Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mosquitoes: 5, La Chica Runs: 2

Got up a little early and fueled up (OK, ate Uncle John's Cider Mill donuts and drank coffee) for the day's slow, long run: a 9 miler through the aforementioned North Eastern State Trail.

I headed south, not knowing what to expect. The trail is wide and well cared for, with very few weeds but plenty of evidence of wildlife (the horse manure was easy to spot, not so much the other scat. Yuck!).

It was an overcast, cool day perfect for running. I should say it should have been perfect for running if not for some rookie mistakes. Learn from them, chicos and chicas:

  1. I thought I was pretty smart bringing a bottle full of water and a second one full of Gatorade on my fanny pack, I mean, high-tech water belt. Smart for hydration, yes, but not so much for carrying my phone, which I typically stick in one of the water bottle holders. I ended up sticking it behind the pack on the water belt, which meant adjusting it over and over and headphone wires. I'll be picking up another holder for my Nathan belt before the Capital City River Run half marathon.
  2. I headed out on an unknown trail with a picture of a map of said trail. But with about 4 miles to go, my phone gave me a low-battery warning. What?! I should have brought the map with me and I also need to find a way to make that battery last longer. That may mean taking fewer pictures during my run (I know, boo. Hiss.) or running without music (no Pitbull?! yeah, that's not happening.).
  3. My trusty Pandora failed to launch. Um. Yeah. Trails. Thankfully, I had a few songs loaded on my phone, but not nearly enough. Going to spend some time on iTunes this afternoon, just in case this happens again.
  4. I brought mosquito repellent, but failed to actually apply said repellent before heading out. Instead, I swatted and killed two of the evil bloodsuckers. I stopped to take a picture and finally took the time to use the Off! I brought along, but they'd already taken a few bites.
  5. With possible rain forecast, I brought a baggie for my phone and my favorite hoodie. Rookie mistake? The hoodie is really best in 40 or 50 degrees, not mid-60s, so I roasted, then spent most of my run adjusting the thing tied around my waist. Next time? Maybe bring a long-sleeve T-shirt. Or do without.
Given all that, it really was a great run. I felt great, I kept a relatively constant pace. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. Bonus.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

This is one happy chica

Weather called for 90 percent rain (specifically, thunderstorms). The sky looked gray. The air even smelled like rain. What's a chica to do?

I laced up and headed out, figuring I'd run a mile or two after a few days off (six, but who's counting?). I didn't feel any better after all that "rest," so I just wanted to go out and see how it felt.

Happy to report it felt just great. Actually, it felt awesome.

We're at Aloha State Park for the weekend and I wasn't sure if I'd get out. I brought my gear, just in case.

This is one of our favorite campgrounds and because of the holiday, it's packed, so I made may way through all of the loops, people and dog watching to keep myself entertained, with an eye on the sky. Two miles into my run, I just knew I shouldn't press my luck, so I meandered to the ranger station to find a trail they told me about at check in (but only because I asked).

From Aloha SP you can pick up the North Eastern State Trail. If you've not heard of the NEST, please consider checking it out next time you're Up North. This one is 71 miles long and goes from Cheboygan south to Alpena, crossing through the great metropolis of Aloha, Tower, Onaway, Millersburg, Hawks, Metz, Posen, Bolton and Cathro

The trail is 10 feet wide and is made up of crushed, packed limestone. No vehicles are allowed, but people run, walk and bike on it. In the winter, cross country skiers and snowmobilers use it, too. No, I won't be partaking of the winter wonderland.

I ran over to the trail head, just to make sure I could find it because it is not well marked. I ran on it for about .1 miles, then quickly got off. Instead, I ran through a nearby neighborhood by Mullet Lake and made my way back to our campsite, only distracted by a sudden urge to run down every runner I saw to make sure they knew about the trail. (That could have been embarrassing.)

