Posts Tagged ‘shoes’

Swifter Sweeper

Happiness is new running shoes. No lie. I had surpassed 300 logged miles on my Brooks Ghost 6s and for the past several weeks, each time I went for a run in them, I was coming back with an ache in my right ankle. Well, by Sunday, I came back with BOTH ankles sore and achy. I suspected the shoes, went to Lucky Foot (my favorite running store!) and left with a new pair of Ghosts.

I went in fully intending to switch back to more supportive shoes like the Adrenalines. The sales associate really didn’t think I needed the support, but I tried them anyway. Well, after running in neutral shoes for 9 months, wearing the Adrenalines was like tying a pair of 2x4s to my feet. I tried stepping down a click to the Brooks Ravennas but they still felt too stiff and clunky.

When I put on the Size 12 pair of Ghosts, all desire to change up my shoes fled and they came home with me.

It is funny to me how when I was younger, what color and shape my shoes were meant a LOT to me. I wanted my shoes to look super cool; I really didn’t care how well they fit or how long they held up. 15-20 years later, and I could care less what my shoes look like, as long as they fit well and I keep all my toenails this training cycle. And now I pay 5x more for them than I ever did.

Function before form.

So, here is the only thing bugging me about MTT and my awesome team. I ran around a 10:30 minute per mile pace on Sunday morning; this is wonderful to me and is gradually becoming the new normal (not 11:30s like it has been for the past 2-3 years) and I am so happy to see progress in my pace. But even with that pace, I was the “sweeper” for most of the route; dead last member of the team. I caught up with a number of folks on the Boulevard and even passed several of them as we went over the Boulevard Bridge, so that was kind of nice (yay, hill training has paid off!), but it was a tough effort for me to even keep some of the team in sight on Monument Avenue for a while.

My options are to switch to a novice team that runs fewer miles and has slower participants or suck it up, put out the hardcore effort this deserves, and recognize that there might be weeks where the coaches are tapping their toes looking for me.

It would be unworthy to switch to a team with slower members just so I don’t run the risk of being the official Team Sweeper.

Someone always has to be last, right?

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What Race?

Hey, I have a race coming up in less than 72 hours! How the heck did that happen???

Not for nuthin, but it does sort of feel like this race has crept up on me unawares. The 14 Mile Run loomed large for me the entire training period, and then right after that, I came down with a series of illnesses and injuries, and just getting (and staying) healthy has become my biggest focus. Race? What race? I am still hacking and coughing; thanks a lot post-nasal congestion.

What to wear? Who knows?!? Richmond is doing its normal meteorological mood swings, with today’s highs being in the low 40s, and Saturday’s highs being in the low 70’s. Getting a grip on how fast it will warm up on Saturday will play the biggest factor in my personal version of “What Not To Wear” (Half Marathon Edition). I have in fact completely changed my plan on race day clothing at 3:30 a.m., only 4 hours before a race. I am not wedded to anything until I walk out the door.

Like I opted to do in March, I am going to leave my beloved stop watch at home; it will be much better for my brain not to be processing numbers if the knee pain ramps up and the pace starts to click down. I am going to run in my old but very trusty Adrenalines. I am deciding about my fuel belt right now. On the one hand, it is darn convenient not to HAVE to slow at fuel stops, especially as it warms up. But not wearing it is very freeing and my arm movements are more natural when I am not trying to avoid smacking my forearms into my water bottles. Natural arm movements cut down on upper body muscle fatigue.

I will not check a bag this year. I understand that they have sorted out that little inconvenience this year, but honestly, it won’t be a hardship for Byram to bring me my heavy Navy hoodie along with him to Brown’s Island. That is really all I need. I had zero need for my wallet or my phone (not a smart phone so no reason to carry it) at any race I have previously run.

Friday, I took 4 vacation hours and I will go get my packet from the Expo, meander around there for a bit, and then probably swing by a GoodWill and buy the warmest clothes I can find that are half off for the week. These I will wear in that pre-race hour while I am waiting and shivering in the pre-dawn fog, to be discarded and donated to local homeless shelters right before we hit the start line. I might also try the trash bag trick, since I have heard it is effective, and the forecast is calling for fog and high humidity. Friday’s dinner needs to be a KISS meal. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Chicken. Broccoli. Rice or noodles. Lots of water. Not a massive spaghetti dinner. Not something new and unusual. Not even a trusted restaurant.

One nice thing: my lack of focus has meant that I am not in pre-race freakout mode like I normally would be. I am calm and just looking forward to the atmosphere of race day and getting this one done and on the books.

