Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boo Boos: A History

This week's Take It and Run Thursday is all about injuries. I've been a runner since about 1984, so I've had my share of injuries, aches, and pains over the years. I always think of the advice of my high school cross country coach, a man destined to his job by his last name. Coach Quick would tell us that one of the most important things to learn as a runner was what injuries you can run through and which you can't. So, for what it's worth, here's a history of my running boo-boos and how I handled them.

What: Shin splints
When: At the beginning of pretty much every single cross country season.
Cause and Treatment: I'd complain to Coach Quick that I had shin splints, and in return, he'd offer me absolutely no sympathy. Basically, the reason I had them was that over the summer when I was supposed to be doing some minimal running to keep from getting totally out of shape, I... didn't. My treatment was to slather my legs with Icy Hot, do some stretching exercises, and most importantly, suck it up.
Lessons Learned: In the case of shin splints - or their cousin, sore muscles - pain really is weakness leaving the body. It's not serious, and in time, it will pass. And I should know better than to slack off for months and think there will be no ill effect on my fitness level.

What: Pulled muscle in my groin (sexy)
When: Sophomore year in high school
Cause and Treatment: I was running a cross country meet on a very muddy and slippery course. My leg slipped out from under me, pulling the muscle. Sweet Yoda, did it hurt. For about a week, instead of running, I'd go to the pool, where I'd run in the shallow end and swim the deep end. The lower impact allowed my leg to heal, which was a good thing, because I needed to fill in for one of the top seven in the state meet. I had a pulled muscle, but she had tendonitis.
Lessons Learned: Be careful on dicey terrain. Cross train to get better while still maintaining fitness. And remember, there is always someone worse off than you are.

What: Stress fractures in the shin bones of both legs.
When: Senior year in high school.
Cause and Treatment: Stress fractures were tragically common on our team. Why? Because the track, where we pounded out a lot of miles, had seen better days. It had all of the softness of the highway. Unfortunately, the only treatment was to stop running for a while. The good news is it happened at the end of the season, so I didn't miss anything.
Lessons Learned: Beware of hard surfaces. And by the way, the school has a new track now. It's much softer, plus a lovely shade of maroon.

What: Achilles pain
When: July 2007
Cause and Treatment: So, it turns out that it wasn't a good idea to add a bunch of extra miles to my marathon training plan, especially if those miles were a really hilly 10K that I raced pretty fast. I took a couple days off from running, iced it, and took Advil. I was lucky that I wasn't hurt more seriously.
Lessons Learned: Don't overtrain - duh. No matter how good you're feeling, the rules really do apply to you.

What: Chondromalacia patellae, a pain under my kneecap
When: November 2007
Cause and Treatment: This one really scared me. I was feeling pain in my right knee every time I went running. Even if I took some time off, I'd still find myself limping around after a run. I was afraid I'd done something serious to myself and that I'd have to quit, or that it'd be a chronic condition I would have to deal with forever.
I saw an osteopath, and he explained that my knee problem had to do with the cartilage under my kneecap. It wasn't anything I'd done wrong, just one of those things. He gave me a "return to running" program that had me run-walking slowly, gradually building speed and distance, until I felt better. He also told me to add weight training to strengthen my quads and hamstrings.
Even better, the doctor repeatedly referred to me as an athlete. He said that I had strong muscles and bones and would be back in the swing of things in no time. It was a huge confidence booster.
Lessons Learned: Weight training can help prevent injuries. A gradual approach is a good way to get back on track without injuring yourself worse. And I might not be winning any races, but I am an athlete and should be proud of how strong my body is.

I hope that my experiences can help some of my fellow BRFs. And because it wouldn't be Take It and Run Thursday without my bursting into song...
You got to know when to ice 'em, know when to RICE em,
Know when to take a break, know when to run.
You never run your fastest when your legs are hurtin'.
There'll be time enough for racin' when the healing's done.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's in Your Cart?

Okay, Internet, fess up - who else does this?

