August 31, 2013

Silently rejoicing my long run

Do you ever finish a run and wonder why people aren't lined up to give you high fives and throw snacks at you? When I finished my long run at the gym yesterday, nobody even seemed to notice how well I held my gag reflex for the last two miles, and definitely nobody cared that I woke up at 4:50 a.m. to start that run, just to continue it after I took a break to get the older kids ready and off to school. By the time I restarted, it was hot, and I was running in my hilly neighborhood where I thought I could make a six-mile loop without carrying water (mistake!). Oh, and I ate a full breakfast after the first segment of the run, and that breakfast was just the thing to trigger that gag reflex I mentioned earlier.

My new favorite: spinach, eggs, goat cheese, Rudi's gluten-free bread.

When I went back to the gym to finish the last five miles of the 18-mile run, not even a single person realized that I was down to the minute on my childcare limit for the twins, so those last two miles were miraculously fast (not in real time, but in because-I-feel-like-crap time).

And I did all of that wearing the ugliest (but I still love them) shoes ever invented.

Even though I had running partners (thanks, Jimmy and Michael) for the first 13 of those miles today, there was something weird about ending a long run by myself and not having anyone to talk to about it. I wanted to do a happy dance (except my legs were too stiff from the long run) and sing a song about how I felt crapster and then happy and then crapster again, but I finished!!!! And doesn't everyone in my line of sight right now get how important that is?! Especially right in that moment when you finish something that just 30 minutes ago you had convinced yourself was impossible and had been an inch from quitting at least twenty times. Anyone care at all? Anyone, anyone? Nope, no one, nobody. Everyone at the gym just kept about their regular gym business of squatting and bench pressing, while I had just witnessed my own personal running miracle.

When you're with people who also just ran 18 miles under tough circumstances (or when the tough circumstance was that you felt like crud), you might talk for a second about the actual run, but there is that silent camaraderie and shared heck-yes-we-dids for finishing a challenging run. I know a lot of you are great at running solo, and there is definitely a reflective quality in solo running that I sometimes enjoy. But I need/really want running buddies to give a round of high fives to at the end of a long run, to observe just how gross the circumstances of the run were (even if they weren't, we can exaggerate to make ourselves feel tougher), and to excitedly plan the next torture session.

So next time you are running by yourself and you do something that you want to shout to the oblivious-of-your-awesomeness world, just know that there are others of us runners out there silently rejoicing and imaginary high-fiving with you.

August 27, 2013

Don't burn out like Miley Cyrus

This post really has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus, but, you know, Miley gets clicks. And we can't say we weren't warned by The Onion in 2008 that all potential Miley entertainment value would be used up by 2013.

I wonder what those same scientists would say about my running. Now I immediately take that back because those Onion scientists are scary accurate and kind of downers.

Just to note: Robin Thicke needs to be called out more than Miley for his rapey creepiness of a song, "Blurred Lines." 

Moving on to something much less twerky, my training week. I'll understand if you stop reading now.

1. 6 miles (@8:50 pace) and yoga class. An easy-paced run on the treadmill. I was so happy to get to yoga class later that night, which made two days in a row of yoga, kind of a record for me these days.

2. 8.61 miles (@ easy pace) plus 30 min. with Mr. Mike the trainer. That run was split between a few miles on the treadmill and 5.61 at Life Time run club, so the paces varied. At run club, I rarely pay attention to pace. That day is usually designated as an "easy" run on the schedule, so I just get in my miles and run at whatever pace other folks are running. I got to help my buddy make it to her first ever 4-mile run, and that's basically what I love about run club. It's all about encouraging each other every week. Oh, and treats. This week: free slushies post run. Tuesday, Life Time Vestavia, 6 p.m., 2-5 miles, be there for free slushies. You don't have to be a member to join us.

And this was before they heard about free slushies.

And as for Mr. Mike's workout for us. It included crazy hard jumping pushups.

3. Supposed to be a cross-training day, instead 5.27 trail miles (@ 12:09) and aqua class. A dark morning run that we took at a social pace. It must have been a while since I've been at one of these 5:30 a.m. runs because I was surprised that it was dark when I got there. Time to bust out the headlamp.

Finally some light at the halfway point.

And at my aqua class, we had three guys in attendance. Not that it's unheard of for guys to make it to an aqua class, but it (along with a lot of other group x classes) is pretty female dominant. So if you know a guy who is willing to go to aqua class, send him over to Gold's on Thursday (starting next week) nights at 6. Maybe we can set some local records. Or Guinness ones.

