoards for at least the first half-mile (including a bunch of barefoot kids - I'll write more on that later). The rough start meant that I not only dodged and wove a lot in the first half, resulting in a slow first half-mile and too much energy expended, but also I (of course) overcompensated on the second half of mile one. By the time I hit the mile in 6:14, I was panting for breath. The second mile was definitely harder for me: I was really trying to keep my pace even, and that's tough when you are running my pace: I'm right at that pace sweet spot at which many people can run one mile, but may not be able to sustain two miles. As people around me gradually slowed, I had to make sure I was dialed in to my own pace, and not pacing off them. This is a problem I face in shorter distances, and I did ok this time. As I approached the final turn, a guy yelled, "First female!" and I realized that I didn't have a CLUE as to my place. I also couldn't remember who I'd passed, and when, and how close they may be to me: I was in such a crowd at the beginning that I couldn't remember anyone specifically. So I just gunned it to the finish!
At the finish!

12:29. The clock actually said 12:19, which is very close to my PR, but my watch read 12:29. That means that I've run two races this year in which the clock was wrong! What the! But anyway, it was a win for the women, and that's always fun, even if there aren't actually places/awards at these races (it's actually more fun. I love these easy, short, low-pressure summer races).

I am both happy with the win and a little annoyed that 1. I ran the second mile one second slower than the first and 2. I'm not under 12:20. I should be able to do that! So that's my goal for this summer IF my injured calf gets better in time for the free races. It's actually a little better today, so I'm hopeful!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Injured, by Jove!

Bah! I was doing so well, I thought, but then injury struck! I have...a thing...wrong with my calf. Or shin. Or something.

I just put support everywhere to see if that would help.
A week and a half ago, I'd felt a knot in my calf, and took a few days off to let it loosen up. But I didn't give it enough time, and after last Tuesday's workout, my leg started to hurt. By the next morning, it hurt to put weight on it, and honestly, that hasn't really changed. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I can feel a lot of inflammation around the insertion points of the posterior tibialis. Although I feel the pain up on my shin, it's somewhat relieved by wearing arch compression. That makes sense, since that's where the distal insertion point is (if my tenuous grasp of anatomy serves me right). I discovered this minor fix because my leg hurt a lot while running around barefoot at the beach this weekend with my charming godchildren. It felt better once I put shoes on, so I decided to try arch support.

I'm not sure what's next. It's unusual that the intensity and quality of pain hasn't changed a full week after the initial injury, with total rest, but I'll give it another week before I decide if I should see a doctor. I've had a similar pain before, but it went away with rest, so maybe that's all I need.

Meanwhile, I'm missing some of the  free summer 2 mile races, so that's the worst!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Searching for a speedy shoe

It's time to retire my Mizuno Mushas, the shoe I've been wearing for track workouts and the occasional race for the last five years. My pair is getting old, and I can tell - I'm getting shin pain whenever I wear them. Since Mizuno doesn't make the Musha anymore, I decided to try the New Balance 1400. At first, the 1500 appealed to me, since it is also touted as a stability shoe, like the Musha was (apparently, neither one really offers any stability). But the descriptions of the 1500 were of a heavier, softer shoe, and in fact, sounded more like an everyday trainer. I opted for the 1400.

Aren't they pretty? So was the price - $59 at 6pm.com. My immediate impression is that they are more cushioned than I expected, softer than the Musha. But I haven't run in them yet. Pre-run, my expectation is that they'll be a good shoe for races or fast stuff on the roads. They might be too squishy for the track - or, they might feel totally different while I'm running compared to just standing here admiring their color. I'm itching for a fast tempo in these babies!

What are you wearing on the track these days?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

PMTC long runs

Since I joined the Power Milers, I've been accompanying them on their Sunday long runs. This is quite the shift for me: I've always been a Saturday long run person, and I genuinely enjoy running in this beautiful city to kick my weekend off. Something about a long, easy (or not easy!) run through the streets and park as the city wakes up is very invigorating for me. I'm already one of those annoying happy people, but I positively love life after my Saturday long runs. 

To make the switch to Sunday, I tried doing just six on Saturday, but it wasn't the same. It felt just like a weekday. Instead, I've been doing an easy ten, which leaves me fresh enough for a not-at-all-easy fourteen at 6:00 am the next day. 

Six am.
The time is an adjustment, too, but going early is the only way I'd be able to make it to church, anyway. 

The group runs the well-known "city loop", a route that takes you from St. Charles to Carollton to Esplanade to Royal to St. Charles again, starting and ending at Audubon park. I've run the route before, but it's been years, and I'm enjoying the chance to see the city again (for local readers, there is another route also called the "city loop" that goes down Canal, but that is most assuredly a knock-off city loop. #fakeroutes).

Even though these guys are fast, I've always found a few people to run with, but here's my concern - they're running much faster than my typical long run. Even though I run the 1.5 miles to and from my house very slowly, I've been averaging 7:30's for fourteen miles. That's fast for me, especially in hot weather. When I was doing Hanson's, I was running 7:40 - 8:05 for long runs of up to 16 miles, because their plan does not call for "long slow distance". I liked that, because I don't believe in long slow distance, at least not for me. I've done that before, and I get slow and I get injured. I prefer my easy pace runs to be shorter, usually eight and six milers during the week. But I digress. The point is, these long runs are too fast for me. 

