Friday, August 31, 2012

Lesser-Known Cues

Wouldn't it be awesome if our bodies were equipped with a lighting system, in regards to exercise?!

For example:
Green would mean "Go run, walk, bike, swim...go go go!!"

Yellow would indicate a need for rest "take it easy until you see the green light, again"

Red would, of course, mean to "STOP. Cease all activity immediately!"

(p.s. If I were designing this feature, I'd have it installed on the belly button. It's about time we got some use out of that thing, anyway.)

Obviously, we are forced to resort to obsessing over other, less obvious signs to determine our daily capabilites.

"If it hurts to walk, don't run". (I would also add "don't walk", but maybe that's a given)

"If the pain forces you to alter your gait, don't run"

Middlest demonstrating "altered gait"
"If you're feeling sick anywhere from the neck down, don't run" (wins prize for "most-ignored")
"Palpate the injured area. If there's pain, don't run"
"Do not run until you can hop on the injured leg, without pain"
Most of the classic, dire warnings, are fairly cut and dry. Some are left up to the delusional  athlete's interpretation, though. I, personally, drove myself (more) crazy, trying to determine when it would be safe to try running after I was injured.
The following are a few, lesser-known, rules-of-thumb I have been using lately. They're pretty darned practical and way more definitive than "If you're limping, take a day or two off" .
You're out for your gentle walk, and the creepy sidewalk guy starts heading your way. If you determine that you can run away from him, if necessary, you might be healed!
If you are not nervous about heating up and eating your favorite "ice pack" for lunch , it might be okay to start running!

You are surely on the road to recovery when the sight of stairs doesn't make you break into a cold sweat.
If you have lingering pain, go see your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor...some sort of trusted medical professional. When you decide to ignore or out-think them, though, feel free to reference these handy tips.
You're welcome.
Any good ones to add?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Throwback Thursday II

Last week we took a journey back to learn what a cheap thrifty (thanks, yo momma! ) runner I am. Today's is the Clueless Edition. Sadly, though, it won't feature Alicia Silverstone.

(note to self : it's been too long since you've watched that movie. This needs to be remedied!)

After the fateful day I learned I could actually run a half-mile, without stopping (!!), it became my new, favorite form of exercise. With 2 boys at home, and one of them being an infant, my time was limited.

I know they're way cute. Rest assured, I wasn't running away from them. That would come later.

My obsession was strong enough to propel me out the door, each day, though. I possessed zero electronic devices and had absolutely no idea how fast or far I was running.

After the husband's prompting, I finally started driving the distances, after I'd run them, to see how far I'd gone. Sometimes I'd check the clock before I left and after I returned, too. Other than that, I was totally clueless and blissfully happy.

Fast-Forward to a couple of years later. I'd kept up with running, but it had been more sporadic. I now had 3 boys, but they were all fairly self-sufficient, so I was able to get back into it more regularly.
life before Racing Madness began
While at a family dinner, my brother-in-law and his wife found out I'd been running at least 3 miles, each time I went out. They'd been committing to running a 5k, each month, usually as a part of  these events. (clueless alert : I had no idea how long a 5k was). Kristi-Anne (we still haven't figured out what to call your spouse's, sibling's spouse) encouraged me to join her for the one she was doing in March 2010. Giddy and breathless at the thought, I jumped online and signed up for it.
(by the by, Thrifty Me was disgusted with Clueless Me when I discovered "paper registrations" and the no-fee policy associated with them.)
I spent the next few weeks immersing myself in calculated training, informed reading and healthy eating....HAHAHA! This is all about how I was Clueless, remember?
I. knew. nothing. of what to expect on race day. I'm pretty sure I ran a couple more times between registration and race morning. Still had no idea of my pace or distance, but I knew I hadn't died or vomited so I felt ready.
The night before, in a panic, I realized I had no clue where the race was held, what time to be there, where we should park, etc. (clueless alert : all that information was available to me, online)
 I dragged the oldest out with me to go drive around where I thought the course might be. Feeling ultra-prepared, I drove back home, gorged myself on pizza, washed it down with a beer and passed out.
The next morning, I may or may not have eaten, but I did have my coffee. (instinct kicks in at opportune times for me) My nerves and excitement were in full force as I met my family member who is married to my husband's brother (see, that doesn't flow very well, does it?). We parked way too far away and hoofed it over to the race.
The husband and boys (who quickly became the greatest cheering section the racing world has ever known) planned to sleep a bit longer and meet up with us.
Luckily, once we arrived to the packet pickup, I had my husband's brother's wife's (nope. not working) racing expertise to guide my clueless self. She taught me all about bibs, safety pins, bag drops and port-a-potties. We picked a mid-pack starting spot and agreed to just run our own race and meet up at the end.
I turned on my ipod, complete with big, fuzzy headphones, right at the start. GreenDay's "Welcome to Paradise" propelled my already excited feet.
 I was immediately head-over-heels in love with racing. It took 5 seconds to know this was an experience I wanted to repeat as many times as I possibly could for the rest of my life.
I remember seeing a water stop and having no clue if I was supposed to stop and take a drink, or not. Having never drank water during any of my other runs, I passed it up but felt like everyone was staring at me, knowing I was a newbie.
As I passed the clock at mile 2, I started to get a bit fatigued. The novelty had worn off and my poor choice of race attire was becoming an issue. (more on that, later) However, I'd set no goals other than to try to run the entire distance and to have fun. So I kept on doing both.
I saw my guys, on a corner, and tiredly waved. My husband was trying to rally the littler guys but there were way too many other and more exciting distractions. The oldest yelled at me to "go faster!"
The finish line crossing was stress-free. I glanced at the clock but had no idea what the numbers meant. I was surprised when my sweet and fast friend who is also somewhat related to me , via marriage (how about that one?) finished behind me. In her defense, she had pre-fueled the previous night, with a bottle of red wine and wasn't quite at the top of her game.
Hugs and waters were passed around between all of us and then it was time to take the antsy boys home.
(clueless alert: I had no idea they posted results OR gave out awards for these things)
Much later, I discovered I'd actually placed 2nd in my division. In my very first race. (In case the numbers obsessed people are wondering, it was an 8:09/mi avg pace.)
I now wish, with all my heart, my first marathon could be like this. (minus the zero training part)
Alas, I have read too much :