When I'm at the grocery store, I love, love, love to look in other people's grocery carts. Based on what a person is buying, I then try to figure stuff out about their lives. And really, it's easy.

Gallon of milk, juice boxes, individually wrapped bags of chips, lunch meat, white bread, giant pack of hamburger, fun fruits, and two different kinds of soda? Mom with kids.

Lean Cuisines, yogurt, diet Coke, Ben & Jerry's, and wine? Single woman.

Beer, chips, bologna, and bread? Single guy.

Cat food, wine, cookie dough? Someone about to have the world's most depressing Saturday night.

Diapers, wipes, Cheerios, and a giant container of coffee? Someone with a baby.

Bag of salad, spaghetti sauce, pasta sauce, garlic bread, and cereal? Someone who can't cook.

Then, I think about what my own groceries say about me. Like, there are times when my cart contains eggs, butter, flour, sugar, and powdered sugar, and it could not be more obvious that I am making cookies.

Often in my cart, you'll find a gallon of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, including a huge bunch of bananas, powdered Gatorade, pasta, fruit snacks, string cheese, Kraft singles, almonds, cookies, and trail mix. That pretty well sums up my family.

What's in your cart?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eight is Enough

I ran eight miles on Saturday.

It was fine. The weather was chilly, but not unreasonable, and I was dressed just right. I ran through some new neighborhoods and had good stuff on the iPod. My pace averaged 10:10 per mile, which is decent - in fact, on the speedier side for a long run for me.

The whole thing was just kind of meh.

I wasn't exhausted, nor did I have that "I just rocked that thing out, baby!" feeling. The more I thought about it, the more I figured it was the distance. Eight miles, I thought as I ran along, is just nothing to really write home about. It's not a challenging speed workout, and it's not an impressive distance. It's just kind of a middle of the road placeholder.

Then I thought about it some more.

You know how many other people I saw out running? None. Zero. Not a one. While the rest of the world sat inside and watched TV, I was out running and breathing in the fresh air. And before I started training for my first marathon last year, you know what the farthest distance I'd run was? Seven miles. And now, I can knock out eight without even thinking about it.

Could an eight mile run be more exciting than just a middle of the road placeholder?

All signs point to yes.

Thank You, Easter Bunny!

Jack is old enough that he is firmly entrenched in kid-dom and can actually understand holidays. Last Easter, that wasn't really the case. He saw the Easter Bunny, and he found the eggs that we hid - and by hid, I mean placed in plain sight in the living room. But I don't think he connected one with the other, nor did he consider either thing as part of a larger event.

But this time, he gets it.

He was excited to meet the Easter Bunny and spent a lot of time talking to him about plastic eggs with jelly beans in them. It was important to Jack that the eggs contain candy because "last year, I got stickers instead." Well, yeah - that's because last year I figured I could get away with not giving you a whole heap of sugar, so I enjoyed it while I could. Who would have guessed that, a year later, you'd remember that? Of course, I didn't say that, but that instead, the Easter Bunny must know that Jack is now a big boy, and therefore ready for candy and not just stickers. And that probably Santa talked to him about it and filled him in on Jack's changed status. All of this made perfect sense to Jack.

The Cub was also excited about finding the eggs. We talked a lot about where the eggs might be hidden. Jack loved hearing about where Steve and I found eggs when we were kids. (Steve: behind pillows on the couch, Me: in my shoes) He also repeatedly stressed that if there were Easter eggs hidden under the kitchen table, he would be able to break from our usual policy and crawl under to get them.

We dyed Easter eggs for the very first time this year. It was a fun and messy affair, especially since Jack wanted to make most of his eggs blue - the most finger staining dye is also his favorite color.

Jack also had a great time at the Easter egg hunt that we went to. I remember very well his first Easter, in which we went to the egg hunt in South Riding, held our four month old baby, and just watched the big kids. And that at the time, a two year old seemed ancient and huge. This year, Jack quickly and eagerly filled his basket. It's not like it was difficult; the word "hunt" is a misnomer. There is no hunting involved when the eggs are all spread across a football field and all you have to do is pick them up. But I'm not complaining, because there were Tootsie Rolls in there. Mmm, Tootsie Rolls!

