Monday, December 5, 2016

Tryptophan Run

Last Sunday I ran off some Thanksgiving weekend irresponsible eating.  The Tryptophan Run, sponsored by Vertical Runner Hudson, is held the Sunday after Thanksgiving every year in Hudson.  The weather was perfect--not too cold and a bit sunny.

The Tryptophan works like this: There are three routes you can run in any combination during the two-hour run.  You drop a ticket with your name in a bucket for each mile of your run.  At the end of the run there is a drawing for cool prizes--t shirts, shoes, and race entries.  I didn't win anything, but I sure had fun.

My first fun surprise was my reunion with Joy, with whom I haven't run since our Ragnar Trail Appalachians race.  She messaged me the night before and said she was coming with me.  Yay! Here are some pictures of our running history in case you've forgotten:

We ran with Jen, and I was so happy because I haven't run with her in forever either.

Jen and I are at the Natatorium 5k here.

My second fun surprise was a playground on one of the routes.  We climbed up a cool rock wall and went down the slides:

Joy didn't get the memo that you aren't supposed to land on your dupa.

It was great to run nine miles with my peeps:

And I really appreciate the generosity of the businesses and race directors in our running community:

This is Jim Chaney, Race Director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Relay.  He was offering STEEP discounts plus giveaway entries at the Tryptophan.  Check out this race, Peeps!  The swag is amazing and the event is a good time.

Seriously, Peeps, think about the local business owners when you do your holiday shopping this year.  Our money goes to people who in return support our community. I can't think of a better way to make a direct difference in our local economy.

I'll leave you with one last picture from my run this Sunday with Shelby and Mandy.  We ran on the Towpath, and we had a great conversation.

Post-run.  10 miles for me

The weather is starting to get cold, and I figure I have maybe one good long run left before I have to take a short hiatus for some minor surgery.  I'm sure you are eagerly anticipating how crabby I will be when I'm not running, since you remember how gracefully I waited out my broken foot a few years ago.   Get those runs in now while we aren't freezing our butts off.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Home Run for the Homeless

This post is subtitled "I've Got Issues."

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Peeps!  I'm thankful for all of you who have followed my misadventures in running and fitness.  Stay tuned for more of my foolishness:

Thanksgiving morning is always the traditional Home Run for the Homeless. This is a 4-mile race that benefits Gennesaret, an organization that helps homeless people get into apartments and homes.  They have one fundraiser a year, and this is it.  For only 20 dollars, you run a cool-looking course that goes partially through West Akron and then through the Glendale Cemetery. Plus, you get gloves.  And muffins.  And donuts. The cemetery is awesome because it is very hilly and has lots of old mausoleums, which reminds me of Pere-Lachaise Cimetiere in Paris (burial place of Jim Morrison, among other legends).

I didn't intend to really race the Home Run.  I have a problem with my Achilles Tendon on my left foot.  It has been pretty painful for a few weeks, and though I can tell it's getting better (the exercises are working), it still hurts in the first 1/2 mile of any run, and I don't want to permanently jack it up.  This is why when my son asked me how long I'd be running, I said, "About 36 minutes."  I figured 9:00/mile would be respectable but easy to maintain, even on the hills. After all, my tempo runs are faster than that, and last year I ran the Home Run in 33:48.  No sweat, I thought.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm thinking about the blueberry muffin that awaits me at the finish.

This is a pretty big race, so the start was packed.  I managed to squeeze into the corral on the street.  I had spent a good half an hour rotating my ankle and stretching it, but I didn't run a warmup, which I absolutely should have done.  No matter, I thought.  I'll take it easy in the first mile; after all, I'm not here to PR.

The first mile was 9:00, and then all hell broke loose.  My chest tightened up, and my arms got incredibly weak. I could feel the weakness/looseness pass down my body to my legs, which got very wobbly.  Then I started to gasp.  These are the same symptoms I've had several times before, twice during races and at least four times on various runs.  I knew what I had to do: switch to walk/run.  I did this for the next two miles, walking 1/4 mile and then running 1/4-1/2 mile, depending on the terrain and how I felt.  I felt awful until I didn't, which was at 3.5 miles, and by then it was too late as the finish line came up at 3.85.

I have lots of theories about why this happens to me once in a while:

1.  I am doing something stupid regarding fuel or warmups (or lack of warmups). I just wish I could figure that out because each time it has happened, it has been under different circumstances.

