Product Ho: Spending My Money So You Don’t Have To

Running is an incredibly simple thing.  Put on some shoes (or hell, skip ’em and be trendy) and head out the door.  Carry your body weight.  Step forward with one foot and push your back foot off the ground before the front foot hits.  Continue this pattern until you are tired.

That’s all you really have to do to run, right?  That’s the beauty of it.  But we complicate things.  We add our preferences for clothes and gear in an attempt to enhance the experience and/or make it more enjoyable (and beginning runners might read that statement and ask, “Now when does it become enjoyable?”).

As my darling HH could tell you, I have mastered the concept of muddying the run waters with accessories.  My moisture-wicking gear, laid out end to polyester end, could reach further than Hands Across America.

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I have drawers, bins, and hidey holes filled with running accessories.  You name it, I’ve tried it, with the exception of the CamelBak backpack, because I just can’t bring myself to do that.   Some have been big successes, and others have been donated or pushed to the back of the closet.

So what works for me and what doesn’t, and can I save you some money?  Here is a lowdown of what I take with me on my runs…which as I strapped on and geared up before my 10-miler on Sunday, is a ridiculous amount of stuff.

Let’s start with the essentials…clothes.

Lululemon Cool Racerback Tank

This is BY FAR my favorite running top.  It’s tight but not compression.  It doesn’t have a built-in bra, because I hate those things.  It’s long, so it doesn’t ride up and stays under running belts or waist leashes.  I love that feature because I am long-waisted, so most running tops (especially Nike) are way too short on me.  It’s pricey ($42), but lasts FOREVAH.  I have these in three colors, including the hot pink that I wore in my last half marathon (including the fun pic from my last post where I look like an angry giant Photoshopped in amongst tiny happy people thanks to the gal next to me.)

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Athleta Presto Shorts

Well, we are in summer, when I fervently wish I had the bod to run in just a bra and some ridiculously cute runderwear, but alas, I am aware of my physical limitations and don’t want to scare people.  I would love to wear the cute basic running shorts I see in all the stores (for their ass-covering ability), and I have a few pairs, but they always move around on my inner thighs and rub me wrong, so I always return to the staple–compression shorts.  Yes, I would rather show off my assfold than chafe in the inner thigh.  Let someone else suffer.

Lately I have worn the Athleta Presto Short with the 7″ inseam (they also offer 10″, 4″ and 2″, I believe, like penis sizes…pick what you prefer, but the 2″ might be a little short!)  If I remember right, Run Far Girl mentioned these in a previous post because she wore them in her last marathon and wrote that she love the three-pocket feature.  I left a comment saying that I needed a pair–then realized I already owned them.  Yes, that is how much gear I have.  It might be a sickness.

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Feetures Socks

Runners are picky about their socks, and I am no different.  I wear custom orthotics in my running shoes due to my ever-present plantar fasciitis, so I am extra particular, as the orthotics raise my feet up a little in my shoes.  I want no-show socks, but many brands slip below the shoe and cause the back of my heel to blister.

That’s why I love Feetures No Show socks (in Ultra Light for summer.)  They have a tab on the heel that prevents heel blisters and rises up just the right amount behind the shoe.  Me likey.  You would likey too.

Now for the accessories…the accoutrement!

Garmin Forerunner 220

After ten+ years of running, I finally broke and got my first Garmin this year.  She’s a hot little number, even if she constantly pisses me off by telling me I’m running slower than I think I should be.  She’s a heartbreaker, she is, but I love her anyway and bring her on every run.

Waist Leash

When I bring Oscar the running coach (though in this heat he’s more Oscar the 60-pound anchor that I drag along behind me), I wear a waist leash, as I’ve discussed before.  I don’t know the brand, but I love it because I can adjust the length and control him with my body weight (my arm is not strong enough when he sees a squirrel!)

SPIbelt

In the winter, I love my Armpocket, which works great for twig arms like mine, but summer means tan lines, and so I’ve switched to my SPIbelt.  This sucker doesn’t move, I swear.  Just strap it on and it stays in place.  It’s remarkably expansive too.  They come in different sizes, colors, prints, etc., and just now as I browsed the site I saw a new offering…the SPIleash!  Hot diggity dog…I need this!  I am usually wearing the SPIbelt plus the waist leash when I bring Oscar, and it’s a bit of a mess…much like me!