However! They are also easier than I am used to! And that is because the group takes long breaks. Now, I am not one of those runners who thinks you can never pause your Garmin, or has a problem losing ten or even fifteen minutes on a long run - sometimes I stop for traffic, sometimes I stretch or do leg swings, sometimes I need a bathroom break, sometimes I see friends, and ALWAYS I stop for water (in the heat of the summer, I sometimes stop on every loop around the park, and it's less than 2 miles around!). But these long run breaks are much longer than I'm used to. At the start and stop of the run, I wait around with the group a lot - we rarely start on time, and we wait for everyone to finish at the end - so some of the breaks are just before we start and after we finish, while I still need to jog to and from my house. I don't mind that. But during the run, we break at two firehouses for water. It's cool that we have a good relationship with the firemen, and they let us use their bathrooms and drink from their hoses. Man, though, those breaks run long. So many bathroom breaks. So many conversations. Every time I've run with the group, our two scheduled breaks have stretched to five minutes apiece!

Since I'm running at a pace that's a little uncomfortable for me, I notice the breaks. I catch my breath and rest, and that means that the breaks are too long. I'm turning these runs into intervals! And that's not the goal. I kind of want to say something, but I'm a new member and the slowest one, so I would feel kind of foolish. What should I do? Bring up the break length, or put up and shut up?How do you feel about breaks during your long runs?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Good news!

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was in a panic about a health scare a family member had. I am thrilled and relieved to report that I have good news! So since I am no longer discussing a potentially fatal diagnosis, the whole story is that my sister called me a month ago to tell me that she was on her way to an appointment with an oncologist. She had had her routine yearly check-up the week before, and got a call at work telling her that her lab work was very concerning, and that she had been referred to a hematologist for the next morning. She emailed me a picture of her lab results from the online portal while she was waiting to see her doctor, and I was stunned to see her white blood cell count at 0.2 (or 200 per microliter). Normal is 4.5-12. This was extremely concerning to me. Her neutrophils, of course, were very low, too; her red cells were normal in quantity, but she presented with ovalocytes and burr cells.
I was terrified that she had leukemia, but of course, her oncologist needed more lab work. In addition to more specific hematology labs, she also ordered hepatitis C and HIV tests, in case there was a viral cause for white cell death.

And thus began weeks of waiting. And praying. And anxiety. And worry. And sadness. I was convinced she had cancer! About a week before my sister's follow up, her doctor ordered another set of labs, which my sister dutifully had drawn. Finally, her appointment day came, and I was so relieved when she called to say her doctor had all but ruled out cancer. Her latest WBCs were up to 3, so...still low, but bouncing back. And her cells looked normal. If her numbers aren't in the normal range at a 3-month follow up, she'll have a bone marrow biopsy, but otherwise, her doctor thinks she was fighting a severe virus, perhaps an Epstein-barr virus.

What a relief! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Greek Fest 5k and surprise mile

The Greek Fest 5k is usually my worst race all year, so I was pleasantly surprised with Friday's good-all-things-considered race. David and I carpooled and got to the race together. We were cutting it closer than I would have liked - we got there at 6:30 for a 7 pm start - but it turns out I was worried for nothing: David had already picked our packets up, and there was no bathroom line, plus I read the site wrong - the 7 pm start was for the mile. The 5k started at 7:30. So I was standing around in 86 degrees waiting to warm up until closer to the race, and feeling nauseated. My technician keeps bringing bugs to work - or I'm harboring a parasite, who knows - all I know is, I've been sick to my stomach WAY too much lately. Luckily, a nice doctor hooked me up with a Zofran, but I still didn't feel too hot and hadn't eaten much (I actually ate a yogurt in the car on the way over - I thought it would be easy to digest and ready calories). As I waited, I heard them announcing the start of the mile race, and for some reason decided to run it as a warm up. I threw my T-shirt at David and was like, "Hold my shirt!" as I ran to the start.
Big mistake. I was behind a million kids. And I stayed behind them until almost the turn around. At about 1/3 of a mile in, I was at 6:20 pace! Help! I gunned it, and I was at 6:10 right after I made the turnaround point, and then I just ran hard to the finish. 5:57. Ack. Totally thought I could run much faster than that for a road mile! And I will someday - I just need to start, you know, at the line. Not behind every child in New Orleans (although I have to say, kids running the mile are super cute. I love how dedicated and tough they are. A mile is HARD for a little kid!).
Please ignore the bloated stomach and face of misery. 

The problem with that mile is that it was too fast for a warm up - it tired me for the 5k. And it wasn't fast enough to be a decent race on its own. I basically ruined both races!
Between the hard mile and the tough conditions (sick, warm out, not-totally-flat course), I expected little from the 5k. Even as I waited for the gun, my calves started tightening. I also realized that I'd forgotten to bring my iPod, and I've gotten used to using music in races. "Well," I thought, "It didn't bother me in the mile, so maybe I don't need it." When we started, I ran off too fast, although it was hard to tell because the mile one marker was way off and I wasn't glued to my Garmin. I pulled ahead of two girls, but I saw that one of them is a lot faster than I am, and assumed this was a workout for her or that she'd pass me later (she did, but it must still have been a workout - she's usually much faster than she was that night). The breeze on the lake wasn't murderous, but I could still sense the headwind when I turned around. As I headed back, I noticed that I was hunched and plodding, and kept reminding myself - pick up your feet! Pick up your pace! I started to tire a lot by the end, but I really perked up when I saw the clock. My tired 5k could still be under 20! I scooted in at 19:51. I didn't love that I fell apart at the end a little - 6:24, 6:31, 6:34, ten seconds between miles one and three! - but I did like that running a 20-in 5k didn't feel that hard. In fact, it felt like taking it a little easy on sore and tired legs.
I'm happy that the workouts we've been doing with the club seem to be helping my speed. Obviously 19:51 isn't exactly an Olympic time, and actually it's much slower than McMillan thinks I should be able to run for the distance, but to put it into perspective, I've only run sub-20 four times in my life. Two of those times were after I started training with the Power Milers. I'm sure my times will dip for the summer as the temps and humidity create challenges, but in the fall? I bet I've got my speed back!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Playing Catch-up

Nothing much has actually changed over here.
Still in a very frustrating medical waiting game.
Still have no employees (why is our hiring process so lengthy?!).
Still have classes.

