Monday, September 30, 2013

Just the Facts

I ran exactly zero miles last week.

I'm frustrated by my foot. When I take my pills, my stomach is too ravaged to run. When I don't take them, the pain creeps back and is just as devastating.

My interest level in completing my full in five weeks has dwindled to almost non-existent.

I'm seriously considering running the half instead, and pushing a full to December...more time to heal and rest.

I'm reading my blog list, but am too busy to leave meaningful comments, so I've been incommunicado.

My failure to complete my long run last weekend because of the baseball game from hell has basically sapped me of all motivation. That mental whammy went pretty deep.

Today was the first day I woke up and had even a little urge to run.

I'm worried I won't have time for a real taper because of the two long runs I've missed.

I'm trying to stay positive, but right now I feel like I'm in survival mode.

Keep on chugging, friends. I'm not sure what my plan is as of right now, but I'm seriously weighing my options and trying to be realistic.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Scenes from the Run

On Friday, the Rays had their longest game ever in franchise history...18 innings.
We were there the entire time. (Well, Matt was there; I was sleeping in the car by inning 14.) We didn't get home until 3am. Needless to say, I didn't wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Saturday for my long run. I had been mentally preparing myself for this long AM run, and missing it really threw me off and wreaked some mental havoc. I decided to try to salvage it in the evening.
I'm such a rebel.
This didn't go as planned. There were quite a few factors that led to the run being pretty damn awful; it was the first bad run I've had in awhile. I don't want to get into all the factors, but the most detrimental was that the top of my foot started hurting again. I had to stop to retie my shoes multiple times, and ended up cutting the run short. Really short.

(I stopped taking the NSAIDs for a couple days because my stomach was just not happy, but after the pain came back yesterday, I went back on them. Frustrating.)
I passed at least a dozen deer on the run.
But the bright side was that I got to enjoy the golf course and beautiful scenery of my parents' neighborhood, so at least there was that.
I also passed quite a few squirrels who were not at ALL afraid of me.
 I had taken the golf cart out earlier to scope out drinking fountains, but only found two. I'd left my fuelbelt at home, a terrible mistake for a potential 18-miler, but thought I could make due with just two water stops if I was strategic about reaching them.
Part of the path I ran. The fun thing about running golf courses is that you get some hill work in there, too!
Unfortunately, I wasn't strategic. Carrying my Chomps was a pain because I didn't have the fuelbelt, and they all melted together and were hard to take. Plus I had to wait to hit the drinking fountains to take them, so my timing was totally off.

I was sluggish, dehydrated, and nursing my foot. (And don't get me started on the stomach issues I dealt with yesterday.) So, yeah, not at all a good run.

I'm hoping this foot pain was just a fluke, because the more rest I need to take, the less likely I'll be able to run the marathon in November, and I'm starting to worry it's not going to heal in time.

But at least I got out there. This week can only be better.

How was your long run this weekend?
How do you come back from a rough run?
What kind of wildlife do you see on your runs?
Is it fall for you yet? It's still in the 90s and humid here. I can't wait for a break in temperature.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy Thoughts

Thanks for all the well-placed pants-kickings on my last post! I had a really fantastic night run on Tuesday; sometimes I need to remember that just because my run didn't get done when I wanted it to, it doesn't mean the entire day is busted. Night runs count, too.

Still, I'd like to get back into taking care of my running in the morning. I have a long run planned for Saturday AM and that should get me back on track for morning runs (I hope).

Today's post is dedicated to happy thoughts.

