Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Running saves

This week, my husband and I are going through a difficult experience. I should be ashamed to admit this, but my first inclination when coping with this difficulty is to go find a bottle of Jameson whiskey. I've never had a drinking problem but in this instance, I'm wanting to forget everything and feel no pain.

At 9 a.m. (in the coffee), 11 a.m. (pre-lunch), 2:00 p.m. (afternoon relaxation), and 8 p.m. (evening reprieve). But I haven't done that. I've thought about it even though I know it's not a healthy response.

Given what is going on, I really think I have a reasonable excuse to be unhealthy for a few days.

What has stopped me?

Aside from the reality that numbing my mind wouldn't help anything and really would just make me feel worse (!!), running and other exercise is what is really helping me through this. If I have an Irish coffee at breakfast, how am I going to feel good enough to run later in the day? If I indulge at lunch, how am I going to lift weights in the afternoon?

Running has saved my liver. It's helped motivate me to not be stupid.
Running has also kept me from wanting to consume the box of See's chocolates sitting on my counter (will someone come remove those please?).
Running has provided stress and tension relief.
Running has cleared my mind and brought some peace, even if temporary.
Running has helped me breath. I've been holding my breath all day, every day this week and that just doesn't work when you're running.
Running has helped tire me out so I can have more restful sleep.

I haven't felt good enough to run very much, but it's enough to keep my feet on the ground this week.

Things are going to improve; we're just waiting for some time to pass.

Now, I need to move on and am looking forward to my best friend's wedding this weekend. I look forward to focusing on my most amazing girlfriends, re-hashing our Vegas shenanigans (including the RNR Half), and thinking about all the fun ahead of us (maybe I can trick them into more races?). 

Jersey-girl, B-licious, Cynnematographer & bride-to-be, the Scientist, your Average Woman Runner

Sunday, February 26, 2012


LSD (long slow distance) became LSD (long snow distance)
(Seattle style)

New runner friend, Sarah, had 15 miles on the books, in preparation for her first marathon. I'm not in shape for a full 15 (I wish), so I hung out for the first 8 of Sarah's run.

The night before our run, I fell asleep to the sound of POURING rain. When my alarm went off at 6 a.m., it was silent outside. NO RAIN. YES! And, it was 44 degrees at home, a perfect running temperature.

I was meeting Sarah on the Eastside (Redmond's 60 Acres Park) and as soon as I crossed over into the "Eastside," it started to sprinkle. Then it started to POUR. Drat!

As Sarah & I started our run, we started getting drenched. And something strange happened for Seattle...the rain turned to SNOW!

Sammamish River Trail, heading into Woodinville. This trail flows for about 11 miles then connects to the Burke Gilman trail, which runs another 20 miles into Seattle
Ok, it just looks like rain and really it was a very wet, cold rain-like snow. It was an unexpected, FUN, turn of events.

Sarah on the trail

At the turn-around point - it's sticking!
The snow started to stick a bit as we headed north (lookie!). ALMOST real snow. You folks out in ME, VT, and IL think this is hilarious, I'm sure. By the time we made it back to our cars (my drop off point), we were soaked - feet squishing in the shoes, clothes weighing an extra 5 lbs in water weight. I felt odd leaving Sarah to run another 7 on her own but the rain/snow lightened up a bit and she lived to tell about it.

This was my third run with Sarah and I look forward to the next. 

So here's the cool thing: Sarah and I (and other women around here) met via a Facebook running group site that Kerrie (MomvsMarathon) set up for Women Runners of King County (WeROKC). This site was a brilliant idea and has helped many of us women runners organize for weekend runs and races.

Do other folks out there organize and have "blind running dates?"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse me, Miss, but how much do you bench?


"I mean, I saw you lifting and your arms just look really big. So I'm curious about how much you can bench." 

"I don't bench. I do push-ups." 

"Oh, well, you look about like me, I mean, my arms are about like yours when I'm lifting, small but solid, so I - "

"You are saying I'm husky? Thick? Like a guy?"

