Custom Search

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Boston: the marathon you always want to remember

Or not. Maybe it sucked this year. Rumor is it was hot.
So, I ran Boston this year and I didn't buy THE JACKET.
Was: $100. Now: $50 - ie, still about $30 too expensive

But Gracie! you protest. Everyone buys the jacket! Nah, not me, because I knew it would go on clearance for 50% off if you gave it a few months.
In fact, there's a ton of Boston items on clearance - which brings me to a point. I have heard many runners say/post things about Boston merchandise, for example:

"When I see a runner with a 2013 Boston jacket, I will respect them because the 2013 qualifying times are stricter."
"To me, the 2012 Boston jacket is like broadcasting that you couldn't make the 2013 standards, so I didn't buy one."
"If you qualified by 2012 standards and deferred to 2013, can you still buy the 2013 gear? That's not fair because you didn't run 2013 BQ times."

I am here to pronounce all such comments frivolous because duh, anyone can buy Boston gear from whatever year they want, you just have to go online and do it. Actually, I made Boston small talk with another runner before a race last year, and the guy replied that he didn't actually run Boston, he just really liked the Adidas shorts style he was wearing and all the Boston stuff goes on sale for far below retail!

Now, am I really going to buy the Boston jacket now that it's on sale? Well, still no. I already own a windbreaker and I feel guilty about spending $50 on an item I don't need, so nope. I might maybe perhaps spring for the $12 ball cap though!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That took a long time

Nice to see Competitor Group is so on the ball with these things (this race was the first weekend in March!).
That is one ugly award. And it weighs 100 pounds. 
Now I can't really gripe because this is just an age group award, but I really wish awards were kind of functional. You know, like the Louisiana Marathon's jackets and artwork! That was awesome! 

Let's say you place in a race. What would your ideal prize be?
Besides cash, I think workout wear and accessories would be great. Since they're usually donated, you kind of get more for your money - you might get a $50 cash prize, but a store would donate shoes that retailed for $100 but were about to go on clearance anyway. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Greek Fest 5k: Will I continue the streak?

The Greek Fest on the bayou 
Tonight is my third Greek Fest 5k. After my first marathon in 2010, I took a long break (yes, that was a miserable race for me!) but I'd paid for a membership to the New Orleans Track Club and felt obligated to participate in a few races. The Greek Fest was a no-brainer since the race entry fee includes entry to the festival for all three days!
Well, that was a mistake. I had a stomach bug but I kept thinking it was better, so I decided to run the race anyway. I ended up throwing up on the course. Um, disgusting. Kind of ruined the rest of the fest, too, since basically it's just a Greek food-eating fest.
The next year - last year - I was straight off a long running break after a stress fracture from, of all things, not running (landing weird on train-track gravel gave me a basketball style twisting fracture). The race was my first run back after a few weeks, and I was not totally healed. I had to stop, the pain was so bad. I stopped for a second, then limped to the finish, but I had a swollen leg the rest of the weekend!
This year what do I expect?
1. Yeah, I'm injured. A little inflammation, that's all (said the girl who cannot cross her legs for the pain).
2. It's a tough race anyway. A 7 pm race at the end of May in New Orleans is just unpleasant. I expect it will be incredibly muggy and high 80's; the high for today is 91.
3. I am a poor evening runner because I can't figure out my eating. I don't want to be starving and low-blood sugared for the race, but I definitely don't want a lump of food in my stomach either. It's a balance I haven't quite figured out.

I'm predicting I continue the streak of poor Greek fest races.

Have you ever run an evening race? What is your strategy? Would you ever do an evening marathon?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Birdfoot chamber music festival

Wednesday night the Birdfoot Chamber Music Festival kicked off, and David and I attended the first event: an interactive rehearsal.
Musicians and audience milling around at the end . 

The festival's artistic director, Jenna Sherry, introduced snippets of each movement to Benjamin Britten's String quartet no.3, Op.94. The rehearsal was very interactive, with different members adding in their opinions and thoughts, and the audience was free to ask questions. At the end they played the entire piece. I loved this format: I don't really like modern compositions as a rule, but having the scene set for us by the musicians made me appreciate the piece more.

