Saturday, August 24, 2013

Off Track...For a Long While...

I have been blogging about my running journey for over a year now.  I started out investigating the barefoot running style, which I am definitely an advocate of, despite an early injury.  I later moved on to distance running and it quickly became a passion.

Both of those running interests came to a screeching two weeks ago on the streets of Paris.  More specifically on three small stone steps going down to a street in Paris. While vacationing with my daughter, I slipped and broke my ankle in two places.  Two days before we were supposed to return to the U.S.  The same day we had climbed hundreds of steps when we visited the Eiffel Tower.

Breaking my ankle was bad.  Taking a taxi to the hospital was worse.  Being told I had to have surgery the next day to put a plate and a pin into my ankle was devastating.  I was very, very afraid that I would not be able to run anymore.

Even more afraid when I returned home and went directly from the airport to my own orthopedic surgeon.  I'm a strong woman, but admit that I burst into tears when she told me I needed a second surgery to basically finish what the French surgeon didn't do. That was not what I was expecting to hear at all.  My surgery was done on Monday and my follow up appt was Friday.  The surgery went well and my ankle looks like it should at this stage of the game.

What I know for certain is Sept's Half Marathon is not going to happen and Oct's 10-miler is not going to happen.  My surgeon said I can't even think about running for three months.  It's not the end of the world, but three months without training would take a toll on my abilities regardless of the reason.  Hopefully, only back to Square One, which to me means being able to run 1.5 miles comfortably.

It's the "comfortably" part that keeps bringing tears to my eyes.  What if running hurts now?

I'm not talking about hurts in the "I'm tired, but just have to push through this" way.  Or in the "I really should have stretched last night" way.  Or even in the "Yup, I definitely have shin splints" way.  What if...what if the physical action of running does not agree with my new metal hardware and just hurts?  I have to live with this fear for three or more months...and that is making me feel kind of sick.

My doc assures me that pain free running is in my future...with the caveats that a third surgery to remove the plate may be necessary, and that every 5 years or so I may need a "scope" of my ankle to clean up any debris that accumulates.  Neither of those sound like fun, but worth it if I can run.

For the record, my 17 year old daughter has been amazing throughout this whole ordeal.  She had to find us a new apartment to stay in and move our stuff herself.  She had to contact my job and our family to share what happened.  She had to sign papers saying she was responsible for her mother's medical decisions in the event I couldn't decide for myself. She had to watch her mother being wheeled off to surgery in a foreign country.

This is us in the Jardin du Luxembourg.  While I was hospitalized, she was metro-ing and taxi-ing back and forth from the apartment to the hospital like she was born in Paris.  Shopping for her own food, taking in some additional sights, taking care of herself...and me...  Definitely not what either of us had in mind for our vacation, but am so extremely proud of the way she stepped up to the challenge.

Looking forward to the time when we can laugh about it together and hoping that will be soon...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Importance of Rest

As a running blogger, I peruse other running blogs from time to time.  There are a few I really enjoy...Jen's This Runner's Trials and Jason's Barefoot Running University and Naomi's The Tao of Me

And a few that I don't.  For example, I just read a blog where the running Mom has something pretty intense scheduled every day of the week...and she's a fairly new runner working up to her first marathon.  Her schedule made me cringe a bit...especially because her only "rest" day included a 7 mile walk.

Here are a few things that I've learned over the past year...
  • Running can be addictive - I enjoy my runs like I never have before
  • Running is time consuming - especially if you're training for 10 miles or more
  • Running makes you hungry - REALLY hungry
  • Rest is important

From my perspective it's pretty simple.  We are on our feet a lot.  Running makes life harder on your feet.  For your feet to sustain your new obsession, YOU HAVE TO REST!

I have had some minor injuries in my barefoot running journey...because I was doing too much too soon.  Running too far, too often, not allowing my feet enough time to get used to the new activity.  Same thing when I decided to add mileage and train for my first Half marathon...the usual tendonitis and shin splints popped up...your basic over use injuries.

The foot doctor prescribed solution for both injuries?  REST!

