Sunday, July 31, 2011

Double Long.

As in, two long runs in a row.  That's what I did this weekend.  A 15 on Saturday, and a 22 on Sunday.  I know it sounds crazy.

But it's purposeful.  The whole idea is to get you used to running on tired legs.  So you do a longish run on Saturday, and follow it with a really long run 24 hours later.  In effect, your legs are pretty fatigued for your long run.  Thus your body (and you) becomes acclimated to running through fatigue.  It's not the most pleasant way to train, but it does reap major results come taper time.

I have done a lot of these back-to-back long runs on weekends, but I've never done as many as 15 one day followed by 22 the next.  I think I've done a 13/22, but nothing quite this big.  But, like I said, I've done it and never actually felt THAT tired during the second long run.

That was not the case today.  There's one special variable this weekend, though.  I did both long runs on the hellish hills of Buddha.  Usually, if I have a big weekend like this, I try to do the shorter run on something a bit more flat.  But this weekend I didn't.  And my quads were as tired as they've been in a very long time.

This run was special because Tim and I got to run together.  We rarely get to do long runs together, and it has been since before Eugene that we've run out in this area with one another (I'll never forget our last run out there--we had to traverse a river that had formed in the middle of the road due to flooding).  My mom agreed to come babysit this morning at 6 a.m. so we could go together (thanks, mom!). 

The first mile or so I thought I felt pretty good.  A bit tight, but fine.  Until we got to the I Street hill.  Now, this thing is always going to be a pain in the ass.  But today it was just off the charts bad.  I had told Tim to go ahead of me on the hills, and he did.  But I always try to secretly stay with him.  I did manage to catch him by the top of the hill, but I could tell that it was going to be a long day out in Buddha.

I had stashed water, gatorade, and gels so that we didn't have to carry anything.  I was really enjoying running with my husband, but I was also very aware of my legs.  If the purpose of the double long run was to make my legs tired....mission accomplished.

Although they were really fatigued, my legs didn't hurt anywhere.  Around the half way point, I actually got a surge of energy and announced that I wanted to go 22 miles--one mile further than the 21 we'd planned.  Tim mentioned that he thought I had an illness.  A sickness that causes me to always want to run longer than what I'm supposed to.  It's true, but I usually don't let myself indulge.  Today, even with tired legs, I wanted to. 

When we hit Slaughterhouse (2 miles from home), I was questioning my decision to add a mile.  My legs were just shot.  But I was determined.  I had taken in a ton of water and Gatorade, but I'm afraid I didn't take in enough gels.  I took in two, but I should have had three.  With only two miles to go, though, I wasn't going to waste the gel.

If we had run straight home, it would have been around 21.2 miles.  So we added on a bit.  The last half mile of this run was exceedingly difficult for me.  But you need to put yourself through this in training.  The race (if you're racing) is going to be uncomfortable at best, and utterly painful at worst.  Best to get yourself used to it.

When we were about a quarter mile from home, I was suddenly very, very cold and very, very nauseated.  It was not cold out.  Quite the contrary.  I must have been very dehydrated in spite of my efforts to keep that from happening.  Luckily, we were close to home.  I stopped the second my watch hit 22 and walked the last 100 meters to my house.  Gatorade and water fixed me up.

So, if you're going to train on tired legs--your legs are going to feel tired.  But they should (allegedly) feel good on race day.  Makes it all worth it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Red Eye Reunion (+ dad)

Yes, that's what today's run was.  The group included me, Madeline, Rachel, Emily, Jon, and my dad.  Dad was the only non-RER runner (but we were glad to have him just the same!).  Madeline and Rachel had never run in Bedford, and they wanted to come down to run a new course.  Jon (who is from Bedford) and Emily and dad (who have run down here numerous times) also wanted in on the action. 

It was SO nice to run with a group again.  So many of my runs have been solo lately that I forgot how the conversing makes the miles tick by.

They were up for 14 miles.  The course I had mapped out was actually closer to 15 (14.6), but that's close enough to 14, right? ;)

Jon was well aware of how heinously hilly this route is, but he wanted to run it anyway.  I think Madeline and Rachel had been told it was a hilly route, but they didn't get the full flavor of what "hilly" meant until they were out there.

We headed out from town to I Street.  All was grand until we hit the I-Street hill.  It's the first major (and I mean major) climb of this course.  Run this one too hard, and you'll be toast the rest of the run.  It's one of those tricky think you see the top, but it's not the REAL top.  It keeps going past the point that you can see.  We all survived it.

I had stashed water the night before, so we were able to stop at the top of the hill to rest and hydrate.  Dad told the rest of the group to consider that and the next few hills as "candy," and that the run wouldn't really start until we got to the bottoms..this is where we hit the twin tower hills.

Still, they soldiered on.  Madeline and Rachel didn't seem at all fazed by the tough course.  They were hanging in there.  Everyone was doing very well.  And, though it was terribly humid, it didn't feel that hot.  The sun was not out and there was a breeze.  We were all drenched....but it could have been worse.

After the bottoms, we started climbing, and our group splintered a bit.  Dad fell off a bit, as did Rachel.  Rachel, though, is one of the best downhill runners I've ever seen--she can make up for any lost time on the ups by flying down the downs.  We reassembled at the top of the first twin tower and headed for the next one.

I'm used to these hills--I run them all the time--and they're really hard for me.  And, again, Rachel and Madeline, who'd never run on this course, were hanging tough.  We again reassembled at the top of the second hill, and it was at this point that I thought dad might be in trouble.  I just know that look.  We took off slowly, but by the time we turned onto Tunnelton, dad had faded a bit more.  I could still see him, and he was still running, so I was not worried.

There is a short, but very steep, hill that goes from Tunnelton up to Hidden Acres.  Jon and I didn't seem to mind this one, but it affected everyone else.  Madeline was right behind us (she's a tough cookie!) and noted something like "you guys are killing me!"  But she was doing great.

We stopped for water, and I noticed that Emily was way behind.  Turns out she had taken a Gu and gotten sick--intermittently vomiting.  I'm glad it was that and not her knee!  We all fueled up and took off for Slaughterhouse Hill.  At this point, dad really dropped behind.  Again, he was still I left him alone.

Jon, Madeline, and I made it to the base of Slaughterhouse together.  We stayed pretty close together on the way up...and we were all happy to stop at the top for water.  Then I saw Rachel come up.  Then I heard Emily (puking).  But where was dad?  For a moment, I was worried.  Then I saw him surface.  He said he had stopped at the bottom to get his wits about him before ascending it.  I asked him how he was doing:  "Not good."  'Nuff said.

