Thursday, December 13, 2012

ITBS Stands for…

Frankly, I think ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) is aptly acronym’d:  dealing with the IT is total BS.  But, I am happy – though cautiously hesitant – to report that I seem to FINALLY be kicking my stupid bout with IT BS in the butt!

Here’s what’s gone into what I think of as “reprogramming” my IT Band…

~ Dumping the orthopedist in favor of a chiropractor.  The ortho just wasn’t that into my injury, if you will; he pretty much told me to keep up with the physical therapy exercises I’d been doing, ice it when it hurt, and maybe just accept that my body can’t do long distances.  I’d never before seen a chiro, but a good friend has seen a total reversal in her major neck problems form chiropractic care and I was running out of other options, so I looked up chiros covered by my insurance, picked one and hoped for the best.  I got very lucky – my pick happens to be a runner, is married to a triathlete, and treats a number of runners and dancers.  SCORE!  From the first visit, Dr. Miracle showed great understanding of the problem, my time-frame for recovery, and how important it is to me to beat this.  Over the past month, she’s seen me weekly and has used targeted massage, electro-therapy, spinal and hip adjustments and active resistance maneuvers to speed healing, reduce inflammation and get things back in alignment.  I was enormously skeptical, but I can’t express how pleased I am with what she’s accomplished!

~ Switching shoes.  That’s right – Cindylocks STILL had it wrong.  As I thought long and hard about possible triggers for ITBS, it occurred to me that it wasn’t getting any better in high-drop stability shoes… whereas I’d seen some improvement pre-Tower of Terror 10-Miler in more minimalist, low-drop neutral shoes.  So I tried the Brooks PureFlow again, this time a half-size smaller, and feel like they’re a much better fit for my mid-foot running style.

~ Not making stretching into a competitive sport.  If it hurts, it’s too much,  ‘Nuff said.

~ Changing my status to “in a relationship”… with my foam roller.  With apologies to Peter, Paul & Mary - If I had a foam roller I'd foam roll in the morning, I'd foam roll in the evening, all over this land…  I foam roll my IT Band area.  I foam roll my glutes.  I foam roll my quads.  I don’t foam roll my calves – I use a wooden rolling pin for that.  I foam roll in the morning, after a hot shower.  I foam roll before running.  I foam roll after running.  My foam roller’s gotten more action in two months than I’ve seen in 10 years.  Is it helping?  Who knows.  It’s not hurting, and things are improving, so I’ll keep rolling with it. 
I returned to running once all pain and inflammation had gone away.  Thanksgiving morning, at Walt Disney World, Leo and I went for a good long walk, taking the nature path from the Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness, circling around the Fort, then returning to the Lodge – a total of 2.33 miles.  I mostly walked, but ran a little… with no pain for the first time since August.  From there, I’ve slowly but steadily built up my mileage to a 5-mile long run last weekend.  I’m aiming for 6 miles tomorrow.  I’m doing two short runs and one short walk mid-week with a long run on Saturdays.  I’m still walking a lot more of each “run” than I’d like, but I’m being very careful not to push for too much too soon.  I may not be able to run nearly as much of the Princess Half-Marathon as I’d once thought I would, but I’m starting to feel like I can, indeed, finish.

Go me!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Jingle Jungle 5K - Race Recap

I am way, WAY overdue for a race recap on Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.  But it’s a tough one about which to write.  Though I can sum it up succinctly: It. Sucked. Royally.

To be clear, the race didn’t suck due to any wrongdoing by runDisney.  Nope, they did a superb job of putting this one together!  What sucked was my injured state.  And my child’s attitude.

My bout with IT Band Syndrome is already well documented in my blog, so I won’t rehash that.  Suffice it to say that I was still battling it and shouldn’t have run at all that day.  But I hadn’t been running in almost two weeks and felt great at the start.  Aaaaaand… look what corral we were put into:

Pictorial evidence.. 'cause it'll never happen again.

How can anyone start in corral A and not run the start of a race?!  I have no idea how we wound up there, but I wasn't about to be the only person walking through the start in A.  Pride cometh before a fall, right?

My son, Leo, didn’t train for this race at all.  I forced him to run with me a few times, but he was so miserable, I stopped bothering.  Still, he wanted to do the race and was excited about it, despite having had a very difficult week prior thanks to a burgeoning pre-teen ‘tude.  On race morning, he was sullen and sulky.  He was cold, but refused to do any stretching or moving around to warm-up.  He said he wanted to be there, but frowned and complained about the loud music.  He did perk up some once we started running, though.