Oh, and I swapped my later rest day for this one because I knew we were going out of town this weekend. 

4. Speedwork, 7.8 miles and Mr. Mike training. This run was really intimidating on paper, but it felt amazing, especially when it was over! Here's a snapshot of the workout: 2X1600 @ 7:03 (1:30 rest interval), 2x800 @6:43 (2:00 rest interval), 1x1600 @7:03 with some warm-up and cool-down miles thrown in. It was a beast, but I loved it really feeling the heat during those 800s.
5. Long run, 16 miles @ 9:17. Coach Alex should be happy with those long run numbers. I haven't come that close to my prescribed long-run pace in a really, well, long time! Thank you, treadmill, for helping me get that done. I ran two of the miles outside but finished the majority on the treadmill with my Hokas. I'm not sure I like the bouncy treadmill mixed with the squishy Hokas.

And I am definitely sure that I did not like the treadmill for my long run, but I traded the streets for having my treadmill posse come walk beside me and talk while I ran. Excellent trade. 

6. "Easy" 4.2 miles in Kentucky. We ran 3.2 @ 8:40 pace and then ran-walked back with my nieces for another mile. Part of this run was spent scoping out the turnaround point for our upcoming Second Annual Family Turkey Trot 5K. Or Second Annual Whatever We Called It Last Year 5K. We accidentally went to 4 miles on that run last year, and I thought it would be nice for everyone if we actually stuck to our promised 5K mileage this year, especially for the kiddos.

This run was supposed to be easy and recovery, but instead it felt hard and outrageously humid, even though I swear that I now love humidity (after being in the desert for a chunk of the summer).

7. Rest. And hang out with all the cousins in KY. Here are a handful of the many cousins.

Yes, the tall ones are all leaning to avoid tree branches.

Goals for this week:

  • At least one yoga session. 
  • Long run on the road.
  • Take care of my heel (rolling, massaging, icing). My right heel was extremely sore today, to the point I was limping while walking, and it's a bit of a mystery to me. It started on Saturday. Is the treadmill long run the culprit? 

Do you hit up any regularly scheduled group runs? I love that Birmingham has so many groups to join. Check out this list at the track club's site to get an idea. My faves are the BUTS runs and Saturday morning BTC long run group. 

Heel pain that's not achilles (more to the outside and midway between the ankle and heel): any idea what could be causing that?

Quick: what are your favorite Netflix shows? Need something to watch other than Miley twerking.

August 24, 2013

Letting things slide and a giveaway winner

After conquering the first week of school, we decided to take this show (i.e. family) on the road to Kentucky for a family visit. My husband's sister Tahlee and her husband, Iggy, were in town from Los Angeles, which gave us an even bigger incentive to make the four-hour drive.

Tahlee and Iggy at the top. Picture taken in LA during our road trip this summer.

Not that the farm's fresh sweet corn is not enough of an incentive for my husband. Did I already tell you that he comes from a family of corn snobs? Not in a bad way, just in an I-only-eat-the-fresh-stuff way. It's so bad that I've only purchased supermarket "fresh" corn once or twice in our marriage. That old junk (anything picked earlier than immediately before cooking is considered ancient) does not pass as edible for a corn snob.


And just how was that first week of school? There were no tears anywhere. I was most worried about my daughter who had a really hard time fitting in with the girls in her class last year. A lot of them knew each other before the start of school, and she knew none of them. She knew some of the boys, but in her fourth-grade mind, that does not count for anything. There were lots of after-school tears last year because she felt lonely in class. This year has already started off on a much better note with her making friends the first day of school. Happy dance.

We took our first-day-of-school pics on the second day. Classic procrastinating mom move.

You can tell it was day two because we were already letting severely wrinkled clothes pass instead of running the steamer over them. By day three, we're already lowering our standards to shirts with holes and nose-bleed stains. 

But I was less worried about clothing cleanliness than I was about this advertisement I saw in the carpool line. A) Is there really a whole store dedicated to lice removal? B) Do we really need the possibility of lice already shoved in our faces during the first week of school? C'mon, let us settle in a little bit and get the flu and strep throat out of the way before we play the lice card.

So not looking forward to lice scares, but I am looking forward to the sweet and simple school journal entries. Here are a few that Enoch did last year after the Mississippi River Marathon and the Mercedes Marathon (two weekends in a row).