2.  I am under a lot of stress, and stress can really jack you up.  Now, to be fair, I am VERY high-strung and Type-A.  Stress is my middle name.  These past two years though have been incredibly difficult for me, and these past four months have arguably been the most stressful of my life. Look at the proof:

This is EXACTLY how I looked the day after the elections.  I was trying to get my act together to teach my first period class. Instead I burst into tears and then took a selfie to see the humor in the situation.  Somehow it doesn't look funny, even today.

This is EXACTLY how I looked on Halloween.  I was dressed as Carrie's crazy mom, but I think I was too convincing.

These are the flowers I bought for my grandfather's funeral.  Yes, ANOTHER family member just died.  I'm starting to suspect that I am the problem.

Anyway, these are just small glimpses into my life. I have had a few more personal challenges in the past month, and it has become very difficult to pretend that I have no worries, which is usually my MO.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I try to stay positive.

I'm starting to think that running away from trouble isn't as much of a solution for me as it used to be. 

Back to theories:

3.  This is the one that worries my mom the most: 

My father had two heart attacks, a quadruple bypass, and a heart transplant before he died a year and a half ago.  Most of these problems were due to a heart murmur and an enlarged aortic valve.  His lifestyle (diet, lack of exercise, etc.) exacerbated the problems in a major way.  I think that the stress in my life has possibly triggered an underlying heart problem that I may have inherited from my father.  I don't even know if this is possible, and I've never had a doctor detect a problem with my heart, but I never specifically asked about it either.  I guess it's about time that I did.

Anyway, I intend to follow up on all of this by this spring, when I will have recovered from some minor surgery in December.  

Back to the race: 

The Home Run for the Homeless is really such an excellent race.  I love the course.  I love the muffins.  I love the gloves.  I love the volunteers who gave up their Thanksgiving morning to shiver in the cold. Most of all I love that I was able to do something for someone else and still have fun.  Thank you, Gennesaret.

Sunday is the Tryptophan Run in Hudson, and I intend to be there, and I DON'T intend to collapse that day.  Until then, Run Happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Race Recap: Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon

I learned something about myself today.  I learned that I am full of crap.  Literally and figuratively.

Ready to hear about this?

Andrew (Andrew Runs A Lot), my friend and fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, has been bugging his friends to sign up for the Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon.  I usually ignore Andrew because: dumb kid, but I had three other friends (Kirstie, Kevin, and Mandy) who were running that race.  I believe that I need to always try new things, and the race was cheap, so I signed up.

If you read last week's post, you know that I was going to decide during the race if I'd be running it or racing it.  Everyone said that the first four miles (the road part of the race) would be very hilly, but then the rest of the race would be on the Towpath, so flat. I thought that I'd decide how to attack the race after I left the road, where I'd be running conservatively.  This is a new tactic for me; I am not usually a negative split runner.  More on this later.

If you read my blog, you will recognize that I often brag write that I have a very strong stomach; I take pride in the fact that I can fuel on anything.  I often say that I'd love to find a way to fuel on burritos.  Whatever.

Who wouldn't want to fuel for a marathon on this???
Because I was ambivalent about today's race, I didn't really prepare for it the night before as I normally would.  Now, I've eaten (and drunk) some weird things before a race, and it has never been a problem for me.  I once fueled the Perfect 10 Miler on fried cheese and beer for dinner the night before.  No joke.  I PR'd, too.  So, when I ordered pizza the night before and ate it with salad and some red wine, I didn't think twice.

This morning I ate my usual bagel with cream cheese, but I did something different (a NO NO, as every runner knows): I used Pumpkin Spice creamer in my coffee instead of my regular Peppermint Mocha.  It was made by the same company, though, and let's not kid ourselves; all creamer is just harmful chemicals designed to give us cancer or turn us into zombies.  So, I didn't think about the number 1 racing rule: NEVER do something different for a race.  Another bad thing: when I opened the bottle (brand new, bought yesterday), there was no seal.  For some reason I shrugged this off and poured the creamer anyway.

I spent some quality time, more than usual, in the bathroom this morning, and that should have been my first warning, but it wasn't.   Why?  Because I'm not that smart.

I arrived in Massillon at 7:30, half an hour before the race.  Peeps, there were only FOUR port o potties there.  That is it.  There was a line a mile long just to get there.  I had driven half an hour to the race, so of course I had to use the bathroom.  It was nerve-wracking to wait in line up until the last second before the race.  I didn't get to meet up with any of my friends, and I was nervous the whole time.  Parking and bathroom issues are two deal breakers for me in a race, and this race had already failed with the bathroom. This automatically means that I won't run it again.  Sorry, Second Sole.  I love you dearly, but you failed.

