Good news/bad news

The good news? My hip flexor is completely pain-free.

The  bad news? The culprit is one of the adductors. Or as my husband likes to say, “Groin injury.”

I’m allowed to continue running as long as I feel no sharp pain, no increasing discomfort. And so far, it’s just been annoying, not super-painful. And even a couple of miles in, it’s not great, but not worse. So we’ll run the Austin Turkey Trot tomorrow morning in order to put a teeny tiny dent in what we’ll be eating later in the day.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!


Shiner Beer Run

In which I neither ran, nor drank beer.

Weird, huh?

Sara had registered to run the Shiner half marathon, but her foot was having none of that. Instead, since several friends were running, she decided to drive down anyway to collect her shirt and stick around to cheer them on. And we haven’t run together on Saturday in a while (and my hip flexor could use an extra day of rest) so I thought I’d tag along.

We spent Friday night in Hallettsville (population: 2550) about two hours southeast of Austin. Wikipedia says it’s the only place in the world called Hallettsville, and it seemed like its entire population wanted to eat at the Los Cabos Mexican Grill. Which I understood after narrowing the insane menu choices down to tilapia covered in some kind of spicy, onion-y seafood sauce.

Forecasts showed a cold front moving into the area by morning, so I packed warm clothes–a fleece top, leggings, boots. But when we got up at 6:15, temps were still in the 60s. Well, it’s not like I had options.

We drove the 15 miles to Shiner (population: 2100), searching for some kind of caffeinated beverage establishment. Alas, the best we could do was convenience store coffee. We managed to get lost once when the GPS told us to turn right on a street that didn’t exist, but considering Shiner Beer pretty much put this place on the map, finding the Spoetzl Brewery really wasn’t difficult.

I’m pretty sure this race caused a temporary doubling of Shiner’s population, and when the rain picked up, every one of those folks crowded underneath tents in front of the brewery entrance. But by race time the rain had stopped and some blue skies peeked out from behind the clouds.


After the runners took off, we checked out the brewery itself. They weren’t giving tours since the complex is undergoing a large-scale renovation, but we got to see the gift shop. And a long sleeved technical shirt just jumped into my bag. Man I hate when that happens.

When we came out, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. I for one was glad I wasn’t running in that–65* and raining at the start, then colder and windy halfway through? Miserable.

The 5Kers started coming in, so we watched the finish area for a while and listened to the live band (The Emotions). Their selections sounded a whole lot like my ipod playlist.


There was a gap of 10-15 minutes (!) between the last 5Kers and the first half-marathoners, and the first 20 of those were really spread apart. A couple of finishers smiled and looked strong, and some grimaced and crossed the finish line through sheer will alone. One woman (mind you, she was one of the first five or six female finishers overall) struggled across the footbridge to the finish line, getting slower and slower the closer she got. She stopped just short of the first timing mat–literally with her toes a inch away–and the spectators tried to verbally push her over the line. After what seemed like forever but was probably just five seconds, she crossed, and some folks tended to her for a few minutes. I saw her later and she was fine, but I wanted to ask why she stopped short like that. Not that I could remain upright after running a seven-minute pace for thirteen one miles, but still I was curious.

Our friends were fast–everyone finished in well under two hoursso after they got their medals, we hit the food line and the beer line(s). I’m not much of a beer drinker (practically blasphemous in Shiner, Texas) so I just got whatever someone else would drink and saved them a separate trip through the long lines.

By now the sun had come out, and my fleece-boots combo was overkill. How does one dress for pretty much all the weather in one six-hour period? Not well, it turns out. But on the other hand, it was gorgeous for the after-race party.

The race was well-organized–small enough to be manageable but large enough to be fun. I’ve heard there’s a section of the course that gets really muddy, but even so, I decided I could be persuaded to run this race next year. On the drive home, we tossed around some ideas for a whole-weekend party. Well, as much of a party as a group of forty-something people can manage. ;)

Here’s to being healthy in 2016. Cheers!

Everything is … not awesome.

After Saturday’s eight-mile run on my sore hip, I kicked back on my double-decker couch, watching football and reading a novel.

