Christmas Gifts for a Runner

It kind of aggravates me that Christmas stuff is up in stores and on the TV as soon as the last trick or treater rings a doorbell. I think it makes the holiday less special by making the whole season two months long. I really like Thanksgiving and think it gets shuffled under the rug of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Still, there are some items I am coveting for Christmas, and I really enjoy checking out other runners’ wish lists. For disclosure purposes, this post is neither sponsored nor affiliated with any company. I’m going to put in links in case someone wants to find the item, but I will not be getting any sort of compensation for doing so.

Ink n Burn Women’s Holiday Sweater Tech Shirt - $69.95

I just love this tech shirt that looks like a ski sweater. I can’t wear wool because it itches me even through layers, but this shirt can fake the look and wick away my sweat. Double win! Plus I barely wear non-workout clothes anymore. Ink n Burn makes a lot of cool shirts, shorts, running tights, etc. I think this shirt might be sold out in most sizes, but maybe they’ll get more in stock in time for the holidays.

Injinji Compression Socks – $49

I got black toenails on the same two toes after all my long runs until I discovered Injinji toe socks. I can’t stand how they feel when I am not running (stuff between my toes!), but adore them when I am. And no more black toenails. They’ve actually grown back and I can go get a pedicure without embarrassment. I usually wear the no-show style, but I also wear compression socks after running, so I’m hoping this style will kill two birds with one stone.

Skechers GoMeb Speed 3 - $120

I’ve been wearing the Skechers GoMeb 2 for over 5 months now and am a fan. The company introduced the latest incarnation right before the NYC Marathon. I’m hoping it works as well for me as its predecessor. I especially like the color scheme.

Clif Bars Iced Gingerbread – $14 for 12

I can’t get enough of these things. I hoarded enough from last season to last me through this year by only allowing myself one a day. My son thinks the flavor is gross, but he doesn’t like pasta or tomato sauce even though he’s part Italian, so clearly there is something wrong with him. I think these will make a swell stocking stuffer.

Lululemon Light As Air Hipster – $18

I wish these panties weren’t so damn good because I think $18 is a lot to pay for something that gets coochie sweat all over it. But they are awesome and stay put, which, if you’ve ever run a race and had to pull your sagging underwear up, is a real plus. Sorry about the TMI.

BodyMed Digital Moist Heating Pad – $44

Here is an item I already own, but I don’t know how I’d survive without it. I have the 14×7 one, which has a velcro strap to wrap the heating pad around my calf, thigh, etc. I’ve been nursing  a tight calf for the last few weeks, and every morning I power this up to warm my muscle to get ready for a run. I also use it before bed, which seems to help me get all nice and drowsy.

Saucony Hydralite long sleeve – $35

I absolutely love the Saucony Hydralite line. It’s got a lightweight, meshy fabric that breathes better than anything else I’ve tried. I have both tanks and t-shirts in this fabric, which does a great job of wicking moisture. In addition to using them by themselves in warm weather, I wear these as a base layer during the cold winter runs, and it really works at keeping me dry and therefore warm. Saucony makes a men’s version as well.

Oiselle Long Roga Short – $49

I have several pairs of these shorts from Oiselle. I’m not blessed with thigh gap, so I like my running shorts a little longer. With a 6 inch inseam, these have a really flattering fit and three really handy pockets. I’ve never gotten chafe when I’ve worn these, and I’ve started using them on longer treadmill runs when the weather is lousy. I probably don’t need another pair and would be smarter to do the laundry more often. :-/

And last but not least…

Racedots – $24.99

Anyone else tired of poking yourself with a safety pin when putting on your race bib? Or as impaired as I am about getting the bib put on straight? Well, meet Racedots, little magnetic thingies to attach your race bib to your clothing without making a new hole in the fabric. They come in lots of fun colors, including some reflective ones.

As much as running is just lacing on some shoes, I guess I’m more materialistic than I’d like to admit because I can think of plenty more running related things I’d like to have — or do, like get race registrations as gifts. And more running shoes. Always more running shoes. Or can someone hook me up with a Meb meet-and-greet?