Easter morning was even more fun. The eggs were, in fact, hidden. Jack was excited that the Easter Bunny was using his old hiding places of behind the pillows and in the shoes. And he was, indeed authorized to go under the table. Jack was especially excited to find his Easter basket. His favorite gift was a DVD of Enchanted. He pulled it out of the basket, gasped, and said, "I cannot believe I got this today!"

The other reason having a kid is fun? No way is he going to be able to eat all of those jelly beans himself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner

This week's Take It and Run Thursday is all about Running Communities. I don't know what it is about me and TIART, but once again, I find myself bursting into song. So, with apologies to George Thorogood and the Destroyers...

The other day I went running
Wanted to get back to the basics
So I grabbed up my pal Garmin
And her partner, the Asics

And we ran alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I run alone
I prefer to be by myself

One of the things I love best about running is that I can do it by myself. Yes, in general, I like the other humans who populate this planet, and I think runners are awesome. But I like having my own schedule. I like that if I linger a few minutes too long drinking coffee before heading out for a long run that it doesn't affect anyone else. I like not having to worry if I am going too fast or too slow.

I like not being responsible for anybody else but me.

In my regular life, both as a mom and at work, I have to organize other people all the time. Much of the time, it falls on me to make sure everything gets done and gets done right. It's a relief not to have to do it when it comes to running.

And yet...

While I don't long for a group to go running with, I do wish that I could get together with some other runners after I go running. We'd eat a big pile of carbs and have super nerdy running related conversations that non-runners could not even begin to feign interest in.

Well, thank Yoda for the internet. It might not be my dream pasta binge with friends, but I can talk to my BRF's any time about the excitement of a new pair of shoes, how I rocked out last night's track workout (which I totally did, by the way, and I think I might be secretly Kenyan), and how upset I was when my knee was bothering me. And I get just as excited about the races my BRF's are running as if I were there.

Thanks to BRFs, I get the solitude and independence that I want when I hit the road with my friends the Garmin and the Asics, but I still have other runners to geek out with. It's the best of both worlds

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mean People Suck

Last night, the boys and I went to the mall so that Jack could get his picture taken with the Easter Bunny. It has to be said, in his khakis, oxford, and argyle sweater vest, he was pretty much the cutest thing ever, especially when he was casually standing with his hands in his pockets, waiting to talk to the Easter Bunny about jelly beans.

After the pictures were taken and Jack had his chat with his bunniness, we went to the play area. Jack was excited to sit in a little car, as he was pretending to drive to Disney World. He got out of the car to run around, and in the time he was gone, a boy and girl sat in the car.

Jack was mad, because he wanted to get back in. Steve and I gave him the speech about how the car is not his, is there for everybody to play with, we have to take turns, blah, blah, blah. I swear, sometimes I bore myself with the parent speeches.

Jack was not happy. He tried, half-heartedly, to play with something else, but even after I pointed out that the rocket ship was red and that he could play Little Einsteins, all he could think about was the car.

First, he just kept a careful eye on the car, hoping that the other kids would tire of it and he'd have another turn. No such luck. Then, he tried to get them to play with him. I saw him approach the other kids with a, "Hey, guys," and an animated discussion of driving to see Mickey Mouse. They ignored him. Then, Jack noticed that the kids had a stash of books in the car at their feet. He brought them more books. The kids responded by wacking each other in the head with the books.

As all of this went on, Steve and I slipped from our primary objective, which was to make sure that our kid behaved appropriately, to watching the way the other kids were behaving. The kids knew very well that Jack wanted to play with the car, so they baracaded themselves in. If the little boy got out of the car, his sister stretched herself out across the front seat so that there was no room for Jack to get in if he wanted to. They ignored his friendly overtures, choosing instead to divide their attentions between fighting with each other and aggressively ignoring him.

To put it simply, they were jerks.