1. Breakfast for dinner. I spent all of Saturday torturing myself by watching Man vs. Food and Bizarre Foods and other Travel Channel food-related shows. I'm a masochist. By the end, I was craving breakfast. I texted Matt to bring home the bacon - literally - and we had a huge brinner at sundown.
Breaking the fast the right way.
2. Typical Archie, claiming his best perch to preen and be the biggest (and cutest) inconvenience possible.
He's lucky he's cute.
3. The perfect Harry Potter-themed pep talk EVER.
She's speaking my language.
4. Grits and peaches...Who knew this was the perfect combo and pre-run meal?!
Utterly delicious.
5. A fantastic evening run over my favorite bridge. Last time I ran the bridge I had to stop halfway because of the heat. It's cool enough now that I was able to run it twice on a five-miler. My legs were so excited to be outside in "cool" weather that they just took off; the run was just the right amount of challenging, liberating, and fun.
Post-storm, 75-degrees. Perfection.
6. Sneaky students. They've been making these loom bracelets for each other and distributing them in class. Just as I admonished a student for being a distraction, she held up a baggie with a bracelet inside, marked just for me. "But I made you one!" Well played, kid.
It even matches my running shoes!
7. New Bic Bands! These things NEVER slip or pinch! I'm so excited to try a slightly thicker band, and I love that the polka-dot one will match anything! And who can say no to hot pink animal print?
7. Heather's awesome and humbling shout-out to me (specifically, my post for Suicide Prevention Week) during her half marathon, as seen on her blog.
Seriously awesome. Check out her race recap at
 Also making me happy this week? 8. One of my best friends (who I've known since I was three and who was one of my bridesmaids) just got engaged, 9. I'm going to a Rays game with Matt and my brother Friday, and 10. I get to do my long run this weekend at my parents' house, where the paths are gorgeous and never fail to inspire.

Bonus #11? Lots of new music! I had to wipe my iPhone, so now my playlists are fresh and new! I can't wait to listen to them all.

What are your happy thoughts this week?
Do you like breakfast for dinner?
Were you ever a sneaky student who knew how to play the game? (C'mon, mischief-makers, share a school-day story with me!)


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stumbling Block

This week has been a bust so far. I have to remind myself it's only Tuesday, because I feel like it's already mid-week and I haven't run yet.

It's because I've had four days off.
I feel like a fraud.
I took Saturday off in order to fast, and spent Sunday hungry and exhausted as a result. I did some paddleboarding Sunday, but only to try some new boards; I was hardly on the water for an hour. I have no legitimate excuses for Monday or this morning.

The weather is finally nice here in the mornings (and, honestly, even in the evenings!) so I should be happy to be running. But of course, little wrenches in my plans have thrown off my schedule. Grocery shopping, dinner-cooking, and an earlier sunset have really made it hard to get on track again.
Hopefully admitting this will set me back up for success this week! One thing marathon training has taught me: I enjoy too much OTHER stuff in life to dedicate myself to a training schedule. It kind of sucks, but that's just how I am.

So I need to learn to work around it and make it work, because I want to run this marathon, and I want to do it knowing I put my full effort behind it.

How do you get out of bed in the dark, cold morning hours?
Tell me to suck it up. I need it.


Friday, September 13, 2013

G'mar Hatimah Tovah

For the first time since I turned 13 and had my bat mitzvah, I'm a little torn. I always fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It's the holiest of days in the Jewish religion, a 24-hour period of self-deprivation and fasting meant to show your contrition and set the new year up on a good foot with G-d.

This is also the holiday during which we take time to make right the wrongs we've perpetrated throughout the year. In the Jewish religion, it's imperative to receive forgiveness from those you've hurt; forgiveness cannot come from a third party. Yom Kippur isn't exactly a happy, warm, cuddly holiday. It's a holiday about self-reflection and brutal, hard honesty.
Sunrise over Masada in Israel, 2012.
I, like many other Jews, fast during Yom Kippur. But this is the first year I've had to weigh my yearning to fast with my training schedule. I did a run last year after fasting that left me feeling weird and unsteady. If I fast, even if I plan to move my long run from Saturday to Sunday, I don't think my body will be ready for 17 miles.

So what comes first? My cultural and spiritual identity, or my commitment to myself?
The Western Wall in Jerusalem, 2012
Pushing back my long run would be good for my foot, too, so I guess there's a lot going in favor of choosing to fast and take the weekend's expectations down a notch.

