Sunday, November 30, 2014

La chica walks

The process is the same: get dressed for the cold. Find my gloves. Head outdoors with my Yurbuds playing my favorite Pandora station in my ears.

It's just not quite satisfying. The walking, that is.

The running? It's great. But I just can't do it right now. Doctor's orders. And so I walk.

Not much, you see. Because it's just not the same, so I've been avoiding it for the most part.

Walking is to running what sugar-free Jell-O is to triple chocolate cake.

I've been going through the motions for the most part. I even walked the Lansing Turkey Trot with my favorite 15-year-old; a tradition we started three years ago when we both trained for our first 5k.

We had a great time, saw some good friends, met up with my running group. We even got the T-shirts.

But there's just something missing beyond the runner's high. There's no goal. There's no training. There's no scratching off a workout when I get home.

Until, that is, I Google'd "can you walk a half marathon?" today. Hal Higdon even has a 12-week walking plan. He says it will take me about four hours to finish. Four hours of walking. Hmph.

I should note that I used Hal's plan to train for my first half in September. It worked for me.

The Biggest Loser website has its own plan that weaves in more cross training and takes about 15 weeks.

Either will take me to a spring half marathon.

So what's a running chica to do? She walks. For now.

But I am NOT getting new gear.
Have you ever had to walk a race? How long did it take? Did you feel accomplished?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

To quote the great philosopher Mick Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want.”

But if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need.

Apparently, what I needed today was a reboot.

Went to see a new doc for a second (or third or fourth, I’ve lost count) opinion on the ongoing saga of my butt pain, which a previous health care professional had diagnosed as piriformis syndrome.

Well, chicos and chicas, this manipulative medicine doc tells me my problem isn’t piriformis. No. My problem is a stuck sacrum, or basically the bottom of my spine.

Started treatment today to get it unstuck so that I move more like a regular human and not one that hikes her hips up when she takes a step. As attractive as that sounds, it’s apparently not conducive to good health nor – more importantly – to running.

The upside is that the treatment should work and that my end of the bargain entails doing the yoga I’m already doing plus walking. Yes, I’m benched from running again, but there’s a chance this might actually work.

Can’t be worse than all the stuff I’ve been doing since April when all of this started.

For those of you wondering why I keep talking about my painful butt, I'm sharing my saga just in case someone else is dealing with similar issues. In my dreams, my blog sparks a conversation with your own doc that leads to a solution for your own leg/butt/foot pain.

Or at least gives you new plausible symptoms you can fake to get a back rub:

Have you had to go to multiple docs before getting the right diagnosis? How many did it take? Was your problem eventually resolved? Have you ever gotten your significant other to give you a back rub?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I've got a fever and the only prescription is ...

... more cowbell!

OK, so maybe not cowbell, baby, but certainly more company. The runner kind.

Good thing I got to meet up with my running group, Black Girls Run Lansing, at Zoobies Old Town Tavern in Lansing tonight.

And what a meet up it was. There were balloons, cupcakes, hors d'oeuvres and lots of laughs. 

With a raucous group of about 15, we celebrated our group's third year. All started because one of our fearless leaders, Brandess, wanted to see more women of color when she went to races.
Brandess, the fierce.
Now an ultramarathoner, Brandess also happens to have been one of my biggest supporters for running my first half marathon this fall. She and several other BGRs encouraged me to sign up and -- after pacing me through the whole thing -- celebrated with me at the finish line.

I even got a certificate tonight as we all took time to acknowledge successes, bit and small, and planned out the next year to make sure we had even more to look forward to. Each woman present also took the time to write her name under a series of goals, from starting to walk to running a 5K,a half marathon or full, to riding her bike or swimming, or to volunteer for a race.
It was so satisfying to see so many women come together from all over town to support each other on this journey, no matter the distance. No matter the pace.

I've said it before, bit it's worth repeating: these are the type of women I hope my daughter will seek out as she becomes a woman herself. These women exhibit the traits I already see in my favorite almost-15-year-old: kindness, selflessness, humor, tenaciousness,spirit and, yes, fearlessness.

It's not more cowbell, but it's still music to my ears and certainly makes my heart sing. Quietly. I like you too much to sing outloud. No one wants to hear that.

Do you run with a group? How has that impacted your running? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My 8 favorite non-running things that make running better

Sometimes, it's the little things. As I've re-started Couch to 5K yet again and am heading out three times a week, I'm noticing a few non-running-related items I reach for that make my running life that much better.
And because you know I just gotta share, here's my list below.

1. Febreze Sport spray. Just a squirt -- OK, or three -- and I can get one more use out of my favorite windbreaker. Since I wear it over my long-sleeve winter running shirt and a hoodie, it doesn't get very stinky. But we all know that running stink defies reality, so I spray the jacket with the Febreze and hang it to air out.

