Thursday, March 15, 2012

Life according to runners

Now that I am back into full swing running, I can't remember what I did to fill my time when I wasn't. Running once again dominates most of my discussions (at least the important ones) and is a major factor in many everyday life situations. It seems that life revolves around running, preparing to run, and recovering from running.

When runners drive down streets, they analyze the street in terms of its "runability". I'm guilty of this, scoping out shoulders, sidewalks, traffic patterns, hill grades, blind spots, potential water bottle hiding spots, scenery, and proximity to connecting streets to make a decent loop. Last weekend I had a memorial service to attend, and we drove down the neighborhood where my mother grew up and where I spent many many days of my childhood. As she reminisced about growing up in the house, my response was, "This would be a great neighborhood to run a few miles". On Tuesday I had to pick up my son from school. Not letting an opportunity go to waste, I showed up in front of the school in my florescent shirt, running shorts, Garmin and water bottle. We drove a little ways down the street until I pulled over, hopped out, and ran the rest of the way home.

When runners (female) purchase beauty products, the number one question is: "Is it sweat-proof?" After a hard lunch run on a mild day last week, my face wasn't cooling down too well. I was sweating like a garden hose and even after I showered, my make up was sweating right back off my face. That's when Kerri introduced me to tinted moisturizer. What a hidden gem! Now I just use that instead of foundation on my running days and I don't have to worry about looking blotchy. While I was at the store purchasing the new moisturizer, I stumbled across "24 hour Color Tattoo" eye shadow. It's like they knew I was coming!

Meal planning is another area that leads to interesting discussion. Runners eat foods that serve a purpose. "What do you feel like having for dinner?" can be answered a number of ways:
1. Something with a good carb-to-protein ratio and no fiber. I have a long run in the morning.
2. Nothing, I have a track workout tonight. But I'll nibble on these almonds and an ounce of cheese before I go. And I'd like some electrolytes when I get home.
3. Nothing but carbs. I have a race tomorrow.
4. Since I'm not running tonight or tomorrow, let's load up on veggies and fiber.

Runners know what it means to go shoe shopping, but this isn't so obvious for non-runners. Here's an excerpt from an actual conversation last week:

Non-Runner (NR): What did you do yesterday?
Me: Went shoe shopping
NR: Oh what did you get?
Me: Got my first pair of Brooks. Defyance 5. Pretty sweet!
NR: Uh... what color?
Me: Pretty much white, with some purple and neon green trim.
NR: Umm... and you like them?
Me: Yes! Roomy toe box, good arch support, very lightweight, good cushion. Nice neutral shoe.
NR: (Blank stare)

Just this afternoon as Jaimee and I prepared for our lunch time run, we realized we both had the exact same shoe! It's cool, because she's a runner. She gets me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Month in review: Wind, battle scars, and hovercrafts

Hard to believe it’s been over a month since I last wrote!  I really need to work on this, and I have a lot of making up to do!  The last five weeks have been go-go-go, and everything’s starting to come together.  I am now in my fifth month of healing post-surgery, and although I’m making strong progress, I still have a long way to go.  I remember when the surgeon told me it was a 3-5 month recovery and I was so convinced I’d beat that estimate, but the truth was he was spot on.  Now I’m starting to get my running legs back but I have to be super cautious not to add miles on too fast and risk another injury due to carelessness.  Once I finally felt like I was doing enough to justify tracking my miles, I started a new running log.  In some ways it’s hard not to get discouraged by this, because I can’t help but compare my stats to last year (or better yet, the year before).  The good thing about the log though is it shows the progress that I’ve been making post-surgery.  I guess that’s the way I have to measure myself now: BS (Before Surgery) and AS (After Surgery).  Without boring everyone too much with details, here are my AS (After Surgery) stats:

Week 1: Total miles: 4.6  Average Pace: 12:40
Week 2: Total miles: 10.6  Average Pace: 11:40
Week 3: Total miles: 5.5  Average Pace: 11:10
Week 4: Total miles: 12  Average Pace: 10:57
Week 5: Total miles: 10.8  Average Pace: 10:17
Week 6: Total miles: 13.7  Average Pace: 9:40

Making good progress!

Some of my more memorable runs:
Track runs: A few of us have been getting together at the track for nighttime runs.  What a blast this is, trotting around the track in the dark and trying to figure out who is passing you.  And even though I was wearing a Garmin, I couldn’t really see it in the dark and 5 miles flew by in no time!

Windy runs: The weather has been wacky lately, and a couple of my recent runs have been in some serious wind!  Last week Kerri and I ran together at work.  It was unseasonably warm and WINDY!  It seemed like the wind was hitting us in the face no matter what direction we were running.  Then on the way back, the wind was hitting me so strongly from the left that my pony tail was extended straight off to the right!  And then let’s not even talk about how bad the wind was when we passed the pig farm, or when the trash trucks passed us. 

“Running” errands:  My son and I had an appointment on Monday afternoon, and it’s only 3 miles away.  Since he just got his license, it gave me a great idea.  We drove to the appointment together, and then I had him drive the car home while I ran home!  I thought this was a great idea, but for him I don’t know which was more embarrassing: Me showing up in public with fluorescent skin tight running clothes, or him having to drive home in the Prius.  I hope he gets over it, because this is definitely going to become routine!

“I feel like I’m being watched” run: A couple weeks ago I went out for my trail loop in the backyard.  It’s 2.25 miles, and I’ve been trying to get just a little bit faster each time.  On this particular run, I was in the last half mile home where the footing gets a little trickier and it’s uphill, and I naturally start to lose steam.  Suddenly I hear a helicopter over me, and I didn’t think much of it until it got progressively louder and I realized it wasn’t moving forward.  It was just hovering right over me!  At  first I joked in my head that someone was going to jump out of it, then maybe they were going to bomb me, and then I had flashbacks to the Hunger Games book and was convinced I was going to get sucked up into a hovercraft.  I wasted no time looking up to see who it was that was preparing to abduct me and booked it home.  Thanks to that close encounter I managed to shave another two minutes off my previous time!  Later I found out there was an escaped mental patient in the woods and police and SWAT were scouring the woods!  Luckily I didn’t run into him!

A couple other observations: 
During my running hiatus, I forgot about some of the ugliness that occurs with running.  Namely: Chafing and blisters!  The running shoes I had bought just before my surgery ended up giving me a nasty blister.  I brought them back to the store and they gave me replacement liners that had softer edges, but the blister still ballooned.  After a couple successful years with Asics, I just made the transition to Brooks.  So far so good! Comfortable, no blisters, no problems!  But, the damage is done and I'm sporting some ugly dogs at the moment.  I don't think I quite realized the extent of the war zone until I took my socks off at morning yoga on Saturday.  As for the chafing, let's just say I'm in the market for a new sports bra.  And, it's a good thing I'm single.

Upcoming races:
This is definitely not the year to be adding events onto my calendar, but it's fun to have something to look forward to.  I had hoped to be able to do my club's 15k, but it's only a couple weeks away and I'm just not ready for that so I'll be volunteering instead.  However, my friend Joanna talked me into joining her relay team for a "Tornado Alley Relay" in June to benefit towns in western Massachusetts that were hit hard by last year's tornadoes.  It's a good thing I didn't look at the elevation map before I agreed to it!  Let's just say I'll be adding some hill work into my training soon!  And as for long term race plans, I've got my sights on the Disney Marathon, next January!

Further proof of progress:
Breaking news: I can cross my legs! Almost!