"No, I'm not saying you don't look good. I'm saying...I was just curious about what you bench." 

"Well, I don't know, I don't bench press."

I was almost done with my strength routine this morning when some guy and I had this little exchange. How should I take that? I was laughing at the time, it was so random. Who asks that? If I had been bench pressing, it would make more sense. I'm pretty clueless about stuff but I'm positive that this was not a feeble attempt at a pick-up. Honestly, since I was in college (I was lifting a lot then), I've been told many times by both women and men that I'm


and it was kind-of meant as a compliment but really, I don't like being described this way. Those are not characteristics typically associated with being feminine, attractive, or even fit. What's wrong with using



In other news, bizarro track workout on the stationary bike went well this morning (before I did my strength routine). I was supposed to do 4 x 1200m in 5:30 with a 400m rest interval. I pedaled hard (120 RPM) for my 5:30 interval then pedaled easier (80-90) RPM for my rest interval of 90 seconds. All in all, it was 12.16 miles in 45 minutes (includes warm-up / cool-down). I was definitely sweating when I was done and feel like it was good for my legs to work on a fast turn-over.

Tomorrow is a run day and even though today was an "interval" day, I'm really tempted to do my tempo run (3 miles) instead of doing it on the elliptical. Hmmmm.
I should run easy.
But I want to run tempo.
I should go easy to be sure I'm healthy.
But I want to run tempo.
I should stick with the bizarro plan.
But it feels good to run hard...

[Please make Conda go away.]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top 3 Seattle running routes

Are you visiting Seattle soon (RNR?) and looking for local running routes? I have a guest post, Postcards from Seattle, at Beth's "Yes, folks. I run like a girl" blog. Check out my overview of the three top Seattle running routes (all flat, mixed distances).

Read about:
  1. Downtown waterfront via Olympic Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards Park – Great for people staying downtown without a car.
  2. Lake Washington waterfront – Popular running route great for sunrise runs.
  3. West Seattle / Alki Beach – Stunning cityscape and Olympic Mountain views.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

THIS is why I went online in the beginning

One of the main reasons I started blogging and signed up with Daily Mile is because I was struggling with figuring out how to get back into running after having a baby. Even though I'd been running since I was 16, I just couldn't put all the pieces (especially by broken body) back together.

Reaching out online helped me find inspiration, motivation, and humor. TODAY, I received a fantastic reminder of how helpful this whole virtual running scene is.

Today was filled with lots of house chores, cranking through that never-ending list. Got the little guy down for a nap, laundry in, dishwasher running, and thought about taking some time to relax. So, I sat down at the iMac to check up on the virtual world and saw THIS photograph.

A sweaty, satisfied, triumphant, proud ZOE (Run, Zoe, Run).

So I immediately got up, laced my shoes, and hit the treadmill. I sang loud to my iPod and ran 3 miles totally pain free (turned foot mostly healed, no ham/glute issues). I FEEL GREAT!

After horrible wind and rain, the clouds parted midway through my run and the sun actually came out and poured through the window onto my face. A sure sign that the Running Goddess is pleased with my Theo offerings.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Back to bizarro RLRF programming?

This past fall, as I was recovering from my calf injury, I decided to start picking up the Run Less, Run Faster / Furman FIRST 10k training program but in a funky way. I made it the bizarro version of the program where I did my key workouts on the bike or elliptical and ran on the cross-training "easy" days.

I had hoped to get some new speed going for the upcoming St. Paddy's Day 5k (Tacoma, WA)  by taking on the RLRF 5k program in late January. All the cool kids were doing it.

Well, this What the Butt thing happened in late January so I jumped off the program to go easy on my hammy then this week, I turned my ankle and messed my midfoot up. It's getting better now and I think I should be able to run by this weekend.

But, this was another week OFF. I've only logged 22 miles this whole month.

I had been thinking I should scrap any idea of actual speed training and just log easy miles and have fun at St. Paddy's Day. Well, now I'm thinking that sounds like NO FUN. Instead, I should try the bizarro plan again. Maybe by the time the race comes, I'll be able to pull off a new Mark Remy PR (i.e., personal record in previous 2 years)?

