Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

And good luck to everyone running in Turkey Trots tomorrow!

P.S. Don't forget they say there are officially no calories in pumpkin pie when you run on Thanksgiving morning. I mean they said it so it must be true. Plus I used the word official, so there you go. Have an extra piece for me and don't hold back on the whipped cream please.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shin Splints or Smooth Away Injury?

Ok I am warning you all right now this is verging on the fringe of absolutely idiotic. So if you continue to read this post, you do so at the risk of your own intelligence. You have been warned!!!

So, I'm at the grocery store the other day with my 3 year old, who's riding on the cart cool as can be with her feet on the bottom bar and her hands on the pushing bar when she yells "MOMMY! STOP!" We're somewhere in between shaving cream and toothpaste at the beginning of our trip and I'm thinking for crying out loud potty already?!

But no, she had far more planned for me. She hops off the cart and runs back down the aisle stopping in front of all the hair removal products. With one hand on her hip and the other in the air in pure Vanna White fashion she says to me emphatically, "Mommy, THIS is Smooth Away." Now I have no idea how she was able to zero in on a box smaller than the size of Kraft Mac & Cheese (only the finest here baby) in the middle of a shelf about eye level for me and pretty high for her as we blew by in a rush to get the shopping done and home before my 1 year old woke up from her nap and started to give her Papa a run for his money, but somehow she did.

Then, she launched her sales pitch, "Mommy, I seen this on tv. It's called Smooth (read Smoov if you want the full effect) Away. You just put it on your fingers like this (she demonstrates with her invisible product) and you rub it on your leg like this and the hair goes away. It's called Smooth Away. You NEED to get this." So I walk back over to where she's standing (we're the only ones in the aisle btw) and ask her where it is. She points. I pick it up. "This?" I ask her. "Yeah Mommy, Smooth Away. Smooooth Away. That's called Smooth Away." So I did what all you moms out there would do...I bought it. I mean I too had seen it on tv, it looked interesting and it was just $10. So I figured what the heck? I'll give it a try. Plus come on, I'm not about to reject my daughter's first major sales pitch and scar her for life ;-)

Later that night following my run, that ended up being way faster than I intended (guess I was kinda jonesin to run again and got carried away), I gave Smooth Away a try and wouldn't you know it?! That stuff worked pretty much just the way Chloe described. The hair magically disappeared. I only tried it on one leg because it recommended testing it out first, but it doesn't hurt or anything and is actually pretty cool.

Then came this morning...

This morning I woke up thinking I was sore from my run. Like I said I ran harder than intended and since I haven't been doing a whole heck of alot since the marathon I figured I was just starting to feel the effects of not running for waaaaay too long, but assumed I'd get over it as the day wore on. But I haven't, it's right leg, shin area. So naturally I'm thinking uh oh shin splints, until I realized it's only one leg and it happens to be the same exact area where I tested out Smooth Away. So I don't know if I Smoothed too much Away or what, but it's a pretty annoying hurt right now and so I can not in good conscience give this product my endorsement for the time being. In fact, I'm seriously considering taking my daughter to court for not fulling disclosing the risks of said product at the time of sale. Not 100% sure if that is grounds for a lawsuit, but I figure between that and the whole playing soccer with her poop around my living room when she was about 2, I ought to be able to get some sort of settlement. (Wait...I don't think I ever told you all that story did I? Ahh...I'm feeling another blog post coming on, but we'll save it for another day.) Unfortunately, she has no current source of income and being that she's a minor and I'm her legal guardian, I guess I would in essence be suing myself. Wonder if I can garner her future wages? Hmmm......

'Til next time.