From the top of Slaughterhouse, the run is almost over.  But it's still not flat.  Jon, Madeline, Rachel, Emily, and I were together.  Jon decided he wanted to get back to the house a slightly different way to make the run closer to 14 than 15.  Madeline went with him.  Rachel, Emily, and I were going to make it 15.  And we waited for dad at the top of a hill to see if he wanted to go with us or cut it a bit short. 

So I said:  "Dad, do you want to cut it short?"  He looked at me like he didn't know what I meant.  I asked him how he felt, and he said he couldn't feel any worse.  I explained to him that Jon and Madeline had turned right there in order to make the run a bit shorter.  Did he want to follow them or go the usual way with us?  "What, now?"  he asked.  I explained it again, and it still didn't register.  He fiddled with his watch and said he'd like to cut it short but where should he turn?  I tried to explain that he'd just go through the square and then to my house, but he wasn't getting it.  He was confused.

So I rescinded the offer for him to follow Jon and Madeline (who were already down the road), and told him he was coming with us.  I've seen dad get like this before.  This time it was actually really mild.  He wasn't argumentative yet, and he actually knew he was a bit confused.  He does not do well in the heat.

We took off at a really slow pace, but dad still fell back.  As long as we could see him, I was okay.  Rachel, Emily, and I did the full 15...which required circling around the block.  Poor Emily did it despite the fact that she was still tossing up her Gu.

In the end, we all survived...and they even want to come back next Saturday.  Success!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Fall in Love with Running.

For me it was easy.  Love at first foot fall.  For others, not so much.  But I'll get back to that in a moment.  I have a bunch of random thoughts about which I want to blog.

I thought of all of them during my 14 miler, which began at an obscene 5:30 a.m.  I'm so glad when I'm done before 7:30...but it's soooooooo hard to get out of bed and start out in the dark.  This run was pretty uneventful.  Hardly any abdominal pain and no shoulder pain, so that's awesome.  Oh, of note is that I was almost run down by a cyclist.

I have seen this guy before.  He's very skinny and always riding very, very fast.  Like a lot faster than Tim, Bill et al. ever ride--which in my mind must be too fast.  Anyway--at 5:30 a.m. there are not too many people out.  I have waved at him before but he's never responded.  Some cyclists are like that--they don't like runners.  While I don't understand why cyclists like to ride, I am all for people getting fit.  And I always wave.  Today, about three miles into my run, he came whizzing by me about three inches from me.  Scared the crap out of me, as I didn't hear him (hard to hear a bike).  Later, when I was running on Hillcrest Crest Circle, a resident with two dogs stopped and asked me if I'd seen that "crazy cyclist."  I stopped for a moment, hoping he wasn't talking about my husband (he rides there a lot), but knew he wasn't when he told me some of the stuff this guy has done:  told him and his dogs to "watch out" while speeding by them, gone BETWEEN two runners at full speed, and he never stops at stop signs.  This man told me that if I saw him, to please call the police and complain.  This guy also had a large stick, which he motioned to while talked about the cyclist and said "that's what this is for."  Um.  Okay.

I was almost home, and who did I see but Mr. Speedy Cyclist.  He was barreling it toward a 4 way stop.  And you know what?  He didn't stop.  He didn't even slow down.  I stood my ground, not jumping on the sidewalk as my mind was telling me to.  He again came within inches of me.  "Dude!"  I shouted.  "That was a stop sign!"  I know he had to hear me, but he didn't respond.  I'm not going to call the police, but I am really intrigued about who this guy is.  I have heard that he's possibly an injured runner.  If that's the case, I understand his angst against runners.  It's hard to be injured and see other people running.  But that's no reason to ride so recklessly.  I'm not too worried about him, as I don't think he'd actually run me over. I'm just more intrigued.

Okay, now onto lovey dovey stuff.

On Loving Running
One thing I thought about on my run was my statement in my blog yesterday about running being a sport punctuated by pain.  That's actually not what I meant.  Racing is punctuated by pain, and especially marathons (though 5Ks can put the hurt on you, for sure).  Running in and of itself is intensely enjoyable.  It feels extremely natural, and causes the release of endorphins.  Endorphins are awesome.  For me, it takes about 5 miles for them to kick in, which is why I like really long runs. Unless I'm having a very bad day, it's honestly like getting high.  Now, I've never been high.  I've never even smoked a cigarette.  But I have to imagine that how I feel at the end of a long run, and feel like I could conquer the world or run how it feels to be high.

Because I want to do it again.  And again.  And again.  It truly is addicting.

But people say--oh, how on EARTH do you run that far?  Running is AWFUL and PAINFUL.  Running is hard when you first start, especially if you're not fit at all.  Even if you ARE fit, if you're not're not running fit.  And so when you first start, it will be challenging.  Do not let this discourage you.

Most new runners make the mistake of trying to go out too fast.  I did this.  I would run so hard that after three minutes I had to stop.  That is very discouraging and accounts for why many, many people give up running way too early.  If you're a new runner, you need to go SLOWLY.  I slowly as you can while still running.  You should be able to talk to someone.  You should not be sucking wind.  That will come later.  Run short segments at a very comfortable pace.  And gradually add distance. Trust me, you'll love it.  Well...maybe you won't love it.  But you won't hate it anymore.

Before you know it, you'll be stashing water the night before a run so that you don't have to carry a handheld on your 15 miler.  Next thing you know, you'll be peeing in the woods.  You're really into it when you start eating things called "gels" on purpose.

It is a true misfortune that running is seen as horribly difficult, even as a punishment (as in running laps in other sports as a way of disciplining a team).  You were born to run (Don't believe me?  Read this book).  Even if you're not a runner, and you don't ever want to be, know that running is a natural state for your body.

One other thing about how to fall in love with running...don't feel pressured to do any kind of running that you don't enjoy.  Do you HATE speedwork?  Don't do it.  But recognize that (depending on your goals), you need to substitute it with something else.  If you're not running fast, you need to run far.  And vice versa. Unless it's your job, you shouldn't have to run in any way that you don't enjoy.  Now, if you're competitive and trying to reach some certain goal--yes, you are going to have to endure certain kinds of running that you don't like.  I know that my dad loves track work.  I know that he's not too keen on long runs and he hates longish hard runs (i.e. tempos) even more.  But he does them because he wants to reach his optimal potential.  It's all relative to YOUR don't think you have to do what I do.  And I don't think I have to do what so and so does.