Either way, I plan to do a nice, short run tonight. I love running on holidays. I love having the time to reflect and turn my gaze inward. But I can't run too long, because by the time I'm done, I won't be able to refuel.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Here's to a good new year.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Foot News

Today I had my follow-up appointment at the podiatrist. It didn't go exactly how I wanted it to.

Let's back up a bit. Last Thursday, I got the order to have an ultrasound done, after I'd received the positive news that there was no discernible break in my foot. On Friday, the ultrasound ruled out any kind of tear. The theory was that I had a deep bruise.

I ran 15 miles Saturday (pain-free in the area that's been bothering me...after I laced my shoes a new way), but then decided to play it smart and took the rest of the week off (besides paddling on Sunday).

Last night, I went out for a run. I opted to wear my old shoes because I've been wearing my news ones exclusively since I got them. The moment I put my shoe on, I knew the issue wasn't gone. The burning pain at the top of my foot was still there. I relaced my shoes in the new way that's been helping and was able to run a nice four miles in the almost-fall-but-not-quite evening.

79 degrees and 40% humidity isn't that bad, really. And my legs were happy to be outside on real pavement!
I felt super cool with my flashing button light.
This morning, I had my followup. I told Dr. Chi that I felt the pain still there when I put my shoes on, but had to kind of "dig around" with my finger to find the trouble spot. He examined me and announced that the bulge we felt last week was definitely still there, but smaller.

New orders: run less (damn it), do more low-impact crosstraining, take my NSAIDs daily for a month, see him again. If it's still there, it's probably a Ganglion Cyst that can be drained, but I'll need an MRI to confirm that. Joy.

(I pretty much told him that unless he told me to stop running completely, I'd still be sneaking some in, and he told me to try my best to cut I feel like that's a green light, yes?)

Did I mention that even with insurance, this whole foot problem thingy is costing me an arm and a leg?

Anyway, here's hoping that I can scale back training but still be marathon-ready by November...and that I won't need an MRI and this issue will resolve itself with the help of anti-inflammatories.

Here's a little something to brighten your Thursday:
I think Archie wants my medals. (Click for video.)
How's your running going this week?
How do you deal with vague medical news?
Have you ever had a Ganglion Cyst? (I've heard they're pretty common.)


Monday, September 9, 2013

An Exceptionally Important Post

This post isn't about running...or it is, but not directly.

This week is Suicide Prevention Week. I've known so many people affected by suicide and depression - some of my favorite people, relatives, closest friends, myself - and no time is better than now to remind everyone that you're valuable and deserve to be here.

I'm not going to go deep into my own story. I don't know yet if I'm ready to air that dirty laundry. But I did battle depression for years, and sometimes I still fight with its sneaky undertow.

Running has made a huge difference in my life and has kept my depression at bay longer than it ever has been. It has helped to ease my anxiety, increase my self-worth, and balance my moods. I've talked a little about it here.

As a teacher, I see students struggling with depression to the point that it leads to self-harm, and that too is very familiar to me. It breaks my heart to see bright, funny, witty, intelligent, critical, and insightful young people battling internally.

The Bloggess has posted an excellent blog entry today full of helpful links and hotlines for anyone needing help and support. Remember that you are not alone; believe it or not, there are people out there who understand your pain and want to help you transcend it.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, please click her post.

Also, To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization geared towards raising awareness and support for teens dealing with depression, is working to remind us all about why we are irreplaceable. It's a great way to remind yourself that you have an impact and make a difference.
They're a great organization! If you are a teen - or know and love a teen - it's worth looking into.
 Another helpful site, especially this week, is PostSecret.

Remember that darkness passes. In the meantime, there are people out there who can help. Don't let depression silence you.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Long Run

So the official word on my foot is that the tendon is bruised. (This is great news!) I've been given exceptionally strong NSAIDs, and being the terrible patient that I am, I figured that if I wasn't feeling pain and could lace my shoe accordingly, I was good to run.

Today I woke up just knowing I would get my 15-miler in. It was just one of those wonderful doubt-free mornings. (I think getting the news that my foot wasn't fractured or badly injured really made me extra-excited to run today.)