An interesting note: the first violin, Kristopher Tong, played using a macbook air instead of paper music. He had a scanned pdf score (he plays from the entire score, not just his part!) and uses a foot pedal to turn pages. The Borromeo quartet in which he plays uses this technique.

This year we have a packed week planned (thanks to all the birthdays in May!) but maybe next year I can make time for other events in the festival. I have a soft spot for chamber music!
Oh yeah. And tonight's event was FREE!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Knee recovery

Remember how, two days before the Boston Marathon, I fell while running and creamed my knee? 
It was pretty badly skinned and bruised for a good while, and for a few days it was swollen and a little infected.

Believe it or not, it's only just now improving - five weeks later!
The scabbing is over and it's beginning to scar, but the dark color is a fading bruise: it stayed blue and purple for about a month.

And I don't know if you can tell since to get the right angle I would have had to take this picture with my feet, but there is still some fluid in the right knee. It has gone down considerably, but the swelling is still bothering me a little.
Gosh I need some lotion.
You know what's weird about this? I'm skittish on St. Charles Avenue now. When I get to the area where I fell I get all slow and careful!
I think this is my worst running fall, but not my most embarrassing. I slipped on wet leaves on the sidewalk once and slid into the street, forcing a little old lady to slam on her brakes and swerve, then overcompensate and hit the curb. She was rattled. I was fine - just a little muddy!
What's your worst (best?) fall story?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good reads

I've read a few good articles and studies lately that you should check out.

1. Blaine Moore has an article in the Spring issue of Club Running that gives tips on tapering for back-to-back marathons. He breaks it down to steps based on how many weeks you have between races. I'm saving this one since I do run races a few weeks apart sometimes!

2. A large prospective study found that coffee drinkers have a lower death risk than non-coffee drinkers. In the fine print? They drank 4 to 5 cups per day.

3. Haile Gebrselassie missed the cut for the Ethiopian Olympic team. Reading the Kenyan and Ethiopian selections nearly makes me ill. They have so much talent! I hate to see any of their runners miss the team!

4. A runner was paralyzed during a 5-k mud run and now he's suing the producers for millions of dollars. The catch? He wasn't registered: he got a bib from a friend.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday art

Basketball finals and painting: multi-tasking at its finest.
I use a tackle box for brushes and rags and a Corningware plate for a palette. Note the unfinished edges on the canvas. Leaving them that way took a lot of will-power! 

We have high ceilings, so I don't mind having art hung so high, and it takess up the awkward blank space over the TV. Each paining is 18" X 24"

Here's the thing about me and art: if I don't want to paint it, it will suck. This is why I changed my major from art in college. If I wasn't interested in a project (hello, commissions!) I never liked the result. Saturday I had two totally sketched canvases that were realistic sunlight-through-the-leaves pictures. It took me about 45 minutes to sketch both canvases, but they just weren't holding my interest. I really wanted to do a messy, painterly urn with lemons (for some reason this image has been stuck in my mind's eye for weeks).
So I remembered that no one was paying me a dime for this and just painted over my sketch. That was a waste of time. But I like the finished products. I rarely do such loose, unrealistic work; it was a little refreshing.

Surprisingly, I have little of my own art in the house: these in the living room, a still-life in the kitchen, a nude and a sculpture in the bedroom, and a pair of pelican sketches in the dining room. We also have some poster art and maps.

How much art is hanging on your walls?

Friday, May 18, 2012

My bones are inflammed :(

After taking a week off running, I returned to the track hoping for a pain-free run.
It hurt.
So I made an appointment with some sports medicine docs. First I did a little Googling and self-diagnosing, because I know doctors really appreciate that. I decided I either had a sports hernia or osteitis pubis. I was kind of hoping it was a sports hernia so I wouldn't have to put "pubis" all over the interwebs.
It's not a sports hernia.

