Less unpleasant than I expected

Today’s ten-mile run had every reason to suck.

It was raining and 37* when I left the house. My car taunted me by playing “Walking on Sunshine” on the radio. My hip (I’m going to keep calling it that for convenience) still feels funky. I’ve nursed a bad-run hangover since Thursday’s turkey trot. And the route was one I don’t particularly like. Remember that cold, solo 14-mile run where I got caught in a downpour the last three miles and two cars stopped to see if I wanted a ride? Same route. Same weather. So I was not in a great frame of mind when we headed out.

The rain had stopped, leaving us with only a little drizzle. I wasn’t confident it would hold off for our whole run, but it was a start. Then, after the first mile, I realized that my hip felt … less bad. I’d been given the okay to try ten miles as long as I never felt sharp or increasing pain. It started out as more of a dull ache and pretty much stayed that way.

At some point it occurred to me that my lack of energy on Thursday could have been related to my having blood taken on Wednesday morning. I don’t know how much they took (I can barely stay conscious, let alone watch how much they’re siphoning from me) but it would make sense. I mean, I was fine on Tuesday night and drained (haha) on Thursday. I ran slowly this morning, but it felt better than my last run.

Just short of three miles, we made the turn to follow the sidewalk path alongside the highway. We’d gone approximately twelve steps when we stopped to zip up jackets and put on gloves. The highway formed a wind tunnel, sending 37-degree gusts into our faces. Ugh.

At the bottom of the hill we crossed under the highway and continued along the sidewalk. Still into the wind.

At the next intersection, we turned left. Last time I ran this route, the sidewalk continued around the corner and along this road, well, for miles. But some unfinished construction had chewed up the sidewalk and shoulder, leaving us to run in the road along a relatively blind curve, for 100 yards or so.

We jumped back off the road as soon as the sidewalk resumed, and I tried to block out the view in front of me. This route runs straight along this road for several more miles, and although we weren’t going that far, I still hate the monotony of this section.

When we reached five miles, we stopped for a breather. I looked for my inhaler and could not find it. I’d remembered taking it out of my backpack and I thought I’d put it in my jacket pocket, but it was not there now. Gah. I’d either left it on the shelf back at Rogue or I’d lost yet another one while running. Fortunately I wasn’t desperately in  need of it at that moment–it just might have helped me breathe better in the cold.

I remember starting my watch again as we began the return trip, but about a quarter-mile later it buzzed, alerting me it was about to go into power saver mode. Which means I had not in fact restarted it. That’s what I get for trying to work it through my jacket and shirt sleeve, I guess.

Back across the no-sidewalk section, through the wind tunnel, up the hill, then a hard-earned water stop. We were kind of slow coming up the last hill back to Rogue, but other than the typical ten-mile-run soreness and a minor ache from my hip, I felt okay. Ready to get out of the windy cold, but okay.

All things considered, it was quite a bit less unpleasant than I had expected. Now I can justify sitting on the couch, watching football and eating Thanksgiving leftovers.



Turkey Trot: the one where I felt like the turkey

The weather forecast did not show a chance of rain for the five-mile Thundercloud Turkey Trot at 9:30 am, but when we left the house to head downtown, the windshield looked like this:


The rain stopped as we made our way to the starting area around The Long Center and the First Street bridge. We had parked about a mile away–walking to the bridge allowed my leg (adductor?) to warm up a bit. But then we stood around for 20 minutes and that sort of negated the warmup.


About two minutes before the start of the race, the skies opened up again. Fortunately the temperature hovered around 70* so it wasn’t a miserable rain.

But my shoes had exactly 5.5 miles on them, not including the walk from the car. I’d decided to switch on Monday, thinking that my old(er) shoes might be contributing to my leg muscle weirdness. During the race I tried to stay out of major puddles, and they didn’t get as drenched as my old shoes did a couple of weeks ago, but still I wasn’t too thrilled with the early baptism.

The first mile is a mostly-gradual uphill, and I felt okay. Not great, but okay. We made the turn onto 15th Street and the first of the big Enfield hills, and I don’t know what happened (I’d had my usual breakfast, so that wasn’t it) but I just sort of lost my mojo. I felt tired, and the thought of running uphill for the next mile made me want to sit down on the curb and cry. I had no energy. I walked quite a bit, then ran again once it flattened out. It didn’t help that B was complaining every five seconds.

A family on Enfield had set up a grill and was giving out bacon. That cheered us up a bit.

The road narrowed around the Mopac construction, and we slowed as everyone tried to funnel into this smaller space. It was also muddy and gross. Finally it opened up again and we descended to First Street, more than halfway done now. But the bacon had not been sufficient to fortify me. Plus it had rained the whole race and I was tired of listening to B gripe and complain. We pretty much ran-walked the next mile and a half. Just before the bridge, we picked it up and ran the rest of the way to the finish. We finished in just over an hour–definitely not as bad as I was expecting at the halfway point, but not super inspiring or anything. Oh well, it’s supposed to be a fun run.

But considering K just convinced me to sign up for a half marathon in her town next May (it was $45!) this race did nothing for my confidence. The good news is my leg felt okay, so I can at least go back to training at relatively full strength. Next up: ten miles on Saturday. This time, the weather forecast DOES call for rain, but with a side of cold temps. Guess the shoes are gonna get wet again.



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?

S 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.