Another attack

Nine women, several of them runners, have been attacked in the Austin area this year. And every time it happens, the news reports focus on reminding women to run with partners, skip the headphones, and generally be vigilant while out running. I wrote about this back in January, but it’s back in the news today because this week yet another woman was assaulted in a public place.


While I appreciate the concern, and while I think this kind of advice is a reasonable short-term response in the face of what appears to be a serial attacker, I think we have a much larger issue to deal with here. There are people who think it’s okay to assault women. Women minding their own business–running, walking, whatever–and there are people who dismiss (or worse, justify) these attacks, that these women somehow deserved it because of what they were wearing or because they chose to run alone or with headphones.

And it’s not just limited to women in real-life situations, although it’s true that when I’m running I’ve been catcalled more times than I can count. This week I read (and shared, and discussed) a Facebook post from a woman named Kasey Rose-Hodge, who called out those who think these ridiculous bathroom laws are somehow protecting women from male predators in public restrooms. The reality is that, as she says, these men don’t need to dress up as women in order to attack women in restrooms. They can–and do–attack women anywhere.


You can read her full post here.

Well guess what happened next? People who didn’t like her message reported her to Facebook for nudity/explicit content, and evidently FB automatically removes those reported posts rather than having human eyes review them first. Rose-Hodge lost her posting and private message privileges for 24 hours as a result. Not only did people disagree with her–I have no issue with that–but those who disagreed with her exploited the “report explicit content” function as a tactic to censor her. For using a public platform to express an opinion on a current event, she was attacked and harassed, her voice silenced.

I don’t want to live in a society that treats women as second-class citizens, whose opinions are worth less than men’s and need to be suppressed.

I don’t want to be protected from violence.

I don’t want to worry whether my ponytail will be used against me on my run today.

I don’t want to carry a fucking canister of pepper spray or look over my shoulder when I stop for water.

I don’t want to think about whether I should cross the street when I see another runner coming toward me, and I don’t want my default reaction to be “Is this guy a rapist?”

My comment (before the FB post disappeared) sums up my feelings on the subject:

I just had [my 13-year old son] read it and I think he was surprised to realize that this kind of thing is normal for women. I mean, just last night when we were running, not once but TWICE people yelled out their car windows at us. [My running partner] wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt that it was someone we knew; I wanted to flip them off. We did neither, mostly because we’ve been taught that responding could put us in danger. But because we were simply out in public, we were fair game for verbal assault. I don’t want to be protected from these assholes. We need to teach people not to be assholes. I’m starting with my kid.

Or, as Rose-Hodge says, we instead “focus more on teaching our sons not to rape vs teaching our daughters how to avoid being raped.”

Quite frankly, as a society we must address this not because women and girls are our daughters/girlfriends/wives. We must do it because we are human beings.

I’m starting with my kid. Will you?

Before each night is done, their plan will be unfurled…

I planned to run ten miles this morning, but pretty early on we decided to drop down to eight. brain thinking

I just hadn’t adequately recovered from last Saturday. I mean, at mile 4.5 we stopped for water at the same corner that marked mile 11.5 last weekend, and I felt like I’d gone the longer distance. Plus it was about eleventy thousand percent humidity, so neither of us required a lot of persuasion to cut it short.

Afterward, as we enjoyed our post-run caffeinated beverages and bagels, S and I nailed down some summer training plans. We’re going to sign up for the same Wednesday summer strength class as last summer, plus a second one (at a different location) on Fridays. The second one is about two miles from my house, so we’re going to meet here and run to that class. Which means we’ll have no choice but to run back. We will see if that happens just that first time, or if it’s something we can manage week after week.


I also decided that I need to spend the next two weeks focusing on lower-back exercises. My legs were (still) tired so my back had to work harder to keep me upright, and I had to remind myself every quarter-mile or so to stand up straight. Running a half-marathon (even if I’m not planning to race it hard) in that state sounds pretty miserable, so while I can’t completely solve the problem in two weeks, doing some stretching and strengthening can only help. I’m also going to cut back on intensity and distance of my running workouts. I mean, at this point I won’t gain much, fitness-wise, by running hard, but there’s something to be said for taking it easy and having fresh legs on race day.