How to PR
Most competitive runners are always chasing a PR.  If you're new to the sport, you'll soon hear this acronym.  It stands for Personal Record.  Others called it personal best.  It only means that you ran a certain distance faster than you ever have before.  Recently, I was talking to a moderately new runner, and she mentioned to me that she was frustrated that she wasn't PRing anymore.  When she first started running, she said, she PR'd every race.  Now she didn't anymore.  A lot of new runners (myself included, when I was a new runner) get so used to PRing that they expect it every time.

Not gonna happen.  PRing is easy when you're new.  You are getting a lot more fit than you were before because you're running for the first time ever (or in many years).  When I first started running, I only raced 5Ks.  My first was only about 6 weeks after I had started running.  And here's how my progression went:

1st 5K (running for 6 weeks):  20:23
2nd 5K (two weeks later):  19:50
3rd 5K (two weeks later):  19:17
4th 5K  (one week later):  19:06

Then I got injured, and that's a whole other story.  But you can see that, at first, I was dropping a ton of time each race.  Then it started to get a bit more difficult.  It's normal--you can't keep dropping 30 seconds off your 5K PR every race or you'd soon break the world record.  That 19:06 up there...I was trying to break 19:00.  I ran my butt off, and though I PR'd, it wasn't by much and I didn't meet my goal.  The faster/more experienced you get, the more difficult it is to improve.

To PR after the honeymoon period of your running, you've got to do one thing:  train consistently.  By consistently, I don't mean go out and do the same thing every day.  Or even every training cycle.  But you need to be running on a very regular basis.  You'll find what works best for you.  Some people respond to lots of miles.  Others need lots of intensity.  Do what's best for you, and do it consistently.

Okay, I think it's time for me to stop acting like a running expert.  I'm not.  But I do love running, and that must count for something.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Wes and I left at 6 a.m. yesterday for Chicago.  We got home close to 11:00.  We were tired, to say the least.

But wait...why were we in Chicago?

I think I may have mentioned this several weeks ago, but I found a female physiatrist up in Chicago (at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) who specializes in dealing with female athletes in pain.  I'm still in pain.  For those of you who may be new to this blog, I've dealt with some very mysterious (and, at times, excruciating) abdominal pain since the birth of my son, Rowan.  The pain is much worse with running, though I feel it all the time.  Now, it's a whole lot better than it was back this past spring.  But I'm still not normal.

I've been on this quest for normal for almost a year.  Distance running is punctuated by pain and, to some degree, suffering.  Hence the word endure.  I have that kind of pain when I run, too.  But I don't mind it.  I like pushing myself and there's no better feeling that taking that last step of a long run...even though your body may have been revolting for the last 8 miles.

That's normal.  Stabbing pain in your abdomen that radiates up to your not.  It stole the joy of running for me for a long time.  I can't say it does that anymore, as I can run and enjoy it now.  But I'm still not normal.

There is one primary reason I went to see Dr. Casey in Chicago.  She is a well-acclaimed physician and researcher.  That last little tidbit is oh so important.  I'm a researcher, too.  I just don't research what she does.  But if you ever have a problem that you, or they, can't figure out?  Find yourself a researcher.  Researchers tend to know ALL the current evidence.  They also tend to get really interested in your problem.  And they have connections to help figure it out.

She didn't figure it out yesterday.  I was kind of hoping (fantasizing?) that I'd go in and she'd proclaim what it is.  But I really didn't expect that.

I met with one of her fellows (a physician training under her) first.  I felt the familiarity of a research institution when, upon entering, I was asked if I would participate in a research study.  She went through all the forms (which I go through with my participants).  And I said yes.  I always do.  Research karma.

Anyway, the fellow did a very extensive physical exam, as well as a thorough history.  I had her stumped, so she went to get Dr. Casey.

She was gone for over 20 minutes.  I was just dozing off (and I think Wes was, too) when Dr. Casey came in.  She had an entourage.  All her fellows had come in to see this.

She is a very tiny woman--a former NCAA gymnast.  She looks EXACTLY like Julianne Moore.  Wes and I came to this conclusion independently.  Anyway, I really liked her.  But I've liked a lot of them.  Results are what I need.

She put me through the same kind of exam the fellow had.  She told me that my abdominal muscles are functioning normally, and so it would be very unlikely to be muscular (which I knew anyway).  She agrees that it is some kind of nerve pain--but from where?

Well, according to her, my spine.  To be MID spine.  The thoracic region.  Your spinal cord has a bunch of nerve roots that feed your entire body.  Those from the thoracic area feed the abdomen.  The funny thing is--I have very little back pain.  The abdominal pain WAY overshadows any back pain.  Usually, if someone had a problem with the thoracic spine, the back would hurt...and it might radiate to the abdomen.

She did find a couple of spots on my back that, when pushed, really hurt. And she turned me in such a way that pressing on my back a certain spot actually made my abdomen hurt.  She finished her exam and sat down to tell me what she thought.

She's not sure what it is.  But she thinks we can go no further without an MRI of the thoracic spine.  While it would be strange for me to have this abdominal pain without back pain if the case were that the thoracic spine was causing it, she talked me through how a disc herniation in that area could indeed cause my symptoms.  Especially if the disc herniated in the middle, and not to one side (thereby pinching the nerve on each side).  So I'm going to have an MRI.

I'm really hoping, as always, that it's glaringly abnormal.  But I'm expecting it to be, as always, perfectly normal.  It's just how this whole thing has gone.  If it's abnormal, she'll treat whatever disc herniation/nerve impingement is there (via injections).  If it is normal, she's still going to treat my spine because the pain sounds so "spine like."  How?  With a physical therapy program directed at fixing my spinal alignment.

She also said that, if we can't pinpoint this, we can try some different diagnostic injections--injecting different nerve roots to see what makes it better.

So that's where we are.  It's a chronic problem with which I'm dealing.  But I'm dealing.  I'm running (though slowly) and not too concerned about hitting certain paces.  I just can't push myself extremely hard right now.  I run however feels good.

Not that I'm not running much.  I'm approaching about 70 miles per week.  Lots of miles, none of them that fast.  Not too bad considering I'm training for a marathon.

Wes and I ran 12 miles on the lake front path while in Chicago.  We were struck by how RUDE the people are there.  It must be a big city thing...but when we asked a security guard on the Navy Pier for directions and where a bathroom was, he nearly took our heads off.  I am so glad to be from a small town.

