Monday, May 30, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

After two days of rain and relative coolness, it's rather warm this morning, which makes me less optimistic than I was two days ago when I started this post.

"What?" You may be asking. "Alice likes rain and cold?"

Generally speaking, no. I don't care much for rain and cold.  I moved to San Diego 20 some years ago because I was tired of the never-ending winters in Reno, but this year, especially this year, I would be pretty happy about the weather staying cool for another week or so.

To be more precise. I'd REALLY appreciate cool weather on Sunday, for the RnR 1/2 Marathon.

For me, the number one determiner (after actually being prepared for a race) of how well I will run is the weather. Last year, I was pretty well prepared for the RnR 1/2, but on race day, it was hot and humid, and in the 10th mile, I melted--ended up with a 2:27 1/2 mary, which wasn't horrible (for me), but wasn't what I was aiming for either.

So, I've been VERY interested in the weather reports this week. Right now, it looks like there are two cold fronts moving through the area this week. The NOAA website notes:

In other words, a thicker marine layer (i.e. fog)...which suits me just fine.

This has been a rather atypical Memorial Day weekend for us. Yes, it's been busy, but none of the Memorial Day Weekend, kick off the summer activities that would be deemed typical.

  • Saturday was the last long run for the SDTC's Rockin' and Runnin' training program. We ended the training season with a run of the UCSD campus that started at RIMAC (it's an acromym for something. I don't know what, but its the name of the sports complex on the UCSD campus.)
  • Overslept and was late to the workout because My alarm clock (Aka Walter) was in LA this weekend with DramaGirl for Cal Cup, a field hockey tournament.
  • Arrived too late for the group warmup and stretch, so I had to stop along the way a couple of time to stretch. 7.53 miles in 1:22 - 10:52 pace - Not bad.*

  • Along the way (about Mile 4),  two young girls pulled up beside me in their car and asked me for directions to RIMAC (yep...the place I'd just left). I must have looked like I knew where I was going. Anyway, I've run and biked at UCSD plenty of times, so I was too confident, gave them what I thought were good directions because that was where I was going, but realized as I turned right onto Scholar's Drive, that I'd and neglected to tell them about this particular right, and probably sent them off campus...GAH. 
  • Arrived back at RIMAC, listened to Thom Hunt, our final speaker, give excellent advice for race day...lots about conserving energy in the early miles (something I am just horrible at and needed to hear...but HOW????).
  • Drove home, took Turbo to breakfast at a place called La Mesa Bistro, which (I did not know this) a sister-restaurant to one of our favorite breakfast places in Encinitas, Honey's.
  • Took Turbo to basketball practice. 
  • Got a pedicure. 
  • Took Turbo to dinner.
  • Crashed
  • Took Turbo to Game 1 of his basketball tournament
  • Napped. Tried to write blog, but was too tired.
  • Took Turbo to Game 2 of his basketball tournament
  • Napped again.
  • DramaGirl and Walter arrived home from Cal Cup.
  • Got dressed and took DramaGirl, her BFF, Turbo, Betty's daughter and her BFF to see GLEE!
Betty's daughter and her friend. Do they look old enough to be high school graduates to you? Me either...

Me and the kids..really happy but unable to hear after the concert...which was AWESOME, RAD, AND EXCELLENT! (there do I sound young and hip with it?)

We had really excellent seats thanks to goddess Penny, who once again helped me to get tickets to the sold out San Diego show...thanks so much are THE BEST!
  • Got home...Crashed
Woke up late this morning (can you blame me?) and have absolutely nothing planned for the day. I think I'll do a quick run on the 'mill (it's too late to run outdoors...too warm). As you all know, it's hard to taper. I have all this energy and don't want to sit still...but I need to (that's what Coach Thom said).

