Saturday, July 26, 2014

Double Grand Opening Adventure!

Today Freddy and I had a great adventure - we rode the Silver Line Metro into DC and went to the Potomac River Running Store on F Street. Why is that a great adventure? Both the Silver Line and the DC =PR= Store were celebrating their Grand Openings! It was two parties in one trip!

The Silver Line
The Silver Line will ultimately take the Metro out to Dulles Airport (and beyond). The first phase of the Silver Line, that runs to Reston, opened today. I have been hearing about Metro to Dulles for over 30 years. This was a big deal! We took one of the first Silver Line trains into the city to Metro Center, which is 3 blocks from the new DC location for Potomac River Running.

Waiting on the platform with our
commemorative pennant 

Selfies taken while riding the train
though Tysons Corner

The =PR= DC Store
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you already know that Potomac River Running is my favorite running store. They are a family-owned running specialty store with 9 locations in the DC metro area. I train with them, I shop with them, I run their races. They seriously rock. Yes, I'm biased. I knew I had to get to the DC store for the grand opening party. As expected, it was awesomely fun and filled with freebies.

Spin the Wheel
We were met at the door by Yosselyn, who seems to be at every PR store ever. I often see her at packet pickup for various races. Liking =PR= on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram got you a spin on the prize wheel. Freddy won a light and I won a gift card for $5. Woot!

I planned my visit to be there when Joe, the Superfeet rep, was there. On Thursday I was diagnosed with intermetatarsal neuromas, and 6 people have told me in the last 48 hours that Superfeet were the answer for them. (Fair balance: 2 people have told me Superfeet were not for them). This morning I bought berry Superfeet and I am looking forward to putting them to the test. Joe answered my questions and hooked me up with a sweet Superfeet Headsweats hat. He also let Freddy hold the foot. Thanks, Joe!

Me & Joe & my new hat

Freddy after the "Morton's Neuroma" lecture

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
At 11, 2, and 5 each day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) a "ribbon cutting ceremony" was held and the next 20 people through the door got gift cards ranging from $5 to $25. We were in the store for the 2 pm ceremony on Saturday, and Freddy was amazed by the giant scissors.

Ray Pugsley, one of the =PR= co-owners,
with the ceremonial scissors

Ribbon cutting ceremony!
I am unsuccessfully photobombing
from inside the store
over Ray's left shoulder...

Michaela was there with Asics shirts and socks. I was psyched because somehow I missed her at the Birthday Bash 5k and it was like a second chance. I got a fancy green shirt and nice pair of Asics kayano classic socks. Thanks, Michaela!

Meet the Staff
I met several folks who work in the DC store, including Rene and Karina. Karina is responsible for this month's store calendar, including the lovely sun in the upper right corner that you can just barely see in my photo.


Karina and her artwork

Injury Clinic
Today happened to be the day of the free injury clinic at the DC store. One of the cool things =PR= does is offer free injury clinics at many of their stores. I went to one at Fairfax =PR= last fall when I was having trouble with my Achilles and Farid Mohammadi helped me out a great deal. Today, Matthew Garet from NRH Rehabilitation Network was on hand in DC.

No injuries for me today, Matthew!

Back Home Again
We headed back home on the Silver Line, and the trip home seemed faster than the trip in. I'm sure it especially felt that way to Freddy, who crashed out asleep wrapped up in a =PR= beach towel that Ray gave us on the way out - who knew we'd need it so soon? Thanks, Ray!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doctor, Doctor, Give me the News

Back in March I wrote about the challenges I was having with my feet going numb after a couple of miles. Getting bigger shoes and switching to Lock Laces helped a lot, but didn't completely solve my numbness. And I've found that it has gotten worse with the onset of the hot and humid summer weather. So I finally made an appointment to see a foot specialist and find out what was going on.