Sweaty Bands

I have a big head.  No, really…it’s literally large (see above photo.)  I have trouble finding headbands that will stay in place, and I’ve spent more of HH’s money than I care to admit looking for one that will hold my hair back and not move.  Sweaty Bands are the answer for me, but only in the super thin 3/8″ version shown in the link.  They don’t move, and they hand wash well.  I have them in the pink and white stripe and in a couple of blingy colors, which really isn’t my style but does look sassy.

Lululemon’s Bangbuster headbands work well, too, but they make me look like I’m undergoing chemo.  Why do they look adorable on other women but not on me?

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Yurbuds Focus for Women

I’ve blathered on endlessly about my search for the perfect earbuds, so I’ll keep it short (read my previous post for a detailed bitch session on earphones.)  These are the best, even when you’re sweating copious amounts into your ear canal.  Warning, though—the behind the ear piece itself detaches, and I’ve lost one despite my best efforts to keep all the pieces together between runs.  Luckily, the bud still stays in place even without the earpiece.  Lucky me!

Outdoor Tech Adapt (Bluetooth Audio Adapter)

I’ve talked about this too, but it’s worth a mention.  I got it on sale for $20, and I love it.  It does glitch out occasionally, but the combined price of the Yurbuds ($30) and this ($20) is still less than I would pay for behind the ear Yurbuds with mic control.  Warning—if you attach the Tech Adapt to your SPIbelt and then lean over to tie your shoes, your muffin top will block the Bluetooth signal and you will lose your music momentarily! 😉

Ultimate Direction Handy 20

I have a Nathan Fuel Belt with 2 bottles, but I’ve always hated that thing.  It bruised me after my marathon last year, it leaked all the time, leaving me with Gatorade-drenched legs, and I never thought it was easy to drink from.  I recently bought the Ultimate Direction Handheld 20 oz. water bottle and haven’t looked back.  It is so easy to drink from—just pull the valve open with your teeth and bite on it a little to drink or squeeze the bottle for a burst.  The pocket holds keys, gel, whatever, and it’s comfortable to hold.  Winner winner.

Tifosi sunglasses

Love these things.  They keep the wind from drying out my contacts and camouflage the look of pain oozing out my eyeballs.  Plus, they make you look hardcore.  Bonus.

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All the electrolytes without the sugary carbs?  No Gatorade belching?  Sold!

Honey Stingers Energy Chews

Because gels make me sick.  Even looking at a gel packet makes me sick.  From both ends.

What have I spent money on that doesn’t get my MaybeMarathoner seal of approval?  The Nathan belt, any Nike top (too short!) or any top with a built-in bra (not comfortable!), many Athleta capris (hate to bag on them since I love their stuff but most of their capris slide down in the waist looking for a path of least resistance!), Gatorade (causes inhuman amounts of burping and also induces nausea), most race t-shirts (they say they wick, but they don’t breathe and are often too short!), Bic Bands headbands, and the Yurbuds Inspire Series (slip out once you sweat).

I should note that these are solely my opinions, and since I am a tiny lowly blog, I am not sponsored by anyone (though to quote Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone, “I ain’t cheap, but I can be had!”, sponsors!)

What works for you?  I’ve listed the obvious, but do you wear/bring anything that you can’t live without?

 

 

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

Modified Training, my 10k Playlist and Overcooking Miles

I am still producing voluminous amounts of phlegm.  This stuff is gross.  I managed to lace up and get out last Saturday, after skipping all runs since the previous Saturday.  My training called for a 10k race, but I have that lined up for this weekend.  So, switching the two weekends would have meant a 9-mile run for me.

Hell to the no.  I knew 9 miles wasn’t possible, but I hoped for at least 5.  I quickly readjusted my goals when I realized that I was having trouble even holding my arms up in the running position.  I was worn out by the effort.  I decided to just run very slowly and focus on getting as much time on my feet as possible.  The heat, the phlegm and the lingering fatigue were a nasty combination.  Still, it felt great to be moving after such a severe case of pneumonia typhoid pleurisy the common cold, so I tried to think positive and enjoy the fact that my ass was up and off the couch/recliner/bed.

Oh, if I could only blow a snot rocket.  I would have littered the neighborhood!  I also coughed up at least 5 pounds of crap from my lungs, which I had to swallow back down since I couldn’t spit it out.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that at least it was leaving my lungs and going to my stomach.