The race started, and I took off,  making sure to hold back.  I know that I always get carried away in the first few miles of a race, so I made myself start in the back of the pack and run more slowly.  I was just over a 2-hour half marathon pace, and I knew that I could make that up later on flat ground.  The hills weren't really hills; b*tch, I'm from Akron.  They were gentle, rolling inclines, and I liked them a lot.

At 4.5 miles, I started thinking that I could PR this bad boy.  I popped a GU, and then all hell broke loose.  My legs immediately got weak, I started feeling cold, and I couldn't catch my breath.  "Son of a bitch," I thought, "it's the stupid heart palpitations again." I knew what to do, and I switched to run/walking.  I ran for a 1/4 mile and then walked for a minute.  Normally this does the trick, but this time it didn't.  I started worrying after a mile.  "What is wrong with me?" I thought.  Walking always gets me out of this, and it usually only takes a few minutes. I started thinking of a way to get out of the race because I couldn't see walking for the rest of the race. The problem is that this is a VERY small race; there were no volunteers or sweepers or medics to help me, so, I had to keep going.

At mile 7.5, I saw a lone port o potty by the side of the Towpath, and all of a sudden I KNEW what my problem was. The pain, weakness, shortness of breath?  It was stomach cramps, dammit.   I had to stand in line to use the potty, and while I did, I texted Andrew:

Me: Don't wait for me.  I may not finish.

I didn't want to sound dramatic, but I honestly was looking for a way to DNF.  The port o potty was absolutely disgusting, so while I was losing my sh*t (literally) in there, I was trying not to throw up, too.  Meanwhile, my stomach had incredible cramps.  And there was no sanitizer, so I looked forward to trying not to touch my face for the rest of the race.  You try not touching your face for over an hour.

I immediately felt better after the port o potty, and I was relieved that the problem was not heart-related, so I started reflecting on my eating/drinking choices during the past two days.  I spent a good two miles wondering if someone tampered with the creamer and I was going to die in the next copycat Tylenol scandal.  Then I remembered the pizza. Of course.  That was it.

I managed to pass most of the people who had passed me while I was walking or at the port o potty, and for this I'm thankful; however, I never did recover my half marathon pace.  I still had twitches of stomach cramps for the rest of the race.

As I approached the chute, I was disgusted with myself.  I saw Andrew, and he said, "Hurry up; I need a beer," so I managed to sprint to the end.  At least I did that.  Andrew had PR'd, which is awesome, so we had a beer and some rice chips together.

Budweiser: Made in America
After Andrew left, I talked to Kevin, Kirstie, and Mandy.
 Here we are in the corral before the race.

  I told Kevin about my stomach issues and that I attributed it to pizza I had ordered.  It turns out that Kevin and Kirstie had also ordered pizza from the same place, and he was having stomach issues, too.  And there you go.  It was the damned pizza.  And my stomach is not as strong as I claim it to be.

I've learned that I need to think more carefully about how I fuel before a race.  I've learned that I can make last minute decisions on racing ONLY if I treat my routine as if I will race.  I've learned that I'm old and I can't "gut" out everything, especially greasy pizza.

As for the race, here are my thoughts:

Parking: Great
Support: Almost nonexistent.  You'd better be ok with running for yourself.
Food: Meh.  Rice chips and beer.  Coupon for 6 inch sub at Subway (which I didn't use) is a bonus.
Band at end: Awesome.
Bathroom access: Terrible

Will I run this race again?  Hard to say.  There are so many races out there; I don't know if I want to repeat this one.  I liked the course a lot; the finish is super-strong. As I wrote before, though, lack of bathrooms is a non starter for me, and I heard a lot of people saying the same thing while waiting in line.

My last race of the year is the Gennesaret Home Run for the Homeless on Thanksgiving Day.  Will you join me? Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trail Running is Best this Time of Year

Saturday was a gorgeous day.  Shelby and I managed to message each other with the same thought in mind: How about a run?  We both did our errands and met at 1:00 at Sand Run Metropark for some hills.  The original plan was to do Sand Run twice for twelve miles, but after the first six miles, we said HELL no to that and made up our own route for a total of 9.5 miles.

