Saturday, February 23, 2013

Running in the rain

This morning I awoke to the sound of drizzle. By 11:00 it was more like light drizzle so I decided to head to the park for my long run. Drizzle be damned.

There weren’t many people in the park. Can’t imagine why. After some stretching and a short warm up run, I headed to the trail. I was dressed in lightweight running tights under semi-waterproof track pants, a long sleeve shirt, my spiffy new Brooks jacket and a fleece headband that covers my ears. Ten minutes into the run I was still cold and worried I was under dressed for the 35 degree temperature. 20 minutes into the run I was sweating and actually thankful for the on-again, off-again drizzle.

At the eight-mile point, I felt a side stitch coming on. I tried breathing deeper. I tried exhaling when my left foot hit the ground. I tried to pretend I was blowing out birthday candles. Nothing was working. Then I tried something that a friend had suggested. I sucked in my ribcage and held it for a few seconds. It hurt like crazy at first, but magically the stitch was gone. Yay!

At nine miles, the drizzle changed to rain. I kept running.

At ten miles my feet were beginning to hurt and my knees were a little rubbery. At this point I had run the entire park twice and just had a mile and a half to go to get back to where I had parked. I kept running.

At 11 miles every muscle in my body was tired and begging for rest. The spot where the trail met the parking lot was just a little farther. I decided I would try to make it to the end of the trail, but at 11.13 miles it was time to stop so I slowed down and started walking.

When I got to my car I stretched and gulped down a bottle of water. My legs were tired, my feet were sore, my clothes and hair were wet, but I’d done it. 11.1 miles - a new time and distance PR.

11.13 miles, 1:45:57 minutes, 9:31 pace

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Enough winter!

All work and no play. And some really cold weather outside. We had a light dusting of snow followed by some ice on Monday and it’s still here. Just taking my dog for his daily walks has been tricky. The wind is so cold it freezes my contacts to my eyeballs. Not fun.

An upcoming deadline at work has lead to some very long hours, but I did manage to get a short 3.5 mile treadmill run in yesterday. I was able to maintain 7 miles per hour with a 1 percent incline for 5 minutes. That’s pretty good for me. I usually run between 6.5 and 6.8 mph and then adjust the incline from 2 to 4 percent.

I’m hoping to run some faster 5K races this year. I tend to run a fast first mile, slow down a little for the second, and then run a slightly faster third mile. Somehow I have pick up the pace for mile two. I’m not even aware that I slow down, but my Garmin doesn’t lie.

If the weather cooperates, I’ll be heading to Otsiningo Park on Saturday to try to beat my 10.1 mile distance from last week. I don’t like that I’m only doing one short run and one long run a week, but there’s not much I can do about it at the moment.

Next week I need to send in my registration form for a 4-mile race that is coming up in March. It’s a race for police, fire, EMT types and anyone else who wishes to run. Lots of big strapping men. Woohoo!

3.5 miles, 33:12 minutes, 9:29 pace

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Decent Distance Run

Thursday I managed to get in a 5.97 mile run. I know, just a few more steps and I would have had 6 miles. But it doesn’t work like that. I usually pick a stopping point and then hit the button my watch. I have no idea what my total distance is until I stop and look at the watch.

Friday I had to work late and the sun was already going down.

Saturday I decided to head to Otsiningo Park for my long run. Unfortunately, I had to drive there. I don’t like the idea of driving to someplace to go for a run, but there’s no safe way to run to the park. So I drove. I wanted to run at least eight miles. There are trails all over the park and if I do enough loops, I can easily rack up some distance. It was cold, but not too bad. I had three layers on, but had left my gloves at home. My hands were very cold for the first mile, but sweating by mile two. At mile eight, my legs felt fine so I decided to push for nine. At exactly the nine mile point, I got a terrible side stitch. I have been plagued by these things since I was a teenager. I tried to breathe deep and change my stride, but nothing worked. Eventually I stopped and stretched and the pain went away. I was about a mile from where I had parked and decided to run the rest of the way. When the side stitch returned, I took that as a sign that I should stop. My total mileage was 10.1. Woohoo! A new distance record. The longest I had ever run was 8.2.