YES. I will try bizarro training. No, wait, (just) trying is for little girls. I will do, I will do!

That means, on deck for next week:

Key Workout 1: 4x1200m @ 7:06 pace (400m RI) - Likely will do this on the elliptical
Key Workout 2: 3 mile tempo @ 7:46 pace - Probably the bike or maybe pool?
Key Workout 3: 7 miles @ 8:16 pace - Bike

In between, I'll get easy runs in with a target of 30-45 minutes each run (3 runs total).

With some luck, I'll do this WITHOUT falling down, tripping, or otherwise hurting myself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A year ago today I...

  • was only 38!
  • celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary
  • had just completed the New Orleans Rock & Roll Half Marathon - almost on a whim
  • was in Week 2 of the Run Less, Run Faster / Furman FIRST half marathon training program
  • was injury-free

Today, I...
  • am only 39!
  • will celebrate my 9th wedding anniversary and birthday by playing hookey from work with my husband. snowboarding is out (see issue below), so maybe a movie and lunch? ideally, we'd go get tattoos but in all these years, I have yet to convince hubs to do this with me.
  • am *trying* to train for a 5k on St. Patrick's Day
  • hope that I can become injury free in time for that 5k
  • expect to set several P.R.'s later this year (a new type of P.R., that is)


Lately, I've been walking around with a hitch in my get-along and wondering, "What the butt?" Something crazy was going on at the top of my hamstring / base of my glute. This irritation appeared out of no where. I took a week off and it's much better though not totally resolved. I was relieved that Saturday's 8-mile run for Sherry Arnold did not leave me with regrets.

Three days ago, I had a fantastic run in the pouring rain. Some days, it just feels good to get wet. I thought I looked like a drowned rat until I actually saw a dead rat on the side of the road and hoped that I did not resemble that guy. Blech. That run was supposed to be a track workout but with my patchy training and the "what the butt" thing going on, I had decided that I need to drop the speed work and just log some regular miles for a while.

Two days ago, I was walking home from the train in my brown MaryJane Dansko's. Pretty much every day in the fall/winter, I wear either my brown MaryJane's, black MaryJane's, or brown clogs. All Dansko. Not the most attractive shoe, but quite comfortable. The problem with these shoes though is that they are TALL. Sometimes I fall off of them.

Two days ago, I fell HARD. Pow. Right foot rolled in, ankle went out. "Ouch!" she exclaimed. "Damn uneven sidewalks!" Continued walking home only to have excruciating pain on the outside of my midfoot. I was convinced it would be gone by morning.

One day ago, I woke up with continued foot pain. I iced all day at work. Barely able to walk. Grimace. Grump. How do you tell the difference between a strain and a fracture?

Am I falling apart, just before I get into the master's running division?

Is it just bad luck? If so, will it happen in 3's? Do I need to wait for one more thing before this all turns around?

Can I blame Conda? Wait, it's the season of no excuses. I guess I just need to keep plugging away, one day at a time to get back to where I can run carefree again. 

Today, I woke up and the foot is still sore but it definitely feels less sore, I have less of a limp. I now have high hopes that I will run again. All is not lost! I won't cancel the doctor's appointment for tomorrow just yet but will be optimistic and go make a sacrifice to the Running Goddess to help speed this healing along (she appreciates chocolate).

I think my "take home" lessons from all this include:
  • Be wary of dead rats under foot after it rains.
  • Ditch the Dansko's, I'm lucky I haven't hurt myself worse for all the times I've rolled an ankle in those things.
  • Never, EVER, wear anything but running shoes, just to be safe.
  • The body's got more to say as she ages and I better listen more closely.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

For Sherry Arnold

Kerrie (Mom vs Marathon) organized the Women Runners of King County (WeROKC) to meet up this morning to run in honor of Sherry Arnold. It was great seeing the WeROKC ladies again and sharing the run with many other runners out along Lake Washington this morning. 

