My Holiday Gift Guide for Runners and Wackos Like Me

Is is too early to post a gift guide?  I hope not, because I can’t really post anything running-related.  My peroneal tendon has been throbbing like a mother all weekend (like looking at a smoke detector light, only instead of waiting for the blink every few seconds, it’s been like waiting for the throb/shot of pain to shoot from just inside my ankle bone.)

I have an appointment with my podiatrist on Thursday.  I really can’t take much more time off from running.  I am dying inside, and meanwhile, I am growing outside, putting on my winter layer of chub.  Boo.

So, today I bring you my first annual Holiday Gift Guide, with plenty of items for runners and a few odds and ends for the non-runners in your life!  Be warned:  like Sir Mix-a-Lot, this list is long, strong, and down to get the gift buying on!

(That was so lame.)

I sort of had a holiday gift post last year where I discussed my Xmas list items, including Tifosi sunglasses (love them!), Zensah compression  leg sleeves (love them too!) and the Handana (a fail for me…just couldn’t get used to it and felt like Michael Jackson wearing it…He-he!)  I’m ramping it up this year, though, and giving it the official “Gift Guide” title, so it feels like a first, and as the wise and much-loved-by-me Sade says…

it’s never as good as the first time.

Gifts for (Mostly Lady) Runners

Here are some fun items that you can buy for your favorite runner or put the word out for if you pound the pavement…

Lululemon Light as Air Hipster:  I have raved about these before.

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If you are going to be out there in the elements, don’t you deserve a brush of silk against your delicate regions?  Your totally tight ass and rock-hard glutes will thank you once they feel the caress of this fabric and realize that you actually spent (or got someone else to spend) $18 on a pair of underwear that doesn’t show panty lines.  True fact:  I wear these sometimes when I am couchathoning, and I think I’m worth it.  Also true fact: they are extremely fragile, so wash them in cold with other Lulu or polyester fabrics and air dry.  Some reviewers have said on the Lulu web pages that theirs didn’t last, but mine have and I believe Lulu would make it right if they fell apart (but maybe keep your receipt?).

Tested tip:  Buy a size up?  Some reviewers said they didn’t cover their butts enough.  I wear a M.  Also comes in a thong, Sisqo style.

Oiselle Lux Armwarmers:  I want a pair of these bad boys.

lux-arm-warmers-fp-f_1They look so cozy and, well, lux.  Any fabric described as “buttery soft” has me at hello.   The heather flame pink color is speaking to me, and I think it wants to replace my old Nike arm sleeves in boring black.  My pink arms will totally look like ladylike flames as I whir down the streets at a solid 9:30.

Oiselle Cable Knit Armwamers:  Yes, I realize I’m repeating, but these look hella comfortable too.  Plus, I like the way she is staring at her own hand like a pubescent teenage boy who just left his first long shower (omg, did I just type that?  Sorry not sorry!)

 

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Maybe it’s because it’s frigid outside with a wind chill of 7 right now, but I think I could wear these all winter.  They would be great for a Netflix binge in a chilly basement if I can’t get back to running soon.  They could keep my arms nice and toasty while I reach for more popcorn.

Athleta Fast Track Half Zip:  I love Athleta, but I never wear their pants.  They always ride down searching for a place of less resistance somewhere below my saddlebags.  Their casual clothing is the bomb, though (just scored my some of their Metro leggings in gray with their Merino wool Soma sweater and it will be totally worth the high price since I plan on wearing the outfit every damn day ’til it drives the kids to school on its own.)

I also dig their jackets and tops, and I am coveting this half zip.  The website describes it as a great base layer, but I don’t normally like half-zips as base layers.  I don’t like to feel a zipper pushed against my skin, so if I’m layering I will usually put something compression or just zipperless as my base with a half-zip over it.

I like the ruching on this jacket…makes me think it would hold down in place and keep drafts out.  Several reviewers just wore it for the NYC marathon (let me pause to dry my tears) and said it was great with the wind.

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Speaking of Athleta, they are offering this cute little Strobe Light for $10 online and in stores.  It’s made by Nathan, so you could probably find it in your local running store too (or something similar.)

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Wish I could buy a hundred and spell “Watch the f*%k out!” on my chest.

Brooks Nightlife Essential Running Jacket III: I have no idea if this is a good jacket or not.  I include it simply because the picture is irresistible…

220783_305_mf_ZM She loves the nightlife

She’s got to boogie on the disco round

Yeah

Please don’t talk about love tonight.

iTunes Gift a Song: Did you know that you can give someone an actual song from iTunes?  This applies to my high school sensibilities…I used to love making mix tapes, and I blab all the time about my running playlists!

When you are on iTunes, just click to the right of a song under the purchase price (the down arrow,) and it offers the option to gift the song.  You can send it to the person’s email on the day of purchase or a day of your choice, and you can even customize the appearance of the “card.”

I just sent myself a song to test it and make sure it works.  It’s perfect!  You could send someone a great Christmas song or some kickass running songs as gifts.  Want to know what I just bought myself?