The only big change is that I think I cured myself of my shellfish allergy by exposure. Don't try this at home, blah blah blah, but I ate shrimp every day until my rash lessened, redness reduced, and finally even the itchiness went away. I don't think I'll feel comfortable diving into a crawfish boil just yet, but I have nine months to worry about that (the season's over). The process sucked (rash all over for two weeks? Not fun!) but the results were worth it: I ordered arroz con mariscos at a new Peruvian restaurant, and had nary a reaction!


On the running front, the biggest news is that I was third at the Barathon, with a recap to follow - a much better showing than last year, where I didn't even drink the beer.
Bar...four? Five? 

Unfortunately, I have also started having that annoying inner knee pain associated with high mileage, probably because I ran 60 miles last week including a race, thanks to the race falling on my day off and me not planning for that. Last time this pain started up, I took time off, and that took care of it: I might have an off week in my future.

In the meantime, I have one more race: the Greek Fest 5k is tonight, and even though it's always, always, always a bad race, I'm ready to run it again. Mostly because afterward I get a gyro!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Nothing good to say

Sometimes bloggers or Facebook friends will annoy me with vague posts, ones that seem crafted to garner attention, ones that nonspecifically beg prayers or offer universal threats. I'm about to run the risk of becoming one of those people. But hopefully I can write a post that is honest, yet not exploiting others in my life.
I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had anything good to say. I've been facing a lot of challenges, and in addition to being very busy, I haven't had the heart to write anything. Some of the stressors I can tell you all about:

  • Another vice president visit to my store (Two in three years! Why?!)
  • A promotion for one of my pharmacists - that's a good thing, but she'll be leaving, and that's a lot of upheaval. Plus we'll miss her, and it will entail more and more training.
  • Firing an employee
  • Working short a technician during a very busy period
  • Attempting to replace an employee.
  • Negotiating with both my own company and my leaseholders to expand my site
  • Being denied time off: I have only had a single day off all year, and that was when we closed for Mardi Gras.
  • Leading our community group solo while David attends meetings those nights
  • Hosting a weekly Bible study at 7 am Fridays
  • Starting another MBA class and figuring all of that out
  • The misery of an all-over rash and allergy (which is still hanging around)
  • Down one car for repairs, with the other flashing a check engine light
Everyday life stressors, plus some. It happens. I can deal with it. But it's all been magnified because I am very worried about a loved one (and here is where it gets vague).  A few weeks ago, a loved one texted me some results from a routine medical visit, and it was very concerning. And while it looks very much to me like cancer, and this person had a rushed oncology appointment right away, we don't have answers yet. We're waiting for additional labs to come back, and honestly, the waiting is worse than just getting bad news. I have already resigned myself to the worst possible diagnosis, and I'm vacillating between grieving and hoping that I'm over-reacting. And I might be. There are multiple benign explanations for the questionable results, and any one of them is a very reasonable answer. 
So for now, I'm just kind of anxious and sad and concerned and hopeful, all at once. Thanks for dealing with my vague-post and my general apathy for the last few weeks!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adult onset allergy

Last week was my break between classes, so I had a small dinner party at my house, since my tight schedule had prevented me from entertaining for a while. As we were eating dinner - which included shrimp - one of my guests asked, "What's wrong with your arm?"
I looked down and my arm was bright red and swollen, and, now that I noticed it, it itched. So did the rest of my body. When I could unobtrusively slip away from the party, I ran up to the bathroom to discover a rash from my stomach down (my chest, shoulders, back, and face are clear; the worst is on my stomach and arms).

Much to my sorrow, I think I've developed an adult-onset shellfish allergy! This is terrible news, because I love shellfish!
The timing is bad, too. The company vice president of operations is visiting my pharmacy today, and I look like a lobster. Hopefully I can keep the itching under control so he doesn't think I have some kind of gross nervous tick.

This is my only food allergy (outside of a minor problem with eggplant that has improved with age). Do you have food allergies? Any adult-onset? Any success stories with overcoming them?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Weights for runners

Ever since all my injuries and surgeries, I've been putting a greater focus on strength, even though I may not always have time for extended gym workouts. One of my favorite half-hour workouts is below. It's adapted from this article, made to suit my own home gym equipment (which is just dumbbells).
The reps listed are on the lower end of an appropriate range, but that allows me to complete the whole workout in 30 minutes or less. I'm currently using my adjustable dumbbells with the 7.5-lb plates, so with the bar, probably 16 or 17 pounds each. If I want a harder workout, I add reps, or add a core workout at the end.