just a small sample, of course
Seen too much :

if you haven't seen this, you must (after you watch "Clueless, of course)
And exposed myself to way  too many amazing running peers to have this truly be a "first race" experience.
However, as much as I'll always treasure the truly Clueless experience I had with my first race, I wouldn't have changed the way things unfolded, in the years that followed, for the world.

my first race. No, no..not the one who has a clue. I'm the one in sweatpants, cotton shirt 80's headphones and cross-trainers. Notice my smile, though! This is right around mile 3.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Warning : Long But Possibly Useful Post

...sprinkled with random, gratuitous cuteness. Non-running family members get forced to read this blog. The least I can do is reward them with some photos.

I've tried to not bore everyone (if you're family or very close friend, you're out of luck) with the daily details of recovering from my injury. I realized, however, that this may make it appear that I was one day sporting this snazzy foot enhancement :

you know you love it
and the next day out resuming marathon training. This was definitely not the case. In between the boot-hobbling', non-running, whining-filled weeks and the running shoe-wearing, slow, ugly, running, (still) whining-filled days, there was a time of transition.
Pretty sad when your foot looks better covered by a hideous medical apparatus, huh?

I read every piece of information I could on how to safely return to running, following an injury. There was advice and resources a'plenty. With my newfound knowledge, I compiled my own, loose plan. Maybe, someday, it will make another runner's return just that much easier.
Weaning : When I was able to tolerate putting a little bit of weight on my injured foot, I began to slowly (that word is key during rehab) spend less time wearing the boot. I found my muscles and tendons to be completely useless, in that leg, after being confined to said boot. This is totally normal. The whole point of it is to keep your foot immobile. The first few days, I would walk around 3-4x, during the day or evening, just to try to help my feet remember how to work normally, again. It felt "funny", but not painful. Eventually, I left it off most of the time I was at home. This way I could still elevate it, when necessary, but walking from room to room gave me a chance to (slowly) work my way out of Boot Life.
Walking : I was lucky enough to have pool running to help try to maintain my fitness and sanity. Also, with it being Summertime, it was something my family and I could enjoy, together.
he was never this excited about running with me
Everything I'd read, though, touted the benefits of walking to (slowly) work my way back up to running. Thanks to some random hooligans aka sandals I was forced to overcome my fear of putting one, bootless foot in front of the other, and try walking. It was gloriously successful and pain-free. I continued to walk, every other day, and ,eventually every day, slowly building mileage. Even after I passed some key tests I continued to stick to walking. This exercise mimics running, but without the serious impact. It's a great way to work on your form, meet your (non-running) neighbors and whine about how bored you are!
Wrunning: I don't remember how I found this link, but it's the schedule I loosely used to work some (slow) running in with my walks. The first day I walked for about 15 minutes and then (oh-so-nervously) tried a slow, steady run. It lasted approximately 10, painful seconds. I immediately stopped, in a panic. However, upon evaluation, I realized that everything hurt. My injured ankle was no more painful than any other part of my body. So I tried again. This time the running portion lasted 3, awful minutes. I knocked out a couple more intervals and headed home, doubtful and discouraged.
The following two days, I stuck to walking.  There was no residual pain, but the running had definitely felt disgusting. However, I kept waiting for the "you overdid it, again dummy!" pain to surface, but it never did.
I then spent a week concentrating on different walk/run intervals. My plan was to not get stuck on finishing a certain amount of running minutes, though. I needed to listen to AND obey my body. The walking felt perfect. The first sets of running always aggravated my ankle. The pain wasn't stabbish, though, only a dull ache. It also never worsened. Had either of those symptoms been present, I'd really like to think I would've stopped. At some point, during my workouts, though, the ankle pain would disappear.
On the off days, I continued to do the pool running. It's zero impact, incredibly boring but cool and splashy.

