Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26th, 2011 – 1.77 BAREFOOT Run!!!

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Today’s run was really good! As you may know, I read “Born to Run” and I was intrigued by the idea of running barefoot.

I know there are people who swear by it and I have the uppermost respect for those folks. However, I honestly thought they were crazy. When I ran the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Los Angeles, a team of barefoot runners passed by me on their way up to the elite corral and I thought, “Wow! They are going to run 13 miles barefoot! That’s insane!” Clearly, they knew what they were doing because they were up there with the serious runners and I was all the way back in Corral #17 with the rest of the turtles!

I didn’t have another thought about it… Until I read "Born to Run...", which I highly recommend, by the way.

I’d never been able to stand barefoot without discomfort, let alone run! But what I didn't realize is that I already tend to run with pseudo-barefoot form even though I’m always wearing shoes.

Long ago, I was walking to school in my super cool BKs (that’s British Knights, for those of you who don’t remember the late 80’s) that came with my cheerleading uniform and noticed that I had a lump on my Achilles Tendon when I got home. My Dad told me that he got those when he was in the Military and it came from that sturdy heel strike when you walk for miles

Ever since, I was always careful to strike with my toe, or the balls of my feet whenever I was walking. When I started running, I ran like that too, striking with my mid-foot and taking rather small strides.

After reading “Born to Run”, I spoke to a few people about it and a friend introduced me to a site that sells Vibram Knock Offs and he said he has a friend who has ordered many of them and finds them to be identical to the Vibrams he paid over $100 for. They ship on a slow boat from China so they take quite a while to arrive, but other than that, he has never had an issue with the seller or the shoes…. So I ordered a pair 6 days ago, and I’m still waiting for them.

So…. When I went to the Ladies’ Room this afternoon to get changed for my afternoon run and discovered I’d forgotten my shoes, I was about to forget it all together. Then I thought, Well, there’s no time like the present. Let’s see what this barefoot running is all about.

Everything I’d read about proper barefoot running said to start out small and work your way up. I searched articles and youtube videos and they all said to start out running five minutes at a time.

Well, I wasn’t going to completely undress and suit up for a 5 minute workout! So I figured, I would run up the hill, do a couple laps around the park and come back.

That was the perfect distance. This run wasn’t about speed or distance. It was about getting to know myself in way that was completely strange to me.

Being barefoot in public is HUGE for this Southern Baptist Pastor’s Kid!! There are certain things that “a Lady” never does! And baring your naked feet to someone other than your husband is taboo where I come from! I think it stems from the Book of Ruth, where she uncovers Boaz’s feet while he’s sleeping to intimate that it’s OK with her if he pursues her. Whatever the origin, my father always told me to keep my feet covered so this was fascinating and strange for me.

Indeed, the reactions I got from people in their cars were interesting. It was clear to me that even in super Liberal, whacked out Southern California, people are taken aback by seeing an attractive, healthy woman on the street in a short running skirt with no shoes on!! That’ll take some getting used to.

As for the run, it was bliss. The most wonderful and natural thing. I will definitely be doing it again. If I can work my way up to 3 miles, I will find an organized race to do barefoot and see how it goes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25th, 2011 – 3.34 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was good. The original plan was to run on my lunch break like usual, but I spoke to Sean earlier in the day and he asked if we could go running again. Tonight worked for both of us so that became the new plan.

At 5 o’clock sharp, I was dressed out and ready to go. We rode over to his place, grabbed the dog, set our devices and we were off and racing against the sunset. We had about 40 minutes before we’d be cloaked in darkness.

I brought along my mini flashlight because I was pretty sure we’d need it. We ran the railroad track by his house again. I was still working through the weird pain that was in my foot. After a brief bout of research, I discovered that it is likely that I have strained my Anterior Tibial Tendon somehow.

This is fine, as I believe rest, ice and ibuprofen will have me good as new in no time. However at the moment it was giving me hell.

The terrain was tough on me and I was breaking in new shoes but I was determined to take it easy because I had just registered for the Compete Green European XC Challenge. It offers a 5k and a 10k at the same price. I opted for the 5k because I’ve never done a race like this before, but they start at the same time so if I get there and decide I’m up for the 10k, I may ask if I can just hop on board.