Posture:
  1. Push ups on dumbbells. Three sets of ten.
  2. One-legged bridges: 25 per side
  3. Russian twists with weights, 3x10, sitting on cushion to add challenge.
Stability:
  1. Clams x 50 per side
  2. Hip side plank dips, 3x10 each side
  3. Side leg lifts, 20 per side
  4. Side bridge: Put one foot up on shelf, step, or stable chair; lift other leg up until feet touch and lower back down to ground. 10 x 3 per side
Strength:
  1. Romanian deadlift, weighted, 3x8 reps per side
  2. Deadlift, weighted, 3x 8 reps
  3. Dumbbell on shoulders squats, 3x10 sets
  4. Bicep curls 3 x 8 reps
Power:

  1. Step or box jumps, 3x10
  2. Jump squats, 3x 5-10
  3. Four-square jumps. Set up imaginary square; jump from corner to corner (alternate directions; don't pause) x 10
  4. Lateral jumps 3 x 6 reps (back and forth is one rep)
  5. Kettlebell swing plus shoulder press x 10 per side

Monday, April 24, 2017

Gulf Coast Classic 10k

Slight improvement over on the 10k front this week! 41:53. I registered for the Gulf Coast Classic when I was disappointed in my time at the CCC 10k last week. But of course, I knew it wouldn't be easy. The weather was almost exactly the same as last week - start in the low 70's, close to 80 at the finish - and I'd be running with tired legs. I didn't feel sore after last week's race, but the fartlek workout on Tuesday demonstrated how little bounce was in my step! My legs actually felt a little heavier than I'd expected, but that might have been my shoe choice. I went with my brand-new Kinvara 7's, and I think they were still too soft and bulky (they are also a weird fit - I had to go up a size because my normal men's 8.5 was far too small, but the 9s are a little long). Another factor? An incredibly stressful day at work Friday. A generator test at the facility created a power surge that fried my server. We were out until almost 1 pm, and then swamped after that...until a company-wide system glitch at 4:30pm! I left work late and exhausted, and I really think that kind of overall fatigue works its way into your muscles, too.

I must admit, I woke up not at all ready to race. I wanted to enjoy a lazy morning and a few cups of coffee on the porch, but David was raring to go. He just missed 50 minutes at the CCC 10k, and he was ready for a rematch! So we headed out the door at 7 am for an 8 am start. We arrived at the park where the race was held, and got our bibs in about 2 minutes. That left lots of time to kill. I did some hip exercises and a 2 mile warm up (no strides again, I don't know why).


The course is an out-and-back that's in an upside down "U" shape - so you do that U out and back, for maximum wind exposure...seriously, though, a race on the beach is just always windy. I have yet to discover how to not over-exert in the headwind, so I can make use of the tailwind! When we started, I was running near another woman for about the first mile and a half. I didn't know who else was in front of me because they were too fast, but this girl was sticking with me for sure. I eventually lost her right at the 5k turnaround, and then I was quickly on the beach in a ferocious wind. Alone. Very alone. I could see a lady WITH A STROLLER far ahead, but she was out of range, and I was just fighting the wind by myself. I was trying to keep my pace at 6:45, to get under 42 minutes, a revised goal: as soon as I started my warmup, I knew my legs were not fresh. Initially I'd wanted to run closer to 6:40 pace. Mile one was 6:42 (tailwind), mile two 6:36 (mixed), mile three 6:50 (straight headwind).

As we approached the 10k turnaround, I saw the first woman sailing along, and then the second woman, pushing a baby and looking very fresh. I made the turn myself but couldn't push, even in the tailwind, to catch stroller lady. I couldn't really enjoy the pretty views, either, because the sun was blinding! And it was, indeed, quite hot: 70's at the start, but 80 at the finish. Nonetheless, I had my eye on average pace, and even though my Garmin was continuing to cheerfully chirp WAY before the mile markers, I thought I was pretty close. Mile four was 6:38 with a tailwind; mile five 6:46. I hit the home stretch - and another headwind - very exhausted, and ran my second slowest mile, 6:49, for mile 6. Definitely not my plan. I was nowhere close to ever catching stroller woman, and a full minute and a half behind first place woman, so I think I just got lazy (oh, and as I made the turn, I had determined that fourth place had dropped so far back as to make her catching me basically impossible). I think I need to learn to push myself more for the sake of racing!
Pizza for breakfast, waiting for awards.
Awards took awhile...(there's a mile, 5k, 10k, and racewalking division, plus every age group imaginable!)




David was mocking the huge trophies. And then they gave me one.

I jogged in as third woman, and the finish line volunteers handed me a tag and told me...the wrong time. She said, "41:33", but I knew it was 41:53. I told the race officials, and they said that there was a clock problem, and subtract twenty seconds. Er. "I think it should be added..." I murmured. So some people were adding time; some were subtracting from already shortened time. Luckily the finishing tags are in order, so the time confusion didn't mess up the overall placing. The cool thing about this race was that the top three got gift cards and I took home $75 at Academy! That never happens to me, so I am super thrilled!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Race review: Bursting with Speed 5k

Maybe you want to win $1000 in a race. Maybe you want to run the Bursting with Speed 5k!
Yep, this is a race with serious prize money: $1000, $500, and $250 for the top three men and women. So it gets a deep field. I don't normally review 5ks, but since this one not only has prize money, but is conveniently timed a week before the Crescent City Classic (meaning you could do a week's vacation in New Orleans and hit TWO goal races!), I thought I'd do a review.

Get race info or register here.