In case you can't read his writing, it says something like, "Blah, blah, marathon, blah, give me some food!" And, "We stayed in a cabin with an outside bathroom!" The kid clearly knows what's important.


And we have a Feetures sock winner! Jenny Lou Browning who entered via Facebook.

Congrats, Jenny! Please email me at yomommaruns(at) to get your winning info. And thank you so much to everyone who entered and shared this giveaway! I almost hate giveaways because I want everyone to win, but it's still exciting to make one person happy, which is why I keep hosting them. 

What do you start to let slide after the first week of school? Obviously clothing wrinkledness. Second, their lunch box contents. They pack their own lunches, and after the first week, I don't scan the contents as often. One day last school year, I opened my son's lunch box to find a lone slice of bread (not in a container) and an orange. Hmmm, maybe should have paid a little more attention there. 

Are you a snob when it comes to certain foods? I definitely have a VERY hard time drinking after anyone, so I guess I'm a drink snob. If your lips have touched it, I don't want anything to do with it. 

Lice: the grossest part of elementary school? Potentially yes. I start to get a phantom head itch when we get the letters about someone being found with lice at school. 

August 22, 2013

Thrift store Thursday: Toms are the worst

Yes, it's that time of year when threadbare backpacks and lunch boxes get traded in for a fresh new set, with colors still vibrant and unmarred by sticky after-lunch hands or by muddy streaks from being dragged down the sidewalk on those especially hot and exhausting afternoon shuffles to the carpool line. It usually takes about a week for the I-love-this-lunchbox-so-much-I-want-to-marry-it phase to turn into the where-did-I-put-it/oops-I-left-it-full-of-food-and-in-the-hot-car-all-night phase. And that, folks, is how sassy new lunch boxes turn into the moldy ones of years past.

We did a surprisingly small amount of back-to-school shopping, including a quick trip to Old Navy for my daughter (which doubled as her late-July birthday present) and an even quicker trip to Nordstrom Rack for shoes for my son.

These Spiderman shoes at Nordstrom for $29 caught his eye and wouldn't let it go. As a third grader, this is probably one of the last years that he will get this excited about shoes featuring a comic book character, which makes me sad when I think about it too long.

Normally I don't like paying that much for kids shoes, but I decided to give it a shot because every year we buy a pair of shoes on the clearance rack at Target that turn grubby and start falling apart after a few weeks. Fingers crossed that Stride Rite made a slightly higher quality shoe that will last longer for the higher price. Plus I bought a size up so that he can wear them for an extra week (exaggerating -- but the little dude is rapidly growing).

I "accidentally" wandered into the women's clearance section where they had some Brooks PureFlow for $35.

Since I recently tested and loved the Brooks Cascadia 8 for trails, I thought I would give these a shot. Any PureFlow lovers out there? Haters? There are a lot of Birmingham runners (and just regular gym wearers) who swear by them, which is why I was up for giving them a shot.

On the topic of shoes.

The shoes by which I am most annoyed: Toms. 

These shoes that look a century old above were only worn twice before this picture. Somehow we managed to avoid the whole Toms craze until a few weeks ago when I found these irresistible robot ones on sale for the twins. So cute, but they are the worst quality shoes for the money they are charging. How can you get away with making a shoe that fades that much after two wears? And people cannot get enough of them. Am I the only person on the planet that is so confused by this? 

Toms rant over.

So did we actually go thrifting for any of our back-to-school purchases? Yes! We found this Puma Procat backpack (new with tags) at the thrift store for $8.

Not the best thrift store price, but considering it was new, I was happy about it. 

We also found a handful of shirts for Enoch (my third grader), including a Battleship shirt that I knew he would love. You see, Battleship is one of his favorite games, even though his favorite move in the game is telling his opponent that he should try aiming higher or lower. Hint to Enoch: telling your opponent where to aim is not the best Battleship winning strategy. 

If you squint your eyes (or close them) and look at this shirt, you will see it like I did in that hazy back room of the thrift store. I was so focused on the ships, that I didn't even read the message of the shirt before I threw it into the buggy (yes, that's what we call carts in Alabama) for immediate purchase. Luckily that day we were with our friends at the thrift store, and when I showed it to them (thinking I was probably the coolest, smartest thrifter ever for having found this shirt), they read the message out loud to me. 