The park is a really nice place for running. There were a few other runners, some walkers, one cold looking bicycler, and lots of pretty dogs to look at. I will probably make this my long run course until I get totally bored with it. The only problem is a lack of hills so I will have to do my cemetery run, which is nothing but steep hills, to keep my hill muscles in shape.

When I got home, I downloaded the data from my watch. I hadn’t been trying to run fast at all, just a leisurely pace. I was happy to see that I had run a very good time for the first three miles and had an average pace of 9:29 for the entire course.

I am signed up to run a half marathon in May. Due to the snow and cold weather, I am way behind in my training. Or so I thought. Yesterday’s run has given me a huge boost of confidence. Not only should I be ready for May, but I might actually run the entire 13.1 miles with a decent time.

I have read that most runners can run farther than they think. I guess it’s true.

Thursday -
5.97 miles, 58:00 minutes, 9:43 pace
Saturday -
10.18 miles, 1:36:27 minutes, 9:29 pace

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Shoes

Last night after work I headed to my local Sears to see what kind of running shoes they had. I was hoping to find a pair of Avias because they are cheap and because I have run hundreds of miles in Avias without injury.

There were several decent looking Avia running shoes for under $35. I tried on the pair I liked the best. Too tight in the toes. I tried on a different style. Too high in the arch. I then tried on a very girly looking pink striped pair. Too narrow and too heavy. They claimed to be running shoes. They felt more like trail shoes. I guess Avia has changed their design, and not for the better.

New Balance 750 running shoes.
I then moved on to the Asics line which ran between $45 and $85. Nope. Didn’t like any of them. I’ve never liked the fit of Asics. Reebok -- too much plastic. They look like little kid shoes. Nike -- too expensive for what they are and nothing in my size. That left New Balance. The one pair I liked felt funny over the toes. I walked around in them for a few minutes, then put them back. It was beginning to look like I’d have to go shoe shopping elsewhere. Then I decided to try on these flimsy looking black and pink NBers. This shoe was so light it was like a ballet slipper. Not that I’ve ever held a ballet slipper. I found my size and tried them on. OMG. What a comfortable shoe! When no one was looking, I hopped around and squatted down to bend the toes and put the shoes through a workout. Had it not been for my sore calf muscle, I might have done a quick jog around the store. The place was dead. The price tag was $44. That was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I had a 15% off coupon. And these shoes fit perfect. Half my running wardrobe is already bright pink so what’s a little more? The final cost, after tax, was $39.

When I got home, I looked the shoes up on-line. Most people gave them favorable reviews. Only a few people said they were the worst shoe ever. And New Balance shoes are made in the USA. I can’t believe I didn’t know that. I hate buying products made by third world slave labor (Nike). I’m all for people having jobs, but not at 20 cents an hour so the CEOs at the top (Nike) can get richer and the consumers can pay outrageous prices.

Hopefully I can take the shoes out for a short run later today. Not sure why, but there’s something exciting about trying out new running shoes.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Pretty, but painful.

Yesterday afternoon I headed out for a leisurely run in my spiffy new Mizunos. It was 36 degrees and sunny for a change. I was hoping to do at least six miles in this cemetery where I like to run. No traffic, very few people, and I can listen to music without getting run over. When I got to the cemetery, I discovered that it had not been plowed. What? So there went my running plans. I then decided I would just run around the streets. It was Sunday and there wasn’t much traffic. I’d just have to be aware of cars backing out of driveways and run against the flow. Not as much fun as the cemetery, but better than cutting the run short.

Three point two miles into the detoured run, I felt a tightening in my left calf muscle. I slowed down, but the tightening got worse. Then it was too painful to take another step. I hobbled onto the sidewalk and tried to stretch out the muscle. That helped a little so I tried to run again. No way. The pain was too much. At this point, I was about a mile and a half from home. I started walking, slowly, hoping that might loosen up the muscle. Nope. Every step was painful. My calf muscle was a total knot. A mile from home, I considered calling my husband to come get me. I always have my cell phone with me. I walked a little farther to this park with benches and sat down. Why was my leg doing this to me? I hadn’t run very hard in the race on Saturday and I was running at a very relaxed pace today. I should be able to do six or seven miles with no problem. What was different?

