Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sometimes it’s just easier to swim…

Would the Titans-Colts game end already? I’d like to get to sleep so I can hit the rec. center for the last time before my membership ends and I’m without a pool again.

But I took advantage of the pool and track today, after morning yoga, with a slightly bricky workout: a 4,100-yard swim...
  • 1,000 yards IM drill
    (25 fly, 50 back, 75 breast, 100 free;
    25 free, 50 fly, 75 back, 100 breast;
    25 breast, 50 free, 75 fly, 100 back;
    25 back, 50 breast, 75 free, 100 fly)
  • 10 x 50 free sprints on 1:00
  • 4 x 250 yards alt free and IM kick
  • 10 x 50 free sprints on 1:00
  • 1,000 yard IM (sub. one-arm fly)
  • 100-yard cool down
... followed by a 2.5-mile run: the first was 10:15/mile, followed by a 9:25/mile, and then halfway through the third mile I felt the gentlest twinge in my left calf. It was so slight that it may have even been a mental pain, but I didn’t want to test it. I stretched it out, walked a few laps and went home. Today's swim was the first time I've done such a long, fast set of sprints (20x50 free) in at least ten years. Talk about pushing it! At least I was able to finish the swim. Sometimes, I suppose, it's just easier to swim 2.5 miles than run...

Grannies are good to eatSurprisingly, I made it through the entire day without a nap. I didn’t drag because I had a wealth of things to do… and an even greater wealth of things to eat. When I was food-reading in the bible last week, I hit on that tip about eating carbs and protein (and little to no fat) within an hour after training, and it was all I could think about on the ride home.

OK, I honestly would have chowed on a fried basketball if one had presented itself, but my actions/intentions ended up much better with this quick (less than 5 minutes) meal:

  • 1 cup cooked cous cous (150 cal, 0g fat, 30 carbs, 5g protein) cooked with jasmine green tea, cayenne and green onions
  • ½ cup chilled organic black soy beans (120 cal, 6g fat, 8g carb/7g fiber, 11g protein)
  • 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds (85 cal, 7g fat, 2g carb, 5g protein)
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream (47 cal, 4g fat, 2g carb, 1g protein)

And I followed it with a crisp, tart Granny Smith apple. Quite tasty! It was a little more fatty than perfection, but I'll work on it.

The weather over the next week seems conducive to outdoor running—just in time for no-more-rec and my new job in Cleveland. I’ll be checking out all the recommendations I’ve received from everyone. Thanks a bunch!

No Browns in the playoffs. Sigh. At least now I can go to sleep while you check out Lance Armstrong in Dodgeball...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lance, LeBron and Lactic Acid

Did you know that Lance Armstrong was once a triathlete? I was thinking today that he’d make a good one. The guy ran a sub-3 marathon last year and I hear he can bike. He also started as a swimmer. But it turns out, on the tri-front, that he’s been there, done that.

These days he’s just another athlete (LBJ?) who makes great out-of-place cameos on TV and movies. Have you seen him in Dodgeball? Or the Dick’s commercials? Sigh. To be multi-talented.

I started thinking about Lance while talking to cyclist Matt Cooke’s uncle at the rec. center (the uncle said Matt started as a triathlete, but peaked out on swimming and now cycles for a living). He too was astounded at how awful I am at cycling, but gave me hope for the future. He said that swimming was the leg that trips up many triathletes; I knew my childhood wasn’t all for naught.

So, today I had a mini reverse triathlete of my own: just one mile running (at 10:00 pace), about five miles stationary cycling and 3,000 yards swimming, which included

- 300 yards free warm-up
- 2,500-yard ladder:
  • 100 yards IM
  • 200 yards IM kick
  • 300 yards one-arm fly
  • 400 yards stroke-clinic free
  • 500 yards IM kick
  • 400 yards free on 5:00
  • 300 yards one-arm fly
  • 200 yards backstroke
  • 100 yards IM
-200 yards super-slow cool down

IM Able’s blog reminded me that ladders offer plenty of yardage mixed with the possibility of rest and some speed work. But today it mostly offered me incentive to just keep swimming.

Do you ever swim after you’ve been running or cycling? For some reason, I can conquer the world after I swim, but I can’t swim after I do any type of workout with any intensity. My arms burn with lactic acid the whole time and I never regain my energy. That was today. How I made it through the 3,000 yards is a mystery (I think I feel a responsibility to my readers not to be a swimming wimp ;-). Generally if I push myself past the pain threshold, it’s smooth sailing. Today I just couldn’t shake it. Lactic acid was there to stay.

After 3,000 yards I thought about calling it a day, but I wanted to try something new. Sans floaty belt, I water ran for 500 yards/20 laps. I think I had the motion down, but it didn’t do anything for me. I couldn’t feel any endurance, cardio, strength or anything else working for me. Maybe water running just isn’t my thang. At least I tried.

Thankfully my leg has begun to feel solid in time for my new start in running. Sure, I started a little early (and maybe TriGuyJT is right and my body did rebel with exercise-induced anaphylaxis… does my body have to be so mean and vengeful?), but I’m being careful for once.

Finally, a little Lance for your viewing pleasure:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 12:00/Mile Allergy

So, I couldn’t hold back another week and started running today. But it was all in good measure, and maybe a little too slow to start.

Because I’m still being a weather wimp, I went to the rec. center track (besides, my membership needs to be worth its while; I have all winter to run in the cold) and warmed up with a 15-minute/1-mile walk. Not only did the walk make for a good pre-warm-up, but stretched out my feet and helped me gauge how my achey and fatted bones felt today. All good so far—even if I could feel the gravity of three days’ worth of binging!

Then I took off for a slow warm-up. I generally don’t give myself targeted times for a slow warm-up (12:00/mile today, which is 2:00/lap), but my propensity for running at too high intensity has proven uncontrollable in the past. And I just didn’t want to break my leg today.

Exercise Induced AnaphylaxisAs usual, I had poor speed control in the first half lap (I was just too excited!) before finally nailing the 12:00 pace by the end of lap two. The only problem: my legs broke out into hives! It’s been years since I’ve experienced what I assume to be slight exercise-induced anaphylaxis. My legs from thigh to calf were itchy red and slightly swollen. Thankfully I had no allergy symptoms elsewhere—running a warm-up isn’t the best time/place to get swollen air passages. Years ago I would get hives when I ran, but I always figured it was the shock on running that threw them for an allergic loop. It was their way of not-so-quietly saying, WTF?

Here I am, however, a year into doing some not-so-bad training, and I’m breaking out into hives? Argh! Lucky for us all, I’m as stubborn as they get. If a stress fracture didn’t stop me from running, how could a few blisteringly itchy hives? (Warning, kids: don’t try this idiocy at home.) I know these types of “attacks” are often related to not exercising for several days, but where was this outbreak when I took a month off in October? And most of November? My cross-training has been pretty steady all along, so I just chalk it up to the randomness and unpredictability of EIA.

Luckier still: the hives went away two laps into my second mile. After the 12:00 warm-up, I did a 3-mile set, which included three more consecutive miles at 10:00, 9:00 and 10:00 paces. I allowed myself the 9:00 miles as a reward. It had nothing to do with needing to pass other people on the track; it was just a pat on the back for being able to pace myself. Honestly! It felt great to stretch my legs and run at a comfortable pace for the first time in too long. I miss my running.

Isn’t it strange, though, that the hives disappeared almost immediately after I picked up my pace? Sure, the EIA or whatever else it was could have been burned away by my sensible warm-up run, but I think I’m really just allergic to the 12:00 mile. My body apparently just doesn’t like it (maybe it prefers stress fractures; who knows!).

Perhaps my legs were just protesting—how dare I make them run after I ate so many pastries, cakes, tarts and tortes?

When I think of the past three days, however, I realize that if nothing else I did make good on my goal of eating by color: I had my red flavanoids in red velvet cupcakes, orange in the carmelized sugar-topped dobos torte, yellow in the creamy center of an éclair, green in the holiday-colored melted chocolate drizzled on baked goods, and blue from blueberries topping a creamy orange dreamsicle cake. Taste that rainbow, baby! Sounds like a balanced diet in anti-oxidants to me. No wonder my body has become allergic to running.

On the Third Day of Christmas...

I’m scarfing down the last several delicious gingerbread cookies (thanks Betsy and Dan!) before I start my new year. After three days straight celebrating Christmas and eating at least 3-4 times my regular daily intake, I fully intend on settling down on Wednesday into a normal diet and a new routine.

Gingi could run a marathonEquipped with Marathon: You Can Do It (The everyperson’s guide to running a marathon), a gift from my mom, I’m pumped to get started on a new plan. It’s a good read that includes a training plan, history of marathon, cross-training tips and eating guides, which do not include gingerbread cookies, dobos torte, brownies, cupcakes, peppermint bark or anything with ganache. How will I ever manage?

I haven’t made it to the point at which I actually set a marathon date, but I should have that nailed down by the beginning of 2008. Akron Half was a pretty sweet race last year, and might warrant a revisit in the full marathon. While I won’t be living so close to the race location by next September (as I am right now), the race should be worth the ride. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Caution: Runners (from Alnwick Harriers)My rec. center membership runs out at the end of this month, and then my new job in Cleveland starts a week later. We don’t quite have our living (or work-commute-traffic) situation figured out, but I’m considering getting a membership to something up north for early morning swims or after-work-traffic-avoiding runs on an indoor track.