GOTR and a long run

This morning was our 5k run for Girls On the Run. One of my running buddies was injured and couldn’t run, but she and her mom came to cheer with signs they made. I got to run with my other running buddy, who was adorable, and we had a lot of fun. So much that she wanted to do a bonus loop after we completed the goal of 3 loops.

There was a fire pit to keep us warm, but luckily it got into the low 50s by the time we finished.

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Right after, I drove to my usual park for a 13.5 mile long run. My legs felt kind of dead, maybe a little from the cross country course we did for GOTR, but I still did ok. I didn’t look at my watch until I finished, and my pace wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be considering my heavy legs, about a 9:12 pace which was comfortable aerobic-wise. Last week I did a couple great speed workouts, so I’m pushing pace less on my long runs than in previous training cycles.

Next up is a shower followed by a dinner of goat cheese, basil & dried apricot stuffed chicken with roasted squash and green beans plus a couple episodes of Orphan Black with my husband and a friend. Oh, and chocolate brownies and apple pie. What good is running if you can’t eat dessert?

Gratitude for Sobriety and Running

(This is a long-ish post and It does have something to do with running, if you’re willing to stick with all the AA talk at the start)

IMG_3414.PNGMaking a point of having gratitude is something frequently encouraged by Alcoholics Anonymous. And it’s something I seldom dwell on. I’m not a fan of “fake it until you make it” or gratitude lists. Somehow, I end up feeling worse than ever when I focus on these sorts of things. I think much of my problem lies in my familial history and the fact that I am still trying to convince myself I deserve to be happy or have a nice life, that it’s not all going to be taken away from me the second I acknowledge it.

Which is not to say I am not tremendously grateful for the wonderful things in my life. I have quite a bit to be glad about. But even just sitting here typing this, I get a sense of doom thinking about it. Obviously, I still have psychological work to do. But I’m also not convinced that covering up bad feelings by forcing good ones to the fore is anything other than a bandaid. Part of the human experience is feeling all the things, the bad ones too. I’m very good at covering up the bad ones, so I think, for me, faking it until I make it is a bad idea. It just perpetuates me burying stuff instead of examining it.

In the past couple weeks, I’ve had a few incidents that reminded me how much better my life is since I quit drinking, and reading something that fellow sober blogger Furtheron of Guitars & Life wrote made me think to share.

I don’t still attend AA meetings for a number of reasons, none of which are such that I am closed to the idea of going back to AA. My last meeting was at Christmastime last year with my sister-in-law, mostly to support her new sobriety. One thing that bothered me a lot about the AA meetings I attended was the attitude that if a person was not constantly in a meeting, they must be drunk or a dry drunk. I feel this attitude is very much based in fear and that AA can be too much of a crutch for actually living life for some people.

For the first two years of sobriety, I went to an AA meeting every day. For the first year, I went to two or three a day. I didn’t know what to do with myself in early sobriety, and frankly, I was afraid of myself and my addiction. It really helped me to sit in a safe place for an hour in the morning, lunchtime and night. I spent a lot of time mulling over what I believed about myself, the words in the AA Big Book and marveled at the resilience of the other drunks in the room. I truly believe AA works and was key to saving my sorry ass.

After two years, I decided to cut back my meetings to a couple times a week. I was getting bored with hearing the same things over and over, often the same people sharing the same stuff. Perhaps that is a flaw in myself, but I also felt I had gotten to a point where I didn’t need the daily meetings because the messages had become a part of me.

My sponsor, however, did not like this. At all. And when I saw her at the meetings I did attend, she shunned me. I mean, turned her shoulder and pretended I wasn’t there when I said hello shunned. This hurt me, and even worse, reminded me of a behavior my mother would employ, a behavior my sponsor knew about because I had confided in her. I tried getting in touch with her so that we could talk because it bothered me, but she didn’t return my calls.