P.S. I also want to give a shout out to blog reader SHELLY today who will be running this weekend for my sister-in-law, Cathy who's fighting breast cancer. SHELLY YOU ROCK! She's even fighting off the flu and still doing it. What a stud! If you're interested in running a race for Cathy, click here for the post to tell you all about it. It's too late now for me to get you a shirt in time for a Thanksgiving race, but feel free to create your own with a sharpie, wear something pink, or just put a smile on your face when you run. And if you're in the feeling generous kind of mood, just swing on over by the right sidebar of my blog and click on the donate button to help Cathy and her family to care of some of those mounting medical bills in time for the holidays. For more on Cathy's story click here. Thanks so much for your support. Have a great race SHELLY!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rest Recovery and Race Reviews

Only a week behind on that race review. Sorry about that ladies & gents. I've been resting and recovering and resting some more. Well that is of course if by resting you mean chasing around the fastest crawling 1 year old on the planet who refuses to walk but insists on climbing and her 3 year old sister who as of late seems to be temporarily insane because of sugar withdrawls from the sudden disappearance of all remaining Halloween candy in our house the day after my marathon (ok I might be responsible for that one).

But as for running, not so much lately. Though I did have the pleasure of a 5 1/2 mile run with my sister, husband and a new unnamed runner we have dragged into the mix (why do new runners always insist on keeping their running a secret btw? Have we not yet come far enough as a society that one can run without fear of public humiliation? Must we still restrict our inclination to move our bodies at a rapid pace to the confines of our basement on a treadmill or keep our outdoor running limited only to those days which require us to wear enough layers that our true identity is disguised for fear of ridicule? Come on people! I think we have come farther than that ;-)

That's about it and I plan to keep it kind of limited throughout the holidays since they seem to be crazy enough. Just enough running to keep from packing on the pounds sounds about right to me (although with all the tasty holiday treats that could quite possibly BE marathon training!).Though I have selected my next race I do believe. I'm thinking the Martian 1/2 Marathon. (Judge me not for picking the 1/2! I'm still in break mode here and the 1/2 is sounding mighty nice right about now. Don't worry there'll be more fulls in my furture!) And I know I know you all listened to me complain about the hills last time at this race, but I really did like it and now that I know what to expect the complaints should be at a minimum (I promise).

But on to that Monumental Marathon race review. It's over on my favorite race review website and you can read it by clicking here. Don't forget to review your fall races there. It's quick, easy and helpful to runners like me looking for a new race to run and wanting to get the hardcore facts from real runners (like when the race is advertised as fairly flat what is actually meant is NOT FLAT or that the lines at the port-a-potties pretty much make PRing possible only if you are PEEing all over yourself instead of waiting in them).

And since we're on the subject of not forgetting, please also don't forget about running on Thanksgiving for for my sister-in-law, Cathy. You can read about that by clicking here. She just found out she is going to have to go through some more treatment which means those medical bills are going up and she could use our help. If you've already read about Run 4 Cathy and you've decided to run for her, I'll need those donations by Friday, November 20th to express ship your shirt so you get it before Thanksgiving. If you choose a race sometime after Thanksgiving that's great too! Just give me about 10 days to get your shirt to you in time for your run.

Thank-you so much to everybody for your support! We've got a nice little running crew going on over there and every little bit helps to relieve some of the family's financial burden!

'Til next time...

P.S. If you aren't able to do a run for Cathy but would still like to help, please email me at Perhaps you could sponsor another runner?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Really Kenyan, I am not mad

I'm not. Not even a little bit. Maybe mildly disappointed but even that was only somewhere between miles 20-23. I'm actually quite pleased with our marathon. I mean come on now. I **gulp**(still hard to stomach saying this) DNFed in Chicago and so it wasn't going to take a whole heck of alot to make up for that. Really, I just needed to finish. And that my friends is just exactly what we did this weekend at the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis. We finished.

What we further learned, I do believe is that YES, THE KENYAN IS HUMAN AFTER ALL. After training for just a month for this marathon, running 20 miles the Sunday before, and 10 miles as hard as he could the week of, this time when his feet hit the pavement, the pavement hit back. And yes, Kenyan I know I know that there were any number of reasons for what happened out there, trust me there always is. 26.2 is a long way, whether you are running, walking, or wheeling it and over the course of that distance you never know what might happen which is why I am now a firm believer in not judging a runner based off any particular race time. Remember the whole we all have bad running days from time to time talk I issued myself following Chicago.