also, notice how lonely the pool looks without me flailing around in it
The running was awkward, painful and slow. I think all of the pool workouts helped maintain my cardio, but my muscles (glutes, hamstrings, name it) protested every time I ran. Turns out running is freaking hard! Neither my brain, nor my body decided to remember that, apparently.
Also hard, but such an integral part of recovering : don't follow a plan. don't set goals. don't have expectations. There is no way to know how your body will react to each phase of healing, transition and running, again. You can't set expectations for the unknown. It must be taken one step at a time.
This is not only my unsolicited advice, it's also a reminder for myself.
This week I'm back to full-on, but oh-so-modified, runner mode. I'm still processing the progress but can't wait to bore you to tears with all the details.
If you've made it this far, you deserve an award. In lieu of prizes, though, you get to see some darling children eating ice cream. You're welcome.
How about you? Any injury recovery advice to share?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Short and Sweet Sunday (Crossed-Fingers Edition)

This past week, I completed my final days of transition from my injury. I'm still plenty nervous about moving forward, but not because I'm in pain. The stress fracture just really messed with my brain.

My body is actually feeling very strong. Very ready. Very anxious to get back on track.

This is it. This week, starting tomorrow, will be the test to determine if I'll be able to squeeze my final 14 weeks of marathon training into 8. I've rested, yoga-ed and compressed, all weekend.
the saddest part about this photo : my kids didn't even bat an eye when I wore it out the door.
I read about and witnessed my running friends' many miles logged, today and yesterday. My non-running husband even knocked out a few miles! I'm not feeling total jealousy, anymore, though. I'm feeling inspiration and determination. I can DO this, right?!
Just in case, though, cross a couple fingers for me...pretty please.
Thank you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Throwback Thursday

Today's trip down memory lane is about The Time I Ran a Half-Marathon While Carrying a Vodka Bottle. You're probably thinking to yourself "Hmm. What sort of fun riddle is involved with that title?!"
This story could not possibly be named anything else.

When I first started running, it was completely solo. My husband has always been athletic, but dislikes running. (ALOT) . We had a few friends and family members that ran, sporadically, at that time. I shudder to think of the clothes and shoes I wore in my early running days. (I'll save those stellar choice stories for another Thursday.)
Why do my shins hurt SO bad?!

For the most part, this was due to a complete lack of knowledge or research, on my part. When I did finally start stalking other runners looking into gear options, the overwhelmingly Cheap-O part of me was horrified. No thank you very much. I will never be spending all of those dollars on my hobby. My husband picked out and bought me my very first, actual running shirt and shorts. Probably he was tired of the "sad for you" looks our neighbors gave us as I ran, cheerily, by. (and he's very generous to me) Questioning my Cheap-Ness? I still posses AND wear those shorts he bought me SEVEN years ago.

Anyway, one day, I learned folks were actually drinking fluids while they ran. You'd think, after running in Florida for long enough, this concept would've occurred to me sooner. I just chalked up my dry cracked lips, dizzy spells and dry heaves to "the joys of running".

After googling "hand-held water bottles" I disgustedly turned off the PC and weighed my hydrating options.

I tried carrying a plastic Zephyrhills water bottle on my next run. I threw it, in utter disgust about 42 seconds in. Carrying a water bottle was definitely not for me.

Next, I tried another option that's too embarrassing to admit. I tried typing it and was unable to finish.

Then, while shopping at the Liquor store, I had my moment of brilliance. There, attached to a giant bottle of vodka, was a teensy, fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand, matching bottle of vodka! I snatched those beauties off the shelf, hopefully? paid for them, and drove home.

I could. not. WAIT to try out my new water flask! To keep this blog family-friendly, we'll say I dumped the vodka from the tiny bottle down the drain. I'm also mostly sure I rinsed it out, too. Either way, I re-filled it with a shot of water and scurried out the door for a test run.

Fast-forward to my 1st and 2nd half-marathons. While laying out my race gear, the night before, the tiny vodka bottle was lain carefully atop my bibs. Sad, right? Worse, still, is that there are professional photos of me, running a half-marathon, carrying a vodka bottle. Wanna see? (or maybe you just want to feel better about your race photos) Feel free to visit . Enter bib # 1103 for the Women's Half Marathon St Petersburg 2011.

Sidenote : I know everyone complains about their race photos. Mine are truly, truly frightening. View at your own risk. Also, notice my beet-red face. I was freaking dehydrated!

Soon after this race, my husband bought me a very comfy, very wonderful hand-held water bottle.

Notice a trend?
Moral : don't get photographed while racing with your vodka bottle.
Additional Moral: don't be cheap.
Still thinking my cheapiness might fall under the "somewhat normal" category? Here's a pic I took. Tonight. Yes, it's the original.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Exercising Whilst Injured

Disclaimer : I am not a medical or sports professional. If you must know, I'm not even sure I could pass a 3rd grade assessment. (To prove my point : I previously misspelled "assessment", had to use spell-checker, and correct it before continuing.)  All that I share with you is simply my experience.

I hear you, I hear you..."We miss seeing pictures of your boot!" "Where's that delightful Summer wardrobe piece?!" Here you go :
Dear hateful boot ,
 I do not miss you.
Sincerely, Jenn

I'm calling my current running state : transition. I've been running, nice and slowly, for brief segments of my walks. This has been happening for about a week. I'll have a whole 'nother post dedicated to transition. For now, though, we'll take a step back to examine : How To Stay Sane While You Are Unable To Run.