And that's why you always leave a note preview your thrift store purchases with a friend before making your final selection. I cannot believe I almost bought such a trashy shirt for my third grader without noticing, and secondly, I cannot believe that some manufacturer made a shirt saying I'll hit that in third-grader sizes. I die. 

Back to good stuff, I found this vintage bedspread at an estate sale for $3, and I want to stare at it forever. I'm not sure I'll actually use it as a bedspread because I'm strongly considering cutting it up and making things out of it (like pillows and baby presents). But since marathon training really cuts into the minuscule amount of sewing time I had, it will remain an awesome vintage bedspread thrown over the back of a chair so I can stare at it. 

Are you a Brooks PureFlow fan? I still haven't taken them for a run. They are waiting on the sidelines to get a chance to enter the magic shoe rotation that I have going. Magic because (serious knock on wood) I'm currently not injured, and I thank my shoe rotation for that. 

Where and what kind of shoes do you usually purchase for your kids? I couldn't pass up the $5 clearance Target tennis shoes for my daughter, but I'm glad we upped the budget for my son. He trashes everything so quickly that the quality can really make a difference in longevity of shoes for him.

What's up with age-INappropriate sexual references on shirts? Maybe it's just me, but I cringe whenever I see that. Like the adults are trying to make a joke out of innocent children. With all of the sexual abuse targeted at children going on around the world, it's really not funny to me at all.

Toms are the worst shoes ever created: yes or no? If no, please tell me which you would vote the Crappiest Shoes Ever Created. 

August 19, 2013

Training week and THE best egg sandwich

Last week's training flew by, and I think it seemed easier than normal because I performed zero trail runs. I had one planned, and it got pushed to the side to accommodate car repairs that had to be finished before closing time.

Props to my husband who spent all weekend tearing one of our cars down, replacing a bunch of parts, and putting all of the pieces together again in the correct order. His car skills have never stopped amazing me. He hears a sound or feels something a little off in the steering. Then he googles a few things, orders a bucketload of parts, and starts ripping things apart. I guess I'm most amazed that he can put it all together again without some sort of manual with step-by-steps. We just did not grow up doing our own car repairs.

My dad taught me to check the oil if I was on a cross-country trip by myself, but that was it. And, yes, there were repercussions to this laissez-faire car repair style -- like the time my transmission locked in the middle of the interstate at midnight, right before some people on crack whizzed by us going 100+mph. We only knew they were on crack when they reversed it back to us almost as fast as they whizzed by us. They were checking on us, which seemed very ironic at the time. Moral of that story: oil is not the only important fluid in your car; transmission fluid also helps.

And to bring this back around to the point (it's in there somewhere), thank you, Amory, for growing up on a farm and learning how everything (and I mean everything) is put together so that one day you could save us thousands of dollars in car repair bills. Missing the trail run was minuscule compared to that.

My training week

1. 6 miles @8:48. Did this run on a treadmills, so it was easy to keep the pace. Still felt hard because the weekend before was rough with back-to-back trail runs, including the So Long Summer 15K trail race.

2. Planned 7 miles @9:07, actually ran 1 mile. So 7 miles was on the schedule, but since run club got rained out, I only ran one of the miles (so I could watch everyone else kick butt on the treadmills, which were all full). Letting this one go didn't hurt my feelings at all, my legs were dead from the weekend and felt like they needed a rest anyway.

3. Training with Mr. Mike, foam rolling (like a boss), and aqua bootcamp. Did I tell you guys that I also started teaching at our local Gold's Gym?! I just took over the Wednesday night aqua bootcamp, which we are switching to Thursday nights in September. Whatever you pictured aqua class to be like, throw that idea out the window. Unless your idea was that we kick major butt and work really hard.

Favorite Mr. Mike exercise: plank to pike with foot sliders (i.e. felt pads).

4. Speedwork on the tready, 4x1200 @ 7:03. That's the basic version of the speedwork. There were some rests and a 10-minute B-pace (8:48) "rest" in between two sets of the 1200s. I really loved this one, and I'm loving that our treadmills have a picture of a track so that I don't have to add numbers. So for these 1200s, I can just watch the dot on the track to go around three times back to the point it started. Not adding is always a good plan for me while running. Somehow it never works out. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to convince my coach that I ran 8.5 miles when I really only ran 6.25. He hadn't been running, and I had. That automatically makes him right. So basically, never trust the math skills of a person who is fully exerting themselves while running.

5. Rest day. Although I walked one mile on the treadmill beside the treadmill posse, who were all doing their long runs on Friday. Then I decided to ask Mr. Mike to race down the straight of the inside track. That planned turned out poorly, in that he beat me while running backwards.