By the end of the race, my foot was hurting pretty badly and so was my right knee. Toward the end, we had lost the dog and had to back track so many times, our average pace was all jacked up, but who cares? It was all about getting a good run in with Sean and doing something good for our bodies. Besides, every time I checked our current pace, we were somewhere around 10:45. I’m good with that.

When we were at about the 2.90 mile point, the train came barreling down on the track. Sean had run off to go get the dog and it was dark as pitch (almost). It was at this very unfortunate moment that I realized, I was alone, I couldn’t hear Sean calling, I couldn’t hear Girl barking, I had no pepper spray and I didn’t even have Sean’s phone number. Great! There was nothing left to do but get a good shot of the train coming at me, so that’s what I did!

Soon, Sean saw me flashing my light, we found each other and ran back to his house.

This was the first time in quite a while that I've needed ibuprofen before bed. It was so worth it!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 21st and 22nd – 2.92 & 5.55 Mile Runs

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

I ran 2 days in a row and need to catch up so I am going to report 2 runs in the same post.

The first one was on Friday after work. The weather has been so beautiful lately, it’s been so great to run at any time of day and even the evenings are nice and pleasant. I knew I was going to get a longer run in the next day, so I just asked Chris to drop me off at the BGC so I could run home. Aside from the perps pulled over by some cops at around the 2 mile mark, this run was pretty uneventful. I wasn’t sure if I should run through the scene or cross the street. I started to cross the street, but didn’t want to be ticketed for J-walking so I just gave them a pretty wide berth and kept moving.

The temperature was perfect. The pace was great and I made it home before Jeopardy. Win – win!

The second run was a tough one. It was over 5.5 miles and it was 90% hills. On the run before the last one, I had this weird pain in my left shin. Right where you’d tie your laces. I’ve never had shin splints before and I thought they happened much higher so I thought perhaps I’d just tied my shoes too tight. The pain was gone as soon as I stopped running so I forgot about it. Then it came back sharply as soon as I put my running shoes on yesterday so I thought it had to be the shoes. I loosened my laces and everything was fine.

This morning, the pain was back as soon as I put my shoes on and I was starting to get concerned. No pain when I’m barefoot. No pain in my Crocs. No pain in any other shoes, just the Asics. This is odd but it really does seem to just be the shoes. So I tied them really loosely and headed over to a friends house for 5 mile run.

Well, this run started out badly and just got worse. First of all, my friend (Michelle) is much better than me so she was off and running and I was far behind her the entire way. This was fine with me, as I have no intention of hurting myself just to prove I can *AND* I love to use my headphones so I don’t have to worry about being rude. Secondly, this was a relentlessly hilly run. I just started working hills into my workouts and I am not a big fan. But hill work is speed work in disguise, so I know I gotta do it.

The first half was very challenging but OK. At about the 3.5 mile mark, this weird pain is starting to come back and it wasn’t letting up. By the time I hit the 5 mile mark, I was walking, even the flat straight-aways.

I hope it’s not shin splints. The pain was gone as soon as I took my shoes off. I can’t be injured right now… or ever really. But I want to register for a run in Camarillo next weekend and I really want to be healthy for it. So I’ll be phasing in some new shoes and praying for healthy shins!

Here’s a pic of Michelle and me I. Hopefully, we can get another run in next weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19th, 2011 – 3.04 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This was a great run. Again, I dressed out to do a quick 5k on my lunch break. I decided to do a hill. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this run but when the run is calling to you, you gotta step up.

So I threw back some pinole, chia seeds and about 12 oz of water and hit the door. The real climbing started at about the .12 mile mark. It didn’t feel too bad but I knew worse was coming so paced myself. I have been bested by this hill before and I had no reason to believe that I would do much better now. But I did do better! I didn’t quite make it to the park at the top of the hill but I made it to the second trailhead and I had never gone that far before without stopping. That was at about the .69 mile mark.

As I reached the crest of the hill, I started to pick up speed. I knew I wasn’t going to end this run with a respectable average pace, but I had to make up whatever ground I could. My only goal was to make it to the bottom of the other side before my stopwatch hit 20 minutes, because at that point, I would have to turn around and head back to the office if I didn’t want to go over my allotted hour for lunch. Not only did I make it up and over that hill, I was able to make a right and run down the avenue a bit before my RunKeeper hit 20 minutes.

