Monday, March 28, 2011

walk like a salamander

So, as you may or may not know, I'm trying to get my body to quit doing stuff that makes me hurt myself, makes me a slower, less efficient runner, and/or makes me look dumb when I run.  Ok, I guess I don't really care how I look when I run, as long as I'm not leaking bodily fluids.  But that's a subject for a different post.

More fun to be had in evaluating my stride.....

I signed up for a six week postural restoration class; PR is supposed to help people adjust their body asymmetry which will then help reduce injury incurred by things like running long distances.  It's not just a bunch of traditional exercises; it incorporates breathing techniques along with the physical movement.

Here's a blurb from the PRI website because I would fail if I tried to explain it....

Postural Restoration Institute® (PRI) trained therapists recognize these imbalances and typical patterns associated with system disuse or weakness that develops because of dominant overuse.  This dominant overuse of one side of the body can develop from other system unilateral overuse.  When these normal imbalances are not regulated by reciprocal function during walking, breathing or turning, a strong pattern emerges creating structural weaknesses, instabilities, and musculo-skeletal pain syndromes.  Balancing muscle activity around the sacrum (pelvis), the sternum (thorax) and the sphenoid (middle of the head) through a PRI approach best positions multiple systems of the human body for appropriate integrated asymmetrical function.  All PRI trained therapists incorporate reciprocal function to reduce ‘leading’ with the left pelvis and right arm, and respiratory function to maximize airflow in and out of the right lung.

trust tree=no meanies
Wow, right??  I like the idea - I hope I can grasp the concept.  I'm in the class with two other runners - one male and one female - oh, I am SOOOO glad I'm not the only one being judged this time!!  Our first class was last Thursday and it lasted about 2.5 hours.  We were all measured by Liz (the person leading the class) to see what degree of internal and external rotation our hips, knees and shoulders are capable of.  We were all deficient.  (Yay!! Not just me!!)

Next we had to walk and then run back and forth for Liz.  While one person ran, the two other runners were next to Liz along with TenacityChris (my trainer); all four of us watching and judging.  We (the runners) decided we could discuss each other's short-comings and errors in movement and would not be offended or hurt by comments made.  We were in the Trust Tree, folks.

So first the other female in the class had her turn and we all discussed the way she moved while walking and running - we were of course professional and discussed things in a detached, clinical sort of way.  The only props missing were white lab coats and clipboards.  Liz would point things out and we would all murmur in agreement.... Then it was the guy's turn.  Same thing - Liz would point things out and we would all murmur in agreement....

Then it was my turn.

As I was walking and then running to the group and away from the group for their viewing pleasure, all I could hear were snippets of the murmured conversations regarding my failures in movement:
"...and see how she...."
This is me running butt-less
"Oh, wow!  Yeah, she really does...."
"....needs to find her butt....." Needs to find her butt?  WTF - it's there, bigger than life - can't miss it!!
"....she's probably the worst example of....."

Definitely more fun to be one of the murmurers than being the murmuree.   Glad we were in the Trust Tree - I knew that all comments were said with love and friendship!

As I was heading back to the group, they were all in agreement with Liz that I definitely have a salamander walk.  That must mean I undulate as I'm running on my tightrope.  I'm still not sure what finding my butt entails but I guess once I do find it I'll be a stronger, faster runner.  (Yay again!!)

So I'm doing my prescribed PR exercises and this Thursday we'll see if I've made some headway with my joints' ability to rotate.  I wonder if I'm going to be told, "I want you to breathe through your eyelids, like the Lava Lizards of the Galapagos Islands...I want you to be aware of the chakra connection between your feet and your testicles." (Free e-mail message for the first person to identify the movie quote!)  

What's this blog about again?  Oh right - training for Grandma's Marathon.  

The type of lizard I aspire to be.
Obviously has a butt. And gets
to tussle with young Captain Kirk.
So here's my training schedule for this week: (note TenacityChris's note on my Saturday run - she knows me too well!)
Sunday (yesterday) - Rest day
Monday - Kettlebells & 5 miles easy running
Tuesday - 5 miles Intervals
Wednesday - Rest day
Thursday - 5 miles of easy running & postural restoration class
Friday - Kettlebells

Saturday - 12 miles Long Run & ICE BATH!!!!!!!! (and carbs – healthy ones please!)

Anyone else been (or felt) watched and judged lately?  Share your experience - we're all in the Trust Tree here!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

hold the whine, please

Pity, Pity Princess
So I had a little pity party for myself after the Get Lucky 7k because I wasn't happy with my pace, felt too good at the end, coulda/shoulda/woulda been faster if only.......