Pre-race information, logistics, organization
You can get all the information needed on the New Orleans Track Club's website, plus follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Packet pickup can be morning of or the Thursday before the race. There is plenty of parking on the Lakefront, although I was a tad late and was about half a mile from the start. There is a half-mile for kids before the 5k; both races started on time. 
Cost:
This race benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and on race day it's $35. But early registration for NOTC members is just $15. 
Swag and prizes: 
Oh, so much! Besides cash to top 3 finishers, top 2 AG and overall kids/grandmasters/masters get awards (which I think were donated items this year). But there are also drawings throughout the afterparty for tons of door prizes, including ten drawings for $300!
Runners get a gender-specific, soft T-shirt and a medal...that's interesting for a 5k, but it looks like a Cowboy boot, so it's going on my Christmas tree at some point (oh, WHEN will I ever do a medal tree?).

Course:
It's on the Lakefront, so two things are guaranteed: full sun, and wind. It's also the "hilliest" 5k in New Orleans, with a couple of bridges. If you have real hills where you are, please ignore this comment. You will laugh. Rumor is that the course was short this year, but I have my doubts about that; NOTC has been doing this for a while and I've never run one of there races with a short course. 

Coming through the finish on a beautiful day

After-party:
Live music, lots of food (barbecue beef or pork sandwiches and red beans, plus the usual fruit, cookies, and Chee Wees), beer (with Abita bock or sweet orange this year, fancy!), and plenty of vendors with give-aways...including Walgreens, so I popped in and volunteered for a bit! 

Overall, I had a nice morning at this race, loved the after-party, and enjoyed the novelty of a race on the lakefront. I recommend!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Never mind, still slow! CCC 10k

Eh, ignore everything I just said...I'm still slow. A crazy 42:15 at the CCC 10k. You know, 45 seconds slower than my last 10k! All I can do is blame the weather - and it wasn't great. High 70's, humidity in the 90% range, windy. But other than that, it was a good day to run and my muscles felt ready. I just had zero speed.
We parked at my work the morning of the race and jogged to the start. With 20,000+ runners, the start is always a madhouse, and like every single year, I could not find the entrance to the seeded corrals! I ended up walking all the way from the back. Due to the crowds and the heat, I kept my warm up to 2 miles, and couldn't fit in any strides. We were packed in with about ten minutes to go. Finally, we started, and I was boxed in at once. Now, I wanted to go out slow, so a tight first mile isn't so bad, but coupled with the 25mph headwind, I hit mile one in 6:57. Luckily, I'd get some tailwind for the next two miles, before alternating headwinds and side gusts; anyway, it didn't register that I'd run a 6:57, because my Garmin was NUTS again. It read mile one in 6:49! By mile two, I was a full 18 seconds off the clock, and I hit lap to get back on track. Stupid. I struggle with pacing a 10k, as it's not a pace I run often, and I rely (perhaps too much) on my Garmin - this inaccuracy is a huge problem!
A friend sent us highlighted results from
our group. 
Once I realized how off my Garmin was, I settled into a race by feel, and honestly, that gave me pretty good results. Not fast, but consistent: I ran the first half in 21:02 and the second in 21:13, and that's with the benefit of a tailwind for miles 2 and 3. So I was actually remarkably consistent, and my first mile was my slowest. Who knew? I actually CAN pace by feel!

After I hit the 5k point, I passed a local runner who runs a similar pace to me, and when she didn't respond, I realized that everyone was suffering in the humidity. I just had to hang on. A few minutes later, my fast friend Jared surged up to me to offer some encouragement. "Keep going girl," he said. "You're slowing down. Stop that." He was pacing another friend, so dropped back again, but it gave me a good boost and I picked my feet up again. By the time we got around City Park, my head was cooking in the sun, and the wind was a factor again. But I was passing people, so I kept plugging away. I caught up to our running group coach (who is running slow coming back from injury), and committed what is an apparent egregious error. We exchanged greetings and I indicated I was having a poor race with a thumbs-down. And I never heard the end of it. I guess this group of runners wants total positivity...I got yelled at. Lesson learned! No thumbs down from now on! The rest of the race was just me pushing forward and fighting a cramp. Not at all fun.

I was super annoyed not to have a good sprint finish, but I just didn't. I ran 42:15 and was honestly surprised to see that. I thought I'd worked harder than that! But it was 80F at the end, and I was hot and miserable, so I guess it makes sense. I'm still disappointed. I finished 35th female, 5th in my age group - so really, it seems everyone struggled. This is a big, fast race, so those stats point to how much the field slowed.

After getting thoroughly sunburned at the after party (did my sunscreen evaporate?!), I did what any disappointed runner does: I immediately registered for another race. Gulf Coast Classic next week, here I come! Even though it's projected to be even HOTTER next week!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Breakthrough?!?!

Not in my Econ class. I still hate that class (this is really a first for me; I have managed to get SOMETHING out of every other class I've ever been forced to take, even "football math" - math even the football team could pass - back when I was an art major in undergrad. But the disorganization of this class has me totally disinterested.).
Dead legs. Dead Garmin. Dead shoes (almost. That's 496 miles there. I'm putting them over 500 today). 

But perhaps - perhaps a breakthrough in speed?
After a couple of workouts in which I really struggled to hit paces, mostly missing, I finally had a good workout last Tuesday. The previous week I'd showed up to track in the midst of a stomach infection, and the week before that our workout had been mid-monsoon, so really, almost any workout would have shown improvement.
It helped that our workout was a little shorter: 2 miles at 8k pace, 3 minutes rest, 4x800 at 2 mile - 5k pace with 2 minutes rest each, 6x200 fast with 60-90 seconds rest. The total was a manageable 5 miles, and to make that even better, it was low 70's for a change.