Thankfully, the rain held off until I was safely back in our RV. It's supposed to rain all day today and part of tomorrow. But I've got my eye on you. NEST. Just you wait until tomorrow. I'm going to pounce on you like a fat cat on a chihuahua puppy.

You'll see.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

What runners do when they can't run

Since I wrote my last post about the pain that's keeping me from running, some of my friends have suggested I take a few days off to see if rest would help. You know, R.I.C.E. or rest, ice, compression and elevation.

For the past few days, I've been doing this:

And today, I did some of this:

So, tomorrow, I'm going to do some of this:

And hopefully, even some of this:

Which I really hope doesn't look like this:

No matter what, I hope to feel like this:

Did you get to work out today? How did you feel? What makes you feel like deranged happy cat?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Would I lie to you?

Now would I say something that wasn't true?

With apologies to Eurythmics, but if you've met me, you know the answer is no.

So here goes: I went to a chiropractor and my physical therapist yesterday and they both told me that there's nothing else they can do to address the pain in my butt cheek. They both sent me back to my sports medicine doctor for more tests. Maybe an MRI.

Can I still run? Sure, since the pain actually subsides during my run and doesn't feel worse after. I had even gone without any Aleve for a week in deference to any important organs that have taken a hit since this all started back in April.

Should I run? There's the rub. Chiro man said yes. In the interest of full disclosure, the man's a marathoner and is currently running with a torn labrum in his hip. Talk about ouch.

PT man? He's hesitating, which is his polite way of saying, "lady, you're crazy if you keep this running up." I've been going there for a few years (for the aforementioned shoulder surgery rehab) and they've been fantastic about my bum issue.

Where does that leave me? I can continue to train, run my race on Sept. 21, and go back to the doc to start at the beginning to see what is causing all of these problems.

Or, I could just stop training, back off significantly on my running and hope the pain subsides so that I can train for a much-later race or even not run my first half this year.

Lots to think about.

Oh, wait. I said I wouldn't lie to you. We all know I will probably keep training, ignore the pain and run the race, of course. That is, unless I can get in to see sports med doc man any time soon and he has different plans. Wonder how polite he'll be.

Update: What stage of runner's grief do you think I'm in the middle of? Hat tip to Shut Up and Run blogger Beth Risdon. Just don't click on those links if you are easily offended. And if you're not, you're in for a treat.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Is there a runner version of attorney/client privilege?

Runners talk. Runners who run more than just a couple of miles together (try 9!) talk A LOT.

That means that you end up sharing a significant amount of information with each other on a typical one- or two-hour-long run.

No topic seems to be untouchable. And, yes, guys you're just as chatty as us chicas.

Kids, spouses, jobs. The Walking Dead plot twists, latest books read, who might be killed next on Game of Thrones. They're all fair game.

The stories flow, no matter who we're running with. It could be because we're all delirious from the heat, exhaustion and dehydration. Or it could be that the act of running in and of itself breaks down some barriers.

I've run with several ultra marathoners (a couple of them have run 50Ks on purpose). I've run with close friends. And I've been paired up with people I've never met until we decided on-the-spot to go knock out a few miles.

Each person has opened up to me -- and I to them. The conversations inevitably start with the run itself, progress into running experiences (and injuries, of course) and eventually delve into family and home or work life.

Seldom is advice sought, or given. Even so, the conversation feels like a cathartic experience. The run allowing us to pour our worries on the road and to leave them there when our GPS watches and smart phones tell us we can go home now.

Regardless of the topic, I'm always left feeling like what we shared -- both the run itself and what we talked about -- is, maybe not sacred, but certainly worthy of respect. And of keeping close to the vest. To keep to oneself.

I don't know that all runners honor this unwritten rule, but as we shake hands, hug or take a picture after our run, there's something left unsaid but that hangs in the air with promise. Promise that we both know we were there for each other while we worked out problems. That we were there as we shared our hurt or joy. And that we'll be there when we're needed again.

