Bargaining: A Long Run Story

IMG_2974.JPGWe’ve been going to Lake Placid in August for the past six years. I still get a kick out of the snow pile in front of the Olympic Center. It was huge this year, I think because it was unseasonably chilly this weekend. I felt bad for some of the swimmers, a few of whom had to get treated for hypothermia.

I’ve been doing the majority of my runs this training cycle on the treadmill as I’ve been trying to allow my hip to heal. Every time I’ve run on the road, I’ve experienced at least some sort of setback with the injury. Nowhere near like when I first got hurt, but noticeable nonetheless.

I feel guilty about all the treadmill runs. It’s really not the same as road running. I’ve thought about trying the trails as an alternative, by I’ve yet to get out there and do it. I think I’m becoming complacent with treadmill runs.

Yesterday I set out to do my first long training run on the roads. I was to do 16 miles around Mirror Lake. It’s a slightly rolling hill course, and the weather was in the upper 50s and overcast. Couldn’t ask for nicer.

I ran a similar route last summer when I was training for a September half marathon, and that long run was 14 miles and the final long run of that training cycle. It went fine although it felt pretty hard most of the way and averaged a 9:38 or so pace.

This year it didn’t feel nearly as hard, but I mentally was not into it. Right from the get-go I was bargaining with myself about how I was going to get around all six times. I took a quick walk breaks after completing two loops. Then another after one more loop, at which point I decided I would finish the run on the treadmill after one more lake loop. I was making deals with myself the whole way. I did manage to convince myself, if only briefly, that was enjoying the weather and the views and noting how much more comfortable I felt on the same route over last year. When I was able to flip that mental switch, things felt considerably better and the distance flew. If only I could’ve held that state of mind for more than five minutes at a time.

I ended up doing 10.5 miles outside and the remaining 5.5 inside. My overall pace was a 9:08. Nothing hurt when I ran, but I was so over the whole long run before it even started.

After, my hip didn’t feel great, although today, two days later, it’s just a little stiff. It’s still concerning. The problem has been going on more than 2 months. Although the treadmill has staved off it getting worse, I can’t train for a road race 100% on the treadmill. Or I could, but it doesn’t seem wise or optimal. Let’s face it, nothing about this training cycle has been optimal. I was just starting to feel optimistic about my hip injury, and then this run took me down a notch or three.

We head off to England next week where I will be doing most of my runs on the road. Depending on how my vacation runs go, I may find someone (NOT a running shoe store) to do a professional gait analysis when I get home. I don’t know what it will mean for my October marathon.

Argh.

This week will be busy with getting ready to go away and cleaning up the house enough to not be embarrassed for the housesitter to see it. As it stands, I’ve got piles from the Lake Placid trip to sort through, piles of laundry and piles started of things to pack. I hate packing. Good thing I like travel.

IMG_2977.JPGLast night we had a friend over to watch Ray Donovan. We grilled out and have enough leftovers for at least a couple meals. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was delicious, though.

Happy Monday!

Scenes from Lake Placid

My husband is a co-race director for a National swim championship here in Lake Placid. I believe the course is similar to the one for the Ironman swim. His primary role is safety, which is a huge undertaking given the potential for drowning.

It’s funny for me that my husband is so big in the distance swim scene and the last time I did anything that could be called swimming was in 2005 when we snorkeled off the Great Barrier Reef. I was severely hungover and my husband had to tow me back to shore because I got so tired. Not cool. I was in really terrible shape then. I checked into rehab a few months later.

It’s chilly up here in Lake Placid! It’s in the low to mid-50s today. Tomorrow it’s supposed to reach the high 60s. I have a 16 mile run to do and I’m planning loops around Mirror Lake while the swim event is happening. The hardest segment of the run will be the strip down Main Street where I’ll have to dodge pedestrians and/or cars. If I get my lazy ass out of bed early enough, traffic should be easier, but who am I kidding?

Mirror Lake on an overcast dayIMG_2965.JPG

The hotel weight room — strength workout todayIMG_2964.JPG

Stopped for sea salt & black pepper popcorn snack.
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Special request for my college boy. They had kangaroo jerky in stock today.
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Brussel Sprout & Maple Bacon Flatbread Pizza. I ate the whole thing.
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Exercise Addiction, Alcohol and Other Substitutes for Feelings

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I feel like my training is finally getting back on track and my fitness is returning to where I was in April before my last marathon and subsequent hip boo-boo. Damn, if all the strength exercises aren’t a lot of work. I feel like a true gym rat now. But seriously, it’s been worth it even if this recovery has lingered longer than I wanted (meaning I didn’t want to be hurt to begin with). I’m lucky I was able to safely run during my injury, although I had to scale back my expectations — with mixed results. I’d say I was disappointed more often than not.