I kept a nice even pace, and the first half of the run flew by. By mile 10 I was a little achy and in need of some distraction, but I never once though of cutting the run short.
Thank goodness for compression socks!
I had some tingling and aches in my toes, and my hips felt it a little bit. But I completed the 15 miles in 2:26:xx, with an average pace faster than my half marathon PR, so I was beyond pleased. I walked for fuel at 3.5, 7, and 10.5 miles, and took a little walk at 13.5 to wiggle my toes a bit.

I felt energized the entire way, and had no problems with breathing; my legs felt a little heavy toward the end of course, but I forced myself to pick up the pace in the last mile because I was so ready to be done!
Hurts so good?
Besides this milestone of the LSD being my longest run ever, I also took my first-ever ice bath! (Kind of.) I know studies show ice baths are mostly mental, but I think my feet definitely appreciated it. I foam-rolled, then used a tennis ball on the soles of my feet. Besides some twinges in my right hip, I'm feeling great!
This feels muuuch better! (Just ignore that pile of running shoes in the corner...Also, remind me to never give a thumbs-up ever again.)
I'm definitely looking forward to a rest day, though.

Do you have any runs or races this weekend?
What was your farthest long run in training? In a race?
How do you recover after a run leaves you achy?


Friday, September 6, 2013

10 Things You Learn When You Start Running

Earlier this week, my cousin posted an article on Facebook about the ten things that happen when you join cross-fit. I was pleasantly surprised and giggling as I read, not because I have ever tried cross-fit myself, but because every single item applied to running.

In my mind, I happily converted every word the author wrote into a running-related example. Here's my list, partially-plagiarized and tweaked.

1. You will find out how truly out of shape you are. I can clearly remember the beginning of my running days, and how difficult it was to run a full mile...the first few times out, I barely held a "running" pace for a minute before I needed a walk break. Here I was wearing small sizes and thinking I was probably fitter than my friends...and then running humbled me. Running has taught me to never judge others by how they look, because that dude with 30 years and 50 pounds on you may just be able to smoke you in a race.

2. You will realize how fat you and other regular people are compared to real athletes. Even training for a marathon, I avoid calipers like crazy. When I happen to see an honest-to-goodness athlete in the gym (or at a race) and they're 50 years old, toned up, slimmed down, and everything I want to be...Well, yeah. I'm definitely no elite athlete. And that's not to say that normal people are "fat", but elite athletes are seriously in a class of their own!
Keep your dignity intact and avoid these like the plague.
3. You will begin learning the lingo and using it without feeling like a dork:
  •  Fartlek
  • Tempo
  • Intervals
  • Pronation
  • Repeats 
  • Race pace
Need I say more?

4. Your friends and family will start Googling [running] and giving you warnings. If I hear one more person rant on how my knees are going to give out, or how marathoners drop dead at the finish line all the time, I may explode. Recent studies show that runners' knees and joints are actually healthy and strong, and few people die from over-exertion in running unless they have a health condition. It happens; it's tragic; it's rare. Isn't it ironic how the ones giving you the advice are always the worst of the couch potatoes?

5. You will get insanely good at counting. Figuring out your pace for beating a PR, your tempo pace, interval times, your race pace, your 800 pace, etc. takes a little mental math. Not to mention the last couple miles into a long run when you see "10.56" on your GPS and have to figure out how many miles left you have to hit your target of 13!

6. You'll begin to respect endurance and stamina. I I need to even comment on this? The farther I can run, the more respect and awe I have for those who have been running long distances since before I was even a runner. Every time I hit a milestone, I look up to see someone completing twice my distance. The ability to just keep going? That's truly amazing.

7. You will gain weight at first. Because suddenly you are rungry all. the. damn. time.
Sad truth: there were tons more food pics on my phone than just these.
8. You'll notice an uptick in energy, even when you're dead sore from [running]. The days I was running before work, I'd spend the day zippy and peppy, full of energy from the run. When I take too many rest days, my energy plummets. I know I'm not the only one! Sitting still becomes nearly impossible when in the midst of training.