To Do:
Clean and decide about my fuel belt
Charge up iPod
Centrally locate all my technical gear and start deciding what to wear
Figure out post-race meeting spot
Locate if possible GU Salted Caramel gels (!!!)
Try to get more sleep (ha!)
Get warm donation clothes
Chill out and enjoy this race! It has been MONTHS since I raced and I am really looking forward to this one.

I probably won’t have time to write again. Check back for a post-race recap!

Could It Be That Simple?

I am more or less recovered from my recent illnesses and my knee got a decent rest, but it is not healed.

It has been driving me crazy wondering why my knee has acted up two years consecutively during my autumn race training, but not at all during my two spring training cycles. What has been the difference? I contemplated the mileage (they were pretty similar), the training routes (pretty much no difference), the pace (again, the same), but it wasn’t until this morning that it dawned on me.

It’s the shoes, dummy.

Training for my first Instant Classic in 2012, I did have some hip pain (not in my knee). I was wearing crappy New Balances and went to ThreeSports where they said I needed a much more supportive shoe. They put me in Brooks Adrenalines and the hip pain vanished. Last autumn, the mileage was getting high on those Adrenalines and when I walked into RoadRunner one day, I found a pair of Adrenalines ASRs on sale for $50 and even in my size. Same shoes, just made for trails, right?

Two weeks or so later, last year’s IT band pain kicked in. I got it treated, quit using the ASRs and I switched back to my older Adrenalines to run the race.

I switched back and forth between pairs until I got my new Adrenalines in early February this year. No IT issues and they served me well all year.

It was the first week of September when I decided to switch to the less supportive Brooks Ghost 6. I liked them just fine, especially that they were lighter and they were a size larger, which was a good thing. But here I am not wearing Adrenalines again and I have IT band issues again.

Correlation does not equal causation, but next year when I get my next set of running shoes, you can bet I am going back to Adrenalines.

Never Disrespect The Distance

I am getting into that hyper-focused zone where all I can think about is the coming race and how almost everything else in my day to day life is only a small detail. I keep forgetting there is still a whole week to go (and then some) until Halloween.

Saturday morning, I felt overall pretty positive about going out for my 7 mile run. In my head, I kept saying “It’s only 7 miles, no big deal.” I disrespected the distance. I hate when I do that. When you are in the late stages of training for a long distance, like a half, and you are running double digits, I think you can start under-estimating those long, but still single digit mile runs. At least I do. And did on Saturday. “Only 7 miles” is still upwards of an 80 minute run for me (I hate to confess that I am really that slow, but there you have it…). Around 5 miles and before the 60 minute mark of my run on Saturday, I was in significant pain.

I managed to hobble home those last two miles, but my hopeful optimism that I was on the mend was blown away and once again, crushing doubts set in, even as I was collecting my race day singlet and forcing myself to walk without a limp in front of those coaches.

Tomorrow, I will make an appointment with my Gen. Pract. and talk to her about it. I broke a serious cardinal rule this morning and popped two small advil along with a prilosec in hopes of making it through the day without limping, but I am not willing to risk damaging my surgically-altered stomach for a little pain relief beyond what I just did. Since I saw my doctor running on Saturday morning, possibly with one of the training teams, but just as likely, individually, she might understand why it is so important to me to push on and not quit.

But I am worried. With all the resting I have been doing, I am losing my “mileage base.” I can still make these long weekend runs, but your body needs those short weekday runs to be fit and strong enough to withstand 10+ miles of punishment on Saturday morning. My goal this week is to do my weekly runs, but not go up to the 6 miles I am supposed to do on Wednesday. 3 miles tomorrow, maybe 5 on Wednesday (which will mean getting out of bed and running before dawn in the neighborhood), and 3 on Thursday. No speed workouts, no hill repeats, or anything extra.

Saturday is the dry run for the race. I need to figure out this week everything I want to use and carry on Saturday and pretend it was for race day. I know I am wearing my training team singlet (as unfashionable as I find it), but probably need to wear my long sleeved green tech shirt underneath, if the weather is below 45 degrees (I also overdress for Saturday’s run; I hate mornings that start out around 45 and quickly get above 50! Too easy to wear too much clothing!). I guess I need to settle on what pair of pants I want to run the race in. I know I am wearing my MP3 player (though its performance is getting spotty; randomly shutting off and refusing to restart for stretches of time; it isn’t young or new technology). I know I will wear my fuel belt. I didn’t find a noticeable difference in pain levels between wearing my old and beloved (and not quite completely dead) Adrenalines and the new trail version I have run in the past 5 weeks, so I will wear the newer ones, even if they are a ounce or two heavier. I know which running bra I am NOT wearing for the race (that would be the one that rubbed a blister into my chest 2 weeks ago!). Maybe I need to invest in a solid new bra for the race; all of mine are getting rather aged, even though I am careful not to put them in the dryer, the spandex definitely breaks down with time and sweat.