Dim All the Lights by Donna Summer…yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oiselle Big O Yeti: This is my favorite.  Did I ever tell you about the time last year that my sister and I were goofing around in Forever 21 and found some full-body cow snuggies?  We went into the fitting room to try them on (and yes, we bought them) and were howling with laughter.  Hello comfort, goodbye self-esteem!  What made the whole scene funnier was that a few months later my hair stylist asked me if I had been in Forever 21 once laughing in the dressing room…she had been in there and heard me laughing and thought it sounded like me.  How embarrassing…and now I’ve shared it with the internet.

Anyhoo, this full-size Yeti French fleece snuggie is just what you or your loved one need after a long run in frigid temperatures!

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Yes, it’s a little pricey at $98, but did you just come in from your run looking like this?

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You need a Yeti in your life.  Or maybe a hairy Yeti man to cuddle with.  Whatever’s cheaper.

Vintage Stamped Spoon: This is a perfect stocking stuffer.

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It’s just $16 from the Etsy site hyperlinked above.  She offers a few variations too…check her out.

Unusual Gifts for the Crazy People in Your Life (i.e, those who don’t run)

Here are a few items that you aren’t going to find at your local department store…

Celebrity Prayer Candles from Illumidol: I saw this Etsy site in a Buzzfeed article and just had to check it out.  My order of Christmas gifts for my son, nephew and sister came today, and I am pleased with the quality.  My 14-year old nephew and major baller is getting a Kevin Durant candle, and I’m not telling which one I got for my sister because she reads this blog.

Here is my son’s candle (don’t hate me, Catholics!)–Notorious B.I.G.–

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I love it when you pray to me, Big Poppa

(I hope I’m not going to hell for that, but then again if I am it’s probably for other things that are way up on the list of sins before that statement!)

In fact, I would probably be headed to hell for buying this little number–

Atheist Stocking from Archie McPhee: I bought this to give at our family’s 2nd Annual Christmas Eve White Elephant gift exchange this year, but I told my sister about it last week and she mumbled something about it not being cool and not wanting her kids to see it.  I thought it was a funny joke, but she says it won’t be a hit gift, which of course is totally unacceptable.  Never fear, though, as I have an atheist friend with a Christmas birthday who shall be excited to unwrap this beauty!

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Personalized Dog Stocking: If I wasn’t wasting my money on celebrity prayer candles and atheist stockings, I would be wasting it on these adorable dog stockings.  This Etsy shop offers a ton of different bow colors…I include this pic because I would like to have a dog named Manchego (such a delightful cheese!)

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Bottle Koozy:  I really like everything on this gal’s Etsy site.  I have one of her coffee mug cozies that says “Wrong week to quit drinking.”  She offers a ton of mugs, mug cozies and bottle koozys…some clean, some nasty (she’s my kind of gal.)

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EOS Lip Balm Ball from Target:  I think I am late to this party, but I just bought one of these (in Summer Fruit) and am a total fangirl.  Big ball balm?  This couldn’t be more fun to apply!  I bought my boys each one in different colors so we all have our own balm ball (that’s just fun to say, but I won’t take it any further.)

Jane Austen action figure:  This last one is a personal fave; in fact, I’ve already bought it for myself, and I know one of my favorite bloggers would want one for her personal collection!

JaneAustenDo I take her out of the box or do I keep her in pristine condition like my mom does her Native American Barbies (I’m serious, my mom really does that and I tease her endlessly.)

I think I have to take her out…complete with her special P&P book.  I can speak Jane all day, mostly as Elizabeth Bennet…

He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal

Till this moment I never knew myself

My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me

and (I wish)…

Go to hell, Lydia, and grow a pair, Jane!

What’s on your Christmas list?  Any good gift ideas you’d like to share?  What song would you gift?

 

 

 

The Lady is a Tramp

Greetings from the tail end of a long weekend in Las Vegas with HH…

Quick post-trip thoughts?  I need structure in my life.  Discipline.  Routine.

Long recap?  What a fun few days…

We arrived on Thursday afternoon.  HH had made reservations at Sinatra (in the Wynn), knowing as he does that I grew up listening to Sinatra and would love the experience.

All Sinatra tunes…and what a meal!

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Sadly, much of the weekend revolved around ridiculous portion sizes and poor eating choices (and I won’t talk about the night we spent at the champagne bar drinking cheap Prosecco…it makes my head hurt just thinking about it.)

Poor choice (but at least split with my partner in crime)…

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Poorer choice (all for me and with a side of bacon for protein and blood sugar balance)…

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I would have taken some pics of me at the poker tables, but they frown on that.  Just picture me with a sour look on my face holding some substandard cards and you’re there…

We also went to see Daniel Tosh at the Mirage on Friday night.  Here I am ready for the show and fully aware that I will soon be laughing out loud while simultaneously cringing at the horror of it all (dude is funny!)…

What a horrible picture.  I think I was going for a wink?