The Diagnosis
At the doctor's office I had X-rays of both feet to see if there had been any past trauma or injury; my X-rays were fine. The doctor manipulated my feet and found intermetatarsal neuromas in each of them, between my third & fourth toes and my second & third toes. He could feel them and hear them clicking. This basically means I have thickened nerve tissue, likely from the repetitive irritation of running. When I run and my feet swell the neuromas get compressed and I experience tingling and numbness that quickly spreads from my toes to my whole foot. Apparently I'm lucky that I'm not experiencing pain - I think my foot goes numb too fast to feel the pain!

photo from:

The Treatment
  • Padding: the doctor gave me metatarsal pads to try out in my running shoes. They provide support for the metatarsal arch, which reduces pressure on the nerve and lessens compression. This is a fairly inexpensive treatment - about $10 for a pair. Placement is a little tricky - they go on your shoe liner behind the area where the ball of your foot sits. It is common to put them on too far forward. I tried them out today while running and was able to adapt to the sensation of having them in my shoes, but the numbness wasn't alleviated. I moved them back a little farther in case the placement was off and will try them again.

a lesson in proper pad placement:
behind the ball of the foot

  • Shoe modifications: wear shoes with a wider toe box, avoid high heels and narrow-toed shoes. I have gone up in shoe size and I keep my athletic shoes on at work whenever possible (yes, I am often that woman wearing a professional dress and sneakers; I've gotten over feeling self-conscious about it). I'm also going to experiment with alternative lacing techniques again.

  • Activity modifications: activities that put pressure on the neuroma can be avoided. (Nooooo...don't make me stop running!)

  • Orthotics: custom orthotics can also be used to provide support and reduce pressure on the nerve and lessen compression. The orthotics specialist happened to be in the office today and was able to fit me in, which he emphasized repeatedly was not a commitment on my part to order the orthotics. They were just making the mold should I want to order them. I went into the fitting thinking they were a strong possibility, and expecting they were something that would simply go into my running shoe. The more we talked, though, the more I began to doubt that I would be able to really adhere to the way they are supposed to be worn, not just for running, but all the time. And the best ones for me are more substantial and aren't going to fit into my work shoes. And they are several hundred dollars, so they aren't something you just try out casually (especially if you need a dress pair and a sport pair). I'm going to do a lot more investigating before I consider going down that path, which I've heard often doesn't work out for people. A middle ground that some folks have had success with is an off-the-shelf shoe insert such as Superfeet, which is around $50.

taking an impression of my foot

my foot in biofoam

"dress" shoe orthotic on the left;
"sport" orthotic on the right

  • Injections: cortisone injections are sometimes used to lessen the symptoms and pain.

  • Surgery: in some cases where patients don't respond to non-surgical treatment, surgery is considered to relieve pressure on the nerve or even remove it. ( thank you!)

While I am glad to finally have a diagnosis, I've clearly still got some work ahead of me to figure out the solution. I'm hoping it is on the easier side - padding and some shoe modifications. I have a follow-up appointment in 6 weeks. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Being Safe When You Run

I've been intending to write about running safety for the last month. Our final speaker in the Women's Training Program was Adrienne Helms, a crime prevention specialist for the Manassas City Police Department. She gave an excellent talk on safety with many good tips. Here in Virginia, a runner was assaulted last week on a local trail, so safety is in the forefront of people's minds again.