Me losing to Mr. Mike with Diane laughing at my sad attempt.

Right after this pic was taken, he turned around backwards and ran to the end. And, no, I still couldn't catch up. I think it's his high knees, like Usain Bolt's. If you have Netflix, you can watch a documentary about Bolt on there. It's definitely entertaining, and the main thing I gleaned from it was that if you want to run fast, you have to pick up your darn knees. Is it just me, or are all distance runners not that great at picking up their knees?

6. 17 miles @9:35. Which turned into 17 miles @ 8:40. It's hard to hit certain paces out there because you just kind of fall into a group and do whatever they're doing. I ran these miles in my Hokas, which still feel like running on marshmallows.

The most important part of my long run is the post-run food. I picked up some gluten-free Rudi's bread on the way home. Publix had it on buy-one-get-one-free sale, which makes it much cheaper than normal. I need to stock up tonight before it goes off sale because it's not too bad tasting, and it works great for when you are just craving something that only bread can give you, like an egg sandwich.

Eggs with a side of egg sandwich
(eggs, coconut oil, goat cheese, spinach, onions, Rudi's gluten-free bread)

7. Recovery miles 6 @ 9:55 and yoga. I took the recovery miles to the treadmill because I ended up doing them at night. A long time ago, my husband asked me not to run roads at night because he thought it wasn't safe, so I've tried to stick to that. I'm pretty into staying alive while running, so I thought it was a smart plan. 

The twins' most creative exercise for the week was slithering around the aisles at church. 

My new training plan has several recovery running days (running at slower paces), but only one real rest day from running. That's six days of running per week. I'm interested to see how my body responds to that, and I'll definitely be paying attention to anything that feels off. Plus I'm on an intense foam rolling and theracaning kick, like doing it almost every day. I think it's going to save me some future chiropractor visits.

How many days per week are you running right now? I was at five per week, which my body seemed to tolerate if I made a couple of those trail runs. I think my body would rebel if all of those were on pavement.

Favorite post-run snack right now? That sandwich started a new trend. Plus I always down a giant glass of tart cherry juice to help speed recovery.

Who's your favorite Olympian? I'll be honest that I really loved Pistorius, so I was totally thrown off by his being charged with murdering his girlfriend. Did not see that one coming at all. I loved Bolt too, even if he's pretty full of himself. Cockiness and all, he's an amazing athlete.

And if you haven't yet, go enter to win some Feetures socks here!

August 15, 2013

Feetures sock review and giveaway

Just when I thought blogging three days in a row would require effort equivalent to what it takes a young and slightly distracted person to graduate from college, here I am doing it. Turns out I was overthinking it.

So today I've got a review of Feetures socks and a giveaway for you!

Here's the takeaway about Feetures:

1. Comfortable + breathable
2. Tons of styles -- thick and thin, high and low
3. Loads of poppy colors 
4. Anatomical knee-high and ankle socks

Here's part of the sock selection at the Birmingham location of Alabama Outdoors. P.S. The brightest colors are on the other side, but my iphone (i.e. me) bungled that picture up.

Sizing: Because I'm a size 7, which is the lowest size in the size medium range (7-9.5), I tried some size mediums and size smalls to see which fit the best. 

And while they both functioned well, I would have to say that the socks run true to size and that if I purchased them again, I'd go with the manufacturer's sizing recommendation. Even though I wanted to second-guess the manufacturers, they nailed the sizing charts.

Socks: There is such a great range of products from Feetures, it's hard to know where to start. So I'm just going to go thin to thick and short to tall.

Elite Ultra Light No Show Tab

Size small, Elite Ultra Light No Show Tab (featuring Legos)

These are an anatomical fit and provide a great squeeze for your arches. This Elite line of socks has softness and stretch. They kind of remind me of the kind of comfy tights that you want to wear every day in the winter. Not the hotness of the tights, just the comfiness. Of course they have all the typical, no rubby seams business as well. This sock is for you if you like fitted, thin socks.

Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab

Size medium, Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab (featuring a pillow feather)

Just like the sock above, but with a little more cushion underfoot. These are for you if you're looking for an anatomical sock with extra arch squeeze PLUS cushion. And I personally love, love the no-show socks and the variety of colors they have for these no-show socks. Also, these Elite socks have worn the best of the ones I tried.