It would be nice, however, if this weather kept up while I don’t have a track (forty degrees is so much sweeter than twenty!). But we’ll see. I might just be stuck with All Star Workouts and Namaste Yoga!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Musing: The Weight of the Holidays

I’m ticking away the days until I a) hit my first runniversary on Jan. 1; b) can start running again; and c) can stop annoying myself and everyone around me about inevitable no-running-during-holiday-eating weight gain.

Well, aren't I Little Miss SunshineWhile I don’t even own a scale, I’ve been getting paranoid and insistent that my clothes don’t fit.

Granted, guilt might be making me swell or retain water, but I’m promising myself everything will smooth out by the time I hit the track in January. I’ve been keeping up with virtually every other type of exercise imagined. Running has just become the key to feeling good.

All this complaining after admitting I downed way too many cupcakes? That’s right. And so the holidays begin…

The best way to spend the holidays, however, is not thinking about how much the extra 16 cupcakes will weigh me down when I kick up training in a couple weeks. I realized I wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy my holidays this evening, so I turned it around.

How’s this for a Saturday evening: wrapping presents while sipping lemongrass-green tea, snacking on cranberry biscotti and listening to the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas with Ninja Warrior on TV. We’re celebrating Christmas with Neil’s family on Sunday, my mom on Monday and my dad on Tuesday, so it was a good time to relax. I stopped obsessing over what I have or have not eaten, run, gained, broken or lost and just chilled. Not bad.

For the first time in my life I’m happy with where I am (in my fitness, career, school, family, life… knock on wood), and I think this recent guilt thing is just my way of making up for not having anything to feel inadequate about. Sure, life’s not perfect (and I’m definitely not), but I’m cool with things the way they are. The state of things is all too transient, so I need to appreciate the way things are right now.

And I can’t wait to be happy about these things while I’m running. Soon. Hee hee. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Getting Your Zzz’s; Plus: a Minor Relapse

Nigella Lawson rocksDon’t fret. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve only had a major relapse in scaling back my cupcake-eating, which won’t help the current state of my unraveling running shape.

But they were tasty ones—gingerbread, hot chocolate and half-baked cookie dough cupcakes from Main Street Cupcakes.

I’m willing to throw in the excuse I just picked up from Nigella Lawson: it’s not good for you, but it’s the holidays. And if that’s not reason enough to binge on cupcakes, I don’t know what is. She’s a fairly successful woman, and I think I should listen to her.

My training, however, came to a grinding halt on Sept. 29 the second I crossed the Akron Half finish line. No cool-down run, hardly any post-race stretching. Just a sudden stop, some x-rays and plenty of whining.

Lucky for me, I had two triathlons and all of the major road races for the season under my belt, and I was headed into my first off season. It’s picked up here and there in the past couple weeks, but I’m trying hard to balance recovery time with cardiovascular/strength maintenance while not falling too far off the meager progress I made with my diet.

The cupcakes are pretty difficult to kick and probably won’t help my body recover from the season. But sleep will!

We all know that sleep is like a magic pill—it enables our bodies to regenerate and recover from on- and off-season workouts—and getting eight hours of it on a regular basis keeps hormones at ideal levels and clears your brain. Do you remember the last time you got some kick-butt sleep? A Stanford study found that extra sleep helped the basketball team run faster, sink more shots and play with greater energy. Duh, right? But how much sleep did you get last night? The night before?

Sleep isn’t something most people put at the top of their priority list, but it’s the one thing that can make a huge difference. So, this public service announcement—reminding you to get your sleep this off season—will help you recover better, bounce back faster and pretty much live longer (Jim knows his sleep; read his "Read It and Sleep"). What’s not to love about that?

Wacky racquetballLet’s just say I’ve been loving it. A lot. Neil and I hit the racquetball courts again on Tuesday with Jeff for an hour of cutthroat. It wasn't too intense, but a swell time. We cooled down with an 8:30/mile pace half mile (what a cool down!) and a brief walk—all of which felt all right on me! Then I did some brief bricking: three sets of 5-minute stationary cycling/half-mile run at the track.

I cycled pretty hard (no races on Tuesday) and maintained an upper reach 175 HR across the pedaling and running, which I did at about 9:00/mile pace. It was a little faster than I had hoped, but my leg held up as if I had no reason to slow. Progress? If I don't overdo it.

It’s been months since I pulled off anything close to that kind of workout. And lucky for me, I wasn’t sore at all. I did, however, come home last night and pass out on the couch to the tune of Friends re-runs on TBS. Talk about 45 minutes of pleasant napping power.

Then I did again this evening. Same time, same place. Only today I had lunch at Bronte (where I had a delicious vegetarian chili over green rice I’d like to remake in my kitchen) with Betsy and Dan before scarfing down all the cupcakes. But I guess all that eating and book-shopping takes plenty of muscle too. Recovery (and sleep) is essential.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Paint by Number, Eat by Color

Aside from a few holiday-related binges (think cranberry biscotti, chocolate-on-chocolate-on-chocolate pudding pie, corn-and-crab chowder, balsamic mushroom and potato pizza), I’ve been honing my nutrition skills and becoming the best pomegranate extractor of this generation. For readers looking for pomegranate seeding tips, this article offers some pictorial tips and tricks.

But it’s not all I’ve been up to while neglecting the blogosphere.

First, I finished my master’s degree coursework—an accomplishment for which I’ll stop feeling the need to pat myself on the back when it finally hits me—with a pretty nifty triathlon-related project. What good is obsession if it doesn’t spread to all branches of your life?

Eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies everyday.And the snacking to which I’m prone when working on writing or designing has really upped my need to use what’s left of my rec. center membership (it ends Jan. 1, which is when most people start hitting the rec. center and I’ll have to start looking for a new fitness home closer to the Cleveland area)! I’m not sure whether it’s the increased weight-training or dessert-eating that has lead to the extra four pounds I’m lugging around, but I’m hoping the end of school and beginning of real break time will get my nutrition and fitness routines back in check. It doesn’t help that we’re celebrating three family holidays in a row next week, but I guess I’ll have to sacrifice myself for crepes, dobos torte and maybe a little tiramisu. Sigh.

Not that I’ve been that bad: I’ve spent at least three visits a week at the rec. center cycling, racquetballing and elliptical-riding. In fact, I played a couple rounds of racquetball (I always lose) on Friday with Neil & co. before racing Neil on the stationary bikes (in a 7-minute ride, he out-pedaled me 2 miles to 1.97—there’s a big surprise!) and hoofing one mile around the track. At a moderate pace, I might add.

It pleased me to see that while I’ve done a good job going back on my no-run December, I’ve been able to “jog” at a pace that keeps me moving, as well as pain-free. After the still-cycling race, I couldn’t help but hop off the bike and run. What can I say? It’s a reflex now! Come January, I think I’ll be ready to get back to training (knock on wood)—slowly, of course. Slow progress, slow pace, continued recovery, eh?

Well, when I’m not making up for my training off-season with All Star Workouts, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up on some nutrition reading. A few months ago, I had a helpless inability to get enough protein and calcium to keep my body repairing itself, which didn’t aid my injuries and, hopefully, didn’t lead to any other problems I haven’t yet discovered.

No matter how many Think Think protein bars, Kashi protein shakes or glasses of Silk milk I downed, I still struggled to get enough protein into my diet (I’m a big fish-eater too, but I couldn’t have it every single day). Not digging much meat made protein a bit difficult, but adding some organic chicken/turkey sausages, turkey bacon and grilled chicken meals to the menu has helped me not be such a protein loser. And I’m still trying to strike a balance between my love of cheese, its high cholesterol risks and great protein/calcium benefits. Cheese really is good food.

But when I’m not freaking out about my two favorite nutrients to neglect, I’m always looking for some hints on how to balance my fruit/veggie eating. One warning: I’m a nut for raw fruits and vegetables. And I’ve had a tendency to obsess over one food or another until I eat it right out of season! Sticking to one set of fruits/veggies, however, is a great way to feel like you’re getting your vitamins and missing something entirely. So, I sought some good advice.

Pepitas, my favoriteWith respect to your plant diet, Runner’s World recommends eating by color. Five different colors of fruits and vegetables each day, in fact. While a fruit or vegetable’s color often reflects its dominant vitamins/goods, the pigment components in those foods need to interact with other colors to max their benefits to your body. So, a healthy blend (examples available is the RW article) makes for a tasty, healthy diet.

Another interesting note: nuts and tree seeds are tops. Despite my mild allergy to peanuts and distaste for cashews, I’m all about pine nuts, pistachios, pepitas, flax seeds and the like. But their protein hardly outweighs their fat content (often saturated). Even if they do make perfect snacks and even better pasta toppers. As it turns out they make even better diet toppers: “Seeds—including whole grains, many beans and tree nuts—contain the crucial mix of nutrients necessary to grow a new plant, which means they are packed with health-boosting compounds.”

One of my favorite buys from Trader Joe’s is pignolias, slivered almonds and pepitas. It’s a tasty mix of seeds/nuts that makes a unique pesto and taste great in oatmeal.

Don’t take it from me, read “The Healthy Runner’s Diet” from Runner’s World.

Monday, December 10, 2007

You Are What You Eat

A friend asked an interesting question recently: now that it’s off season, what am I eating?