Here are some tips from Adrienne:
  1. Risk Awareness - Bad things can happen to any one of us and the possibility of an assault goes up in warmer weather when there are more people out and about. Criminals prey on those who look most vulnerable, so make eye contact and look confident.
  2. Risk Reduction - Stay in witness-rich environments. Don't run to the point of exhaustion - you will be less aware of your surroundings and less able to react and get away quickly if you need to. Leave your earbuds out - you need to hear what is happening around you. If you must have your music, consider using a single earbud or a speaker, but keep the volume low. Vary your route, and don't post it on social media. Don't wear jewelry that might attract attention (flashy ring) or that could be used as a weapon against you (a necklace can be used to choke you). Some women choose to carry pepper spray, mace, even hair spray - however, these items can also be used as a weapon against you.
  3. Risk Recognition - Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, get out. Know your limits, know the area, make a plan so you know how to escape (short cuts, open stores, etc.). Don't be afraid to call 911. Officers would rather help you get home safely than fill out an assault report later. You should always have your phone with you so you can make that call.
  4. Risk Avoidance - Run or walk during the day and in well-lit, witness-rich areas. Run with a group. Learn and practice self-defense.
If you are looking for a self-defense class, one great option is the Rape Aggression Defense System (RAD). You can locate programs across the nation at this link. Here is a quick video from a self defense class hosted by Potomac River Running last night. My favorite tip is to also yell someone's name when you are yelling for help, to suggest to the attacker that you are with someone who is likely to show up any moment.

And since this is a heavy, serious topic, here is a feel-good story about a group of runners that stopped a mugger. They were aware of their surroundings, familiar with the area, trusted their gut that something wasn't right, called 911. Now that's a group I'd like to run with! Stay safe out there.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Triumph at the Track

Tuesdays are track night.  During the winter, it was uncanny how often the snow and the ice came on Tuesdays and cancelled our track workouts. In the summer, however, precipitation doesn't cancel track. A thunderstorm can delay it (and a really long thunderstorm can chase some of us away).

This past Tuesday I got to the track a little early and it was just starting to drizzle. Marian was already out running laps so I joined her to warm up. We kept running, and the rain grew heavier the longer we ran. I usually only run a couple of laps to warm up, but I found myself continuing to circle with Marian, as we worried that the lightning would arrive and chase us away as it had the prior week. In normal circumstances I would have stopped to save my energy for the speedwork, but I worried that the speedwork wouldn't happen because of the storm and I would lose my opportunity to run at all.

The lightning started and we moved to the overhang of the concession stand. I was soaking wet from head to toe, and rather uncomfortable. When the lightning intensified, we moved to the larger overhang by the school. We thought the storm would move quickly, and we could wait it out. Laura and Karen made the best of it by running sprints, to the great entertainment of the rest of us:

Faster than a speeding bullet, it's Laura & Karen!
[photo courtesy Coach Adam]

The storm lasted longer than we expected, but the lightning did move on eventually. Heavy rains continued to pour. I heard the voice in my head telling me I could go home. I had run a mile and a half already and my shoes were completely soaked. It was still pouring. What kind of quality speedwork could I get in this weather? I could go home and spend more time reading bedtimes stories to Freddy. I was torn. But I turned to the track.

I was scheduled to do two repeats of 800 at threshold, 400 recovery jog, 400 hard, with 2-4 minutes recovery between repeats. I started out on my first repeat and focused hard on achieving the right effort level. I felt the last of my mascara run into my eyes. I ran through puddles that made my feet wetter which I didn't even think was possible. I was truly uncomfortable, but feeling good about pushing through and not giving up. My paces for the threshold, recovery, and hard intervals were 10:10, 12:15, and 8:51. I had hit the marks and felt proud.

I was in the recovery between repeats and the voice was saying I could go home. I did one repeat, it was really solid, I hit the paces, I persevered through really uncomfortable conditions. Go home. Read to Freddy. I talked to Coach Adam and said I couldn't do another repeat. He said of course I could. I then corrected myself and said he was right, I could, but I didn't want to. I wouldn't be able to run the same paces I had just run.

And there is was. The fear. I'm not good enough. If I can't do it perfectly, why bother. And Adam said the right thing to break through those thoughts. He said I don't have to run those same paces. I can back off and slow it down, but still go through the same relative intervals. That completing the volume of training that I had planned was the important thing. It was like a light bulb in my head - don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It was okay to go out and do another repeat at slower paces. So I said to Adam, you are right, I can and I will do another repeat. And I did. At 11:19, 12:59, and 9:46. And I felt pretty darned triumphant when I did go home and read Freddy his bedtime stories.