That is so gross.  God, that’s gross.

Anyhoo, I managed 4.7 miles at a 10:17 pace, which fell into the good-enough-girl-you-are-sick-go-home category of long runs.  I went home and gorged myself on football and couch time for the rest of the weekend and resolved to start fresh on Monday.

I got in 4.2 miles on Monday morning at a 9:49 pace.  I was happy with that.  I squeezed in a 30-minute tempo run yesterday on the dreadmill (I wasn’t able to get out until noon, and it was already blazing hot).  I am still not 100%.  Nowhere close, in fact, which is annoying because I have a 10k this weekend.  It will be my first time running the Plaza 10k, which looks to be a great race.  It runs through the Country Club Plaza, which is a beautiful outdoor shopping area here in KC.  The course is flat and would normally look to be a great race to turn it loose and try to PR.  Given that I’ve only run 1 10k in my life (in Bern, Switzerland with my Swiss bestie Pam back in 2011), the chances would normally be good, right?

Here we were in Bern post-race…I was so happy to be done!

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And just so she doesn’t get mad at me for posting that pic (although she looks perfect), here we are with fresh makeup…

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Well, no.  I ran that race in 53:37, which I would have no hopes of doing today under the best of circumstances.  I’m just not there right now.  Plus, this is not my goal race anyway.  So, I’ve come up with a plan.  It’s genius.

I’m going to start slow and just try to do my best and enjoy the race without killing myself and hating the entire thing and finishing the last two miles in such misery that I am cursing and swearing and hating life and promising myself that I will never run a race again or even jog a mile so help me God.

Now I know this is a novel idea.  I must be the first one to think of it.  I’m really going to try to embrace it, especially since I’ve been sick and still coughing like a champ.  It’s a good approach for my physical health (if not my mental).

Plus, I like the idea of enjoying a race DURING THE RACE for once.  I am the sort of person that overcooks (a great term a reader wrote in a previous comment on this blog) the first few miles of every race, then suffers for the remainder and nearly has a mental heart attack toward the end when I am out of juice and getting passed by runners who know how to run smart but really aren’t as fast as me, just not as dumb.

F you, intelligent runners!

Overcooking the first few miles is never good.  I’ve done it repeatedly, and I recommended the approach (in a way) to HH when he was training for his first half marathon.  “You can’t make up that time lost at the start, but you can always slow down!” I said cheerily.  He is such a faster runner than I am, and I honestly thought he had a shot at finishing around 1:40, even though he isn’t really a runner.

Here he is after taking my advice, flaming out and finishing at just over 2 hours.  He blames me to this day.

Is it just me being silly, or do I have an unusually long badass thumb?

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God love him…he’s never run a race since.

I have an article somewhere (that I can’t find or I’d link it fo sho) that talks about how the first mile or two in a run sends a signal to your body.  If I recall correctly, and I’m plainspeaking it here, if it’s a mid- to long- distance race, you want to let your body ease in a bit so that it doesn’t think it’s a sprint.  Your body will react differently if you’re suddenly taking off like a bat out of hell…lactic acid and all that jazz.  Not sustainable for a longer race.  You want to ease in, let your body think everything’s groovy so it doesn’t freak and think it’s in a shitstorm, and then coax more and more out of it without inducing World War Z type panic.

Kind of like how I landed my husband.  Act all low-maintenance, then slowly make more demands over the years until he starts calling you Princess but is locked in for the long haul.

Just kidding!

Feel feel to elaborate and jazz up the wording in the comments, or to disagree.  How do you cook your first few miles of a longer distance race?  I have a hard time taking it easy, because all I can think about is how I’m losing precious time.

I plan on cooking this race nice and easy in the first mile, like it’s in a Crock Pot.  Slow and low, baby!  Then we’ll see how my lungs and body feel, and hopefully I’ll be able to crank things up a bit.  In short, I’m going to try and avoid my usual freak-out mode that I tend to go into when I cross a starting line.

I even have a 57-minute playlist lined up that is loaded nice and easy at the start.  What?  You want me to share it?  You love my taste?  Well, okay!

  • Here I Go Again by Whitesnake:  the first song on my first race playlist back in 2007.  An ode to solo training, not to mention hair spray.
  • Proud Mary by Tina Turner:  Hello?!  Just too good…lyrical perfection.  I hope to be kicking into a higher gear by the end of it, lungs willing.  Tell me how to run, Tina.