The return trip was not any better. I had to get back up and over that hill again and this time I was exhausted. Even if I stopped running, I had to keep moving at a faster clip than I did before. Fortunately, “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” came blaring out of my iPod and that song always gets me pumped. It makes sense, when have Disney Tunes ever let you down?

So I fought and found myself back at the crest of the hill and took a detour into the park so I could run the trail back down the other side and add about another .25 mile to the run. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten a full 3 miles in. That part was all pleasure. The rest of the run was a breeze. So much fun!

When I went to cross the major street to get back to the office, I saw my Christopher walking with a friend with my lunch in a plastic sack. What an awesome guy! Win… Win!

Great run! Yes, I was bested by the hill, but that’s OK. I wasn’t meant to slay the beast today. But I know my day is coming and when it does, watch out!

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17th, 2011 – 3.68 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This was a wonderful run. A run that could restore you faith in running. Not that your faith should rest in anything other than Jesus Christ, but you know what I mean.

It started out a little rocky as far as a workout goes but beautifully as far as the spirit of the run goes, if that makes since. I ran into a neighbor that I had never met before. I won’t share her name because I haven’t asked her permission but we had a very nice chat with our dogs. She had passed our house many times and seen Sarah. She would stop and talk to Sarah, pet her and have the dogs socialize a bit. It was nice to meet her. As we spoke and walked we talked about living in the neighborhood and she showed me where she lives. I told her that anytime she passed our house and wanted to walk, to go ahead and knock and I’d be happy to walk with her. I hope she does.

For me, running has opened up many relationships and has gotten me out in my neighborhood so I can meet my wonderful neighbors. That warms my heart especially today, as we are remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chris asked me to take Sarah on my run tonight and I wasn’t thrilled about the idea but she was so excited to go, I couldn’t let her down. I upgraded my RunKeeper and one of cool new features is an audio alert at whatever interval you choose. I have it set at 5 minutes. So every 5 minutes I get an audio alert telling me how long I’ve been running, how far and the average pace. I started it and didn’t stop it when I ran into my neighbor so the first 7 minutes or so, I was at about a 45 minute pace.

Once I was on my own, I had about 3 miles to bump my average up to a respectable rate. Challenge, accepted!!!! I had to keep myself below an 11-minute pace to get back up to about a 13 minute average. Done and done!!

So I get to go to sleep feeling like a success. Whew!

This is Chris and me at home. I just think he’s cute.

January 15th, 2011 – 5.3 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This was one of the most pleasant runs I’ve done in a while. I met up with some friends to run around Westlake Village Lake. I hadn’t seen Elyse (right) in years and Monica (left) is my new friend. They look beautiful here, don’t they? While I kinda look like a dude. Ah, well…. Elyse and I used to work together at a software firm in Westlake Village, now she works with Monica at a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

I worked and worshipped in Westlake Village for 10 years (many many moons ago). I always loved it there but I never took advantage of the area for open-air exercise. It was amazing! There were so many people on the street that it looked like an organized event was going on but there wasn’t. The residents of Westlake Village are just very active people and they love their town.

Will Smith, Heather Locklear, Tom Selleck and Hulk Hogan all live near the area, so that speaks to what it must cost to live out there. The city planners must have arranged it to be a location that catered to people who could afford the best and it certainly showed today.

This was not a record breaking run, it was just about spending time with friends doing something healthy. The day was beautiful and the company was wonderful. I hope we can get together to do it again very soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 14th, 2011 – 2.49 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This run was really rough and I’m not sure why. It was windy, but I’ve run in wind before without this much trouble.

I’m in training for the Great Race of Agoura in March so I have committed myself to running every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a longer run on the weekends. I want my runs to be 3.5 miles but so far, I haven’t been able to find a route that fits the bill. I’m running during my lunch breaks so I have to finish with enough time to get the run in and then get back to the office with a enough time to clean myself up. While I can do the distance in about 40 minutes, I can’t get to the end of a route, discover that it’s not long enough, then try to find another bit of road or trail to run….. in 40 minutes. So what I’ve been trying to do it get an idea of the run I want to do and just going out to see if it works. So far, they have been around 2.5 miles.