That’s pretty much it. I will make my final decision on Saturday or Sunday about deferring. I am still highly inclined to press on no matter what, but 12 miles on Saturday will allow me to make a truly educated decision.

The clock is ticking. I hope my family can hold up under the craziness of the next 18 days. It is always a bumpy ride as race day approaches.

Back on My Feet

After an entire week spent recovering from the Cold of the Decade (not really, but that’s how it felt), and not having run the first step all week, I chose to skip the training team run and map out a longer route at home. I do love running in my neighborhood. It is familiar, there are some sidewalks, there are some very quiet sections, and if I got in a real bind, help would only be a short distance away.

Saturday, the wind was insane. It was at its worst along Cogbill Road in front of the high school there; the wind was so cold and blowing so hard, it made it very hard to breathe, similar to taking a cold shower, when you are gasping from the cold. It made for a much slower run than I was hoping for, but I was still happy with my results. 9.5 miles in 1:53 and some change. My pace was better than the 11 mile run the previous Saturday, but not tons better.

The best part was that I ran in my new Brooks for the first time. I was worried that 9.5 miles was too long for a first run in them, but they were great. For the second week in a row, I got a calf cramp, which this time progressed to soreness behind the knee. I don’t know if that behind the knee soreness was related to the heavier shoes, the fact that the left foot is the one that overpronates and these shoes stabilize that, or if it was something else entirely. Still, soreness or not, I loved the shoes and a 9.5 mile break in run did not hurt my feet in any way.

Yesterday, I lifted.

Leg Press: 3 sets, 10 reps, 170 pounds (woo! Up from 150)
Hamstring Curl: 3 x 10, 50# (I always feel like I am risking my lower back with this machine.)
Squats: 2 x10: 27# (slowly working my way back to a standard 45# barbell.)
Calf Raises: 3 x 10 holding a 35# dumbbell (up 5#).
Back Extension: 3 x 10 w/ a 15# dumbbell
Crunches: 2 x 15
Reverse Crunches: 2 x 10

Short, sweet, hard. I love lower body days. There isn’t anything complex about these workouts. I could add lunges, but I always feel like I am risking a knee injury with lunges.

Tuesdays are for speed and that means either more structured intervals or a less structured fartlek run; I’ll decide when I put my feet on the treadmill. My bootie is a little sore today from the increased weights on the leg press machine and my squats and the run will either improve that soreness or kick it into high soreness, but that will be okay. It just means I am getting stronger.

I am feeling so very much better than I did last week. Mentally better, physically more energetic, and physically stronger.

The countdown is on. The last long training run is this weekend. Someone has already posted a suggested 12 mile route and it takes me out way into the West End, past St. Mary’s hospital. It is a little mind blowing just how far 12 miles looks on a map.

I say…bring it on.

Struck Out and Then Struck Down

No updates all week because…well, I guess I’ll tell you why.

I did go run my 11 miles last Saturday, and…well…this is hard to admit out loud, but I will. I didn’t love it. I hated it. Those last two miles were hell. I discovered what the “wall” is. I didn’t think you could hit “the wall” on such short distances, but when I found myself unable to even barely lift my feet to trudge up the last hill, tearful, sick in my heart and my stomach, I was pretty sure that was the Wall.

I tried a new fueling plan last week. I started out with a GU while still in the truck, a few minutes before taking off. I don’t eat breakfast before these long runs and for such a long run, I thought it would be good to have something in the tank before even starting out. And I think that was a success; I felt great for the first 7 or 8 miles. However, I was significantly more thirsty than usual. I had already gotten into my water bottle on my fuel belt by the time I hit 2 and a quarter miles, where my training team had set of a SAG stop (I am assuming SAG stands for “stop and go” but I have never asked to be sure), and so I topped it off there at the SAG. Then we had about 7.5 miles to run before getting back to the SAG, and I was completely out of water only 5 miles into that distance. I drank something like 20 ounces of water in 6 miles. I think that was too much.

I took my second GU around mile 6 or so. I had a third one packed but it was not a GU, it was a ClifShot, and I had been wary of it since I had never tried one before. Anyway, by the time I hit the SAG on the way back, with only 2.25 miles to go, I was terribly thirsty, and wearing down.

I wasn’t thinking especially clearly by that point, I just wanted it to be over. But in not thinking clearly and having run out of water, I chose not to take that third energy gel. That was a mistake. The only bright spot in the last 2 miles was when I had stopped to walk along Cary Street, and a guy said to me “Pick it up, slack ass.” I wasn’t even offended (too tired to be offended), I just replied “Slack ass indeed,” (too tired to come up with a witty answer). He laughed out loud and said “You aren’t a slack ass! I’m standing here smoking a cigarette. I should know better, but then, I am a Marine!” I laughed; the whole exchange felt surreal, but it brought a smile to my face, and put a little bit of spring back in my step, for a little ways, but I was really done by that point.