Six days to the RnR 1/2... Help me pray for cool weather next Sunday.
* The Garmin distance/time is about 1/2 mile less than my "reported" time because when I stopped to stretch at about 1/4 mile, I either stopped my Garmin and neglected to start it again (likely), or it inexplicably stopped on it's own (less likely, but Irene's did pretty much the same thing...stopped for no apparent reason). I have my Garmin on AutoStop, so I don't know why I would have manually stopped it. Anyway, I used MapMyRun to track the same distance and it was about 1/2 mile more. Then I looked at my Garmin and subtracted the moving time from the actual time elapsed (about 5:30...which sounds about right to me. The first couple of miles were SLOW). In other words, it was a freeking algebra problem to figure it out...see BBJ...actual algebra IN USE!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh the shame, the shame...

Runners are pretty hard core and most of us have a pretty high tolerance for pain and/or discomfort. Even courageously so. Some of us have been known to stubbornly run races with fractured feet. (Not that I'm calling you out Diana... You know I love ya, and I'd have done the same thing...OK, let's be honest here...I have done the same thing...).

Some continue to run, even when the shiz is running down the legs.
From this year's Boston Marathon...I've never gotten to this stage...but lord knows it's been close a few times
I documented on several occasions on this blog, that I'll stupidly courageously through a fair amount of pain, like the time two years ago when I ran the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon with an injured IT Band, an experience that resulted in this beauty...
OH yeah...that's pretty. I still have scaring from it.
I've run sans toenails, with pulled tendons, sore muscles, clicky knees, intestinal distress, plantar fasciitis, the occasional hangover, and I've proven on multiple occasions, that I can, even if I haven't trained enough, just endure and finish a race if I have to.

I'm just that stupidly courageously stubborn.

But there's one place, where I have, apparently, no tolerance for pain or discomfort.

The dentist

(da, da, da, dummmmmmmmm)

Don't get me wrong, I just found a fabulous dentist. During the procedure, I had a massage. (seriously, you can request a massage therapist to keep you relaxed...heck ya!) I listened to tunes. I could have watched a movie, but decided not to. I had a neck pillow. The dentist, his hygenist, and the staff does just about everything to make sure that the patients are comfortable (or as comfortable as one can be at the dentist).

It's not him. It's me. Apparently, I'm a wuss.

I don't know why, but as I get older, I seem to have less and less tolerance for dental work. This morning, a couple cavities and a cap required (I kid you not), four shots of Novocain.

After the third shot of Novocain, I could still feel that shooting-sharp pain from the drill,  I actually told my dentist "just let me know how much longer you have to drill. I can bear it for a 10 count. I'VE RUN A MARATHON! I can do this!"

I'm pretty sure I took him by surprise, but he suggested that I try nitrous oxide instead.

I thought to myself, "What? Does he think I'm making this UP and it doesn't really hurt and all I need to do is relax? Did I mention that I RAN A MARATHON? I'M RUNNING A 1/2 NEXT WEEKEND? I am NOT A WIMP!"

Yeah, that sort of bravado was all in my head. On the outside, I was a mess, so, since I was near having a teary melt-down, I opted for the nitrous oxide, which was an admittedly good buzz.

I will also say, that most of this blog was a HECKUVA LOT FUNNIER in my head as I drafted it in my head under the Nitrous haze.

BTW...even with the nitrous, I needed another shot of Novacain, which proves that I was NOT JUST MAKING IT UP!

Surviving the dentist will surely make next Saturday's 1/2 Mary seem like cake...right?

LOL...The shame...the shame...the shame...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Toes, Feet, Shoes

I've had this blog for about 3 1/2 years, and I wish I'd tagged all of my posts in which I write about feet, or some topic related to my feet with "feet" as I feel like I write about 'em often enough...

If I were to go back and look, I suspect I'd find that at least 3/4 of the posts tagged "injury" are about my feet...plantar fasciitis (pretty surprised I didn't use PF as a tag, but I didn't), a stress fracture, loss of toenails (there is a tag for "toenails"), blisters.

I've also written about what kinds of shoes I worn, what type of socks, orthotics, and some just mention plain-ole, sore feet.

Yep, lots of writing and thinking about feet and foot related topics...

When I run, I think about my feet A LOT! Some of the thoughts are cheers, like "keep going feet!" others are chastisements like "WFT is wrong with you NOW feet?"