Sort of forgot the fact that, HELLO, that was my fastest race ever!!  I have shown some real improvement in the last few months!!  My knee is on the mend!!  I'm starting to develop muscles in my abs!!!!  So many things to be happy about and proud of....

Not only that, but, ahem, let's look at what's going on elsewhere in the world and let's think about how lucky I am to be healthy enough to get out there and run a 7k.

Eventually I got over myself and pulled the plug on the pity party.

serenity now, dammit!

I'm starting to ratchet up the mileage now - this week I'm slated to do 24 miles total, including a 10 mile run on Saturday.  The weather continues to be rotten so I'm choosing to spend time on the treadmill, which I dislike.  Strongly.  Sooooo boring!!! BUT - yesterday's 5 miler, after a very rocky start, turned out to be a really nice run.

Anywhoo, so yesterday I was finally able to run at the end of my workday.  Changed into some running clothes, found my shoes, fought with what was left of the shoe laces after the cat chewed through them AGAIN.......

I so need this shirt
I was not in the mood to run so I thought I'd have a GU chomp to stoke the fire.  Walked through the kitchen to head to the workout room when I saw my laptop....  Ooo!! Shiny Object!!  I sat down in front of the computer, stalked and posted comments on other DM'ers workouts.  Finally saw the irony in that and headed to the treadmill.  Any benefit I may have gained from the single GU chomp was long gone by this point.....

Gotta tell ya, I was just when I walked into the workout room.

Started the treadmill.....turned on the TV.....Hey, closed captioning isn't working, where's the remote that has CC on it?.....Crap, batteries aren't working on the damn remote.....screwed around with the remote, got off the TM and looked to see if I could manually turn CC on directly on the TV....finally in frustration, threw the remote down ("FINE!  I won't read the TV today!") making the batteries fall out.  Put it back together and Voila!  It's working!  I'm able to turn the CC on... (Ummmm yeah, shiny object girl likes to have the TV on mute and listen to her iPod while she runs, but she also MUST know what the people on TV are saying.)

Back on the treadmill..... Oops! Forgot to turn the fan on!  Off the TM again to turn fan on....
Back on the treadmill..... Dang!  Fans not oscillating!  Off the TM again to fix fan....
Back on the treadmill.... Screwing around with the iPod...damn, no pockets and no arm band!  Tied iPod to treadmill directly in front of me....

Soooooo, remember my run evaluation?  Another thing I do wrong while running is swing my arms so that they cross in front of my body.  That can pose a problem when I'm wearing ear buds connected to long wires that are connected to said iPod which is tied to treadmill directly in front of wildly swinging arms ripped the buds out of my ears three times (each time quickly followed by an effenheimer outburst) before I decided I would just carry the damn thing.

Restart on the treadmill after untying iPod.... Crap! Forgot my metronome!  (Again, remember my run evaluation??  I need that to help me stay focused on shortening my stride, especially towards the end of my run when I get tired and start to get sloppy.) Off the TM again to get the metronome....

Are you tired yet?  I was at approximately the 0.3 mile mark here and just about ready to quit. But, brave soldier that I am, I pushed on.....

So here's the point of this really long (sorry about that) story: once I finally got moving and found my rhythm, I seemed to enter an almost trance-like state.... the iPod partnered with the metronome and knew just which songs to play..... I totally ignored the TV and instead just stared at the wall, felt the music and RAN....  Before I knew it, my five miles were done and I was in cool-down phase. Ahhhhh, serenity. One of my best runs ever.

Don't you just love it when that happens?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

get lucky 7k

Had my Get Lucky 7k race yesterday and for the most part, it was a pretty fun day, although also a tad disappointing. 

Maybe I'd be faster if I ran with my eyes open
Ever see the movie "Office Space" where the guy is in rush hour traffic and no matter what lane he's in, that's the one that isn't moving? That's how my first 1.5 miles felt! Once again, I started too far in the back of the pack.  Argh! Lots of traffic. Funny thing is, I had moved my starting position up to the 10 minute mile pace flag (I usually start by the 11 minute pace) so I thought I was being aggressive.  Not so much.  Spent a lot of time weaving through folks again.  Traffic was pretty heavy all through the race though, so maybe it wouldn't have been any better farther up, I'm not sure.
Frickin' Dipsy Chick

Anywhoo.... not too long after starting the race I noticed one particular runner ahead of me.  Some chick was wearing a green Teletubby costume (that particular Teletubby's name is Dipsy) - I could see her antenna bobbing ahead of me in the crowd, taunting me.  As I was weaving through the crowd and trying to pick up my pace, I just got annoyed with her for being faster than me while wearing a full-body costume and told myself there was NO WAY that little green beyoch was going to beat me to the finish!  Finally passed her at the end of mile 4 and left her in my dust. Yes, I'm sure she's a very nice person and it's not her fault I fixated on her so I probably shouldn't call her names.  She did after all, provide me with some motivation!