Aside from dropping mounds of sweet potatoes and gnocchi from my Thursday and Friday (and sometimes Saturday) menus, I hadn’t really changed much. Or even thought about it until now.

Because of my injury, I had been trying extra hard to up my protein and calcium while slowly weaning myself off high-calorie days (let’s just say Thanksgivings 1 and 2, plus last week’s wedding aren’t going to make my return to the track in January a simple, or light, task). But when I dropped the major carbs from my diet, I didn’t really replace them with any energy powerhouses—aside from a few cookies and pudding snacks.

I have to admit, however, that I’ve had almost no cupcakes. Maybe just one.

It’s no surprise, then, that my energy went through the floor. Even when I had a good workout, I didn’t walk away with any good vibes or any oomph like I used to. Maybe you really need to run to get runner’s high. But couldn’t I get aerobics high, swimmer’s high or station cyclist high?

So, since last week I’ve been picking up fresh produce 2-3 times each week and plugging more raw fruits and vegetables—a task that would be much easier during the summer when there’s more than carrots, apples and pears at the market—into my diet. And one of my favorite rediscoveries has been the pomegranate.

Last time I had a pomegranate, it was 1985 and Transformers were just a regular cartoon. They’re not really an all-star fruit that shows up in grocery stores, so I’ve just loved them through POM juice, Shirley Temples and CLIF Nectar bars. Yum! But when I was picking up fruit last Friday, I saw them! I picked up a single fruit and ate it without sitting down when I came home. There’s pomegranate juice everywhere!

And now it’s my new thing. I had another one today and will become one of those red-handed people who can’t disguise their love of pomegranates because all their skin and clothes (countertops and walls too) are stained with red juice. But it’s worth it and a little healthier than cupcakes.

Energy or no energy, I’ve still tried to keep up with my training. And I even went back a bit on my no-run December. Neil kicked my butt at racquetball on Saturday (I’m convinced that good tennis players cannot play racquetball, and I’m sticking to it) after which we ran a mile on the track. At least I was supervised!

We started slowly jogging and Neil said he wanted like to run to a mile at a relaxed pace. I clicked on my watch and we started lapping. It was a good pace; I talked the whole time; I did not hurt at all. He ran really well and at a steady pace for a 10:50 mile. As we turned onto the final stretch, he sprinted the final 100 meters (I refrained, believe it or not) and had plenty of juice left. Great job, Neo!

After the run we rode bikes for while, walked a few laps and then watched an NWBA wheelchair basketball tournament. These guys were tearing it up. You’ll probably know from last summer that I’m a big basketball fan. If you ever want to watch a game in which everyone hustles all the time, catch an NWBA game.

We wondered at first how these guys would play defense, but the chairs seemed to disappear after a few minutes. And when you see a guy sink several college-regulation three-pointers in a row, it’s almost impossible to walk away. Awe. Some.

Then we came home and crashed. We didn’t exercise with too great of intensity, but we were both whipped for Saturday. And most of Sunday.

By Monday morning, most of my sore spots from racquetball had loosened a bit, so I did my 10-minute elliptical warm-up at the rec. center before hitting the pool for a lackluster 3,000-yard swim:
  • 2 x 500 yards free warm-up
  • 10 x 200 yards rotation IM stroke order, then 200 IM kick

And that was it! While I don’t normally do so much kicking, I felt that I had been neglecting my legs since October and would put in a little extra kick time to get them back in the swing. I could feel, however, a lack of flexibility creeping into my ankles from the downtime. So, I’ll have to think about stretching and kicking a little more in my regimen.

But that’s twice in four days I’ve gone swimming. I’m so proud! And while there were no adverse effects from Saturday’s jog, I won’t be running anytime soon. A slight jog now and then might be all right, but I won’t be pushing anything this time.

Except my pomegranate addiction…

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why I Can’t Quite Grasp Running...

How sad: I actually had to google “swimming” on my blog to find the last time I hit the pool. I found plenty of posts that lamented my absence from the water before I landed on Nov. 3. And the strokes before that were taken Sept. 12 at the Akron Women’s Triathlon.

Needless to say, it took plenty of mental tricks to get my butt in the water today. And as usual I aimed low for my yards. On Nov. 3, I swam 1,500 yards—something I considered a major feat—and felt only a little rusty. How would I feel today?

Well, you might remember that I’m a total baby about getting into the water. Especially during the summer when the air is warm and the water cools you down. But I don’t like to be cooled. So, I warmed up for ten minutes on the elliptical before jumping in the water. The combination of body warm-up and average water temps made the jump-in easier than usual. At least there was no squeaking or squealing this time.

I started out being nice to myself. I would swim until I felt tired, I thought. My warm-up started as 200-yard free, then extended to 300, 400 and stopped at 500. I hit my lactic acid threshold (a.k.a. the point at which I wanted to die) and burned from about 250 through 350 yards. And then I was warm.

To my surprise, I didn’t feel as out of swimming shape as I had suspected and completed the following 4,000-yard workout:

  • 500 yards free warm-up
  • 4 x 250 yards free drill
    (5 x 50 with emphasis on pull, kick, breathing every fifth stroke, follow-through and bringing it all together!)
  • 4 x 600 yards IM
  • 100 yards one-arm fly cool down

Right before the last 600 IM I started feeling a little tired, but I couldn’t stop 700 yards from 4,000. Could I? Pushing myself the extra yards felt great. And my cool-down was less vigorous than it sounds: it was a slow, stretched-out one-arm fly that was most yogic than high intensity. It was the perfect end to a decent workout.

This swim, however, highlights the reason I’ll never be able to train myself in running. In the pool I can eternally push myself harder than I should and continue to see improvement (balanced with rest, obviously) without the fear of stress fractures and going too fast.

It’s not a flaw with running; it’s a flaw with me. Would I, after not running for almost three months, kick off into a 20-mile run? Not without killing myself. But since I grew up swimming, my brain just has a hard time accepting that it’s not a practical thing to do. Luckily for me, my body stops running before my brain sees any of the red flags.

Hence the reason I'm having a running-free December. Sob.

The best thing of the swim had to be splashing around in a pool while the hills outside the tall rec. center windows were covered with a clean blanket of snow. It’s a beautiful incongruity. One of the rec. center employees, however, kept opening (and leaving open!) an outside door right next to the pool as he carried things in and out of the building. Talk about cold! But the frigid breeze was the deciding factor in making those IMs 600 yards and not 200s! At least I have that.

Now I want to swim tomorrow as well!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Running Around in Four-Inch Boots

Last Friday, Neil and I joined some friends for a November tradition: Over the Rhine. The band (if you haven’t yet, check out their Web site and listen to their latest album) always ends up at Kent Stage around late November and we can’t help but love them. Sigh. They also released a top-notch holiday album last year, Snow Angels, which ties A Charlie Brown Christmas as the best holiday album of all time. No kidding.

But the reason I mention the show—aside from spreading the joy of Over the Rhine—is our other November tradition: running from/to the car, which is always about a half mile or more away, in the cold before and after an Over the Rhine show. In years past, the sensibility of my wardrobe hasn’t been the best. This year, however, was different. While I wore a short black dress to the show, I went super trendy with running tights disguised as leggings beneath the dress, and I was pretty warm and ready to run!

Now, I thought the only downfall to my brilliant plan was that I was wearing four-inch platform boots. Au contraire, mon ami! It turns out these boots were made for running (even if I did roll my ankle every third step when I first bought them a few years ago) and I’m thinking they should be my new running shoes. Woo hoo!

We started our jaunt at Kent Stage, ran downhill on Main Street in downtown Kent and took a sharp right past out-of-the-bar smokers and waddling college students before hitting the final stretch along Franklin’s brick road. It was touch-and-go with the wobbly pavement and some potholes, but I made it to the car feeling warmed up and not at all sore in the left leg. Perhaps those four inches of platform eat up the shock and I should start investing in more Spice Girls attire for next running season.

Running since Friday, however, hasn’t been so great. I’ve had almost regular soreness in my left leg—mostly muscle or ligament or tendon or mental pain—and have stuck to my ibuprofen diet. What a bummer! But I have to say it wasn't caused by the boot run. It's been a fairly regular thing.

So, I’ve turned back to my jolly old plan of yoga, pilates and rec. center machines to keep me going. And tomorrow I swear I’m going to hit the pool. I’m also trying to get myself rolling on a twice-weekly spinning plan, but I’ve really only made it twice in three weeks. Or was it thrice? Nevertheless, I’m nervously hitting the bikes and elliptical at the rec. in a mad effort to keep up my cardio. Losing my cardio shape would break my heart. In more ways than one!

My plan for now is stop running until the end of December (the end of December?) and keep up with every other part of my regiment that doesn’t involve pounding on my lower leg. I was reading an article in Runner’s World yesterday, which was oddly enough about knees and not broken legs at all (although they're sometimes related), that made me realize rushing my leg to wellness won’t actually make it better. And while I realize that this article is about the seventeenth thing I swear is making me think better about rushing back to miles, I’m hoping it will be the last thing. The only thing left is a broken leg, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I won’t return to being an idiot.

In far more exciting news, my friend Stef just had a baby girl named Kelsie Golda (I heart Golda) and I can’t wait to see the two gorgeous girls!