I spent some time with the latter thought yesterday morning. We ran from Hospitality Point to Shelter Island and back. It was another beautiful, cool, overcast morning...just teasing us with perfect running weather.

I've seen this happen before...weeks of May-gray training and the hope for a June-gloom race morning, only to see a freak heat-wave hit San Diego the weekend of the race...pfffft.

This route is hillier than previous weeks because to run over the point means (like most of San Diego), you have to run over a hill.
I decided to wear the New Balance REVLite tester shoes again for the last "long run" before the June 5 Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon. I wore 'em last Friday when I ran with Irene and discovered that by about mile 10, the toe box felt tight. By mile 11, it was even tighter, and maybe I shouldn't wear them for a 13 miles. I don't want to be in pain for the last two miles.

But then I ran with DramaGirl on Monday at Lake BP in my Kayanos, and I could just feel the difference.
The NB REVLite is a tester shoe and doesn't have an identifier number on it, but from the best I can tell, it is the newer version of the 890, a neutral shoe which weighs 7.65 ounces
The Asics Gel Kayano, a stability shoe, weighs in at 10.4 ounces
In fact, I could really feel the difference on both counts...the weight difference and the stability thing. The Asics felt heavy and cumbersome. Apparently, that 3 oz difference is real, and 13.1 miles is a long enough way to feel that extra weight (yes, I could say the same thing about my own extra weight...I'm working on it).

The NB shoes are (according to their website and some other reviews I've read) designed to promote a mid-foot strike which seems to be working. The primary place I've noticed this is in my knees, which have been giving me problems this year. After running in the NB shoes, my knees don't seem as achy. When I run in the Asics, they do. Is this due to a mid-foot strike or just the lighter weight?

On the other hand, there are reasons I run in a stability shoe. I over-pronate, or at least that's what the video-shoe-dog-thingy at Road Runner Sports tells me. I've had had bouts with both Plantar Fasciitis for two years and a stress fracture in my right foot last winter. I'm told I need a stability shoe and not just by RRS sales guy. The first physical therapist I went to see for the PF told me that as well.

I've read the barefoot running argument that the shoe industry has a vested interest in convincing runners that we need x shoes and y inserts and all sorts of other supports for our feet and how we really don't need all the extra shoe-age. It sounds reasonable enough to me even though I'm not ready to pitch running shoes all together.

And there's still that narrower toe box...which is of some concern to me, you see I have a hammer toe...two of 'em actually.
See those crooked little toes? Had 'em all my life. So does DramaGirl (sorry 'bout that sweetie). It doesn't hurt or bother me...most of the time. Each one does have a toenail. Yeah...I know, I need a pedicure...whatevs...
On Saturday (oh yeah...back to that), I was wearing the NB REVLites and about two miles into what would be an 11 mile run, I started to feel something rubbing on the bottom of my left middle toe. I thought,

"WTF? Is that a blister? How could I be getting a blister only two miles into an 11 mile run?...SERIOUSLY?"

Eventually, it sorta went away, but when I got home and took off my shoes, there was dried blood everywhere.

Yeah, I know...YUK and TMI?

Turns out that my crooked little toe must have had a sharp toenail edge or a hangnail, or something that took a little chunk out of the back of my little toe. Eventually, the sharp whateveritwas was rubbed smooth, but the damage was done.

Would this have happened in a shoe with a wider toe box? Who knows. All I know is that it's never happened before, and now it has me wondering about shoes, and toes, and feet today.

So...two weeks before the race, the question is...Asics or New Balance?

PS...It was a pretty good last, long run. I think I can make it over the mile 11 wall that I have seemed to hit in the last two 1/2 marathons. I'll write about that later. 

PPS...finished the morning with a lovely breakfast with Irene, Mik, and her hubbs at The High Dive, best breakfast burrito in town. We did an experiment and drank beer instead of mimosas...
Mik, Hubbs, Irene. We discussed how mimosas do make for a pretty slow and sleepy Saturday and wondered if a 10am beer would have the same effect. Quite frankly, for me, it didn't...hmmmmm. Hubs had an Oatmeal beer that was really good. I had a Pale Ale...also nice.
PPPS...Two weeks to the RnR 1/2? OMG...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You know you've overindulged when...