That’s OK. At least I’m getting the miles in. Today I decided I wanted to run Old Town. It was nice and pleasant. The weather was perfect but the streets were busy and the wind was really hard on me. I’ll try this one again because the sidewalks are ample and the scenery is nice, but Whew! This run was tough on me.

Aw, well…. Not every run can mind-blowing. I'll be back at it tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12th, 2011 - 2.13 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Looking at the distance, this may look like a pretty worthless run. I have to admit that normally I wouldn’t even bother lacing up the Asics for fewer than 3 miles. But wait! What makes a short workout a kickass workout?! Oh, you guessed, Baby! Hills!!!!

This was a hilly, trail run. It was interesting because it was psychological as well as physical. Earlier today, while I was working, I put in the old ear buds and listened to an interview with Dean Karnaze by Living the Run, where he talks about the Western States 100-mile race. The endurance that it takes to complete something like that is insane, to put it mildly. Let’s set aside winning for a minute. Even completing something like that boggles the mind of even the most experienced runner, I’m sure.

He said something like, you run the first 50 miles with your legs and the last 50 miles with your mind and I imagine that’s true. I tend to hit the wall at mile 7 and I have to repeat mantras, change my stride or even my music in order to just…. keep….. moving!

I knew this run was going to be challenging because it was a hill run and I wanted to incorporate the trail I did that last time I ran on my lunch break. Ever since I sprained my ankle 20 years ago after some hardcore endurance event that would kick any big bad football player’s arse (cheerleading practice), I have been prone to rolling my ankle. Honestly, I could just be standing there and I’ll tweak my ankle somehow. It’s maddening!!! Needless to say, I make it a point to watch every step when I’m trail running. And like anyone else, I think, hill work tires me almost immediately.

After listening to the amazing Dean K and also as I’m reading “Born to Run…” I am learning that the greatest runners make friends with fatigue. I think what happens to me (and most people) when I’m running is that my heart rate gets really high when I’m working hard and my muscles get exhausted and something very near panic sets in. Then you have to stop and walk just to regulate your breathing. What I am learning is that it is possible to just relax. To figuratively “settle into” the run and regulate my breathing while I am still moving and then when I’ve recovered, I can tackle that hill or that stretch of trail or whatever. So this run was about me trying to perfect that process. It really was great. I don’t know that I’ll ever be a big fan of hill work or trails, but I really enjoyed this run.

Before the run, I fueled up like the Tarahumara, with Pinole and Chia Seeds. They worked like a charm. I felt energized the entire time and I never felt dehydrated. But again, it was a *really* short run. I still have to try it on a longer run. But so far, I’m a fan.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 10th, 2011 – 3.49 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was a good one. I think I am really moving on to another level of runner here. I am still literally miles away from the elite runner for sure. However, when I’m taking it really easy, I am finding myself at and around the 11-minute mile pace. At this time last year, taking it really easy meant it was taking me every bit of 15 minutes to finish a mile. Granted, I know many people who could walk a mile in 11 minutes, but for me that’s a pretty impressive “easy pace”.

So praise GOD for little improvements!!!!

Tonight, I had Chris drop me off at the corner like some really square, conservative, prudish, pepper spray carrying, running street walker in high visibility gear. Even he was aware of the comparison and insisted on dropping me off at the TGI-Friday’s parking lot and watching me as I walked to the corner. I started my music, then my RunKeeper and I was off.

Mile 1 was really nice, although I could feel that my form was off and for some reason, I couldn’t quite correct it. I ran through all the tricks that I know; lower the shoulders, tuck in the rear, straighten the spine, keep the jaw and fists loose, lightly plant with the heel and push off with the toe. Maybe I was over-thinking it because I don’t know that I ever got it right this time.

Mile 2 was uneventful. I was still trying to work on my form and keep my heart rate between 165 and 171, so I was working pretty hard. I had about 12 ounces of water with about 4 tablespoons of Chia Seeds before the run. I have been reading “Born to Run…” and the Tarahumara subsist on a diet of Pinole and Chia Seeds when they are running great distances. After doing a little research, I learned that the Chia Seeds are a great source of protein and they absorb 10 times their weight in water so consuming them guards against dehydration. The Pinole is a carb with natural sugars and is a great energy source. Anyway, I wanted to try using Chia Seeds on this run to see if I noticed a difference.