Even if it's just for a few miles. It certainly feels like a privilege whether it's legally binding or not.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This one goes out to the ladies (mostly)

For a Puerto Rican woman, I'm pretty much a tomboy. Just ask my long-suffering mother who really wanted a girl who wore frilly dresses and bows in her hair (or who at least combed it!), not one who played football and at one point was training for her black belt in tae kwon do.

Even so, I typically follow the unwritten rule of never leaving home without a tube of lipstick in your purse and earrings in your ear lobes.

I have to say, I don't remember ever running with makeup on. Part of my getting-ready-to-go-run routine involves wiping my face down, including the ever-present lipstick. I just don't think that the raccoon-eye look is "in" this season. Or any season for that matter.

But every so often, I'll see a fellow runner chica with full-face makeup and wonder what gives?

Maybe it's those finish-line photos. They're notorious for making us look like we just ran a bunch of miles. Oh. Wait. Never mind. Honey, no amount of make up is going to make that photo look good.

So maybe it's trying to get to the road even faster. Nope. There's something called face wipes. Takes two seconds.

It's gotta be vanity. Maybe trying to look good for the opposite sex. Um. Sweat. Smells. Pasted-on hair. Never mind.

Then it hit me. Maybe it's the idea that us chicas are going to do everything we can to just feel good about being out there. Whether it's wearing coordinating outfits, running skirts or, yes, lipstick.

And, why not? I can't leave the house for a run without what my daughter calls my "fanny pack," but every runner knows to be a high-tech running belt. It's got water-bottle holders and a pocket, which I've filled to the max with ChapStick, tissues, a tiny tube of Body Glide, SportBeans and a $20 bill in case I feel like buying 20 bottles of water at once.

And who'd be crazy enough to leave home for a run without her fully charged smartphone (for the Pandora and Nike-Plus apps, of course!) and YurBuds headphones?

So, make-up on, my fellow runner girls. This chica isn't going to question -- or judge you -- any longer. Wear that make up if that's one more thing that motivates you to get out there and move.

Now pass me that Mary Kay lipstick in Toffee. Maybe that'll make up for the ballet lessons I quit after about five minutes.

Source: Disney

Do you run with makeup on? What else motivates you to get out there and run?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Decoding your runner (a guide for those who love us)

I grew up in Puerto Rico, speaking español. While we all learned English growing up, I became truly bilingual in third grade when my parents placed me in an experimental English-immersion program at the military school I attended.

As a poor and hungry newspaper reporter and copy editor, I translated English documents into Spanish.

When my oldest son was diagnosed as hearing impaired when he was 3, I learned rudimentary American Sign Language in case he lost all of his hearing -- a real possibility at the time.

What I'm trying to say is that I have some experience translating between languages and the subtleties that entails.

What does this mean for you, dear non-runner? That I'm about to translate your loved one's runner-speak into something akin to plain English. To whit:

When your runner says: "Boy, these running shoes sure are worn down. Should I spend $120 to replace them?"

S/he really means: "I'm going shopping and you are not to complain about the cost of these shoes, so help me God."

What s/he wants to hear: "What did the Runner's World magazine reviewer say about those? Also appropriate: "Do they have them in your size at the local running store?"

When your runner says: "Boy, my calves are really tight and my feet hurt."

S/he really means: "I told you I need new shoes!" Also possible: "Be a dear and go grab that foam roller for me, please."

What s/he wants to hear: "I'll drive you to the local running store right now." Also appropriate: "Let me grab your foam roller for you."

When your runner says: "I could really use a donut."

S/he really means: "I could really use a donut." Also possible: "I want a donut but I don't want to feel guilty about eating it."

What s/he wants to hear: "You just ran (insert number here) miles! Have a donut!" Also appropriate: "I'll split one with you."

When your runner says: "I keep running and the scale hasn't budged. What gives?"

S/he really means: "Holy cow, I may be out-eating my running."

