Monday, November 30, 2009

Vibrams, and a short run

So, I've been injured, right? And I was thinking: this has all happened since I got the new shoes. I was wearing Brooks Glycerin 5's, and loving everything. Then they killed that line, and I'm in Glycerin 7's, and first I think I have plantar fasciitis. Then I'm running a nice 11 miler, and boom, I have patellofemoral syndrome. All within a few months of switching shoes. What is up with that? How is that ok?

And I had been listening to Pheidippidations, where Steve Runner has been all high on barefoot running, and I was thinking, you know, at least my feet don't change once a year. If I ran barefoot, I wouldn't be playing Russian roulette annually with injuries to my legs. Then I read Born to Run. And I was sold. Screw you guys, I'm at least trying barefoot running.

Except that I'm a total wuss. I can't possibly run barefoot. I'm going to get a ginormous thorn in my foot or something and limp home.

But I had been reading about Vibram Five-Fingered shoes on running and tri blogs. They are supposed to give the "barefoot experience", but with a little protection. So Saturday I made the trip up to Luke's Locker to pick up a pair of Vibram Sprints.

They feel a little funny at first. I was embarassed as I tried to seperate my toes to each go into their own little pocket, but once I got them on, I rather liked them. I also figured, if they didn't work for running, they'd be great beach or water socks, or for wearing around the house/yard, or even transition wear before a tri. So what the hell, I bought them.

I put them on in the car and wore them home, then prevailed on Preston to go for a little run. Now, I am still injured, and this was my very first run back, annnnnd I was going to run in the Vibrams, so I did C25K Week 1, Day 1 to be completely safe. We walked over to the park so I could run in the grass along the bayou.

There was definitely an instant change in my gait. My heel strike migrated forward to more of a midfoot/forefoot strike. I was very aware of the ground. I could feel everything, the tiniest nuances of the terrain, the variations in the grass. At one point I noticed a strange vibration in my right toes, and when I looked down I had one of those giant pine needles in between my toes. It was grazing the ground even when my feet were in the air, so I was feeling the vibration. It felt kind of...amazing, actually.

At one point I looked down, and I was pushing a 7:30 pace. Effortlessly.

I was only running 1 minute at a time. The swimming is definitely keeping my cardio system in shape, because I wasn't winding at all. My knee didn't hurt at all... until the 6th minute of running.

But it was a start.

I didn't feel as sore as I expected yesterday. I keep reading that barefoot running will make you feel your muscles in different places. Make you sore. I felt a little in my calves, but nothing that would really qualify as sore. The knee didn't feel any worse that it normally (at least for the last 4 weeks) does, so I guess this is ok.

I'm going again this afternoon!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I normally have an aversion to doing a "thankfullness" review in my life on a day that is set by society. Also because thanks implies and object. To whom am I thankful? Being an athiest, I am rarely thankful in the broad sense required by Thanksgiving. However, I am appreciative of and for lots of things, every day. But for some reason, this year, I feel like I want to make a list. Maybe it is the lack of running. Maybe it is the people who might not be around next year at this time. Maybe I'm just being sentimental. No matter the reason buried in the depths of my twisted psyche, here it is.

I appreciate my Preston who is my partner in life. I am thankful to him for all the little things he does to make our lives better. And the big things too.

I appreciate my family, those by birth who I will miss today, and those by marriage. (Even those I do not like, because I know I can learn from them too.)

I appreciate my job, at which I am finally feeling (more) fulfilled and (more) happy.

I appreciate my kitties, because they are snuggly, loving, and warm, and because they remind me that life doesn't have to be so complicated.

I appreciate my body, even though it is currently a little bit broken, because it swims, bikes, and runs. I appreciate that change that happened imperceptibly in the past 2 years that makes me miss running when I can't, because I know now that I am fit and healthy.

These are not all the things that I appreciate. I appreciate my home, my friends, blue skies and twittering birds. I appreciate my life. And for my life, I can also be thankful: to my parents, and to myself for choosing to live it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In a woman's head, out loud

This morning as I was dressing after my swim, I heard the door to the locker room open, and a voice started moving towards me. I didn't think anything of it, just figured it was a woman walking/talking with a friend, until the lady got to the end of my row and I laid eyes on her.

She was alone.

I heard her say, "Let's see, it's 6:15 now, so I could start with cardio..." Her voice trailed off as she moved away from me, but make no mistake, she was still talking.

It reminded me of the movie "What Women Want" where Mel Gibson can suddenly hear what women are thinking. He goes to a park, having just discovered this, and is assailed by the thoughts of all the women around him, most of which sounded as mundane as what the woman this morning was saying. I think most, if not all, women are constantly thinking stuff like this. I know I am.