The course itself was okay.  Lots of parking lot, lots of backstage area of Animal Kingdom (AK), and a little of the park, much like the course for the 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge we ran in May.  It was MUCH nicer to run the AK in daylight, though.  I never noticed as a slow-moving park guest just how lumpy, bumpy and uneven most of those walkways are… but I sure noticed as a runner!   Between scanning the ground before me and keeping track of both Leo and the pack of other runners, my mind was too busy to notice the growing pain in my knee until it was too late. 

Hi. My knee feels like someone's trying to rip it out, piece by piece. But looky how cute I am!

Despite a good deal of walking, by the second mile, I was way beyond “discomfort” and every other step was pure agony.  It ruined the race, as nothing could distract me from that pain.  I wanted to feel elation when we rounded a turn and saw the Finish, but all I felt was a loud cry from my knee, “Oh sweet mercy, we’re almost DONE!!!”  Adding salt to the wound, Leo shook me off when I reached for his hand to hold as we crossed the finish line.

I know he’s 10 and I get that he’s moody, temperamental and seeking independence.  But I was really hurt by his refusal to help his mom across the finish.  Doing my best to dam the flood of tears threatening to overflow, I accepted my very-cool medal, grabbed a water and snack box and led the way out of the finish chute.  I even managed to smile for a picture with Leo and our medals.  I made it to a medical tent for ice and we ate our snacks in equally icy silence in the middle of the parking lot.

My unofficial finisher's photo.

Finally, I explained to Leo how upsetting it was for him to refuse my hand at the end and asked him why he’d done that.

“I just didn’t feel like it,” he shrugged.

Ah, boys.  They say what they mean, and they mean what they say.  He just “didn’t feel like it.”  It wasn’t a commentary on his feelings at the time, nor was it a belligerent attempt to tick-off his mom.  We had a continued discussion about taking time to think of how our actions affect others and, on my part, not taking every little thing so personally.  Leo gave me a big hug, helped me to my feet, and asked, “So, we’re gonna go do some rides now, right?”

Oy.  I had indeed promised that we’d hit a few rides after our race, before going back to our hotel to rest and clean-up.  I’d been hoping my knee would be numb enough by then that I’d not feel the pain, like had happened after the Tower of Terror 10-Miler a month earlier… but no.  I winced with every other step, sucking in big breaths with the stabbing pain as we walked slowly toward the park entrance.  It remained at or around that level of pain throughout the day, finally abating with a double dose of Aleve, followed by a martini. Don’t judge.

My culminating thoughts on the race?  The Jingle Jungle was part of the Wine & Dine Half-Marathon weekend festivities, so Disney had a lot of race-type folks to handle all weekend.  Packet pick-up and the expo were really well-engineered – plenty of space for all and easily navigated.  The race logistics, too, were really well handled.  Putting us into lettered corrals was a nice touch, even if we did all start at the same time; it made for a lot less craziness at the start than I’d seen with either the Everest Challenge or the Royal Family 5K.  A metric ton of volunteers were fantastic cheerleaders, helpers and directors – they deserve a big round of applause.  And the Jingle Jungle medals were pretty darned spiffy.


I’m not real sure we’ll do another runDisney 5K anytime soon.  For one thing, the cost is prohibitive.  The registration fee for the 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge has almost doubled to$110 per person.  That’s INSANE for a 5K distance.  Sure, it includes an after-party at the AK, but we’re Floridians with annual passes; we can go to AK any time without extra cost.  And, honestly, I’m finding that I enjoy the quiet solitude of my training runs so much more than the overstimulating, crowded conditions of Disney races.  Our local races are much closer approximations of my soothing training runs – only, you know, faster.  And.  Cheaper.  By a lot.  Add in one cranky pre-teen boy and I’m pretty unwilling to shell out a bunch of cash for a short race at Disney. We’ll see…

Still, I have that Princess Half-Marathon looming in the ever-decreasing distance.  Will my stupid leg EVER get better?  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You Gotta Know When to Walk Away…

(With all due respect to Mr. Kenny Rogers, of course)

After weeks of great, pain-free mid-week runs of 2.3-2.5 miles followed by Saturday “long” runs that hobbled me in pain before 2 miles, I had a little break-down this week and swore off running for an indeterminate amount of time.