What s/he wants to hear: "I'm driving to Target right now to get new batteries. That thing's obviously not working."

When your runner says: "Should I sign up for X, Y or Z race?"

S/he really means: "I want to do all three."

What s/he wants to hear: "Pick the one with the best location and let's make a weekend out of it." Also appropriate: "Do all three."

When your runner says: "I don't feel like running today."

S/he really means: "I don't feel like running today."

What s/he wants to hear: "Get out there. You'll regret it if you don't." Also appropriate, "Don't. Sit right there while I go grab the box of donuts from the kitchen."

You're welcome, runner lovers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So you have an ouchie?

Get at least two runners together and once we're done talking about how much we love running, the conversation inevitably turns to our injuries, what treatments we've tried and which doctors we've seen.

I hear it so much that I want to get a T-shirt that reads "I love running. Just ask my physical therapist, doctor, chiropractor and masseuse."

It doesn't matter if you've just met. Every single detail is shared with great enthusiasm. Apparently, the correct response is to make polite, understanding noises ... and to share your woes when it's appropriate.

Just a few days ago, I ran into someone I'd only met one other time at a business meeting. The conversation quickly turned to running when we both realized the other woman runs, or in her case, ran. We proceeded to each list our wounds and how we've coped. There were about 20 other people in the room, like us, waiting for our meeting to start. We could have talked for hours.

Piriformis syndrome. Knee pain. Tight calves. Back aches. Cross training options.

This weekend, my sister-in-law who's recently returned to running (way to go, Michelle!) was asking me about knees. I was in the middle of a 7-mile-run through trails, but I could have talked to her for another 45 minutes on this topic alone. New shoes; ice; take an extra rest day; do the right stretches; raise your legs when you can; don't over-do it. You'd think we were 90-year-olds talking about our arthritis and bunions.

Later, I sent her links to Runner's World magazine articles and videos. I spent an inordinate amount of time reading the magazine's online content.  About knees. I was enthralled.

Which begs the question: At what point do the injuries and pain make it so we don't enjoy running?

Yesterday, I wrote about the pain in my butt. Also known as dumb butt syndrome.

So far, it's manageable but certainly not fun. I'm so focused on running my first half marathon that I'm putting up with it for another five weeks. After that? Who knows? I may be forced to deal with the root cause of the pain and maybe even -- grrrrr -- decrease my mileage for a while.

In the meantime, I am rather enjoying writing about what ails me. Now it's your turn. What injuries or pain have you endured to get your run in? What worked? Did it force you to stop running? How did you cope?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Today's running blog entry is brought to you by ... yoga

Mondays are my stretch and strength days, which also means I don't typically allow myself enough time to do much of anything. And by anything, I'm referring specifically to exercise (dinner, homework, grocery shopping and laundry all got done).

So, what's a runner chica to do?

Cue Runner's World magazine. If you're not already subscribed, please consider it. It's pretty inexpensive and has great resources. (I'm not affiliated with them.) I love that they reach a balance between having articles about competitive racing and having articles for the eternal newbie runner, like me. Yes, I'm training for a half marathon, but I'm certainly not setting any records in the process.

And their website -- oh, their website -- rocks. It has resources on anything from shin splints (shudder) to weak butt syndrome (just trust me on that one).

Other than Dr. Metzl's videos, which did help me kick shin splints and I'm using to help with current piriformis, they have several 30-minute yoga videos specifically for runners.

Yes, 30 minutes. Yes, you can find time to squeeze one in. I just did tonight after a very, very long day. Sure, it was me and Rebecca Pacheco at 10:15 at night, but I got it done.

I highly recommend you get a yoga block (got mine at Target like this one, cheap) if you're not very flexible (a.k.a., you're human and not named Rebecca Pacheco). She also recommends a towel or belt. I use one of my tae kwon do belts because it's handy and the perfect size for the exercises.