Yesterday I had a 90 minute progression run with 3 segments: easy, moderate and hard. I managed to run my last segment at an average pace around my 5k speed, bringing it down to my 1mile speed for the last quarter mile. And I felt good, which given I ran a total of 11 miles was an achievement in my book.

Before I ran yesterday, I was struck with some sort of anxiety attack. It’s good that I’m able to recognize it, the impending doom and sense of futility. But, hell if I ever get used to them. I’m not sure if anything triggered it as it happened in the morning before I’d actually dealt with any part of my day. The night before, my husband and I had a fun evening out with a friend for dinner and a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy — so great and I’m a fan). I couldn’t pinpoint anything stressful In particular, so I decided it might just be some mis-wired chemistry in my head and worked on yoga breathing to calm down my stressed-out system. It helped at least distract me from the maelstrom of feelings.

IMG_3138-0.JPGFeelings that made me really feel like I wanted a drink. Which is never a good place for this alcoholic.

I figured I’d feel better after running, and I was right. I was even able to have a relaxing workout, even with the hard sections of the run. Last night, I had a nice time at a gathering with my husband’s family. Anxiety attack averted.

I’m happy I’ve found better ways to deal with my anxiety than drinking it away, but as someone in recovery, I need to keep an eye out for other addictive behaviors. Exercise can be dangerous when overdone or used for avoidance. I hate sitting in uncomfortable feelings and I learned over time to overwhelm them with food (binging or restricting), drink, cutting, all sorts of stupid things. They are short term fixes for bigger internal problems.

I found this interesting article http://whole9life.com/2012/10/lies-we-tell-ourselves/ on ways we disguise bad behaviors as “healthy” or “hardcore”. I’ve read a lot of running and “healthy living” blogs that I feel fall into this deceptive category. Not by evil design, but because so many of us have distorted self-views, including probably many of these bloggers. Many of them post as pseudo-life coaches, as examples of how to live healthy. I often wonder if they blog to get supportive comments that justify their unhealthy behavior. I find this terrifying and guilt-inducing when I read these kinds of blogs. Not good for someone prone to self-abuse.

I know one of the negative tapes in my head tells me that I’m not trying hard enough, that I am a wimp, chubby, a quitter, not good enough, and there’s two ways I’ve dealt with those accusations: I give up and shush the voice with bad activities or I push myself to an extreme (and also shush the voice with bad activities). And I don’t even find this latter behavior as particularly badass; I think I’m doing the minimum and that I can still work harder to meet some unknown ideal when I don’t even know why. The “why” is probably to escape being me.

One reason I feel having a personal trainer and a running coach are important for me, a middle of the pack runner, is that they keep me from wrecking myself and encourage more positive action. I am good at listening to their advice and sticking to their prescribed workouts. I feel accountable to them and use it as a way to teach myself healthier behaviors. I think of it as my duty to report to them honestly, which includes when I am hurt, because they can’t do their job as well if I am not telling them what’s happening with me. I know that sounds like a runaround way of thinking of things, but right now it’s the best way to get to taking care of myself. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to feeling like I do it to be good to me and not because I don’t want to mess up their jobs. (This is an example of how my childhood messed me up a little, that my first concern is for not disturbing someone else :/ )

I’m aware how fortunate I am to be able to have a trainer and coach (as well as a fabulous chiropractor). I’m also glad that when I had a personal trainer for about a month last winter who fell into the “pain is temporary” category and who pushed me in a dangerous way, I had the wherewithal to let her go. Not until after I got injured working with her, mind you, but I’m trying to give myself a little credit here. I have made a lot of good choices in my life, including my husband who supports me even (or especially?) when I’m being crazy. Don’t ask if I think I deserve the good things in my life, however.

I struggle a lot with my own demons, and I’ve spent years trying to unscramble my head. I like to think I’m better at it, but I still have room for improvement. The first step is admitting I have problems, and oh yes I do. I get frustrated that they haven’t dissipated, that my first instinct still isn’t the right one. But the upside is that my feelings don’t seem to be getting worse and I spend less time trying to change the things I have no control over.

I do have to wonder what my anxiety yesterday was about. I probably have some kernel of fear festering under the surface, but it doesn’t want to come out and show itself. Until it does, I have to keep an eye on how I deal with the itchy feeling of it under my skin and make the next right choice for a healthier me.

This is Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. His dancing makes me happy and this post was a little too serious.

Running Fashion

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IMG_2958.JPG“I love your sock,” my husband says to me this morning.

“I have on two socks,” I reply with indignation.

“Maybe in our son’s world,” he says. I’m not sure what he means by that. My son wouldn’t be seen dead in argyle.

“They totally match. They’re gray, pink and black. See?” I hold out one foot for his inspection.