I looked down at my shoes. The Mizunos! This was the fourth time I’d worn them outside. And every time I’ve worn them, something has hurt either during or after the run. Not so bad that I couldn’t keep running, but enough for me to have sore muscles the next day.

I bought the Mizunos after finding out I overpronate (ankle rolls inward) when I run. It sounded bad, so I bought some motion control shoes, the Mizunos, to correct my pronation. After hobbling the rest of the way home yesterday, I did some research on the internet to see what went wrong on my run. It is indeed the shoes. My pretty new shoes. They are pulling my heel down which is stretching my calf in a bad way.

I’ve been running for just under a year and my first shoes were neutral shoes, like most average running shoes are. All my running muscles are used to these shoes. Switching to the motion control shoes was not a good idea. I wasn’t having any real problems running, an occasional sore knee or hip, but for the most part, I was pain-free. I guess I thought fancier, more expensive shoes would make me run better and faster. I know better than this. I’ve always bought what feels comfortable, not what’s flashy and heavily advertised.

And overpronating is not necessarily a bad thing. Most runners overpronate to some extent. Everyone runs differently depending on leg length, ankle strength, arch height, foot size, etc. Shoemakers are out to sell shoes and they are going to do everything they can to get you to buy some expensive ones.

The evil Mizunos still look brand new and I have up to 90 days to return them. I’m going to wash the soles and ship the things back. Then I’m going to my local Sears after work to find a nice comfortable pair of Avias or maybe New Balances. They aren’t flashy, and they don’t have a cool name like Mizuno, but I can run in them without having to hobble home. I’ve also had good luck with Saucony, but the soles wear fast for the price.

Lesson learned and my overpronating calf muscle will be back to normal in a day or two.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My First Medal

Saturday morning I awoke to about 6 inches of snow. My husband plowed while I shoveled what he couldn’t plow.  By noon I was tired and hungry. I had just enough time for a quick lunch, then get ready for the race which had been moved to 2:00 due to the snow. My running attire included two running shirts, my very heavy hoodie sweatshirt, and my Cupid’s Chase “Unavailable” shirt over everything. On the bottom half I had my heavyweight tights, red wind pants, and two pairs of socks. I packed a winter hat, an ear warmer, a balaclava face mask and gloves. Ready to run.

When I got to the park where the race was being held, there were only a few people. I parked and got out of my car and was greeted by a blast of bitter cold wind. This park can be very windy. I decided to go with the balaclava facemask and tightened up the hoodie. I jogged over to the registration tent and found all the runners. They were trying to stay warm in the tent. There were too many people in the tent for me so I stayed warm by running around in the freezing cold. Finally it was race time.

I estimated there were about 80 brave runners. I took my spot just behind the front runners. I usually run a fast first mile, then slow down and find a comfortable pace for the rest of the race. On your mark, get set, go!

I'm number 146 in the red pants with four layers
of shirts on. It was cold!
The main roads and trails had been cleared before the race, but the brutal wind was blowing snow back across the trail. (I later found out it was only 13 degrees with a wind chill of 3.) I ran the first mile in 8:21. That’s about average for me. Mile two was on the trail which runs along the Susquehanna River. Mile two was very blowy and snowy and there were spots where the trail was only wide enough for one person. This made passing very risky. The purple-shoe girl in front on me was running at a pretty good pace so I just matched her stride and enjoyed the race. Mile three was mostly clear except for a few spots where there was some deep snow and it was almost impossible to run. The pace alert on my GPS watch went off several times. I have it set to go off if I slow down to a 10 minute mile pace. Then finally the finish was in sight and the race clock said 27:20. I was still running just behind the purple-shoe girl and normally I would have switched into high gear and given the race everything I had left, but something in my head said not to push it. The trail was clear and I had room, but I stayed where I was and finished a few seconds behind purple-shoe. My time was 28:06. Not bad considering the course.

