March 31, 2012

Recovery week and Sam's Club pricing tricks

After taking three days off from running, I wasn't sure that I would ever start again. On Tuesday, I started to think about how good it felt just to lounge around not worry about my training-for-a-marathon job. Maybe I should turn that into something, like Yo Momma Stopped Running. 

Monday: Bodypump and spin class
Tuesday: one and a half hours of hilly lawn mowing. It was no joke the hardest lawn mowing ever, and my hands are still bruised from pushing the mower. Maybe we should have splurged on a self-propelled mower. 
Wednesday: 5 miles, track run, average pace 7:38. Not sure how running that fast happened. Guess I was excited to be back.
Thursday: 6 miles at marathon pace, track run, average pace 8:05. Stopped 3 miles short of my goal because I'm still trying to take it easy on my ankle. 
Friday: 5 miles, treadmill, average pace 8:47. Then added 2 miles, track run, average pace 7:22. 
Saturday: 10.15 miles with my big brother, hills and some off road (botanical garden paths and weirdy stair paths), average pace 9:32. 

For the long run, we climbed 1,209 ft. Here are the Garmin graphs that I love to stare at after my runs. 

That first hill was a killer, but I'm hoping it was good practice for the half marathon in Lynchburg, TN, next weekend. I've already gotten three emails from the race organizers describing how agonizing the hills are and how you cannot be too prepared. 

My heart rate was all over the place with the hills. When I'm on the treadmill or track, my heart rate looks like this.  

This particularly chart is from Friday, 2 miles on the track at 7:22 average pace. Steady, steady climb vs. crazy peaks and valleys.

And this is how my ankle felt this week.

That means it was sorta kinda pretty good OK, but with a sometimes twinge. I'm definitely living up my rest day tomorrow and maybe going to cut out some of the miles again next week to preserve my ankle for races on April 7th (half), 21st (15k), and 28th (marathon). 

In other news, here I am in our gym bathroom. I love that they have private restrooms right off the track. Remember this post. So I really like having bathrooms handy. 

And the spring blossoms are starting to melt off of their branches, so here's one more picture to memorialize them. 

 Yo Daughter represents with her Texas-style boots.

This week's favorite grocery store purchase is Numi rooibos herbal tea. My sister introduced me to this flavor and brand, but I haven't been able to find them together again. They carry the brand at our Whole Foods but not in rooibos, and I've found rooibos that isn't Numi. It was decent, but Numi is definitely my favorite brand for rooibos. Oddly, I found this at our Neighborhood Wal-Mart. Have you been to one of those? It's a grocery store only, so you miss out on the usual Wal-Mart crowds. This is also where I discovered that their gallon of chocolate milk is $.75 cheaper than the exact same brand and gallon at Sam's Club. I feel like I'm being tricked. What other things are marked up past the regular grocery store price?

Do you ever shop at a membership-only store? Yes, but now I'm going to have to keep my hawky-eagle eyes out for pricing tricks. 

How do you measure your effort in a workout? Feel, monitor, breathing? I usually measure by feel, but I like to look at the charts afterwards to see how hard I was really working.

What was your favorite food splurge this week?

March 29, 2012

Thrift store Thursday

Here's my jam from the thrift store this week.

Two Runner's World magazines from 2009. 

One pair of well-broken-in, army green Keen shoesandals, or shandals.

One new-with-tags, dark indigo Adidas ClimaCool Training shirt, or singlet (???)

The shirt is technically a man's shirt, but the thrift store workers (and me) thought it looked lady enough for the lady section. Also, I just learned last week that navy blue is my color. Not from the years of color analysis that my mom, an aesthetician, forced on me as an uncaring preteen to teenager who always wanted to wear orange and yellow, especially when my mom said it looked perfectly hideous. I just happened randomly upon a navy blue shirt at the store, and when I tried it on, I appreciated all those bossy years of my mom telling me what colors look best on me. She was right. Navy blue does make me look less haggardly than orange. If only she were on the interwebs to hear me shout her praises. Mom, you are so right! Does it matter if shoes are not in your color realm? 

I was not totally sold on the Keens because I imagined someone's sweaty feet in there in the 100-degree, 100%-humidity summers of the south. But then I decided that I'm cheap enough to not care about that, so I'll sanitize them and try them out. For under three bucks it was worth a little trial to see if I liked them for hiking around in the woods. Have you ever used them for trail running? Is that a bad idea? My Karhus are too delicate for the trails. They get beat up pretty fast if one twig touches them. My last pair started to disintegrate after one long weekend of trail running. 