I started implementing that plan this afternoon. B had some friends over for his birthday, but it was raining so they couldn’t play the elaborate Capture the Flag game they’d been cooking up all week. So we ate pizza and watched The Force Awakens. Again.



But in the meantime, I want to take over the world just get a good night’s sleep. Narf!


I accumulated 28,000ish steps during my 14-miler on Saturday morning and 32,000 before lunch, yet I finished the day with 34,300 steps. That tells you everything you need to know about how I spent the rest of my day.

Sunday I went for a bike ride–nothing too strenuous, but sufficient to loosen up my tired quads. I also did some lower-back Pilates exercises to address the weakness I felt starting around mile seven or eight.

It was perhaps a tactical error to run 14 miles right before STAAR testing Monday–I was required to “actively monitor” a group of testing adolescents for the better part of five hours, rarely getting to sit down.

But that did not stop me from going to to core class for the first time in a couple of weeks. Lots of squats? Check. Push-ups until my arms gave out? Check. Abs that hurt when I sneezed? Check. Three-mile run afterward? Um, sort of. I cut it short and ended up with 2.5 miles.

Tuesday brought more “active monitoring,” then our evening training run was supposed to be a tempo workout of some kind, but I knew from the first mile I wasn’t recovered enough for that. I ran five miles, the last two dragging big-time. I made it, but it hurt. Too much too soon, clearly.

Therefore Wednesday’s workout focused solely on the upper body. And foam rolling. Lots of foam rolling.

Today was the final day of testing–my kids were done on Tuesday, but eighth-graders had two more exams on Wednesday and Thursday, so the other grades weren’t allowed to go to class. So we babysat (read: watched movies) all morning. All told, we lost four full days of classes. It sounds innocuous, but the reality of watching kids take tests, then sitting around (while trying to keep them quiet so they don’t disturb those who are still testing) is tedious at best. Throw in the fact that I don’t know 2/3 of the kids in my classroom at any given moment, plus I don’t get so much as a restroom break during these four- and five-hour blocks, and I’m kind of grumpy about the whole enterprise.

This afternoon I’m hoping to get out for four-ish miles, both to get back on track with my training and to burn off the bullshit of this week. My race with K is three Saturdays from now, so I’ll drop down to ten miles this weekend. I hope it will feel easy compared to fourteen, since that was the point of going so far, really.

Let’s hope my quads are up for it.

Fourteen, redux

I dreaded this run alllll week.

Because I haven’t run more than ten miles since the 3M half marathon in January and I’m running a half with K at the end of May, I thought it would be smart to schedule a 14-mile long run this Saturday. I’ve only run that far one time–it was 40ish and drizzling most of the way, which was bad enough, but when I had about 3.5 miles to go, the skies opened up. Thunder, lightning, torrential rain. More than one car stopped to ask if I wanted a ride back. I hated that run with ever fiber of my being.

Well guess what? Today’s route was that same one.

So I already had a negative association with this route, plus I hate that it includes a roughly three-mile stretch of nothing. Straight ahead. Yeah, it’s flat, but being able to see my next turn three miles away does nothing for my mental game. It reminded me of what they say about living in West Texas–it’s so flat you can watch your dog run away for three days. So once I knew my fate route a few days in advance, I made a halfhearted effort to focus on the positive (I wouldn’t be alone this time, and it wasn’t likely to be cold) but mostly I just dreaded it.

S and I knew we’d take forever and that temperatures would warm up pretty fast, so we decided to start a little earlier. So as we headed out, the sun had just begun to appear over the treetops and we felt a cool breeze.

Our plan was to focus on one segment at a time–water stop to water stop. First one’s easy–just one mile out. To get to the second, we had to go up and down the Park Street hills. As we enjoyed the lemon-lime Gatorade, we met some (fast) folks on their way back, and mentally it was difficult to continue on, knowing we weren’t even halfway to halfway yet. But… water stop to water stop. We forged ahead.

