Sunday, November 30, 2008

The prescription.

Let's say you went to your high school reunion and had one (or a half dozen) too many drinks. You'd probably wake up the next morning feeling like you spent the night with your head in a vise; you might have legs that feel like lead.

No worries. I have the perfect prescription for you. A short slow run.

Some will say that a long slow run is the way to go and I will disagree. Others will tell you to spend the day lounging on the couch, only moving to order up some won ton soup and fried dumplings from the Palace of Wong. Again, I will disagree.

A nice and easy 4 miler is what you need after a long night spent over-indulging in memories and cocktails. Don't try to go for speed -- your head may still be pounding and will not appreciate your desire to prove to the world that you can bang out fast miles with a hangover. And don't try to go long -- your feet may still be a little sore from those heels you decided you had to wear for your night out. Certainly, you shouldn't just go for the couch, no matter how tempting that may seem.

Just go for a comfortable pace. Sweat it out. Let the relaxing few miles re-energize you. It will work, I promise. A short slow run is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Oh, and while you're at it . . . if you want some hard push ups to work your arms into jelly, check out level 3 of Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred. My arms could barely handle the walking push ups. They are really tough.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yesterday, I finished reading "Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete" by Benjamin Cheever. The part memoir, part running history has been out for over a year, so I'm late to the party but I wanted to share some thoughts because I enjoyed this book. It was an easy-breezy read, full of some interesting facts along with Cheever's personal running story.

This guy loves to run and "Strides" is certainly a paean to running. That's probably why I enjoyed it. That and Cheever's peppy writing style. And it is peppy. I didn't expect peppy from a 60 (or so) year old guy. But, that's what he is. And it worked for me: I plan to pick up some of his other (fiction) books and check him out.

Anyway, there was one passage in the book that stood out. Cheever writes about the transformational power of running -- how it can help you lose weight, kick bad habits, etc., etc. And he says that what runners know is that running can change you in deeper ways, in essence, making your life better.

What I want is to be a better person, and running seems to be one clear way to move toward this goal. Moral advances are hard to measure. Without measurement, they're hard to believe in. But you can get faster. Or maybe just try. I hate it when people say, "All we want is for you to do your best." I never do my best. Maybe the last 100 yards of a 10-K, but I have no kick, and so my best is nothing to write home about. But sometimes I do try. I try hard enough so that I'm gasping for air. And having tried that hard, then other qualities may fall into place.
I get that. I understand that from my own running and it is something that is often a little hard to communicate to others: That by getting out there and trying, really pushing yourself in your running, you're improving the rest of your life. I don't know if it makes sense to people who don't run -- maybe it does, I can't say -- but it makes sense to me.

If you haven't read the book, I recommend heading to your local library and checking it out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just for fun.

Me, 1962:

Nice, right? I like how my chin goes in all different directions. It adds to my glamour. Not that I need more glamour, what with all the curls upon my head.

Check it out:

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I may have misrepresented myself on Thursday. I don't always do math in my head when I run. I often think great thoughts about the meaning of life, compose the plots of can't-put-them-down novels, recite Eliot or, more frequently, free my mind to daydream.

And that's a treat. Because, really, when else can I daydream without worry of being called out? Sure, I could daydream at the grocery store, but then I'd end up with a cart full of several boxes of Cap'n Crunch and a couple pounds of bacon. And a toddler eating the Cap'n Crunch straight from the box. It just wouldn't work.

I guess I could daydream in the shower but I'm usually rushing because my toddler is either napping or sitting next to the shower in the exersaucer and it is only a matter of time before he decides he wants out NOW.

So that leaves my runs. They are the perfect opportunity to daydream. With no responsibilities to anyone but me, my thoughts can go where they please. Even if that sometimes means they wander over to the times tables.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks, running.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm grateful that I can run. I've been sidelined before and I don't like it. Running is the best. I just lurve it.

But when I think about why I am thankful for running, as this week's Take it and Run Thursday asks us to do, I have to say more. I can't just say, "Oh, I'm thankful for running because I love to do it," and then smile and try to wow you with some extra-flashy jazz hands so you won't notice that my statement was so lame.

Nope. I have to think of some legitimate reasons for being thankful. Luckily, I have a few. I wouldn't be posting if I didn't.

So, yet again another long intro. And now, on with the thankfulness!

I'm thankful for running because . . .