Be safe. 

Sarah, name, name, Tiffany, Lindsey, Zoe, Kerrie

Sybil - is lovely purple!

Lindsey, Tiffany, Sarah, Kerrie, yo, Zoe

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Name that veggie

A month ago or so, I posted a photo of my veggie box that gets dropped on our door step at about 10 p.m. on Tuesday nights. During the main growing season, many of the veggies actually come from this specific farm & other local farms but during the winter, many of the veggies are brought up from warmer climates (i.e., California).

In winter, this is what $32 buys you. In summer, the box is more plentiful because the fields are fuller. I like how they tell you where EACH ITEM comes from.
Anyway, a couple people commented on the veggies. "What was that stuff?" Tongue in cheek, I'm sure, but even still I thought it would be nice to plug buying from a CSA (community sponsored agriculture). Marcia's (The Studly Runner) post today, Does this toast your oats?, gave me the kick in the pants to get this up. Reading about all that junk food made my teeth hurt and made me want to sink my teeth into some broccoli! 

Veggies. I love them. I sneak them into all my meals. Spinach can be added to everything from pancakes (believe it!) to scrambled eggs to cupcakes (see below).

  • The mushrooms and snowpeas from this box got sauteed in some sesame oil with sesame seeds and served up with some lamb and veggie dumplings I got down in Chinatown. 
  • The new potatoes and leek were cooked and added to some steamed, shredded cabbage and kidney beans to make a "bubble and squeak" veggie patty served up with pancetta. 
  • Tonight, I lightly sauteed the braising greens and more mushrooms before mixing into an enchilada casserole. 
  • Apples & pears get sliced up and sprinkled with cinnamon for snacks on the go or eaten with lowfat cottage cheese at work for a mid-afternoon snack. 
  • Broccoli (and cauliflower) gets steamed then mixed in with scrambled eggs and then wrapped in a tortilla for yummy to-go breakfast as I walk to the train. 
  • The chard is still in the crisper, likely will add to a pasta & bean salad this weekend. 

For moms of kids who don't like veggies, check out Jessica Seinfield's cookbooks - she manages to hide veggies in everything, it's pretty awesome. Spinach in chocolate cupcakes - YES! Fortunately for me, my tot LOVES veggies. However, I know that in 6 months that can all change.

Anyway, we get these beautiful organic veggies delivered right to our door. They don't supply all of our need but I would say about 75% of our veggies come from this box. Once they arrive, I PROCESS them. This means I bathe and dry them, then package them up nicely in the fridge so that when it's time to cook they are ready to go. Free of dirt and whatever residues they may have.

The soap helps cut any coatings that are applied (more applicable to conventional produce, like wax on apples & such) and the peroxide kills germs. Sometimes I use a dilute solution of bleach. 
For the wash, I soak the veggies/fruit for at least 15 minutes. The hardier ones get a good scrubbing then I rinse everything well before drying. If you don't wash your stuff after it comes from the grocery store, try it once. If you look at the rinse water to see what falls off, you just might be a bit grossed out. Grapes are a great example of something that comes D I R T Y.

I know this is expensive. With two incomes and just one kid (and a house in the not nicest part of town), we can afford it. This is someplace we choose to spend extra money because we want to support local businesses, organic growing practices, etc. Also, I like that we get a nice variety every week. It forces us to be creative in our cooking, use everything up before it goes bad, and makes us strong like Popeye.

Other places we can at least buy organic, if not local, at more affordable prices are Costco and some of the large chain grocers like Safeway & Fred Meyer. Even the Cash & Carry! This weekend I got a container of Earthbound Organic Spring Greens Mix the size of my abdomen for $5. This is enough salad for an army for a week. (Now I'm sick of salad this week and it's only Wednesday. Oh well. Next week it will be something else.) I try to buy when things are in season (and cheaper) and on sale. I'm not afraid to buy IN BULK and then blanche, steam, or cook everything up and freeze in meal size portions. It may seem like a boring Friday night activity, but it's relaxing to me and makes my weekdays so much easier when I can pull fresh stuff out of the freezer.