2. Tide detergent also sells a Febreze Sport product that has saved more than one of my technical T-shirts. Regular detergent just can't touch the aforementioned post-run stink.

3. Good old ChapStick. Always a good idea before a short run with a second application at some point during a longer run. A little tube of the stuff saved me during my half marathon race when my trusty tech T-shirt started to chafe under my arms. ChapStick was a surprisingly good substitute for BodyGlide.

4. A see-through plastic over-the-door shoe organizer. I stick a lot of my running gear in its pockets so that I can grab gloves, a hat, my ChapStick, headphones, etc., without having to tear the house apart.

5. Goody ouchless elastic hair ties. Those suckers work, don't hurt when I'm pulling them off and they last forever.

6. Euceryn Aquaphor. I've talked about my love of this product before, but it doesn't make it any less handy. I use it on my lips if I don't have my ChapStick handy, on my legs and arms to avoid ashy skin and on my feet. (I don't want to talk about it.)

7. A skirt hanger with clips. Use them to hang my running leggings as well as unmentionables without leaving that weird mark from the regular plastic hangers.

8. Chocolate milk. Because it's yummy. Oh, and it's apparently a pretty good after-run recovery drink.

What are some of your favorite things that make running easier or better? 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Running, oh how I miss thee. Let me count the ways

Yes, I've been running a little. A couple of times a week for about a couple of miles each.

And, yes, I still consider myself a runner. I read Runner's World religiously. I chat with my Black Girls Run Lansing team mates on a regular basis. And I have a race on the calendar: the Turkeyman Trot in Lansing on Thanksgiving morning.

And yet...

There's so much I miss about the kind of training I was doing for the Capital City River Run Half Marathon.

The kind of running that leaves you spent. That makes you take a nap on a Saturday afternoon because you...just...can't...not...sleep.

The kind of running that leaves your laundry room full of dripping technical clothes, your drawers full of running gear you can't quite keep track of and your wallet empty because of purchasing all the aforementioned gear.

There's more, of course. The adrenaline. The runner's high. The having-something-to-write-about-on-my-blog.

Sure, there are things I don't miss. The hours away from my family because I just had to get in that five (or 10)  miler to stay on track. The empty wallet. The hard work.

Scratch that. I even miss the hard work, the pain, the struggle. It strengthened me. It made me feel alive.

There might just be a word for all of these feelings, but I just can't think of it. Closest I can come to it is, it's almost like winter's here.
While I've been in the Michigan tundra for 25 years, my blood still calls for the comfort of 80-plus degree days. Winter sports? Not for this chica.

Having to let go of my running -- hopefully only for a short while -- feels like winter has taken over even this part of my life.

But like every winter for the past 25 years, there's still a glimmer of hope just around the corner. April will be here before I know it with its blooming crocuses, sunny skies and even slightly warmer temps.

For now, I'll cling to that even as I have more free time to fret about what comes in between.

What do you miss about running when you can't run? Is there anything you don't miss at all? 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What goes well with humble pie?

Just eight weeks ago, I felt like I could run forever...or at least 13.1 miles. 

My "short" runs were 3.5 and 4 miles each, several times a week. My long run? An "easy" 10 miles. I was tired, yes, but I rallied and (after taking a nap) felt great.

I developed pain in the piriformis muscule (think smack in the middle of your butt cheek), but that was manageable when the prospect of my first half marathon loomed. I would have walked on glass barefoot those last few weeks just to get through the race.

Doc said to rest for a couple of weeks until my body healed. You'll be back, he said.

And yet...

The pain lessened enough that I'm no longer taking over-the-counter pain meds. I have been following all of the doctor's orders (stretching, heat, exercises, yoga, massage and almost no running). But I've plateaued and am no longer making progress.

What's a runner chica to do? Reassess, of course.

I got new shoes in the hope they'd help with the healing. Hoka One One Cliftons, which feel like I'm walking on a cloud. Squishy. Comfy. Um, ugly.

Runners tend to be fanatical about their shoes. Some of us have a dozen or more pair in our closets, showing the trial and error phase until -- like Cinderella -- we find just the right shoe.

My closet "just" has two pair of running shoes. My trusty, beat up Brooks Ghost 6s and the new Hokas.

So back to the Brooks it was with me just as I restarted my running yesterday with another trusty tool: My Couch to 5K app. I still have my eye on a Thanksgiving morning 5K, so this may just work out.

That is, until I rediscovered shin splint pain. Boo. Hiss.

It wasn't so bad that I could say no to my favorite 8-year-old's request to go for a short run this morning. He did great for the first half, then petered out and stayed home for the second half. I finished, lungs burning just a little.

The body's complaining, but my spirit was soaring.

What does a running chica serve with humble pie? Just a little patience and hope.

What's your favorite running shoe? How many pair do you have littering your closet?