I know that time off won’t do squat for my IT Band Syndrome.  This isn’t about taking time to heal an injury.  This about the mental and emotional side of running.  I run for a number of reasons, but chief among them are the happiness I experience form accomplishing a goal and the emotional relaxation I gain from a good, long run.  I’m not getting either of those things from running lately.  Instead, I spend all day leading up to a run fretting and stressing over if and when pain will strike.  And when it inevitably does, I limp home feeling unsure, defeated and emotionally fragile.  NOT good.

So I’m taking a week, maybe two, to engage in physical activities that bring about joy and pleasure, that make me feel awake, alive and mentally calm.  I spent over an hour Saturday lost in the rhythmic repetitions of ballet barre work and came away feeling strong, secure and focused.  THAT’s what I need right now.

Of course, the Jingle Jungle 5K at Disney World hovers on the horizon, only days away.  But I talked with my son, Leo, and we agreed to make it a fun race: we’re dressing to the nines, we’ll be stopping for pictures, and we’ll run when it feels good, walk when it doesn’t.  Frankly, it’s a huge relief to be going into a race with no goal and no ambition in mind beyond a fun time!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cindylocks and the Three Running Shoes: A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time, in a suburban sprawl not so far away, there lived a middle-aged lady named Cindylocks.  In a second-floor condo made of stucco, Cindylocks toiled away her evenings, running near and far in shoes that never quite seemed “just right.”

One day, Cindylocks ran virtually away from home (possibly motivated by a hormonal and cantankerous 10-year-old child).  She traveled across the country via Internet, searching the land for a shoe that would make her run fast, go far, and eliminate every ache and pain in her over-40-year-old body.

First, Cindylocks found a cotton-candy-pink shoe that cradled her feet in plush comfort and made her feel every inch the Princess she dreamed of someday being.  She ran 10 miles in them one damp, warm night and proclaimed them to be “too soft.”

Brooks PureCadence

Next, Cindylocks came across a shoe that gleamed like an un-ripened lime in the noonday sun.  They were firm and stable, keeping Cindylocks’ delicate feet in militaristic formation.  She ran one mile in them and declared them to be “too hard.”

Nike Lunarglide +4

Discouraged, Cindylocks considered never running again.  Her knee hurt; her feet were grumpy; and she hadn’t slept-in on a “long run” Saturday in six months.  But as she returned the previously purchased shoes, another pair caught her eye.  Mint green with silver and tomato accents, they promised to match not a single item in her wardrobe, but something about them called to Cindylocks and she found herself unable to resist the pull.  She slipped first one, then the other, shoe upon her outstretched feet, adorned in manageable, every-day socks that were far thinner than her special running socks.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 8

Cindylocks took a step, then another.  She walked around her dining table thrice.  She strode across the ragged, shoud’ve-been-replaced-5-years-ago-belt of her treadmill for one mile.  She took the third pair of shoes on the open road and found her step to be lighter, swifter, more joyful than she could ever have imagined!

Upon returning home, Cindylocks proclaimed the mint green shoes with silver and tomato accents to be “just right!”

And her not-evil-but-occasionally-aggravating mother replied, “Aren’t those the same kind of shoes you’d been running in before, only in purple and white?”

Indeed, they were.  But  a half-size smaller.  And mint green with silver and tomato accents.

Just. Right.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's the Journey


I’ve had a couple weeks to ponder my disappointment after the Tower of Terror 10-Miler and I’ve come to some conclusions:

True, it wasn’t the performance for which I’d trained… but it was the training that enabled me to cross that finish line, injured or otherwise.  The super-fly, glowy-in-the-darky medal doesn’t represent my efforts on one night, but the efforts put in over several long, hot, sweaty months of running, cross-training, eating right and getting it done, even when life stood in the way.  And the running, cross-training and eating right has resulted in a 41-year-old body that feels strong, efficient, and healthy.

In the heat of the moment (literally – what was the race temp? Somewhere between “Amazon” and “Hades”?), I couldn’t see beyond being let down by an injury.  But I’m finding now that it was the journey to the race that matters most and that, if I may be so immodest, I ROCKED that journey.  So I now look at my medal every day with pride, awe and amazement… little ol’ me finished a 10-mile race.  Cool.  Way, way cool. 