I started the two-miler, and right away I felt better than I had in ages. I wasn't gasping for breath by the first turn, and I almost felt comfortable. My second 1600 was just a second slower than my first. Starting out like that made the rest of the workout fast and easy. I don't love 800s, which were up next, but I got through them, despite almost running a little kid over. Several groups use this track, and one parent lost their pre-schooler - he dashed in front of me, then did that annoying back and forth thing as we both tried to avoid collision. I am proud to say I both managed to stop, and managed to stay upright!

Then I wrapped with fast 200s. The long rests made these easy as pie. While 200s have always been pretty easy for me to complete, I think adding strides in has helped me with them. Two strong runners I follow, Dolly and Cris, both recommended adding strides at the end of my runs, so I just started that. I'll be - they do improve leg turnover!

I hoped to see that workout translate into a speedier race on Saturday, and while most people said the course ran short (my opinion: curvy sections with tangents were measured on one side of the street only, but the course had both sides open), I was still faster: I ran 21:41 last 5k, 19:41 this time. I would have been at about 19:55 on a full course, and that's a good speed for me. I'm not a fast 5k runner anyway! In fact, I remember being elated over a 19:59 a few years ago, when I ran the Crescent City Fall Classic right after hip surgery #1, and before I realized my right hip needed surgery, too. I've been back running for longer now, of course, but that race was an easier race, too. The race plus better workouts have boosted my confidence a little going into the CCC 10k, and despite the 83F temperatures predicted, I'm excited to see how I do!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Interview with the Advocate

Something kind of cool happened last week. The Advocate, the upstart newspaper that entered the New Orleans market when the Times Picayune dropped its publications to just three times a week, contacted me for a story about the Crescent City Classic. *
The reporter wanted to interview some top local women about the Crescent City Classic and the local women's running scene.

Ha! Top local women! I'm not even in the top twenty-five gals in this area. Not even close. But as a new member of the Power Milers, the reporter wanted to interview me for that aspect, since the main story is about the women's running community and the club just opened to women. So on Sunday, I joined some truly fast women at City Park for an interview and a photoshoot.

The interview was, um, interesting. Lots of leading questions. You know how it is. Reporters have a story, and you just fit in it. Hopefully I won't come across as a complete idiot, but the good news is that there was a large enough group of us that I'm sure I'll get one snip of a quote, max.
SUNNY skies over my run
And then, since I was already at City Park and wearing running clothes, I did an afternoon 8-miler with speedster Laura Doody, a D1 athlete from LSU who will be smoking me (and a lot of other people, too!) next Saturday. I haven't done a chatty, easy run in awhile, so that was fun - although her "easy" is not as easy for me! I was ready to be done at the end - the sun was hot and I was really thirsty. I still haven't acclimated yet - and that was without much humidity. Oh, Saturday's race is going to be a killer!
Post-run disgusting sweatiness

I wasn't really comfortable doing the interview, because I felt like an imposter: these other women are truly fast. But I didn't want to say no - I like staying involved in the running community, and am glad the paper is doing a story on women's running in New Orleans. Plus, it was actually kind of fun! I'm always interested in seeing other people ply their trade, including reporters and photographers. The story runs Friday, so I'll see how it all turned out then!

*We subscribe to The Advocate, because I like to read the paper in the morning, because I'm 70 years old, but I am still heartbroken that we had to drop the TP, which has been published for over 100 years. But they don't deliver on Saturdays, my favorite day to read the paper! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bursting with Speed 5k

Finally, the stars aligned and I actually had a race on a day with gorgeous weather! Not only was the low 59F on Saturday, the humidity was right about the same...59%. Unheard of for April in New Orleans! I ended up racing the Bursting with Speed 5k on a brisk, breezy, sunny morning, temps about 65. Besides the wind - which was not really bad at all, more a factor of running on the lakefront than the weather - it was absolutely ideal.
I had high hopes for a faster race than my last 5k, which felt inexplicably slow. And I did: a full MINUTE faster!
Lake Ponchartrain
The Bursting with Speed 5k is held in honor of a local runner, Benny Burst, who passed away after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. This race serves as a fundraiser for LLS, the leukemia and lymphoma society. Walgreens is a big supporter of LLS, and I already participate in events and fundraisers for them, so of course I wanted to run this race. I also thought it would be a no-pressure event, and I was right: the race offers substantial prize money for the top three finishers, so the field was crowded. I could run for time and not worry about a place, like I might in a smaller race (by the way, the top two finishers ran under 15:00, so...yeah, it's a fast race!).
SUN.
The only drawback to this race is that the Lakefront does offer some challenges. As I recall from many painful marathon miles, it is full sun, beating down on you, reflecting off the white pavement; it's always going to have wind; and of course, it's "hilly" for New Orleans and there are a few bridges. But honestly, no biggie. The weather was so nice it made up for all that. I mean, I got a sunburn, but I survived!