9. You will learn about your mental weakness. You begin to realize, as you tack on mileage, that certain miles are harder than others. Jumping from 5 to 6 miles was tough, but 7 miles was a breeze. 9 miles was easy, but pushing to 10 - and seeing double digits - was mentally exhausting. Runners are notorious for superstition: the shoes we wear, the colors we race in, having our lucky headband, etc...these are crutches we create to combat perceived mental weakness. The best thing ever is breaking through it.

10. You will learn a lot about your mental toughness. Like I wrote in my guest post on Alyssa's blog See This Girl Run, you've got to just break down your mental barriers and learn to be mentally tough. Nike had it right all these years. Just do it. We are truly capable of doing so much more than we think we can; our minds give up long before our bodies do.

As Matt (my cousin, not my husband) pointed out, these things apply to any sport or exercise routine we undertake, especially if we stick with it long enough.
If you want an extra laugh, go read the comments on the original article. They're so negative - like most comments on things of that nature - and I just know that the negativity comes from a place of jealousy and bitterness. Nothing is stopping you, naysayers. Get out there and join in.

What would you add to this list?
What's the #1 "warning" you get about running from friends/family?


Thursday, September 5, 2013

L'Shana Tova

If you've been reading here for awhile, you know I love to run on holidays. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of my favorite time of year! The Jewish high holy days are a time for reflection, self-correction, and renewal of spirit. What better way to take stock than to run?
For a sweet new year!
Archie got in on goodness, too. (Then threw 3 slices on the floor. Jerk.)
Of course, I have a small hangup. After my podiatrist appointment today, I was reminded of how annoying injuries really are. I already have two more appointments in the next week, and because the good news is that the injury isn't dire, it's hard for me to resist the urge to run tonight.

The good news: There's nothing wrong with my bones. They did x-rays and there are no breaks or fractures at all.
Waiting for x-ray results. Doctor's office selfies are totally normal, right?
The bad news: At best I have an inflamed tendon, and at worst the tendon may be torn.

I was terrified today, because I know if I have to take two or more weeks off, I'll need to call off the marathon. I could still do the half, but my training would be too far behind to get back on track (safely and slowly) for the full.
We're looking at the extensor expansion attached to my big toe, the tendinous sheaths, and the inferior extensor retinaculum.
I'm mentally preparing myself for this possibility. I can still do a full in the future, but I've come so far in my's just such a disappointment. So, fingers crossed, prayers said, etc etc. I'm hoping the tendon is just inflamed and will be fine in a few days.

(My ultrasound is tomorrow, so I'll post an update if there's any news to share.)

In the meantime, I've got some super strong anti-inflammatories I can take...and knowing me, I'll be tempted to run today or tomorrow to celebrate the Jewish New Year if the pain dissipates with the medications.

(Nice sidenote: When I told the doctor I had pain last week but still did my 10 miles Monday because I just couldn't help myself, he chuckled, but didn't chastise me. I think I found a good one!)
I'm still doing low-weights and high-reps...I feel like for me, it's the way to go to avoid injury and support my main goal.
Last night I did some crosstraining, and decided to use the stationary bike for the first time. It felt really weird to be able to use my phone and not pay attention to a workout...Something about sitting while doing cardio just seems lazy to me. (I know I had it set at a really low level, but any workout that you can read during is just foreign to me!)
Post-workout chocolate milk. It's a must to match your cup to your headband, fyi.
It was nice to set time aside to do weights and core work for an hour; if I need to be off my foot for awhile, I'm going to have to face my fear of swimming in public and get in the pool.

How is your week going?
What is your favorite cardio (besides running, of course!)?
Favorite post-workout snack?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Not Exactly Name Brand...

I've loved The Oatmeal for years. When Matthew Inman wrote his blog post on ultra-marathoning, I was even more hooked. Then he came out with this beauty, a 6-part comic on long distance running, and I nearly died from fan-girling.