Now it’s time to move forward and face my next goal… the BIG goal… the 2013 runDisney Princess Half-Marathon.  My training plan (thank you, Jeff Galloway!) has already begun, and you know what?  I’m actually feeling pretty good about it.  I’m going in with the mindset of enjoying every moment of the journey to get there, not just the couple hours it takes to finish the race.  Let’s DO THIS!

My daily motivation - bling and a new sticker for my car.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler - Race Recap!

So, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler has come and gone and I’m happy to report that I was a finisher.

I think.


About the “happy” part, I mean, not the finishing.  I did finish.  I’m not sure if I’m happy about that, though.

Here’s what happened…

Race Day, Part One: Packet Pick-up/Expo and Dinner

A childhood friend and the gal who got me into running Disney in the first place, Nancy, also ran the race and graciously shared her villa at Saratoga Springs Resort with me.  So on race day morning, I made the drive form home to WDW, found Nancy and unloaded my car before we set off for the expo.  Let me tell ya – shopping the expo is a lot more fun with a girlfriend than with a kid!  It was great to verbally work out race jitters and excitement with each other as we wandered about and did some shopping.  I felt like the size and scale of the expo was a bit smaller and more manageable than that of the 2012 Princess Half-Marathon weekend, which was great; I get overwhelmed by too much noise and visual stimulation, plus I didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet before the race, right?

Ooo, skeery... oh, and have I mentioned that I'm blonde now?
Yet another giant, man-shaped, scratchy race shirt. But... it glows in the dark. of my drawer. where it'll stay forever.

After a quick lunch at Wide World of Sports (WWOS) complex, we went back to the villa with every intention of napping until 5pm.  I. could. not. sleep.  Too excited, too nervous about my knee situation, too amped up with adrenaline.  It was a relief when my alarm went off at 5pm.  FINALLY, I could get dressed in my race outfit and feel like we were getting somewhere.  Of course, we still had 5 hours until the start…

Since we weren’t staying at an official race host resort, and neither of us was excited by the prospect of traversing the big, dark WWOS parking lot (where anyone driving to the race would need to park, then take a shuttle bus to the start at Hollywood Studios), at 3am, we chose to make the very short drive to Port Orleans Riverside (which was a host resort with buses to the race start), park there, eat dinner, then take a bus to the race.  This worked out terrifically!  I had a yummy plate of pasta around 6pm, along with lots and lots of Nuun-infused water.  At shortly after 7pm, we got on the bus outside the resort lobby and were off to the race!

Race Day, Part Two: The Race!

I was really, really impressed with the pre-race staging area.  There seemed to be ample room to move around with 12,000 or so of our fellow racers and their families, plenty of porta-potties, and lots of good music playing to get us pumped up.  Maybe a little too pumped up.  At risk of sounding judgmental, I was shocked by how many racers were dancing up a storm before the race.  Nancy and I sat there watching them, wondering aloud how anyone could possibly muster the energy to run 10 hot, humid miles after an hour of dancing?!  And by “hot” and “humid,” I mean HOT and HUMID.  Honestly, it was business as usual for me; it felt no different than any of my training runs all summer long, save for the lack of scorching sun on top of it all.  But I can’t imagine how awful it must have felt to anyone not acclimated to our delightful Florida climate in September.  I sat for a good hour, saving my legs and feet, eating a small snack, and downing more water.

We chose to get into our respective corrals (A for Nancy – way to go! – and C for me) before instructed to do so, and I’m glad we did; we avoided the mass of humanity moving into their corrals and I was able to use a porta-potty with minimal waiting.  This, I must point out, Disney got so, so right – porta-potties in EVERY CORRAL!  Oh, how I hope they’ll do the same for future races, because it was ever-so appreciated.  I have to admit that waiting alone in my corral was lonely.  I didn’t want to waste my iPhone’s battery, so I didn’t have that for distraction, and it was past my usual bedtime; I was getting sleepy.  I was thankful when, at 9:30pm, the call came to exit the corrals into the road at their other ends, from where we, staying in our corral groups, walked down the road to the starting line.

Before long, the fireworks went off for the first group of wheelchair racers, then for the second group, then for A corral, and B corral.  We C folks moved up and I stuck to the far left side of the road, from where I could lean out to my left a bit and see what was ahead… I was a bit in front of the halfway point of our corral and the starting line was actually the toll booths for the Studios parking lot. 