Y’ know, every now and then
I think you might like to hear something from us
Nice and easy
But there’s just one thing
You see we never ever do nothing
Nice and easy
We always do it nice and rough
So we’re gonna take the beginning of this song
And do it easy
Then we’re gonna do the finish rough

  • P.Y.T. by MJ:  Smoothness.  Hope I don’t waste any energy by shaking my ass here.  That would be counterproductive.
  • Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol:  Great beat.  Lots of hair spray (and gel.  And bleach).
  • Baby I’m a Star by Prince: ass shaking concerns here too, but I’m sure I can keep it under control.
  • Without Me by Eminem:  Strong beat.  Crazy good.

Let me just revel and bask

In the fact that I got everyone kissin’ my ass

  • Roar by Katy Perry:  I’m not a pop princess, but this one gets me.  Hope I’m rolling by the time this song hits.
  • Rebel Yell by Billy Idol:  The pace on this song is just perfect.  So many people run to this song.  
  • Houdini by Foster The People:  Nice and light, with a great finish.  “Focus on your ability” is just a great lyric.  Better to focus on that than the fact that I’m never going to be an elite runner.
  • Panama by Van Halen:  God, I love Van Halen.  More hair spray.
  • Talk Dirty to Me by Poison:  And more hair spray.  I clearly have a nostalgia thing going for 80s music that is not going away anytime soon.
  • Set Adrift on Memory Bliss by PM Dawn: A recent running fave.  It’s just mellow goodness.  A classic in my book.
  • Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie:  This should take me up to just under 55 minutes, which will be my signal to get the damn race over with already.
  • Main Title from Band of Brothers:  Always inspires me.  Always makes me grateful, thankful and glad to be living in the moment.  A great race ender.

Happy Wednesday, readers!

Can You Run a Marathon? Maybe, but Why Would You?

Let’s say you’ve thought about the possibility.  You’ve bandied the idea around a bit.  Wouldn’t it be great to run a marathon?  Could I do it?  What kind of shape do I need to be in to start?  What are the issues I need to consider before starting?  What would the training program be like (spoiler alert: it will be long and often painful)?

Then naturally you come to my blog because I have such vast knowledge and expertise, having hobbled to the starting line of exactly ONE marathon.

You do this, of course, for the entertainment value and the honesty.  Yes, I will lay out the facts and the issues involved in running a marathon, at least in terms of what I experienced, and I won’t hold back, nor will I blow sunshine into your running shoes.

So let’s gather ’round my marathon medal and discuss, shall we?  I’ll try to answer some of the questions that I remember asking myself before I decided to run my first marathon, as well as some of the questions I would imagine other people are asking or SHOULD be asking themselves before beginning the process.

I think that most people first ask themselves if they can do it.  It was what I asked myself for years.  And here I go with advice.  I don’t think that’s what you should ask yourself to start.  I think you need to think about why you want to do it.  Trust me—the “why” is what powers you through.

It seems like lots of people put down the bag of potato chips one day and decide that they want to change their life and drop some weight.  They decide something like, “I’m going to get in shape.  I’m going to run a marathon within the next year.”  I think that some percentage of these people achieve that goal, and more power to them, but that’s a kind of experience that I just don’t know much about.  I’m more of an aim small, miss small kind of gal, and I ran for 8-9 years before ever even considering the sacred 26.2 distance.

Also, I think that the distance opens itself to such a wide range of experiences.  Some of these chip-dropping, lifestyle-changing people will soar.  Others will get to the finish line with a walk/jog combination, and it might take them 6 hours, but they also get their medal, and they all started from scratch.

It’s fantastic, and it’s powerful—but I can’t speak to it as motivation, except to say that I probably wouldn’t recommend it based on my training experience and my conservative nature.  Embrace running, but start small.  Be sure to build slowly.  Give yourself a reasonable goal, a timeframe for change and weight loss and the chance to become a runner for life.  Marathons will always be there, and I guess for me personally, it would be hard to imagine going from nothing to 26.2 in one year.  Maybe 18 months, but 12 would be really pushing it.  You have to respect the distance and the time it takes to prepare your body to even start the training.