Each situation is, obviously, very different and should be treated as such. Runner's World has a good article regarding injury prevention. In it, there's also a brief guideline for what you may or may not be able to substitute for running, depending on the nature of your injury/health situation.

Bottom line : If you love to run...if Running Moves You (haha...I shamelessly plugged my OWN blog on MY blog! I'm such a loser...) then there's really no substitute for running. Yes, there are bumloads of ways to exercise, maintain cardio and try to keep physically fit. They. AreNOT. Running.

Also, due to the nature of my injury (anterior fibular stress fracture. thanks for asking!) there was actually very little I was cleared to do, exercise-wise. The hated elliptical machine was out, as was riding on an actual bike. (stationary was ok). No running , walking,  break-dancing, zumba, aerobics, belly-dancing, jumping get the idea. I, like a lot of injured runners, was unable to engage in any weight-bearing or impact-based activities. Blech.

As you can imagine, after a few hours days, I was ready to climb the walls, in frustration.

not literally, as The Middlest enjoys doing

If you ever find yourself, as a runner, unable to run. Here is a list of alternative activities that should keep you off the walls and (mostly) sane.

  • Pool Running  - I devoted a small post (It's No Joke), with links and references, to this. I know not everyone has access to a pool. If you do, though, this is a lifesaver. I have been continuing my pool running, even now that I'm running on land, again. My favorite: Kick and splash, spastically, at the excess part of the strap on your AquaBelt because you thought it was a pool creature attacking you.
  • Upper Body Workouts - Traditional : You can modify a lot of workout DVDs/Videos, and upper body moves to keep you off your feet. I sat on a chair, couch or sturdy coffee table and bicep-curled my little heart out. It may not be something you feel comfortable doing at the gym, but, at home, you'll be surprised how many exercises you can modify to accommodate a lower body injury. My favorite: Wave your hands and pointed finger at various items you'd like your children to fetch for you. All day. Quality exercise for you AND them!
  • Abs - while I was nervous to perform any full plank variations, I did bust on some sets that kept my knees on the mat. Also, sit-ups, crunches, torso twists, V-sits...they were all a-okay. My favorite : Clench your gut as tight as you can to avoid yelling profanities at the random runner jaunting happily past your car.
  • Glutes - This was a perfect time to strengthen that oft-neglected body part! Clamshells, donkey kicks (on my knees), reverse scissors, etc. No weight, no impact, plenty of focus on building that special set of muscles. My favorite: Wiggle around, while sitting on the couch, to the catchy song on your ipod. Your 14-year-old child will take his friend and run away, in horror. Again, 2 birds with one stone!
  • All-Time Favorite: Constantly complain, whine, blog and  moan about your injury to every person you come in contact with. They will love it and you will be exercising the heck out of your jaw muscles.
If all else fails, though, feel free to go visit this girl. She'll make you one of her (now famous) margaritas and all your non-running worries will disappear...

How do you deal with a running hiatus? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Short and Sweet Sunday II

Condensed version of an excellent weekend

I discovered a new (to me) feature of my Garmin! Did you know it can also be used as just a watch?! I'll paraphrase the owner's manual : "This comes in handy for injury recoverers (new word, too!) who are timing walk/run intervals and not worrying about pace. "

If you're a savvy reader, you've also realized this means my weekend (finally!!) consisted of a teensy bit of actual, real, sweaty, awful horrid,  long-awaited running. (more on this, later)

our new Freshman opted out of the matching Mario backpack. Weird, huh?

This also means that just before the boys embark on a new, school-ish adventure, I get to re-join some running friends for a treasured, 5 am , slow and careful jaunt.
I really did set out their school stuff before my running gear. Really!

Happy Weekend. Happy Week ahead. Hope yours was/is every bit as much!

What are you looking forward to this week? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beating the Odds

Today's Workout :
2 mile Fast Walk (is that an oxymoron?)
30 minutes (3 "miles") steady pool running

I won't bore you with the boring details of my boring walk and boring "running" back and forth (endlessly) in the boring pool.

(just a teaser. there was pavement! grass! mailboxes!)

Instead, today, I thought we'd celebrate the fact that the 2012 WSOP (World Series of Poker) is currently being aired on ESPN. Televised poker is Reality TV at it's finest. There's money, tension, laughter, drama, romance, celebrities...and, of course,  poker.

While my husband and I are not big gamblers, per se, we do enjoy a good card game. And, when one isn't available, watching other people enjoying a good card game is sufficient.

Raising children, (3 boys, in this case) can often feel like a high-stakes, life-long tournament. You invest everything. All of your time, money, patience and love gets dumped into the pot, from the day they're born. The payoff can be phenomenal, but grinding it out, for decades is exhausting, to say the least.

As much as I love (I really do!) having all the boys home with me for Summer Break, it often feels like we're involved in a 3-month tournament. Winner(s) take mom's sanity.

This brings us to the subject of Proposition Bets. These are commonly referred to as Prop Bets or Side Bets and can add an extra level of excitement to the game. (reference)  Apparently, the regular Summer Tournament wasn't exciting enough for them. Halfway though a poking, screaming, food-throwing, milk-spilling, incessant arguing lunch, yesterday,  I told my husband I was onto them.