But for now I’m going to let Pablo Domene Lee, who seems to have disappeared from the Internet, kick my butt again. I did half his yoga session this morning, so my right side is stretched and sore while my left side has no idea. It’s a strange feeling and I need to evenly spread the pain…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Step One: Admitting You Have the Problem

So, I’ve become quite a TV workout junkie. First it was New York City Ballet. Then Namaste Yoga. Now it’s All Star Workouts. My DVR is busting at the seams with enthusiastic instructors and workouts that don’t involve running, cycling or swimming. The other parts of my body love it.

And I’m totally sore today.

I used to laugh when I saw commercials for All Star Workouts as I fastforwarded through the breaks in Namaste Yoga. The set is chock full of bright colors and people looking like they’re having way too much fun. But as I was searching for Namaste last week, I found an All Star episode for yoga. And then another one for ballet. And one with Masala Bhangra.

Granted, neither the yoga nor ballet episodes were true to those disciplines’ forms (I don’t know enough about Masala Bhangra, but it was a fun time), but the workouts themselves were butt-kickers. In fact, the ballet episode incorporated weights and bands for a super ballet experience. My triceps and upper back can attest to that.

The episodes are pretty cheesy, and I’m surprised I’m admitted my new thang to anyone but myself (I sneak in my All Star workouts before Neil gets home… but I guess he’ll know now), but you have to give props when cheesy works. Either that or I'm really tired right now.

Well, I needed to even out my upper- and lower-body soreness, so I headed to the rec. center today for a spinning class and a ride on the elliptical. Both have worked well for my left leg, which just hasn’t felt fantastic lately (not worse, just achy from time to time). It’s high cardio impact, but low pressure impact on my legs. Besides, it’s the off season: I finally have time to heal. And learn to ride a bike.

But all this All-Starring and spinning and ellipticaling has wiped me out. I spent most of the day doing freelance work at Susan's (making pretty things in Flash) in Kent while my car was getting fixed at Fred's Automotive next door. And as I sat cradling my pot of white peony tea away from my computer, I swear, I almost nodded off at least twice. So, I think I'll go nod off in a more appropriate place. Like this too, too comfy couch I'm.... zzzzz....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Spinning, Eating and Resting

Here’s to everyone who extols the virtues of spinning: last week I took to the cycle and spun my way through a low-intensity class and surprisingly no soreness, but a little fatigue in my legs. I can definitely see how spinning warms and strengthens your muscles for cycling, even if I don’t know how it feels to ride a really great bike. Yet.

spinningThe instructor at the rec. center led us with oldies, and as I only almost wiped out 3-4 times, I was still able to lip-synch to “Build Me Up, Buttercup.” What a good song. It’s funny, though: I absolutely pushed myself much harder than I should have. But pump up “Beat it!” or “YMCA” and I’ll pedal my heart out.

One of the only downsides (except for offending my sundry left-leg issues) was that my legs felt like jell-o as I wiggled my way up to the third floor for my 12:30 class. Spinning ended at noon. As I sat through the 1.5 hours of class, I tried to kick my legs around and keep them warm. I imagined myself getting up at the end of class and my legs just collapsing beneath me. I would think that.

My legs weren’t sore at all and they never hurt, but they just felt tired and energyless from Wednesday through Saturday. In fact, I hit the road on Thursday morning for an outdoor run and five minutes into it I had left-leg pain. I stopped running immediately and walked four miles. Walking felt fine and I didn’t feel any residual pain in the days that followed. But I did feed myself some ibuprofen to ward off the swelling demons.

For the remainder of the week I stuck to low-impact exercises, including yoga, weights and eating. In lieu of the challenge of Turkey Trot, I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner this year. And the days leading up to it were filled with recipe-testing and ingredient-snacking. It can get tiring. Lugging around the extra 50 pounds of pies, cakes and fondue I packed on this week should be tiring as well.

Curry-roasted butternut squash and chick peasSo, it’s only fair that I give this installment the Iron G Chef treatment. Thanksgiving 2007 at the G household included:
My favorite was the Boston crème pie, which Daniella made and which I ate all weekend long. She also cleaned much of my post-dinner apartment when I passed out from cook’s exhaustion. Thanks, girl!

Now a new week begins. I have to slow myself back into some regiment, which should really include more swimming and less excuse-making about it being too cold to go swimming (it’s only getting worse). But at least I have spinning on my list now.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Form, Form, Form

It never fails: I am always jealous when I watch football. Be it college or NFL, I get a little sad when I realize that I will never win the Heisman (even if Neil reminds me that I still have four years eligibility remaining) and even more down when I see the way these guys can run. What form! What speed! What style!

We were watching the Buckeyes yesterday, so I had many opportunities to watch Beanie Wells float down the field. It’s really a thing of beauty:

How could I not have form on my mind when I ran today?

You’ll know by now that I have an intensity problem. And while getting a stress fracture (I don’t feel too much like a doof: I’m not the only one) should stop me in my tracks, I admit that it’s hard. I waited a month and a half to get running again, and now I have to slow down?

Well, my cure for toning down my intensity is focusing on my form, which needs some serious focusing. I wouldn’t say I run “like a girl” or like a guy, for that matter. It’s half way between soccer player and person in pain, I’d say. Before my injury, I was just getting to the root of my no-knee-lift form problem, but I’ve never quite been natural about my arms. I wouldn’t say I’m a big darn mess. But I’m pretty close.

On several occasions, I’ve thought I had nailed a good form—my knees lifted, my legs kicked back, my arms swung with ease. My shadow looked totally smooth! But I’ve never been able to take that form and make it something regular, something subconscious, something natural. I always sink back into my pokey form that makes running faster paces higher intensity than they need to be.

So, this was my first week back to running. I spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday focusing on distances and a little too much on pace. And as I extended my distances and envied previous paces, I felt like I was headed straight for disaster. Again.

Today I just took to the track and ran for 50 minutes with my eyes on warm-up, form and cool-down. For my 10-month running life, I’ve almost always neglected warming up and cooling down—even on race day. No excuse for it. But today I warmed up for about a mile at a relaxed pace.

Once I felt loose, I ran for about 20 minutes and then started working on form. First I targeted my knees. Obviously, I don’t need Beanie Wells’ knees, but my friend Melissa told me that my knee-lift was so lame-o (not her words; she was nice about it) that I wasn’t really reaching forward with my legs or taking advantage of my forward motion. It was as if I were afraid to reach out to the ground in front of me! So, I didn’t go for sprinter knees, just enough of a knee flex that I could reach my legs out and pull myself forward.

What's good form, really?With just that little tweak, I felt like I was cruising without upping my intensity at all. I admit that I probably ran a little faster than I should for several laps, but toned it down fast. Lucky for me: no pain.

Next: kick-back. I’ve always been pretty good about following through on my kick-back, but I don’t generally practice it, especially not with good knee-lifting. The follow through stepped up my turnover without much effort. And, again, I had to remind myself to slow down!

Unfortunately, I could only get my arms to not swing with the greatest of unease for more than a few strides. It’s one of those mental issues in which the moment I think about my arms, they start doing strange things. I’ve tried to swing my arms straight back and forth with my hands cupped, elbows around 90 degrees and thumbs whisking past my hips. And I’ll get it from time to time… until I realize what I’m doing and it gets all funky again. One of these days.

The real test will be to master a good form and then keep it up across months and months of training until it becomes as ingrained in my goofy running brain as my current mess of a gait is! I’m happy to report, however, that—fast or slow—my run today felt fantastic (to read more about form, check out "The Perfect Form" from Runner's World). No swelling or residual pain. And I think I cleared out some extra caloric space for Thanksgiving.

Next up: spinning on Monday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Slowly, but surely: Repeat that to yourself

After my first five days back in the game, I’ve covered nine—count ’em!—NINE miles: two on Monday, three Wednesday, four today. Nine. Over five days. How far the not-so-mighty have fallen. But this is recovery time. And one of these days I’ll recover my confidence as well.

I ran at the rec. center today and Monday, but took these running legs outside for what appears to be the last nice day of the year on Wednesday. It was just a jaunt around my neighborhood (I knew I wasn’t going far) around a 9:30/mile pace. Not only was it comfortable, but mildly reassuring. I kept up a decent pace while climbing some hills, fighting off my remaining leg paranoia and not feeling any pain. Just like Monday, it was difficult to stop at the end of mile three, but I designed my run to complete mile three at my front door, so the temptation wouldn’t be there to Run! G! Run!

Today I headed to the rec. center around 8 a.m. I’ve wimped out for track running because a) I’m a wimp; b) I’m a wimp about the cold; and c) I thought I’d give my healing leg some tracky cushion for now. It’s sad to think back to last winter when I ran in snowstorms and -20 wind chills. Am I saner now or just a weakling?

Whatever I’ve become, I think I’m learning to be more honest with myself—and all it took was a sidelining leg fracture to get me there! After stretching (I had been doing yoga in the morning before running, but I was hoping for a faster start today) a bit, I hit the track at a slow pace and felt a little creakedy in my bones. I hit the first half-mile at 10:30 pace, started feeling warmed and brought in mile one at 9:56. So, I picked it up a notch and hit mile two at 19:01 (around 9:05/mile).

I thought I would turn it up again—because I am like Pavlov’s dog and I need a distinct sign to tell me when to drool or sharp pain when I need to slow—and ran the first half of mile three in 4:20 (8:40 pace). Right at the halfway point of my fourth lap, my leg started feeling a little achey. Nothing bad, nothing sharp, nothing breaky. It actually felt like a twinge in my injured tendon.