He shakes his head and walks away, laughing. At least he didn’t take any photos, captioning them “dumbass” and sending them to our friends like he did the last time he didn’t approve of my running-inspired outfit.

Skechers Go Meb Speed 2 Shoe Review

20140802-194433-71073338.jpgAre Skechers serious contenders in the running shoe market? Since Meb Keflezighi won the 2014 Boston Marathon in Skechers, I’d say the company is making some smart decisions.

This is my amateur runner shoe review. I bought these shoes myself and am reviewing them since there aren’t a whole lot of reviews on the Skechers Performance line. The opinions and observations are purely my own.

I’m a pretty devout Newton shoe runner, but I always have this thought that there might be other shoes that would made me super fast and efficient. Although I’ve tried many different brands and styles, I always end up back with the Newtons.

However, Newton recently released new versions of some of my favorite shoes, including the Distance III. Unfortunately, this new version has been giving me trouble, primarily in causing pain in my inner calf muscles. The last time I ran in them, I had one of the worst runs I’ve had since I started running. I thought it might be a fluke, but I tried the Distance III again on Friday after a few weeks break, and I had some pretty unhappy calves Friday night.

Fortunately, I’d brought my Go Meb sneakers on this trip as well. I hadn’t run anything further than 8 miles to date in them, but Saturday I had 14 miles to run and I figured they’d be better than wearing the Newtons. I laced up, crossed my fingers and went for a run.

Let’s start with the looks. I really love the color and streamlined shape of these shoes. I think some reviewers found the toebox to be a little narrow, but they were fine on my feet. As suggested, I ordered the shoes half a size larger than my normal shoe size. I feel like I might’ve been ok with my regular shoe size, as my right foot felt a little like it was floating in the shoe. I don’t like tying my laces too tight over my feet, so a good shoe fit is pretty important. If I buy these again, I’d like to try them on in a half size smaller. I bought these marked down online, so I didn’t have that opportunity. I’ve also not seen these shoes sold in my local running shops.

The women’s version of this shoe comes in silver, gold and black. I think Skechers might be coming out with the next iteration soon (hence the deal I got on the shoes), but that’s speculation on my part. I purchased them in silver (size 6.5) for about 40% off. I also noticed that the Skechers website has limited availability of the sneakers. I don’t know if this is due to popularity or that they are making room for a new version.

Moving on to performance. Below is a description from the Skechers website:

Women’s Skechers GOmeb Speed 2 Running Shoes

The next generation of Skechers GOmeb Speed is the official shoe of Meb, winner Boston 2014. The Skechers GOmeb Speed 2 shoe is built for competitive racing and designed for speed using our most advanced innovative performance technologies.

Details:
* Congratulations to Meb on his Boston 2014 win!
* Skechers GOmeb 2 shoe is similar to the shoes worn by Meb
* Independent circular GOimpulse sensors for a more responsive running experience
* M-Strike Technology™ promotes a midfoot strike
* Lightweight – No extra material, no extra weight, nothing to slow you down
* 4mm heel drop keeps foot in a nearly neutral position
* New printed nearly seamless mesh fabric upper
* Resalyte™ Midsole – Proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact
* Dupont Hytrel™ Stability plate in midfoot for a supportive and secure run
* Seamless interior with microfiber lining maximizes comfort

Construction:
* Nearly weightless printed mesh fabric and synthetic upper
* Bold side S logo detail
* Lace up front

Weight: Radically lightweight 5.6 oz. per shoe based on a women’s size 7

I always test out my new running shoes on the treadmill in the event that they cause me problems. I can just hop off and end the run and not be miles from my car. I’d put about 45 miles on the Skechers prior to Saturday, and I’ve been pleased with the ride. I have not “graduated” them to the road yet. I’ve been doing a lot of treadmill miles as I rehab my hip, so I’m mostly sticking to my tried-and-true Newtons for road running.

I’m a mid foot striker, so the Newton lug system works really well for my feet. The lug disperses the pounding on the forefoot in addition to returning some of the energy with their “pop” technology. I also use neutral shoes with lower heel drop. The less shoe I feel on my foot, the happier my legs and feet. With the GoMeb shoes, I definitely felt more pressure on the ball of my foot. However, the shoes have nice cushioning inside and felt softer on my feet on the inside of the shoe than in my Newtons.

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I look seriously cranky here. This is why I don’t selfie.

The shoes are extremely lightweight. Another bonus is that they are good as crosstraining shoes so that I don’t need to swap out shoes if I run on the treadmill then do some strength work. The lugs on the Newton are kind of awkward for anything other than running and not the most stable feeling shoes for balance purposes.

From the first MebGo run, I felt really buoyant in these shoes and quickly forgot I was testing out a new style. I did feel that the longer the run, the more tired/compressed my forefeet became. I typically used them for easy runs, the longest being 8 miles. But would they work for my marathon in October? The true test came with Saturday’s long run.