I also had a few people come up to me in meetings and say my reduced attendance was me isolating myself and that I needed to get back to daily meetings because my next step would be drinking again. This all irked me a great deal, especially since I was, in fact, still regularly attending meetings. Eventually, I stopped going to meetings, in part because I didn’t think the attitude of the overall group was terribly healthy. (An aside, the number of smokers in AA and rehab is completely ridiculous and I don’t understand how that isn’t frowned on more than it is. /rant)

I won’t claim I was super-duper on my own or that I might not have been better served if I’d tried to find a new meeting, but I chose not to. I was, however, still in therapy and continued to do so for a few years after I left AA until my therapist and I decided that I was done needing therapy. Personally, I think moving on from AA can be healthy, but I know this is a controversial statement for many alcoholics in AA.

Just before I started running, I had a period of about two years where I was entangled with my parents and my three remaining grandparents died. I was in a very bad place then and probably should have gone back to AA. I think I partly decided not to do that was because I didn’t want people telling me to let my anger at my parents go and to forgive them. I’d tried that, and it just made things worse for me. My mother is a narcissist who tends to take advantage of forgiveness. Right about when I decided to cut my parents from my life, I started to feel better. I wanted to take care of myself. I started walking on the treadmill to begin my journey towards my goal of running a half marathon in Philadelphia.

Fast forward to last week, I ran into my former sponsor at the Wal-Mart. It’s been about five years since I’d last seen her. We hugged, which was cool. I half expected the stink eye when I called out her name and she recognized me. One of the first things she asked me was if I was still sober. And, man, was I glad I was able to say “yes.” I also added that I couldn’t be running the way I am if I were drinking. Which is true — alcohol messed up my nervous system and elevated my blood pressure something awful. When I was in rehab, the doctors had to give me heart medication to shock my heart back into a normal rhythm because it was trying to pick up the slack that my liver was unable to process. Scary shit. (I was told I probably had only a few years to live, if that, if I’d continued at the level of drinking I had been. Less if I increased my consumption, which as an alcoholic, was likely to happen.)

My former sponsor said she thought about me often, and my guess is that she was thinking I was passed out drunk somewhere. Which is perhaps not a fair assumption, but I had run into other AA members over the years and a several of them told me that people in the group assumed I was back off the wagon and were genuinely surprised (and a few, perplexed) to see me out and about and healthy. I’m sure there are other sober alcoholics out there like me — we just are out living our lives outside the AA rooms, not disappeared into our addictions.

I also had a recent ugly reminder of the neurological affect of alcohol on me. One morning, I drank waaaayyyy too much coffee before going to meet my personal trainer, and I was wired. I was shaking like crazy and it reminded me of when I had alcohol withdrawal. My heart was racing and I felt miserable and mortified. Luckily I have told my trainer about my alcoholism and was able to laugh it off a bit. And I’ve cut back on the caffeine. As far as I can tell, I don’t have an addiction to caffeine since cutting back and switching to decaf seems to have had no ill effects. Now when I shake when working out, it’s because I’m working hard.

But can I tell you how much I hated shaking and feeling so out of control of my physical body? It was terrible. It also made my workout and my run that day suck until I sweated the stuff out of my system.

Both of these incidents made me so grateful that I am sober — and that running is in my life. Blogger Jim of Fit Recovery just wrote a post on his 22 years of sobriety and how fitness has improved his life, and I agree. Not shockingly, alcohol is not good for physical fitness for a variety of reasons, including impeding the repair of muscles as well as the the effects I mentioned earlier and those mentioned in this article on RunnersConnect. As a runner in her mid-40s, I need all the muscle repair I can get.

Without alcohol in my life, I have a chance to become a better person and a better runner. I’m glad I had a couple reminders recently about what it was like before I stopped drinking. Because while I am building my life and fitness, my alcoholism sits in the background waiting to take me down for good. I don’t want to give it that chance again.

Monday Morning Running Memo

Blurg. Can’t think of a damn creative title.