The run was not that remarkable.  We both had tired legs.  But it surely our last run together before Wes departs from Mississippi.  So, for that reason, it was special.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Red Eye Relay: Race Report

Wow, what a concept.  Put a team of runners together and run 100 miles in some of the most rural and desolate parts of southern the middle of the night.  Red Eye Relay was challenging but very fun.  Here is the report:

The way this relay works is that you start your team at a time which will allow them to finish by around 9 a.m. the next morning.  So some teams started as early as 4:00 pm, while others started as late as 8:00 pm.  My team was scheduled to start at 7:00.  I ran 6 miles the morning of the race so that I could get a total of 20 for the day.  I ended up regretting that.

I was part of a BARA--Bloomington Area Runners Association--Team.  These were organized by Ben Bartley, owner of Indiana Running Company.  He had a bunch of teams in the race.  So we were paired with another team.  This made the car pooling much easier.  I would be in a car with one of my teammates (Emily!) and two teammates from the team with which we were paired.  I don't know if that makes sense, but I don't know how else to describe it.

Tim and Rowan went with me to drop my stuff off at Indiana Running Company, which served as our "base camp."  We hung out in the basement.  I put my sleeping bag, air mattress, and very heavy gym bag in the basement and saved a spot for Emily next to me.  She arrived soon after (with our awesome team shirts) and before long we headed to the track.

My car included Emily and, from the other team, Jon and Madeline. I've known Jon for years (he's from Bedford), but this was my first time meeting Madeline.  She is a very talented runner from New Orleans.  Well, she's from Virginia but she ran at Loyola in N.O.  She would be my running partner.  We were told to run together during our legs...and we handed off to Jon and Emily each time.

The race started on the track, and Madeline and I had the first leg.  We lined up with a bunch of high school boys.  We knew they'd take off in a dead sprint, so our plan was to pass them around 200 meters.

Take off sprinting they did.  We stayed close to them.  On the final straight, Madeline passed one and I held off another.  We exited the track to Fee Lane and headed toward Griffy.  Madeline was ahead of me and I was really pressing to keep up with her.  She is very fast but made it look effortless.  We were moving around a 6:35 pace and then....we got stopped at the light on the bypass.  If you're familiar with Bloomington, you know this is the longest red light EVER.  I timed it to be about one minute and 16 seconds that we lost.  Oh, well. 

So the chase was on to catch the boys in front of us.  While this leg was a net downhill, there were a few ups. Madeline was still about 50 feet ahead of me.  I would gain on her on the ups, but then lose her again on the downs.  Suddenly, we saw one of the high school boys up ahead.  Madeline told me she was going to try to pass him.

And she did.  Authoritatively.  Then I passed him.  He was totally cooked.  TOTALLY.  He even stopped at the top of one of the hills.  From there, it was all downhill to Lake Griffy.  I knew we were close to finishing so I laid it on and finished within about 5 seconds of Madeline.  Our total time was just over 14 minutes for 2.2 miles.  We ran hard.

Then we had to take over the car.  Jon's car.  I drove, and we followed Jon and Emily to the next exchange point.  Their leg was very tough.  But they finished right at a 7:45 pace, which is impressive for the hills they were on. 

Then we had to wait.  Emily and Jon had handed off to other members of our team, and they would be running for 2+ hours.  We went back to the running store.  We were all starving.  But we couldn't eat because we had to run soon.  We decided to go to Max's Place to buy sandwiches that we would devour after we finished running our last legs.

Jon, Emily, and I walked to Max's Place--a place I've never been.  It's, um, not a place I'd fit in.  But they had sandwiches.  Though it took us a while to get our food, we were glad to have actual food waiting on us at the end.  Soon, it was time to head to the next check point.

Madeline and I were up next.  We changed clothes, got in the car, and Jon drove us to the next check point.  We got a nice surprise there--we saw Wes, Scott, Jim, and the rest of the ultra runners.  We chatted with them and laughed about how they weren't messing with the spreadsheet.

We waited a long time.  I think we arrived early and that our team lost some time.  I'm not exactly sure what happened, but we got behind.  Finally, it was our turn.  Now that it was dark, we had to wear head lamps, reflective vests, and blinking tail lights.  Annoying.

Madeline and I took off for our 7.85 mile leg.  This leg was around Lake Lemon.  I had warned her that we were going to be in for some tough terrain.  But the first few miles are deceiving.  They are totally flat around the lake.  We were moving at around a 7:00-7:10 pace around the lake.  She was about 15 feet in front of me.  I didn't want to run quite that hard yet because I knew what was coming--I've run there before.

I don't know what mile it was into our leg, but we were running downhill at a pretty good clip, and Madeline was still in front of me.  The next thing I knew, I saw her collapse to the ground--hard.  It scared the crap out of me.  She had told me that the day before, while running, she blacked out.  So I thought that was what had happened.  I changed from runner mode to nurse mode and quickly assessed her.  She had not blacked out.  Rather, she had run full speed into a massive pot hole that she couldn't see because we were going downhill.  The headlamp only shows you certain angles.  I couldn't really see how badly she was hurt, but I knew she hadn't hit her head.  I asked her if she was okay, and she quickly stood up and said yes she was fine.

But she wasn't.  She was bleeding badly from both arms and knees.  She had also hurt her ankle.  But she kept going.  I can't imagine how much she was hurting.  I continually asked her if she was okay, and she kept telling me yes.  We returned to our prior pace, and she ran as though the hard fall had never happened.  Madeline is tough.

Then came the hills.  The darkness was a blessing--we were climbing blindly.  I've run a lot of hills, and so I actually felt pretty strong on them (the early ones, anyway).  Madeline was hurting, though.  She started asking me how much further.  I know that feeling--when someone asks that, he/she is ready for this to be over.  I told her a mile and a half, because I thought that's how far it was.

But it was longer than that.  I pulled Madeline along and up one final huge, long hill.  We were extremely glad to finish that leg.  We finally were able to assess Madeline's wounds.  They were bad...and full of rocks.  Luckily, another team had a first aid kit.  She got bandaged up and we were out to follow Jon and Emily.  They ran another extremely hilly leg, and then it was back to the running store for some sleep.

When Emily woke me up, I was in a daze.  I SO wanted to go back to sleep.  But we had to go.  Madeline and I had one more leg.  It was only about 3.85 miles, and most of it was downhill.  But still--I really didn't want to run.  I wanted to SLEEP.

