Saturday, March 29, 2014

Freddy Runs the Mighty Mile

Today was the inaugural race in the =PR= Mighty Mile kids' series.  I picked up Freddy's bib and shirt yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see that we were the first to register for the race and Freddy had bib #1:

I think the shirt is really cute.  I like that it is off-white instead of white and the caped super hero shield logo is really cool.

The weather was a little drizzly but the kids were full of enthusiasm.  The heats started at 8:00 am for the 12-14 year olds.  Freddy's group, 4-5 year olds, was at 9:00.  Kids aged 6 and above ran a full mile, 4-5 year olds ran 4/10 of a mile, and the tot trot was about 100 yards.  Freddy was a little unsure about running today, so we took some fun pictures before the race to ease his anxiety:

Freddy decided he was ready to run and I watched him take off without me when his race started.  This is the first race that he has run without either Rick or me running with him.  My heart was a little bit in my throat as I watched him turn the corner of the large block and disappear from sight:

The race course is brilliantly designed so that parents can cut through and catch sight of their kids on the other side of the block.  I saw Freddy cruising along and yelled out "Go Freddy!", which was met by a glare and a statement of "Mommy, you were supposed to wait at the finish line."  Oops.  So back to the finish line I went, where I snapped an action shot:

And here he is, coming in to the finish:

This picture was snapped by the wonderful =PR= photographer who I can always count on to capture the perfect shot of whichever one of us is running.  I am truly grateful to this woman who has filled up my facebook page over the last two years with fantastic photos, and I must find out her name!

Afterwards Freddy was really proud and posed to show off his "Mighty Mile" medal: 

Apparently the medals from the two upcoming races in the series will clip onto this one to make a mega medal!  I highly recommend the =PR= races and this kids' series is a great way to get your kids involved with running. 


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Final Group Training Run for Cherry Blossom

This morning was my last long run with the =PR= Cherry Blossom Training program.  There is one more week of the program, but I will miss next week's run because Rick is running the Reston Half Marathon. 

I left my house with a bit of trepidation this morning, wondering if I could - or should - complete the 11 mile-run I had on the schedule.  I've been having some knee pain this week when I go up or down stairs.  The good news is that it has been fairly mild and it is on both sides, suggesting it is more likely due to overdoing it last week (when I logged 21 miles, a bit of a jump from 16 the prior week) than due to an injury.  I took it very easy this week and was good about icing and stretching.  But it was difficult to leave the house, especially with the wafting smell of bacon coming from the kitchen.  Spoiler alert - when I came home 4 hours later, there was still bacon (and eggs!) waiting for me.  My husband rocks.

I was glad to see that both Christina and Karen were there this week.  I've run with both of them multiple during our training, but they've never been there the same week and had never met each other.  It was really fun to all run together.  We broke our run into a couple of smaller segments in case my knees weren't up to the full run.  Here is a picture of us at the 4-mile mark by "Difficult Run":

One of our highlights today was seeing these cool elliptical-type bikes.  We think this might be Coach Jessica on one of those bikes, but she went by too fast for us to be sure.  Coach Jessica is training for Boston and has a pretty cool blog:

We finished our first 8 and swung by the water cooler for a quick break.  Then we headed out for our last segment.  Christina and Karen were both on deck for 10 miles this week, but they said they were up to going to 11 with me.  It was great to have the company and encouragement and we did indeed make it to 11.  My garmin proclaimed a new record - longest run, 11.05 miles! 

Upon arriving home I was chilled and eager to jump into a hot shower, but I knew that icing my knees had to be my first priority.  So I strapped on the ice packs and ace bandages and caught up on some emails while I munched on some bacon:


After the hot shower I wrapped up in my compression capris and socks, and got ready for Freddy's track practice.  Just call me Coach Kim!  It makes for a long day, but a satisfying one.  And if I can move around enough this afternoon at track, I will earn my first fitbit 35,000 step badge.  Two records in one day.  Nice.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why Do I Run? To Change the Way I See Myself

Last week Rick asked me if I had blogged about why I run.  I realized this was a deep question requiring some reflection.

The easy and superficial answer is that I run to set a good example for my son Freddy.  I want him to see physical activity as a normal part of our life.

The deeper answer is that I run to change the way I think of myself.  To change the words that play on those mental tapes in my mind.  The ones that say “you are not athletic”, “you can’t do that”, “you will hurt yourself”, and “you should be embarrassed to even try”.

When I was in school, I was definitely not athletic.  I was picked last when teams were being chosen.  I was often the first one out in dodge ball.  I didn’t have the upper body strength to climb the rope or the coordination to do a cartwheel.  In junior high I used to dread report card day, wondering if my physical education grade was going to keep me off the straight-A honor roll as it often did.  I can’t tell you how mad that would make me – I would study and work so hard in school, and yet be unable to work hard enough to get an A in PE.

In 1988, I started running in college at William & Mary with some of my freshman hall mates.  I don’t remember why or how.  But I remember enjoying it, feeling like I was good at it.  It helped me shed the freshman 15 that I put on that first semester and it helped me manage stress.

In 1996, I ran my first race, the Fair Lakes 8k.  I ran it at a 9:57 pace.  I still remember the cotton reebok shirt I wore that day.  I remember how it felt to cross the finish line.

Six weeks later I ran the Seaside 10-miler race with my friend Roy Ahn, at a 9:42 pace.  I learned a lot of lessons in that race – some related to GI-issues, some related to mental barriers (I never would have finished without Roy’s encouragement), and the biggest related to not increasing your mileage too quickly.  My first diagnosis of “Runner’s Knee” and my first experience with physical therapy followed that race.