The first 5 miles of the course took us out of Hollywood Studios and out-and-back on Osceola Parkway before turning into the WWOS complex.  I knew I had to walk every other quarter-mile stretch to save my knee, but waited to see what the crowd did before deciding whether to start with a quarter-mile walk, or start running first – we mostly had to walk through the start line, but then the crowd picked up to a jog, so I did, too.  A funny thing with IT Band Syndrome (ITBS) is that going uphill is fine, but the downhill kills.  So I ran up the ramp to Osceola Parkway and started my walk on the downhill.  And that, folks, is just annoying as hell, to not take advantage of gravity and gain some speed on the downhill.  People were flying past me as I slowly walked down, hugging the inside of the curve like it was my long-lost lover.  But once we hit the flats again, I was back to running and felt great!  I was warm, but nowhere near overheated, felt perfectly hydrated, and as strong as an elite athlete.  There was a decided lack of themeing along those stretches of highway, but it didn’t bother me in the least as I found my happy pace, alternating quarter-mile stretches of walking and run-walk intervals.  I was passing other racers left and right, which is always good for the runner’s psyche, right?

Passing the marker for Mile 3, I allowed myself to wonder, “Maybe I finally beat ITBS into submission – maybe I’ll nail this race after all!”  All of my training seemed to be paying off and I felt the best I’ve ever felt while running.

At 3.25, I felt a familiar tightening in my left leg.  At 3.5, it felt like an ice pick was jammed into the outside of my knee by the end of every 1-minute run interval.  ITBS struck again.  Still, I was able to run 50 seconds at a time without pain, so “Maybe,” I bargained with my body, “if I skip every other run interval and only run 45 seconds at a time when I do run, I won’t have to walk the rest of the race…”  It worked for a while, but by Mile 5, I was down to running 30 or so seconds every 5 minutes.  And it HURT.  Piercing, excruciating, sob-inducing pain.  I’d put the pain level on 11.  Out of 10.  But, magically, the pain went away when I switched to a walk.  I knew what I had to do.

Only halfway through the race, I was hobbled to a walk and, truthfully, I should have parked my fanny on the side of the road, cheered for my fellow racers, and hitched a ride on the sag wagon when the sweepers eventually came through.  The experts say often that distance running is a huge mental game; that it takes some serious mental strength to veto the bad thoughts sent by our brains, telling us to quit.  I, strangely, found myself in the exact opposite position: my mental toughness wasn’t tough enough to pull the plug and save myself from further pain.  My brain was insistent: “You trained for this.  You’ve already done the distance.  Don’t quit now – earn that medal!” 

The crowd around me was almost exclusively walkers at that point; I’d been passed by the runners I’d passed earlier.  We all walked down the dark, creepy dirt path that was decorated with the occasional skeleton in a cage and large, fake bug.  I’d put the decorating on par with a stroll through Michael’s craft store this time of year.  Definitely not up to Disney standards.  As we entered WWOS, every field was lit and, coming in from the dark, I felt a bit of renewed energy.  By the time we entered the baseball stadium to run the bases, I picked it up and pulled off a sad, limpy jog for the photogs along the diamond.  But the pain from that was so debilitating, I crawled to a slow walk as we exited WWOS. 

Pulling off the course to stretch my leg, I looked back, almost hoping to see the sweeper so I could end the agony, knowing that I’d done all I could.  Nope.  Not a sweeper in sight.  With a sigh, I started walking again, head down in defeat.  We were back on a dark stretch of highway again for a couple miles and the crowd around me was quiet and subdued, all of us inwardly-focused on our individual ailments.  It was rough, rough going as we climbed the ramp back to Hollywood Studios.

And that’s when I got mad.  Really, really mad.  I had trained for that race!  And I’d hydrated properly and felt fantastic, apart from my stupid knee.  I wasn’t sick, my heart rate wasn’t even reaching the point of aerobic, let along anaerobic.  And a “little” lousy pain was keeping me from reaching my goal of finishing strong?! No sir-ee.  Winding through Hollywood Studios, I did the stupidest thing possible at that point: I ignored the pain tearing through my leg and ran my way through the finish line.  I was strong, fierce and every bit the Badass Mother Runner my race shirt advertised. 