We did it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Long Run Groove

I'm getting back into the swing of the Saturday long runs with =PR= DTP. I love having a group of people to run with and a training plan to follow. Today's goal was 5 miles, with the last 2 building to race pace. I don't yet know what my half marathon race pace is; for Nike Women's Half Marathon, my pace was 12:45. I had a strong race with solid negative splits so I'm certainly looking to improve on that for the Philadelphia Half. Catherine thinks I can beat 2:30, which would mean at least 11:26 pace, I think.

Christina came out to run with us today which was awesome! I haven't run with her in a couple of months and really miss her. So I was running with four of my favorite women and the happy energy over the first mile was palpable as we chattered away. It made the 5 am alarm worth it! We stopped at the 2.5 mile mark to turn around, fuel, and take a "groupie" (my niece informs me a selfie with 3 or more people is a groupie. who knew?).

Christina, me, Marian, Catherine, Karen
(red blur in the back is a bicyclist!)

For the last half of the run I went out a bit faster with Catherine to work on building to race pace. My first three miles were very consistent: 12:25, 12:22, 12:25. The fourth mile was 11:39. Catherine encouraged me to take off for the fifth and keep building, and I ran 10:27. It felt really good. Catherine is gently brainwashing me into doing a marathon. She is very compelling...

After 5 miles I was happy to be done and cooling down. Catherine was just getting started, however, as she had 12 miles on her Richmond Marathon training schedule. She was looping back to our coolers, though, because she needed to test her blood sugar. Catherine has prediabetes, and it is one of those infuriatingly unfair situations (my words, not hers) where she does everything right in terms of lifestyle interventions - exercising and eating right, keeping her weight down - and it doesn't resolve on its own. Running long distances requires fuel - carbohydrate fuel - which can throw blood sugar out of whack. Catherine is diligently monitoring her blood sugar and keeping a nutrition log so she can learn about what works best. You can read about her early "lessons learned" in her fabulous blog: Live to Run, Run to Live.

Catherine's blood glucose testing kit
(which ironically isn't covered by insurance because it is preventive)

I felt energized by this morning's run and the wonderful women who ran with me. I feel lucky and grateful.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Brutal (but Fun) Birthday Bash 5k

Today was the Birthday Bash 5k and it was a challenging race for Karen & me for a variety of reasons. I'm glad I did it, but I am glad it is done!

Packet Pickup & Swag
Packet pickup was yesterday at Fairfax Potomac River Running. In addition to the race shirt and the commemorative pin, my packet had bonus coupons for some stores in Fairfax Corner and an awesome rucksack from Lucy. Freddy and I headed immediately to Pinkberry to use our 20% off a smoothie coupon. Yum!

swag from packet pickup (this is the back of the shirt)

close-up of the pin

What made the race fun?
  • Running with Karen
I've been running with Karen since February. She is a great running buddy who helps me keep my spirits up even when we are having a tough run like today. Thank you Karen!

pre-race - little did we know how rough it would be!

  • Celebrating the successes of others
It may have been a tough race for us, but there were lots of things to celebrate. Laura ran 31:18, which is phenomenal given the weather and the extra distance tacked onto the course (see below, things that made it brutal). And Jen finished off her 40k of racing before 40 today - a whole month ahead of schedule. Congrats Jen!

Laura - finishing triumphantly!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Jen - finishing 40k of racing by 40!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

  • Celebrating Potomac River Running's Birthday
The purpose of this race is to celebrate PRR's birthday! This year they are 11. So the race has fun food like snow cones, cupcakes, an ice cream truck. There is a photo booth. Lots of shoe manufacturers (Adidas, Brooks, Mizuno) had test shoes you could run in. There were prizes and giveaways, like PRR shirts. This is a party! And it is fun.

