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 ├ęclair, 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…