I’ve had some really great and really lackluster runs since my race a little over a week ago. I realized that there was something wrong with how my Garmin footpod was measuring runs on the treadmill, so I headed to the local college track to get the thing recalibrated. I’m a little functionally stupid, so it actually took me multiple trips to the track before I was satisfied that the footpod was correct. We had our first snow here last night, so it was important to me that I get it set for the days I end up running on the treadmill.

The upside is that I really enjoyed my track runs. Also, I’d run around the college campus before when I was training with a Fleet Feet team last winter, but I had a lot more fun doing it on my own between track circuits. It’s quite hilly there, and on Friday I did a hill repeat workout on an incline between 6-12%, with 8 repeats at a 5k pace or faster. Ouch. Hill repeats are my least favorite workouts, but I nailed this one.

Saturday I ran a 10k with a friend and her younger brother and it was a blast. The race was advertised as “mostly flat with one small hill.” Uh, not so much. Here’s the course elevation:

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My friend did awesome, as did her brother. It was her first 10k and his first race ever. He even managed to snag first place in his age group (although he was the only one in his age group, lol. A win is a win.) I ran ahead a few times to snap pictures of them running, including some fun ones of them crossing the finish line.

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Although we ran the race at slower than my recovery pace, I think I wasn’t really over my tough Friday workout because yesterday’s 11 mile long run was kind of crappy. I felt like I was running faster/working harder than the 10 min/mile pace I had for the first 5 miles. I swear I thought my Garmin GPS wasn’t turned on or something. But it was. :(

I did begin to negative split after 5 miles to average 9:40 for the whole trek, ending with an 8:57 mile. My legs just had zero gas. I also have some sort of calf strain going on, although I don’t think that contributed to my molasses-like pace. I’m trying not to be discouraged by it because most of my runs in the last few weeks have been better than I expected. There will be days when things don’t come together, and my goal half marathon is over two months away.

I also ran with my Girls on the Run running buddies last week. It was an interesting experience. We have our group 5k this weekend. Because I have two buddies, I’m not sure how I’m going to handle running with the both of them. We have 3 loops to run, so I could potentially go back and forth. The two girls run at vastly different speeds, and last week I stuck with the one who seemed to struggle more, but then I felt horribly guilty for not splitting my time with my other buddy better. I talked with the group leader, and she was going to try to figure something out to make it work a little better.

Today seems like a day to hide under the covers, but I’ve got to go meet my personal trainer then slog out a 40-60 minute run.

Happy Monday!

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The Secret Keepers

Judith / soveryslightlymad:

I originally read this on Guitars & Life and I had to share it. It really resonated with me, especially the paragraph that reads:

Do you have nightmares? Can you not stand to be touched in certain places on your body? Do you react defensively when you feel cornered, either emotionally or physically? Do you suffer from anxiety? Depression? Substance Abuse? Unexplained physical ailments? Are you always wondering what’s wrong with you or why you can’t be like everyone else? Have you had difficulty maintaining relationships? Do you keep making bad decision after bad decision? Do you feel broken, unlovable, despondent, numb?

I try to be open and let my secrets out into the light where they often have less power. However, I do sometimes minimize the things that happened to me, telling myself others have had it so much worse, feeling shame and guilty. But it’s a disservice to myself, another way of perpetuating the damage.

Please share the original post if you feel it might help someone. Thanks for reading…

Originally posted on Mended Musings:

secrets

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to ask you to share this post. Reblog it, share it on Facebook, tweet it. Someone out there needs to hear this message today. Even if you think you don’t know anyone who has been abused. Even if you don’t read the entire post.

About a month ago I was asked by Dawn at WTF words, thoughts, feelings to contribute an essay for an anthology that she and Joyelle are creating for parents who are survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse (learn more at https://www.facebook.com/TriggerPointsAnthology).

I submitted my essay but I also want to shine a bigger spotlight on this project because I fear that they may not get many submissions. Not because it’s not a worthy cause or because there aren’t enough people out there to contribute but because survivors of abuse are secret…

View original 1,193 more words

Getting over race anxiety: Practice, practice, practice

IMG_3334.JPGAsk and I shall deliver.