Brooks shoes
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

The Brooks Ice Cream Truck (Freddy's favorite)
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Free PRR shirts and Nike balloons (Freddy's 2nd favorite)
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Asics shirts and socks;
Adidas shoes in the background
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Adidas running shoes for testing
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Saucony Kettle Korn for eating!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

  • Support from Rick & Freddy
I always appreciate it when Rick and Freddy come out to cheer for me. They picked some cool places along the course, one up above us close to mile 1, a little later around mile 2.5, and close to the finish line. Thank you to my guys for supporting us!

Seeing Rick, Freddy, and the orange balloon
made me so happy right here!
[photo courtesy of Rick]

Getting an assist from Freddy. We were
really struggling at this point, and they
boosted my morale a lot!
[photo courtesy of Rick]

Finally, the finish line is in sight!
[photo courtesy of Rick]

What made the race brutal?

Brutal. This pretty much sums it up - me, wanting to submerge
myself in the trashcan with icy water bottles after the race.
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

  • Training run the day before
Yesterday Karen and I did our long run. It is a recovery week, so long only equaled 4 miles, but it was hot and humid yesterday morning (94% humidity and 68 degrees when we started). And we are having some challenges adjusting to the 6:30 am start of the long runs. In the winter when we were training for Cherry Blossom they started at the cushy time of 8:00 am. In retrospect, we probably should have either selected the Saturday morning long run OR the Sunday morning race. Especially since it was a recovery week. We adjusted by running easy instead of racing for time, but it was still rough going.
  • Heat and humidity
Today was 83% humidity (a bit lower than yesterday) and 73 degrees (a bit warmer). But most of the course is in the sun, and I sure missed the shade of the trail from our training runs.  
  • An extra quarter mile on the course
The race leaders took a wrong turn at the start of the course which added a quarter mile. I thought it was odd when we turned left in the parking lot instead of going straight like I expected, but thought I must be remembering the course wrong, or they had tweaked it.  When we didn't get to mile marker 1 until 1.25 we thought maybe it was in the wrong place. When we again hit mile marker 2 at 2.25 we started to wonder what was wrong. In the end, my Garmin registered 3.41.
  • Trying out new clothes
Yes, we know better than to try new stuff on race day. but it was a 5k and we weren't looking to PR. Karen tested out her new running skirt from Athleta. Shorts didn't ride up, it was very cute, but did have a rough seam. Karen also ran in some tester shoes from Adidas, which gave her an extra raffle entry. The shoes didn't help her foot numbness. And speaking of...
  • Foot numbness
We both have problems with our feet going numb when we run. Karen has been to the doctor and been diagnosed with Morton's Neuroma. She has tried a variety of treatments and hasn't landed on the magical cure yet. I'm going to the doctor in a couple of weeks; so far I've moved to larger shoes and adopted Lock Laces. Both have helped, but not solved, the problem. Today numbness was a factor for both of us, and it is really becoming a source of frustration.

stick a fork in me, I am done!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Happy Birthday Potomac River Running!!
But in the end, the fun outweighed the challenges and a good time was had by all. Thank you Potomac River Running for all that you do for the running community! and Happy Birthday to you!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Firecracker 5k Cheer-a-palooza

Today my husband Rick ran the Firecracker 5k in Reston. I have to admit that I have a bit of race envy when Rick is running and I'm not, especially when I have so many friends running! But having so many friends running makes it the perfect cheering opportunity. In today's blog I am going to highlight the running friends Freddy & I cheered for today, from Rick & his trainees; to my Potomac River Running 101, Cherry Blossom, and DTP friends; to my Women's Training Program friends; to my Moms Run This Town Friends. Oh, and TLC happened to be there filming a Duggar. That's a lot of people to cheer for!

Cheering with Freddy
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Rick and his "trainees"
Rick is a personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness and he encourages his peeps to run races. Today Sharon, Brenda, and Brittany came out to run. They motivate each other and they are fun to run with - I ran with Sharon and Brenda last year in the "Run with Santa 5k." Sharon also helped keep Freddy motivated for his first 5k, the "Commitment Day 5k", by encouraging him to beat the Grinch, who was also running. They all ran last year's Firecracker 5k, too!