Because we ran semi-long yesterday, Shelby punked out on our planned trail run today, so I decided to run Wetmore Trail by myself for about four miles and then possibly fit in Hampton Hills on the way home.

Wetmore was really. . .well, wet.  I managed to get my shoes and socks soaked AND fall in the first mile.  I said to myself, "You got that out of the way.  Now you can't fall anymore."

Midway through the run, the wind started blowing and the skies darkened considerably.  At that point, I realized that I hadn't told anyone where I would be, and there could be a good chance I'd get struck by lightning and die there on the trail.  It looked like this:

This is EXACTLY how it looked, except there was no weird moon orb hanging in front of me waiting to eat me.  Also, no rain and no lightning.  Other than that, EXACTLY the same.
Luckily for me, the storm didn't hit while I was out there.  The trail was absolutely gorgeous; I run trails in the fall to remind myself how lucky I am to live in Northeast Ohio where I can find a bazillion trails to hike or run within ten miles.

This is ACTUALLY how it looked.  Wetmore Trail.

I finished before the storm.  Whew!

Next week is the Second Sole Made in American Half Marathon.  I haven't decided on a strategy.  Will I race it or run it?  Stay tuned to find out.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some Runs Will Suck

And today was the day of the sucky run.

The conditions were right today for the perfect long, slow distance.  I met with Shelby at Hunt Farm, and we found Renee, Carrie, Kirstie, and Kevin getting ready for a run.  Plus, my friend Caroline showed up to run with us! The temps were a tiny bit chilly, but the sun was out, so I had worn a short-sleeved shirt under my long sleeved shirt.  We started the Covered Bridge Loop.

After a few miles Caroline turned back because she wanted fewer miles and she wanted to stick to the Towpath.  We continued, and I felt fabulous.  I peeled off my outer layer after running up a set of hills, and then I felt even better.  At the Covered Bridge we took the required selfie:

Carrie, Kevin, Kirstie, Shelby, Renee, Me
During mile five, Kevin and I ran a bit ahead until we decided it was dumb to run faster when we had at least five more miles to go.  I decided to fuel at mile six, and all of a sudden I didn't feel well.  My heart started racing, and I had trouble breathing.  I kept running, but I was in distress.  I could feel my chest tightening up.  I tried to relax and breathe through it, and at least I didn't get dizzy, but it was not a pleasant feeling.  I had to walk through it a few times during that mile until I could get my breath back.  I still felt pretty awful right up until we finished (earlier than we thought) a bit after eight miles.

I have been going over everything that I did during that run, and I can't think of why I felt so awful.  It's true that I ran a little faster just before that, but I was still doing slower than a ten minute mile.  Was it the GU?  Was it just a fluke?  Do I have a problem?  I don't know.

I'm going to chalk it up to a sucky run and stop thinking about it.

In the meantime, I have succumbed to pressure and signed up for the Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon in Massillon, which is in two weeks.  Wanna join me, Peeps?  You can laugh at me when I cry on the hills.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Race Recap: Bath Steeplechase 8k

What kind of a moron signs up for a race three weeks after her first marathon?  What kind of a moron decides that a STEEPLECHASE is a good idea three weeks after her first marathon?  Well, you are looking at just the moron who would do that.

This Saturday I ran the Bath Steeplechase 8k.

How did I train for it?  Ummmm. . .well, I did run, so technically that is training, right?  Ok, to be honest, I have managed to do a mini tempo run ( 5 miles) at half marathon pace and a set of 400s at faster-than-5k-pace since the Akron marathon.  I thought this would be a nice, relaxing race.

As if such a thing exists.

One of the reasons I like the Bath Steeplechase is that it is about three miles from my house, so I was able to sleep in.  Plus, it started at 10:00 am, a time that screwed with my head, I must say.  It was a very inexpensive race, and I liked the long-sleeved tech shirt that came with it.

I showed up at Bath Community Park about half an hour before the race, timing that is unthinkable to me for any other race.  Usually I am worried about parking and bathrooms, but this time I kept telling myself, "Relax.  It's five miles.  You can do five miles in your sleep. Just run in the sun."

To my delight, I saw my friend Vicky, who was there to cheer on her grandson Gabe:

I can't describe how happy I was to see Vicky there.
I had plenty of time to screw around and even visit the bathroom, and then it was time to start.  This is an extremely small race, only 109 participants in the 8k.  When I looked around the field, I realized that I would not be placing on that day.  My age group (45-49) is full of badass women who have been training for years, and many of them were there, so I knew my chances were slim.  That's ok; I wasn't planning on placing anyway.  I'm still recovering from the marathon, right?