  • It keeps the Chex Muddy Buddies (have you ever had these? Peanut butter, chocolate, crunchy Chex chexiness! I just made a batch for the first time and -- hoo ha! -- they are good! ) that I am eating right now from ending up on my hips. Running burns off all that junk food.
  • It gives me some much-needed alone time.
  • And that means I have a chance to clear out my mind, mull things over, or just run through the multiplication tables or perform some simple long division.
  • It's not that weird. Really. Lots of people do math in their heads when they run. I'm sure of it! Well, I'm fairly sure of it.
  • Feel free to speak up if you do math, too.
  • I shouldn't bullet all of these non-gratitude sentences.
  • But, since I already did, I'm just going to stick with it. Back to being thankful . . .
  • Running provides me with a excuse to buy gear.
  • Not something to be thankful for? You want me to be serious?
  • OK.
  • Running makes me dig deep to accomplish my goals, and that carries over into other areas of my life. When you can tough it out on a run, you can tough it out anywhere.
  • It can lift me out of a bad mood. I can be in a total funk and just stepping out the door for a quick run is enough to shake me out of it.
  • Running keeps me fit, helps me feel healthy and it makes me happy.
That is all.

9 times 8 is 72. 9 times 9 is 81. Try it. You'll love it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In fact, this might be a little bwah, bwah, bwah.

Well, hey! Sometimes you come here and you get a little story about running. Other times you might get a bwah, bwah, bwah account of my latest (and clumsiest) injury. And then there are the days -- like today -- when you get a follow up. Can you stand it? An actual follow up.

Why, Happy Runner, you say, on which poignant post could you possibly follow up? Your writing is so thorough. So descriptive, so rich with detail.

You're too kind, readers. Too kind.

OK, too kind in my mind. In reality, I'm sure you're rolling your eyes and wishing I would just get on with it. Enough with these intros already!

I do have a thing for them, don't I? Yes. Yes, I do.

So. The follow up. It's not quite as big as I've built it up to be, but here goes. The ankle is feeling great! It's taken a while to get to this point but your suggestions helped. As you know, I rested for a full week and then eased back into running. For the past 10 days, I've been running with Ace bandage, as recommended, and that has proven to be the right thing to do.

My recent Aha! moment was not a fluke. I've continued to run at a faster pace on the treadmill than I normally do and that is making all the difference. It makes perfect sense: I was running around a 9:30/mile pace on the treadmill, but I run much faster outside on my hilly routes. By speeding up a bit, I've been able to find a better rhythm to my runs.

Remember back when I was participating in the Hundred Push-up Challenge? Those dozen or so weeks when I was struggling to complete the six week program? It's a little embarrassing to say but, I gave up. No judgments, please. I just couldn't keep it up. I wanted to. Really. I had visions of myself dropping and giving an imaginary drill sergeant a cool, easy hundred.

Only, it didn't work. I kept repeating week 5 and it was getting discouraging. So, I was done. Just done. Maybe I'll pick it up again sometime but not now. I will say, however, that I still do push-ups now and then and they are much easier for me than they were when I first started the program. Success! Sorta.

That's it. I feel bad that the build up was a bit out of proportion. Except that I think you're getting used to that kind of thing from me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guilt and a gift.

There's a giveaway over at Runners' Lounge and to be entered you have to leave a comment with your ideal holiday gifts for runners. Or something like that. My memory isn't always the best.

Not the point. The point is that I entered. I left my comment this morning and then I received what I said I wanted! For real! Or, well, for sorta.

I said that I wanted babysitting coupons from family and friends who would want to watch my son so I could run during the day. Because, people, you guilted me*. Guilted? Made me feel guilty? That's probably more like it.

Again, not the point.

The point is, I wrote my comment and submitted it. Later this morning, I went to a friend's house and she suggested that we watch each other's kids one morning a week to give us each some free time. Holy cannoli, Batman!

Wow, yes. OK. So, we set it up. I'll watch her daughter for 3 hours, she'll watch my son for 3 hours once a week. The two kids are about the same age, so it should work out perfectly. THREE HOURS! Gah! It looks like I've received an early Christmas present. I'll be running during the day. Woo hoo!

Just like that. I said what I wanted. I got it. Thank you, Runners' Lounge**!