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I had intended to attempt a second post-injury run, but two or three days after that first mile run last week, I felt a little pain in the heel and some shooting pain up the outside tendon on my leg (the tendon was where I always felt the pain that eventually turned into a fracture on the front of the tibia, as the tendon eventually pulled on the bone and cracked it.)  So I decided that all the standing and walking in Vegas would probably be enough of a stress and skipped all exercise in favor of more debauchery–though let’s be clear before you get the wrong impression that my prudish form of debauchery includes nothing more than a mild afternoon buzz and a slight Devil-may-care attitude with a face card and a poor kicker during a poker tournament.  In fact, my contacts went wonky on the second day, so I spend most of the weekend outfitted in a prepster J Crew boyfriend jean with a crew neck sweater and my Tiffany specs on…ROCKING the spinster librarian look in contrast to the constant parade of women working an awkward whore look in cheap slut shoes.

Vegas baby!  Since when did it become cool to look like a hooker?  I am confused.

I was thrilled that I had no more pain, even with all the standing and walking, and no, it was not because of the “medicinal effects” of alcohol.  I was really pain free!  Hooray!  I am ready to attempt a few spaced out miles this week and eager to attempt a return to the land of the physically fit, as I pretty much feel like a blob these days.

We did manage a day of golf on a links course over the weekend, and luckily it only took me three shots to get out of this HELLACIOUSLY STEEP bunker.  HH filmed it, because he is an ass, but I shall only show the picture and add that the flag was less than ten feet away but straight up a mountain…

bunkerLVAnd because I feel like I sound like a person with no moral compass (that’s what Vegas does to you), I want to share that my dog Oscar and I (Oscar the running coach) have officially passed the last hurdle and are now a PETS FOR LIFE THERAPY DOG TEAM!!!!!!!!!

This has been a long process in the making, and I couldn’t be more excited and proud of my big brown bear!  We’ve been through two rounds of obedience classes before starting this process and have passed two levels of evaluation for PFL.  Adding that to the work that any responsible dog owner puts in with socializing (I took Oscar everywhere as a puppy, which was hard work but somewhat easier in his first few months since we were still living in Switzerland), and it’s been a journey that I am very proud of!

We passed our final hurdle with our first supervised visit in a local rehab center, where we will now be visiting patients once a week.  Oscar was a bit timid about being petted, but was happy and loved seeing people and taking treats.  The smells, sounds, wheelchairs, etc.–it was lot to take in for a first trip, but he did really well.  Patients were amazed at how gentle he was about taking treats out of their hands without touching their fingers.  He was a good boy and did his full rotation of basic tricks!

My sweet boy…he wore his Halloween seersucker tie for the patients…

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Here we are pre visit and all nerves (and you can’t see his special tie!)…

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And a post visit pic, proudly wearing his scarf…

STARTED FROM BASIC OBEDIENCE NOW WE HERE (any Drake fans?)

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Happy running, and thanks for reading!  I am off to attempt post-vacation laundry and a detox yoga video!  Out with the bad, in with the good, right?

Tweaking Miles and Twerking Tails

Half marathon #2 of 3 is fast approaching, and I am so ready…ready to enjoy it and to run some real miles again.  I’ve never run two races like this close together (only two weeks apart), so I’ve been a little confused as to how to recover yet stay prepared for the next race. 

Basically, I’ve hated it.  I decided to follow Run Far Girl’s plan based on her experience last fall, which essentially called for a few days’ rest, then easy runs every other day until the next race.  I made one modification, subbing a 6-mile run for her 3-mile run last Saturday.  I just couldn’t bring myself not to do at least six miles.  I feel like it’s not enough running–like I’m losing what little edge I had–but yet I know I need to recover and take it easy so I’m refreshed for the next race.

My paces and energy have been fairly scattered.  My legs have felt pretty strong and like they’ve recovered quickly, but yet my energy has felt a little sluggish (“like a wet sponge!”) at times.  I tell myself, “It was only a half…suck it up!” and then keep plowing the road when I feel droopy, but I’ve also tried to listen to my body and not push myself to run too fast.  I am just trying to tread water until I can go out there and stink it up again! 🙂

I’ve been dragging an increasingly overheated dog on the last run or two, which hasn’t helped.

It’s all fun and games until I’m pulling him down the street…

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My only goal for this next race is to avoid what happened last time…I don’t ever want to experience that type of episode again.  I am going to take a salt packet before leaving the house like I did before last spring’s marathon, and I am going to get a better water bottle so that I can take my Nuun with me (it leaked last time and I had to leave it at the car.)  I also am going to start off slower, in case that was part of the problem and also since my legs probably aren’t as fresh.  I am trying not to set any time goals, although I will be pissed to come in anywhere over 1:55.

In other news this week, HH and I took the boys to see Mizzou (our undergrad) play Wichita State at Kauffman stadium the other night.  We got front-row seats, which really paid off when the KC Royals mascot, Slugger, decided to get a little fresh and entertain us with a little tail twerking.

Work it, Sluggerrr…anybody got some ones I can tuck into his waistband?

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Even better than his piece of tail was our close-up view of the great hot dog race…it was close, but the “wiener” was Mustard…”squirting” by Relish for the victory!  Ketchup “squeezed” out of the gate too slow and just couldn’t “Ketch-up!”

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Yes, I am laughing at my own lameness…pardon the buns puns!

As always, happy running, and to all those blogging friends who also are running races this weekend, good luck!