Also, the training tested my appreciation for the sport.  Again, this is just personal experience, but all those miles pushed my love for running to its very limit, and I can’t imagine getting through some of those awful training runs without the base of love that I had and the years of running memories.  Again, it’s all about motivation, the big “why” of it all.  I feel like wanting to lose weight or get healthy just wouldn’t have been enough for me to get myself through some of those times…but then again, I’ve never been in that situation, so I’m not trying to judge it, only to say that I’m not qualified to write about it as a motivator.

Have you seen this video?  Most people have, but it’s always worth another viewing.  Not only does it include one of my favorite running songs, but the story is so powerful.  I guess I don’t have to wonder about the power of losing weight or making a life change as a motivator for running when I see this video.  It sums it up perfectly.

When I first considered running a marathon (after years of saying no way, nokay!), I was already a committed runner.  That’s what I can relate to… the current reasonably healthy runner, the person who laces up his/her shoes on a regular basis and wonders if 26.2 is possible as a race distance–no walking, all running, and likely with a personally difficult and respectable finishing time in his/her sights.  Can you do it?

Sure you can–I think!  I hope!  Body willing!  There are unknowns that I will speak of in other posts, but the general answer is yes!  But you need to think about why you want it, because you will refer back to your gut reason so many times throughout training.  Let’s remember, I called myself the MaybeMarathoner.  I didn’t know if I could do it, and the worry over that exact issue held me up for years until I finally decided that I didn’t know and would never know ahead of time if I COULD do it, but I knew WHY I wanted to try…and that was enough, even if I failed.

Whatever’s driving you to do it needs to be on steroids.  You’ve gotta be like Usher when he was hooked up with that chick from TLC and temporarily decided to try monogamy.  You gotta get it bad!  The mental commitment to yourself is as big as the physical, and even outweighs it at times.

For me, two big factors pushed me over the edge beyond the worry of whether I “could” do it.  First, of course, was my sister’s disease.  Setting my sights on the marathon was a way of raising money for AS, but it was also a way of making peace with myself for having good health while she suffered.  It was an offering.

It was a powerful motivator, and one I came back to many times.  In my mind, I didn’t want to try, I HAD to try.  I had to be grateful for my health, and it was the best way I could think of.

Second, I think I’d always had some kind of warped sense in my own mind that I would never call myself a real runner unless I’d attempted the distance at least once.  Now, if you said this to me, I would say you were stupid fo sho’!  I’ve written before about what I think it takes to be a runner, and nowhere in my official Are You a Runner? checklist does it say that you have to have run a marathon.  But, like many things in life, my standards for myself are neurotically different from my standards for others.  It’s just one of those things about me.  I like to call it cute and quirky.  HH calls it batshit crazy.

So, find your reason, whatever it is.  Don’t ask yourself if you can yet, just ask why.  Allow yourself time to become comfortable with it.  Will it see you through months of training?  Does it move you?  Inspire you?  It’s more important than anything.

Am I A Runner?

Thanks so much to the readers who left comments, sent me emails and messaged me on Facebook about my leg.  You are all awesome, and a good reminder of why, whether I race next Saturday or not, this training and blogging experience has been amazing and positive.  In particular, my friend Erin deserves a shout-out, because she sent a copy of my whiny post to all her marathoner friends and asked them to chime in with any advice.  As a result, I have an appointment on Monday morning with a sports massage therapist, which I am very excited about.  This lovely woman even offered to let me come to her house on Saturday morning, and she doesn’t even know me.  If I wasn’t taking off with the boys this afternoon to visit my parents for the weekend, I would have been at her door with flowers bright and early!

I continue to pursue the task of sitting around letting it rest with a vengeance.  I’ve perfected the routine of watching TV on the couch (leg elevated, of course) and started watching The Voice on demand.  I don’t usually watch much TV, but now I’m hooked on it and completely in love with the four coaches (Shakira included.)  I’ve finished a few books and now am juggling three–one left resting by the couch, one by my foam roller (I should give him a name…he’s like a boyfriend or something), and my bed.  I have to fill my time when I should be running!

I ice, slather cream and keep my fingers crossed (I don’t pray–God has more important things to deal with than my puny race dreams.)  It makes me think of my sister a lot, and that helps me to keep things in perspective.  I’m sad to think that months of effort will go for naught, but I know I will heal.  TiffeeG goes through treatments, shots, PT, and many other things all for the hope that she can string together a few great days, with no hope of complete healing in her future.  Every time I think of what AS is like, I stop complaining and wondering whether I will be able to use my training for this specific race.