I am by no means a "yoga person," but I've read a lot about the health benefits and several of my health care providers (read: sports med doc, physical therapist and chiropractor) have all recommended yoga as a good cross-training/stretching part of my training. 

I really appreciate Rebecca's tips on how to modify the movements for mere mortals like me. I always take her up on the option.

In the past few months, I've also tried tai chi videos from the local library and live streaming from Love the concept and can certainly keep up, but I never felt like I was exercising. 

These yoga videos are not terribly easy, but certainly do-able with accommodations. And when I'm done, I have to admit that I really am more relaxed. Yeah, even after the third load of laundry.

What do you do to cross train? Have you ever tried yoga? How about tai chi? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The road less traveled

I have new-found respect for trail runners who inherently are taking the road less traveled. I have friends who run marathons and even 50Ks through mountains full of hilly trails.

I'd run portions of my run on a trail; just last weekend, we ran about a mile through beautiful trails ... with all of the hazards clearly marked with white paint. Easy, peasy.

Today, brilliant runner that I am, I ran my seven miler long run on the Long Lake trail at our home-for-the-weekend, Yankee Springs Lake State Campground. All I can say is wowza!

I loved every minute of it. I loved the soft ground that felt springy, probably saving my knees from at least some pounding. I loved the shade -- especially knowing that my 10 a.m. start would mean full-on sun and 70-plus degrees. And I loved the quiet. I only ran into a few people, although that also meant one off-leash German Shepherd, which raised my already-fast heart rate a few notches. She eventually came closer, sniffed me and let me pat her head, content.

The run also forced me to slow down a bit, something I struggle with on my long runs because I've been working on keeping my pace at a constant 13-minute mile. (Side note: Should I rename the blog Turtle Runner?)

And, frankly, it also forced me to just be. To enjoy the run itself because watching for roots, twigs and rocks also meant being in the moment. And there were lots of all three of those. The area is supposed to be just for people on foot, but I did come across  several mountain bikers who were obviously enjoying the trails just as much as I was.

Just over two miles into my trek, just when I was hitting my stride, I had to stop to climb over several fallen branches. I took my time, making sure I didn't twist an ankle, stopped to take a swig of water and kept going.
Death trap on the trail (a.k.a. branches)
Unfortunately, the trail narrowed significantly beyond the natural barricade so that all I could see were ferns and -- yikes! -- poison ivy. I turned around and eventually picked up another well-marked trail that took me back to the campground. The whole loop took me to about the 5-mile mark, so I circled the campground, spending some time on grass, a little bit of road and even some gravel.

Bonus: Even though there was almost no shade, I did get to run lake-side for the last couple of miles. Here's my view:

All-in-all a brilliantly executed plan. Next time, I do want to make sure to bring bug spray and more water, and to wear higher socks.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some scratching to do.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Only the lonely ... need inspiration (or a kick in the butt)

I rarely feel lonely on a run. Basically, anything that comes out of my Pandora station keeps me company. Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Shakira and Mana. Their music is fun, upbeat and gets me going ... most days.

Other days (see yesterday), I struggle to get out, then I struggle to keep going. I still enjoy it and I never regret getting out there. But sometimes it's plain hard.

Running with someone else is the best. I've written about that before. But how does a runner keep going when she would rather do just about anything else? Did you say laundry? Count me in!

Other than a kick in the behind, here are some of the things I've tried:

I don't mean MilkBone. It could be as simple as promising myself I can drink a glass of chocolate milk when I'm done. Or a small piece of dark chocolate. I keep it small so that I don't negate the benefits of running. And then I think about said treat the entire run. Hellooo, Pavlov's dog.

Public acceptance
Those cheers that come up on my Nike Plus app when someone "likes" my post when I'm out running can give me a major boost.

Think of others who can't run or a time when I couldn't
I think of anyone in my life who can't run for whatever reason. I'm sure some of them would give just about anything to be active. I also tend to think about times in the past couple of years when I was under doctor's orders not to run. At all.