My total for this loot after a 10% off coupon but before taxes, $6.01.

The husband is pretty good at finding sweet deals too, but he could care less about running. He's more into motorbiking.

This is his sweet deal on a French helmet that he has had his eye on for five years. He's willing to hold out for the best deal. This one he scored on an ebay auction. Do people still use that site? If it were up to me, he would buy an entire suit made of the same material. So basically, he would be a giant robot with a tiny man inside.

If you look in the reflection of his face plate, you can spy me blogging and icing.

Have you scored any good deals lately?

Are you OK with motorbike riding? Too scary or not scary enough?

Do you know anyone with a sidecar? We have one in our garage right now! Like this one.

March 28, 2012

Running with Spatulas Virtual Race

I ran on March 19th, the first day of the Running with Spatulas Virtual Race 10K, which ends on March 30th. Shortly afterwards, I got injured, so I'm glad I ran early! Seriously, otherwise I wouldn't have participated because I'm barely ready to shuffle again and definitely not ready to race.

The treadmill was my race location of choice. The below treadmill is my favorite in the gym. There are tons more with fancy TVs and such, but these (of which they only have three -- sad face) are more firm under foot. When I first started running, I didn't notice the difference in the tread firmness, but sometime about five months ago, I ran on this and noticed that it was more firm, which I want because it is more similar to road conditions.

The treadmill is great because you don't have to carry the water and towel. Just pop it up on the mill, and it's all right there waiting for when you get sweaty and gross. That is of course after a thorough wipe down. I like to wipe it down on my own, even if I just saw someone wipe it down before me. Crazy controlling much?

I started slowly and tried to continually speed up as I got warmed up, and the final result is 6.21 in 47:46, average pace of 7:42. I feel good about it because I felt great afterwards, and I finished up with another .8 miles to cool down.

And I ran in my glasses. I usually train in glasses but race in contacts. Since this was a virtual race, I went relaxed with the glasses -- and a super sweatiness ponytail that tries to stick to the side of my face and make me swallow it while running. Not cool, ponytail.

In case you need to know where I get my old school stuff, here you go. Shirt: Puma (from $10 clearance rack at Ocala Marathon), Glasses: Calvin Klein, Water Bottle: Hannah Montana, Watch: Garmin 210, Skirt: Nike Pacer, Entertainment: Luther on Netflix.

March 27, 2012

Three new food goals and Hungry for Change

Yesterday's workout: a lunchtime Bodypump class and an afternoon spin class. I've been trying to rest my ailing foot, although I did sneak in a quick lap around the track just to see how it would feel. No pain, but I decided that today would be another rest-from-running day. That's three days in a row of no running. When you have a training plan that glares at you from its magnetized station on the fridge and another one that gives you the stink eye whenever you open your nightstand drawer, it's hard to skip days. Why the heck did I make so many copies of that darn training plan? I can't turn around without seeing it and remembering what I'm not doing. I just got really nervous after my long run on Saturday that I might screw something major up if I don't chill out a tad, so chill out it is. 

Since I won't have the calorie demands of a sumo wrestler on these rest days, I thought it would be a good time to start focusing on nutrition. I've been eating sweets every five minutes again, so with my last two weeks before the Oak Barrel Half, I'm going off desserts and onto more raw foods. Not all but more. 

For example, I would eat a salad with a little sandwich for lunch. 

The main focus here is that delicious goddess dressing, though the Trader Joe's brand is a little thick for me. It's hard to shake out of the bottle. 

That's a salad and sandwich instead of ten donuts, in case you were wondering what my other options would be. I have a hard time with moderation. If a dessert is in my presence, I have to eat it all, or I will waste too much time thinking about it. How I could divide it up. How the kids might sneak it before I get to eat any more. How it might not taste as delicious if I wait five minutes. It's just easier for me to rule them out as an option. Then I don't waste time thinking about them.

I recruited an accountability partner who added no chips to the no dessert goal. So my goals are:

1. No desserts
2. No chips
3. More raw foods

I think she added no carbs to the goals, but I felt my head spin just thinking about that. How about one less carb per millennium? That sounds like a reasonable goal to me. And originally I wanted to do all raw foods, but that ended almost immediately when I remembered that chocolate milk was not a raw food. Is it a dessert though? Don't answer that, unless you are going to say "no."

It's only for two weeks, so I feel like anything is possible for two weeks. Plus I feel so much better when I'm not eating desserts. My hope is with all these little tweaks to my diet, some permanent changes will take shape. 