 "They must have a Prop Bet going on! They're competing to see who can make me scream say "I can't wait 'til you all go back to school!!" "
totally staged. They don't often sit around, gambling.

Luckily, I'm a much more skilled poker player than they are. Despite being the serious underdog, (3:1 odds?! ...they're almost guaranteed to win!) I know how to beat them at their new game and hold my tongue.

Also, come Monday morning, I know the scene will look a little something like this :

My heart will break. As much as I'll try, I won't be able to wish Summer 2012 back. At least I'll be able to let them go with zero regrets...and a couple of extra chips in my pocket.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hoppy Tears

I've never been fearful when it comes to running. Once I shocked myself by learning I could run a whole half-mile, without stopping, I rarely looked back.

Yes, I have butterflies the night before a morning of Speedwork.

I also have to soothe myself with key rituals to prepare for a long run or new race.

I am definitely not without some normal, healthy realizations of my limits. However, when it comes to lacing up and setting out for a run, there is very little that gives me pause.

Sinus headaches, groin pain, tight calves, nausea, rain, SNOW...these have all faced me before a run and I haven't given it a second thought.

Granted, this is the view from the treadmill I was using, while the snow was falling. Kinda cheated, but I did run through the actual snow to reach said treadmill.

If you're a runner, this is not likely going to surprise you. You're probably thinking "Duh." (If you have that sort of coolness in your vernacular). What surprised me, though, is my level of near-paralyzing fear at even attempting a fast walk during this period of healing through a stress fracture.

I've referenced this post before, but it's worth repeating. It's long, but I definitely recommend bookmarking it. In it, Camille outlines 2 very simple tests for determining if your injury has healed enough to attempt small bursts of running, again.

1. Palpating the area (the touch test). Like any two-year-old injured runner, I could not keep my hands off that stupid bone. I poked, rubbed, massaged, patted that stupid sore spot more times than I'd like to count. It was like a magnet! This test has been, gradually, passed but I was still terrified to try the other. Cue ominous music...

2. The Hop Test. Three little words, I'd tell myself. I'd try to re-assure myself any toddler can and will do this, on command. Just balance on that injured leg, let go of the seriously...let. go. of. the. wall. What the heck is wrong with you?! Why won't you *&$)%*#)ing let go of the wall?! (My inner conversations can get a little rough) Something that's normally so benign was so far outside of my realm of comfort, it was ridiculous.

Until this morning.

After several attempts at very successful, pain-free walks (outside! in running shoes!) I decided it was time to put that leg down (gingerly) and let go of the stupid wall.

And I did. I hopped. Then I hopped some more. Then tears filled my eyes until I was afraid I was going to fall over. The tears weren't due to pain. They blinded me when I realized the total lack, thereof.

I'll probably get judgement for what's about to happen next with those fancy socks and the beautiful shoes at the end of them. I can take it, though.

After all, I just passed The Hop Test. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Short and Sweet Sunday

I want to avoid completely neglecting this blog (and the four 2 people who read it) on weekends. However, I'm also really lazy  busy on Saturdays and Sundays, so I'll keep it brief.

My hair is being extremely cooperative, today. I think I'm having something generally reserved for people who shower and/or groom themselves regularly : A Good Hair Day. You'll have to take my word for it, though. When I tried to get photo proof, I looked at the pics and second-guessed the validity of my excitement.

Our day also included this delightful concoction at a new frozen yogurt joint.

Happiness, all around.
(It's easy to ignore his goofy, chocolate-stained face when you focus on the bling hanging around his neck)

No running (pool or otherwise) , but I did have a pain-free, one-mile walk, last night, with the husband. Yippee!!

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend, too. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's No Joke

Today's running workout consisted of the following :
  • 5 min., dynamic warmup
  • 6x5 min hard
  • 1 min jog between
  • 5 min cooldown, including stretching
Before my dad anyone starts to panic, this morning's run took place here :

site of the now infamous sandal attack

I woke up before my alarm went off. (thanks, Middlest, and your excessive sniffling!)
I've got the pre-run setup down to a science, now, so it doesn't take me too long to get everything ready. The hand-held water bottle, garmin, sports bra, shorts, dri-fit shirt and running shoes have been replaced. There are just a few, key components that need to be gathered up before I can head out the door.

fashionable aqua belt, dirty flip-flops, towel (complete with Oldest's name all over it from Summer Camp), sunglasses (which I don't even use), pool pass, car keys and oversized Christmas nightshirt to use as coverup. (last nights pjs = morning's pool attire. Less laundry AND a uniquely stunning look. Genius, right?!) 

Yep. Until my stress fracture is completely healed, my feet shalt not pound the pavement. Not only is this a huge setback, physically, (I'm in the middle of training for my first marathon) but it also makes me just a big mess, mentally. When I somewhat accepted the fact that this injury was going to take considerable time to heal,  I dove (haha...pool-talk) into researching safe ways to cross-train/maintain sanity.

While stationary biking is generally acceptable, it doesn't work the same muscle groups as running does. Due to he nature of my injury, the Elliptical machine was out. Swimming is a great, all-around exercise, but, again, doesn't mimic running in any way.

