Thursday, August 28, 2014

South Lakes 10k Recap

I signed up for the South Lakes 10k knowing I wouldn't be in optimal racing shape since we would be getting home late the night before the race after our family vacation week in Turks and Caicos. However, it seemed the best way to ensure I got in something approximating a long run since I would miss it during vacation. So I signed up before we left for vacation and told myself that my race time wouldn't matter, just that I showed up and finished.

Getting up that morning was challenging, and I was glad I had packed all my race gear and put it aside before we left for vacation. I had to get up extra early, too, since I was picking up my packet that morning. I also intended to run a couple of miles to warm up before the race (so I could get closer to my training plan's long run goal of 10 miles), but I didn't follow through on that intention. I decided it was more fun to hang out and chat with the ladies from the local Moms Run This Town chapters. It made me feel happy to have buddies to meet up with and talk to about race paces and running shoes and such.

Multi-chapter MRTT pre-race pic
(Happy birthday to Crescent, center in red!)

We made our way to the starting line. I knew that I would be running slower than my MRTT buddies, but Melissa was kind enough to say that I ran at the same pace as her and Beth when folks were planning their paces. I did run the first couple of miles with Melissa and Beth in my distant sights, but my feet went numb and I lost sight of them after I stopped to adjust my shoelaces.

Beth and Melissa, rocking the race
and having fun!

I was so frustrated when my feet went numb. I was hopeful that the wider shoes were the solution after my last couple of non-numb runs. More frustrating was the fact that I didn't have LockLaces on my shoes (regular laces are better to lock in a narrow ankle), so adjusting my shoelaces involved actually stopping and sitting and untying and loosening and re-tying. And I had to do it a few times along the way before I got it right. I lost a lot of time, but I kept a good attitude about it and reminded myself this was a training run, not a race. You use training runs to learn, and those shoes now have LockLaces on them!

With Melissa and Beth no longer in my sights, I found that I was listening to a conversation between two runners behind me. At some point I realized I knew the female voice, and turned around to see Gina and her rabbit ears. She introduced me to Nicolas, who is training for an ultramarathon. I ran with them for a bit until I needed to stop and adjust my shoelaces again.

Gina and Nicolas

Then I was by myself again for a bit, when I saw two women that I recognized from the promo pictures from last year's race. I asked them if they were the women in the pictures and we had a sudden moment of twitter follower recognition! It was Tina and Angela, who I follow on twitter and live vicariously through because they have pretty cool social lives. They wear some of the cutest outfits to races and do them together and look like they are having so much fun. They recognized me from twitter, too, which made me feel good. I was happy to meet them in person and spend part of the race with them.

Tina and Angela rocking
the super-cute outfits

I was able to pick up the pace for the last couple of miles once my shoelaces were loose enough. I felt excited when I finally saw the track in front of me and knew I was close to the end. As I entered the track I heard my name called over the loudspeaker and I put my arms up in the air triumphantly. I actually felt tingly all over as I ran on the track that I've run on so often on Tuesday nights with my training program, and so often for the local races. I've run on that track dozens of times. It is familiar to me. A place I feel comfortable and accomplished.  I was marveling at the fact that I felt that way on a track. I sprinted when I reached the final straightaway; there was no one between me and the finish line for the full stretch. I crossed with joy and exhaustion.

the finish line is in sight...

...mission accomplished!

Despite my lost time over shoelaces and general tiredness from vacation travel, I beat last year's time by 33 seconds. I was glad that I hadn't run slower than last year. I jumped into a quick post-race picture with the MRTT ladies and then rushed to my car to make it to Freddy's Youth in Motion fun run.

MRTT post-race pic. Sorry I missed the brunch, ladies!

Freddy with his YIM Fun Run medal!

All in all, it was a pretty great first morning back from vacation.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Running in Turks and Caicos

My family was on vacation in Turks and Caicos last week. While packing, I decided to commit to running at least once while I was there. Running shoes take up valuable suitcase space, so I wore them on our travel days. My travel look was definitely a "Glamour Magazine Don't" but when you are traveling with carry-on luggage only, you have to make some sacrifices!

The Beaches Resort where we were staying has group runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7 am. I planned to join the Wednesday group run. I had my usual group run fear that I wouldn't be fast enough to keep up. I also didn't have my trusted Nathan water belt with me so there was no water or pocket for "stuff".