When we first started getting our produce I wasn't sure what to do with about half of it. The greens? WTH? Romanesco? Rutabega? Rapini? I thought radishes were the only "r" veggie! And who knew that potatoes come in the color PURPLE and taste like candy?

If you are interested in mixing it up, getting jiggy in the kitchen with your veggies, try an internet search on community sponsored agriculture. Check out their websites. Many of them provide recipes on seasonal veggies so that even if you don't decide to pay an arm & a leg for some produce, you can still use their recipes to try something different.

Your taste buds will thank you!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Triple Crown

It came in the mail today!

2011 RNR Races: NOLA, Seattle, Las Vegas
Funny thing, a new RNR Vegas half marathon medal came in the mail a couple weeks ago, too. I guess that replaces the RNR Vegas MARATHON medal I was given. Anyone want a marathon medal?

I guess that means I should finally hang my Allied Medal Displays Seattle cityscape hanger I got for Christmas. I have a feeling it may be filled up as soon as it gets installed. This means I may be able to justify purchasing a certain medal hanger on Etsy...(my birthday is coming up, after all).


Ok, just hung it on commercial breaks during The Voice (*Blake Shelton*).

RNR: Double Encore, NOLA, Seattle, Vegas, Triple Crown; NYC half, Maui, Indy Mini, NODM, Vancouver, Yukon, Vashon Is Tri/3rd place team, Hood to Coast, Lk Sammammish Trail, Seattle x3.
Installation was easy: I held the screws and level while awesome hubs pulled the trigger. I think I can squeeze one more medal on?
  • Oldest: Seattle Half Marathon 1996 (I threw away my medal from my 1991 debut half)
  • Most recent: Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon 2012 
  • Smallest: Vancouver (B.C) Half Marathon 2007
  • Biggest: Indianapolis Mini Marathon 2011
  • Hardest earned: Seattle Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2011 (torn calf at mile 14, walked from marathon to half mary finish for total of 15+ miles) 
  • Most scenic: Yukon Do It Half Marathon 2011 (close tie with North Olympic Discovery Half 2010)
  • Most repeated: Seattle Half Marathon 1996, 1999, 2007
  • M.i.A: Seattle Half Marathon 1991, Hood to Coast Relay 1995
You can see, we left plenty of room... my lovely treadmill wall of bling for...

...this one from Etsy: RunningOntheWall (assuming it's o.k. to use mixed media).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My experience as a lab rat

In graduate school, I had to work with lab animals (non-human primates, actually). The tests were on-going, so fortunately I didn't have to deal with project termination, ex-sanguination, and other unpleasantness. But, it was still tough seeing the little guys in that environment. I digress...

Fortunately for me, Brooks Running Company uses the uncaged, free-range, human variety of primate for their testing. Also fortunate for me, Brooks is located < 20 miles from my house!

Just so you know, ANYONE can be a Brooks Lab Rat, as long as you wear a size 8.5 (women's) or 9 (men's). I've wear-tested several of their fantastic shoes (that's how I discovered their Ghost), which you can do from pretty much anywhere as long as you agree to their wear test agreement. Today was my first day actually going to HQ to be a lab rat in their biomechanics lab.

Funny thing, Brooks HQ is in an office park located right across the street from where my husband has worked for years, I just never noticed. On the outside, it's a regular-looking office building. Inside, the lobby is NOT like the lobby of the environmental consulting firm where I work. Nope. Check it out:

I didn't get into the racing shoe...maybe next time?

There were lots of people going in & out who just looked like they "Run Happy," you know?

I checked in, changed into some compression shorts, then was taken back to the testing lab by Brooks biomechanics expert, S, who works with B (sorry, I didn't think to ask permission if I could use their names). Both S & B have graduate degrees in biomechanics, they are the only specialists of this type at HQ, and they are BUSY.