Why Don’t We Steal Away?

To Miami?  For four days?  Mid-February, when we’ll likely be close to slitting our wrists with the icicles that hang off the house, our nose, our cars, our very existence?

He threw out the idea several weeks ago, and since then it’s just looked better and better.

What, and leave all this?

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Yeah.  Not a problem.

Leave these little cuties?

ImageThey have been disgusting, wet stinky beasts for the past week.  See ya, pooches!

I do hate leaving our boys, but my in-laws will be staying with them at the house, so they will be fine.  Also, they’ve been out of school since Tuesday because of the snow, so we’ve had lots of close time.  I mean LOTS.  More than enough, really.  🙂

I’m really looking forward to my runs this weekend.  Outside in a tank and capris?  HEAVEN!  Especially considering that my 3-miler on Wednesday afternoon was an exercise in torture.  Ten inches of snow on the ground, slipping with every step, I cursed and slogged my way through and dreamed of runs on the beach.  Sun.  Sitting outside sipping on cocktails with HH.

So, stay warm, peeps, and be careful on those runs!  I shall post again late next week after our return.  Happy running, happy weekend, and hello Miami!

I don't always head to Miami in Februrary, but when i do i rub it in

The Good, the Bad and the Coronita, Plus Running Truths for Newbie Runners

Let’s sum up the weekend quickly.  Friday night involved dinner at our friends, a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity and a few too many of these…

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I didn’t win at cards, but when it came to next morning hangovers, I was the champ.  Those sneaky Coronitas left me feeling pretty pathetic on Saturday, so I scrapped my scheduled 3-miler.  I lounged on the couch instead and chilled with the family.  That was bad.  I felt like a loser (mainly because I was one.  Let’s call it like it is.)

The good part of Saturday?  My baby turned 12!  Here he is last night with his second birthday cake of the weekend (HH provides a lovely photobomb here.)

I love my new 12-year old!  And he loved his new Lego King’s Castle that you see on the counter…

ImageThat was the good…well, that and my 9-mile run yesterday morning.

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I needed to get out and have a good long run to finish my second week of training, and I did.  The wind was calm, so I was nice and comfy the whole way, though I did feel a little like Randy from A Christmas Story.  My splits got faster with each mile, and I had to hold myself back so I wouldn’t go under 9:15.  It felt wonderful, and I finished with no fatigue.  Yippee for me, and hooray for my new Garmin Forerunner 220 that I purchased with Christmas gift cards.  I needed this thing like Anthony Kiedis needs a shirt and a stylist!

Some things you just can’t unsee…

So. Damn. Bad.  I think you can skip the belt when you’re shirtless, dude.

And now I leave you with a short Monday list of Running Truths for Newbie Runners…self-evident to me, perhaps not to others.  Feel free to add contributions in the comments and/or to disagree.  This might become a regular segment.

If You Are a Beginning Runner:

Never do an out-and-back run with an untried distance or a big jump in mileage.  Having to quit or come up with a muscle strain/cramp/injury with a long walk home sucks.

Always stretch after runs.

Never get in a race on a treadmill with some random person next to you (I admit that I race with unaware strangers to this day, but I don’t recommend it for newbies!)

Never decide one day that you’re going to start running and set a marathon as your first race (see my previous bitchy post on this topic here.  And may I add that the lovely gal and fabulous blogger got sidelined with a common running injury during Jeff Galloway’s pathetic training program and couldn’t run for months.  No marathon for her.)

Always invest in decent running socks, and if you’re running beyond three miles a few times/week, get yourself a proper pair of running shoes (preferably with a treadmill analysis at a running store.)

Never underestimate the potential pain of bloody nipples.  If yours can cut glass when hard, tape them, men, please.  Every time I see bloody nipples, I die a little inside.  Please, think of me and have some compassion.  🙂

Never run in 100% cotton.  You don’t have to spend a lot, but get yourself some moisture-wicking gear.  Please.  Chafing is a friend to no one.

Never increase mileage more than 10% per week.  Did you just start running last week, got high on the endorphins and now you ran 4 miles three times already since Sunday (and it’s Thursday?)  Oh my God, you are so kickass…and when you come up lame here soon, let me know.  I will send you a sympathy card.  Seriously…start slow.  Don’t be afraid to start with a jog/walk regimen.  Build up the time on your feet, with at least 70% of your running time spent jogging at a comfortable slow pace.  I always put a few songs on my long run playlists that I can’t help but sing to…and I sing them under my breath to make sure that I am keeping my pace where it needs to be (and just to show you that I have no shame, I will list those songs at the end of this post.)  Your entire body–muscles, ligaments, tendons–needs to get used to the pounding of running.  It’s not just about willpower.  I want you to be a lifelong runner, so don’t get hurt or give yourself a chronic injury right off the bat.  Oh, and if you are one of those exceptional people who was born to run and can just take off like a fricking gazelle with no running background?  I hate you :-).  Mazel tov!

Always be thankful.  Every run is a gift.  A good run puts you closer to nature, closer to your pure sense of self.  Your heart, lungs, legs, everything working together, testing your mental and physical limits…it’s pure perfection, and so many would love to be doing what you’re doing.  Take a moment to appreciate it.