Sunday I completed a couple of Fitness Blender core and upper-body workouts, and Monday I went to core class. I did the exercises my coach and sports doctor recommended, crossing my fingers it would feel well enough to run Tuesday.

I was supposed to run a 1.5-mile warmup, then three 1K interval circuits. But while the first half-mile felt significantly better than it had on Saturday, my hip definitely wasn’t 100% and I knew that pushing it with a hilly speed workout would probably undo whatever the progress I’d made over the last few days. So I bailed.

I waited for a friend to run a couple of circuits, then we headed back, walking the the first quarter-mile up  to the main road. And strangely, as we walked, the pain disappeared. Because of course. Still, I think I’d rather bail on the workout and be pain-free going forward than push too hard, possibly delaying full recovery, for the sake of one workout. The stubborn side of me was annoyed, but I’m slowly learning to make smarter choices.

The achy soreness returned somewhat as we ran back, and post-run foam rolling was excruciating. So I knew I’d made the right decision. But the stubborn side of me was still pissed off. It was a workout I liked and was decently good at–I’d run it really strong the week before the Army Ten-Miler and gave me a lot of confidence going into that race. Tuesday night, not so much.


So I’m going to back off the rest of this week. Do some Fitness Blender workouts, focus on hip flexor strengthening exercises, and use my foam roller and lacrosse ball instead of running. Maybe even take this weekend off from running too. I’m willing to make a short-term sacrifice to avoid a long-term one. The stubborn side of me is gonna have a difficult time sitting out, though.

But it has to do the trick, right??

Stay positive, stay positive.

Tough week

If I go the rest of my life without attending another former student’s funeral, it will be too soon.

I learned of his death maybe half an hour before I left for Tuesday night training, and I ended up running 6.5 miles without really paying attention. I missed my Thursday run to attend the visitation, and colleague and I went to the funeral Friday morning. I also taught his sister, brother, girlfriend, and best friend. Such a heartbreaking loss. I tried to keep it together in my classes the rest of the day, but by the time I got home, I was a mess. I ran my three-mile route to clear my head, but it didn’t really work, and in hindsight I probably should have taken it easy.

My left hip–the usual suspect–has been a little funky since Run for the Water, and Tuesday night’s hilly workout didn’t do much to let it rest. It felt more like soreness as opposed to sharp pain, though, and all week it’s loosened up after the first mile, so it’s been more annoying than distressing.

But Saturday morning when we headed out for eight miles, those first few dozen thousand steps were, shall we say, more intense. I suspected the cooler morning temperature contributed to my increased discomfort, so I crossed my fingers that it would improve when my muscles got warmed up. I figured at the first water stop I would decide whether to continue or bail.

After a mile, it was mostly just achey again. Manageable. So we continued on. I walked up one of the hills and we had to stop for a traffic light once, but otherwise we ran at a fairly easy pace the whole way out. At the four-mile turnaround, I felt pretty good. The hills in the last two miles did me no favors, though, and that last mile was a bit of a challenge. Still no sharp pain, but the ache traveled further down my leg, and the front of my quad felt sore too. Probably from compensating for the hip thing. But we finished eight miles.

Afterward, I spent half an hour foam rolling and stretching, but when I stood up again, I suddenly couldn’t even put weight on my left leg. WTF? I’d just successfully run eight miles, and foam rolling took me out?

I limped to the parking lot. Fortunately it didn’t impact my ability to push the clutch in my car, but once I got home I still walked gingerly from the car into the house. A hot shower and some ibuprofen (plus coffee and leftover pizza) seemed to calm things down, but it’s obvious my hip flexor needs more rest.

I’m going to spend most of the day kicking back on the couch, watching college football. Tomorrow and Monday I’ll do some kind of core work instead of running, and hopefully by Tuesday it will be much improved.

I’m not sure I can say the same about my emotional state. My kids are always my kids, and the world lost a great one this week.


Monday night after core class, I went for my usual three-mile run out to the high school and back. I stayed on the sidewalk of the main road (the same way we run on Tuesdays and Saturdays), but now that the time has changed, it’s dark. Street lights help, and I wore a light-colored shirt and three blinking lights–two on my shirt and one clipped to my shoe.