Still, I admit that I want to run it.  Of course I do.  For me, for my sister…it’s kind of like an offering in my mind.  But if I’m not able to do it and do it to the best of my ability, or if getting through it will likely mean setting myself for months of rest because I pushed things too far, I will sit it out.  I know the people who have donated money will understand, and I know I will try again.  It’s just how I roll.

I have been meaning to write a lengthy post on what it means to define yourself as a runner, and I’m going to go ahead with it here.  People love to wonder what makes a runner.  When is someone a runner?  I think I wrote that question at the beginning of this blog experience, and answered that I “guessed” I was.  I felt like I shouldn’t be blogging unless I “was” a “real” runner.

I’ve heard people say that you are a runner if you put your shoes on and head out the door.  This is a very positive and inclusive statement, which isn’t wrong.  We runners want to encourage others to run–it’s one of the reasons I started this blog.  We want people to find the joy that we have discovered, and the process should be without judgment.  But I don’t think that everyone who heads out today like that is a runner.

I don’t mean that as a slight.  I just feel that people are searching for something by asking that question, and we shouldn’t ignore it.  If you’ve made a decision to start running and you do something like a Couch to 5k program, I am SO happy for you.  I hope you stick with it and run for many years!  But I doubt you’re a runner yet.

Is it speed?  I’ve seen runners (usually those blessed with some speed who get a little arrogant about it) define runners as people who can run faster than a certain pace and anyone else as (sniff!) a jogger.  Of course, that pace is usually pretty speedy.  This misses the point as well, at least in my opinion.  There are plenty of people who run religiously and race all the time that will never hit those paces.  Their bodies aren’t meant to.  Are we to exclude them?  

I did read once that if you can run 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, under 10:00 per mile, than you are a runner and not a jogger.  The tone of this article, as I recall, was very positive, and maybe that’s why I kind of use that as a definition, but again, it’s not the whole picture.

Would it be so bad to be called “a jogger?”  No, but I think it just sounds so casual, and it turns people off.  And that gets to the heart of what makes a “runner” to me, and what I think people are looking for when they ask that question.

For a runner, running is a passion–not a way to lose weight or jumpstart/keep a healthier lifestyle, not a promise to a friend or a phase.  You are a runner when your heart calls you to run, whether your pace is in the 7s or the 10s.  When you devote yourself to your running because you are not complete without it, you are a runner.  Whether you race or just log miles on your own, on the treadmill or out in the rain with no specific training program, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is the feeling that running gives you.  

It becomes a part of your identity.  You may have just logged 10 miles early in the morning, but you drive by someone running, and you a) want to shout out encouragement, and b) want to go home and put your shoes back on and head out for some more.  You are a runner.

You overcome lazy feelings time and time again to head out because you know that peace is found during your runs, and you know you need that run to put your life back in order.  You are a runner.

When you forego that glass of wine with someone because you are planning to run the next morning and you really don’t want anything to compromise it, even though it’s just a normal run, you are a runner.

And yes, when you are hurt and all you can think about is getting back, not even to race but just to run and be a runner for life, you are a runner.  It’s not pace, and it’s not just time spent doing it.  It’s love mixed with a healthy dose of reverence and respect.  You don’t get it from a Couch to 5k program, but that’s not to put those people down.  They’re just not there yet, but every true runner hopes they’ll get there eventually and join the club.

To people who read this blog and might think about running, I have one thing to say.  Give it a good chance.  Break through that barrier of 3 miles.  The rewards come for those who get past that “I can only run 3 miles and I hate every minute of it” hurdle.  The joy is past that point, but so many people never get there.

To the runners, feel free to add comments or your own definition.  I love to hear from you!

I will keep you posted on my appointment with the therapist, and I thank you again for reading and giving encouragement and advice.  This RUNNER wishes you a happy weekend!

With my family after the Paris half marathon, 2012

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Famous Feet Friday Monday Edition: What To Wear

I tried to publish this post five times last Friday, and the WordPress gods conspired against me every time.  I would hit “Publish”, I would see the screen that said “Your post has been published”–and then there was nothing.  Trying again here…

I had to drive HH to work today, since he got in around midnight and his car is at the office.  I passed several runners on my drive home…out braving the frigid temperatures here in Kansas City and getting their miles in.  It inspired me to come home and run my 9 miles immediately!

I’m getting to it.  I needed some more coffee first, and of course my faithful readers are on the edge of their seats waiting for my Friday blog post.