My sister just sent me a link to an online premiere of Hungry for Change, a documentary about weight loss and marketing secrets in the diet industry. In essence, they are trying to tell us how to escape the dieting cycle and live a happy, healthy lifestyle. My sister described it as more palatable for the mainstream public than Food, Inc. There's a free online premier until the end of the month. I just had to enter my name and email address to access the movie. After I watch the whole thing, I'll let you know what I think. Warning: it's a no diet coke zone. The trailer I watched blasted diet coke. So put your diet cokes down before you watch. 

Do you consider yourself a dieter? Not really, but I like to set food goals. 

Do you drink diet coke? I used to daily, but I stopped last year with encouragement from my awesome sister. Amazingly, a lot of weird head pains I was having (that I had gotten an MRI for) went away after I stopped. That was enough to convince me to stay off the DC train.

What are your current food goals?

March 26, 2012

Icing your ankle

After my long (cut short because of ankle pain) run on Saturday, I was up for some major icing.

Follow these steps to ice like me.

1. Find an unread newspaper on the counter and realize that the newspaper baggy would make a perfect ice-filled ankle wrap.

2. Fill with enough ice to give you frostbite.

3. Have your daughter take pictures of you holding the ice bag and cling wrap. Listen to your daughter say, "It's not every day that a lady asks you to take a picture for her blog."

4. Get mad at your daughter when she takes pictures of your unshaven legs for fun.

5. Grab the camera back, and make sure to get a close-up of that cling wrap. Because maybe it will distract people from the previous picture.

6. Hand the camera back to your daughter to take more awkward photos.

7. Cling wrap the ice to your leg and cry like a little baby. I thought this was supposed to make me feel better, not like poking everyone's eyes out with pencils.

8. Accept your fate and go lie down on the couch, snuggled up to your laptop. 

You have no idea how happy it makes me to find a use for random trash (like newspaper bags) around my house.

March 24, 2012

Speed work two days in a row equals bad idea

Here is a super boring summary of my week in workouts.

Monday: Planned -- 7 easy miles and yoga
            Actual -- 7 miles, including 6.2 of speed racing (Running with Spatulas Virtual Race)

Tuesday: Planned -- 6 miles of speed work
             Actual -- 4.5 miles, tweaked my left ankle

Wednesday: Planned -- 6 easy miles and Bodypump
                 Actual -- ran .5 miles with a sad-feeling ankle, walked an hour, Bodypump with a great sub

Thursday: Planned -- 9 miles at marathon pace
              Actual -- 7.25 miles average pace 8:08, stopped early to not make my left ankle worse

Friday: Planned -- 6 easy miles
          Actual -- rest, tweaked ankle still not feeling right

Saturday: Planned -- 16 miles
             Actual -- 11.5 miles, stopped early to rest and ice my ankle
For some reason, two days in a row (Monday and Tuesday) I tried to do my strength workout, which in the Hanson training plan is like speed workouts but longer intervals at your high speeds -- not as fast as you would go with shorter sprints. Monday's speeds were just for fun and to test my legs for the virtual race, and man oh boy, I had fun running faster for no reason. Tuesday's speed work was on the schedule, so I decided to stick with it even though I had just done speed work the previous day. Mistake. In the middle of my speedy portion (8.0 mph on the treadmill), I felt something go wrong in my left foot. Not a snap or a pop, but a sharp pain that didn't go away. This is not the same side that was hurting previously from the bad shoes. Right side is now good; left side is not so much. Not good. So I backed off, stopped running, and helped my treadmill neighbor try to find his iPhone. It slipped off of his treadmill, and when he turned around to find it, it was gone. Weird, right? But it was a good excuse for me to stop running while we looked under and over and inside everything. We never found the phone, and I never started running again that day.

Lesson #1: follow the stinking plan! The minute I went off the plan (for fun!), I got injured. Not a sore hip that slowly develops over time, but a sudden tweak.

Lesson #2: don't run (or do anything else) for fun. No really if you insist on being a ray of sunshine, you can, but still pay attention to how it coincides with your actual training plan.

So back to running, I decided to take Wednesday off. Taking a day off meant I walked the track for an hour, did Bodypump, and then tried to run half a mile in zero-drop shoes that I wore for class. That was just to test my foot to see how it was feeling. It was still sore, so I put running to bed for the night. On Thursday I was supposed to complete 9 miles, but I stopped at 7.25 because my foot was getting sore, like a bruise. Not a sharp pain, which is good, but I didn't want to push it to the point of sharp pain.