I ran recreationally for the next five years.  My pace fell: ‘97, ‘98, ‘01 paces for the Fair Lakes 8k were 10:49, 11:49, and 11:47, respectively.  Somewhere in there I had my second diagnosis of Runner’s Knee and a return to physical therapy.  And at some point the mental tapes in my head won out over my running and I stopped.

In late 2011, I started running again.  Rick had returned to running and it was inspiring to see him competing in races.  I wanted to permanently silence those mental tapes in my head.  I wanted to be athletic.  I wanted to set a good example for my son.

My first race was the Red Shoe 5k in March 2012.  I had to walk much of it.  My race pace was 14:08.  My calves hurt badly.  But I persevered.  I kept running, I trained with =PR= to learn how to run properly, I worked to shut off those negative messages in my mind.  In February 2014 I ran the RunYour Heart out 5k at a 10:37 pace.  Next month I will run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler and the Nike Women’s HalfMarathon.
I am athletic.  I can do that. I will not hurt myself.  I am proud to try.  And I am on the straight-A honor roll.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Long Run: Collecting Information for Race Day

I am less than a month away from the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler.  While my training is going well and I will be well-prepared for the actual running part, I realized it was time to get serious about all of the details that I need to figure out to help ensure the race goes smoothly.  Today I ran 9.11 miles (!!!) and I was able to start to sort out some of the racing details.

Numb Feet
Last week I blogged about the problems I was having with my feet going numb after a few miles.  I got lots of good suggestions from folks, including hickies and superfeet, and even deliberately wiggling my toes intermittently.  I am relieved to be able to report that the lock laces I got last week seem to have done the trick.  My feet did not go numb at all during today's long run.  The lock laces are elastic and they are easy to adjust mid-run for an even looser fit (which I do).  And not having to tie my shoes at all is an awesome bonus!

Fueling during the Race
I've settled on gu/gel as the right medium for my refueling, along with water from either a water stop or the bottles on my Nathan hydration belt.  But there are lots of flavors and brands out there and I haven't been too focused on figuring out what I really like and what sits well in my stomach.  I'm paying more attention and collecting some data points:
  • Roctane Endurance Gel in Chocolate Raspberry: I had this today at mile 4.  It tasted good, not overly sweet, and had a boost of caffeine to boot.  A leading contender for race day.
  • Peanut Butter GU: I had this during one of my mid-week training runs.  It didn't sit well in my stomach or taste as good as I expected.  Not going back to that one.  Other GUs that aren't my favorite are Chocolate Outrage (too much like chocolate frosting, which isn't a great thing when you are running) and Salted Caramel (sounds better in theory than it tastes in reality).
  • Clif Shot Gel: I've had a few of these over the past weeks but didn't pay enough attention to what I liked.  I recall them sitting well and tasting fairly good.  I may try some out this upcoming week to collect more data.
To Compress or not to Compress
I've been wearing compression socks while I run for the last few months.  The data on compression is unclear.  I definitely believe they help with my recovery, but I'm not sure if they help or hinder my runs.  For the first few miles (before my feet have swollen), they tend to feel a little tight on my calves.  After that, they feel great and supportive.  I was a little nervous to go on a long run without them, but I figured I needed to test it out so I would know what works best on race day.  I found that running without compression socks was fine.  My calves did not feel weak towards the end of my run like I was worried they might. 

Today I got some unexpected practice in - making sure your spectators know where to find you!  I sent my Garmin LiveTrack link to my husband as I typically do when I run.  Imagine my surprise and utter delight when I found Rick and Freddy on the side of the trail at mile 2, cheering me on my training run!

I wrapped up my 9.11 miles with a lot of good data points and some nice endorphins to carry me through the day.  I am proud to report that once again, I came in last and felt pretty darn good about it!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Uncomfortably Numb

I've been having ongoing problems with my feet going numb after 3 miles or so.  This is not a new problem for me, but I often didn't run much farther than 3 miles so I was able to tough it out and generally ignore it.  Now that I'm running longer distances, though, that isn't a very practical approach.  I've followed up on various suggestions, and not yet hit on the magic solution.

Approach #1: Get bigger shoes
I was wearing a size 5 shoe, which is the same size shoe that I wear when I'm not running.  We've all heard the advice - size up at least a half size, maybe even a full size for running.  So I finally broke down and got a size 5.5.  I don't know why I've been so resistant to this.  The larger shoes feel better, but the numbness hasn't gone away.  And a 6 really is too big.

Approach #2: Experiment with lacing
Loosening my laces can help take some of the pressure off.  I've also tried various lacing patterns that are designed to reduce the pressure.  Below is the most recent lacing pattern I was trying.  The laces run parallel until the forth pair of eyelets.  Again, it seemed to help, but not enough.  I had to stop several times during miles 4-6 to keep loosening my laces.  By the end my feet were still numb and I was surprised I wasn't running right out of my shoes they were so loose!

Approach #3: Lock laces
I am now the proud owner of a pair of lock laces. They are no-tie elastic laces and some folks have found them helpful for numbness.  I had a bit of trouble getting them into my shoes (the eyelets were too narrow for the laces), but cutting off the tips helped with that.  I wasn't sure if I should try an alternate lacing pattern designed to reduce pressure or go with the regular pattern.  I laced them using the Lydiard lacing approach and found they were ridiculously loose, so I went with the standard pattern.  You can see my new laces below:

I'm really hoping this does the trick, and I'm open to any suggestions my readers may have!  I think my next step may have to be going to a podiatrist or other specialist to see if I have a nerve problem that can easily(?) be addressed.  Some of my research indicates that this numbness may relate to Morton's Foot Syndrome, which is a classy way of saying my second toe is longer than my big toe.  Wish me luck, and let me know if you have any ideas!