My version of a finisher's photo.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.  That last run did nothing to help my final time and left me unable to bend my knee at all without intense pain.  I got my medal, skipped the finisher’s photo, grabbed the food and water someone handed me, took a bag of ice from the medical tent and, in a daze, slowly limped to the spot Nancy and I had designated to meet after the race.  I sat on a ledge, icing my knee and trying not to cry until Nancy appeared, haloed in light from a spotlight behind her and carrying an ice-cold Corona, complete with lime wedge.  Exactly what I needed – a beer and a friend to make me smile!

Eventually, the ice, beer and an Aleve got my pain under control and I retrieved my bag of fresh clothing (thanks a bunch, Disney, for making us go down, and then back up, a bazillion STAIRS to get our bags after running 10 miles), so we could enjoy the after-party.  We had a great time riding Star Tours and the Tower of Terror, and taking a picture with Lord Vader.  

Getting whacked in the face with our heavy, glow-y medals.

At 3am, after killing yourself to run 10 miles in 80-degrees and 89% humidity and downing a beer or two, "using the force" with Vader sounds really badass.
By 3am, the adrenaline wore off, fatigue set in, and we boarded a bus back to Port Orleans, where we got in my car and drove back to our villa.  We spent the next day showing off our awesome medals and slowly making our way around the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot.  It was the perfect recovery day – small, frequent bites to eat, slow walking to stretch the legs, and a fun friend with whom to chat.

The Aftermath

So I’ve had a few days to digest my race and I’m still finding it hard to feel good about finishing.  I think, had I never before run that far, maybe I could be satisfied with finishing in 2:42:07.  But knowing that I’ve already done the distance in training, and that I did it in 2:13:55, makes it tough to celebrate.  Had I quit when the pain hit, at 3 miles, I’d still have received the cool medal, I’d have had more time and energy to enjoy the party with my friend, and, most importantly, I’d have done no further damage to my knee.  I’m now off running altogether for a while to let the inflammation go down and then I’ll be starting from scratch.  I can’t honestly think of anything about the race that was worth doing myself in like this.

And that’s a big part of my disappointment: bad enough that my body let me down – Disney let me down, too.  Leading up to the race, I kept telling myself that, even if I had to walk a lot of it, the incredible entertainment that Disney routinely throws into its races would keep me distracted from my slow pace.  I didn’t want to stop for pictures, but I’d have enjoyed seeing others do so and would have gotten a kick out of some performers doing their thing on the sides of the road… but there were only a couple of photo ops along the course and they were of the jump-in-take-a-pic-jump-out variety; not much to look at as a passer-by.  No characters at the start or finish, either.  The lack of entertainment coupled with not being able to perform as I knew I could when uninjured made for a whole lot of frustration.

I hope that my feelings about my own performance aren’t confused with my appreciation for the efforts of everyone else who took on the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, though.  I think every person who finished that race was amazing!  And maybe I am, too.  I might just need a little more time to process it all.

So… now what?

Now, I heal, strengthen, and start running in teeny-tiny distances that don’t hurt, hopefully building back up in time for the Princess Half-Marathon in February.  I’ll change my habit of running always with the road slanting down on my left, which seems to have been the catalyst for ITBS in the first place.  I’ll admire the 10M sticker on my car, knowing that I can go the distance, even if not as I’d envisioned doing it.  And I’ll wear my “I did it!” race shirt with pride.  But I’ll never, ever run injured like that again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Days Until Terror Strikes!

Know what today marks?  10 days.  10 days until the Tower of Terror 10-Miler.

TEN days.


Suffice it to say I’m not feeling ready for it at all.  Still battling IT Band Syndrome, I did manage to complete 8 miles last weekend, my final long “run” of pre-race training… but I walked a huge chunk of it, only managed a 14:22/mile average pace, and by the end, my knee contained David Banner-like fury (though it did not turn green, thankfully.)  It wasn’t the kind of training run that elicits a sense of comfort and “Yeah, I’ve got this!” y’know? 

So I’ve been spending time focusing on the race planning elements that have nothing to do with running in order to distract my mind from thoughts of gloom and doom.  For starters, my race outfit.

I’m not doing a full-on costume – I’m all about comfort and I’m not very good at costuming in the first place.  I’ve known for a while that I want to wear my Badass Mother Runner tank and decided to add a skirt from Team Sparkle to wear over my go-to running skort.  Add on a matchy BondiBand to wick away forehead sweat and – voila!  My outfit is complete.

I may not be fast, and I may not even be able to run much, but by golly – I’ll look festive!