The difference is: the woman this morning was thinking out loud. Alone.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Facebook is the Devil

And perhaps an injury update.

I just saw that my estranged sister has a Facebook profile. I really don't know how I feel... scratch that, I feel strangely disgusted. Wtf? Is this shit normal?

On the injury front: I haven't run since the stupid injury. I went to an orthopedic doctor who said it is Patellofemoral syndrome. And to stay off it.

Well, I've stayed off it. But I'm pretty close to the end of my rope. I am running next week. Even if it is C25K D1W1, I'm freaking running. I can't stand it any more!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rock n' Roll San Antonio Half "Race" Report

Or: The Time I Walked Every Flipping Step of a Freaking Half

On my doctor's orders. And my mother's. And my husband's.

And it still wasn't the most brilliant thing I've ever done.

I had some serious mental issues heading into this one. I felt embarassed to be walking. I didn't want to walk. I thought about pulling out. But mi madre raised me to pinch the pennies, and the thing was paid for. I was damn well going to participate, no matter how ashamed I felt.

So, P and I drove to San Antonio on Saturday morning. Stopped at Buc-ee's on the way (love that place), and there were running shirts all over the place. I was wearing my Houston Marathon finishers' shirt, and I was getting nods and compliments. It was awesome! It was like the entire Houston running scene packed up for a road trip to SA for the weekend.

Went straight to the Expo, which was just like last year's. They gave out Tech-T's this year! And they had my size! Bought one of those race belts with the "fanny pack" made out of stretchy material. P thought it was too expensive at $20, but I wanted to try it out as I have never been truly happy with my carrying-stuff methods.

Then headed over to JaMIL's house to stay. She made some yummy spaghetti for dinner.

Woke up at 4:45 the next morning. Left at 5:30 for P to take me to the shuttle at the AT&T Center. Was on a shuttle by 6:30, and at the race start before 7. Stood in line for porta-john until about 7:35 (with the race starting at 7:30). Wasn't worried, though, because I knew I was starting so far back that it'd take almost an hour for me to get to the start line.

I was originally going for a 2:10 finish, which would have been a PR, and had me starting in Corral 13. I ended up starting in Corral 31. Lame.

Turned out that I was correct: my corral started just after 8:30. A lot of people in my corral were walking, which was somewhat comforting to me. I started walking with a goal of 15ish minute miles, without really having any idea what I could actually accomplish.

15 minute miles are almost exactly what I could accomplish, as a matter of fact. And so I walked. I walked past the Alamo. About 5 miles in, I started getting sore (including the bum knee), and was grateful for the long-ass shitty hill that I hated last year when I was running. And then down the other side. About 7 miles in I was concerned that I was hurting my knee by continuing to participate, so I called P. He couldn't hear me, and therefore couldn't rescue me, so I kept walking. Being pissed off at P gave me some energy for the walking. I took a cup of Cytomax and a cup of water at every aid station. I took a gel at 5 and 9 like I would if I was running. I learned something, though: if walking a half, you can eat more before hand. I was freaking starving from about 4 miles on - I had only had some toast for breakfast, as if I was running. I walked and walked and walked some more. I discovered that walking a Half is just as painful as running the Half, only it takes a hell of a lot longer. The marathoners joined up with us at about 11 miles. I was walking the Half in a decent marathon time. It was hot, and many looked to be struggling, but they were still running. I saw a guy with a shirt that said he was training for IM Cozumel in 2 weeks. Now that dude is hardcore. Running a 3:20ish marathon two weeks out from an Ironman. He really was freaking iron. Visited portajohn around 11. At least I know I hydrated sufficiently for the heat. Walked up that bitch of a hill to the Alamodome and was done. 3:20ish.

Got my medal, took one of every food item, found P and JaMIL, and got the heck out of there.

Knee is pissed. Right ankle is pissed. And walking a Half is something I hope I never have to do again, but may be doing in 3 weeks in Dallas.

That is all.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have a 5 day weekend this week.

I decided to use some of my time productively by going through the 12 or so boxes that my parents have brought down on their past several visits. They've been sitting along the wall in my living room for months.

When I was growing up, every year my mom would put a cardboard box in the second closet in the middle bedroom, which we used as an office. That closet always smelled like mothballs. In addition to the box, it held the winter coats for most of the year, and at the top my Dad's extensive collection of back issues of Playboy. The trapdoor to get into the crawlspace under the house was under my box.

Mom would label the box with the year and whatever grade I was in, and every week when I bought home my "Tuesday Envelope" with all my work in it, she'd put it all into the box. Some years needed two boxes. As I got older, the box became more like a locker dump once a year, or once a semester, but there was still always a box.