We got a little break waiting for three different traffic lights at the 1431 interchange, then had to sidestep some construction a half-mile later. And then we hit New Hope Road (a misnomer if I ever heard one), which I hate almost as much as I despise the bridge at the end of the Army Ten-Miler. To illustrate: I have a playlist called “ATM bridge, you asshole” just for that 2.5-mile stretch. We could see the traffic light–a mile away–where we knew we’d find the next water cooler.

I already felt tired–we’d only run five miles, but my hips and quads were sore, and my lower back had begun to ache as a result. Just over halfway to halfway is waaaay too early for this. We filled up our water bottles–the next stop was quite a bit further than our turnaround point, so this had to last us until we got back here–and pressed on.

We crossed the railroad tracks, then had to wait for two traffic lights. This did not make me sad. I wanted some Foods and Energy from the corner store, but alas S would not allow me to detour.


Another traffic light (oh darn) and then the magical seventh-mile intersection. We turned the corner and ran to the next block–I’d decided to go just a little further than the last time I ran this in order to make Garmin assign me a new “Longest Run” PR.

This was the street sign where we stopped for a water break.


I pretty much thought of cheese the whole way back. Thanks, street sign.

Even though we were only halfway, we got a bit of a mental boost knowing we were on the way back.

Looong road. Two traffic lights and railroad tracks. Water break, side stitch, bonus water break. Sidewalk and construction. Traffic lights. Still the side stitch. Up the beastly hill–running, not walking, go us–then water and Gatorade. Downhill, then another water break before we tackled the last big hill. Some guys in a golf cart sped past us, and we both wished we could get a ride instead of running the last mile and a half.

We made it up the hill at a run, then had to got to wait for the traffic light here too. As we approached the last water cooler–the one that’s always at the one-mile-to-go driveway, we could see one of the coaches beginning to load it up in the back of a pickup truck. Noooooo! That water stop is important both physically and emotionally–I need it to get myself together for the last mile, plus it was pretty warm by now. Fortunately he spotted us and not only delayed packing it up but brought out one of the Gatorade coolers for us too.

The last mile is both the easiest and the most difficult. One mile to go–I can do anything for a mile, right? But with 13 already under my belt, one more mile seemed like ten. But it’s downhill, then flat, so that helps. What did NOT help was some woman blowing the stop sign as we were halfway across the crosswalk, though.

I’m sure at this point my form was terrible and I looked 104 years old. But I made it back, 14.1 miles and a new Garmin “Longest Run” PR. Why yes, I will accept that record, good sir.

We spent a long time stretching, foam rolling, and frankly just lying on our mats in a somewhat catatonic state. But hunger won the day, and we shuffled off to the Starbucks a few doors down. No one will be surprised that I got the Gouda and bacon sandwich.


We occupied this space for so long that I got a little sun on my arms. But sitting on the patio with coffee and my friend felt so pleasant, I never wanted to get up.

Alas all good things must come to an end, and when I finally pushed myself out of the chair, my legs were much less sore than I expected. Still, after 14.1 miles and more than 33,000 steps, I’m calling it DONE.


Noble Run 5K

I hadn’t run a 5K in a while, so when we saw the flyer for this race at one of our favorite sandwich shops a few weeks ago, I figured why not? It was inexpensive, and it started five minutes from our house. The only drawback was the May 1st date–it’s been warm and humid here, less than optimal conditions even for a short race.

But this morning it was in the low 60s, cloudy, and windy. This, I can work with.


As usual, M planned to drag B to a 30-minute finish time. S and I knew we couldn’t hang with them, so we stuck together–a successful formula the last three races.

We started out by looping 3/4 of the way around the high school track, exited through a grassy area to the parking lot, then out onto the road. I skipped the first water stop, and then my Garmin announced the first mile. 10:28. Oh shit. S said, “Well that can’t last.”