My "official" time listed on the race website says I ran a 10:00 min/mile pace (43:30 overall) but my Garmin says 9:54 min/mile (43:05) so that's the result I'm going with. Is that bad? 

Here are my splits (notice they are NEGATIVE!!): Mile 1=10:14; Mile 2=10:06; Mile 3=09:57; Mile 4=09:31; and the last 0.35 mile = 09:13. Did I mention those splits are negative? That means I went FASTER with each mile I ran. Su-WEET!!

I do love the swag! 
OMG I just noticed the pose similarity between Dipsy and me! the guy behind me picking his nose???
I know I should be happy with my race and my time (both Garmin AND "official") because either way, it's a personal best for me. And negative splits are nothing to sneeze at! But I finished the race and felt GREAT; I didn't feel like I had just finished running a race, I felt like I had just finished any old run and could have run for several more miles. So I think that's a good thing, means I'm getting stronger and and all my hard work is paying off. But it also means I don't know what the hell I'm doing in a race and I'm not trusting myself - my body kept telling me "Go faster, you can GO FASTER!" but my mind said, "Don't go too fast, you'll fade before you finish!" Unfortunately, mind won.

So I have some work to do before my next race - I'll have to get better at pacing myself and really reading my body to have a better idea of how much I can push it. Is it weird that I'm so interested in running faster all of a sudden? I've been slow for so long and really pretty content with just finishing races feeling good....but for some reason that's not enough anymore. Anyone have any thoughts on this??

Onward and upward......I need to just quit whining about my performance and learn from it.  And I should be proud.  I AM proud!!!  My next test will be the Get in Gear Half Marathon on April 30.  Can't wait!

BIG shoutout to the husband for supporting me yesterday (and every day!) He went with me to the race, dropped me off at the start and went to park the car, carried all my crap, stood around in the cold waiting for me to finish and then fed me a fantastic dinner last night. He's the bomb!

90 days to Grandma's!!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

mini-taper week

At this point in my marathon training plan, I'm on something called "taper week" (which boils down to a reduction in miles and workouts before the Get Lucky! 7K this coming Saturday), and it's given me lots more time to ponder my existence and nitpick obsess over notice the changes that have taken place in my body since I started getting serious about training and added in kettlebells and TRX classes.

Good changes: My butt is definitely not as wide as it was before. I've lost six pounds!  More muscle tone all over the place; there are actually some muscles that are DEFINED now, where before there was only mush.  And most astonishingly, I'm starting to get definition in my abs - MY ABS, PEOPLE!! - which is nothing short of a miracle.

Not so good changes: As of this writing, I have two toenails that are currently a dark shade of crimson and will eventually be turning black and then falling off.  I can live with that.  So classifying soon-to-be denuded toes in the "not so good" category is questionable.  Besides, kettlebells and TRX are in the clear on this one - the blame resides with my foot confirmation.

This isn't me.  But it could be if I'm not careful.
WTF changes: While my arms are definitely displaying the fruits of my labors (dare I say they are ripped?  Nah, not really, but hot damn they are looking so much better!!) my right arm is way more muscular  than my left arm.  I noticed it in circuit class last night.  The left arm is also noticeably weaker.  Seriously....Double U.Tee.Eff.  How did that happen???  Last time I checked, both arms were clocking identical amounts of time at the studio, lifting the same weights and participating in all other physical endeavors on an equal basis.  Also, kettlebell lifting rotations are always supposed to start with the left arm then go to the right (but sometimes my dyslexic self screws that up), so you'd think the left arm would be going to town since the brain thinks it's so much fresher than the right arm.  Guess I'll have to start doing one-arm pushups or something to get the left arm up to snuff.