We arrived at the exchange point and both Madeline and I had to use the bathroom.  However, before we knew it, here came our teammates...ready to exchange.  No time to pee.  We were off.  This was our last leg, and I knew Madeline was going to run it fast.  I was going to do my best to stay with her.

Despite this leg being mostly down hill, I was hurting.  I was cursing myself for running that 6 miles before the race.  I just kept trying to stay with Madeline.  She pulled me along.  She started telling me what a good job I was doing and that we were almost done--to think about my sandwich.  She looked really strong, and it was all I could do to stay with her. 

I had no idea what pace we were going, but when it clicked to the second mile I saw that it was a 6:28 mile.  We were moving.  But my goal was still just to stick with Madeline.  If she hadn't been there, I wouldn't have gone nearly as fast.  This reminded me how beneficial it is to train with someone who's a bit faster than you are.  Someone who can push you.  She was pushing me, and I was hanging in.

When we hit 3 miles, Madeline said something like "Yay!" because we were almost done.  That mile was 6:34.  That may not seem fast, especially since it was down hill, but we had a ton of miles on our legs, were sleep-deprived, and running on gravel in the dark.  We really picked it up the last .85.  Suddenly, we could see the finish.  It was one of those, though, that looks closer than it is.

The last half mile or so, I was red lining it.  I was right on Madeline's shoulder.  I was not racing her.  I just wanted to stick with her.  I kept telling my legs to turn over...and finally we finished.  The pace for the last .85?  5:55.  No wonder I felt like I was about to die!  Props to Madeline for getting me through that leg.

And we were done.  Hallelujah.  We followed Emily and Jon on their last leg.  They were doing incredibly well--moving very fast--until they got to the base of the biggest hill I've ever seen.  Jon stopped to walk, and shortly after Emily did too.  It was then that I could see that something was wrong with Emily's right leg.  I knew what had happened--her right IT band had locked up.  She has been fighting that stupid thing for a long time.  She tried jogging a bit, and she was limping.  They kept walking, and she kept limping.  I began to worry about her.  Emily is tough as nails, and I didn't want her to hurt herself.

They made it to the top of the hill and started running again.  Emily's stride was way off, but she kept going.  They finished, and we were done.  Emily was very upset about her knee--she's training for a 100 miler.  I tried to reassure her that we can fix it.

We went back to the running store.  We hardly had an appetite for our sandwiches we were so tired.  I was so tired I accidentally ate Jon's sandwich instead of mine (sorry Jon!).  We decided to take a nap and then head to the track to see our teams finish.  Emily set her alarm and we all fell asleep.

I vaguely remember my phone ringing and knowing that Tim was on the phone, though I didn't remember anything about the conversation.  The next thing I knew, I heard Emily saying that we were late.  We were.  It was 8:55.  We had overslept.

We got our stuff together and headed to the track...missing our teams finishing by about 10 minutes.  That sucked.  Jon, Emily, and I are in none of the finishing pictures because we were passed out in the basement of the running store.  Oh, well.

Tim was there with Rowan...and they had Starbucks.  We got our medals and it was time to go home.  My team was second in the women's division--by only 5 minutes.  That's not much at all in a 100 mile race.

I came home and slept about 3 hours.  Then I debated about running again.  The relay messed up my schedule.  I needed 13 more miles to hit my 60 miles this week.  But should I run after that hard effort?

Well, even if I shouldn't have...I did.  I ran 13 miles tonight.  It was very, very hard.  My legs were dead.  I am very glad tomorrow is a rest day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Down to Business.

Yeah, I'm getting there.  It's crunch time with the dissertation.  I've been making a ton of progress, especially collecting data, but now it's time to dive in to writing.

While I love my research, I find it very difficult to sit down and start writing (except in my blog).  I always have.  Once I do, I'm on a roll.  But I go kicking and screaming when it comes to starting the process.  I'm sure that surprises you, and it continues to surprise me to this day.  I'm in graduate school...I've been in school since I was in kindergarten.  I have done a TON of writing.  And I love to write.  I just hate initiating it.

In a wonderful gem of a book that I've read called "How to Write a Lot," the author, right off the top, debunks the notion of writer's block.  How offensive to graduate students and those working in academia--he took our excuse away!  "There is no such thing as writer's block," he says.  "It's just a writer who's not writing."  Hmph.  But he's right.  Just sit down and write.  Without distraction.  Well, that's the hard part for me.

Number one, I have two kids.  It's summer, so Amelia's home (when she's not at camp).  Now, Amelia is nearly invisible here.  She does her own thing, usually in her own room.  But there's still the occasional "mom" call that needs my attention.  Plus, I want to hang out with her when I should be working.  But she's very good about reminding me that I better go write.

Then there's Rowan.  NOTHING writing-wise gets done with Mr. Rowan around.  Daycare has solved that problem.  I work all day and then pick him up.

My other distraction was Facebook.  Now, I wasn't on it constantly.  But when I was having trouble writing, I found myself going there as a diversion.  That wastes time.  So I have, temporarily, given up Facebook.  It kills me because that's how I keep up with everyone.  But it's necessary until this dissertation is finished.  I had Tim change my password so there's no way for me to log in.  My account is still there and open.  I will be sharing my blog there, but since I don't log in....if you want to leave a comment (at least one that you want me to see), leave it here on Blogspot instead.

Now, let's talk running.  I ran 14 miles yesterday at 5:30 a.m.  Then I had a job interview (which included me giving a presentation) right after.  The run was's just so humid that every single run is a slog.  I can't go fast.  I don't even try.  I just get the miles in.  I said previously that I like running that time of day because of lack of traffic.  Yesterday, for whatever reason, there was a TON of traffic at 5:30.  Including one truck that tried to run me off the road.  I don't understand people's disdain for runners, walkers, and cyclists. It's a road--all methods of transportation can be used on it.  He came pretty close to me, honked at me, and cursed.  He could have gotten around me no problem.  He was making a statement.  I make my statement by continuing to run where I run.  I pay taxes for those roads...and I'm going to run on them.

My interview went very well too.  I was surprised at how nervous I was about my presentation, but it went very well.  And it felt so good to get up there and share what I've worked SO hard on.  When you do a dissertation, or any kind of study, you know it inside and out.  You live and breathe it.  And you forget that other people don't know about it.  So I had to take a step back and place myself in that context.