But I didn’t slow down. I stopped. I stretched the thing out for a minute and started to walk. I felt no pain at all while walking (it actually felt a little better than standing still), so I took a mile to walk and then hit a stationary bike. After 20 minutes cycling, I hit the track for the last 1.5 miles around a 9:30 pace. I was surprised to find transitioning was still pretty easy—even if it was only a 20-minute “ride.” Now, if only I could actually cycle well, I’d have this tri thing rolling!

With my leg doing all right, I still came home to some 800-mg ibuprofen monsters and a little icing. I don’t think it actually needed icing, but I wanted to be safe. No swelling wanted here.

And finally: Skippy headed off to the doggy spa in the sky on Tuesday. He will be missed and continue to be the high watermark against which all dogs and loving family members are measured.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Turning the Page

Friday was the last day at my job (my next desk will live at another NEOhio university), so I spent most of the weekend eating cupcakes and reveling with Neil in not yet turning on the heat despite it snowing a few days ago. The no-heat is a pride thing. And it’s totally my doing.

So, Monday was the beginning of a new chapter, as they say. And since I have some time before my next spot starts, I headed to the rec. center bright and early for my first day back on the track.

Before and after spinning and circling the elliptical, I walked a fast mile around the track (which isn’t remotely as entertaining as strolling my neighborhood) and bounced into an ever-so-slight jog. It felt fine. I turned it up a half-notch. Still fine. My confidence was up and my cardio seems like it’s right where I left it.

I ran my first mile back in 10:34. Good, G.

So, I wasn’t even winded after mile one, and fought with myself over how far to let myself run. My body felt ready for at least five miles… but how did I hurt myself again? Pushing too hard? Yeah.

But I admit that I picked up the pace for the second mile—I just wanted to test out my trusty left leg. I started running a typical training pace (around 9:00-9:30/mile), which felt normal, comfortable.

And then a couple of people crowded the track behind me and I picked up my pace for a half lap. I was running around 8:30/mile pace and could feel some tightness creeping into my left calf, so I slowed down RIGHT AWAY. Good, G, again. My leg loosened right away, and I finished the second mile very easily in 9:00.

The hardest part: stopping. My body isn’t quite as out of whack as I had feared—I should know better by now. After working out on the bikes and elliptical, I felt like my body would rebel and my breathing would be a lost cause. It was better than I could have hoped (knock on wood). And several hours later, there are no adverse effects. I was, nevertheless, certain to take my still-running prescription of ibuprofen to stop/prevent swelling in my leg.

My only fear is that those 800mg monsters are going to mask some pain I should feel. But today just felt smooth. I don’t see a Turkey Trot in the near future, but maybe I’ll grab some turkey and do my own trot that morning. Perhaps I’ll learn my lesson this time. It’s a new chapter. And St. Malachi is only four months away!

(On a much sadder note, Skippy isn’t doing well again. My mom said he might be headed for that long doggy nap. It’s such a downer when your little doggy brother has become an old man. But the pooch has lived eleven-and-a-half day-brightening years, and never really stopped looking like a puppy. Skippy has always been the most lovable, smile-invoking furry thing you’ll ever meet. And I hope that when he gets there, the doggy spa in the sky will have reserved the presidential suite for him. He deserves it.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

All Hail Paula Radcliffe!

NYC marathon winner, Paula Radcliffe, and her baby IslaBefore I started running last January (and picked up my Nike+ iPod set), I only knew Paula Radcliffe was a runner — a good one, at that — who quit in the middle of the 2004 Olympic marathon. That's not a criticism. I just remember her crying on the side of the road with cameras buzzing around her... and no one really paying attention to the people actually running the race.

Because I couldn't run a block without getting winded in 2004, I didn't disrespect the woman for quitting... I just didn't understand why anyone would run that far (I think she stopped around 22-23 miles) and just not finish. After you've watched Chris Legh try to crawl to the Ironman finish in 1997, you don't expect any elite endurance athlete to just quit. Even if you don't have a clue what they're going through.

But once I started running with my Nike+iPod, I began to really appreciate Paula Radcliffe: she congratulated me every time I reached a new distance record for myself! So, I started reading more about her.

At the time that I started running, she was having a baby (a girl named Isla). And today she won the NYC Marathon. Now that's some serious girl power.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

One Week to Go...

According to my doctor, I can start to lightly “jog” in another week. My progress will be determined on that ever reliable measure: pain. Which means that if it doesn’t hurt, I can run… I mean, “jog.”

But that also means I’ll have to admit to myself if and when my leg does hurt. The last thing I’d love to do right now is jump up to a full fracture and not run until next summer. So, I’ll be reminding myself for the next week that I’m not Mr. Tough Guy for now. Just Ms. Slightly Sensitive.

All this drumming up to running, however, has had me pumped all week long. I renewed my rec. center membership and hit 1) the elliptical for an hour on Thursday (yes, I’m permitted to do that!); and 2) the pool for 1,500 yards on Friday. It was nice to get my legs moving and heart pumping on the elliptical—even if it really isn’t like running. I noticed that my cardio health isn’t quite what it was a month ago (I could feel myself wheezing a tad after an hour), and I imagine the never-ending didn’t help. Something to work on…

But to my surprise, swimming wasn’t bad at all. When I swam as a kid/teen, it was torture coming back from any hiatus between winter and summer swimming. I had a little bit of tightness that shook out around 300 yards, and then felt all right. Yesterday I swam:
  • 1,000 yards free
  • 300 yards one-armed fly
  • 200 yards free

Not exactly the 5,000-yard workouts I left back in September, but I’ll start building up. It also gave me hope that my outlook on the running front might not be as bleak as I imagined.

Amidst all my lacking blog updates, I have been busy with finishing my master’s degree, procuring a new job and looking for a house in the Cleveland area (I’ve also kept up with yoga and pilates—but that’s not at all interesting to write/read about). But on the tri-training front: I’m looking for a new bike. I’ve been scouring various sites looking for a good, used bike, but I’m still trying to figure out what I want/should want.

When I visited my doctor a couple weeks ago, she had a cycling magazine in the examination room that included an article about choosing bike for triathletes. How handy! So, I’m learning, just not sure. Although I have promised several people I would consult with them before making ANY bicycle purchases! At least I have someone watching my back.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good News!

The good news is that my left leg isn’t broken. It didn’t crack up the fibula and down the tibia, as my doctor had feared. I won’t need surgery, and I can even get off the physical therapy.

Nevertheless, I do have a slight stress fracture in my fibula, whose breaking is really just a family rite of passage (my mom and my brother have both had summertime breakings of the same bone). I am happy to report that not only has my flu mostly gone away—the cough remains—but I am now allowed to walk and yoga, and then ease into some jogging in about two weeks. I'm eager to hit the walking sidewalks and yoga mat this weekend!

All of these steps, of course, may be taken only if no pain occurs. The doctor believes I may be experiencing tendonitis, so the ibuprofen continues.

So, family, blog and real-world friends are awesome. Congrats to all of the killer runs everyone has had, and many thanks to everyone for their support. It stinks to be injured, but it’s uplifting to know that people care. And it makes me want to run—without harming myself—so much more!

But on the news front: Neil and I might be moving soon. No solid details yet, but we will likely be heading north. And I’m eager to scope out some good running neighborhoods and the prospect of bear-free trails.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fractured Leg, Broken Spirit

Well, the jury’s still out, but by the middle of next week I should find out whether I have a stress fracture in my left leg. The doctor I saw today says evidence points to it, but I’ll have my fingers crossed for the next several days that the x-rays point to nothing but tendonitis or something. I’ve been prescribed ibuprofen (for swelling) and physical therapy. And I’ll need some form of backup exercise for all the depression eating I’ve done today.

It was fun talking to a medical professional who also runs. When I told her that I first started feeling pain in late August/early September and that I didn’t do anything about it even when the pain became excruciating, she said, “Well, you’re a runner. We tend to do that.” And I kind of thought it was cool to be called a ‘runner.’ Hee hee.

She admitted that she tore a tendon once and denied it for weeks before the other medical personnel in her office convinced her that she had a problem. So, while it doesn’t make my long-term denial (or my lower leg) any better, she made me feel like less of a self-imposed loser. Perhaps it's just a condition or labor of love or something.

The biggest issue now is my brain. Sure, I’ve had pain in my leg, but I’ve been sticking to walking (still OK for now) and yoga (depends), which have given my broken/not-broken leg some much needed rest. Relatively. Nevertheless, when she indicated that I likely had a fracture, it started to hurt! So, I spent the past month convincing myself that it didn’t hurt… and now I can’t help but think it does. Sigh.

On the bright side, the flu is mostly gone (I still have one of those annoying nighttime coughs that has to be making Neil homicidal, even if he would never admit it—thanks, man!). But I can say, ‘at least I have my health.’

High fives and best wishes and great vibes to all the butt-kicking marathoners (Jenn, Salty, Landon… anyone else I’m forgetting?) running the good race this weekend! You rock! Now go run!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is the Flu That Never Ends…

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two weeks since the half marathon and, therefore, just as long since this sickness began. I’ve lost my voice and about 30 pounds in mucus over the past two weeks (too much info?). I’m still wholly convinced that this is a ploy by my body to keep me from running.

And it’s been working for the most part. This week I walked for about 3-4 miles twice at 14-15:00/mile, and have felt pretty peachy before, during and after each walk. At least my yoga and weight-training have never been better. My calf feels a little sore in the morning sometimes, but nothing as painful as pre-half times. In fact, it used to hurt to the touch, which made it really difficult to stretch, do yoga or even scratch my leg.