But there’s quite a bit of traffic, so pedestrians have to be alert at the four-way stop and some of the side streets. As I began to cross one of those side streets, a car came from the opposite side street, across the main (four-lane divided) road in front of me, hitting the gas hard to make it through a break in traffic in the main road. Had I trusted the crosswalk, I would have run directly into this car’s path. A block later, as I reached a parking lot driveway (also with a crosswalk), two cars raced up to the stop sign and and rolled through it to turn right. So if you look at my Garmin graphs, you’ll see two spots where my pace suddenly dropped to a dead stop. Fortunately that’s because I avoided the cars instead of the alternative. 

I found out later that right around the same time I was dodging drivers on my run, a former student away at college was on foot near an intersection when he was hit by a car. He later died at the hospital. 

I learned of his death about half an hour before I was supposed to leave for my Tuesday night half-marathon training. I was shaken, devastated. I didn’t want it to be true, couldn’t believe it was true. But it was. This kid was funny, smart, and quirky. I remembered that his funky handwriting made it look like he misspelled his name, so sometimes I spelled it that way too. He visited my class a few years ago (former students do this sometimes after high school finals, when they get out of school early) and after charming them with his older-kid zen, he told my then-students they should listen to me. I saw him again this past summer–he was working at the movie theater near my house. The theater serves meals and drinks, and he was our server. He was the same funny kid, but grown up and responsible too. The kind of kid I hoped all of my students would turn out to be. His death was tragic and senseless. 

He was 20 years old and many years removed from my classroom. But my kids are always my kids.

As I drove to meet my group shortly after hearing this news, my brain was all over the place. I hoped some hard running would either distract me or help me make sense of it. Maybe both. In the end, I ran four 1.5-mile loops (plus .25 to and from the car) for 6.5 miles. I only knew it was 6.5 miles when I looked at my watch after I got home–I guess I ran it on autopilot. I’ve always wanted to learn how to zone out when I run, but damn, this wasn’t what I had in mind. 

I don’t know if he did everything right and the driver just didn’t see him, or if he took the bulletproof college student approach and was careless walking in the dark. But either way, in the physics equation that is human versus car, the car wins. And I can do everything right–blinking lights, bright/reflective clothing, low/no headphones, stay alert, don’t trust crosswalks–but still lose a battle with a car. Any of us can. 

So please take care out there. On foot, as a driver…take care out there. 

Official change of seasons

Yep, we’ve officially moved from air conditioner season to heated seats season.

And ark season, apparently.

This is the sports park we often run through:

brushy creek sp collage

This morning’s route was supposed to cut through the sports park to the lake park, but the whole complex has been under water since last weekend’s flooding, and from what I’ve seen on the news, it will be a while before it’s cleaned up and re-opened.

That respiratory thing I picked up right before last week’s race got worse before it got better, but by today I felt mostly normal. Still had a bit of a cough, but nothing that would keep me home this morning. I planned to take it easy though–the schedule said 8-10ish miles, but I opted for six. Two ten-mile races in three weeks and some funky breathing told me to take it down a notch. A couple of other folks were planning six as well, so we headed out together.

It was drizzly but not too bad. Even though it was about 55*, I skipped the jacket and the hat, figuring if it stayed like this, I’d be too hot. And if it started raining, that stuff wouldn’t help me much anyway.

My hip twinged a bit the first mile, but it loosened up and felt mostly okay after that. But then my stomach started feeling weird, I coughed a bit, and I started to question my ability to run four more miles. I slogged on, up into the hilly neighborhood. By the halfway point, it had passed and I felt okay again.

And then the rain picked up.

For the next three miles, rain pelted us steadily and thoroughly. Occasional gusts of wind blew rain right into my face. My clothes and shoes were quickly soaked–I think I carried about five extra pounds via rainwater by the end. Brings new meaning to the term water weight! So while I only ran six miles, I think I should get credit for like eight when you consider the cold and rain, yes?

On the drive home, I passed the entrance to the sports park, still barricaded. If the water had receded at all since Tuesday, this morning’s rain flooded it again.

Go home, El Nino. You’re drunk.