For the Kenyan, it was IT band trouble. For those of you runners without a medical background who happen to know what an IT band is, it's quit possible you do because you were made painfully aware of it on some run. It's not so much a problem for me, but I've seen it level my husband. It's a group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh and knee and is quite frequently irritated (LOL irritated is probably not the right word,that's kind of like saying I was swimming and got nipped by a Tiger Shark) through overuse. And maybe just maybe, now I'm going out on a limb here Kenyan, maybe it got overused or at least used a little bit over what it was ready for. Just a thought...

So somewhere around 16, the Kenyan really started complaining about some knee trouble and wanted to take a walk break. We did. No big deal. People do that from time to time. Then we got back to it. I honestly thought for awhile we were still going to post an ok time (ok for me anyway) I mean I knew we wouldn't hit 4:30 with walk breaks, but 4:45 seemed doable. The walk breaks weren't long. We'd run a 12 min mile with breaks, then a 10 min mile with no breaks. But then the breaks were longer and the running slower. And as I checked my watch and saw a 20 minute mile, I saw 4:45 slipping away. Then with another, breaking 5:00 was unlikely.

Now I had quit telling the Kenyan our splits, because he was hurting but I knew he wanted to finish and I thought if I told him where we were at he might not. And since I've been there and done that and found the other side of a DNF does not feel good, I wanted to see him through.

But at about 24 1/2 when he picked it up to run again, he was hobbling. I mean really not putting any weight on that sore knee. And I told him to stop running just walk. Before he had only SAID it hurt, now I could see it. And again, this ain't the kind of guy who's gonna pull out of a race because of a blister or even a toe nail ripping off if you knkow what I mean. If he's limping that bad something was really wrong. "But we've got to break 5 hours." He told me. That's when I had to spill it. We were at 4:58. Breaking 5 hours was not happening. Needless to say, he was not happy.

We mostly walked the rest. But we did run the last little bit across the finish of course. He must have asked me 5 times that day if I was mad at him along with pretty much everbody else that came along for the trip. And the answer is NO! NOWAY! Listen, I love to run and I love to help others reach their goals. Saturday, I got to do both. So, I win.

Would it have been even better if I had hit my goal? Yep, of course. But I learn something every race I run and this one was no different (for example, I think I pretty much have figured out exactly what I need to eat/drink on the course and AFTER. Because around 5PM that day, I tanked and I tanked hard. What I realized later is that I had only been drinking water after I finished which was probably diluting any of the few remaining electrolytes I had left. Of course I didn't think about this until around 8PM so I had some really rough hours there on the ride home. But when I finally realized what was going on I downed 32 ounces of Gatorade Endurance, with twice the sodium of regular Gatorade, and felt much much better pretty quickly.)

Could I have hit my goal of 4:30? Honestly, I don't think that was happening Saturday. We were at 2:18 at the 1/2 so even if I maintained pace we were coming in at 4:36. But I kind of thought that was an ambitious goal for me anyway (at least this time around anyway). That was one of those, if everything goes perfect, and I'm feeling really good and someone (really fast) gives me a piggyback ride for at least a portion of the race kind of goals. Could I have run 4:45 or broken 5 hours? Who knows? I like to think yes. But there were 10 miles left to run when we took our first walk break and a lot could have happened in those 10 miles.

And ultimately, it doesn't matter. I love running, yes. It almost feels like it's a part of who I am. But it doesn't define me. Let's be clear here. I'm not setting any world records. I'm not even coming in the Top Ten of any marathons. I don't depend on 1st place finishing checks to make a living. I do it because I like it, it's good for me and it's a good example for my girlies and that's it. Period. (b/c when your making a serious point you actually need to spell out the punctuation just in case you didn't know ;-) I think I would have been more upset with myself if I had left the Kenyan to hobble to the finish on his own while I pursued some arbitrary goal I had set for myself. Don't get me wrong, I think goals are good and important. I always feel better about myself when I am working towards something and progressing. But just because I walked with the Kenyan doesn't mean I can't still try to hit it some other time. But how exactly do you make up for leaving a friend on the course when they're hurt? Well, don't worry Kenyan. Next time I won't leave you?