High Performance Ultra Light No Show Tab

This is how no show they are. 

What's the difference here? These aren't anatomical, but they give you a step more cushion than the Elite Light Cushion socks. Instead of the comfy tight feel, these have a more cotton-y feel, but they still maintain all the wicking capabilities you would expect from a running sock.

High Performance Light Cushion No Show Tab

Size medium, High Performance Light Cushion No Show Tab (featuring smiley cards)

These have the same feel as the socks above with more cushion in the high-impact areas. Plus both of these socks in the high performance sector have a mesh segment along the top for extra ventilation. So do you see how you can get any and every sock you could imagine from Feetures? I got all the no-tab versions, but they have these same choices with different lengths (low cut, quarter, crew) as well.

Elite Compression Light Cushion Knee High

Size medium, Elite Compression Light Cushion Knee High

These have the same feel as the other Elite socks above combined with the thickness that I felt in the High Performance socks. These have graduated compression, and are the most compression-y (not a word, but I know you get it) socks of any I own. Because they are so effective at their job of compressing, they can be difficult to get on, but once they are in place, you get fantastic graduated compression with anatomical fit in a cool-feeling sock. Plus, they are a great length, not too tall and not too short.

Lifetime guarantee: So these socks are not the cheapest. From $10.99 for the High Performance model to $50 for the knee-high Elites, you are making a solid investment. But they also have this-here lifetime guarantee. I don't even know how it's possible because don't all socks eventually fall apart, but it clearly says it on every box. And I believe the box. So there you have it.

The Feetures company is based in North Carolina -- three cheers for more cool stuff coming out of the South!

Now for the giveaway (did you skip to this part?!). Here's what Feetures is offering one of you guys: your choice of three pairs of socks (excluding the Compression and PF Sleeve).

To enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook (for the people who have blog commenting problems) telling me that you want to win. 

For bonus entries: These are completely optional! But if you do them, make sure to leave a separate comment for each so I can count them all.

* Like Feetures on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Like (or already like) Yo Momma Runs on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow Feetures on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow (or already follow) Yo Momma Runs on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Share this giveaway via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog. Leave a separate comment for each share!

Enter up until Friday, August 23rd, at midnight. That gives me the whole first week of back-to-school-ness before I pick a winner (via Good luck to all of you, and thank you again to Feetures for sponsoring this giveaway! And remember, with the lifetime guarantee, you are winning three pairs of socks that you will be wearing for a scary long time. 

August 14, 2013

Which training plan will get you the fastest marathon time?

Recently I received an email asking me about which training plans I used with which races/results. I think the point of the question is to figure out the answer to the title of this post: which training plan will get you the fastest marathon time?

On the overall scale of things, I got faster with more time and experience, but there were a few hiccups in there due to intestinal non-fortitude (my personal worst time at Rocket City) and weather (Nashville, why does it always have to be you?). Each training plan has its benefits and drawbacks. Right now I'm training with a coach, who is obviously much better with giving feedback and advice than any Excel file. He even ran with me to help me set a new half marathon PR, and that's not happening when you get your plans from a book or online. If you have a minute, check out this blog post that one of his other students wrote. At the end is my coach's advice. Gotta love the tough talk. 

I didn't include trail runs in my timeline because it's just not as easy of a comparison as road racing. Even though you can have hilly courses and some headwind during a road race, you will not likely have to hike, with arms pulling as much weight as your legs, for miles. All of the terrain changes make it really hard to make any across-the-board comparisons with trail racing, unless you're comparing the same course from one year to the next. 

Sidetracked much. 

Back to the point of this post.

My marathon/training plan timeline

11-5-11: Hal Higdon's Intermediate training plan. Savannah Marathon, 4:03. Plan was easy to follow and free. My legs cramped a lot during the race! More 20+-mile runs would have given me more confidence for race day. 

1-22-12: Hansons Marathon Method. Ocala Marathon, 4:01. Longest runs are 16 miles on tired legs. Legs recovered faster and didn't feel as fatigued during the race.

2-19-12: Hansons Marathon Method. IMS Arizona Marathon, 3:46. Great weather combined with a lot of downhill during the race. Tried running through water stops for the first time, and that saved a lot of time.

4-28-12: Hansons Marathon Method. Nashville RNR Marathon, 4:06. Brutally hot weather. Hilly course. Not a good day of running. Ready to take a running break for the season.