My left calf was especially sore after the 8.5 miles I ran the day before in the Newton Distance III. I ran outdoors on a very flat course at a very easy pace. Nothing crazy. I was worried I was en route to another injury given that I woke up in middle of the night with cramping in that calf. By morning, a little Advil and overnight Icy Hot patches seemed to have alleviated the pain.

Almost immediately, I knew my run in the Skechers was going to be a good one. I’ve been struggling with alternating mediocre and decent runs this training cycle. I still haven’t had a terrific run in awhile, but I’ve been edging — slowly — towards more consistent, ok runs. The miles began rolling by quickly, and my legs felt good. My calf had no indication of soreness and I forgot about it.

Around mile 8, I could feel blisters forming on my right foot on the side of my big toe, the ball of my foot and also on the padding of a few of my toes. It didn’t hurt, but I wasn’t thrilled. I wore Smartwool PhD socks, which are supposed to be blister-proofers, but I’m not sure about the socks. I think wool bothers me no matter how “soft” the company claims it it. It feels vaguely itchy to me. I think the combination of wool not being the best sock for me and not having the Newton lugs contributed to the added pressure on my foot. Also, the aforementioned right shoe maybe being a tad looser than it should be.

Other than the blisters, everything else felt good about this run. I averaged an 8:42 pace and my legs never felt tired. This is consistent with all my previous runs in the MebGo Speed 2 shoes.

I’m a little sad that this run seemed to confirm that the Newton Distance III’s don’t work for me. I ordered up an extra pair of the previous incarnation because these have been my go-to race shoes. Newton recently introduced a whole bunch of new shoes, so maybe one of those will be a suitable replacement.

Meanwhile, the Skechers MebGo Speed 2 shoes are big winners to me, enough such that they are coming with me to England and getting a coveted spot in my limited luggage space. I will also be bringing a pair of Newtons, either the earlier Distance version or the Distance Elite shoes. Because of the particulars of my feet and foot strike, I think the Skechers are best suited for distances under 8 miles for me, but I think other runners might do well with them for longer distances if they don’t strike as hard on their forefoot.

I’m very excited to keep these shoes in my running shoe rotation and hope more runners discover the Skechers Performance line.

Friday Five What’s New?

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I’ve got nothing big to report like Courtney of Eat Pray Love DC, who is now a weekly columnist for Women’s Running (Isn’t that fabulous news?), but I still wanted to take part in this week’s link up with the DC Trifecta Mar on the Run, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What, and the aforementioned Courtney.

Mostly what I thought when faced with writing this post was something an ex-boyfriend’s dad used to say: “Same old, same old.” Which truthfully is less boring than it sounds, at least to me.

1) I just found out that one of the people I’ll be traveling to England with is training for the fall Runner’s World Hat Trick (5k, 10k & half marathon). So I won’t be the only one in the group running instead of swimming in the English Channel. :) Also joining our merry band of American mischief-makers is a massage therapist. I hope to pay her way in massages. Is that rude of me to want her to work on vacation?

20140801-121728-44248620.jpg2) UCAN Lemon-Lime electrolyte drink. This stuff is amazing. It really replenishes like nobody’s business. I don’t know why it’s so much better than even Nuun, which I love. I got to try it for the first time after the Fairfield Half Marathon, and I felt rejuvenated right away. It’s a little pricey, but worth it. I’m going to use it tomorrow during my 14-miler.

3) New to me: I’m getting obsessed with the BBC America TV series Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany is a completely amazing actress playing clones. The show is so engaging and well done that I don’t even think for a second about the fact that Maslany is not in fact in the same room with the other characters she plays.

I’ve been burning through the episodes and only have 4 left in season 2. They can’t come back for season 3 fast enough.

4) Starting next week I will be getting private yoga instruction once a week. The Y kept eliminating the classes I was taking, but they will allow us to use the warm yoga room when it’s available. This will be great for getting me the stretches I need to counterbalance all the pounding from running. I enjoy yoga, but it’s not something I’m good about doing on my own. I’m lucky my teacher was available and willing and affordable.

20140801-160648-58008476.jpg5) I soaked my legs in the Long Island Sound after my 8.5 mile run today. I’ve never done that before — I hate ice baths and most of the time I run errands after I run/workout. We’re at my mother-in-law’s this weekend and I just had to walk to her “backyard” to get a little saltwater healing. It felt good and I’ll probably do it tomorrow if it’s not thunderstorming outside.

Tonight we’re grilling out on the patio with friends. One of the ladies is swimming across the sound tomorrow while my husband and another lady kayaks alongside. I think these endurance swimmers make the rest of us seem sane. Who can bear being in the water that long? Weirdos.