#5 is the inflammed bone - the pubic symphysis.
From here.
It looks like my bad decision to avoid the gym for several months (plus my propensity for running counterclockwise around the track at Audubon park every single time) paid off with injury. Luckily, it's pretty mild. I'm running just fine on it. It hurts, but not much, and the chance of the injury leading to further injury is slim. Right now I'm looking at some physical therapy to learn strengthening exercises for my adductors, and possibly NSAIDS. If PT and rest doesn't make the pain go away I may move to steroids (either oral or injected - the recommendation is "insert a 20-guage needle one to two inches until a pop is heard as it enters the joint" - gag) or ultrasound treatment, but that doesn't seem likely.
Right now I'm still running because it is so mild, and because PT doesn't roll around until the 30th. In addition to strengthening and flexibility exercises, I'm hoping the therapist can notice if I have any problems with my gait or anatomy that could contribute.

I feel kind of silly for letting this happen, since the months I skipped the gym were filled with thoughts like, "Isn't this a recipe for injury?". I won't do it again, that's for sure!
Do you ever feel like you have to choose between running and strength for the sake of time? I know I do all the time, and running always wins over packing up and driving to the gym. Always!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Half price Wednesday!

I love me some half-price Salvation Army.

J Crew, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic shirts.
Fierce ankle boots.
Born clogs.
Bamboo work wedges.
Kenneth Cole maryjanes.
Seven for All Mankind jeans.
Total? $23.47.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The rest of my life

Besides not running last week, a whole lot of other stuff was going on in my life.
I spent all week worried sick about my grandpa. My grandfather is 81 years old and naturally in declining health, although he is as sharp as ever (just two weeks ago I received a typical email from him - a clever, amusing, charming, and well-written page-long letter full of good scientific information. He's a retired engineer with his doctorate from Yale and hasn't lost his luster). A ureter anomaly has left him prone to urinary tract infections, and he was taken to the ED last week with a severe one (it had been treated unsuccessfully with oral antibiotics at home). To my horror I learned that he was admitted in septic shock. He was put on a ventilator and dialysis, as he was in renal, vascular, and respiratory failure by that time. Given the severity of the illness and his age, I started saying my goodbyes to him. This was pretty tough for us, as we lost a dear friend to sepsis just last year. I couldn't believe I was facing it again.
I kept my phone by me that night, expecting him to pass when his heart rate dropped in the early morning hours, but instead I was surprised to learn that he had been taken off his pressers (to increase blood pressure) over the night. His BP maintained 100/60 on its own. To everyone's complete shock, the next evening he pulled his vent out (he was lightly sedated on propofol).
So astonishingly my grandfather recovered from sepsis. The survival rate of severe sepsis is only 50 or 60% in any case, but in a man of his age with underlying health conditions, survival is rare. However, he is not out of the woods yet. While in vascular failure he suffered a massive heart attack, and examination revealed that he had arterial blockage. He underwent triple bypass just yesterday, and we're kind of holding our breath for his recovery. That's a lot of intervention right after a near-death illness.

Besides that, my job has had some unexpected twists and turns. Despite the fact that I run the best pharmacy in the city (What? I do. It's amazing. Takes pharmacy to a whole new level), I've had a whole lot of turnover. My part time pharmacist quit to open his own pharmacy (I'm happy for him, but it was a little under-handed: he scooped up a lot of inside information on our company while he worked for me, knowing he was opening his own place), and I had to hire a new one; I hired an additional tech, who left to work for another company after just three weeks; now I'm in the process of hiring yet another new tech. Unfortunately these changes coincided with the planned launch of two new initiatives I've had to pull back on due to lack of staffing, so I'm a little behind on my self-imposed schedule. It doesn't look like I can catch up anytime soon, either: I have a business trip in June that will take me out of the office, and I will also be training the staff at 20 - YES I SAID TWENTY - new HIV stores in my market. That's no big deal if you are a trainer for a living, but I still have a pharmacy to manage!