At the halfway point, I was pushing hard but hanging on. When I slowed for water at the two-mile point, S got ahead of me. I kept her in my sights but didn’t try to run her down. Mile two was a little slower but still well within PR range. I tried to distract myself, to not think about how much longer I had to hold this pace.

We made the turn onto Anderson Mill–the same road from the homestretch of January’s Rogue 10K–and I felt … not dead. Still a half-mile to go, though.

We turned into the parking lot, then back toward the stadium. Over the grassy spot again–I admit to walking 20 or so steps here, partly because it was uneven and partly to catch my breath for the final kick around the track–and then I picked it up. I told myself, it’s just  like a straights and curves track workout, one lap, no big deal. Later, S said she told herself the same thing about straights and curves.

Mile three clocked in the 10s again. I could see S not too far ahead, just at the other end of the straightaway. Then, as I came around the last curve toward the finish (which was halfway down the stretch) I couldn’t find the race clock. But… straights and curves. Just sprint the straight, and you’re done. 

I didn’t see a race photographer, just a guy with his iphone, but I smiled anyway. Then before even getting water, I walked over to the infield of the track and flopped down flat on my back, trying to catch my breath.

By Garmin time, I’d PR’d by 29 seconds. On the one hand, it felt like it should be more than that. But on the other, it was the difference between an average pace in the low 11s to one in the high 10s. There’s something pretty damn satisfying about dropping that number, you know?

I checked the official results later and gained a second back–an even 30-second PR. Turns out I was 11th in my division, too. Must not have been too many women my age out racing this morning, but still, I’ll take it.

J and I won’t be running that fast tomorrow.😉


Low mileage, but not a restful week

I didn’t exactly rack up the miles this week.

After last Saturday’s failed long run, I went out Sunday for an easy 20-minute run to see how my back felt. Not 100%, but only mildly sore rather than painful.

Monday and Tuesday I had evening work events, which meant no Monday core class or run, and no Tuesday training group run. Monday’s event was at the school board where 24 teachers were honored by the board for achieving or renewing National Board Certification. Because the district offices are downtown, we left my school early, parked, and walked over to Whole Foods for dinner.


National Board was a grueling process; renewal only slightly less so. Achieving certification (twice!) is one of the proudest achievements of my career, and I appreciate the board’s recognition.

I ended up with more than 14,000 steps, but none were from running.

Tuesday was my school’s National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony. The two of us co-sponsors and about 15 eighth-grade volunteers had two hours to locate the sound system (it’s usually set up for us already), set up three tables of cake and punch, prepare candles for the officers’ candle-lighting, strip 100 roses of thorns and tie blue and white ribbons on the stems, make and fold 300 copies of the program, run through the officers’ presentations with them, then get 100 new members organized in alphabetical order for the processional and seating. The ceremony itself went smoothly, and afterward  a couple of parents sought me out for pictures with their new NJHS-member kids. My own child was forcibly photographed with his certificate and his mother.😉

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I’d eaten pizza for dinner (we feed our teen volunteers as efficiently as possible) and my only exercise was running around the school for three hours, so when I got home and it was still light out, I quickly changed clothes and managed two miles before it got dark. My back felt fine, even after the almost 19,000 steps I’d accumulated–I mean, I only ran two miles, so 15,000 steps came from the work I put in getting ready for the ceremony. In comparison, a typical workday gets me around 8,000 steps.

I enjoyed both of my events for different reasons, but by Wednesday I was glad to go home right after work. I hoped that the water had receded along Brushy Creek Trail–it’s got more shade than in my neighborhood, and I wanted to get back on track with a five-mile run. Unfortunately the trees blocked most of the breeze, so the still, humid air did me no favors. I stopped several times for water and a breather, but the trail was indeed open all the way and I got it done.


More rushing water than usual

Thursday I did a squat-heavy Fitness Blender workout, then went out for that 20-minute loop. Except I stopped at my house for water at just over one mile and never made it back out. My legs were toast.