* See the comments here, where I learned what I already knew: You guys are some kind of Dean Karnazes tough with all of your running outside in the minus 38 degree weather that feels like minus 62, in the dark, with 40mph winds and freezing rain, on icy trails guarded by killer wolves (are they around in the winter?).

** Can't wait for the next "ask" because I'm thinking I could really use a little more speed . . . or endurance . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Groove, lost and found.

Before I get to the groove, which I know is the reason you're all here, let me talk about some weirdness.

Yesterday, I ran outside in shorts. It was 68 degrees, the sky was full of gray clouds and the wind, at least here in Windyville, was whipping. My run kinda rocked. Sure, I was hot. Sure, I was running with the wind in my face the entire way even though I ran a loop. But it felt great. I normally don't expect to be able to run in shorts in mid-November. So, yeah, the run was good.

Today, though, the temperature barely climbed to 40 and it felt like 34. With whippier winds than we had yesterday. (Hey -- if you were here, out in the wind, you'd use whippier, too.)

That's the weirdness! Hot yesterday, cold today. Hoo hah!

Now, please don't think that I shared this temperature weirdness for no reason other than to fill up space in this post. Because if you thought that, I would have to prove you wrong: I had a reason. Consider it background.

On to the groove!

I lost it. Could not find it anywhere. If you recall from the background, it was cold and windy today and I, being a Supreme Princess of Wimpiness, decided that I could not run outside. So I ran on the treadmill. Um, yeah. That would be when I started looking for my groove and determined that it was MIA. Nowhere to be found.

Not on my first warm-up mile. Not on mile 2. Certainly not on the half mile that I walked because, without my groove, my run felt a bit crappy and I had little interest in continuing it.

I started to think about what the winter would be like, running on the 'mill, if I no longer had my groove. How would get through it? Would I have to force myself out of my comfort zone and run outside in cold? Through wind, rain, sleet and snow?

Short answer? No. This First Lady of Weaksylvania can continue to run in the temperature-controlled environs of her basement because her groove was found.

It was simple, really. I was walking. Had pretty much given up on the run when I decided to give it another shot, this time with feeling! Or at least a little speed.

And that is where I found my groove: hanging out in the speedy last few miles. Once I sped up, I felt better. I got into a rhythm that just worked and the rest of my run was as good as a run on the treadmill can be.

With my groove found, I will be facing the winter with a little more pep. Or at least with 8-something minute miles.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Going green.

It's Thursday and today's Take it and Run Thursday topic at Runners' Lounge is Running Green.

While running is a physically high-impact activity, environmentally, it's probably one of the lower ones. You don't need a lot of equipment to run. No maple bats, titanium drivers, or head-to-toe padding. No stadiums or arenas that must be cooled or heated. No fields that need complex irrigation systems or rinks that need constant freezing.

We runners need a pair of good shoes, a few cold and hot weather outfits and maybe a watch. And we need the great outdoors.

OK, sometimes we need the treadmill. You got me there. And some runners need a track. Oh, and when we run in races, we need many paper cups at our water stops and mountains of refreshments afterward, a lot of which is most likely wasted.

But in general running has a fairly low impact on the environment. We can make it lower.

And we can do things outside of our running lives, like bring our own reusable bags to the grocery store, pack lunches and store leftovers in reusable containers instead of plastic bags or plastic wrap, and buy local and organic foods when possible.

How else can we run green? Feel free to share your ideas. I'd love to read them!

And green can be cool and friendly-like. And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree. ~ It's Not Easy Being Green

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A cheer, some work, a little about running and an interview.

A few things --

First, cheers to all the veterans on this Veterans Day!

Now, let's talk about me. I'm swamped. When it rains, it pours. Be careful what you wish for. All good things come to those who wait. I know there are more cliches that apply, I just can't think of them now because my brain is worn out.

As you know, I don't work full time. Ahem. Oh, right. I take care of my son, which is a full-time job. So, I should more accurately say that I don't work for pay full time. I freelance. This summer I had very few projects. I ran. I vacationed. I kept up with this and everyone else's blogs.

And I worried. "What if this is the end? What if I'm done? Washed up?" I was nervous that no new jobs would come my way.

What was I thinking?

I have more projects right now than I've had since I started freelancing. I'm a little over-loaded but pretty sure I can handle it. I'll probably have to ask for help (in the childcare area) in order to get through, and that is something I always struggle with. I just need to do it. I'll also need to be diligent about finding time to run because I will need that stress relief!