I pray for people in my life who are struggling. Never for myself. It's not always about me, apparently.

Repeat a phrase
I've recently adopted a few: "I love hills!" "Hills are our friends!" And, my current favorite, "suck it up, buttercup!" I will admit to saying these out loud on occasion, but it's usually part of my internal dialogue.

Yes, drill sergeant!
I went to military school as a kid, so I can summon my inner drill sergeant on a dime. My drill sergeant voice has been known to shame me into running some more.

Channel my inner cheerleader
Basically the same concept, just nicer. And peppier. I hate my inner cheerleader.

Public humiliation
I posted on my Facebook feed (or team page) that I would run X miles. How will I face my friends if I don't finish? (Yes, I realize they don't really care, but I never said these tactics were based on reality.)

"Type A" rewards
Sometimes, the thought of scratching off the day's workout from my running plan is enough to get me back in gear. Anal retentive much?

Write my blog post in my head 
I've written most of my posts while running, including this one. (Which I'm sure explains a lot. Including this one.)

There are times when I have to use more than one of these ideas to finish even my shortest runs. I have to admit that last night left me feeling like I have multiple personalities. But I got my five miles in. In your face, drill sergeant!

Now, take a minute to tell me what you do to get yourself going again when you're struggling with a run.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I got a new T-shirt today. Oh, and I ran a marathon relay.

Few things will get me up early on a Saturday. OK, pretty much only running will get me up early on a Saturday.

Gotta say, yesterday's wake up call was beyond worth it.

Met up with the Black Girls Run-Lansing ladies for the Lake Lansing Marathon Relay. What can I say? We had two teams plus a third team joined us from Grand Rapids. That's 15 women who all dropped everything just to spend our day together. Running.

And we're apparently not the only people crazy enough to do it. There were more than 90 teams altogether. Why do we do this?

Well, there's the fellowship. We all brought snacks. There were plates of food. Our team even had black and pink balloons. 

There's the exercise. Each of us ran 5.25 miles, including one through trails.

And there's the fun. We got to spend about five hours together, talking. Laughing. Telling stories and sharing tips.

No. The real reason we do this is so we can recruit more people into the tribe. At least three of the women I ran with are new runners. They'd all done 5Ks, but this was their longest distance by far. 

All morning, they were nervous. Lots of "oh, my, what have I done?" And "I don't know about this."

We listened. We encouraged. We talked abut the time when...

Most importantly, we cheered them and ran the last few yards with them. Their smiles told the story better than I ever could. They'll be back.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Run and smell the ... Gargoyles?

Spent the morning on the #LoveLansing river trail with my friends from #BlackGirlsRun. Gorgeous morning for a 3.5 mile walk, followed by a quick 1.5 mile run. We have a marathon relay tomorrow morning, after all.

I've been in Lansing for --gasp! -- 25 years now and have to admit that sometimes I feel like I'm here against my will (OK, specifically between January and March of every year). Today wasn't one of those days. It was sunny. It was 60 degrees. And the company and scenery made it worth waking up early on a Saturday for a run.

We were a small, yet mighty group of four today. My partner Angela wanted to save some energy (and prevent injury!) by taking it slow since she's starting our relay team off at 7:30 tomorrow morning. The other two ran ahead.

We set off at a brisk pace, passed the state Capitol and took the stairs down to the trail that runs next to the river. The view is so beautiful that you forget you're in the city. Purple, yellow, pink and blue flowers greeted us practically each step of the way. Ducks slept on the river banks. Other cyclists and runners said good morning as they went past.

The air even helped with the illusion of being elsewhere, smelling of wet grass and soil. 

We meandered up to Old Town, past the fish ladder. All the while, we marveled at our good fortune to be healthy enough to do this in such a beautiful area.

I half expected the critters around us to start dancing as we broke into song a la old Disney cartoons.