This race was run further up but I parked closer to the other end
of the Lakefront due to my late arrival.
I cut it a little close getting to the start, and while I squeezed in a 2 mile warm up, I didn't have time or space for strides or anything. I started nearish to the front, and we headed out into a crosswind/headwind. I'd prefer that to a headwind on the way back, though! I powered through mile one, head down, and hit it in 6:25 - exactly the pace I wanted to run. I assumed I'd run a 6:35 for mile 2, which had two hills and a rather awkward turn-around, so that pace made sense. It seemed like mile one went fast, but mile two was agony. I really can't run on hills at all. So hard for me. And then I got boxed in and had to shorten my stride and felt very uncomfortable for awhile. Even though it was pretty crowded, I never really passed anyone and wasn't really passed by anyone the whole race. I hit mile 2 in 6:32, and ugh, I sort of gave up at that point. I really need to work on keeping my head in the game! I now had a tailwind to the finish, but I was dawdling. Mile 3 was 6:26, suddenly I saw clock still in the 19's, and sped up - 19:40 by Garmin, 19:46 gun time (there were mats at the finish only, not the start - the New Orleans track club chips races, but only reports gun time).
A friend took this picture near the finish

Now of course, there has to be a caveat: some runners, including myself, had Garmin distances that were short of 3.1. I got 3.09, but others got 3.08 or even 3.06. The course might have been short, or our Garmins cut the corners when measuring distance. Not sure. But even if it was a worst-case-scenario of 3.06 miles, my time still extrapolates to 19:55, and I'm OK with that: I'm just really happy to be under 20 minutes again! Yay for speed creeping back!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

French Quarter Fest

My schoolwork was piling up around me this weekend, but I shoved it aside and stayed outdoors all day. It was just too gorgeous to be inside in front of a computer! I'll pay for it later this week, but David and I had a lovely afternoon at French Quarter Fest.


Jazz bands, Abita Strawberry, friends, and sunshine will always win over regression analyses and price forecasting!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Power Miler

I have been officially accepted to the Power Milers!
I ran really hard on Tuesday and all I got was this lousy T-shirt
This is very exciting news, as I have just paid my way into a group of friends. Much like a sorority, only more guys, and faster, of course.
I had to be invited to fill out an application, and then when I was, I was kind of taken aback by the extent of the information requested. The application looked like this:

Power Milers: What is your HS running history?
Me: Er. I didn't even own athletic shoes as a teenager.
Power Milers: And your collegiate records?
Me: Well, I had to run a 2 miler in some stupid required physical education class.
Power Milers: Please list your running accomplishments.
Me: How many runners can boast two hip surgeries by age 32?

Somehow they took me anyway, probably because, well, they're kind of short on girls. Anyway, so far, I'm loving it. I didn't realize how much I'd missed being at the track with a group, and even though I am by far the slowest person there (two other girls have been coming, and both are faster than me; all the guys are about twice my pace - or is it half my pace?!), it's great to have company. They're also all normal people. I didn't want to join an all-male group to be the butt of some bro-group's jokes. It's not like that. They're real, serious runners and they aren't jerks. So that's a perk. And if I'm not getting faster (truth: I've been slower), I must be getting stronger.

Do you run with a group? Do you prefer to run workouts solo, or with others? 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Music under the Oaks

A beautiful Sunday afternoon in Audubon park.

I love this park! I run here nearly every day, but it was a nice change to enjoy live music and dinner with friends in this beautiful setting.
And as a side note? I can't believe how good the audio is on my iPhone!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

In which I skip a race

Last night, I came home to somewhat cooler weather, and I started researching races for the next morning. There were a few options, most notably the Bridge Run in Luling, but alas: it was not to be. I slept right through the race.

Because I was up until 1:30 am. Because I was taking a test. Because of many things!
This was just a really rough week. For starters, I was booked solid at work for multiple meetings, grand rounds, marketing events, and visits. Then, halfway through Monday, I was suddenly hit by waves of nausea. I picked up some kind of GI infection, and it was bad enough that I had to go home. So much for school that night. And thanks to that, I was suddenly behind on school. I'm taking Econ, and this is my least favorite class so far. The professor is just extremely disorganized and confused, and most annoyingly, doesn't open up the online modules on the weekend. So I honestly only have Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights to do all my work (including listen to his lectures, since this class includes two hour-long video lectures: a component that I hate).
On Tuesday, I had to drag my sick and weak self to work because our regions at work consolidated, and our new regional healthcare director was visiting. Wednesday was even busier, with meetings on and offsite booked solid. And Thursday I had four hours of meetings or marketing back to back. I was hoping to get work done on school on Thursday night, but the university's servers went down! Another wasted night!

So that is how I ended up with almost a week's worth of work on a Friday night. I can't work Friday morning, because even though it's my off-day from running, I decided that I didn't have enough on my plate and offered to host a women's Bible study at my house from 7 am to 8:15 am. I'm enjoying the study, the company, and hosting (I like hosting, and it gives me an excuse to bake delicious breakfast breads!), but it's that much less free time. Mentioning baking bread reminds me that I feel practically evil serving it to a group of women. Every week I hear, "Oh, I shouldn't! I can't have carbs! I wish I could! That smells so good, it's torture!" etc. I mean, people eat the bread, but they obviously feel guilty about it. When did BREAD, a staple of our diet for millennia, become forbidden?! Sometimes I want people to just, well, eat the bread. But I digress.

Grapefruit and lemon infusion
Anyway, I got my school done, but I really needed my sleep. I didn't get in bed until about 1:30 am, and I turned my alarm off and didn't wake up until the race would be finishing. Sleeping in meant that my long run ended at 10 am, but it was worth it!