Finally, Steve and I called Jack over to us. Steve explained very gently to Jack that those other kids were not nice. They were fighting, and they refused to share. It's no fun to play with kids who are not nice, so it was time for us to leave and to go get that ice cream we'd talked about.

Ice cream, happily, proved to be just the distraction we needed, so Jack forgot all about the car, the drive to Disney World, and the mean kids.

As my little guy grows up, I am watching him navigate more and more social interactions. He is learning all the time. It makes me sad to realize that one of the lessons that he is learning is that there are people out there who are just jerks. Even if you try to be nice, try to share, and try to be friendly, they'll shut you out and be mean.

Luckily, sometimes ice cream helps.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Super Mommy Powers

I was hanging out downstairs the other day when Jack stood at the top of the stairs and yelled, "MOMMY! WILL YOU PLEASE MAKE ROARY'S TAIL TINY?" The next thing I heard was the familiar thump of a little stuffed tiger being chucked down the stairs. I fixed Roary's tail, then threw him back up the stairs to Jack.

I thought it was funny - and a bit encouraging - that Jack found a solution to this problem that did not just involve him wailing to me until I came and fixed the tail. So, I shared this story with my mom and Steve.

Both of their faces lit up. "What does he mean when he says that," they both wanted to know. Jack, apparently, has asked both of them to make Roary's tail "tiny." My mom changed the subject; Steve said that he didn't know what that meant and that he just wanted to drink his coffee. In both cases, Jack gave up, presumably waiting until I could solve this problem.

Jack rubs Roary's tail when he needs a little extra comfort or love. There are times when Jack will otherwise seem to be in a good mood, but I'll see him sneak in a quick tail rub. And Jack likes Roary's tail best when all of the stuffing is smooshed out of his tail and into his body. Stuffing will occasionally sneak back into his tail, at which point Jack asks for help making it "tiny" again. Everytime a Roary gets out of the washing machine, I always re-tiny his tail before giving him to Jack.

I told Mom and Steve how to make the tail tiny and almost immediately regretted it. Here I had a specialized skill - I shouldn't have shared it with anyone else, as that knowledge gave me power and importance.

I needn't have worried. Apparently, nobody makes Roary's tail tiny as well as Mommy does.

In the Mood

When it came time yesterday morning for me to do my 7 mile run, I was not in the mood.

I wasn't hurt or sick. I wasn't in a bad mood. I just wasn't feeling it. There are days when I cannot get my running shoes on fast enough, I'm so excited to go out and hit the streets. This was not one of those days. I really would have preferred to just lounge around the house.

An unexpected benefit of being busy is that sometimes, you just don't have the luxury of not being in the mood. That seven miler needed to get done yesterday, one way or the other, if I was going to keep on track with my trisko training plan.

And the time to do it, like it or not, was 9:00 yesterday morning. I needed to make sure I had enough time to run, go home, shower, and dry my hair before going with Jack to a friend's birthday party. And if I'd waited until after the party, then who knows if I'd have gotten done or not. I still had to make dinner, give Jack a bath, get gas, buy Easter basket stuff for Jack - oh, and an outfit, fold and put away some laundry, go over weekly schedules with Steve, and hopefully go to the garden show.

If I had waited until I felt like it, I might not have been able to go at all. And when I miss a run - or am even not sure when I'll get a chance to go - it makes me cranky.

So, even though I wasn't in the mood, I went. I was utterly bored for the first mile or so. But then, like always, I turned a corner.

This wasn't a run for the ages. My time was completely average, and I didn't see or do anything exciting. But I did get to experience that virtuous feeling of being the only person out exercising at that moment. And I felt great once it was over, especially knowing I could dive into that birthday cake, guilt free.

Not being in the mood is just not an excuse for me. If I get out there and run, my mood inevitably will change.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Going the Distance in Your Mind

The topic of this week's Take it and Run Thursday is the long run. If you're not Paula Radcliffe, Meb Keflezighi, or Marathon Dude Bill, who can knock out a 20 miler on their lunch breaks, those long runs will take you a loooooong time to finish. I'm reminded of the song "Going the Distance" by Cake (which totally deserves a spot on your iPod if it's not there already).