So nope. Not mad. Besides, did I mention I JUST FINISHED MY 2ND MARATHON?! And that my friends, is pretty cool :-)

'Til next time...

P.S. To the Kenyan: YOU ARE A MARATHONER NOW! Hold your head high, you are just getting started. TAKE A REST! Get better. Then you go on and get it. Train properly and there's no limit to what you are going to be able to accomplish. By the way, I've always wanted to visit Boston :-)

P.P.S. Don't forget we're all running for my sister-in-law on Thanksgiving. Please click here to read more about it. If you can't make it we'd love to have you sponsor another runner. Send me an email at and I'll let you know how.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kenyan runs 20, I eat a donut

Mmmmm....yep, one of those ooey gooey chocolate eclair types. My favorite. It even had yellow and orange sprinkles for Halloween on it and was worth every bite (so you would be correct in assuming the eclairs in the picture are not the actual diet crushing culprits that I had the pleasure of eating since they are missing the festive decor).

Ok grumpy pants with the disgusted sigh shaking your head, I did run 12 miles first so spare me the you'll eat yourself to your own demise talk though I suppose that in no way makes said donut healthier but somehow makes me feel as if it was so. I had calories to replace gosh darn it! (Please direct all discussion of trans fats and excessive consumption of sugar elsewhere. This was guilt free consumption for me as I am a follower of the indulge just a little from time to time so as not to suddenly find myself on a frantic feeding frenzy of sweets philosophy. The results of which could be horrific and most surely irreversible.) But let's move on...

The Kenyan and I had our last "long run" pre-marathon this Sunday. Well long for him, not so long for me. He ran 20 and I accompanied for the first 12. Now before you start judging my lack of character for abandoning the Kenyan on his first 20 miler and opting instead for a pastry delicacy of sorts, you should know that our marathon is this Saturday. And though truly deep down in my heart, I wanted to be there to support him on this running challenge hills and all, I have Chicago to make up for and would like to at least be rested enough to finish. So, as oh so many running gurus will tell you to do the week of the marathon, I'm tapering.

The Kenyan on the other hand, not so much so. You see, he has been down and out since about our marathon relay in Detroit with an ankle injury two weeks ago. With the exception of one 10 mile run mid-late last week, he's only run one other time and instead has been swimming, biking and working out on the elliptical machines like a mad man, as hard a he possibly can, dripping with sweat when he finishes. Despite this, in all honesty, I had my doubts about him and this 20 miler and so therefore doubts about whether or not he'd be joining me for the marathon.
The plan was we'd run 12 together at my pace (10:30ish) then I would hang out, have a recovery snack (donut) and join him on the last mile to help drag him up the Sahara, which for those of you who are not familiar would be the last long hill on the course I run with a seemingly never ending gradual incline and not a single tree to give you the mildest bit of relief from the baking sun (yeah we named it one summer, not quite the same monster it is during the hot months, but the name sticks).

So as we began to near the 12 mile mark and my departure, suddenly and uncontrollably the mom in me kicked in. "Ok Kenyan," (actually I used his name, but for dramatic effect we'll use his alias) "now this is how I suggest you finish. Stick to this pace at least 'til you hit the last 4 miles (his longest run prior to this was 15 just fyi) and see how you feel. If you're still feeling good, then you can start to pick up your pace a little bit keeping in mind you've got four hills in those last four miles including the Sahara on the last mile. Watch your speed as you come down the hills in these middle miles so you don't end up running a faster pace then you intended. I'll pick you up on your last mile. Here take this gel and put it in your pouch. Yes, I know you don't need it. But just take it with you so I'll feel better. If you start to feel a cramp or weak or loopy in the head (that's an official medical symptom), it'll be there. I'm also going to give my dad (aka accompanying mobile mile marker) a salt packet just in case. Yes, I know you won't need that either. Humor me. Maintain pace." (Aren't you so glad you're not my running partner?)