So, it looks like I'll be getting into some busy weeks coming up.
There is actually more to the hiring new pharmacy employees story. Much more. So, I'll get back to you on that later when I think you could use a little more boredom.
Happy hump day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Weight training on my week off

Last week was designated gym week.
I did only weight-bearing exercises, for two reasons: one, I need to work on strength; two, most gym cardio uses the hip which I'm trying to rest.

I went for some circuit-style workouts to keep things interesting and make my fellow gym-goers have to guess what I was going to monopolize next.

Tuesday I did this circuit workout:
No, I did not warm up by dancing to a Lady Gaga song, despite the encouragement to do so by the other peeps in the gym.

It actually looks harder to complete than it is: but that isn't to say it's easy. I finished in less time than I thought it would take, but I was sweating buckets (not helped by the fact that the upstairs in the gym is not air conditioned, and it was over 90 degrees. Ah, the joys of a 115+ year old gym). I woke up sore the next day, but it's easy for me to be sore because I never work my muscles out.
This workout has a cardio aspect if completed for time, as directed.

Next I tried this do-it-at-home workout from Shape. I liked that it focused entirely on upper body, since I need that, but I didn't like that it is made up of a lot of new (to me) moves and poses. I don't workout as well when I am constantly checking to make sure I'm actually doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Thursday I took a rest day for no apparent reason except I was enjoying my coffee and had made a Wednesday trip to the library, meaning a big pile of unread books were calling my name.

Since I liked the "Outside your comfort zone" workout from Tuesday, I did another workout from Fitness Perks on Friday. This time I did an abs and glutes workout, but since it was shorter, I did it twice. Then I threw in one short lap around the pool balcony of dumbbell lunges (probably very bad for my hip). For some reason I didn't feel like this workout worked me out as much; maybe since I already have jumbo butt and stomach muscles (I do. They're just hidden under fat.)

I considered taking a spin class on Saturday morning, but I thought about the repetitive hip movement involved and decided against it. Instead I did the same workout I did Monday, with the addition of 150 hyperextension bench sit-ups. By the way, I do "girl" push-ups for this workout. In fact if I ever do any push-ups, they're girl-style. I actually cannot do ONE proper man push-up. I have super weak pecs.

Sunday I did "yoga for runners" and "power vinyasa yoga" from Yoga Download, plus fifteen of these ab exercises. Yoga never makes me feel worked-out: probably because I'm doing it wrong.

So - how am I feeling after the week off running?
1. Pissed. There was nice weather for 4 days this week and I was stuck in the gym.
2. Mad. There were two good races this week I should have run. And won.
3. Old. My hip still hurts - perhaps even more than before. Is this an injury or age?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

And I am so thankful I'm NOT a mom. I say that because this week we volunteered to babysit the two little horrors that are our nephews.

Someone's going to say it eventually, so it might as well be me. Those two are brats. They're almost three and almost two, and they...
- Demand rather than ask politely
- Spit at the table
- Bite
- Never share
- Disobey
- In fact, disregard adult input entirely
- Scream when they do not get their way
- Pull hair

Now, I know some of this behavior is expected from two year olds. And I hate to be the childless adult giving my expert opinion. But I did have six younger brothers, and I did basically raise them (with the help of my saintly sister, thank you Melissa), and this kind of behavior consistently is called being a brat.

Every time one child picked up a toy, the other would snatch it from him, usually accompanied by a punch or bite.
Dinner was a spit-fest.
One of them bit me when I said they needed to say "please" when they asked for something.
The other tackled David, pulled his hair, and gouged his eyes for no reason.
When it was time to go home from the park, the three year old refused, argued, shouted ("I said NO! Shut up! I'm not going home!") and the two year old lay on the ground with arched back and screamed for 5 minutes.