And finally…Always act promptly when a BM feels like it falls off a cliff into your lower bowels and then starts chug-chug-chugging through your colon.  Take it from an experienced (average, but experienced) runner…the time to act is now!  Just google “chocolate rain” if you have a strong stomach.

Happy running, readers!

Cheesy-ass songs I check my pace with because I can’t help but belt them out:  We Belong Together by Mariah Carey, Giving You the Best That I’ve Got by Anita Baker, Jukebox Hero by Foreigner, Forrest Gump by Frank Ocean, Love on Top by Beyonce, Solid by Ashford and Simpson, Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds, We’re in This Love Together by Al Jarreau, Takin’ It To the Streets by the Doobie Brothers, Baby-Baby-Baby by TLC.

Allow Myself to Introduce…Myself

Any Austin Powers fans out there?

I’ve been gone for so long…and I’m sorry.  Not that anyone’s been unable to go on without reading my special blend of running encouragement mixed with a healthy dose of swearing and negativity, but still…I apologize.

I’ve missed writing.  I’ve missed reading about my fellow runners/bloggers and their lives.  I’ve missed it all.  I just can’t quit you!

I mulled over several possible post titles in my head this morning, all of which happened to be song titles and have me singing–

Please forgive me cues Bryan Adams…

I know not what I do

Please forgive me

I can’t stop loving you (yuck!)

Baby I’m Back cues Akon…

Now I’m back in the flesh

Feeling so blessed

Back in your corner, suga suga don’t stress

Forget about the rest

Let’s go inside

I’m back in your zone, baby

Back in your vibe

Alive and Kicking cues Simple Minds…

You turn me on

You lift me up

Like the sweetest cup I’d share with you

You lift me up, don’t you ever stop, I’m here with you

And basically this kind of shit is the reason I can’t get anything done lately.

I’m all over the place.  I might have seasonal ADD, if there is such a thing.

December came and went in a flash.  We had the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tapdanced with Danny Fucking Kaye…complete as always with a family viewing of White Christmas.

My family White Elephant gift exchange was a big hit.  Gifts included a horse mask, cold hard cash, a picture of an astronaut sloth, a singing toilet snowman, a handpainted coffee mug, and my husband entering the room in a parody of Dick in a Box (no one wanted his gift but me!)  My gift was a cross stitch…I am horrifically UNcrafty, so my gift was truly a labor of love.  It read, “Your Awesome.”  HH battled it out with my sister and came up the proud winner.

I also spent many hours stitching a (still unfinished) gift for my sister…Jocking the Bitches and Slapping the Hos (any Boyz-N-The-Hood fans?)

I had another birthday…41!  It’s not the years, it’s the mileage, right?  Right.

We had a frozen water line…damn you Polar Vortex!

Our fridge went out and we spent over a month heading out to the one in the FREEZING garage while a very strange repair guy kept coming out trying to fix the old one (and engaging me in strange conversations about his dancing Border Collie and other random thoughts.)  After six weeks, we gave up and bought a balls-to-the-wall kickass new one, but not before said repair guy dropped one final gem.  He told me that he had discovered a pill that makes bugs explode but comes in a food grade that kills parasites in dogs.  He and his wife occasionally take it for more energy, and they recently gave it to their 4-year old daughter and later found clumps of worms in her diaper.

Yep, I’ve been busy living the dream, folks!

As for running?  Well, I pushed it aside for the holidays and only managed 1-2 runs/week, so any posts during that time would have been titled, “Run, Says the Sloth!”  I tried to run just enough to not lose my fitness.  After a few weeks of few running endorphins, but lots of peanut butter balls, cookies, and holiday vino, I headed out with my running coach Oscar (my dog) and had an exhilarating, mind-clearing, sanity-restoring 4-miler on my birthday…so fun that I posted on facebook my goal for a 1:50 half marathon sometime in 2014….

then I woke up the next morning with bursitis in my hip.

At first I thought it might be my IT band, just really high.  The pain was on my side, lower hip, not my glute but not far enough around to be my quad.  I applied my tried-and-true adaptation of the R.I.C.E.(W!) regimen…sitting on the couch with my ass and saddlebag hanging out on a pack of ice while nursing a medicinal glass of wine postdinner.   I tried to run again with Oscar two days later.  Same problem, and pain with every step throughout the day, especially on stairs.

So I rolled it.  Big mistake.  I made it angry.  Finally, I consulted Dr. Internet and realized that it was the start of bursitis, and instead of rolling out sore muscle tissue, I applied a significant (ahem!) amount of body weight on the bursa sac in my hip.

Oops!  My bad!

trochanteric hip bursitis

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Disclaimer:  My ass is not this ridiculously tight

hip bursitis

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Bursitis scares me.  It makes me think OLD, for some reason, maybe because it makes me think of bunions, which I know are totally unrelated.  Still, it just seems like an old person injury.

“Boys!  Bring me an icepack…my bursitis is killing me!”  See?

It also scares me because I know it’s one of those injuries that can quickly become chronic, and between you, me and the entire internet, I’ve got enough chronic pain with my plantar fasciitis (“Boys!  Bring me my frozen water bottle…my plantar fasciitis is killing me!”)