Last night, B’s lacrosse team had a rare Friday game. They played a very physical 8th grade team–often B was up against kids six inches taller. Some of them looked old enough to have driven themselves to the field. These were guys almost ready to start high school–a player who’s old for his class could be nearly 15 years old; B, on the other hand, is young for his class and doesn’t turn 13 for two more weeks. BIG difference. But that didn’t prevent him from stopping one kid with his body  and using his smaller size to get under their sticks for ground balls. His scrappy little team played tough against kids young adults who had a clear physical advantage. They lost 2-4, with much credit to his team’s goalie who had at least 10 saves, maybe more like 15.

Tomorrow morning we’re running a 5K put on by a local sandwich shop. It’s a the nearby high school and it was inexpensive, so with the Chuy’s race gone, we figured why not.


It’s going to be humid and warm–I ran the two-mile loop again this morning to shake out my muscles a bit, considering my low-mileage week–and since it had stormed again last night, the air felt soupy and gross. But then again, I’d slept for ten hours and didn’t get out until 11am. Maybe it will be better at 8 tomorrow morning.

And guess what? I’ve saved the best part for last.

After the 5K, I’m driving out to the airport to collect J! She’s coming here for work again but managed to get a flight a day early. We’re going to go to B’s last lacrosse game, then kick back at her fancy-schmancy Barton Creek hotel for the day. The weather forecast is iffy, but we’ve already proven we can have fun just about anywhere together, so whatever. Umbrella drinks taste the same at an indoor pool and an outdoor one. And we’re planning a longer run Monday morning, just like old times.

For once, I’m looking forward to a Monday.:)

Held back

We got so much ran last weekend, with more on the way Monday morning, that most of the local school districts delayed school by two hours. It wasn’t actually raining at my house, so I went out for a short run before heading to work. That kept me from having to fit it in before or after core class later in the day.

We slogged through the humidity for Tuesday’s track workout, and Wednesday I dealt with some work drama and only managed a short Fitness Blender workout. Thursday I drove out to the trail intending to run five miles, but I had to turn around at about 1.8.


The trail is somewhere under all that water.

I managed four miles by taking a short out-and-back detour on the way back, but I blew off going all the way to five. It was hot and I felt sluggish and leaden.

I didn’t get good sleep last night all week so as usual, I was not brimming with enthusiasm this morning, but it was a pleasant, cool morning for our planned ten miles.

The first two miles I distracted myself everyone around me with the Work Drama story, but I ran out of story by 2.5 miles in. And then I noticed my lower back was feeling achy. Sometimes I sleep weirdly on my stomach, arching it too much, and have to do the cow-cat yoga stuff to stretch it. But I hadn’t felt that this morning, so I couldn’t explain why it hurt. All I knew is before the second water break, I had to walk because of the discomfort.

We got moving again and I ran most of the next mile. Not easily, but tolerably. It wasn’t a stabbing pain, but more like someone was squeezing the muscles.

At one of the dead-end streets, two of our companions went left for the six-mile route while S and I turned right for the longer one. I tried, but I could not start running again. So we walked some more. At first I told myself we’d just walk the uphills. But uphills became downhills, still walking.

Knowing we’d reach a third water stop in a half-mile or so, we tried running again. I managed it, but the muscles just wouldn’t shake out and it was obviously getting worse each time I tried to run. I couldn’t even straighten up completely. I knew then it would be unwise for me to attempt ten miles. At the water cooler I made the call: turn left and head back.

I thought about walking just for a bit, then trying to run some more, but I eventually decided to cut my losses. Running another half-mile or whatever wasn’t going to improve my fitness, but it could very well cause harm. So we walked.

In the end, I think we ran about half of the 7.2 miles my Garmin said we covered.

I found some Advil in my backpack, did some stretching, and met the others for coffee. Somehow my drink got overlooked, so I was coffeeless for much more time than I was prepared for. But we found a table outside in the sun. I guess the Advil did its thing, because sitting and chatting for more than an hour didn’t bother me. But once I got home, I could feel it tightening up again. So… I guess I’ll rest it this afternoon.

Two steps forward, three steps back.