The best alternative I found was pool running or aqua jogging. See for yourself here and here. Elites use it as a training tool as rehab AND even when they're not injured! This fast lady is a huge advocate and I found a lot of useful posts on her blog. I read every article I could get my hands on and watched YouTube videos like it was my job. It took me a couple (comical) tries before I mastered the method. I did, eventually, figure out how to do it without the AquaBelt. The Belt really helps maintain proper form, though. complements my $19.99 TJMaxx swimsuit like you wouldn't believe!

Another cool fact : Workouts, like todays, make me work up an actual sweat. In the water...dripping in my eyes, frizzing up my hair sort of sweat. Crazy, huh? So, while I may look really silly, "running" back and forth down the length of the pool, this form of running is hard work.

And I love every second of it.  

Have you ever tried deep water aqua jogging?

Which Summer Accessory are you more jealous of : My boot or that belt?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tag! I'm It. (and so are you)

I'm fairly new to the World O' Blog. I've come to learn, though, that being "tagged" is as serious as a Double-Dare. You're left without a choice. You have to succumb.

So, thanks to this lady you all get to learn way more about me than you ever cared to know AND share cool things about yourself, too! (woo hoo!)

Rules :
1. Post 11 things about yourself
2. Answer questions the tagger sent for you
3. Choose 11  some other people and link them to your post
4. Notify the people you've tagged
5. No tag-backs!

Random things about me (In no particular order of importance or significance)

1. I have played in The World Series of Poker and would love to do it, again. I still love the game, but running's taken priority, hobby-wise.

2. I LOVE flip-flops. Other than running shoes, they're about all I wear. You seeing this Brooks? New Balance? Make some running shoes that look like flip-flops and I'll buy the heck out of 'em!
Flip-Flops & snow. you can take me out of Florida, but you can't take the Florida out of me.

3. I eat an ice cream sundae, every day, after my lunch. The toppings and flavors vary, but the tradition remains. It gets to be a problem when I'm out for a meal and have to rush back home for my daily sundae...

4. I'm excellent at finding lost items. It's a gift. I can even find teensy, weensy shark's teeth :
5. My nose is really crooked. I've found that I inadvertently tilt my head the opposite way when being photographed. I don't think it helps...

6. The company I work for started an entire department devoted to work-from-home employees, based on my suggestion. I was the guinea pig and it's been running smoothly for over 8 years, now!

7. The songs that motivate me most, during a tough race : cheesy, 80's pop. Sad, but true. The theme from "Rocky". Yawn. Taylor Dayne screeching at me to "Tell it To My Heart"...I can bust into a gear I never knew I posessed.

8. I have zero fashion sense. None. This may further explain my love for flip-flops... 

9. I have never seen the West Coast of the US...or the Pacific Ocean.

10. When I'm too old (or decrepit) to participate in races, I'd love to travel the world, managing races. I think it'd be SO fun to bring the joy of racing to other runners.

11. Most embarrassing driving story? I hit a cow and totalled a Jeep Cherokee.

Questions we all get to answer :

1. What is your favorite run/race/activity you have participated in? I think I smiled the most during The Disney World Half Marathon. I'm not even a huge Disney junkie, but it's easy to get caught up in "the magic". :)

2. Do you run with a group or solo? I ran solo for many years. No one in my family or circle of friends were runners (then). Almost exactly one year ago, I joined a local running group. I still run by myself a few times a week, but love the group runs and friendships I've made with them.

3. What part of the country do you live in: Florida. I was born in a different state, but have lived here since I was less than 2. I hope to never leave.

4. What is your favorite machine at the gym? I have no clue how to use any machine other than the treadmill. (and even that's a little iffy...)

5. What healthy dish do you like to make? I love to make healthy wraps, sandwiches and bowls of concoctions. For lunch I made a bowl of couscous w/diced tomatoes, torn spinach, pumpkin seeds, chia, and a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar. mmmmm...

6. What is your favorite easy snack food? rice or almond crackers & hummus. Or greek yogurt w/granola, chia & berries. Or almonds and grapes. I like snacks. A lot.

7. What brand of athletic shoe do you prefer? I've been running in and loving the new(ish)  Brooks Pure line.

8. Who is your favorite athlete? I'm inspired by a lot of runners, but I don't know that I really have a favorite.

9. What sport do you wish you could compete in the Olympics? Winter : Luge. (it'd be like a teeny roller coaster, right?!) Summer : 10,000 meter or marathon

10. Red, white or blue: Red. I'm told I "look good" in the color. Whatever that means...

11. Favorite Travel Spot: We've found plenty of good places to ski, but no "perfect" spot, yet. It's fun to keep looking, though! In the Summer, I love my sister-in-law's house in Ontario Canada. Just gorgeous.

You're it:

Hope everyone can find some time to play and has more interesting things to share than I did. ;) In the meantime, everyone else can check out their blogs. C'mon...I double-dare you.

Pushing Back the Dumb

Boot : size SM. Perfect accessory to any Summer attire
Chair : Vintage Thomas the Tank.
Extra Artwork on Seat: Crayola "washable" Marker, by the Littlest

While doing a lot of extra sitting, over the past few weeks. I have had plenty of time to contemplate just how danged Smart I was being, regarding this injury. Each day that passed, without me trying to go for a run, walk or even firmly planting my foot on the stairs, gave me a little extra confidence.