Oh, and it was hot yesterday.  I wore my suit for the interview (which thankfully is a skirt and not pants).  I first met with them at the nursing school, which is on campus by the union.  My presentation was in the Education building, which is totally on the other side of campus. So we had to walk.   If I had left my suit jacket on, it would have been soaked.  So I took it off.  And, by the time we got there, I was visibly wet with sweat.  I quickly went to the bathroom and tried to dry off, but I kept sweating.  So I gave my presentation with sweat stains.  Nothing to be done about it.

Red Eye Relay is tomorrow.  Running all night long...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Business as usual.

So my blog post yesterday got a lot of views and comments.  Perhaps I should rant more often?  Probably not.

So, back to business as usual.

It's insanely hot here (and nearly everywhere else in the US).  What's more, though, is the humidity.  The dew point was 82 today.  82!  And I thought 72 was bad.

So I was to run 13 miles today.  Doing it in the middle of the day was completely out.  I would die.  I could either do it right before I took Rowan to daycare, or right after.  Given the fact that it was going to be over 80 and 5 am, I chose the former.

I got up at 5:20 a.m. and was out the door by 5:30.  I. Was. Tired.  But the thought of running in the heat and humidity in addition to the sun shining down on me outweighed my desire for sleep.  I cannot describe in words how humid it was.  I could almost see droplets of water in the air.  It was nothing short of oppressive.  Nothing to be done about it, and so I was off.

At first, I felt very sluggish.  Probably because I'd only been awake for 10 minutes.  But after the first mile, I felt okay.  It was actually a very good run.  Late in the run, I had a lot more energy and sped up quite a bit.  I didn't look at my splits (I only do that when I'm trying to hit a certain pace), but I know I negative split this run.  Though I enjoyed the run, I was quite glad for it to be over.  I was drenched.  I drank a ton of water and still lost three pounds.

The heat's not going anywhere any time soon.  Tomorrow and Thursday are supposed to be hotter still.  So I'll be doing 5:30 am runs until further notice.  Tim is, too.  I do Tuesday/Thursday during the week, and he does Monday/Wednesday.  We work it out on the weekends.

Though I hate getting up so early, I LOVE the quiet nature of early morning runs.  No one is out there.  Hardly any cars.  It's serene.

In other news, I saw Penny today about my hip.  It's kind of bothering me again.  It's certainly not bad enough to make me stop, but there must be something going on for it to have come back.  Well, Penny found it.  It's my butt.  Yes, my butt.  She started poking around on the right side of my back side and BAM she hit an exquisitely tender spot.  Piriformis, obturator, and some other muscles were "all junked up."

She Grastoned them.  Wow--ouch.  It was so bad that she said she couldn't get to all of it in one visit.  She also did my hip and quad, but believes the butt stuff is the source of the problem, as it's putting excess stress on the hip.  I go back on Friday for more digging.  I love Penny.

Some other random things to report:  Today is my second wedding anniversary.  Tim and I went to dinner where we had one of our very first dates.  I love my husband.  Second, I booked a trip to Disney World for October.  I love, love, love Disney World and have not been in over five years.  I'm celebrating myself (for completing a dissertation...which I WILL do before that trip).  I'm really cheap ('s more that I'm just into saving money), so this was a big deal for me.  But I finally pulled the trigger and I'm glad I did it.  Thirdly, my dissertation interviews are going very well and are almost complete.  I have had the pleasure of hearing some very interesting and touching stories.  I can't wait to get even deeper into analysis.

No running tomorrow--just lots of work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Soap Box.

I have a lot of them, but I don't usually bring them into my blog.  I usually use this space to talk about my own personal life experiences, and especially those surrounding running.  Today I'm diverting from that (temporarily) in order to deal with something that has been exasperating me.  It's an issue that keeps coming up to or around me, and I, if for nothing else than my own sanity, need to deal with it. 

I'm guessing that you, especially if you are a runner or you associate with them, have heard someone dismissively say "He/she's not a real runner."  Or even a runner him or herself shake his or her head and say "Oh, no, I'm not a real runner."  People, this is wrong.  Why are we discouraging people from taking part in this beautiful, natural sport?  Why must we make new (or even old) runners feel like they don't quite belong?  And why do runners allow themselves to believe the absurd notion that you must do more than run to be a runner?

Now some of you will say "So, Wendy, I can run to the mailbox and call myself a runner?"  No, not usually.  Unless that's all you can physically run.  To me, if you consistently go outside (or even, GASP, to a treadmill) and run (even if that running includes walk breaks), you are a runner.  And "consistently" is an ill-defined word.  For some people it's every day.  For even more people it's several times a week.  For others, it may be once a week.  If you put one foot in front of the other on a regular basis, you're a runner in my book.  Here are the following (asinine) characteristics I have heard others say make one a fake runner:

1. Too slow.
 I actually hear runners say this more about themselves than I hear runners say it about other runners.  So many times I've talked to runners after races and they will saying something like "But I'm not a real runner, I'm just really slow."  Two words:  doesn't matter.  12 minute pace, 10 minute pace, 5 minute pace--we all get there eventually.   YOU'RE STILL RUNNING!  Don't ever think (or let someone tell you) that just because you're "slow" you're not a real runner.  In most running groups, there are people of all paces, from super fast to super slow.  The trick is to find others who run your pace.  But a slow runner is still a runner.  Period.

2. Doesn't race.
Now this one bothers me the most.  I put it second only because it's not as common as number one.  I hate nothing more than when I say, "So, does so and so run?"  "Well, he runs, but he doesn't race.  So he's not like a real runner."  Does that statement not just sound completely irrational?  He runs but he's not a runner.  I think you mean he runs but he' not a racer, which I didn't ask anyway!  There are a LOT of people who run for fun.  There are even more who run for fitness and health.  And they never pin on a race number.  And what do we racers often do?  We judge them.  Snide comments abound.  "Why would you run a long run every week if you're not even going to race?"  "Can you believe she runs all those miles and never even races?" 

1/3 of the US population is obese, costing our nation a billion dollars a year.  Honestly, folks, let them run.  Whatever their reason--to stay thin and pretty, to stay healthy and avoid a heart attack, to become endorphinized so they stay away from drugs--let them run.

I will never understand why some runners are so downright incensed by the fact that someone could run just for the fun of it.  That they can put their shoes on every morning and head out for a run simply because they want to.  How dare they be devoted to something they love to do simply because they love to do it!  Oh, and watch out if you're a runner who runs races for fun.  Some ultra-competitive runners (and I am an ultra-competitive person, by the way) will just be beside themselves to hear this.  "You're running for FUN?  YOU'RE NOT RACING?"  They especially hate this if your "fun" pace is close to or faster than their "all out race" pace.