Then with a deep breath, I left. Hoping the Kenyan would in fact turn out to be a Kenyan and not human like the rest of us after all because basically the dude has broken about every rule in the book when it comes to marathon training and the consequences of this scare me. For example: don't add mileage too quickly (5 miles at a time), replace fluids & electrolytes (um...for 15 miles he took a couple of swigs of gatorade despite his salt coated hat at the finish), replace calories & replenish glycogen stores on long runs ("nah, I don't really like those gels"), rest days ("huh?"), eat breakfast before long runs ("toast and coffee ok?"), eat and drink after your run ("no thanks, I don't really need a banana, but could you warm up this coffee for me") some runs SHOULD be slow/recovery runs ("well, I didn't run the WHOLE thing as hard as I could").

After eating that much discussed already donut and updating his wife via text message on his progress, I drove to mile 13. He still looked good and was...gasp...shocker of all shockers, maintaining pace something that has been proven as a challenge at least for this Kenyan who frequently lacks the ability to suppress his inner sprinter. Then I headed over to my mom's for a pit stop and to meet my husband who was going to go along for the ride to cheer the Kenyan to the finish. We picked him back up at mile 18 where he was still...say it with me now...maintaining pace. Alright Kenyan! But his stride was definitely looking labored and I thought to myself...hmmm...does even the Kenyan have his limits?

When he hit the 18 mile marker, I hit my watch to start recording his splits again, then I hopped out of the car and joined him. "Well, how's it going?" I asked "I'm definitely working." he told me. We chatted a bit more, or rather I chatted a bit more while he ran it out, then I told him I'd see him at 19. My husband ran with him for the next 1/2 mile. I moved the car closer to the last mile marker and was shocked when they got there quicker than I expected. 9:30 was his split. Now there's only a downhill on that mile, which might have contributed to his increase in pace but still his stride was looking better, less labored.

I met him and we started the climb up the Sahara. About 1/2 way I realized we were running pretty quick for an uphill and I of course assumed it was my fault since I was not the one who had just run 19 1/2 miles. Not wanting to push him faster than he was wanting to go, I decided to fall back a step and run at the Kenyan's heels which is when I realized that I was in fact not the one who was picking up the pace. It was him.

Coming down the back side of the hill he continued to do so and by the time we reached the last about 200 meters or so to go we were getting pretty close to sprinting pace (at least for me) at which point I turned to the Kenyan and said, "listen, if you want to sprint out this last little bit you go on ahead and do so, but I'm not warmed up anymore and no chance I'm pulling anything on this last mile less then one week prior to the marathon." The Kenyan said not a word, but went ahead and set the land speed record in that last little bit. Mile 20...8:00. I kid not.

And come on now fasties, you've got to admit even for you all that is slightly impressive. I mean a dude who's in shape from other activities (biking, swimming, etc) but really only just started running within the last couple of months, who's done 10 miles a couple time and 15 miles only once can finish his 20 mile run with an 8:00 minute mile. And you ready for this, his ankle's alright and he's a little sore in the upper thighs, but yeah he's doing just fine and ready to take on 26.2 this weekend.

So, I think I have all the proof I need. No birth certificate will be necessary for verification. I have somehow managed to find myself running with a Kenyan. **Sigh**now if only I could keep up...

'Til next time...

P.S. Don't forget you are all invited to run with me on Thanksgiving for even if you're not in my area or even my country. It's any race, anywhere, anytime! You are welcome to walk if you can't run, or cheer someone on if you can't walk. If you can't do either of those things but would still like to help, we could still use your donation to sponsor another runner. Every little bit helps! Click here for all the details (feel free to skip the silly post and just scroll down to the Run 4 Cathy details if you're short on time and I've already wasted enough of it, for today anyways ;-)