So, back to taper week.....I'm trying to not go crazy with my reduced mileage.  And trying to figure out at what point exactly I went from noticing "Gee, guess I haven't run for a couple of days/weeks," to CARING and even being somewhat annoyed that my mileage has been reduced AND feeling antsy when I can't get my run on.  Probably about the same time I started taking ice baths.  I hear they're like a gateway drug for runners.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

hallucinatory cowbell

I am hooked on

Cowbell - I always want more.
For those of you who haven't discovered DM, it's kind of like Facebook for runners, cyclists and triathletes.  I stumbled upon it in January while looking for a race widget for my blog.  It seemed like a nice place to record my workouts but I didn't begin to fully utilize it until recently.  By fully utilize, I mean, I didn't tap into the DM community.  What a supportive group of people on there!  Lots of knowledge, friendliness, humor, good advice, consoling when needed, and cowbell - something of which I am always in more need.  (For players of point-based Corporate Buzzword Bingo: 2 points for "utilize," 4 points each for "tap into" and "fully utilize," and 50 point bonus for having "fully utilize" show up in consecutive sentences.)

I've had a pretty decent week: got some miles in (20 total), and did a couple of kettlebell classes.  The weather has been kind of sucky so I've spent too much time on the treadmill.  I'm so grateful to have one right in my own house but dang, I get soooooo tired of running on it.  So yesterday, despite the 31 mph wind gusts, the blowing and drifting snow and the ice, I decided to go outside for my seven mile run.  I just couldn't face seven on the treadmill.

WHAT was I thinking???  It was brutal.  We got about one inch of snow which was getting whipped into a frenzy by the wind.  There were times I couldn't see because the snow was blowing so hard.  Things did settle down somewhat weather-wise but it was a really tough run.  And all that ice made for some exciting times.  But I managed to stay upright - yay core!! - and my last mile was the fastest one of the run.  Whoo hoo!!  I did have one really hilariously surreal moment during my run.  Somewhere in the middle of mile 5, I was running through a neighborhood and this kid - he was about 5 or 6 years old - came barreling out of a driveway like a rabid dog, blew past me (all the while looking at me like I was the neighborhood creeper) and ducked into another driveway and <poof!> he was gone.  So that was weird enough, but it was his outfit that put the whole experience over the top: looked like he was wearing his dad's (or more likely, his grandpa's) brown plaid coat, red pants and I shit you not, bright blue swim googles.  Total WTF moment.  I thought I was hallucinating.

Back to  I posted about my impending run - figured I needed the accountability so that I actually got my butt out the door - and then posted once I returned.  I got SO MUCH support (AKA precious cowbell) both before and after, it made me feel great about getting out there and battling the elements for my little seven mile run.

But I can tell I'll have to clean up my language for my posts.  People on there are much nicer than I am and I have yet to see anyone refer to themselves as a whore of any kind.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

easy as she goes

Had a nice, slow & easy long run yesterday with the marathon group.  Actually, it was just two of us doing nine miles; the others ran shorter distances.  T and I ran a VERY hilly out and back route (uphill both ways!) but ran the entire distance which seemed like a pretty big accomplishment for both of us.  I'm recovering from bronchitis and T was recovering from a super hectic couple of weeks.  Our pace was just under 12 minute miles, slow enough that we could chat the entire time.

I have to say, T is amazing.  We are the same age.  I don't know her very well, but I do know that she has lost about 85 pounds so I asked her what prompted her to change.  She said her changes have been incremental.  She didn't like how she was wheezing after a hike with her husband so she decided to quit smoking.  After working on that goal for a while and starting to feel better, she was out walking her dog and just felt like running a bit.  So she joined a club at a local running store and got going.  Ran her first 5K and was hooked!  (She tells how she finished running her 5K and turned to the 10K finisher next to her and said, "I just finished my first 5K!" and the 10K finisher gave her a huge smile and said, "Great job!"  LOVE LOVE LOVE how supportive other runners can be!!)

Her goals kept advancing:
* she wanted to change her diet and lose weight - so she joined a group to help make that happen
* and she wanted to get stronger and more fit - so she found a personal trainer to help make that happen.
She has run 5Ks, 10Ks, 10 milers and half marathons.  Now she is training for her first marathon.  Wow!!!  What an inspiration!!

T makes it look so easy the way she picks goals and then finds a way to make them happen, but I know it's not easy.... she says the thing that is most useful is breaking goals down into palatable chunks.  You know the saying, "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time."  Keep it doable to increase the likelihood of success.  Very cool.  I loved hearing her story.

Oh, and after our run, she went home and had her first ice bath!  Brave girl - the first ice bath is the toughest!!! (like I'm such a veteran of the ice bath phenomenon....I was probably the biggest baby of all regarding ice baths, but now I've done them THREE times!!  Big girl!!)

Rest day today, so I'll be taking Jane for a walk.  More snow in the forecast (up to 10 inches)..... Ugh.  March in Minnesota.  I am SO ready for Spring to be sprung!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

character building exercises

I always KNEW that I should have been a supermodel.  Or maybe a circus performer.  Turns out I have the stride for either occupation.