Someone handed me a bottle of water and I started walking back to the tent for the awards ceremony. As I looked back at the finish, I saw lots of runners still coming in. I mean lots. Was I really that far ahead of everyone?

The run had made me hot and sweaty, but within a few minutes, I was cold. Inside the tent there were heaters, coffee and hot chocolate and the usual yogurt and bagels. I stood near a heater and waited for the last runners to finish. The tent started to get fuller and fuller. Not a fan of big crowds, I made sure I had an escape plan should something catch on fire or should I just need to get out in a hurry. Finally it was awards time.

My first running medal!
The winner ran the race in 19:40something. He’s a really nice guy named Ryan. I’ve met him before at races. The overall male and female got a trophy and a bottle of wine. There were medals for the first place runners in each age category. Purple-shoe girl won for her age category and I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, if she was first for her age, I should be first for mine.” Guess what? I was! My name was announced for females age 45-49. Woohoo! My first medal. After the awards, there were raffles. I usually don’t care about raffles because it’s usually stuff I don’t want, but my name was called for a raffle too. More stuff! And it turned out to be good stuff. Gift certificates for an oil change, car repair, and pizza. Stuff I can actually use. The gift certificates made up for the $35 entry fee. I congratulated Ryan on his win and then left the crowded tent.

It was a good race. The spectators for this race were fantastic. There were lots of them standing in the bitter cold and they were all cheering and holding signs of encouragement. One had a sign that said, “Don’t Fall Down!” Excellent advice.

It was a cold race, very cold, but I was bundled up and I’m glad I ran it. The snow on the course added a nice challenge to the run. Sometimes you need a challenge to make you appreciate the easier things in life.

A few hours later the results were on-line. I scanned the list and totally missed my name the first time. Then I went back up the list and there I was at number 32. 32 out of 107 runners. I really was that far ahead of everyone. I now wish I had pushed myself at the end, but my head often knows more than I do. Would I have slipped and fallen? Don’t Fall Down!Would I have twisted a knee or an ankle trying to pass purple-shoe? Don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. I did good and I have a medal to prove it.

3.1 miles, 28:06 minutes, 8:58 pace

Friday, February 8, 2013

Here Comes Nemo

Awaiting the arrival of winter storm Nemo. Since when did we start naming snowstorms? So far not even a flurry, but it’s on its way. Hopefully my area won’t get hit too hard. It looks like the New England states are going to get the worst of it. I’m not a big fan of snow. Or cold. Or winter.

Looks like I'll need my "snow shoes" for tomorrow's race.
Just got an email that the Cupid’s Chase race time has been moved from 10:00 to 2:00. New York City and most of the New Jersey cities have moved their race to the 23rd. Looks like I get to run in the snow. Last year I bought a pair of Avia 5638 Gel Ryd running shoes because they were on sale and bright pink. I like bright pink. They weigh a little more than an average running shoe, but they are excellent for cold weather because they have very little mesh for cold air to slither through. Running shoes are supposed to keep your feet cool, not warm. In the very last January Freeze 10K race that I ran in, where it was 8 degrees, a lot of runners were complaining about frozen feet. Not me! Two pairs of socks and my feet were fine. Until I stop running. Then everything was cold.

Good number. I like even numbers.
I picked up my race number and goodie bag yesterday. Nothing too exciting in the goodie bag. Another cheapo plastic water bottle to add to the collection. My shirt for this race will be advertising that I am “unavailable.” It’s a cupid race and I guess some runners will be looking for love. Sorry, guys. I’m taken. Single runners or those "looking" could chose an "available" shirt which is red with white letters. Not sure anyone will even be seeing my shirt. Tomorrow’s high is listed as 18 degrees. I’m going to need at least two layers of shirts and some kind of jacket. I'm hoping to wear my spiffy new Brooks jacket. I’ll bring the cupid shirt along and see what everyone else is doing. I ordered size medium, but it’s a big looking medium. It should fit over two layers of running shirts.

That's me - unavailable.
With 6 to 10 inches of snow on the ground, my running strategy will be to just run and not fall down. This race is being run mostly on park trails and I doubt anyone will be out snow blowing the trails. It would be nice to bring home a silly little plastic trophy, but not at the risk of injury.