Beet hummus eaten outside on a lovely day
Since I can't do school on the weekends, I've mostly been cooking up a storm. Or brewing up a storm. My house has been overtaken by bottles of limoncello and bowls of alcohol; I'm also not only brewing kombucha, I'm growing baby SCOBYs for friends (David is positive that the SCOBYs are going to stage a revolt and attack us at some point. It's true that I pay more attention to what I feed my babies than I do to what I feed him, so maybe he's just jealous). Last week I made some incredibly bright beet hummus.
This week, I might do some caramelized onion spread to use up some leftover wine. What's on your schedule for this weekendend?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Al Briede 5k. Yikes.

From NOTC's instagram
As my track workouts have been predicting, I am slooooow. So slow, in fact, that I just ran a 5k at about the 10k pace I ran in January. Ouch.
I jogged over to the start of the Al Briede 5k. It was moderately warm - mid-70's, humid, and breezy. But not bad, as Louisiana races go. But I had just a bad race. If you plug my recent race times into any pace calculator, no way should I be running over 20 minutes, let alone a 20:38. But that's what I did, and it was hard work, too.

So what's going on?! The race was tough from the start, and slowed drastically in mile 2 (where I was passed, and then stayed - small race meant I was second). I was out of breath and had shin splints (either the wrong shoes - my flats for track - or tied too tightly).
Contributing factors could be:

  • First week with warmer, humid weather
  • Tough time at track on Tuesday
  • Overall increased volume of hard running is tiring me out and I need time to adjust. 
  • Tempo on Thursday - although it was purposefully an easier pace to avoid exhaustion before the race
  • Bad shoe choice: calf pain was definitely an issue, although certainly not the cause of all my slowness!

So what's the plan? I think stick with my general mileage and track for a little bit to see if I just adjust to harder track workouts. If I keep slowing down, I'll cut out some volume and slow down my easy days even more. And then, of course, we will hopefully also be doing some faster stuff on the track as the weather keeps warming up: after three marathons and precious little else for almost a year, I'm in dire need of some speed!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A farewell

It's with a heavy heart that I share that our long-time friend and landlord, Dr. Harvey Bricker, passed away. While he died this January, circumstances prevented a celebration of his life here in New Orleans until this week. And until his memorial made the sad news public, I didn't want to post lest some friend or neighbor stumbled on the news in this way. Dr. Bricker passed away suddenly in January, and I received the call from his wife right after returning home from the Louisiana Marathon. The distraction and grief that followed were contributors to my poor appetite and recovery (but so was a stomach infection, I believe), although I didn't feel comfortable explaining that here at the time.

Thursday, Dr. Bricker's colleagues and students from Tulane University, where he taught for decades, remembered him. They remembered a warm and witty scholar, an author and researcher whose work stretched from France to Mexico. I remember a caring neighbor who often treated us to dinner, who could order an excellent bottle of wine, and who told the most fascinating stories I've ever heard. The last time we shared dinner with our landlords, the week before Harvey died, he told the story of winters at Harvard. His California girlfriend - later, his wife! - had no winter clothes and no money to buy any, so they would each wear one of his gloves on their outside hand, and hold hands in his pocket with their inside hands. I will always associate long and lively dinners with him, and always remember his charming stories.

It's rare that landlords become close friends, but the Brickers are near and dear to us. Dr. Bricker always treated us with the utmost generosity and kindness. He wasn't just a prompt and caring landlord: he invited us to dinners, checked in on our health, shared jokes, exchanged Christmas gifts, and could easily drink us under the table! More than once I remarked to David that it was a good thing our "commute" home was just across the porch to our side of the house! While I remember so many late evenings with fondness, I can't help but continue to grieve that such a charming and brilliant friend is no longer just a door away. For almost fifteen years, we shared a wall with Dr. Bricker, and we'll miss hearing his tread on the stairs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Track struggles

I'm loving track workouts with the Powermilers, but I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling. I just can't flip the switch to speed! Last night our workout called for 2x2 miles to start the workout off. I hit the first 2 milers easily, right on target, but the second rep was immediately hard. It was 82 degrees, the sun was beating down on me, and I suddenly felt terribly sluggish.
Why, New Orleans? 
One of the awesome things about working out with this group is that when some of the fast guys have races on the weekend, or are just taking it easy, they'll run with me or another girl to pace us (which is super easy pace for them). Jimmi, who writes the workouts, was with me for the second repeat, and at a mile and a half he told me, "Shut it down." I was breathing too hard and running too slow. "You're not gaining any benefit from this," he explained, "And you want to be able to do the rest of the workout." So I did what he said. I took my rest, then ran 6x400 at 5k pace (400 jog) followed by 4x200 hard (1 min rest). He was right - I hit all my paces for the rest of the workout, especially easier since the sun started to go down, and I was glad I'd done what he told me to do.

That's one of the benefits of working with a group - those who know more than you do can help you train smarter! I would NEVER have cut part of a workout short by myself. I would have pushed through it, and then all my subsequent paces would suffer.

I hope my track workouts eventually get me to a faster pace, but for now, they're just slogging. I can barely get a mile under 6:40 at this point. I'm not exactly sure why. Something about my training is boosting my endurance, but not speed, I think; it's like I've developed a small, narrow window of paces I can run. For example, 6:50 feels hard, but 7:50 feels easy. I easily hit 7:30's in regular easy runs and don't even feel like it's an exertion. But if I tried to run 6:30, I'd be dying.

Any suggestions to tweak my training? Ideas to improve my track performance? Do you ever modify track workouts?