So I took a few more days off and tried to figure out what went wrong.  I knew that I’d pushed it with my lack of running, but please—after ten years of running, I know my running base and my injury inclinations, and my hips don’t get injured (they don’t lie either…wink!).

FINALLY I figured it out.  The problem was the waist leash I wear with Oscar!  I was wearing it too low across my hips…like an airplane seatbelt or this year’s Christmas cookies.  It was a trauma injury from where the belt smacked my side.

Adjustment made…now I wear it at belly level, where this year’s Christmas cookies also reside, but where there are no fluid-filled sacs.  Problem solved.  I also spent some extra time at the gym working on isolated hip strengthening exercises.

If you have bursitis or are trying to figure out hip issues and pain, here are a few great articles that I found helpful, including some exercises…and I found the single knee bend exercise to be very helpful and informative.

http://www.active.com/running/articles/5-common-hip-injuries-you-can-fix

http://www.rehab4runners.co.uk/running-injuries/hip-groin-pain/trochanteric-hip-bursitis/

http://getrunning.net/when-hip-bursitis-isnt-really-hip-bursitis

http://getrunning.net/this-simple-test-can-improve-your-running

http://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/1662/recovering-from-trochanteric-hip-bursitis

Now I’m 100% and one week into my training for my next racing goal–the Heartland 39.3 Challenge.  It’s three half marathons in five weeks.  The first race is Rock the Parkway on April 12th.

I’m on the fence between Hal Higdon’s Intermediate and Advanced Half Marathon programs.  I want to run the most that I can in order to feel prepared, but the Advanced program calls for 6 days/week of running, and the first long run was 90 minutes with the last 1/4 at goal race pace, and my buddy Hal said you should finish feeling refreshed, not fatigued.  Um, right.  I decided to run 6 miles slow and 2 at close to goal pace, which ended up being around 9:25 for the slow part and 8:45 for the last two miles (my legs were getting tired and I was running into hurricane-force winds.)  I ended up stopping at 1:16 and figure that’s good enough for Week One.  I also took the next day off because my legs felt like they needed it.  I’ll try to do the full 6-day program next week.

If you’ve stuck with this long post, thanks for reading and not giving up on this post or on me!  I am so glad to be back writing, and I’ve missed you!

What I’m running to:  Psylla by Glass Animals, Shake Your Body Down to the Ground by the Jacksons

Paper Planes!

M.I.A.–get it?  Weak, I know.  

This little labor of love has been on hiatus, much like my running.  The holiday season has been kicking my ass, what with shopping, crafting (I’ll show my results in a future post), hackers hacking, children studying for finals and whatnot.  I really have no excuse (other than that cross stitching is a time-consuming endeavor), but I must admit that I’ve been running just a few times a week.  

I even took a full week off from all exercise, which was an interesting little unplanned experiment.  I realized on Day 6 how much running keeps me centered when the nice old man at Costco asked me, “Where are your gloves, young lady?” and I had to resist the urge to say, “Up my ass–want to dig them out for me?”

I went running the next day and reclaimed my sanity.  Namaste, bitches!  And sorry, sweet old man!

I hope to be back to blogging and following the exploits of my blogging friends in the next few days.  Until then, wishing you all the best with your exercise and holiday preparations!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, dammit! 🙂

 

 

Tips for Hills: How to Let Your Freak Flag Fly

I am barely recovered from hosting Thanksgiving…barely.

Is that a carrot in your cavity, or are you just happy to see me?

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Still, there’s no time to rest on the laurels of a food-poisoning-free holiday.  There are errands to run–

Grande nonfat Peppermint Mocha, no whip, just two pumps of syrup…

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and cards to send–

Santacard

There are Mizzou games to attend this weekend in Atlanta (yes, we are going!)–

And (fortunately?) there are runs to fit into the mix.

Do you plan your run routes to avoid hills?  I used to.  For years I felt like I was terrible on hills (and I was.)  Especially as a beginning runner–I felt my legs turn to stone the minute I hit the teeniest incline.  Any grade change was like giving Medusa the stink eye.  I sucked.

Rather than tackle the problem, I avoided it, planning most of my routes to be flat.  My performance on hills made me feel like a terrible runner, and I had enough confidence issues already!  So I would run largely flat routes and suffer occasional hills while berating myself for my lack of strength and ability.

As you might imagine, this strategy had its limitations, which became clear as I became a better runner (I will never be a superfast runner, but I’ve at least gotten better over the years and usually finish with times in the top 20% for women.)

For me, I’m not sure there’s anything worse than being in the middle of a decent race and then getting your ass kicked by other runners on hills.  Getting smoked during the last stretch by runners with a better finishing kick sucks too, but I think getting beat on hills is the ultimate downer for me personally, because when that happens I really feel outtrained.

Beat me, fine–we are all limited as to how well we can run, we run at varying paces during a race, and maybe you held back more earlier when I let it all hang out.  I can live with that, and I have to live with being beat and accept that I will never be an elite.  I can do that.  But don’t outtrain me.  That’s not cool.