I would write this off as parental separation anxiety/testing authority of other adults/tired, sick, or teething, but the behavior doesn't stop. When dad came to pick them up, they ran over to hug him - followed by bites, punches, and fighting. Needless to say, he did not correct them. In fact, he laughs it off. "Oh, it doesn't hurt, they're so little."
The kids struggle to know the rules because:
- Their parents don't agree on the rules
- The kids are not on a schedule of any kind
- Thus bedtime is "whenever they fall asleep" (you can imagine how well this works out)
- Their diet is extremely poor, almost entirely white flour/white sugar based, little protein and no fresh fruits or veggies
- Eating has become a big battle - forcing them to eat, arguing over it, throwing food (the astonishing thing is that they are being forced to eat fast food hamburgers, mini powdered donuts, Little Debbies, and potato chips!)
- They spend certain days of the week with different relatives as babysitters (including overnights), so in one week they will have their parents, both sets of grandparents, a great-aunt, and an aunt - all with various rules.

Today at Mother's Day lunch I saw a 10 minute fight over a bib that ended with the three year old victorious - multiple times. See, mom kept giving in: "Ok, no bib, but then you have to wear your old shirt." "Ok, no old shirt, but then you have to wear no shirt." etc. Little baby won each battle, then won the war by getting his original way - eating with his church clothes on - and purposefully smearing berries all over them.

I don't know what the point of this post is. I guess it serves as a happy mothers day to all of you, because even if you suck at being a mom you must be doing a better job than this. Ha, kidding.

No seriously, I have no point to this post. Just venting.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friends and family discount!

You're all my friends, right?
Today you can get 15% off at Walgreens for friends and family day. Print this coupon and bring it in today, May 11th, for 15% off everything and 20% off Walgreens brand items.

You can also get the discount at Use the coupon code FRIEND15

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Running plans: beat the 5k!

I transition into summer running in an unusual position.

I have no races coming up and I am teetering on the brink of injury.

This, to me, sounded like the ideal time for a little break. I mentioned once before that my hip/groin has been bothering me. For several months I've felt like my adductors are strained. I feel them sort of pulling on bone. During RnR NOLA I thought my lack of gym time was the culprit, perhaps my lack of abdominal strength. I do still need to work on that. I was ignoring the pain since it only occurred when I ran long miles and went away when I stopped running. However, now I am feeling pain at rest, and it's mostly my right side. It isn't bad, but I think I need to take care or it could become a problem.
Timely reading
So, my plan is to take this week off of running and see how I feel after that. After that, if I feel better, I'll pick running back up.  I will keep my miles a little lower and go for speed. Lucky me, Runner's World has an article on running a fast 5k. It has some suggested work-outs which will do just fine for my time goals.

Controversial question: The article says, "Busting the 25 minutes barrier marks you as a "serious runner." Discuss. 

Since the 5k is so tough for me, does anyone have any good tips for training for them? Also I have no idea how to warm up before a 5k. That's something I need to learn, too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hanging up my shoes

It's over, folks.
I didn't really have any place to hang my shoes up, so I tied the laces together and tossed them over my electric wires. It made sense to me. 

I'm hanging up my shoes. I'm done.
Done with Monday night track that leaves me with really amazing hair the undereyes of a 78 year old.
Done with Saturday long runs that are my ticket to a 4000 kCal consumption day.
Done with mediocre mid-week runs that only become speedy when the bells at Holy Name chime the quarter hour and I realize that in an hour and fifteen minutes I have to be done running, bathed, dressed, fed, lunch packed, dinner started, commuted, car parked, and my pharmacy open for business,
Done with 6:00 am ignore-the-alarm sessions.
Done with Sunday breakfasts of Gu and race Gatorade.

That is to say, for this week. I'm taking a break this week to recuperate and rest and hopefully to heal. My hip has been bothering me for awhile now, so I am going to take a little break and see if that fixes it. Plus I'm due for a running break.
I haven't taken real time off in a long time, and I think I need it. Maybe I'll return all fresh, uninjured, and ready to run!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ipod nano 6th generation: a review