Mile 3 was good. I hadn’t quite resolved my form issues and I was feeling it in my lower back. I knew that was going to be trouble if I didn’t get home and stretch it out properly. I was heading back home, so it was matter of getting in that final kick. I was feeling good. No past injuries rearing their ugly heads to make me feel like a fitful sleep was imminent.

I got in a good 20 minutes of stretching after I got the kids’ dinner in the oven, then sat and read with Jordan for a little while. Then we all put on our footed pajamas and watched an episode of MythBusters before bed.

A good night. A good run. Zzzzz……..

As for the Chia Seeds. I did notice that I wasn't ravenously hungry after this run like I usually am. Also, even though I was sure to take in a good dose of water, I didn’t feel nearly as dehydrated as I normally do after a run of this length. When I’m running fewer than 6 miles, I tend to not take water with me so this was very nice. I will continue to use the Chia Seeds and letcha how it goes with a longer run.

Book Review – I am 43% of the way through “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall. (Sorry, no page numbers on the Kindle). I am really enjoying this book. The runners in this book are amazing. Ridiculous some might call them. 100 mile foot races in blistering heat and dangerous topography is more than I would ever even hope to accomplish as a runner. Learning to love and embrace fatigue so you can meet it as a friend when it rears its head at the 77 mile mark is insane. Fatigue shows up early for me and we are *not* good friends!

I highly recommend this book. I’m not positive if someone who doesn’t run would appreciate it but for anyone who does run, it’s a must read. It’s nice to read about Deana Kastor, Dean Karnazes, Ryan Hall and many others before they were famous. Awesome book (so far, with portends of getting better). Truly amazing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 5th, 2011 – 2.96 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Tonight’s run was really great! It seems that the days are getting just the slightest bit longer so the sun set is at about 5:20p, I think. So it was twilight when I started but by the time I was done I had lost all of my daylight.

But that was not the problem. It was SO windy!!!! I was blown off course so many times! It was quite comical to watch, I’m sure. It was great when the wind was at my back but that happened so infrequently that it didn’t matter.

I knew this was going to be a short run so I was going for speed. I had finally replaced the battery in my heart rate monitor so I was able to set a goal for my effort and know when I was falling behind. The goal was to keep my heart rate between 165 and 175. That’s about an 8:45 mile for me. My splits don’t really show it because I allowed myself to walk across streets and I didn’t stop my RunKeeper when I was stopped at lights, but I stayed at that pace for most of the run. Score!

No soreness, no injuries and I slept like a rock.

BOOK REVIEW: I am on page 55 of “Runners World: Complete Book of Women’s Running” by Dagny Scott Barrios. The first part of the book is committed to the beginner runner. I am always excited to read information for the beginner because I always see myself as a beginner. But as I continue to read these books, articles, commentaries and whatnot, it is becoming clearer to me that I have passed the beginner’s phase and moved on to the intermediate phase. However, I definitely consider myself a recreational runner and the science absolutely supports that! I’m doing great to get 10 miles a week these days.

I’ve read through the history of running in this country, the growth in popularity during times of crisis, the tools of the trade, frequently asked questions, from walking to jogging and from jogging to running. There hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve read that I didn’t already know but the refresher has been great. It was great to get the reminder about overtraining. I don’t think I’m at a huge risk of overtraining, but every athlete thinks that until they wake up and can’t move. Even then, I find myself blaming that on my age. Still, this book is a wonderful way to refresh myself on the mechanics of running and I can’t wait to get to the part where I’m studying about racing. I think I will learn a lot in that section. Also, I honestly believe that this run was so comfortable and injury free because of the tips I applied after reading. I didn't even have the AT issues that I have had after *every* run when I followed the advice on heel strike.

However, I haven’t been giving it the time it deserves, because on the recommendation of a friend, I started reading “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super-athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Steve McDougall. I bought this one on my Kindle and have been devouring it with great gusto. I’m still not a fan of barefoot running but I am looking forward to getting to know this elusive tribe and learning how they are master runners from the day they are born and how they never seem to age.

I’ll letcha know what I think.