...even though you ran almost 11 miles on Friday with Irene, and you burned, according to Daily Mile, about 1400 calories that day and 2600 calories last week, your stretch pants are just a TAD BIT TIGHT this morning because you've spent way too much time in the past two weeks enjoying family, friends, mother's day brunches and dinners.

This weekend's festivities started off with a long run on Friday morning instead of Saturday. I was kinda bummed about missing the SDTC long run on Saturday because the marathoners ran 20 to 22 miles this weekend, and I'd have loved to have cheered them on. I would have run 12 to 14 miles since I'm doing the 1/2 Marathon this year, but I remember this run well from a couple years ago. Also, selfishly, I miss the aid/water stations when I do long runs on my own. I don't like running with water. I have a belt, but I use it only if I really have NO. OTHER. CHOICE. Many of the places we run in SoCal have drinking fountains, but I can never get enough water from a fountain. All things being equal, I don't really enjoy doing a long run by myself and if left to my own, I'm entirely likely to cut a run short.

Then I got an email from Irene which ended with "see you Tuesday..." and I quickly remembered her saying something about having to work on three texts and an email or two later, and we'd made plans to run together Friday morning instead.

And to add to the benefit of running with someone else, Walter offered to meet us with water if we ran near his office, which is near the bay. SUHWEET!!!! 

Friday morning had perfect running weather (sigh...if only the May Gray and June Gloom would continue until June 5, but I've been teased by this before...May Gray for the whole month, only to have race day be sunny and clear by 9am...NOT helpful to me). We met at Harbor Island and set out along the bay. Our plan was to be at the Broadway Pier at 10:15 to meet Walter.
Yup...May Gray, pea soup.
Our route...
We were running at a pretty good pace, with both of us commenting on how had the other one not been there, neither one of us would have run as far or as fast. We ran past the Broadway Pier*, around The Embarcadero & Marina Parks to the end of the convention center and as we started to head back, I realized that we'd be at the Pier right around 10am, and not 10:15. I texted Walter to not worry about meeting us because we were ahead of schedule. Then as we neared the Pier, I noticed some guy running down the middle of the street with a grocery bag.

First thought..."Who is that NUT running down the middle of the street?"

Second thought (verbalized to Irene)..."Hey Look! There's Walter!"
Our own personal water station! When I first saw him, he was hauling down the center meridian to get ahead of us with our "aid"
Walter had brought us some Vitamin Water (I drank down 1/2 of it...clearly I needed some fluids...water fountains are just never enough).
My spastic picture of the Vitamin Water
What a great guy! We'd run about 7 miles at that point, and the water was definitely needed and I, for one, was grateful. It made the last four miles much easier.
Irene and I at our last "water fountain" stop
We ran back to Harbor Island and our cars. My Garmin said 10.75 miles. Irene's said something like strange is that? I think we should go with mine.

We topped off the morning with breakfast/lunch at Panera, before heading off home to do laundry (well, maybe Irene got to hers; I took a nap).

That night, I went to see Anna Devere Smith's one woman show Let Me Down Easy, which was absolutely fabulous, but of course, that was preceded by an awesome dinner at a downtown restaurant Dobson's. I had a really yummy mussel bisque soup en croute that must of been pure cream. Then yesterday we headed up to OC for my neice's first communion, which was of course followed by more food and drinks.

Thus, the tight pants this morning...all well worth it, but definitely necessitating a week of calming the heck down and lots of veggies!
* The Broadway Pier is the narrowest rectangular pier on the map...the second one from the top.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Want to, Have to, Need to...

The problem with regularly neglecting my blog, and then not posting for more than a week, is that just too many darn things happen, including the moments, which at the moment, I think would make good blog-fodder and so I take a picture (or two).

My computer is full of such photos.