As they speed thru the finish the flags go down.
The fans get up, and get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can

The sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup,
But he's driving and striving and hugging the turns,
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

He's going the distance.
He's going for speed.

On a long run, you're out there all alone, with no trophy to run towards, no fans cheering you on. How do you keep going? The key is in your head. Here are my tips for going the distance in your mind.

1. Break it up. If you step out the door thinking, "Okay, only 20 miles to go," you will lose your mind and want to quit. My friend Sandy was advised to think of her 20 mile run not as a 20 mile run, but rather as four 5 mile runs. I like to break up my run into several different loops. I'll run four out and back, stop at home and get some water, do another four out and back, stop at home again, and then do two out and back. That allows me to focus just on the miles I'm running in that loop, not the total.

2. Mix it up. Those loops that I run are not all the same. If I did 20 miles worth of passing the same scenery over and over again, I'd get bored. So, the first loop might take me through a neighborhood, the next by the river, and the final a tried and true quick loop.

3. Listen. My iPod is an excellent companion on long runs. I usually buy a couple of new songs before a long run, sort of as a pre-reward. And I still love listening to "This American Life" - and thanks to all of you who told me where to get the podcasts for free. I get so caught up on those stories that an hour has passed before I know it.

4. Distract yourself. As much as I love the iPod, sometimes it helps to think about something else. Last fall, I performed the wedding ceremony for my good friends Dan and Liana. During long runs, I'd go through the ceremony and what I wanted to say. I probably wrote 95% of it in my head while running. I also like to think about upcoming vacations, books and movies, what I want to make for dinner - fun stuff like that.

5. Use your imagination. When I take gel, water, gummy bears, or whatever, I like to pretend that I am "powering up" like a character in a video game. I picture the power running through me, filling me with light and making me stronger.

6. Break it up. Yeah, I know - I said this one already. But when the going gets tough, you need to really break it up. Get yourself from one tree to the next. Push yourself to the next parked car. Keep going, step by step, until you're done.

7. Plan a reward. Running a long run is not easy, and it helps a lot to have something to look forward to when you're done. I buy myself little presents (running outfits, of course, or new music), or plan the all-important food reward. I finished my 18 mile run last year dreaming of a Snickers bar for pretty much the entire last 5 miles. And laws, did that thing taste good.

By the time you get to the point in your training that you're supposed to run a long distance, your body is ready. Get your mind ready, and before long, you'll be going the distance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Well-Timed Tantrum

Things were going well between Jack and me last night. After work, he and I went running together. That is, the first part of the run was done in the jogging stroller. Then, on the way back, we stopped at the park and he ran around the baseball diamonds yelling "You can't catch me!" like a maniac. This is probably a good time to note that he was wearing his Superman costume at the time, delighting in the way the cape billowed behind him. Afterwards, we had dinner together while watching Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas, which we got from the library as a special treat. My boy loves princesses.

When the movie was over, it was time to go to bed. I quickly discovered that it was really time to go to bed, because Jack hit the wall. He bonked. Or, if you're thinking of him as a little kid, and not a runner, he had a tantrum.

The tantrum began because he didn't want to go to bed, he wanted to eat ice cream. I said no to the ice cream because he hadn't eaten enough of his sandwich, but gave him an opportunity to eat more sandwich, thereby earning ice cream.

But the tantrum quickly spiraled out of control so that pretty much everything was setting him off. He wanted ice cream and he didn't like his sandwich but he did want his sandwich and I shouldn't throw it away and he was upset because his nose was running and because I couldn't get him a tissue fast enough and because he wanted to pick out his own pajamas and no he didn't he wanted his favorite Spidey ones...

And, infinity.

Eventually, he got fed up and asked me to leave him alone. I honestly thought that was a good idea, and not just because I wanted to ditch his crazy ass. I told him to come get me when he was feeling calmer, and that I'd be in the study. I was checking my email and listening to the crying in the next room when the phone rang. Steve!