The gun went off when we started at the bottom of a tiny but steep hill, and I managed to slip in the grass for that first hill.  Nice.

The course had a little bit of everything: trails, pavement, stream crossings, crushed limestone, and large rocks.  In addition, we had to jump over hay bales and horse jumps.  Around mile 2 I felt like trail running and marathon training had ruined my racing drive because honestly I had no desire to run up the hills.  I ran what I could and walked at least three hills.

Here I pretend that everything is just fine.  See my sweet Bondi Compression Socks?
Anyway, my time was nowhere near what I could have done.  I stalked the times of the top three women in my age group, and I should have been able to run that. . . but I guess I'm not ready yet.  More yoga and strength training; less running.  That should be my routine right now until I feel recovered.

Fun should also be my focus.  For now, I will only do workouts that I consider to be fun.  I have tons of dance DVDs and Tae Bo DVDs, and I intend to use them between runs.  I want to be excited about feeling strong and capable; I don't want to dread exercise.

How do you feel after your recent races, Peeps?  Still trying to recover?

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Wash the Workout Clothes

Today's post comes from SLS3.  After the fall races are done, we will have some stinky clothing, Peeps.  Here are some tips for washing our running gear.  Need some more running gear?  Check out their page and use the code BLOG40 to get a 40% discount! 

Handle with Care

You’ve spent your hard earned money on your exercise gear like Running Shorts or Compression Socks and now it’s time to put it to the test. After a grueling workout, you and your Lycra® containing gear are ready for a bath. By the way, Spandex is the generic Lycra® version. Lycra® is a brand name trademarked by DuPont.

After Your Workout

As much as we hate it, we’re all drenched in sweat after a good workout, which means our clothes are, too. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes right after your workout, or you’re too tired like me, then hang dry your workout clothes, making sure there are no wrinkle or overlaps. This prevents your gear from turning into a mildew breeding ground. Gross! It also helps prevent weird stenches from staying trapped inside your clothes.

Getting the Stink Out

The best method for remedying smelly gym clothes is to give them a prewash. Soak your Lycra® outfits in one part vinegar, and four parts water for at least 30 minutes before hand washing, or throwing them into the washing machine. Rinse your clothes thoroughly before washing them to get rid of any vinegar.

Some Dont’s to Remember

Do not mix vinegar and bleach ever! If your detergent contains bleach rinse out your vinegar soaked clothes before throwing them in the washer. Do not use vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer if your detergent contains bleach.

Do not use heat for any of your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy the elastic properties aka the Lycra® fibers of your outfits. Avoid the dryer, ironing and the sun. Remember: Heat is bad.

Do not use chlorine or bleach. This will destroy the fibers of the fabric and you will get “bag and sag” syndrome.

Do not use Fabric Softener. These are used to soften clothes and will make sure your expensive garment will never retain its shape. Avoid the fabric softener.

Do not let your laundry dominate your room.

In the Wash They Go 

Although it is said that hand washing is always the way to go, most of us don’t have time for that. Don’t fret though! It is safe for your Lycra® garments to go into the washing machine following these steps. First, make sure that all of your zippered garments are zipped all the way up to prevent the zipper track from snagging onto other fabric during the washing cycle. Turn your clothes inside out. Put delicate items into a mesh laundry bag, lingerie bag, or pillowcase to protect them (Definitely do this for Bib Shorts). 


The Set-Up

If you are worried that a pre-soak just won’t cut it for getting all the smells out, you can put some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of your washer. This will make sure your washer will dispense vinegar in the rinse cycle. Always use cold water when washing your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy them. Set your washer on the “Delicates” setting to prevent damage of your clothes. 

Less is More?

Use less detergent than you normally would for your Lycra® clothes. While detergent cleans your clothes, you definitely don’t want a build up of it on your workout clothes. A build up of detergent will trap in dead skin cells and trap bacteria into the fabric. If you want to make sure your clothes last, try a detergent designed for washing workout clothes.  

Finishing Touches

After the washing cycle has been finished, hang your clothes up, or lay them down flat to dry. Never put them in the dryer. Remember heat is not friendly to Lycra® clothes. Lycra® is a fast drying fiber so your clothes should not take too long to air dry. 

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