Hope the ark has heated seats.

Run for the Water: now with more water

The weather forecast said clear and sunny, so why did rain pound the windshield as we drove downtown for Run for the Water?

Fortunately, it stopped raining before we got out of the car to head to the starting area. But we had other problems. The minor congestion I felt yesterday had turned into a full-blown cold overnight, and my breathing wasn’t great. My compadres had a bucket full of aches and pains and illnesses too. I knew I would not get my :30 back on this race–the course is much hillier, and adding fun and exciting respiratory issues kicked my expectations back even further.

The port-a-potty line was long, but it moved quickly. AND they had a hand-washing station with real water, not hand sanitizer. Fancy. As I washed my hands, the woman next to me quipped that she wants to start a blog of pictures of people’s faces as they exit port-a-potties, kind of like the People of Walmart for runners.

We headed to the starting area, but stayed toward the back. We found a couple of friends and made tentative plans to run together, at least for a while. And all too quickly, we were off.


The first mile was pretty flat, and it went okay. The rain had left behind some thick humidity, which didn’t help my already labored breathing. I was stuck behind a run-walk group who ran-walked five people wide. Once, one of the women cut in front of me, then immediately stopped when the leader’s watch beeped. I nearly ran into her; I blurted out “Dammit!” and got a sarcastic “Excuuuuuse us!” in return. Look, go crazy with your run-walk strategy–I’m all for doing whatever works. But don’t take up the whole lane with five of you side-by-side, and don’t stop in front of people who are running.

Somewhere around mile two, we encountered the first hill, kind of a starter hill really. Nothing like what would follow. I decided to help my breathing, I’d walk up and run the downhills and the flats. By the third water stop and the turn up into West Enfield, I was actually looking forward to some hills because then I could take a walk break. I knew I was in for a struggle.


Over the next four miles I saw some friendly faces, a couple of funny signs, and about ten lots in which older million-dollar houses had been demolished to build … new million-dollar houses. I laughed when my iPod played “Animals” as I came through the water stop sponsored by one of the animal rescue organizations.

Finally, mercifully, I turned onto Enfield, then Exposition. Not that I was done with hills–Exposition has one I forget about sometimes–but from there it was mostly flat. Unfortunately, the sun had come out and the return route ran directly into it. Since I’d left my sunglasses in the car, this kind of sucked. I squinted on.

Without my (prescription) sunglasses, I also couldn’t recognize people until they were right in front of me. Thus I didn’t see my coach (who finished fifth overall and was running back the other way) until she yelled my name.

I still struggled with my breathing–I’d used my inhaler a couple of times, but it hadn’t helped much. I had to walk a couple of times, even within that last half-mile. But as I made the turn onto the bridge and the homestretch, several friends yelled my name and cheered wildly. It gave me a huge extra boost to the finish line.

The Burundian drummers drummed, I got my high five from Gilbert, and–oh happy day!–a medal!


I finished within a minute or two of the previous two times I’ve run this race. Considering my limitations today, I was happy with my time. I walked back to the corner and watched for the others.


About fifteen minutes later, Sara appeared, hobbling and clearly suffering. I walked alongside her down toward the finish line, then veered off and grabbed some water for her. It was only a couple of minutes before Andria finished, and we cheered for her as she crossed the timing mats. They collected their Distance Challenge magnets, I found a free sample of iced coffee, and we headed to the car.

It wasn’t pretty for any of us, but we did it.

Actually, a couple of things went right for me. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been fueling with Fig Newtons (or HEB’s brand of Fig Bars), pretzels, and raisins, plus Sport Beans. That combination worked well for me again today–no problems at all with nausea after the race. And I’d ordered a set of Race Dots magnetic bib holders after K had some at the Army Ten-Miler. It wasn’t easy to attach them initially, but for the most part they worked great. Toward the end of the race (right in front of some photographers, naturally) the top one stuck to the bottom one and when I went to separate them, the top one slid off the bib and I had to reattach it. I can’t wait to see those pictures, ha.

The skulls match how I feel at the end of pretty much every distance race.

Next up: kick this cold. Well not literally. I won’t be kicking anything from the couch the rest of the day.