So in recent years, I’ve stopped avoiding hills.  I make sure to plan my routes to include them.  I’m admittedly still not real big on hill repeats, which I know would make me even better, but I run a lot of hills in all my runs except for speedwork/intervals, and I’ve learned to look forward to the challenge and the reward.  I will never stink on hills again.  Nobody puts Baby in a corner.  Eat my dust, bitches.

Here are my non-expert tips on getting through hills, including common mistakes that I’ve been all too guilty of!  Enjoy!

Tip #1:  Have a mantra—a hill credo, if you will (and I think you will.)  Say it at the start of every hill.  Mine used to be, “There’s gold in them thar hills!”  Yes, I used to say that to myself before each one.  Don’t ask me why.  Recently, however, I’ve changed.  I told HH a month or so ago that some laundry wasn’t going to “fart itself clean!”, which led to hysterical laughter, and so now when I approach a hill I tell myself that that hill isn’t going to climb itself, which makes me laugh and relax.  I don’t know if it will stick, but it’s how I’m rollin’ for now.

Tip #2:  Relax!  Let the tension out!  This is fun, godd#$%it!  Seriously, don’t let the tension build up in your body.  If you need to, relax your arms and shake them out a little as you run.  Don’t let them get tight…pay attention to the tension in your arms and hands.  If you’re making fists and your muscles are tensed, well, you need a drink or a smoke or yoga or something.

Tip #3:  Upper body form–don’t slouch!  It’s good to lean a little forward, but do it from the waist and keep your head up and looking forward, shoulders up and strong.  You don’t want to compress your lung volume in any way.  I see a lot of runners running up hills with a curved back, shoulders forward and down.  I kindly tap them on the shoulder as I pass and tell them, “You’re doing it wrong!”  Just kidding.  I only say that in my head.

Tip #4:  Watch those arms!  Yes, it’s true that if you get your arms rolling, your feet will follow, but lots of people seem to think it’s Rock Em Sock Em Robots out there.  Get ’em pumping, drive them a little, but keep the motion controlled and forward moving–don’t cross the midline of the body.  That’s wasted energy, and aren’t you hurting enough already?

Tip #5:  Shorten your stride.  Do NOT think you’re attacking the hill by stretching your stride out.  Shorter strides and faster turnover is the key here.  Keep the stride short and really try to land on your forefoot.  You really don’t want to be heel striking here.  I am a heel striker, and I don’t pay too much attention to it during the rest of my runs, but I make sure not to do it on hills.  If I’m heel striking, I change my form.

Tip #6:  Some people say to break a hill into chunks and focus on getting through each little piece.  That doesn’t work for me.  I can try to visualize just the next 20 yards, but the fact is the remainder is still there, and I know it.  So if it works for you, fantastic!  I look at the whole hill, keeping my head up and my gaze forward, and I TAKE IT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!

Tip #7:  Don’t stop, make it pop!  Whatever  you do, don’t stop at the top, beginners!  You’re not Rocky in training here.  Resist the urge to stop, drop your hands to your knees while gasping for air, and congratulate yourself.  Crest that hill, run down it, and teach your body how to recover and KEEP running.  Your heart rate will learn to come back down and settle into an easier pace over time.  Plus, running downhill is also hard on your muscles, just like running uphill (particularly knees and quads), so your body needs that practice too.  Double plus?  It’s an incredible feeling to chew up a big hill and then settle back into your regular pace, breathing, etc., like a pro.

Looking back over my tips, you might think I’m a good runner.  Full admission:  I am not.  But I love to run, and I love hills!  See you at the top!

What I’m Running To:  The Man by Aloe Blacc.

Questions?  Tips of your own?  Please leave a comment!

Yah Mo Be There!

HH and I are back from Vegas…not well rested and certainly not rich, but full of fun memories and more than a few extra pounds.  Eating at Hash House a Go Go every morning did nothing for my muffin top.

Two comments here…yes, the bacon is also mine, and no, that’s not an origami penis in my lap–

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Helpful tip here– I adhere strictly to the diabetic diet and never eat more than 3,000 carb calories without balancing my meal with protein.  You’re welcome.

My wonderful in-laws stayed at our house and watched our boys while we were gone.  A good time was had by all, although my 14-year old Alex told me he missed listening to our alternative station in the mornings on the drive to school.  Nothing but oldies for him and his Papaw!

The funniest part of trip occurred yesterday morning, and I just hope it’s as funny in the retelling here.  Quick setup:  our son Alex is a freshman.  He signed up to be part of his high school’s volunteer organization, and the first specific opportunity was yesterday.  He was supposed to be part of a 20-person group that went to an office building to take some underprivileged and/or abused children trick or treating.  We thought this would be great, because Alex is so good with kids and loves them.

The email said to meet in the school parking lot after 2nd hour to arrange rides and to bring a hat or some simple costume that young children might like.  We bought a cute Dr. Seuss hat, I signed the permission form before leaving town, and everything was set, but Alex was a little nervous because he didn’t know of anyone else who was going and was afraid it would be all older kids.