So, can you keep a secret? I tried running for about three strides on Tuesday night. It felt great. No pain at all! But I’m sticking to my prescribed healing period. My mantra has been what Landon said to me the last time I was injured: the miles I forsake now while healing will be fewer than the miles I would miss if I didn’t let my injury heal. And if all else fails, I can always become a speed walker and go to the Olympics.

Monday, October 8, 2007

In Joe Borowski We Trust…

So, I may not be able to run for a couple weeks, but I do have a few more days of Indians baseball.

Is there greater joy than watching the Yankees lose? Nah.

And there’s nothing quite like the Joe Borowski heart attack to give you your daily kick of cardio. Whew! At least my heart will be in shape when I take to the roads again in a few weeks.

Go Indians!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tears, Tears and Turkey

So, here’s a confession: running makes me cry. Not in a cause-and-effect kind of way. I don’t know what my deal is, but for some reason when I’m running, particularly when I’m racing, I’m more likely to get choked up at the sight of cheering supporters or inspirational signs or thoughts of people who helped me along the way. For my whole life I’ve tried to the tough guy—probably in the hope that my steely emotions would belie my pint size. But how am I supposed to be a tough guy when I’m blubbering and teary all the time?

It hasn’t really become a problem, short of a few near-asthmatic backlashes against the tears, but I was just thought that admitting to the problem would be a first step toward recovery.

And speaking of recovery, I can almost breathe through both nostrils now. My ears are still a little cloggy and my breating weak, but I'm on the mend. After five days down with the flu (OK, it took me three days to give in and get some rest), I’m finally able to function on an almost-normal level. Breathing during yoga is still difficult—I’m breathing double-time and gasping instead of ujjayi pranayama—but at least my body isn’t still aching. I finally got around to some weights, ab work and stretching last night, and then an hour of yoga and fast-walking today.

Yes, I said walking. I also made it to the doctor late last week to check out my calf injury. It’s a slight tear that doesn’t require contact medical attention, but rest, ice and stretching. I’m allowed to walk for now, so I did 4.7 miles at 13:50/mile today. Is it cheating if I’m walking almost as quickly as I can run? It still felt fine, and I came straight home for follow-up stretches and ice. The next two weeks will tell (two whole flippin' weeks?)...

After listening to my running stories and an examination, my doctor said my injury was likely caused by one of two things: 1) a big wipeout (which one: this one or this one?) or 2) pushing too hard in my tempo runs. Boy, didn't see that coming at all! If nothing else, at least my blog will be a guide to beginners of how not to train. So, I feel less bad for going from 30 miles/week to 2 miles to 4 walking… but I’m still itching to get back. I have a Turkey Trot to prep for!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Report of 1:54:10

No sooner had I packed up my second cupcake after the Akron Half Marathon did I come down with the flu (OK, I also went to a birthday party on Saturday and the Browns game on Sunday)!

For years I bragged about never getting sick, but it’s been quite the year for me to be down and out. Everyone seems to think it’s my body’s way of begging for a day off, but I think it’s work germs. I’m going to start wearing rubber gloves and a surgical mask at work now.

But at least I’ve had nearly a week to reflect on the half marathon. And if you’re still interested in getting the full report, here it comes:

By now you know that I did, in fact, find a parking spot! I woke up early on Saturday, ate a Greens Plus bar for breakfast and followed scant early morning traffic into Akron and straight into a University of Akron parking lot. Lucky me! So, I followed a group jogging to the start, picked up some espresso GU and wandered into the starting area.

Never in my life have I seen a race of this size. There were just thousands and thousands of people. And thousands and thousands of good attitudes. I think that’s my favorite thing about running, triathloning, racing, in general: just about everyone involved in these events arrives with a positive attitude. You really have to, don’t you? It’s such a breath of fresh air, a change of pace from the everyday. Did I mention it wasn’t even 7 a.m. yet?

In the pre-dawn darkness I waddled through the crowd in the starting corral and somehow ran into Tom from work. I had twisted his arm about running the Akron Half all summer long, so it was pretty awesome to see him waiting to begin. We talked about our pre-race anxieties (neither of us had ever run a half) and suddenly the race was starting!

We struck out into the dark Akron morning, and, man was it crowded! For the first 2 miles I was stuck in a tight pack and was only able to move maybe 1-2 people ahead when the street gently widened from time to time. I was right behind the 4:00:00 marathon pacer and really wanted to break ahead; we hit mile two at 18:00 and I was really itching to go! My calf was still numb from the BioFreeze, and I wanted to use my early energy and painlessness while I still had it.

Once the sun rose, I had to wiggle out of my hooded sweatshirt and tie it around my waist. To keep it out of my way, I pulled my t-shirt over it (see photos). And then I had someone ask how “far along” I could run a half marathon. Sigh. It’s the third time this year I’ve heard someone assume a non-pregnant woman was with child. So, I thought I would take this moment to remind people that you should never ask a woman whether she’s pregnant unless she’s a) talking about it or b) has a baby coming out of her. That’s my public service announcement!

Finally, around mile three the crowd loosened. We headed back into downtown Akron, whose streets were lined with cheerers—5-6 people deep in some spots. The number of supporters at the race blew my mind almost as much as the number of runners. Absolutely awesome! What was even better: we were able to have our names printed on our bibs, so as I ran by some crowds of people I didn’t know, they would yell, “Go Gina! You look great!” Thank you people I don’t know! You were fantastic! It really made me want to visit more races and cheer on more people I don’t know.

But there’s always a down side: it was right around this downtown section that I was stuck again in a small pack. We were running a good pace at this point, but I was stuck behind a guy who, umm, had a gas problem. Cover your ears if you’re sensitive to flatulence stories. Cruising through downtown, I heard this repeating noise that I thought was coming from the guy’s shoe in front of me. I wasn’t quite so lucky as I soon caught wind of what was actually going on. On the one hand, I felt bad for the guy who was obviously having stomach issues… but then I felt bad for me because I had to hold my breath while running uphill toward mile 4!

I missed the mile-3 marker while trying to escape, but I hit the mile 4 marker at 34:45. At this point I was less concerned with my original goal (8:30/mile) and just aimed to beat 9:00/mile for each marker. Following my training plan’s advice for the race, I reached a comfortable pace and just maintained it throughout the race. I also walked the aid stations to get proper hydration and avoid evil stitches.

Proper hydration and nutrition, however, does not include doubling up on energy gel. For me at least. Before I reached the 10K aid station, I took down the raspberry Hammer gel I brought with me and then grabbed a vanilla GU at the stop. I washed it all down with water and ran on my way. It wasn’t three minutes after I crossed the 10K mark (53:41) that I started getting some serious heart palpitations. Apparently I don’t handle doubled-up caffeine energy as well as I had hoped. I felt like my heart was in my throat, but my limbs were throbbing with get-go! So, I slowed way down to get my HR under control and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t have a GU-induced heart attack!

With my HR under control, I was pumped when I crossed mile 7 at exactly 1:00:00. I was more than halfway done and I knew I could finish in under 2:00:00 despite all the mishaps to that point. And then I just locked into my stride and focused on finishing strong.

We wound through all of the Akron neighborhoods I’ve never visited and were serenaded by more bands than I could count (several marching bands, a steel drum group, a country band), and somehow I stayed relatively focused. After all, it’s not like I was on my bike! But as we made our way up and down hills, and the area became increasingly urban, I knew were getting closer to the finish!

It was only when the half marathon split off from the rest of the pack at mile 11 that I had some down-on-myself time. We were running up a never-ending incline along a freeway when my energy bottomed out. I guess the GU high spiked too soon! My mind was torn between my excited “I only have two more miles left in a half marathon!” side and my downtrodden “how did I end up running in the berm of the MLK freeway?” side. I was surprised that no one passed me at this point in the race… so maybe we were all feeling the same way!

At 1:45:47 I crossed mile 12 and thought, “Fifteen minutes? I can totally run 1.1 miles in less than fifteen minutes!” I started hoofing along and cheered on a few people who were obviously sputtering out. And then I started looking (desperately) for anything that looked like a ballpark.

While I live 10 miles from Akron, I’m rarely in the city and I’ve never seen Canal Park, which was the site of our finish. Signs on the side of the road bore inspirational sayings, including “See your destination.” But I couldn’t see it! Where was the godforsaken park?

After what seemed like five more miles, a guy on the side of the road cheered for us and yelled “two more right turns and you’re done!” So, I made one right turn… and only saw people running forever! And still nothing looked like a ballpark! Then I saw runners making another right turn and I started picking up my pace. I couldn’t quite hear the cheering that marks most race finish lines, but I could distantly recognize the voice of an announce. And was he announcing finish times?

I took the final right turn, chugged down a brick road hill and then crossed through a threshold… into the ballpark! There had to be thousands of people in the ballpark—and they were all cheering! I felt like a superstar! I crossed into the ballpark and saw the big finish arch 250 yards around the warning track. So, I kicked into super gear and sprinted toward the finish. And as I crossed the finish line at 1:54:10, I yelped with joy! I finished a half marathon! Woo hoo!

I collected my finisher’s medal and aluminum blanket (which I ditched early and then froze off my butt later), and then somehow found Melissa, Jeff and Vincent in the crowd of thousands! We took photos, complained about how badly I smelled and then took off for cupcakes.