I am a Smart Runner!
Others reinforced this newfound revelation. DailyMile comments ranged from "So proud of you for taking it slow!" to the ever-pleasant "You're an Inspiration!" Even my mom, who feels I am never cautious enough, was totally impressed. Sure, I may've made some not-so-smart decisions to get myself into this situation, but I was more than making up for it with my enviable patience and "smartness".

I did have to keep pushing back that one, teensy nagging thought : Pssst! Moron! The only reason you're not sneaking out to run is because it feels like someone is stabbing your anklebone every time you even think of putting weight on it!

I woke up, Friday morning, and didn't have that jolt of agony I'd grown so accustomed to when I stepped out of bed. This was new, encouraging and exciting! After gingerly walking around a bit, sans boot, I determined this really was a "better" feeling ankle day. I decided to continue to take it easy, wean myself off the boot somewhat, and see how things went. The plan was to definitely maybe take a short, slow walk on Monday.

Some troublesome kids and/or a lazy Pool Cleaner Guy made this plan fall into place. So, I, the Smart (Injured) Runner, set out for a Smart Walk. I'd decided to walk a mile or less, depending on how the ankle felt. There was some achiness for about 1 minute. Then it was gone. The sun shone a little brighter, the gnats swarming around my face buzzed a little quieter and my feet were SO happy!

Full disclosure: This double-rainbow shot was captured in my neighborhood...but not during my walk. That'd be cool, though, right?!

My back was almost getting SORE from all the self-patting I was giving it. "Look at you and all your Smart-ness...walking!" "You haven't even tried to run one. single. day, whilst injured." "You are soooo Smart!"

And then it happened. The Dumb started creeping in. I blame my happy feet. They can't help it, really, they're SO far away from my brain. The feet-to-brain communication is probably very fuzzy and, at times, totally non-existent.

"Hey! We should try to run! No, no...just a little, teeny bit!"

"Ok. You know what? If we're going to run, a little, it should be a sprint." "You LOVE to sprint, remember?!"

"Ok. Ok. I see that you're still making us walk. Walking's cool, and all, but how about we just Run Home. That's a simple enough goal : Run Home!" "It'll be rad!!"

And so on...

Turns out, all this time, I wasn't being smart. The Dumb just hadn't had an opportunity to work it's magic.

This long, drawn-out story has a happy ending, though. I pushed back The Dumb, long enough to finish that walk, get myself safely inside and elevate those overly-happy feet. Granted, it ended up being 1.28 miles, rather than "maybe 1 mile", but no one...ever...has accused me of being The Smartest.

Just Smart Enough is okay with me, though.

When does your Dumb creep in?

Ever seen a double rainbow?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tipped-Over Chairs = Happy Feet

Alternate Post Title : The Sandals Made Me Do It (thanks, dad!)

The Cleaner Guy at our community pool and I are tight, these days. (Ignore the fact that I call him Cleaner Guy. You don't need to know someone's name to be tight.) He's generally finishing up his job when I arrive to start my deep water running. (I'll have a whole post on this, soon!!) CG and I make small talk, wish each other well and he runs back to his truck to laugh at how dorky I look. It's a morning routine and it works for us.

So, I, in my $19.99 TJMaxx sensible swimsuit, showed up to see him putting a complicated lock on the gate, this morning. We had a different sort of conversation.

Me : "Um...that doesn't look too promising"
CG: "Nope. We had some sandals in here. Can't let anyone in"

At this point, you're probably as confused as I was. Turns out he actually said "vandals".

CG: "Yep. They broke a light...knocked over a chair. Gonna need to keep everyone out for now."
Me : "Listen, CG, I'll just use the sun, as my source of light, this morning. Also, I wasn't gonna use *that* chair, anyway. How about you just let me sneak on in there?"

My last statement may or may not have only been in my head as CG gave me his usual "poor, weird, lady" wave and walked away.

But, wait! It's okay! Crisis averted. Per this brilliant (and superfast) lady's post I was getting antsy to try a gentle walk, anyway.

Went back home, changed outfits, paused for a moment of silence while I looked at both feet (finally!) clad in running shoes, and fought the urge to skip out the front door.

While the above photo may be a little scary-looking, it conveys the way I felt moving my feet, painlessly, on dry land. Happy Walk, Happy Feet, Happy Morning!

My actual feet, this morning. If  you listen closely, you can hear them cheering!

How was *your* morning?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

DNS By the Numbers

Disclaimer : I never would've normally registered for a 5k while injured. I was told (and was delusional enough to believe) that I had a strain/sprain/tendon damage, by an Urgent Care "Doctor".
I believe he got his degree from Pretend University of Magical Fairyland. (Go Flying Caticorns!!)

By the time I got a real diagnosis from a real (dreamcrushing) doctor, my entry fee had been paid.

When I realized I was going to have my very first DNS (Did Not Start, in racing terms), I made an easy decision. I could wallow in more self pity while all my running friends and family had fun at this inaugural event, or I could volunteer and join in the excitement.