Myself, I love to race.  But the underlying reason for all of my training is....I love to run.  If I could never race again, I'd run just as much or more than I do now.  I do not hold it against another runner who does not enjoy the pain of racing.  Let's be honest--it hurts.  Some people don't like or handle pain well.  Why does it irritate so many runners that they choose to do what they enjoy?  I'll never know.  But whatever your reason for running--to fit into those jeans, to get off those blood pressure pills, or to simply pass time--trust that you are a real runner.

3. Doesn't follow a training plan. 
I would actually never be able to do this--not follow a training plan.  But I admire those runners (Wes, Scott) who pull it off.  Do you know when they run?  Whenever the hell they feel like it.  When it becomes no fun, they stop.  Imagine that.  I have heard on more than one occasion that runners like this are not quite real runners, despite the fact that they often run way more than 100 miles per week.  Why is having a structured training plan a prerequisite for being considered a runner?  They listen to their bodies and run by feel.  They have no Earthly idea what their "tempo pace" is.  They don't pay attention to splits or even total distance or time.  They run sans watch.  But they're running.  A lot.  They are runners.  The ultimate runners, in my book.

4.  Doesn't look like a runner.
There are skinny runners, stout runners, short runners, tall runners, and downright fat runners.  They are all runners.  A lot of people are under the assumption that you need to have long, skinny legs to be a good runner.  That being lithe is mandatory.  Might it help?  Sure, it might make it easier, but it's certainly not required.  Again, I remind you of the obesity epidemic in this country.  If people think they are too fat to run, they will never run.  And thus they will remain fat.  Overweight people CAN and SHOULD run.

Even after you lose weight running (and you will, it's the best calorie burner ever), you may not look like what you imagine a runner to be.  You may think (or be told...or it may be hinted at) that, though you can run, you don't have a runner's build and you can never be fast.  I, in fact, was told this once when I went out for the high school cross county team.  It was a walk-on team, but when I showed up for the meeting the coach took one look at me and said "Oh, you are a sprinter, not a distance runner.  Come back for track season."  Being only 16, I listened to her.  And I didn't run. 

Well, let me just tell you, I'm a more-than-decent distance runner.  Do I have long stick legs?  No.  I have big (like, huge) calves and strong quads.  I'm short.  But I have run some pretty fast times.  Times that would have definitely made me the fastest on the team in high school.  I have so much regret about not running in high school.  All because someone told me I didn't look like a runner.  Even if I had never become "fast," I still could have run.  No matter what kind of body you're in, you can run and be a runner.

People also might say you're not a runner because you don't dress like one.  There is this ever-growing (mis)belief that, in order to be a real runner, you must look like shit every time you head out the door for a run.  Your hair should be matted.  You should stink.  Your socks better not match.  You had better not even think of trying to "fix" your hair.  But maybe you're high maintenance or a girly girl (or guy).  Maybe you want everything to match.  Maybe you even wear make up when you run.  Maybe you need to look a certain way to feel comfortable and confident while you run.  Maybe that's part of the fun for you.  Why are some runners so bothered by what other runners wear, especially when they choose to wear something that is nice, pretty, or matching?  It downright enrages some runners.  I have heard runners let out a huge, exasperated sigh when a female runner comes up wearing a running skirt.  She is immediately written off as 1) slow, 2) a fake runner and, 3) trying to get the attention of men.  Has anyone watched Shalane Flanagan or Kara Goucher race?  How about Jenn Shelton?  Shalane and Kara always look great, and the former has been quoted as saying how she takes time to make sure that she looks good in front of the cameras.  Don't know if you've noticed, but these two women are FAST.  Olympic fast.  Yet they don't look homeless when they run.  Jenn Shelton, probably THE most bad-ass female runner out there right now, wears running skirts all the time.  She has a reputation for being a violent drunk and having a foul mouth.  She's about as non-girly as they come.  And she happens to hold the world record for women's 100 mile trail running.  But she couldn't possibly be a real runner, right?  Know one reason she wears a lot of running skirts?  POCKETS.  Running skirts are full of pockets (usually on the compression shorts).  You can stuff a ton of gels, even a phone in them.  They are totally functional.

I don't even pay attention to what other runners are wearing.  Sometimes something cute (yes, I like cute running clothes) catches my eye, but others' running attire is about the last thing on my mind.  But a lot of other runners do...because they'll say to me "Did you see how she was wearing all pink?"  No, I didn't.  And I Do. Not. CARE.

In this month's Runner's World, there is a quote that reads "I've never met a fake runner."  Nor have I.  So keep running.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Soppy 20, Red Eye, and SJ.

If you're reading from Indiana, you're aware that there are heat advisories here EVERY SINGLE DAY.  It makes marathon training a bit difficult.  The only way to successfully complete a long run (at least for me) is to get up extremely early.  I've done that all week--yesterday I got up at 6 for my 12 miler with 4 miles at marathon pace.  And I did the same today for my 20.

Today was a special run, because I didn't have to run alone!  Emily came down to run with me.  I'm very glad she did, as it made the miles tick by.  When I walked out to let her in, I was stunned at how HUMID it was.  It wasn't even 6:00 am yet.  I checked the temperature and the dew point.  It was 81 with a dew point of 74.  That is insanely humid.  But it wasn't going to get any cooler or less humid, so we set out.

We took the Buddha 20 route.  This is not an easy route.  Tons of very big hills and rollers throughout.  I warned Emily we needed to take it easy due to the weather.  We did, but the hills still weren't easy.  I really enjoy running very hilly courses.  For one, it keeps things interesting.  And two, it makes you very, very strong.  Hills, of course, are speedwork in disguise.  If that is the case, Emily and I got a lot of speedwork today.

I had stashed water every couple of miles last night, and so we were drinking a ton.  But I found myself getting very, very thirsty between water stops.  Want to know why?  We were completely DRENCHED in sweat by mile 7 or 8.  Emily was wringing out her shorts.  Our sports bras were completely saturated, and by 10 miles our shoes were squeaking with moisture.  I think this is the most humid run I've ever been on.  We really did look like we'd just jumped in a pool.

It was a very enjoyable run (despite the humidity), as I love running with Emily and we had a lot to catch up on.  I had just a smidge of abdominal pain at the beginning, and then it went totally away.  So thankful.  My right hip/quad is bothering me again a bit.  I might need to go see Penny.  Never fear--she can take care of anything.