A hazelnut cupcake was my celebration dessert of choice, but I took home a You-Must-Be-Chipping-Me cupcake, which is now in my freezer and waiting to be enjoyed. Main Street Cupcakes also has a most-delicious pumpkin spice cupcake right now, which Melissa was nice enough to let me try… and I was dopey enough not to get.

Unfortunately, I won’t be celebrating a 5K this Saturday with that pumpkin spice cupcake. I’ve been out of commission all week with the flu, and unless a super miracle of energy and healing happens between now and Saturday morning, I’ll have to sit this one out. I’m most bummed because it’s the Bowman Cup 5K at Kent State. It was supposed to be my first race ever—when I first tried running in 2006, I thought I would give Bowman a try, but I didn’t think I could run 3.1 miles!

How funny is that? What a difference a year makes! I guess there is always next year. Besides, my calf is still a little achy. It would probably appreciate the extra rest. And I guess the flu is the best way for my body to force me into some calf-healing time.

Now I have to figure out what’s next. I really enjoyed having a focused training plan—something that made sense and helped me work toward a specific goal. So, I’ll have to figure out what races are in my future. And, you know, which cupcakes are best for those celebrations!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


There will be time for reflection later: I ran a half marathon!

The short story: I woke up early and slathered my leg in BioFreeze before heading to Akron and finding a parking spot within seconds (I thought you might have been worried). After jogging to the race area and hitting the bathroom, I slurped down a GU and got in position for the start. I wasn’t very strategic in my starting position, which I regretted when I got stuck in the jam behind the 9:00/mile pacer for the first 2+ miles.

My calf went from numb to dire to erased by adrenaline, but I finished my first half marathon in 1:54:10 (8:43/mile), which was good enough for 23/126 in my age group.

And the cupcake report: I had a hazelnut cupcake and took a “You must be chipping me” home. My running-stale stomach just wouldn’t have appreciated it the way such things should be loved.

But most importantly: thanks to Melissa, Jeff and Vincent for being my fan club and meeting me at the finish. It was the crowning moment of my race season to have you there. High fives to Stef, Dane and Ethan for hitting Main Street Cupcakes with us to celebrate. And a billion thanks to everyone who has given me words of encouragement and help over my whiney obstacles.

Ahh, running. It takes a village.

What a happy day! More on the race later…

Friday, September 28, 2007

Half Marathon: Here I Come!

Bloggers and friends are awesome. It’s been a down couple of days, but between comment-encouragement and an angel-hair-with-all-kinds-of-good-stuff lunch, I’m feeling all right.

And now my remaining anxiety is all about parking in downtown Akron. Sigh. There’s always something.

My plan: leave the house early tomorrow morning (I only live about 10 miles away, which as a lifelong Clevelander seems strange to me), find parking, stretch, warm-up, stretch and stay active. For all of my this-is-the-longest-I’ve-ever-raced events, I’ve burned up so much energy and water being nervous that I’m determined to distract myself and stay positive. Besides it’s only 13.1 miles. I can totally do that!

My goal: it all depends on the calf. Believe me, it’s not a cop out. But if I’ve feeling strong, I would be pleased with 8:30/mile (1:51:00). I know I’m capable of it without a bum calf. With a bum calf, however, I’ll aim for anything under 9:00/mile (1:58:00). And if I’m feeling flippin’ fantastic, the sky is the limit—that is, if the sky is 8:00/mile.

Last night I took another 3-mile brisk walk without even attempting to jog. My fingers are crossed that the extra-super rest will help. It’s been a very strange week—going from 31 miles in a week to… two. I think I’m literally itching to run. I jogged rapidly down the hall at work when I heard there was free food in the kitchen, but that was it.

My friend Jeff, however, has extolled the virtue of BioFreeze pain reliever gel (think BenGay but less stinky), which I know I’ve received samples and samples of in goody bags all summer long. I just hope I’ve kept some of them.

Finally, when I cross the finish tomorrow, my friend Melissa and I will head to Main Street Cupcake in Hudson for my celebratory treat. Good things come to those who wait… and run. If you’re feeling cupcakey, please join us!

For now I’m going to go join other marathoners/half-marathoners/relay-racers/10Kers in Akron for packet pick-up. All the best to Salty on her inevitably speedy leg of the relay and to everyone else running this weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Runners' Lost and Found

Tuesday’s much-awaited easy 2-miler was run at an “easy” pace, but the run was anything but easy. Was it the heat? I hope. Perhaps it was just a bad day. Whatever it was, I struggled to keep up with 10:00/mile.

For the entire run I felt like I was on the verge breaking out of the lactic threshold. But my legs just lingered. After the first mile (when my legs, even my pained calf, are generally warmed), my legs just felt stiffer and stiffer with each stride. For a minute I thought that the past several months was all a dream. I wasn’t a runner after all. I hadn’t run 12 miles on Sunday. I didn’t have a summer of races under my belt.

But then I started being practical. These weren’t my legs! Sure, they’re the stubby, knee-scarred things I’m used to trotting on, but they weren’t my running legs. So, when I came home I made and posted the following sign all over Summit County:

Missing: Two half-marathon ready running legs. Bum left calf. Capable of 8:00/mile race pace. Severe runner's tan.OK, I didn’t actually post that sign. But I am desperately trying to figure what has happened. I’m also trying to calm myself down. We’ve all had bad running days, so I’m pinning my hopes on that notion. Just a bad day.

And Saturday will be a fantastic day. Whatever legs show up at the starting line.

Now I’m going to rest until Saturday, stretch and ice my calf, and eat my carbs. Mmm, gnocchi and grilled plums, here I come!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Flip flops and ice cubes

It’s finally here: my “taper” week (it’s a “taper” week because I don’t think my training is quite to the level—neither the highs nor the lows—to truly warrant being called a true taper… ahh, semantics)! Several weeks ago I was thinking that I wanted my taper week more than I wanted a vacation. And I’m not sorry.

But before I made it to this week, there was some hard running involved, such as my Saturday and Sunday runs. I’ve been adhering to my strict schedule of stretch-ice-stretch for my calf and I nixed all interval training last week. For once I was listening to my body. At least partially listening. And by Sunday I had incorporated pill-popping into the mix (OK, I took two anti-inflams and it was fab) and all was well.

On Saturday I completed a 6-mile round-the-neighborhood run. While it started with my slow-as-torture jog to warm up my calf (maybe 11-13:00/mile), the calf warmed up and the pain all but vanished after 2.5-3 miles. I had plenty of thoughts running through my brain—running and life related—that distracted me from the ouches, but then it actually dissipated. Mostly. I would get the occasional pang, tweak or yowzaas, but nothing stuck around too long.

After the first three miles, I thought about making up the intervals I skipped last Tuesday. Running guilt gets me every time! I had been thinking about that workout all week, and had hoped to finagle some intervals into my painful existence. Thankfully, I’ve actually learned something over the past several weeks about pushing myself too hard.

OK, I’m lying. I haven’t learned anything. It just hurt to run fast. Sigh.

But I was able to keep up a 9-9:30/mile pace for the last three miles without any discomfort. At least I can make the minimum pace, I thought.

Sunday, however, would be the true test.

Aside from seeing Skippy (whose prognosis has improved and whose skippiness peaked when he saw Neil “Dogman” B.) and spending quality family time, one of my favorite parts of spending a weekend in Euclid is running. If only I had known that during my 22 years there!

I woke up early Sunday morning and rounded the north-of-boulevard (NOB) blocks from East 219th Street to East 185th and back for a 12-mile roundtrip run. The only drawback: it was almost all flat. The largest grades were the wheelchair-accessible sidewalks and maybe a few dips in the road (in case you’re not familiar with the Akron Half route, it’s pretty bleepin’ hilly… to me).

On the bright side for this injured runner, there’s great novelty to finding a single roundtrip route that measures twelve miles in totally distance, but whose farthest point reaches only 1.5 miles from your mom’s house. I’ve had some distance anxiety the past several months, fearing that my knee, hip, back, ankle, body might give out when I’m dozens of miles from home. And while my calf was feeling OK yesterday, I had the reassurance that I should an injury trip me up, I could easily hop on one foot to safety. Either that or catch the bus.

This run started with my slow jog too, but the anti-inflams made it a cautious slow jog rather than a painful one. I trotted gingerly down one street before I grew more comfortable with my close-to-pain-free calf warming up. And after about ¾ -1 mile I was running at about 75-80 percent energy/flexibility/comfort.

My legs really loosened up after the second mile, so I picked up my pace to 9:30/mile and kept it there for the duration. It was a wholly uneventful run in itself, but it was entertaining to troll the old neighborhoods and check out some houses. Plus, it couldn’t have been a more glorious morning.

The only downside to a beautiful Sunday morning run was my rumbling belly. Everywhere I ran it smelled like someone was cooking something hearty and filling and warm. The open-house houses were baking apple pies, one church smelled like fried chicken and another like muffins.

About one hour into the run I was fighting off more drool than sweat, and I should admit now that this 12-mile run was supposed to be a 13-miler. Sigh. I admit it. I misjudged my distance (I was supposed to take another two streets past my mom’s street) and bolted up the driveway for some cream of wheat. Mmm. But I’ve totally convinced myself by now that my body needed the extra rest and the extra yums.