I do love seeing other people run.  I look at what they’re wearing, I watch their stride and their breathing, and if they are really killing it, I mutter “Fasthole!” under my breath and curse them.  I don’t like it when they make it look too easy.  More power to them (fistpump!), but I get jealous.  I would love to be a fasthole.

I pay particular attention to runners’ outfits.  I am one of those cold-natured people, and as my HH says, I am only comfortable within a 2-3 degree window and am complaining the rest of the time.  With the recent cold temperatures and the fact that I’m running long runs at a slow pace, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time before runs deciding what to wear.  HH thinks I am crazy, but I think a lot of runners obsess about what to put on before runs.

Since I am such an ice princess, I typically head out overdressed compared to everyone else, even with ten years of running under the ol’ muffin belt.  I think most runners would rather feel a little chilly than too hot on a run, and I agree, but I soooo hate the feeling of being so cold at the start of a run and how all my muscles tense up in response, so I pack on the layers.  The downside is that I do end up too hot sometimes–and that sucks too because being too hot makes me feel like I’m struggling with the run, even if I’m not.  It makes me feel like I’m not breathing right somehow.  Do other runners feel this way?

My solution lately has been to start with a long running tank that I can tuck it into my running tights.  It keeps my chest warm without my arms feeling like stuffed sausages with so many layers (and I hate the feeling of those layers creased in my elbows, along with excessive elbow sweat.  Gross).  I like Lululemon’s Cool Racerback tank because it has a nice long length, so it doesn’t ride up on long-waisted bellyfat-carrying gals like myself, and because it doesn’t have a built-in bra.  I almost died once trying to get into one of those built-in bra tanks.  It got stuck around my neck and I had a moment or two of sheer panic.  Never again.

With the recent frigid temps, I add a mid-layer, preferably with a high neck.  I like compression or semi-fitted, because I hate the feeling of movement when I run.  Everything needs to be held down…the only thing I can stand moving is my ponytail behind me.  Even my iPhone cord bugs me, so I clamp it down.

A jacket, preferably with zippered pockets, completes my winter penguin look.  I like zippered pockets because I can stuff Kleenex in and also zip my gloves in if I get warm enough to take them off.

I have a couple of running hats and headbands with ponytail cutouts in the back, so my head stays warm and my hair stays out of my face.  No flyaways…hate ’em!  Even if it’s warm, I have my hair either taped or pinned down…no movement!

During warmer runs, I still like tight tops and pants/capris and NO MOVEMENT, which is why the following pic of today’s Famous Feet Friday celebrity runner sends me into a runner OCD fit….Katie Holmes at the 2007 New York City Marathon.

Katie Holmes in the New York City Marathon...

photo from dailynews.com

Look at her hair!  The way her jacket is flapping around!  The way her hat looks like it could fly off at any moment!  Imagine how her boobs had to be jiggling (yes, even small boobs can jiggle)!  That tank is for yoga, not running!  Where is her bra?  I want to run out there and give her a nursing pad or something to cushion those nipples!

Here’s another pic…I like her a little bit more in this one, because she is a member of the heel-striking club like me, but that cord is a disaster!  I could almost break out into hives…

photo from peoplestylewatch.com

Her race time was 5:29:58.  Her outfit was an offense.

As for myself, the tight gear is on and I am ready for my easy 9-miler today.  I have been icing my feet and applying the sticky cream faithfully, which has meant lots of time at the kitchen table in front of the computer while my arches ice.  The highlight of yesterday’s afternoon icing was when my 5th-grader Max came up to me at the kitchen table and carefully placed the eyeballs of the squid he had dissected at school in front of me for approval.  Why don’t kids understand that the kitchen table is not the place for dirty socks and squid eyeballs?  What possessed him to pocket the eyeballs anyway, and what else might he be hoarding?  Eww….

My foot is hanging on pretty well with all the icing and my prescription cream.  If you are a runner and develop PF, or if you have the start of AS as TiffeeG did and develop PF without ever running a mile (very common in AS sufferers), I recommend asking your doctor about the cream (along with custom orthotics).  It wasn’t available when I had my first round of PF in 2007, but I’m glad to have it now.  My compound prescription includes a muscle relaxant and an NSAID as well as a medicine to increase blood flow to the area.  It is keeping the demon at bay.

Happy Weekend!