11-3-12: Run Less, Run Faster. Savannah Marathon, 3:40:02. It hurts to remember those two measly seconds that kept me from qualifying for Boston. Check out the race report because at least a few laughs came from that day (in between crying into my pillow). This training plan gave me a lot of confidence because of its very specific plan for various time goals, and with only three running days a week, I never got injured.

12-8-12: Run Less, Run Faster. Rocket City Marathon, 4:37. Going for BQ and instead had a big bust. Intestinal problems from carb loading with too many bagels made this race a no-go. Soon after this, I decided to take wheat, dairy, and processed sugar out of my diet.

2-9-13: Resolute Running with Coach Alex. Mississippi River Marathon, 3:40:12. Missed BQing again by 12 seconds even though I felt like I ran stronger than at Savannah. Course was long and headwind was strong.

2-17-13: Resolute Running with Coach Alex. Mercedes Marathon, 3:34:42. I was going to use this as a training run but ended up deciding to race when I couldn't get over the disappointment from the last race. Turns out that I respond well to hometown races. My training at the time was targeted at running slower for my 50K, but the killer group speedwork sessions did their job too.

And what about now? I'm continuing to train with Resolute Running, but I'm not sure if I'm going to shoot for a marathon PR again anytime soon. I'm pacing a friend in my next race (Savannah Marathon again), and I've pretty much decided to have fun at Boston if I'm able to get registered (not sure how hard it will be with all the folks returning from last year). I don't want worrying about splits to ruin my experience there because most likely, because of the expense of travel and planning it around family time, I won't be going back again anytime soon even if I do BQ again.

Right now, I'm really most interested in hitting new distances with trail running. The 50K is still a huge challenge, and a little voice on my shoulder keeps chirping about a 50 miler. And it's so tempting to try and go for it, but at the same time, I just don't know if I can dedicate that kind of trail time to it.

And complete side note, I have to gush about how much I love the members of our Life Time run club. When we pulled up to the gym tonight to start run club, the rain started to pitter patter, and we dodged lightning bolts on our way to the front door. Instead of calling it quits for the night, these bad mothers (and fathers, and neithers) took their buns up to the treadmills and worked them over. In a pretty massive club, we filled up ever single treadmill.

You know how some people run their butts off -- looks like the runner on the right ran his legs off.

They're so fast that every picture I have of them is a blur.

Excuse me, Mr. Blur, may I jot down your total mileage so we can win a contest?

As I've mentioned (a lot lately), we have until Labor Day to try and get more mileage than another Life Time club in another state, or we have to run in our boxers. You do not want to see me in the raggedy boxers around this piece, so I really want to win this contest. Although someone tonight told me they thought it would be more fun to lose and have a boxer run.

Would you love or hate a boxer run? It would be totally fine if I had cooler boxers to wear. Is it too disgusting to buy those at the thrift store?

Which training plan did you use for your fastest marathon/half/other distance? Would you use it again? 

Do you ever run in lightning? I have before but don't recommend it. I actually sometimes love running in the rain (minus lightning) but not if it's a really cold rain. It took me a while to get over the wet feet thing, but without that, rain running could be a small step away from glorious. 

August 13, 2013

Shabby Apple dress review (and this week's best running song)

Today's post is brought to you by the vintage goodness of Shabby Apple. If you haven't heard of Shabby Apple, it's a site full of vintage-inspired clothes -- think dresses, jackets, pants, tops and swimsuits. Although the clothes are inspired by the old school, they're new, so you don't have to worry about someone else's underarm stains. Am I right, or am I right?

Packaging when Shabby Apple comes to your mailbox.

Another cool aspect of Shabby Apple is that they donate 5% of their net profits to help microfinance institutions in 31 countries around the world. 

Sending a little help with each purchase.

I ordered the Snapdragon vintage shirt dress (50% off now), mostly because every time I saw the print, I felt happy about summer because of the birds. Put a bird on it! If you haven't seen that Portlandia sketch, check it out here, and if you don't laugh, we aren't friends anymore. 

Garmin and extra hair ties to properly accessorize.

Turns out it is a great summer dress because it's light and airy (but not see-through!), and the first time I wore it, people kept asking me if it was for-real vintage. No, but it's a great fake.

Also, remember how my sister had the best wedding ever in her yard this summer in Los Angeles, CA? 

Rebecca and Lisa

Well, I packed this dress tight in my cross-country-trip suitcase, and once I took it out, I never touched it with an iron. So what you see below is what happens when this fabric is folded tight and then thrown onto your body a few minutes before a wedding.