My coach suggested I run more short races as hard training efforts to help me get over my race anxiety stomach. Even though I don’t tend to get an upset stomach when I run races for fun, it’s still practice getting into race mode. Just like I did with all my mental strength exercises last marathon cycle, I need to make a habit of positive thoughts when regularly running so at crunch time, my toolbox is equipped.

To this end, I signed up for the Revolutionary Run for Veterans on Saturday. My plan was to do an easy to moderate effort depending on how I felt race morning. I’m only 3 weeks past my marathon, so all out effort would be dumb. I also did a hard track workout Wednesday that left me a little sore plus Friday I ran 6.5 miles followed by a tough metabolic workout with my personal trainer (who I accused of trying to kill me 😅). In other words, not in any shape for a PR attempt.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I had a hint of a hope I’d magically pull out a PR without even trying. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen.

The race was held at Fort Hardy – Schuyler’s Canal Park, which is the site of the British laying down of arms to the surrender to the Americans at the first major American victory during the Revolutionary War. Now it’s a gorgeous park with baseball fields, trails, swimming and boating on the Hudson River.

It was chilly that morning — around 38 degrees — but not terrible because there wasn’t much windchill. Our entry got us a cool long sleeve technical shirt with a blue camouflage print, a notebook with post-its, a knit beanie, a tote bag… and a tube of silicone.

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^^Strangest race goody bag item. So glad it’s “mold-free”. Can you get the kind with mold included?

The race started kind of late and it didn’t have a timing start mat. No biggie. I wasn’t planning on looking at my watch anyway. The course was marshaled by servicemen, and I made sure to thank as many a possible as I ran past (this was also a good way to ensure I was running at conversational/ish pace). I ran without an iPod, which I am really not missing during races. When I get to my half marathon in New Orleans, I plan to soak up the live music on course.

The course started in a field, which I’m not used to running on. Something to practice. It was pretty congested as we made a narrow turn behind a ball field. We’d had some pretty heavy rain the day before, so the grass and trails were a little muddy. But just past a half mile into the race, things cleared up enough for me to start passing people. Much of the course ran on a towpath between a canal and the Hudson River. It was really gorgeous and I bet during the summer and peak leaf color it is even nicer. It was primarily flat, but it had one super steep downhill that slowed me down a bit (I always imagine myself tumbling head over heels, with a skinned face and twisted ankle. Need to work on more positive visualizations on downhills.) and a couple short uphills.

IMG_3336.PNGI was really relaxed during the race, although I’m not quite adjusted to the colder temp, which burned my throat a little. I passed quite a few people, although I was overtaken by some strapping men in last .1 mile. Ha. Overtaken by a strapping young man sounds a lot more sexy than it was. It kind of annoyed me.

I assumed that I was passing so many people because they had taken off too fast and we’re losing steam. After the race, my splits showed that I was speeding up throughout the race. Pretty cool to negative split a 5k. I though I had further to go at the end, so I wish I had started my final kick sooner. Also, we finished on grass, which, again, I was too hesitant on, worrying about invisible potholes.

Official time 25:58
83/331 overall (top 25%)
5/54 age group (9%)
15/159 females (9%)

IMG_3413.JPGSo, I guess this was a PR for a trail race? I’ve only run three, one of which was untimed. Given that it was on a trail, I ran at a moderately comfortable pace and it was my 3rd fastest 5k race, I’m not unhappy. I’m liking this trail running thing, although soon the weather won’t be conducive to running trails. One of these days, I’ll get brave enough to really race a 5k. I probably should because the run-til-I-feel-like-puking sensation probably will help me with my race anxiety stomach for longer races. I’m a chicken, but I will try to do the things that scare me so I can stop letting fear get in my way.

This week I get to run the practice 5k with my Girls on the Run buddies then on Saturday I am pacing a friend running her first 10k.

Meanwhile, any ideas on what to do with my new tube of caulk?