Image Source:  Nice Day Designs blog

If you are serious about running as a life long way to stay healthy and fit and sane, you must work rest into your schedule.  There are plenty of marathon training schedules out there with only 3 running may take longer to get to your goal, but in the long run (yeah, I said it...) it's the only way to go.

Don't just take my word for it, this Runner's World article emphasizes the same does this article from marathoner Carol Bedard and this more scientific article from

Bottom Line:  Be nice to your feet and legs by giving them a break now and then.  In return they will carry you where ever you want to go for a very long time.

Image Source:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why aren't YOU blogging??

When people are passionate about, or at least very interested in, a topic...they talk about it, sometimes to anyone who will listen...that's blogging in a nutshell.

Image Source:

You're probably asking "why would I do that?"  Honestly, there are as many reasons to blog as there are people who do it...
  • Just to "talk"
  • To educate
  • To stir up debate
  • To hold yourself accountable in a public way
  • To brag
  • To document a journey (real or metaphorical)
  • To air your annoyance with a pet peeve (some pretend this is educational...)
  • To promote your small business
Of course large corporations and government agencies blog too, but that's not the point of this post.  That being said, if you have not read the TSA blog (yup, the airport security guys) you are missing out, informative and entertaining...

For the undecided, I think blogging is a great experience.  It makes you think, collect those thoughts and share them in a (at least we hope) somewhat interesting way.

Yes, it would be a greater experience if more people actually read my blog...but I'm documenting a personal running journey and am not really comfortable promoting that (which may have more to do with me being a New Englander than anything else).

But still, it would be amazing to hear from a stranger who said, "your post on [fill in the blank] spoke to me and I started running today..."

So, what is it that you are excited about doing? Or learning? Or discovering? Or teaching? Or pondering?  Whatever that "thing" is, consider blogging about it...just like 31 million or so other people in America (mostly using Wordpress by the way).  More stats can be found in this great infographic on 2012 Blogging Statistics from

Of course, blog in a safe addresses, specifics about future travel or currently being out of town, pics/details about your children (or you if you're in the Witness Protection Program or have similar security concerns!).  A good rule of thumb is don't discuss anything you wouldn't share with a stranger, and another is don't talk trash about people in your life.  You may not use your real name on your blog, but if it is linked to any other social media accounts...someone can find out who and where you are.

With reasonable security precautions, what have you got to lose?  A little time, maybe, but you're creating a visual and permanent record of an important part of your life...and that's kind of cool...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thinking Thoughts While I Run...

Today was a long run day...7 miles at a comfortable 9:34 pace.  For me running is a reflective quiet time - just me and whatever is going on in my head...with my body rudely chiming in with complaints from time to time.

I think of a ton of great ideas during this time, most of which I promptly forget as I attach my Garmin to my laptop to review the details of my run.  One of the things I thought about today (and remembered) was how great it would be if there was a light, small and hands free way to record our thoughts.  Certainly something easier to manage than this 1930's model...

FOR THE RECORD - If anyone does create the "Portable Thought Recorder", I fully expect some sort of compensation for coming up with the concept!  Uh, patent pending???  Yeah...sure...

Well, other than that moment of genius, I ponder the same important topics that everyone else thinks about in a moment to themselves:  work, kids, relationships, what I'm having for lunch...will Brad and Angelina ever tie the knot?

One serious issue I would encourage runners to think about is their safety.     As in, can you describe the person you just ran by?  If they were running toward you, did you make eye contact?  Did you greet each other?  If you passed them, were they working hard or taking it easy?  Did they fall behind or keep pace with you now that you're ahead?  Basically what could you say about them to the police if they tried to mug you...while you're the woods/path/park/trail?

There are any number of details that you should be alert to for the critical reason of keeping yourself safe.  And for God's sake, DO NOT wear both ear buds in with the volume turned up.  Don't get me wrong, I find music motivating too, but I only use one ear bud.  Why would you voluntarily deprive yourself of one of your key warning senses?

Not to be overly dramatic, but people do get attacked when they are running/walking and it's not only women.