Steve was in a great mood, due in part because he was a little drunk. We chatted, and I told him briefly what was going on. Then, I asked if he would talk to Jack. Not to solve things, but to possibly interrupt the cycle of freaking out.

I put Jack on the phone, and he alternated between telling Daddy about the things that were upsetting him (including "I wanted ice cream" and "I did not listen to Mommy") and telling him about his day ("Mommy and I went running and our shoes got dirty" and "Grandma and I made pizza"). All of it was covered in a thick layer of tears and snot, so Steve only understood "ice cream" and "wah."

So, no pattern interrupt. I forged ahead, and got a toothbrush into his cry-hole. Minutes later, the phone rang again. I figured it was Steve, so I had Jack answer the phone.

Jack asked, "Daddy, is that you?" several times in a teary, pitiful little voice. Finally, he said, "It's not Daddy" and handed the phone to me.

"Hello, may I speak to Mrs. Elizabeth Way-sur?" asked a heavily accented voice.

Yes, my name is Elizabeth, but nobody ever calls me that. And my last name is not Way-sur, rhymes with laser, but Wasser, rhymes with, um, tosser. There's only one kind of person who would call me Mrs. Elizabeth Way-sur:

A telemarketer.

I told the guy that this was not a good time (a fact that should have been incredibly obvious) and hung up the phone. It was pretty much the most awesome way to get rid of a telemarketer ever.

I hung up the phone and explained to Jack in terms a three-year-old can understand what a telemarketer is and why they are annoying ("No! I don't want any aluminium siding!") and how he saved Mommy from having to talk to the guy.

This cheered him up considerably, so after a couple of high fives and a bedtime story in which Remy from Ratatouille meets Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Jack, and Roary on his way to buy cheese, then gets rid of a telemarketer, he was fast asleep.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eye of the Tiger

Behold, the training montage from my very favorite Rocky movie of all, the delightfully cheesy Rocky IV. Rocky boxes against Russian Ivan Drago, to avenge his friend Apollo Creed and, of course, for America. The training montage - a staple of all Rocky films - contrasts the high-tech experience of Ivan Drago with the honest hard work of Rocky.

I have to admit, I often pretend that I am in this training montage myself. Usually, I am Rocky. I'm the honest, hard working athlete. No need for fancy technology for me - I'm out there running in the snow, chopping blocks of wood, dragging Pauly on a sled behind me.

But when I'm forced to exercise indoors on the hated treadmill, it makes the time go a little more pleasantly if I pretend that I am the Russian. Scientists from across the country have banded together to create the optimal training experience for me. Computers measure the length of my stride, my footfalls, my speed, all to make me the ultimate athlete. I am practically a machine, I am so strong. She is not a woman, she is like a piece of iron! I must break you.

Flying Solo

Steve is in Texas for the week, leaving me and Captain Crazy Cubbypants to fend for ourselves.

Obviously, I am perfectly capable of taking care of the little man on my own. But having two adults around definitely makes life easier. One can entertain him while the other makes dinner, for example. Also, the possibility of my going to the bathroom alone is considerably greater.

At the moment, Jack and I are working well together. He has watched just half an hour of TV since Steve has been gone. We've eaten nothing but healthy snacks (plus one cookie each). I have made arrangements so that I don't have to miss any workouts. Last night, we even took a trip to the library, where we read a zillion books and were pretty much a model of mommy-son educational adorableness.

Tonight, I'm planning on our baking banana bread together, then maybe doing some paint with water. I am also making an effort to take good care of myself - getting enough sleep, treaing myself to healthy foods and a daily latte from 'bucks. I even have a big bouquet of cheerful orange flowers on my desk.

Why do I have the nagging feeling that soon, all of this is going to fall apart?

By the time Steve gets back, Jack and I will be camped out in front of the TV, watching all six Star Wars movies on an endless loop, eating nothing but goldfish crackers and macaroni and cheese directly from the pan?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Batgirl to the Rescue

So, the other night, I walk into Jack's room and see this in progress.