And then we looked up at a building and saw the gargoyles. Can't say they were beautiful. They really didn't seem to fit the day's bright and airy feel.What they did, though, was remind me that I don't have to push myself so much during every run. I can take the time to really look around me. To enjoy my surroundings. I can turn off the Pandora, take out my ear buds and really spend time in the moment.

And to really look for those things that are so easy to miss when I'm just rushing through my day. Whether that's my favorite 7-year-old's latest Lego creation, the way the river sounds when it's rushing down the fish ladder or the way those gargoyles sat perched on the building, being more watchful that this runner.

Here's to more of those runs that remind us to slow down once in a while. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Member of the tribe

There's something about runners that makes them seek each other out. We may all be different -- race, sex, size, background, speed -- but we seem to send signals as subtle a male peacock's plumage in our quest for others like us. Is that a GPS watch? Are you wearing a Road ID?  Wait, are those the new Brooks Adrenaline?

And once we spot and recognize each other, we like to congregate. There are expos. Races. Running stores. Online forums. And my favorite, running groups.

I belong to two groups. The first, I joined at the invitation of the woman who ran most of my first race with me. We struck up a conversation halfway through the run when (in my quest for a distraction from feelings of near death) I noticed her Black Girls Run shirt and asked her about it.  Crystal was nice enough to tell me about the group and eventually invited me to meet other members.

I hesitated only because I'm not one to join, well, groups. Black Girls Run? Would they accept a Puerto Rican sister friend? Why, yes. From the moment I met the other women in the group, I was sold on the concept of women supporting each other to become -- or to stay -- active.

It's a diverse group in many ways. We have walkers and runners. Many are just getting started in their journey to better health. Others, well, let's just say you may want to watch who you talk to unless you want to find yourself signing up for a half marathon and saying things like, "If I can do 13.1 miles, I can probably do 26.2."t 

There are moms and single ladies. A few are older than me; many are in their 20s and 30s. Some have kids. Several have the kind of kids that shed. We all struggle with making time for ourselves and our training.

These are the kind of women who cheer you on when you can't even run around the block. Who celebrate the first run post-surgery as if you've just competed in an Olympic event. Who help you find a place to run indoors on your business trio to the Upper Peninsula in April.

The other group is just as special. I joined Team Playmakers a couple of months ago as I was increasing my mileage for my weekly long run. It's also a very diverse group with people from all walks of life, but there's no doubt these are more hardcore runners.

Couldn't help but notice all the Team P shirts, hats, car stickers and promotional materials around town.

With the motto "any distance, any pace," this group hosts group runs several times a week. They pair you up with people who are running a similar mileage at your pace, provide water/Gatorade stations every couple of miles and feed you Great Harvest bread afterward. (Aren't runners great?!)

Having built-in running partners has made a significant difference in my willingness and ability to run up to 9 miles. Heck, in my last run with Team P, my running partner had me in stitches. I was laughing so much that I don't even remember agreeing to run two extra miles. Through a cemetery. With lots of hills. Shudder. (About the hills, not all the dead people.)

As much as I enjoy running with a friend, a running group offers a different kind of support and is just as rewarding.

Much like a parent who loves all her kids the same, I can't say that I have a favorite. I can just say that I'm glad I saw the not-so-subtle signs and joined this tribe. This tribe of runners is just right for me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running." -Sarah Condor

Sometimes, running alone is just, well, lonesome. Or uninspiring. Or just plain not happening when there's a cozy bed to sleep on at oh-dark-30 on a Saturday morning.

Though I haven't done it since Ronald Reagan was president, I suspect it's akin to dating. It may take a few "dates" to figure out your perfect partner. Here's the deal, though. With running you can have multiple partners and still see your silver anniversary and beyond. 