Ready to Run!

We met at the pier by the dive shop and there were four other runners in addition to the Beaches fitness director Leonardo. Three were clearly "fast" runners that I was going to have trouble keeping up with. The fourth, Sylvie, was from Montreal. She had a belt for stuff and a bottle of water - I recognized her immediately as one of my "type" of running buddies. Slower, but determined and prepared. Sylvie told us she had just started exercising a few weeks ago and was looking to lose 30 pounds.  

The dive shop pier

Leonardo indicated we would run a slow mile first so we could all learn the course, and then folks could do as many miles as they wanted at whatever pace they preferred. That first mile was an 11:00-minute/mile pace. Much slower than the last group run pace that I experienced (they were pushing 9:30 and I ultimately lost them); but still faster than I could comfortably run.

Leonardo and the "fast" runners

I kept as close as I could so I could learn the loop, and parted ways with them after the first mile. I also lost Sylvie fairly early as she wisely chose to do run/walk intervals at her own pace. I ran another mile on my own, closer to a 12:00-minute/mile pace. After that second mile, the humidity and lack of water were taking their toll on me so I decided I had accomplished my mission of running on vacation and mentally checked that box.

As I was heading for my room, I saw Sylvie and sprinted over to her with my last burst of energy. We congratulated each other on our runs and commitment to exercising. I know Sylvie will stick with it and lose those 30 pounds!

Sylvie and me, post-run! 

on the pier with Freddy & Rick later that day

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Conquering Neuromas

Three weeks ago I was diagnosed with neuromas in my feet. It manifests as numbness in both feet after I've run a couple of miles. I've been working my way through my doctor's recommendations with mixed results. Today I finally begin to see the light at the end of tunnel. What have I tried?

KT Tape for Neuromas
Yes, there's an app(lication) for that. KT Tape has helped me through a couple of injuries, so I thought I would try it out for my neuromas. It didn't really make a difference - it didn't make it worse, it didn't make it better. But it was fun to try!

Metatarsal Pads & Superfeet
The metatarsal pads were similar to the KT Tape - didn't make it worse, didn't make it better. I may still experiment with them a couple more times to be sure, but they just didn't seem to make a difference.

The Superfeet have been great. I don't know how much of a difference they are making for my neuromas, but I can tell that they are impacting my running form in a positive way and giving me good support overall. I've starting wearing them in my regular shoes, too. My new motto is, "don't leave home without them!"

L to R: Superfeet for dress flats, Berry Superfeet.
Berry Superfeet with Metatarsal Pad

LockLaces & Alternate Lacing
Using LockLaces has been very helpful for creating more space for my toes, and they are quickly adjusted on the run if I find they are too tight.

I tried a couple of different lacing patterns to add some more space to my shoes. It helped a bit, but not enough. It signaled that adding some space was a step in the right direction, though...

extra space from skipping one eyelet helped
a little bit...

extra space from skipping multiple eyelets
helped even more
(Rhett loves those lock laces!)

Wider Shoes
This was the first suggestion my doctor had. And something Coach Shannon has been gently suggesting to me for a while. I don't know why I've been so resistant to buying wider shoes. But I finally did it. I stayed with the Saucony Guides that have been working well for my pronation. I bought a size 6 wide. My regular (non-running) shoes are a size 5. I've had to work my way up to this - first a size 5-1/2 (back in March), then a size 6 (July), and finally the 6 wide. The good news is that I have run twice with my new wider shoes, and so far have had no numbness. Let's hope this is the solution!

Size 6 Wide

Friday, August 15, 2014

We Have a Winner!

I did not expect it to take two weeks to rename my blog! I had lots of good suggestions and really needed to ponder it for a while. In the end, I had three candidates that I was trying to decide between:

  • Kim Runs! 
  • Kim Runs...Embracing My Pace
  • Kim Runs Miles with Smiles

I finally chose the third one because so many people have commented on how happy I am when I run and how I always seem to be smiling in my race pictures. I enjoy running and I especially enjoy sharing the miles and smiles with others. It may be a little cheesy, but it is the epitome of who I am as a runner.

The contest winner is one of my best running friends, Karen, with whom I have probably shared the most running miles and smiles. Karen's suggestion of "Kim Runs: Miles of Smiles" was the entry that inspired my ultimate selection. Honorable mention to Janine who hit upon a similar theme with "Kim Runs: Smiling at the Finish Line". Karen will get the "Run with Dad" thermal lunch bag and Janine will get a "Run with Dad" commemorative pin. 