I didn’t have much downtime when I arrived, however: I showered and suited up for the Indians game. Twelve miles and the AL Central clincher? Doesn’t get better. Well, it could. But we don’t need to talk about the Browns.

And now I can rest. It’s two easy miles on Tuesday and likewise on Thursday. I’m looking forward to some stretch-ice-stretch-ice-eat action this week. I’ve even taken to wearing flip flops and all flat shoes this week to keep the stress off my lower legs. My calf claims that it will be ready for Saturday’s race. And my fingers are crossed.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stretch, Ice, Rest

Man, am I pooped and achy! But after two days of feet-up with icy rest, I was able to hit the pavement today to run 9+ miles. I made it home early from work, so I dressed for running and then stretched, stretched, stretched. It wasn’t comfortable (again) to run at first, so I started to super-walk again. About a quarter mile later, I upgrade to an unsuper jog, which eventually grew into a slow jog. And by the end of the first mile I was running. Just gently.

Today was a deal run: I made a deal with myself that if my calf hurt and anything felt wrong I would stop. Sure, it felt wrong at first, but it warmed quickly and felt fine just in time for me not defy myself.

My first 3-mile lap around the neighborhood was 10:30-11:00/mile. I was being some aware and conscious of my gentle stride that I really lost track of myself for the first 20 minutes. With each left-step I wondered, ‘will this one hurt?’ and then ‘how about this one?’ I would feel the occasion tweak that would last 10-20 yards, but most of my discomfort subsided before it became a hindrance.

Lap two was steady and less deliberate, and I admittedly skipped my interval training for the day. I just ran the nine miles straight. In honor of those tempos, however, I did pick up the pace for miles 4-9 to about 9:15-9:45/mile. Again, the most painful part of running was the anticipation of pain. Step off the curb—is it hurt? Jump up on the sidewalk—am I OK?

The best distraction was my local UPS driver completing his early evening route. He follows the same path I run around 6 p.m., and we passed each other back and forth for a full three miles. So, if nothing else, I moved as quickly as a UPS truck… with stops.

On my final lap, I picked up the pace again… but not much faster than 9:30/mile. I started thinking about the half marathon and how slow I would have to run if my injury surfaced in the middle of the race. The Akron Half Web site indicates that runners must maintain a minimum pace of 13:40/mile. And by the time I finished multiplying 13:40 x 13.1 I was almost done with my last stretch! My right foot was getting achy again (as it did on Sunday), but only in a complaining could-you-please-stop-beating-me kind of way.

Not surprisingly, I’m totally beat. We taught workshops all day today (I did a cool one about podcasting and then some not-so-thrilling stuff), so I’m spent mentally and physically. But I have to admit it’s a good feeling. So many people come home from work too beat and downtrodden to even get a run. I’m grateful I can run. I wish I could tell my running-hater self from five years ago what I was missing all those years!

Now my nap-loving self is taking over…

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blogger Triathlon: Race, Off-season and Injury Reports

First: Saturday’s race. We made it to Portage Lakes by 8 a.m., and that’s when the madness began.

The parka and flip flops As previously mentioned, I’m writing a feature story about Fran, a 59-year-old retired teacher who raced her first tri on Saturday, so I had to put my bike together, check in, find safety pins, set up my transition area and then catch up with Fran and friends for pre-race talks. All in a bulky swimming parka and flip flops.

You would know even if you looked outside on Saturday morning that it was cold. Neil and I guffawed as we drove past a highway-side car dealer on OH-8 whose lighted sign read 50 DEGREES. Not bad, I thought. It could be colder. In winter.

Amid the cold and rush for non-existent safety pins (they ran out right before I arrived; I had to tie my bib to my shorts and begrudge myself for not taking advice and getting a racing belt!), I never made it into the water for my planned warm-up. But I did make it into the 72-degree water for a quick wade. I was relieved to feel the water was warmer than the air. Until I stepped out.

I'm the first one in and second one out!As I walked down the beach to the start, my toes started to burn with cold. Flocks of tri-ready women waddled down the beach wondering what they were doing on the beach in this weather. And all I wanted to do was get back in that warm water… which explains why I was far and away the first body in the water!

It was only my second triathlon, but I think I can dig these in-the-water starts. No swift kicks to the face, no slaps to the jugular, no punches in the back. The only downside was that I had to tread water for 5-7 minutes before the start while most everyone else could stand (they said it was “chest-deep water,” but they apparently weren’t measuring it for a five-footer).

In-the-water startAs I treaded water, I saw the 2006 open water champion and tried to position myself behind her. She would be my guide. The starter explained the water course a number of times, but the 29 and under age group was a sea of chatter and “whats?” Despite the constant repetition of the directive “swim toward Adam; he’s the one waving,” I had a hard time deciphering my path. I could see Adam, but there were buoys and kayak between us.

But I didn’t have time to worry because we were off before I knew it. The 2006 champ propelled ahead of the crowd immediately and bolted way toward shore. I stayed right with her (albeit not so close to shore) for the first 100 yards, spotting with her yellow cap, before she pulled ahead and I lost my course orientation.

Just keep swimmingBreathing on all sides, I could see shore to the left, champ and kayaks up ahead and nothing on my right. I was doing all right. A yellow lane-marker confused the bejesus out of me, but once I caught sight of champ’s yellow cap again, I could see the shape of our entry to shore. I took the final turn and begrudgingly got out of the water.

Swim time: 4:25

So, I ran around the beach in my frozen delirium trying to make it up the hill to the transition area. It was quite a trek! And when I arrived, the champ and I were the only people in sight. It was a rush to know I finished second, but I was terrified to jump on my bike and be one of the first on the course. Why? I have no idea. So, I took a tad longer to wash my feet and get myself together—long enough for 2-3 people to mount and ride. Then I took off.

T1: 2:25

What I didn’t do during that extra time in transition was grab my sweatshirt! My summer of muggy days had me convinced that I would warm up on my bike, but it never happened. I was frozen from the get-go. Two miles into the ride I was wheezing with freeze-burning lungs, my throat was soar and I was too cold to drink my Gatorade. My fingers were numb and my knees were turning funny colors. Finally, I started getting really dizzy and rode into the grass a couple times before I realized things weren’t going well and I still had 3-4 miles to ride! I stood up on my bike and just tried to pedal hard, stay afloat, do anything to overexert myself and get some body heat boiling. Oh, how I longed for my sweatshirt! Lucky for me it was only a 7-mile ride.

Bike time: 33:57

There's really no happier moment for me than leaving T2 and my bike behind.All I wanted when I entered T2 was to jump in the water again. Instead I swigged a touch of cold Gatorade that made my chest burn, bundled up, pulled back my hair and took to the road.

T2: 1:21

But not until I twisted my ankle. The left calf was acting up only slightly during the race, but my inability to follow arrows and waving hands was running on all cylinders. What’s been with me the past two weeks? When I took the turn into my 2-mile run, I misstepped, rolled my ankle and used colorful language to, umm, express my pain. Sorry kids!

My legs were already warmed and beginning to recover by the time I hit the first aid station, but I was parched. I grabbed a cup of water from the first aid station, but couldn’t take it down through my swollen throat. Of course my mind flooded with dehydration fears, but it was only two miles. And that’s what I kept telling myself.

After just a half mile my legs were totally ready to run. Perhaps I had been a touch distracted by my treacherous inability to ride a bike, but my head cleared when I realized I was again running the final leg of a triathlon. Ahh, I hope that novelty never leaves me!

I was operating at about 75 percent with a parchy throat and wheezy lungs, but I focused on stretching my legs and enjoying the run. But not too much. I’ve never really run a cross-country type course, but this was more like an obstacle course. Divots, sink holes and tree roots galore. Thankfully, the race organizers did a fantastic job spray-painting each of the obstructions and accidents-waiting-to-happen bright orange! My peripheral vision was enough to keep me on the up-and-up as I weaved in and out of runners on my way to the finish.

Run time: 17:16 (8:38/mile)

On my way to the finish!No confusion about the finish for this race. I ran right through to the finish with a final time of 59:24.

If you check the results, you can see that the women’s triathlon had quite the crowd. Fran and her friends finished with flying colors. It was an awesome event. And I stuffed my face with PB+J until peanut butter actually oozed from my pores. Yummy.

My only problems are a) the place results have changed since they were first posted on Monday; and b) there are 29 & under age groupers listed with faster swimming times than they could have had. Not only were they not on the beach or in the transition area by the time the champ and I made it, but the spectators and race coordinators noted we were first and second. Odd. But perhaps they started late? I have no idea. I’m just happy that my times look right and met my goals.

The real star of the tri: Fran!What’s next? Well, I dismantled my bike and tucked it away in the garage for the winter. I’m going to keep my eyes open for some secondhand tri-bikes and train in the off season. Neil and my mom might be happy if I actually know how to ride a bike next summer!

I also have to decide very soon on my rec. center membership (it ended last Friday) and make sure this swimming off-week doesn’t become something bigger.

And then there’s the Akron Half Marathon on Sept. 29.

Half training half continued today: my left calf isn’t doing well. I tried to test my idiot IQ by jogging on it for about 100 yards before my brain kicked in. I took my workout down to a 14:00/mile fast-walk that was pain free over four miles.

Today’s “workout” will replace Saturday’s 5-6 miles, and then I’ll push my tempos to Thursday and Saturday. For now I’m icing, resting and yogaing in the hope I can make it another week and a half.