And here's the other thing (It's pretty cool. To me, at least!): Lori from Fake Food Free and Charity Mile interviewed me for the Charity Mile blog. The interview is up now so check it out!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back in (running) action.

After a week of cross-training, I'm back in running form. My ankle felt fine throughout my 4.3 mile run this morning and I am relieved. I took the advice of my wise commenters (commentors? comment makers?) and ran with the Ace bandage/wrap and it seemed to help. I'll probably continue to use it for my next few runs and then see how it feels after that.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel confident enough to run the 15k that I had planned on running today. It was a tough decision but I just didn't want to risk really damaging my ankle and being sidelined for months. So, I sat it out and I'm OK with that. Next year . . . watch out!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2008


First, thanks for all of the ankle advice. I've continued to follow RICE and my ankle is responding well. However, I haven't run on it since Sunday.

No worries, though. There is an upside to being sidelined by a (with apologies to Vava) wonky ankle: Cross-training! This week I've gone for long walks around the neighborhood, pushing my 17-month-old in his stroller, and I've shredded.

Remember when I became a huge Jackie fan? Well, that love is now directed to Jillian because her 30 Day Shred workouts are awesome! (Do I use that word too often? Am I a total product of my '80s youth?) Have you tried these workouts? Do they kick your butt like they do mine? Could I follow more questions with questions?

Yes, they kick my butt in that It's Working! kind of way. I could get used to this cross-training, which bodes well for the winter when I'll want to shake it up a bit because I won't be outside as much.

I'm back to running starting tomorrow. A week is long enough.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

EDITED: People have asked what this shred business is so here is info on the Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Transition time.

This week's topic for Take it and Run Thursday at Runners' Lounge is running through transitions. It's that time of the year, I suppose, with the time change and the season progressing from early fall to mid.

I've had my share of transitions, as we all have. I evolved from a petulant teen to a self-righteous college student, from a carefree single young woman in the Big Apple to a married, work-at-home mom in the suburbs. I've been fortunate to have running to carry my through my more monumental transitions for the past 15 or so years. (The teen me really could have benefited from the habit . . . but there's no going back now!)

When my husband and I moved from NYC to upstate NY, I wasn't sure we had made the right decision. We were suddenly friendless. My job wasn't all it was cracked up to be. So I ran. I logged my runs. I entered races -- lots of them. I ran and ran. Running helped me settle in to my new life. I learned about the area. I began to feel connected. I credit running with helping me to see that the decision to move was the right one. There were other factors, of course, but running helped.

Running also helped me settle in to my new life as a mom. After Conal was born I didn't really know what end was up. Not only was I now a mom but I was no longer working full time. For 13 years, I had -- at least partially -- been defined by my career. Now I was trying to navigate the world as a new mom and a fledgling freelance writer and editor. These things combined to make 2007 the biggest period of transition in my life and running carried me through. I needed that time alone and would look forward to the evenings and weekends when I would head out for what began as run/walks and improved to long runs, hill workouts and races.

When I would run, I would plan. I would think about what was working and what wasn't. I would recall the special moments I had witnessed during the day. I would zone out. Whatever I needed at the time.

It's been a constant, this running thing. A constant that has helped make my transitions smoother, and that I hope will continue to do so for years to come.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ankle advice.

I could use some advice.

My ankle is feeling much, much better. It is still a little bit swollen and a little bit bruised but it feels pretty good. So good that I went out for a run yesterday. Not as good as I thought so I was only able to manage a mile on the roads because of the pain when running up and down the hills. I did the rest of my run on the flat treadmill and it was fine.

Now, I rested for three days and iced, compressed and elevated. Is there anything else I should do? Should I wear my little ace bandage thingy while running? (I've been wearing it mostly for the compression, but it does stabilize the ankle a bit.) Or is that overkill?

** For the record: I did not hurt my ankle on a run. I hurt it while barely moving. I was picking out cheese and I tripped over a wrinkled floor mat.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekend check-in.

The ankle: Still swollen. Slightly bruised. Not too sore.
The weather: Mockingly perfect.
The agenda: Halloween and birthday parties. Cleaning. Volunteering. Working.
The highlight (possible): Sunday morning run.
The highlight (definite): DVR programmed for the NYC Marathon.

It's the simple things in these busy times.

(Good luck to everyone who is racing tomorrow! I hope everyone who raced today ran well!)

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