Running Happy with Karen

Run with Dad Giveaway Swag

Here's to many more miles and smiles!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Running Away from Lyme Disease

I've had this post about Lyme Disease percolating in my head for at least a month now. I see more and more of my friends and family being diagnosed with Lyme disease, some with very serious and chronic implications. I know this isn't a "fun" topic, but it is vitally important. Please take a few minutes to read about what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from this increasingly prevalent and sometimes devastating disease.

*** I am not a medical expert. There is excellent information about Lyme Disease available at ILADS.***

Prevalence & Misdiagnoses
What does Lyme Disease have to do with running? When Runners World does a cover story on it, you know there is a connection. The number of  reported cases is increasing and experts believe the illness is far more common than has been diagnosed. Lyme is frequently misdiagnosed as everything from chronic fatigue to fibromyalgia to multiple sclerosis. The symptoms of Lyme can easily be misinterpreted by runners as merely a sign of overtraining, and ignored for too long.

Why is accurate diagnosis so hard?
  • Ticks are tiny and easily missed on the body. 
  • Not everyone gets a bull's-eye rash. 
  • The diagnostic tests often come back negative, especially in the early stages of the disease when treatment is most effective. 
  • Lyme looks like many other diseases, and is so easy to misdiagnose.

It saddens me to say that I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all of the close friends and family I have who have battled or are battling Lyme. (and yes, I have all 20 of my digits for those who are wondering...) Some of them were lucky and they were diagnosed and treated early and have had no further symptoms. Some are not so lucky, having been misdiagnosed for years and are now suffering from chronic symptoms. One has just finished a year-long treatment for Neurologic Lyme. The disease can be devastating; it is worthwhile to educate yourself and take precautions to protect yourself.

There are steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of (1) being bitten by a tick, (2) having a tick stay on you for 24-48 hours, and/or (3) being misdiagnosed if you do contract Lyme disease.

It isn't realistic to avoid areas with ticks.Once thought to only be in wooded areas, ticks are now showing up in our backyards and other unexpected places. To avoid being bitten:
  • Wear light-colored, long sleeves and pants tucked into socks when feasible, especially in wooded-areas
  • Use effective bug spray. The CDC recommends products with DEET. A more natural, and potentially more effective, alternative is Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent (highly rated by Consumer Reports).
  • Have your yard treated to control ticks. In Northern Virginia, Backyard Bug Patrol is an excellent option.

Ways to avoid having a tick stay on you for long enough to infect you with Lyme:
  • Check for ticks after you've been outdoors. You need help with this - there are places on your body you can't see yourself, like your back and scalp! Get in the habit of doing thorough tick checks with your family, and remember to check carefully everywhere. Some ticks are tiny - poppy seed tiny - and these are the ones most often carrying Lyme.
  • Wash clothes in HOT water as soon as you can to kill any passenger ticks. 
  • Take a shower as soon as you can and scrub with a rough loofah. 

Ways to avoid being misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late:
  • Don't wait to see the doctor - if you think you may have Lyme get it checked out.
  • Be your own advocate if the test comes back negative but you still feel off, or if you get diagnosed with something else - chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis - that doesn't seem right. Get a second opinion. See another doctor. Consider contacting ILADS to find a "lyme literate" doctor.  The earlier Lyme is caught, the greater the likelihood it can be effectively treated.
  • In the DC area, Jemsek Specialty Clinic is highly recommended.

Good luck and stay safe!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Contest: Rename My Blog!

For the past few weeks, I've been seriously contemplating renaming my blog. It seemed like everywhere I turned, my friends and family were saying to me, "You *are* a runner, you are no longer *becoming* one." And you know what? They are right! I *am* a runner and I believe it now. My friend Catherine's beautiful blog post, Am I A Runner? pushed me over the edge.

I am going to rename my blog - but I don't know what to name it and I need your help! I want to keep "Kim Runs..." What should come after that? If you have an idea, please post it in the comments below. The winning name gets bragging rights, and a Potomac River Running "Run With Dad" thermal lunch bag. If more than two people suggest the winning name, the first comment wins. Thanks in advance for your help!

"Run with Dad" lunch bags pictured in the upper corners