I immediately set out to purchase the tech shirt he designed. It came today, and was just what I needed as a pick-me-up!
Fuzzy photography courtesy of Matt. But Archie approves of the shirt!
Let's play "This Room Belongs to a Runner" I-Spy.
Running away from this fat little Lard Fairy is such a great motivator. Also, I hope to gross people out at the gym. (Matt is super grossed out by the shirt.) It's really comfy and light! Once it cools down, it will make a great addition to my wardrobe.

In not-so-good news, my 15-miler yesterday was cut to 10 because my foot was killing me. I tried to pad the hot spot, but to no avail. This morning there was an angry red bump where the pain is, but the bump is gone now. The pain isn't.
Hopefully this can be solved by a new lacing technique.
I have a podiatrist appointment on Thursday. Let's hope this isn't a fracture.

Have any weird running gear that just makes you smile?
Do you read any webcomics you just HAVE to share?


Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

What better day to have 15 miles scheduled than a day named for labor? I pushed my long run off this entire weekend because of all my little aches, and I plan to get those 15 miles in today instead.

Labor Day has kind of become a holiday that, for me, is rife with political implications. Rather than get into all that, I'm just going to say that I appreciate the people who work hard for little money and little recognition. The most thankless jobs are often the most important, and we build our country on the backs of those willing to do the under-appreciated work.

Anyway, Scott flew in from California for the long weekend, so Matt and I spent a couple days with his family. (I feel like lately I've been filling a lot of posts with a lot of non-running pictures...but how many screenshots of Nike+ can someone really take? Anyway, I think paddling counts as cross-training, so this is still a totally relevant post, right?)

We got in Saturday after lunchtime and met Scott and my MIL for bowling. Admittedly, I'm terrible at bowling, but I really love it. The most expensive part of bowling is renting shoes, but luckily Carole (my MIL) bought me my own pair a couple years ago, so now I'm all set!
Those little pinup girls are the cutest!
83 baby...Bowling is like golf, right? The lowest score wins?
Yes, my first frame I got a gutter ball and came back by knocking down a very impressive ONE pin.

After bowling, the boys' aunt joined us and we had dinner at JoTo's, a hibachi steakhouse we're kind of obsessed with. It's our go-to place when family is visiting. I was too mesmerized by my food to take any pictures, but we were able to get one at the end of the night.
After stuffing our faces.
Our plans for Sunday included kayaking, and I decided to bite the bullet and giving paddleboarding another try. In case you're new to my blog, let me reiterate that I am terrified of open water. I hate anything that lives in water. I have legitimate panic attacks when I think we're anywhere near a manatee.

But Matt loves SUP and so many of our friends love it, so I need to learn to at least be comfortable with it.

We ended up having a great time. We stayed in the bay area so it wasn't too deep, and we spent some time going through the mangrove tunnels. I even got in the water for a bit to cool off!
Gazing off into the distance and imaging one day being able to afford one of the gorgeous mansions lining the bay.
Like a pro!
Keeping an eye out for manatees in the water.
Scott gave Matt's board a try.
These birds follow paddlers because we stir up fish as we go, making lunchtime a breeze!
 By the end of the day, I was so comfortable I was able to do planks on the board, and moving from standing to sitting was easy as pie!
My form is a little off, but for planking on a paddleboard, I think I did a pretty good job!
Mangroves are protected and it's illegal to cut them, but these tunnels are somehow always maintained enough to kayak/paddle through. The shade is a nice treat, and there's something truly spiritual and ethereal about floating beneath the branches. It's quiet and calm and simply perfect.
I had to kneel in the tunnels so that I wouldn't get whacked in the face by the branches.
Basically, this was a great day of cross-training and fear-smashing!

After a very full day, we had dinner and then departed to go back home. We didn't get in until almost 10pm. Needless to say, I didn't want to get up at 5am to run this morning, so while I have a long run on the docket, I'm planning to do it later on.

What did you do for Labor Day weekend?
Have you ever paddleboarded?
Do you have any hobbies that you love, but stink at?