Now my parents are trying to clean out their house, their attic, their barn, and my Mom is passing along my memories to me. I mostly wish that she had just saved a representative sample, but sometimes I am grateful that everything went into the box.

I found a note from my Dad on a post-it. My Dad worked in a factory on rotating shifts. 2 weeks day, 2 weeks evening, 2 weeks night. On evening shift we didn't see him at all. On night shift we only saw him as he was leaving. It was clearly during an evening shift time, and he apologized for being there for something... I've already forgotten the details, but it went into the one box of amalgamated stuff that I'm still going to save, this proof of how difficult it sometimes was to have a Dad that wasn't always there, for both of us.

There are cards for my birthdays from my grandparents who are gone. Saved.

There are notes from my friends. Saved.

There are good tests and bad tests. Some of each: saved. I started sucking in math around 6th grade, and I saved proof.

I saved a bit of homework from 5th grade that was clearly written with my left hand while my right arm was in a cast. From that year I also saved a doodle in which I said I hated myself. Proof that my tendency towards depression has been with me for a very long time.

I saved the printout of the Presidential Physical Fitness challenge results, also from 5th grade. I was 4'8", weighed 70 lbs, and failed the one mile run test, running it is 13 minutes 47 seconds. I saved that one to prove how far I've come.

Mom also brought some boxes of my grandparents' stuff that has been stored out in the shed. I pulled this beat up, scratched up, old, blue tin out of a box, wondering if Mom really thought I wanted this. I opened the tin, and the smell of Granny's house drifted up. It was filled with mostly sewing stuff, so I knew why Mom thought I'd want it. But you know what else I found? Granny's Weight Watcher's card from 1981, the year I was born. Her goal weight was 150 pounds (she was 5'9"), and her weight went up and down like a yoyo. I saved that card as proof that some battles are hereditary.

I still can't run. I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow. I am trying to take this time to become a better swimmer, refocus on my diet, do core and upper body strength work, so that when I can run again, my cardiovascular fitness will not have suffered, and hopefully I can come back even stronger than before. But let's face it: not running is driving me crazy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Scabs and granola

In attempt to deal with my "injury", I'm staying away from running. (Yes, the knee still hurts. No, I haven't gone to the doc, but I think I may break soon and make an appt.)

In an effort not to balloon to the size of a whale while I can't run, I'm focusing on any type of exercise that doesn't disturb my knee. So far:
Monday: core
Tuesday: swim, 1 hour
Wednesday: bike, 30 minutes

Not sure the knee liked the bike. It didn't hurt while I was on the thing, but seems a little grumpy now.

Blasted knee.

Oh, and the chafe scabs on my ass itch. And my granola bar sharted chocolate all over my lap. Happy freaking hump day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When I started off my 11 miler with Fit on Saturday it was about 45 degrees. I was cold. I started running, and my right leg felt a little twingy, but I couldn't feel much because of the cold, and I figured I was just warming up and it'd work itself out.

By 5 miles in, I knew something was wrong, but I was still running alright.

Soon after, we hit the hills. My injury doesn't like hills (apparently). A searing pain was shooting from knee to hip with every step. I have never been more grateful for walk breaks in my life. Not even in the marathon. By this point, though, I was halfway into the run. Turing back would have been just as far as going forward, so I kept running.

At mile 8, I got separated from my group at an intersection. I tried to stretch. Stretching hurt.

When I started running again, it was clear to me that I was on my last leg, literally. I stopped at 8.25, for good, and started the long walk home.

Shortly thereafter, a group ran by. They asked how I was, and I told the truth. We figured out how I could cut maybe a mile off the run, and one lady asked me if I'd like her to double back and check on me after she learned that I couldn't call anyone (because P was at work). I said yes, please! I was feeling kinda scared, and a lot of defeated.

And so I walked. I was cold, since I wasn't running any more. But I kept walking. I walked past a lake that had steam rising in the cold. The sun was shining and it was beautiful. I walked over a little wooden bridge. I walked past a bigger lake where there was a big blue heron silhouetted in the rising sun. He was beautiful. There is also a dam where I've always wanted to take pictured because the egrets stand in the rushing water. They were beautiful.

Soon after, I saw another member of Fit, not dressed out, walking towards me. They had sent him to pick me up, and he gave me a ride back.

I spent the rest of the day resting, stretching, icing, taking ibuprofen, etc. The radiating pain from the hip stopped on Sunday, but the knee is still clearly screwed up. It hurts *behind* the knee. Like, actually on the back of my leg. Especially when going down stairs...