Rick sporting his US World Cup jersey
Surprisingly, we only saw one other runner with this shirt!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

2013 Firecracker 5k (since I can't find any pics of this crew from this year)
back: Brenda, Rick, Brittany, Cindy; front: Sharon, Michael

Photo update: finish line pictures came up late for Brenda, Brittany, and Sharon:

Brenda, wearing the awesome blue shirt from 2013's race
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Brittany, always smiling!
(you can also see Karen's cute socks on the right)
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Sharon always looks like her races were effortless!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Potomac River Running Training Buddies
I've been training with Potomac River Running since last fall, including Running 101, Cherry Blossom, and now Distance Training Program, so I have met a lot of people through =PR= training.

Laura coming in strong at the finish!
This was her fastest 5k this year!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Karen with a tutu she MADE HERSELF!
[photo courtesy Karen]

late photo addition: Karen's finish line pic!
(see Brittany's photo for Karen's cute socks)
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Christina running strong at Mile 3.
I miss running with Christina so much!
Christina's next big challenge is Army Ten Miler
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Lynn has been running with me since last fall
through three different training programs!
Her next goal is the Perfect 10k
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Marian has also been running with me since last fall
Look at all of that patriotic spirit!
She's thinking about a half marathon for this fall...
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Jen is another fall 101 running buddy
She is close to finishing off
40k in racing for 2014!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Lisa is coming off an injury and is inspiring!
She ran a 6:46 pace today - wow!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Coach Adam, our =PR= track coach
He scored a PR today of 18:26!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Amy, Sally, and Amy
Amy & Amy are running the Army Ten Miler in October!
Freddy adores Sally from "March with Babies" volunteering
[photo courtesy Sally]

go, Sally, go!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Women's Training Program Ladies
The WTP just wrapped up with a celebratory party last Monday. I met many wonderful women in this program and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Bringing the WTP spirit to the Firecracker 5k
Yellow shirts are coaches!
[photo courtesy of Agnรจs]

Coach Molly - one of the WTP co-directors
She is super inspirational!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Coach Roz - love her running skirt
and the "thumbs up" finish line pose
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Coach Louisa - she won the Ann Deschamps Power of Women Award
for providing vision, inspiration, and motivation
to help women athletes. Cool, huh?
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Coach Sylvia, who I ran with the most in WTP
Behind her in yellow is Coach Donna Lea
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Moms Run This Town Mamas
We are lucky to have so many chapters of MRTT in this area! MRTT is a free running club for women to help support and motivate them in their running journeys. My home chapter is Herndon/Reston, but I'm fortunate to have buddies in several other local chapters as well.

Moms Run This Town multi-chapter picture

This is Debbie in the red, she is in the Ashburn MRTT
Debbie came in 3rd in her age group today!
She has a great blog: Deb Runs - check it out!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Deborah Brooks - McLean/Tysons MRTT Chapter Leader
How cool is her tank?! "Moms salute this town"
Check out her blog: Confessions of a Mother Runner
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Erin Troia - Ashburn MRTT Chapter Leader
She always has amazing outfits!
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Joshua Duggar
Joshua Duggar ran the 5k and there were TLC camera crews everywhere. It was a little surreal. A bunch of my friends finished around the same time he did, and there are no finish line photos from that section on the PR photo site. Maybe they will be in the episode when it airs on TV?

Joshua Duggar with the TLC crews
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]

Joshua Duggar watches the kids' "fun run"
[photo courtesy Potomac River Running]
UPDATE: The Firecracker 5k is part of "Duggars In Cuffs," episode 9 from season 9 of  TLC's "19 Kids and Counting." This episode is scheduled to air at 9 pm (eastern time) on October 7, 2014.