Of course, I had to ask if they had seen any of the Brooks-sponsored athletes. S said that when the athlete training/racing schedules permit, they (Brooks) try to bring the athletes in but it's certainly not an every day occurrence. S reported that Scott Jurek does go in to consult with the designers on trail shoes but does his testing actually on the trails rather than in the lab. Desiree Davila has been in Brooks before but hasn't run in the lab. Chrissie Wellington, on the other hand, got her foot scanned in their lab once. I wonder if her foot was bulging with muscles? I should have asked about that.

The testing consisted of three main steps:
  1. Run in various shoes for 3 minutes each at about 9 min/mile, wearing reflectors over key points on my hips, knees, ankles, and feet. 
  2. Complete 2-page survey on each shoe. 
  3. Run in each shoe again with an insert in one shoe that has 110 (or was it 101?) pressure sensors in it. 

I ran in 5 different shoes: a conventional shoe like the Adrenaline, 2 minimalist-style shoes, 1 PureProject shoe, and 1 shoe that was like a racing flat. At least one shoe was not on the market yet. The treadmill was about 2x the width of a regular treadmill and had a strange groove under the belt that felt really strange, especially in the minimalist shoes. There were no handrails on either side, just a bar at the front and I'm proud to say, I didn't fall off!

While running, large red "lights" mounted to the tops of the walls around the treadmill must have been shining down on me and somehow recording the reflection (I should have asked more about how this worked). On S's computer monitor, you could see ME represented by a point cloud which were the locations of the reflectors that they had stuck to my joints. These points represented my movements in 3-D - funny little dots like a runner constellation in motion, in space.

S & B will analyze the volunteer data to see how our point clouds varied depending on which shoe we were wearing at the time. Small changes in the outsole, insole, etc can affect how we move in our shoes and S & B are the ones who figure out what it all means.

*My hamstring-tendon thing is still tender but I'm happy to report it didn't affect my ability to run at all. I'm still going to take it easy and continue with the massage, ice, and NSAIDs. THANK YOU for all the advice!


This was actually the most difficult part of the testing. The survey questions were similar to those you answer when you wear test shoes from home and I always struggle with how to answer them. I have a tendency to rate the shoes based on what I'm used to, so that my answers reflect a comparison between the test shoe and my "baseline" shoe. It's difficult to evaluate each shoe independently.

Of the shoes I tried, I actually really liked one I thought I wouldn't like - it was like an aqua sock! The sole was surprisingly supportive and cupped my foot quite nicely. It was truly a "minimalist" type of shoe (and now my calves are aching as a result). Also, today was my first time trying a PureProject shoe and I liked it, but it surprised me that it is actually not a true "minimalist" shoe, especially compared to the aquasock type shoe! But, I think this is a real plus because I don't think I could use a true minimalist shoe to run very long distances without my feet getting very tired (3 miles max), whereas the PureProject shoe was substantial enough that I could envision running longer distances. Unlike the conventional shoes, the PureProject shoe facilitated my "new" mid-foot/forefoot strike I've been working on.

Sounds like I might be purchasing a PureProject shoe soon?

Another shoe I tried was sort-of in between a conventional shoe and the aquasock but my foot was swimming in the toe box and the heel cup was too small. NOT a good shoe for me. Maybe for someone else? That was the only shoe I just didn't like.

All in all, it was a lot of fun getting to try so many shoes that I wouldn't normally think to try (or aren't even on the market yet!).

Finally, I ran in each shoe all over again for just about one minute and B recorded how much pressure I was applying in my footstrike and where the pressure was applied. The image on his computer screen looked like the weather man's Doppler radar showing a storm moving across the state, only the state was foot-shaped and the eye of the storm (shown in red) was in the ball of my foot, moving southward toward my arch where the pressure gradually dissipated (colors fading to orange, yellow, green, blues). Very pretty.

At the end of the testing, about 3 hours had passed. The time flew by! Super sweet S gave me a nice parting gift before I left:
Brooks Infinity half-zip

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to try this again sometime. I enjoyed learning about what running shoe scientists do! For now, though, my calves need to recover from all that running in low profile shoes - ouch!