Why not start off with the mimosa photo...taken this morning from Shades in Ocean Beach with Mik, Betty, Michael, Irene, Walter and me in attendance
I ran 10 miles last week, so I backed off to 8.5 this week. Next week, I'll run 12. It'll be my longest run before the Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon. Today was an easy run for me. I used the same "take it easy in the beginning" strategy. In fact, it was the same route that we did two weeks ago when I belly-flopped and skinned up my hand. Only this time I managed to not fall on my face.

Walter ran with me for most of the morning, but he decided to run to a friend's house. We'd been there two weeks ago on Sunday, and laughed that some morning, on one of our runs, we'd just drop by to say, "hello!" He dropped by. I did not. I flipped a U and headed back to the start to get my 8.5 miles in.

Last Sunday, Walter and I got to enjoy an absolutely fabulous sunset from the deck of our friends home. They have, according to Walter, "one of the best homes in San Diego." No lie. There is NO WAY to be on this deck and NOT have a beer...which is also what Walter did at 8:30 this morning.

Another random photo from last week....Last Saturday night, Betty and I met up with Kat at The Belly Up, in Solana Beach to listen to B-Side. Elsie's tenant plays in the band, but she was tired and we couldn't shame her into joining us. Betty and I had dinner with the hubbies before the show. As is their typical behavior, they did NOT join us on the dance floor. No matter... 
Also taken last Saturday morning...we ran on the Mission Beach boardwalk. I mentioned to Betty that it'd been awhile since I'd taken a sweaty picture of it. I'm sure she thinks she lucked out and that this lovely shot of us disappeared into my iPhoto folder. Betty and I had great runs that morning. I ran 10 and she ran 9.2.
Yet another, previously unpublished photo, taken last Friday when I rode my bike around Fiesta Island in the afternoon. It was a little windy, but overall a lovely ride. 
Then there are those events for which I have no photos...including:
  • Monday night: Dinner Club - Elsie asks the Ken Club bartender what kinds of wine are available. Bartender says, "We have red...and white." Elsie decides to have a cosmo. Bartender says, "excellent decision."
  • Wednesday night: Madge, Betty and I have dinner at Mona's new house. It is fabulous and Mona is an extraordinary cook. We eat and drink and laugh and eat some more. At 10:30, Walter texts me, "are you OK?"
So...where am I going with all of this?

It's been "Literary Arts Festival" week at the college where I teach. I have some really excellent, creative, hardworking colleagues who put it all together. This year, there were two writers who came to talk to students about writing in general, and to read their writing specifically. I went to listen to both readings.

The first was Dorothy Allison. She talked about how writers have to take risks, and to write about the things that make us just a little bit afraid. Fiction writers (and probably non-fiction as well) take these things, and then tell lies about them. 

Lord knows that I have been known to embellish some things on this blog. In retelling some of our adventures, I may change the order of events, mostly to clarify a story but also for comic effect ...but usually I just report (I NEVER embellish running stats). 

I do love the idea of writing about those things which make us afraid...or even just a little bit nervous. I think some of the best blog posts I've written were ones that made me nervous. The ones where I paused, even for just a bit, before I hit "Publish Post." There are certainly some things that I don't write about because it would be hurtful to someone I know. Most of these topics, however, generally have nothing to do with running. They're just ideas that I have in my head.

On Thursday night, I went to hear Roger Bonair-Agard. If you want to read his poetry, you can look here, but if you really want to get a sense of him as a poet, you have to see it. If you don't really like poetry, go see it anyway. It's really not going to be what you expect.

Anyway...he talked afterwards about being a writer who doesn't write because he wants to, but because he MUST write.  For most of us, we'll never make a living from this writing gig; writers write because we cannot imagine life without it. 

Listening to Dorothy or Roger talk about writing was both inspirational and also made me feel a little guilty that I'd been neglecting my blog. I ever expect to make a living from writing, but I write here now because I cannot imagine NOT writing, and that made me feel more writerly...sorta in the same way that running with the track club makes me feel like a runner...not the type of runner who is going to win awards, just the kind who runs because she needs to, they both made me feel more like a writer.

All of which makes for a lousy-boring-listy blog today, but it's something that I just had to do.