Here's what I've tried so far, with mostly excellent results:

Run with a good friend who loves you despite your challenges

My friend Karen is one of my favorite people. She's incredibly active (yoga, biking, weight lifting -- sometimes all on the same day!) and a longtime runner. And she obviously has at least some warm feelings about me, too, because we run on a relatively regular basis despite our differing running styles and, ahem, abilities. Plus, we live less than half a mile from each other. Bonus!
A run with Karen is always a treat. We get to catch up, bounce ideas off of each other, solve the world's problems and basically talk nonstop. There was a time when I relied on asking her open-ended questions in an unsuccessful attempt at catching my breath. Now, I've built more stamina, if not yet the speed, and am grateful that she uses her week's easy run to spend time with me.

Everyone needs a Karen in her life, and I'm not just talking about running.

Run with a neighbor

When I first started running, a neighbor invited me to meet up with her. I mentioned I was new and slow. She told me not to worry. I was geeked and nervous as we met in the street between our houses.

 It was a disaster. 

She ran much too fast for me and didn't say much, leaving me breathless and feeling like I should keep up the conversation. We didn't run very far (probably a couple of miles) but it felt like 20. I'm sure it wasn't what she'd envisioned as she left me in the dust and ran another five miles by herself. 
We never ran together again.

It wasn't a total loss. Now I know to be even more clear about my and my partner's expectations. And I don't apologize (too much) when I have to ask him or her to slow down or to run ahead.

I may try it again. Neighbors can be great partners because logistics are just plain easier. And it's just nice to get to know them better beyond saying "hi" while getting the mail. 

You'll be able to tell which of your neighbors run -- they're the ones wearing the $100 sneakers and lime green or highlighter yellow T-shirts, and have the 5K, 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on their cars.

Another option is to join a group. I've joined two and love them both for different reasons. I'll tell you more in my next post.

Do you run with others? Who do you run with and why?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Runners, they lie

Running's perfect, they said. All you need is sneakers and the road, they said. You can do it anytime, anywhere, they insisted. You can just run a couple of miles. That's all.


First, it was the $100 Brooks Ghost running shoes. Comfortable, sturdy workhorse. OK, now I'm all set. Thanks, Playmakers.

Darn, forgot a sports bra. Ooh. Runner's World magazine rates Moving Comfort the best. I'll take one of those.
Some of the gear I brought on vacation.

And I don't know what I'm doing, so I need an app for that. Enter Couch to 5K. Definitely worth it.

Oh, but my headphones pop out all the time and I can't run without my Pandora. YurBuds save the day. That's it.

It's hot and I sweat too much. I need wicking fabrics. Target, here I come. Running Warehouse, send me another pair of running shorts. Marshall's, thanks for carrying name-brand gear cheap.

It's sunny, so back to Target for Ironman sunglasses. They don't slip off. Love 'em. No more.

My hamstrings are tight. Target sells foam rollers? Throw one in the cart.

Finished my goal 5K, so why not sign up for another one (or five)?

It's now winter, I'm cold and it's dark when I run. I need high-visibility gear that won't let me freeze, but I don't want to drive in this weather. Running Warehouse has free shipping, you say? Nike hyper warm jacket and tights made it in record time.

Now it's spring. Back to hot and sweaty. Need some water for the road. Thanks, gear swap event with runner friends. Got a Nathan's belt with two water bottles and pockets -- for free. Score!

You've done 5K, you can certainly do 10K and run a marathon relay. Um, yeah. Why not?

Did that already and didn't die? Pfft, then you can do a half easy. You've got more than three months to train.

Running more miles. Need to fuel. What do you mean I can eat candy on my run? How many packets of Sport Beans can this belt hold?

Training for my first half marathon, so I need some experienced runners to help me get through the long runs. Join a running club and get a team tech shirt and two discount coupons? Sure, where do I sign?

Playmakers has a huge sale and the running watch with GPS is on sale? Pass. I gotta buy my daughter's Brooks Adrenaline so she can start running two-a-days with her high school cross country team. Because it's going to be a lot of fun -- in August. Scout's honor.