Just this past May a Virginia Beach man was attacked while jogging near his neighborhood...stabbed multiple times for no good reason.  Everyone knows runners don't carry large amounts of cash on them.

Not exactly where I imagined this post going when I started, but it's definitely food for thought...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Speed Drill Day - Not SOOOO Bad

Got up early to run yesterday...this is how I felt BEFORE the alarm went off...

Image Source:


This is how I felt AFTER the alarm went off...

Image Source:                     My Next Race blog

Truthfully, it was a beautiful morning, birds chirping, sun gently brightening the sky, no one outside except me.  Would have been a perfect zen moment, except for the fact that I was dreading my first day of speed drills.

Plan:  At least one 60 second "blast" in each mile of today's 5K, dropping back to a recovery pace, without stopping.  Mission accomplished.  And, I have to say, immediately after the run I felt pretty good.

According to my trusty Garmin Forerunner the entire run was 27:50...only 30ish seconds off my last 5K race...which surprised me.  I expected to be slower overall figuring the burst of not-quite-lightening-fast speed would be overcome by the pretending-I'm-running-when-I'm-actually-shuffling recovery pace.

No next day aches or strains, which I take as a good sign.  Conventional wisdom says ease into speed drills, so no more until Monday or sometime next week.

So far, so good...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hitting Goals By Accident

OK...if you read my July 4th post, you know I set a goal and missed it for my most recent 5K.  I even told people before the run that I wanted to finish in less than 27 mins...and I don't usually share before.  All in all, not the most motivating thing I've ever done, but not the end of the world either.

Well today I went outside for a run in a new place...I had walked the route a couple of days ago to make sure I could get 3+ miles out of it.  I got up early, it was gorgeous outside, and I ran.

I didn't check my pace,  instead I just ran for the feel good pleasure of running.  Some inclines - nothing too heinous.  Some other runners and bikers - but no need to weave or adjust.

Just me, my sneakers, some music and a good mood...resulting in a one minute improvement and one of my best 5Ks in about 15 years!

June 23rd 5K - 27:04
July 4th 5K - 27:23
Today's No Pressure 5K - 26:22

Image Source:  One Step at a Time blog

Have no idea why really, so the only take away for me is this:

Set goals, but don't worry if you miss them, there's always next time.

So, until next time...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Run For Freedom 5K or I Feel The Need For Speed!

Full Disclosure - I'm kind of a lazy runner.  I hate breathing hard and I don't like it when my muscles start to scream.

I ran my first 5K race (in a while) last week and got very close to my goal of 27 mins. What this tells me is if I had pushed a little harder, I could have achieved that benchmark.

Today - Happy Independence Day, by the way! - I ran another 5K, fully intending to bring it in under 27 mins.  My official time was 27:23...20 seconds SLOWER...and I have to say I'm pretty disappointed.  I had to do some serious weaving at the beginning and all the racing strategy articles tell you not to do that because it wastes energy.  But I gambled that it was worth it because 5Ks don't leave a lot of time to stretch out the pack and fall into your pace group.

Let's compare the two races:
  • Today's race had long gentle inclines, my last race had over a mile of fairly challenging hills
  • This race had great weather, my last race had a huge downpour for at least the last 2 miles
  • This race had ice cream at the end, my last race just had bananas
Looking at this data objectively, you would reasonably conclude that today's race would have been much better.  What happened?  Not really sure...but here's the worst part...I felt like I was running harder.

Honestly, some days I feel like this guy...
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But the reality is that feeling speedy and clocking fast(er) times are not the same thing. Obviously the faster times are not going to happen without some work on my part...some hard breathing, and some muscles aching.

So, I found this article on speed drills (which I hate) and have decided that it is time.

The article says adding even one speed drill per week is going to make a difference. Speed drills are not rocket science, but I encourage you to read the article for some good tips.  The basic plan is to run fast, then run at a recovery pace - alternating until you've gone as far as you planned for that day.  

Pre-loading my excuse here, but I do have a crazy schedule coming up for the next couple weeks that will make it a challenge to just get my runs in...but if I want to get better, I have to work harder.  

I'll let you know how it goes...