My humbling experiences with physical therapy continue....

Note to self: when you are going to do something you've never done before, say, for instance, have your running evaluated at your friendly neighborhood PT clinic, ASK FOR SPECIFICS ABOUT THE ENSUING APPOINTMENT.

I asked my fabulous PT person Katie to do a run evaluation so we can look at what strange things I might be doing that affect my stride, efficiency, etc., and just plain make me hurt myself.  I absolutely adore Katie.  She's funny, enthusiastic, tough (something I need), she's a runner so she understands that bit of craziness, and she's really, really, really great at what she does! (side note: why does autospellcheck insist on changing the shortened version of "evaluation" to veal????  Argh.)

Anywhoo, so I get to the PT clinic this morning and Katie looks at my outfit and says, "Did you bring shorts?" (I was wearing my favorite cellulite-masking black yoga pants).
"Nope, I'm shortless."
"Ok, I'm going to have you change into some shorts here.  I need to see your knees."

Had to put the kibosh on borrowing a random pair of shorts since I don't wear certain undergarments with those particular pants.  Sooooo many reasons why I wasn't willing to wear borrowed shorts, lack of underwear being just one of them.  Mostly, I think it goes back to my being particularly particular about how my shorts fit. (see "camouflage" below)

Ok, so she needs to see my knees - no problem, I can roll the pant legs up.

It gets worse:  Katie noticing my long sleeve top: "I need to see your hips, too.  You'll have to take your shirt off and run in just your sports bra."  Looks at me as if she's wondering if I don't feel the need to wear a bra either.  No worries - I am wearing a sports bra!  Of course, it's the rattiest one I own, but.....

Still worse: Katie noticing me hike up my pants to contain/hide the gut that has housed two children and countless Oreos: "I need to see your hips so we'll have to roll the waistband down." Ack!!! I'm losing all my camouflage!!

The piece de resistance: The treadmill is smack in the MIDDLE of a room full of fit PT people and other poor souls like me.

So there I am in all my ratty sports bra/abbreviated yoga pant glory, running on the treadmill with my awkward stride (while Katie videotapes) and thinking to myself, "No secrets here!"  cuz it was alllll out there for everyone to see.  Ahhhhhh yes, character building.......which continued later as I watched myself run. On a large screen TV.  In slow motion.  With extreme closeups.  Bonus!

Turns out, this is pretty much how I look when I run
(except for the tie).  And the arms stretching out to
maintain balance is just an occasional thing.
So here's the verdict:
1. I hip drop on both sides.  Huh?? Oh, that means my hips go up and down as I run, and they should remain almost motionless. (a sign of core weakness - kettlebell and TRX are going to help that.)
2. My stride is too long (Damn, and I've been working on that!  I have been running with a metronome to help with timing so that I shorten my stride.  Guess the work there isn't quite finished yet.)
3. My knees turn in ("valgus at the knee" they call it) so much so that they bang into each other a lot.  WTF - How could I have NOT noticed that?????
4. I have a very narrow step width.  Meaning, I run as though I am walking on a tightrope, or maybe a catwalk (she typed hopefully).

The good news is that most of this is fixable.  I have some new exercises added to my daily PT repertoire and will work on shortening and widening my stride (the widening portion is NOT easy to do, it just doesn't feel natural!!) and can keep on doing the kettlebell/TRX classes.  I'm going to be such an efficient runner when I get all this stuff figured out!

9 miles tomorrow.  Should be interesting - I haven't run that far in quite a while.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

back in the saddle again....sort of

Like I said on my post - not exactly back in the saddle again, but at least I'm approaching the corral....

don't go there.....
It's been a bit of a rocky road for me (no pun intended) as far as running has been concerned.  My bronchitis really beat the crap out of me and I was down for the count for a few days after DD and I got home from our trip out East.  Between that and the general state of chaos that is my life,  I haven't been able to run much in the last week and a half.  Whah, whah, whah...... I know, I know, people have managed to get off their asses and run while enduring much worse things.  But I'm a bit of a wuss delicate flower, remember?  I did manage to get to circuit class this week and that felt pretty good.  I've had a short 2.5 mile jog on the treadmill (kinda dicey - I sure got out of breath quickly) and went for a 2.5 mile walk with Jane on the same day.  <do I get points for that?>

Off to do a 4 mile run.  I'll be so glad when the thaw/freeze portion of winter is over.  My tortured history with icy neighborhood sidewalks keeps me painfully aware of my center of gravity issues.   I'm going to run where I'm most likely to stay upright.  Hello treadmill!!