I’ve also spent lots of time putting together a special playlist for the race.  When I realized how much I’ll be walking, I knew I’d need more music loaded in, so what I wound up with is a mix of creepy, dark, themed sounds with a few pieces that are outside of the theme, but are proven pick-me-ups when the going gets tough.  Since I can’t count on maintaining a certain pace, I gave up on sequencing the playlist and I’ll just let it shuffle.  Here it is, all shuffled up:

Agent Orange: “A Cry for Help in a World Gone Mad”
London Philharmonic: “Carmina Burana, O Fortuna”
Social Distortion: “The Creeps”
Ray Parker, Jr.: “Ghostbusters”
Queen Latifah & L’il Kim, Feat. Macy Gray: Cell Block Tango”
Madonna: “Die Another Day”
Metallica: “Enter Sandman”
Daft Punk: “Derezzed”
Nin Inch Nails: “Sin”
Tones on Tail: “Go!”
Pitbull: “Back in Time” (from Men in Black III)
Green Day: “Brain Stew”
Marilyn Manson: “The Beautiful People”
Kanye West: “Gold Digger” (don't judge - it's got the perfect rhythm!)
Cee Lo Green: “Love Gun”
Nirvana: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Daft Punk: “End of Line”
“Halloween” main theme
Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Higher Ground”
The Cult: “Fire Woman”
Blondie: “Rapture”
MC Hammer: “U Can’T Touch This”
Nine Inch Nails: “Head Like a Hole”
Eurythmics: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
Danny Elfman: “Mission Impossible” main theme
Florence & the Machine: “Dog Days are Over”
Michael Sembello: “Maniac” (because Flashdance was totally badass)
Marilyn Manson: “This is Halloween”
Girl Talk: “Oh No”
Girl Talk: “Here’s the Thing”
Salt-n-Pepa: “Push It”
Pink Floyd: “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2”
Metallica: “Master of Puppets”
John Williams: “The Imperial March” (Star Wars) (I'm not into character pics, but if I see Vader? Watch out)
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic: “Danse Macabre, Op. 40”
Danzig: “Mother”
Will Smith: “Men in Black”
Survivor: “Eye of the Tiger” (please - you know it's the BEST motivating song ever!)
Daft Punk: “Arena”
Michael Jackson: “Thriller” (the full version, Vincent Price included, natch)
“X-Files” main theme
Social Distortion: “Mommy’s Little Monster”

I’ve tried it out on a couple runs and it works well.  I just hope “Halloween” doesn’t come up in a particularly dark, empty stretch, as it did the other night… while I was running after dark… all alone… next to a stand of creepy cypress trees… ~shudder~

With my outfit and soundtrack ready to roll, the next planning steps should be easy: scheduling and packing.  10 days – eek… again!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 (Running) Things...

You know those “25 (or 10, or 20, whatever) Things You Don’t Know About Me” lists that were popping up on Facebook with the frequency of pimples on a hormonal teen’s face a while back? I loved them.  LOVED. them.  (The lists, I mean, not the pimples.  Thank all that is good in the universe for Retinol.)  I love answering quizzes, making lists, and, just as much, reading everyone else’s answers and lists.  I don’t much like people, as a whole, but I find them fascinating and those Facebook lists never failed to entertain me.  But they’ve been absent from my life for quite a while and, though I social media it up as a profession, I’m not a Facebook trendsetter, so I haven’t had the nerve to start a new one up.

So imagine my joyful surprise (picture a kid awaking to find a pile of Benjamin’s left under her pillow by the Tooth Fairy) when my favorite lady runners posted this little number on this morning: 10 Running Related Personal Questions.

Ooooooooooo!!!  Yes, I literally squealed in delight.  In the middle of car circle, whilst dropping off my 10-year-old son at school.  He was… thrilled.  I’m sure.

I’ve been mentally working on my answers all day and I’m now ready to commit them to paper (pixels, whatever) and share with you.  And I’ll be checking back on Another Mother Runner’s site to see what other people answer – remember, the answers of others are even more fun than listing your own!  Hope to see yours, too.