Steve: Come on, buddy. You can't wear your Batman costume out to dinner. Let's put on a nice sweater and a pair of pants.*


Steve: Jack, if you act like this, we're not going to be able to go out for pizza at all. Remember, nice guys get nice things.


Me: Steve, tag me in and go take a break.

Steve: If he's going to be like this...

Me: I know, but let me try.


Me: Jack, see this t-shirt? It's a Batman shirt, just like the one in your costume.

Jack: But I want to wear my costume!

Me: What you could do, Batman, is wear this shirt under the sweater that Daddy picked out.

Jack: I want to be Batman!

Me: Batman, think about it. What if the Joker is out at the restaurant eating pizza. If you show up in your full-on Batman costume, he'll know it's you right away and he'll run off. This way, you can go in disguise and can catch him or any other bad guys who might be in the mood for pizza tonight.

Jack: Okay, Mommy.

Me: I'm Batgirl.

*for the record, I probably would have just let him wear the costume to dinner, becuase who cares? But it's more important to present a unified front if we want Jack to respect parental authority/if I don't want to sleep in the guest room

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More on the Magic Shoes

Oh, Internet! I love that my fellow running geeks are almost as excited about my new shoes as I am. Here are the details:

They are the Asics Gel-3000, which is a stability shoe. They are shiny:

My last, like, five pairs of running shoes have been Asics. I am not completely married to the brand, but you know what? They work for me. I got them at my local running store, Running Wild. It's a great place - the guys who work there are incredibly helpful, and it makes me feel good to support a local business, and not, like, Dick's.

And you know what, babies? These suckers work.

I was nervous about last night's workout, which was 6 x 400 at 8:00 pace. I have not done quarters since the ancient days of high school, but I still remember very, very well that it was always a tough workout. I remember once doing a whopping 20 quarters, an experience that made me figure, "Eh, I did 20 quarters once, so childbirth should be all right."

I figured I'd do as many of the repeats at 8:00 pace as I could, and would not beat myself up if I couldn't do all of them that fast. That I have time to improve, and I'll be able to do better in my next speedwork.

But guess what? I rocked that thing OUT!

All six of them were on pace, and if I'd needed to, I could have done more - or done the last couple faster. And when I was done, I felt absolutely exhilarated.

See, I told you: new shoes are magic.


The subject of this week's Take It and Run Thursday is Gear, Gadgets, and Equipment. I toyed with the idea of doing a photo blog of all of my beloved running gear - and I totally reserve the right to do that for a future post. But this week, my thoughts turned to one subject.

When I was a kid, I loved going to the shoe store for new sneakers. I’d look at everything, learn my new shoe size, and try on several different styles so I could be confident I’d found the very best pair. And like any kid worth her salt, I always wore my new shoes out of the store. With the excitement and magic of a new pair of shoes within my grasp, how could I possibly put my old shoes back on?
As a kid, I was a firm believer in the magic of new shoes. With these new shoes, I could play longer, jump higher, and run faster. New shoes positively hummed with potential.

And now? I feel very much the same.

On last Sunday’s six mile run, I felt a bit of an ache in my shins and in my feet, an ache that could mean only one thing: time for new shoes. The very next day on my lunch break, I packed up my old shoes and a pair of running socks and headed to my local running store.

Just like when I was a kid, I gazed happily at the wall of running shoes wondering which pair would be the magical ones for me. I tried on a couple pair, jumped up and down on them, paced around the store, and finally chose the ones that are right for me.

I had to go back to work, so unfortunately, I couldn’t wear my new shoes out of the store. But I set the box next to me in the car and snuck glances at the new shoes every chance I had.

Once again, I felt the potential, the magic, of the new shoes. These shoes will take me through months of workouts and will be on my feet when I run my very first half marathon. These shoes will help me play longer, jump higher, and run faster.
New shoes are magic.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Come On Already

Winter has officially overstayed its welcome.