Pretty good, right?! The cotton is not super-wrinkly, and I consider that a huge bonus. 

My only complaint is that it doesn't accentuate my small-chestedness. I have lots of clothes that don't seem to mind that I still shop for bras in the pre-teen section, but this dress is cut for someone with a little more fluff in the chest region. 

Normally I would order a small, but I decided to order an x-small because I knew the dress was high waisted and wouldn't have to fit over my bottom that is usually a bigger size than my top. I'm glad that I ordered the smaller size.

And now for that promised ...

dun, dun, dun
Favorite Runner Song of the Week 

I cannot get enough of Safe and Sound by Capital Cities. For me, it puts happy and free into a bottle and makes me drink it.

Bonus song

And one you might not hear on the radio every couple of minutes (unlike the one above) is Alive by Empire of the Sun.

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me if they filmed that video in Bryce Canyon. OK, fine, I'll google it, but I'm betting that it's Bryce because I was just hanging with those hoodoos a couple of weeks ago.

Do you iron or steam clothes, or neither? We steam most things, but we have a back-up iron for dress shirts and sewing projects. And my favorite thing is when I catch things in the dryer soon enough to not require either, but that's a rare occasion around here with the washing machine in the garage.

Have you ever heard of hoodoos? Our Bryce Canyon visit this summer was my first time. Before last month, I didn't even know that it was a real word.

Any special prints or colors that make you happier in the summertime? I keep trying to find running tanks, like this one that I love (triple exclamation point), in bright blue. So I guess that's my happy color this summer.

Shabby Apple provided the dress for this review. They did not compensate me otherwise, and all thoughts and opinions and (no) boob jokes are my own. 

August 8, 2013

How I drill toenails (and other revolting photo evidence)

Warning: you might want to look away now if toenail problems make you gag.

I thought I had toenails on lock for this summer, meaning that I would have them for the first time in a couple of running years. Until that blasted Choccolocco 50K and the water-retaining trail shoes I wore that day. That was the beginning of the end of six of my toenails. The worst offender was the big toe on my left foot. It continued to throb a couple of days after the race, when the other toenails had gotten back to just turning black but halted their throbbing.

The throbbing equals pressure, caused by fluid (like blood and pus) build-up behind the nail. When the fluid has nowhere to go, you will be in pain, which is your body's way of telling you that something needs to be fixed.

Disclaimer: you can totally go to a doctor to have them drill your toenail in a sanitary environment, and this is just my own experience that you do not need to follow. Disclaimer over.

So here's what I did when my toe was in need:

1. Pick out a sharp instrument for drilling. I used a sharp kitchen knife. I've heard suggestions for using drills or needles, but I like the knife because I completely control the movement (unlike the drill) and I don't need to hammer anything. I read about people hammering needles, and that sounded horrific.

2. Sanitize everything. I used rubbing alcohol to sanitize my toe and the knife. Also, if my toenail is loose, I will lift it up and pour rubbing alcohol in. So far, the rubbing alcohol hasn't caused any additional pain, but I'm not sure that it wouldn't in all situations.

3. Pick your mark and drill. I tend to choose a lower spot on the toenail with the assumption that I will be able to release more pressure the lower I go because there's already an escape route at the top of my toenail. As far as the drilling goes, I just place the tip of the knife on the toenail and slowly rotate it in one spot, drilling deeper and deeper with each rotation. 

The first time I did this, I was terrified that it would cause even more pain so I made sure to keep the drilling nice and slow, and it honestly didn't hurt at all. Using a drill would obviously be faster, but I've never experimented with it and don't really plan to because I like this slow-as-dial-up-internet method. You will know immediately when you've gone deep enough because pus will start to seep out. Usually it takes me a total of a few minutes to complete the process.

One, two, three, and you're done. Each time I've done this, it immediately alleviates the pain. If you continue to have pain, redness, and swelling, go see your doctor because you have bigger problems.

Drilling complete.

Also, be prepared for the toenail to continue draining any time you apply pressure to the toe. So if you go to yoga class right after drilling, take a towel. Just throwing out there the things you never wanted to hear. On to good news, once your toe is done draining and the pain is gone, you will be left with a blackish, brownish toenail that is ready to be camouflaged with toenail polish -- so you can get back to blending in with suburbia. 

To see a much uglier version of what an ultramarathon can do to you, go here. Bonus, that link is also funny.