I drug myself back to my truck, feeling ashamed (irrationally so), embarrassed that the parking lot had mostly emptied out, or people were standing around chatting, stretching, looking happy, flushed, and great, where I looked and felt like death could have taken me at that moment, and I would have been fine with that.

Worst of all, my total time was 2:20. I was crushed. Even though the route turned out to be closer to 12 miles than 11, I felt like my hopes of running a 2:30 half marathon (particularly on a trail, not a road race) were completely shattered.

I went home, heartsick, ashamed, and completely deflated and depressed. I didn’t even really talk to my family about how it went.

The next day, I could hardly move. I was in a lot of pain, all over and in general; I had the added misery of hormone poisoning setting in. This just made me feel that much worse about my performance and my potential to do well on race day. I stayed in my pajamas all day, watched too much t.v., ate crap for food, and moped.

And then Monday came, and with it, came a day-long fever, chills, headache, sneezing, and all the miseries associated with a nasty head cold.

Well, that helped give me some perspective on Saturday’s run. I fueled poorly throughout the run itself (I really needed to take that third energy gel), I was either more dehydrated at the start than I felt, or I was over-hydrating along the way, the aforementioned hormone poisoning ALWAYS drains me of some energy, and I had no idea at the time I was coming down with a bug.

Training-wise, this week has been a complete wash, which is sad because I was really looking forward to trying out and breaking in my brand new Brooks Adrenaline 12 GTS shoes I got last Friday. Monday, I was too sick to get out of bed. Tuesday, I stayed home from work, to worn down to do much of anything, though better than Monday. Yesterday and today have been continued recovery days, but with no extra energy to devote to even a short run.

I am planning on packing gear to run tomorrow, a short run, maybe 3 miles, maybe the fun new 2.5 mile route I ran last week. I don’t know.

Saturday is a drop back run, and we are doing 8 miles, which I am thankful for. If it was the 12 mile week, I am not sure that I would be up for that quite yet.

I desperately need a good run. One of those where you smile the whole way. Saturday’s run was so demoralizing that even with the justification that came afterwards, I still find myself wondering if maybe I didn’t bark up the wrong tree with this whole half marathon business. I know in my head that isn’t the case, but my heart is beating out a message of “You really suck at this. Why did you ever think this was a good idea???”

Screw that.

I have always been more of a Head Over Heart kind of girl anyway.

Shoe Shopping! (But Not Like You Think…)

As of today, I have dispensed with using MapMyRun for logging my workouts. I love The Daily Mile now. The only reason I stayed this long with MMR is because I had started tracking my workouts for the Winter 100 Challenge there, and since I have long completed those 100 miles, I packed up screenshots, sent them over to Kristen (The Running Mom) and have finished that challenge. Maybe I will win a cute headband or a tube of Nuun tablets, and maybe I won’t, but either way, I am proud of my mileage.

I really feel like last week’s running break has done me a world of good. Today is one of those days where running has done me a world of good as well. I left out of here in a horrible mood, grumpy and low. I plotted a new route (albeit a short one) and went out on an adventure run. It is hard to be bogged down in menial and depressing thoughts when you are taking in new surroundings and making sure you don’t get lost.

Tonight, I hope to get to the Y and do another 2 and a half miles since I need to log 5 for the day. After that, some severe core work and then some stretching. I will finish my night at the Y the way I always do: some laps around the track with Grace.

The Instant Classic Half is closing in. We are nearing the peak of the training runs with 11 miles scheduled for this Saturday, dropping back to 8 next Saturday, then going up to 12 on March 3rd, and tapering off to 6 miles on the 10th, the week before the race. That’s it. Only 4 training team runs left. Yesterday, the race organizers posted the route through the park for the half marathon and it looks like a big figure 8. I spent some time on Google Earth just looking at the area from space, seeing what the elevation looks like and what not. The park is mostly treed so I couldn’t see much actual trail, but I don’t really need to.

One major task lies before me this weekend: new running shoes. I have been doing a TON of virtual shoe shopping, trying to decide between minimalist, trail, road, fully supportive, and all the other options I don’t even understand. I think I would like a trail shoe because I run so often off-road, but I need them to be road worthy too. I would kind of like to check out these Brooks PureGrit shoes.

The price is alright and they have really good ratings. I would like to give them a try on and see.

But I have a confession: I can’t explain why, but I am incredibly intimidated by going and trying on expensive and fancy running shoes. No good reason, it is just…difficult for me.

Time to buck up because I am going shoe shopping on Saturday!