The good of Thursday's workout was that I was hitting speeds higher than my desired marathon pace without too much effort, and for someone who is never consistent in running speeds, my run was pretty consistent that day. It's weird to have the best marathon pace run of my training plan while coming back from my injury. Is that a sign that rest is good? I took it as divine intervention and took all day Friday off of training.

This is what we did instead.

Drove to KY and visited the grandparents' farm.

Than drove to TN to hang out with more cousins. 

 Tried to hitch a ride from anyone with empty shoulders.

Demonstrated different uses for straws.

No more of that boring drinking.

March 22, 2012

Why is it called a singlet?

When I first heard the term "singlet" in running, I thought of this.

Instead, they were talking about this.

It took me about a year to gain this little nugget of runner wisdom -- not before I read the whole book Once a Runner with the image of the first one in my mind. The entire book. I was confused and knew it would be really uncomfy (the wrestling singlet) but thought it was just a runner thing. Big difference, runners. 

By the way, what happened to just calling it a tank top?

March 21, 2012

Test your arches

You know that lately I have been having this little problem of running in the wrong shoes for 800 miles. I think that's 1,000,000 in dog miles. So I've been googling my brains out trying to comprehend how I missed it and to find ways to self test your feet, just in case you need a second opinion, and you want that opinion to be the best one (i.e. yours).

So here's an arch test I did with the help of Runner's World.

Supplies needed:

  • Towel

  • Cookie sheet

  • Construction paper

  • Feet

The test:
  1. Wet your towel or put water in an edged cookie sheet. I was trying to avoid splashing, so I soaked my towel and put it on an old cookie sheet.
  2. Have all of your supplies ready and close by to stamp fast.
  3. Repeat stamping if you first stamp isn't dark enough to read. With each of the examples below, I stamped multiple times in the same spot to make it darker. I wanted to be sure that I was reading it correctly. 

The brown construction paper worked best for me, though I tried a bunch of colors. I also tried card stock (the red one below) and a brown paper sack, but construction paper worked better. 

The most important part of this test is what the results can tell you. If this were a Maury Povich episode, the results would tell you who's the daddy of that baby, so compared to that, this test is kind of sadly boring. And usually people don't fight after getting the results. Yawn.

According to Runner's World, your results mean this:

Normal (medium) Arch
Wet TestIf you see about half of your arch, you have the most common foot type and are considered a normal pronator. Contrary to popular belief, pronation is a good thing. When the arch collapses inward, this "pronation" absorbs shock. As a normal pronator, you can wear just about any shoe, but may be best suited to a stability shoe that provides moderate arch support (or medial stability). Lightweight runners with normal arches may prefer neutral-cushioned shoes without any added support, or even a performance-training shoe that offers some support but less heft, for a faster feel.

Flat (low) Arch

Wet TestIf you see almost your entire footprint, you have a flat foot, which means you're probably an overpronator. That is, a micro-second after footstrike, your arch collapses inward too much, resulting in excessive foot motion and increasing your risk of injuries. You need either stability shoes, which employ devices such as dual-density midsoles and supportive "posts" to reduce pronation and are best for mild to moderate overpronators, or motion-control shoes, which have firmer support devices and are best for severe overpronators, as well as tall, heavy (over 165 pounds), or bow-legged runners.

High Arch

Wet TestIf you see just your heel, the ball of your foot, and a thin line on the outside of your foot, you have a high arch, the least common foot type. This means you're likely an underpronator, or supinator, which can result in too much shock traveling up your legs, since your arch doesn't collapse enough to absorb it. Underpronators are best suited to neutral-cushioned shoes because they need a softer midsole to encourage pronation. It's vital that an underpronator's shoes have no added stability devices to reduce or control pronation, the way a stability or motion-control shoe would.

This test doesn't give you all the answers. I mean, you still won't know if your boyfriend is cheating on you with your best friend's sister's brother, but you will know what type of arches you have. And maybe whether or not you need to eat a ham sandwich, which you would figure out if you get hungry while cleaning up after the test. 

It is also possible for people to pronate outside of the prescribed categories, but I was a textbook example. High arches, underpronate/supinate. If you are planning to get fitted for shoes, this is a great piece of info to have before you go into the store, so if you disagree with their assessment, you can talk about different options for your shoes.