I woke up in Vegas yesterday morning and turned on my phone to see this…

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Oh dear lord!  He got left behind…how embarrassing!  I could just picture him standing in the parking lot with his Dr. Seuss hat all alone.  The fact that he’s only been in the district a year and doesn’t really know that many people didn’t help.  I felt so bad for him!  I kept scrolling…

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Oh no!  Upperclassmen had to come back to pick him up.  This was a high school nightmare.  I was torn between laughing uncontrollably and feeling my heart break for him at the same time.

I sent a text asking if they had come back for him, and thankfully soon received a text back that calmed my spirits.

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You can imagine the word…hardcore gangsta rap.  Not something that we play much of…we listen to Eminem together (only the songs without much sexual content), but that’s about it.

I asked him if the seniors had been nice to him and about died when I got this response.

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I’m not sure when that kid has ever made me laugh so hard.  So glad that he “established” himself and yet still apologized to his mother for saying the word “shit.”

And finally, one last screenshot that made my day…

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One of the best things he’s ever done…and it all worked out okay, despite the terrible start.

Moving on to a completely unrelated topic–

Yah Mo Be There!  That’s what I think of whenever I see NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.)  I think of the song, then I think of 40-Year Old Virgin, then I want to go watch a movie so I don’t have to sit and try to write, and blah, blah, blah.  It’s like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, novel procrastination style.

Still, like many other intrepid bloggers, I am going to attempt the near impossible and try to write 50,000 words in one month, starting tomorrow.  Of course, I’m going to do this without any clear outline of a novel, with Christmas approaching, with maintaining twice-weekly blog posts and with ratcheting up my running.

Lawd have mercy!  Anyone have any good story ideas?  Feel free to pass them on! 🙂  Maybe I’ll just sit down, open up Scrivener and feel the inspiration pouring out my fingers.  Or maybe I’ll stare out the window in 30-minute increments until I decide that I’m hungry or need to clean house, which is what has always happened in the past when I’ve tried to really start writing.  We’ll see…and as James Ingram and Michael McDonald pointed out–

It’s a long hard road

That leads to a brighter day

And

Well, it’s a doggone shame

But never too late for change

Inspiration everywhere!  Keep running, readers, and if you’re going for the NaNoWriMo challenge, good luck!  See you (hopefully) at the other end of 50,000 compelling words!

Silence

It’s so quiet in this house.  After a flurry of early morning activity, two sweet boys are off at their first day of school, and I am sitting on the couch with some jazz music in the background.  It’s peaceful, and it’s sure nice to have control of my house again, but my mind is churning.

Our oldest started high school today.  He had butterflies in his stomach as we approached the school.  He’s so excited for the next four years, and we are for him, but I also feel sick inside.  The feelings that I have for him mix with my own.

It’s so strange to watch your children grow.  You see them go through phases and hit milestones that you’ve already gone through, and each one causes you to worry and/or feel excited for the child having his turn at things (and the added perspective of adulthood makes it worse, not better!) while also reflecting on yourself at that long-ago time (a perspective which your child isn’t aware of at all and could care less about.)

I never realized how bittersweet it would be to raise a child, how the mix of personal memories mingles with such a sharp sense of present and fading time.  I sent a 14-year old off this morning, but I saw a little boy in a superhero pj set with a removable velcro cape wake up on the first day of kindergarten.  I took a picture on the couch (iPhone in hand, texting!), but I remembered a proud boy posing out by the big tree in the front yard, wearing khaki uniform shorts that I searched everywhere for with elastic instead of buttons to make going to the bathroom easy on little fingers.

Oh how it hurts, and oh how I am scared of high school.  High school is brutal.  Who would go back and relive those years?  Certainly not me.  And in my case, just like my son’s, I started high school after only one year with my new classmates.  I still felt like an outsider, much like he does, and that’s not a great feeling in a world that’s so new and uncomfortable.

I worry, of course, about the academics too.  The clock starts clicking now on g.p.a..  Will French 3 kick his ass?  Why did they have to schedule his Honors Biology class for the last period?  Will he be able to manage it all?  Oh, if I could just take it all over for him, I would (but who am I kidding?  I don’t have the brain I used to and can barely remember to feed the dogs!)

I hope the next four years are some of the best of his life.  No matter what, I am continually amazed at what an incredible person he is becoming and what an inherently beautiful soul he has.  He is funny, caring and kind.  He is equal parts flaky and yet maturing.  I think of how I changed in those high school years, and I can’t wait to watch him grow.

But however he gets through it, and however well it goes, the young man that emerges will still wear a hero cape, still have that hair sticking up in the back of his head, still be the child he was all along.  The memories of that little boy are such a gift, no matter how painful it is for a mom to look back.

So he looks forward, and I flurry between looking back at him, looking toward his future, and doing the same with my own life, while trying to maintain a sense of appreciating the present.  Thank goodness our younger son started 6th grade and his last year of elementary today…I don’t think I could handle it if he’d started a new school too!  Thankfully, his district doesn’t begin middle school until 7th grade.  I’ll consider it a personal favor from God to spare me the mental breakdown I feel I deserve.

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An update on my half marathon training and details of my dramatic golf (yes, golf!) injury in my next post!  Happy running!