So a couple of other things to talk about.  The first is Red Eye Relay, which I'm doing this coming Saturday night.  Yes, night.  It begins in the evening and goes to the following morning.  100 miles of which I'm running 14.  My teammates will be running the rest.  We are on a BARA team (sponsored by the Indiana Running Company), and our team's name is "Girls EmBARAssing Boys."  Yes, I know the word embarrassing is misspelled, but it was obviously the only way to make it work.  Emily had the idea of making us all matching singlets.  They are pink with our team name on the front, and the phrase "You just got chick'd" on the back.  I'll have to wear it next time I race Bill Deckard :)  I've never done this relay.  I'm looking forward to it other than the being up all night part.  I'm old and I'm tired.  But I hope we win.

The next thing--SJ.  Which stands for Sara Jane, who I'm helping train for the NYC marathon.  We are just three weeks in...and she is killing it.  She's running fartleks and nailing pace runs and long runs.  Since she already outed it in her blog, I can say here that our plan for her is for he to break 4 hours.  She ran 4:23 at Grandma's (a 24 minute PR), but that was after I'd only been working with her a handful of weeks.  She can do this, and I can't wait to see what she ultimately does--she's got a lot of untapped talent.

Lots of running this week--60-some miles.  I'm also doing some of the final interviews for my dissertation.  So it will be busy.  And in case you didn't already know it--there is a heat advisory until further notice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm Back!

Not that I was ever gone...I have just totally neglected my blog.  That neglect stops now.  I have had several people tell me how my blog motivates them with their running and that they miss it and NEED it.  So, here we go again...back to regular blogging.  A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks, so I'll try to update you.

First, I lost my gallbladder.  On purpose, of course.  The surgery was a week ago.  When I met with Dr. Jones before the surgery, I asked her if she'd take another good look around in my abdomen since I'm still having some abdominal pain and a LOT of shoulder pain.  Last time, she hadn't really gotten on top of my diaphragm (as it's kind of risky), but this time she would do it.

I was talking to the anesthesiologist about Buddha (the town, not THE Buddha) as he was giving me Versed.  That's the last thing I remember until I heard myself saying "pain, pain."  I don't know why I couldn't say "I'm in pain" or "My belly hurts," but I just kept repeating those words.  Then I think I heard myself saying "Husband, daughter."  I did that last time.  I don't say their names, just their titles.  Anyway, before I knew it, Tim was there.  And then there was Amelia.  I vaguely remember her standing by my bed holding my hand.  And she kept asking me questions.  She was extraordinarily amused by my confused state, and had me talking about making a cake and eating ice cream.  She smiled and laughed in delight.

Through all the pain I was having, I could tell one thing:  I felt better.  The deep ache under my right rib cage was gone.  I didn't get to speak to Dr. Jones after, but Tim did.  She said there were no stones in the gallbladder but it was diseased (which was later confirmed by pathology).  She also found that I have a hiatal hernia, which is a hernia that occurs when the stomach slips up through the diaphragm, which has a small opening for the esophagus.  She didn't think that would be causing my symptoms, though.  She found nothing near the left phrenic nerve (which is what is causing the shoulder pain--we just don't know why), and really nothing else of note.

I was a lot more sore after this surgery in the last.  I couldn't figure out why...until I remembered that last time they gave me an abdominal block--a nerve block that blocks the sensation in the abdomen.  I think this block is why I did feel so much better initially after my first surgery.

Anyway--I feel a lot better sans gallbladder, but I still have shoulder pain and abdominal pain.  You can imagine how utterly, incredibly, devastatingly frustrating this is for me.  That's part of the etiology for my blogging absence.  It's hard to write about your dreadful psychological state over something that's been going on for almost a year.  But I need to do it.  I owe it to you and to me.  I can't hide from this situation.

So--what now?  Well, I'm convinced that my remaining pain is nerve pain.  It's sharp and shooting.  I've also taken some Neurontin (a medication that works on the nerves), and it actually helped quite a bit.  So what kinds of doctors deal with nerve pain?  Well, neurologists do.  But not this kind of pain, I don't think.  Pain management doctors do as well.  And I have a pain management doctor, remember?  But Dr. Lysandrou believes (still, after all of this) that my pain is muscular.  He would not even consider assessing or treating the nerves that supply my abdomen.  And I'll never go back to him.

You all know that I've seen a LOT of physicians.  All kinds.  One type of physician, though, I have neglected to see.  A physiatrist.  A physician trained to deal with bones, muscles, and nerves.  But they're not all created equal.  A lot of them deal in rehabilitative medicine (with patients post-stroke, etc.).  But I found one who is a physiatrist board-certified in sports medicine.  She (yes, she) also specializes in female athletes.  Hello...sign me up.  She's in Chicago.  And I'm going to see her July 26.  I think this is my last ditch effort to get this figured out totally.  I spoke with her nurse, and she said they could do testing on my nerves to determine if they are causing the pain.  If they are, they can be blocked so I won't feel it.  Again, sign me up.

So that's where I am--I'm still not totally right.  I'm better than I was last winter for sure.  But I cannot train at my full potential like this.  I can't do speedwork of any kind.  I can run lots of slow miles, but if I push it I suffer a lot of pain.  So that's what I've been doing--lots of slow miles.  I will try some marathon pace miles this weekend...but I haven't done any of my scheduled tempo runs.  I've done the miles, but not the tempo part.  So where will that put me for Chicago?  I don't know.  And I don't really care that much.  I'm building a huge base, running lots of 20s, and running in a lot of hot weather.  I'll be fit, for sure.  But can I break 3:10 without doing any intensity?  I don't know.  I think  so...but I'm not going to pressure myself until I'm totally healthy.

If you know me, you know I'm a really, really competitive person.  So that last sentence up there, about not pressuring myself?  That's hard for me to write.  It's even more difficult for me to actually execute.  So don't be surprised if this blog turns into a diary of sorts...something to remind me not to push myself right now.

Onto running.  I've been doing it.  I ran 13 miles this morning at 6 am.  It's been so hot here that running mid-day is just not an option.  Well, it is, but it's miserable.  I'm running around 60 miles per week right now.  My legs feel fantastic.  Not even a niggle.  I hope it stays that way.

I have so much more to write but this is getting long and I'm afraid of losing my audience.  More to come soon.  I promise.