You can also pair this information with other clues like the wear on the soles of your shoes and any video or picture evidence you have of your running feet. The arch test is just one piece, not the whole puzzle, but sometimes missing a piece makes you willing to throw the whole puzzle out. But don't do that.

And of course, barefoot runners don't even give a jolly crap about this. Give them a pathway of glass shards and used hypodermic needles, and they are thrilled. I really admire you barefoot runners, so that sentence just means that you are super tough, not that you like disease transfer and glass splinters. 

March 20, 2012

Running late (at night) and half off Pro Compression socks

Yesterday's workout: I went for a late 7-mile run. 55 minutes, avg. pace 7:51/mile. There's a virtual run at Running with Spatulas this week, and I thought I'd just see what I could do on the treadmill last night. This run reminded me that I should be trying harder at other runs because it felt pretty good to hit those numbers last night. 

Did I mention that I have been in a running funk since my last marathon at the end of February? I expected the opposite because after the previous marathon, my first week back of training felt awesome. Every time I ran, I pushed it because hey, this isn't as hard as that marathon the other day. I never had that during this training cycle. My training has been consistent, but I have been dreading runs every day. Usually it felt fine by the end, but I had lost some overall oomph. Last night, I finally felt excited to start running and excited to push myself during the run. Is this related to my legs thanking me for getting them proper shoes?

Leg update: still feeling better. The pain had moved all the way into my hip, and that hip pain has now significantly decreased. Before I would feel it while sitting, standing, sleeping, or shuffling (which I do ever day). Now, I just feel a little soreness when doing seated hip stretches.


After my run, I came home to the two giant plates of food my husband brought home from work last night. He's scoring major points with all of these food deliveries. On the nights I know I'm going to be running late, I skip supper, which would make my run nauseatingly unpleasant. So I avoid burping up sloppy joes and salad by waiting to eat after my run. It was nice to come home to a giant salad and sandwiches of which I did not partake in their preparation. I ate both of the triangles, some type of cheesed up beef, last night. And, yes, that is a plate full of cookies just north of that salad. Every day I tell myself that I'm going to stop eating desserts to prep for my next race, and every day, more cookies appear on the table. It's not really working out. 

And the last bit of take-action news for the day: Pro Compression is having their half off Schwaggle deal again today. That means you get compression socks for $25 and free shipping. You guys might remember that I adore these socks because they have a nice thin foot for actually running your marathons in without getting blisters. Check to make sure they have the colors and sizes you want and order soon. The sooner you order the more likely you are to get the color you want. And they have even more colors now! I've got my eye on the blue argyles, purple, and yellow ones. This is the best deal you will get on these socks, period. 

Here are the ones I have. 

Don't cry that the stars aren't available right now, even though I cried that they didn't make them in more colors. Just order the blue argyle ones and tell customer service you want more stars! 

March 19, 2012

Come race with us in Alabama

If you are considering a race in Alabama or are trying to make it part of your 50 states challenge, here's a little niblet of what you can expect.

When I first moved back to Alabama, I was sad to be reminded that things had not changed much from when I lived here fifteen years ago. It's hard to express exactly what it was that bothered me. People are so nice and polite, but slightly more judgmental behind the scenes. They are friendly and welcoming, but not necessarily if you aren't like them. But as with any place, the longer you are there, the more reasons accumulate for why you were wrong. People prove to be more open minded or accepting than you thought, and you just plain come to love the quirkiness that makes it unique. This weekend reminded me of why I'm glad to be back in Alabama.


Loose standards of safety. Look out for yourselves because we're not going to make fences that will actually keep you from falling off the edge.

Loyalty to its artists. We drove on streets named after every member of this band this weekend. Full names, people. We don't skimp on honor. 

Special events. And places to book them.

Junk robots. I know I certainly have enough junk to make a robot out of it. 

These next two were on the same street. Can you see what is different about this first picture on the main street of this Alabama town?

Did you guess four wheeler in the middle of the day? Squint, and you'll see it to the right of the parked truck. This guy was just cruising around the town.

And this is for all of you politicos who thought we were totally backwards. Mostly, but not completely. Not everyone is in favor of Alabama's HB56.

Good eats. I'm not sure where the biscuits went, but I'm glad they're back!

Creative spelling. Not "all ways" on purpose.

Beautiful rolling hills and blue skies. And I'm serious about this one!

And just imagine those trees in their full green-leafed glory in a couple of months. I want to get lost in them.

Of course, if you have to pick only one race, it has to be the Mercedes Marathon and Half in Birmingham.