The June Runner's World gives a review of what the editor's consider "Run-worthy audio devices". This article prompted me to review the ipod nano 6th generation, a pricey gadget that now sits unused on my shelf.
You can buy a vest with speakers in the shoulders for races that ban headphones. Dumbest invention ever. 
Précis: This ipod sucks for runners, do not buy it.
Long version: I can't think of a worse design for an mp3 player as far as running is concerned. There is so much wrong going on here, I'm just going to bullet-point it.
- Touch-screen is terrible when running. Instead of going by feel, you have to look at the screen while trying not to run into the racer in front of you. Oh, and you can't see it in bright sunlight. Like, you know, outdoors.
- Finicky screen technology means the device is very moisture sensitive: a horrible flaw since it clips to your clothes. If you sweat when you run, you could damage it. Trust me, I know: my husband killed two in a row just from a sweaty shirt.
- The dumb "only one button" design means you can set it to EITHER skip the song or pause. Both features would be useful while running, but nope, you can only have one or the other. 
- There is no easy way to replay the song you're on. If you're like me, sometimes you hit just the right song and might listen to it several times in a row. Well, you can only do that by going all the way back to the menu and scrolling to that song.
- Clip is not very secure. It is especially bad on thick or folded waist bands.
- Because the clip isn't secure, if you want to use the one top button or the +/- volume buttons, you can't do it with just one touch - there isn't enough support to press against. You'll just accidentally un-do the clip. Instead you have to hold the edges or unclip the thing and hold it to press a button. (Not that you could really just reach down and quickly hit the volume + button anyway; it's so small you could easily pick the volume - button by mistake).
- If you don't set it to lock, anytime you brush or adjust it you'll change the song or pause it or something since the entire device is a touch screen. If you do lock it, you have to unlock it to make any changes: just one more step when you should be focused on running.
- Get cold fingers in the winter when you run? Good luck getting this ipod to respond. 
- Get sweaty fingers in the summer? Ha! Forget it! 

Do you run with music? How often? And what device do you use?
I sometimes bring music - about half my long runs and long races. I find that turning my ipod on in the second half of a marathon can give me a boost. Since I shunned the nano 6th generation, I'm using the 3rd generation player that my husband and I spent two weeks of our lives repairing. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

A new shoe

For some reason lately I've been hankering to try a new shoe. It's not that I don't love my Saucony Kinvaras. I do. I adore them. My husband is jealous of them.
It's just that I decided to add a different shoe to the mix. I tried on 86 shoes (43 pairs) and decided on the Asics SpeedStar.
These are the least offensively bright shoes I own.

It's a lot like the Kinvara: it's neutral, it has minimal structure, it has a one-piece mesh upper, and it's one of the more flexible and lightweight shoes out there.
However, it's not as flexible as the Kinvara, there is less cushion, and each shoe weighs 1.2 ounces more. So it won't be my fastest shoe, and it won't be one I choose for races or long runs - it's just to try something different. I've never worn Asics before, so I'm curious to see how they perform.
I ran in them today - 10 miles - and didn't have any problems; they didn't knock my socks off but it was a good solid run.

Do you rotate your running shoes, or do you stick to one tried and true model?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fueled for life!

I won wonderful stuff from the fastest blogger I know.

Here is all the stuff:

Minus the protein bar that tasted like a Little Debbie that I already ate.
Can't wait to try Gu chocolate raspberry!
Thanks, RoseRunner!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's back!

The humidity is back!
Um, yay?
This morning I headed out for a 7-10 mile run. It ended up at 7. I was sweating in less than a minute and struggling to keep moving. Our cooler temperatures for most of April had me fooled. Now I'm not acclimated!

Since I have very, very loose running plans (please notice my completely empty Daily Mile "Race" widget to your left), I can afford to be picky about the heat. I'm throwing around a few plans for the summer miseries:
1. Take a running break. I am teetering on the brink of injury anyway.
2. Decrease miles and intensity. Continue Monday track, Saturday long run (but not over 10 miles), and one easy run; other days go to the gym and work on these scrawny muscles.
3. Decrease miles but add intensity; work on 5k time (currently pathetic).
4. Continue current schedule to prevent loss of acclimatization in case an early fall race comes my way.
5. Use heat and humidity to build strength and endurance and increase miles.

How do you deal with summer heat? Or if you're from a colder climate, does winter weather change your running plans?