1. Best run ever: This is actually a tough one and I have to do that annoying thing of giving it a tie.  Go ahead and hate me now.  It’s hard to beat the excitement of my first race, especially when it involved running in one of my favorite spots on earth – Epcot – with my favorite person, the thrilled son mentioned above.  It was runDisney’s Royal Family 5K in Feb. 2012; we weren’t fast, but we took lots of pictures, made lots of memories and became inextricably hooked on running in Disney.  Which makes my second nominee for Best Run Ever rather unsurprising: my first time over 7 miles, run while on vacation this past summer in Disney World.  We were staying at Disney’s Beach Club Villas and it was a beautiful, strong, well-paced run… with the promise of rides and piles of yummy food offerings at its conclusion.

2. Three words that describe my running: Determined. Cleansing.  Wonky. (‘Cause that’s how I run – wonky.)

3. My go-to running outfit is: A C9 black running skort from Target, Badass Mother Runner tank, black compression calf sleeves, white visor.

4. Quirky habit while running: As I’ve written before, my cadence naturally goes along with the beats per minute of whatever music I’m listening to. Though I’m not sure that’s very “quirky.”

5. Morning, midday, evening: Morning, in order to get the miles in before the temp here in Florida goes from “hot” to “surface of the freaking sun”, but I much prefer late afternoon.

6. I won’t run outside when it’s: Monsooning.  No – make that monsooning with lightning.  Because I’ll totally run in a torrential rain – I’d just prefer not to be electrocuted.  Unless that would speed up my pace…

7. Worst injury—and how I got over it: IT Band Syndrome.  I’m still working on it.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: I took on a mountainside in North Carolina – 300’ elevation climb in less than ½ a mile.  Boo-ya!

9. Next race is: runDisney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Sept.. 29

10. Potential running goal for 2013: There is no "potential": this IS the goal - runDisney’s Princess Half-Marathon, Feb. 2013 – with the most amazing group of fellow Mother Runners a gal could ask for!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Trying to go the distance...

Wow – it’s been an interesting few weeks.  With only four weeks until the runDisney Tower of Terror 10-Miler, I’m looking at two more long runs of 10 and 11 miles… and hoping I can manage even half of that.

That’s because I’ve been beset by the dreaded IT Band Syndrome.  Apparently, months of running ever-increasing long runs on Florida’s steeply angled roadways/sidewalks/paths are partly to blame.  Add to that my wonky gait thanks to scoliosis and it seems my body never gets a chance to run in any way that’s level and balanced.  Whatever.  All I know is that for the past month and a half, it feels like someone’s taken an ax to the outside of my left knee at mile 7.  I limped through my last long run to reach that magic double-digit 10, but the last few miles were pretty bad.  And that’s not even counting the monsoon in which I ran the final mile!  That actually felt good, comparatively.

So now I’m only running until the pain starts, and then stopping, regardless of how far that is.  Last weekend, I only made it 3 miles.  I stuck with the treadmill earlier this week and did 2.5 miles pain-free, and went outdoors for a slow-paced run with Leo the other day – 2.5 again with no pain.  I’m hopeful, but not optimistic, about my chances for pulling a full 10 miles this weekend.

Meanwhile, there are some bright spots in my running life…

For one thing, Leos’ running with me again!  He took the summer off because, well… because it’s HOT and HUMID down here and who actually wants to run in that?!  I’ve had to, since I signed up for a race at the end of stupid September, but Leo didn’t.  But we’re signed up to run a 5K in November, so he’s doing a short run or two with me each week again.  I missed him!  It’s nice to have him along for the ride again. :)

I’m also trying out a pair of Newton running shoes. 

I’m naturally a mid-foot striker and Newtons are specifically designed to work with a mid-foot strike.  They aren’t cheap, but I was able to get a pair of Lady Isaac S on sale, so I thought I’d give them a try.   So far, I really like them!  They feel a little funny when walking, thanks to the nubs set into the sole of the forefoot, so I’m not sure how useful they’ll be to me on long runs, given my run-walk-run approach.  But when I’m running?  Ooooooo, they’re so good!  Lightweight and springy, I swear Newtons make me lope like a gazelle rather than plod like an elephant.  My only gripes are that the heels aren’t as snug as I like, given my freakishly narrow ankles and previous Achilles injury, and that the reduced cushioning of Newton’s design seems to leave my feet achy for a few days.  But I can address the heels by wearing thick socks and, from what I’ve read, my feet should gain strength and become less achy as time goes on.  I’m following Newton's advice to transition slowly, especially as I have a race coming up; I’m only doing a short run each week in the Newtons for now.  But I’m looking forward to giving them more bonding time, come October, and will report back with a full review.