At first, it was lovely. Sparkly, fluffy white snow blanketed Stately Wasser Manor. I'd snuggle inside with the boys and bake things. Jack and I built a Snowmommy and a Snowkid.

I even discovered the peace of running outside while snow lightly covered my eyelashes.

But you know what? It's March, and I want spring, damnit.

We had a break in the cold on Sunday. It was glorious - I went running outside, in short sleeves. There were rivers of melted snow everywhere, soaking my feet as I went along. I was even bold enough to do something I don't usually do - I bought spring clothes, even though I knew it might be a while until I could wear them. Swirly full linen skirts, the most delicate cardigan in a soft blue, tiny floral prints. I hate buying things only to have to leave them in my closet for weeks, but I just couldn't resist. I was ready to leave behind my sweaters, heavy coats, and boots in favor of lightweight slips of things. And sandals, even if it means having to find time to keep my toenails polished.

The warm weather was a great big tease. It got cold again overnight. And all of those rivers of melted snow have catlicking frozen, which made last night's run into an obstacle course.

The forecasts for the rest of the week are no better. Cold temperatures, chances of snow.

But stil, I am determined to feel hope. Tomorrow, I am going to buy a bouquet of daffodils for my desk. Their sunny color will remind me that the sky will not be grey forever. Spring will come.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

All Dressed Up...

Being Jack's mom is never boring. Sometimes, I'll walk into the living room and encounter this:

As Tim Gunn would say, "That's a lot of look."

You've got the shiny white space suit, so why not accent that with a great big pirate belt? And if that doesn't make enough of a statement, you'll want to throw in the skull necklace. And headband with attached Johnny Depp dreads. Plus, no need to worry about other kids making fun of you, 'cause you've got your trusty sword and a map to get out of there.

Last week, he went through a phase that lasted two days in which he wore an orange fishing vest over his regular clothes and insisted that he was Diego. I met him and Steve out for dinner and we had this conversation.

Jack: MOMMY!
Me: Hi, Cub. Hi, Roary.
Jack (in Roary voice): No, Dora. I'm still Baby Jaguar.
Me: Oh, of course you are.

Jack also told me on Friday that one of his friends at school insisted that he was Diego. The nerve! I asked Jack if maybe they could both be Diego. Jack gave me a look that was so weary, that so clearly conveyed, "Lady, if you think that, then I don't even know where to start with you." It was a look, in short, that I didn't expect to see for at least 9 years. Jack told me that he told his friend, basically, "Dude, I have the vest, so obviously you have no argument." He told the other kid that he could be Tico (since I was already Dora and Roary was already Baby Jaguar). He's nothing if not reasonable.

Tonight, I came home to this:

Jack is wearing the Batman shirt that my mom made for my brother when he was about four years old. She couldn't find the cape and hood that went with it, so she made him a new one - and then upped the ante of coolness by throwing in a cape for Roary so he can be Battiger.

Bad guys beware!

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Special Purpose

"My dear family, guess what. Today I found out what my special purpose is for. Gosh what a great time I had. I wish my whole family could have been here with me. Maybe some other time as I intend to do this a lot. Every chance I get."

--Navin R. Johnson (aka Steve Martin in The Jerk)

In these past few weeks of running, I feel like I have re-discovered My Special Purpose. The trisko* training is underway, and I have a direction and a focus that my running hasn't had in months. It feels like I'm going somewhere, even if I am just running on the damned treadmill.

Here's my new routine:
Monday: Weight training at the gym, yoga in the evening.
Tuesday: Short recovery run (3-5 miles)
Wednesday: Speed workouts! I will alternate quarters (aka 400 meter repeats) and tempo runs.
Thursday: Weight training and a 3 mile run
Firday: Rest
Saturday: Short runs of 3-5 miles, some at race pace, some slow.
Sunday: Long run

All of this will lead to my very first trisko on Mother's Day. And shortly after that? Time to ramp up training for my second marathon, at which I intend to PR. I intend to do this a lot. Maybe every chance I get.

*Half marathon to those of you not in the know.