Had I not chosen the latter, this would be a blessedly short but grumpy post. Instead, you can relive the joys of my DNS, broken down in Numerical Fun-Style!

0 : The number of times I obsessively checked my alarm on RaceDay Eve to make sure it was properly set. Turns out "I get to Volunteer, tomorrow!!" doesn't hold the same sort of excitement.

314 : The bib I never got to pin on

4 : The number of safety pins I saved for another racer (go me!!)

4: The number of safety pins my sister-in-law needed, that I neglected to bring. (Sorry, Kristi-Anne!)

100: Pounds of ice I got to load into the trunk of my car

3: (this number may be higher) Number of traffic violations I involved myself in, while transporting volunteers to and from our designated posts. I think my passengers were not totally unhappy about getting out of my vehicle. (sorry fellow volunteers!)

100+ : Number of times I shouted out a time (I was at Mile 1), followed by "Keep it Up!" "You're doing great!" and the like.

6 : Number of times I tried to frantically call my Race Director friend. Full disclosure/Funny sidenote: She called my cell, right before the start of the race.
Her : "I'm going to put my phone down so you can hear me say "GO" and then start your stopwatch." Me: " Ok, got it! Bye" (disconnect on my end)...immediate headslap and frantic return calls.
Luckily, the wind was blowing just right and I actually heard her yell "GO" and  the rest of the crowd as the race started. Crisis averted. everyone knows about my dumb move. (Sorry, Jennifer!)

1: Very tasty celebratory beer I shared with my sissy. It was her first post-baby race and she rocked it!!

100+ : Smiles I gave my fellow runners, family and volunteers. In genuine happiness. People were kind and supportive about my injury, the race, brought to us by this cool new company went off beautifully and everyone had fun. So much fun!

0: Number of times I thought "Dangit! I wish I was racing instead of helping out and cheering for and with my friends!" For real. It never crossed my mind.

Have you ever had to DNS?

Any cool/dumb/scary volunteering stories?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Calm After The Storm

I'm an injured runner. No running, walking, weight-bearing exercise, bouncing, jostling or dancing  allowed. What better time to share my very first Running Blog Post, right?

Probably not.
Humor me, won't you?

It's unbearably hot and humid. It's August...duh. A walk from the front door to the car requires one to change their sweaty underpants. You can imagine how miserable *running* would be. (If you're a Floridian, swap out "imagine" for "remember") And, yet, the above picture of my nephew accurately depicts the way I feel about my current situation. (sidenote: he's adorable and doesn't usually look so grumpish. My very talented photographer friend just happened to catch a cute moment)

(insert whiny voice)
Everyone else gets to feel the lava-like pavement seeping into and blistering the bottoms of their feet.
All the cool people get to feel like they're trying to breathe through a wool blanket, while running.
My running friends get to awaken at 4:15 am, to try to beat the stifling, 6:00 am heat.

Running bloggers, family and friends are all posting amazing tempo runs. They're feeling spectacular after 18-milers. 5k times are plummeting, marathon training plans are being closely followed, training runs are being nailed. They're all loving life, getting faster and stronger and I'm stuck on my bum!!

To add icing to the CrapCake, The Olympic Track and Field Events begin, today. Just to further taunt me, of course.

 It's. Not. Fair. AndIhateit!! (end whiny voice)

Although fully aware of how jerkish this makes me sound, I am unable to contain my rant. Once I moved past the (all new!!) stage of Denial about Denial of being injured, I slid easily into the more well-known days of Actual Denial. ( Bargaining was skipped, altogether, as the pain was too severe to even dream of continuing to run. ) Currently, I'm in the throes of a thrilling mix of Anger, Depression and Forced Acceptance. (reference)

I'd tossed around the idea of starting a blog for many months. Recently, a dear friend, (who also happens to share my last name) encouraged me to do so. I was thinking of our conversation when I glanced at 2 of my 3 boys (more on them to come) sitting quietly on the couch.

Ignore the fact that they're wearing last year's halloween costumes and focus on how calm the moment is. Thx.

This very rarely happens in my daily life. The calm, that is. I initially titled this post "The Calm Before the Storm". It's generally understood that any moment of quiet and peace will soon be followed by wild chaos. I'd planned to tie this into my current Running State of Affairs (RSOA). Something about : This is just the calm before a "storm" of racing and PRs! Woo hoo!! blah,  blah , get the gist.

Then, I remembered the last few days preceding this one. I ran those children into the ground! We filled our time with swimming, trips to Summer Movies, lunch playdates with cousins, dinner playdates with friends, soccer, tennis...phew! They aren't sitting (in halloween costumes) planning their Big Comeback. They are recovering.
Such a beautiful, calming thought, isn't it? Recovery. I put my body through a slew of local races and then leapt, feet-first, into Marathon training. (my first. Are you more sad about my injury, now?) This is not the time for me to jitter, on the edge of my seat, waiting for the Invevitable Crazy Comeback Storm. This is the time for me to be calm and recover. I have no clue what is coming over the next few weeks' time. It was foolish for me to plan and stress about an unknown future.

So, I will venture into blogging. I will elevate my stress-fractured ankle. I will enjoy the quiet and monsoon-like moments my children produce. I will calm. the heck. down.

Care to join me?