Slow and steady will be the only way to run this race. Can't wait!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Snowstorm Coming, Maybe

My snazzy new Mizuno Nexus 6 - so far,
nothing special.
I guess there’s a big snowstorm headed this way. This could really screw up the Cupid’s Chase race on Saturday. If the race is going to be postponed, an announcement won’t be made until late Friday. Stupid snowstorm. And having a big race in February isn’t the smartest idea in the world. But I get it. It’s supposed to coincide with Valentine’s Day and all that. If you live in Texas, it’s great. If you live in New York, you’re taking your chances.

I did a practice 5K run on Tuesday. Well, 3.7 miles, but I pushed myself at race pace for 3.1 miles. Then Wednesday it was nice out, sunny anyway, still cold, and I did a more leisurely 3.7 mile run. I ran in completely different places, but my distance was almost exactly the same. Not sure how that happened.

I wore my new Mizuno Nexus 6 running shoes. Got them in an after-Christmas sale. I was very excited when they arrived because these are my first "real" running shoes, but can't say they are any better than my cheaper Saucony and Avia shoes. Maybe they will last longer. I only have about 20 miles on them so far. The Sauconys wore out around 200 miles. That sounds like a lot of miles, but it isn't really.

After work today, I have to go into the big city and pick up my race packet for Saturday’s race. Not looking forward to driving in the dark because I have terrible night vision, but I’ll make it.

Tuesday -
3.72 miles, 33:29 minutes, 9:00 pace

3.73 miles, 35:00 minutes, 9:22 pace

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Sunday Run

Carrousel that I run by at least twice on my way to the park.
Managed to get in a 4.2 mile run on Sunday. Very cold, of course. It’s February. I was trying for negative splits – last miles faster then the first miles, but that didn’t happen. I just ran them all slow. I lose 5 to 10 seconds on every mile no matter what I try. I did do a decent sprint through the park. I haven’t been able to do any speed runs due to ice, but the park road was clear and dry and my muscles were warmed up so I took off. It felt good until I go to the end of the road. Then all the air was suddenly sucked out of the universe and I had to learn how to breathe again. Cold air in my lungs is a killer. It starts out cold, then suddenly my chest is on fire. And then it goes away and all is well with the world.

Watched the Super Bowl. I’m not a football fan, but I always watch the Super Bowl. I usually don’t even know who’s playing until an hour or two before kickoff. I like how “over the top” it all gets. Like this game is the most important thing in the entire world. $950 for the cheap seats. That is totally insane. But it was a good game. Ravens and 49ers. Ravens won.

Really looking forward to the Cupid’s Chase run this Saturday. It’s been awhile since I’ve run a 5K race. There’s going to be a lot going on – music, DJ, some news celebrity, Zumba lessons. I’m not really sure what Zumba is, but it sounds cool. And awards and trophies and food afterwards. After the 10K January Freeze races, someone supplied brownies and everyone flocked to them. I found that kind of funny. We all just burned up 600 to 700 calories and undid half the race in about 10 seconds with the consumption of a delicious brownie. But they were good!

Sunday’s Stats:

4.23 miles,  39:18 minutes, 9:17 pace

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cold Run

Bridge over the Susquehanna River that I ran across.
Finally got a run it. Wednesday it was 60 degrees, but raining. Thursday it was cold and snowing and winds gusting to 40 mph. Today it was 22 degrees, but the sun was out so I went for it. My goal was 6.5 miles and I managed 7.5 miles. Now my left calf muscle hurts, but I guess that’s part of the fun.

There were a lot of obstacles – stupid people, traffic, a flooded river walk, and some wind so my time wasn’t the greatest. Luckily I noticed the river walk was flooded before I went down the steps. That could have really ruined my run. For the last mile, the sun was setting and I was starting to get cold. I have a 15K race at the end of March that I need to be ready for.

I’m not quite there. If my left will let me, I'm going to try for 8 miles on Sunday. If not, I'll do my usual 4 mile boring run around the north side of the village.

7.54 miles, 1:13 minutes, 9:41 pace