Thursday, January 28, 2010

Better to be safe than sorry!

I had something happen yesterday on my run that has really got me thinking. While out for my run at a local park, I was on my 3rd lap around (it is a little over a mile around two connecting parks) two guys shows up along my path. Of course they both showed up in the most secluded part of the trail, the first one parked his truck just off the path and was standing outside his truck. The second guy came in to the park then turned around as I came around the corner and stopped his car right where the path crossed the road, so I would have no choice but to run right by his car (plenty of other places to park here). Needless to say I got a little freaked out and decided to turn around and get out of there ASAP. I promised myself no speed work this week because of my shin issues, but the need to get away was greater than the shins so I booked it. And went home to finish my run on the treadmill, so much for my nice sunny day run outside.

Some of you may remember a couple of years ago when out running in our gated community in south Florida how I got followed by a van at 5am. Ever since that day I have a very big fear while running. It took me a long time to even run in the dark after that happened. And even though I am still scared I WILL not let these people keep me from doing something I love. So I continue to run and just try and stay very aware of my surrounds and am always checking behind me and around corners and bushes. I run in the middle of the paths so I am farther away from possible hiding places and usually run with just one headphone in my ears so I can still hear what is going on. And when I see something that just does not seem right, I leave whether I look stupid or not. I for one would rather look like a total chicken shit than not come home to my family.

I posted on facebook about what happened yesterday and had some suggestions posted. One of the suggestions was to carry mace. I have been told to do this in the past, and the reason I do not is well frankly I don’t think it works. I was unlucky enough as a teenager to get sprayed in the face with the stuff (gotta love siblings, even when they fight dirty…Love you sissy) and well it sent me in to an utter rage. I had to leave the house or I think I may have killed my sister. This did not incapacitate me it just really pissed me the hell off. I know that not everyone feels the same about this as me, but then again not everyone has firsthand experience with the stuff. So I will not be carrying or spraying anyone with mace any time in the near future.

I will say that one of the best suggestions and I got and one I totally agree with was about getting a dog. I know this to be a great idea because it is exactly what I did after being followed by the van. I got the best dog ever, her name is Prada. She ran with me for about a year and then well we got hit with winter and I did not run much outside so she got fat and totally lost her desire to run. She now will only run a couple miles at most and only at about a 12min pace, I have tried to go farther and faster with her and her response is to just sit down in the middle of a run. Now anyone who has run with a dog knows that if this happens while you are running it is kind of shocking to just STOP in the middle of your stride. So I have not taken her in a while. However, I have recently been reminded by a friend Anne Marie that dogs love to run and even just a couple miles is worth the time for our furry friends.

After what happened yesterday and my reminder from Anne Marie, I have decided to start running with Prada again. I know it will be slow going and she may never want to run 10 miles with me, but I will never know if I don’t take her. I always felt safer having her with me and I truly believe that people would think twice about approaching me if I had a big dog with me. So I wanted to thank you all for the advice and well wishes yesterday, and remind you all to please stay safe and keep your eyes and ears open for anything that looks or sounds strange and PLEASE don’t be afraid to look stupid for running away it is always better to be safe than sorry!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Exercising with kids

Those of you who are parents know that having kids around sometimes can be a real pain, and those of you who have kids and have to workout with them know this to be a fact literally!

I am a mom to the most wonderful 2 ½ year old little girl (I am not just saying this because she is mine, this is a fact). She truly is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I absolutely love this little girl to death and I have no idea what I ever did without her. However, there are times when she can be a real pain.

I am sure you all know by now that I love to workout. Not just running, anything that gets me moving I pretty much love to do. Being a mother can make it hard to do at times, well not the moving part I think once you become a parent you never stop moving after all we have to chase our little stinkers everywhere. On Sunday the sun came out for the first time in weeks and I decided it was a great day to go for a run. My husband was on reserve duty and my mother who came by for the weekend was gone so it was just me and my little darling. Unfortunately the jogging stroller has a major alignment issue right now so that was not an option, so my solution was to hit the track. The track is fenced in (no escaping toddler) and there was plenty of area for Amanda to play while mommy ran, and of course the park across the street would make a good bribe to get her to be good so I could run (bribes are a parents secret weapon, we have to have one ready at all times).

When I asked Amanda if she wanted to go running with mommy she lit up, she loves to run. So we got ready and off to the track we went. I got us all set up in a spot with toys, snacks, and drinks. Amanda wanted to run for a while so I took off with her around the track. She made it about half way then wanted me to hold her, so I had to run half the track carrying an extra 30 pounds, let’s just say I was not breaking any speed records here. I get back to our stuff and ask Amanda to stay there while I ran around a couple more times. When I came around the last turn she started running towards me with a big grin saying “MOMMY MOMMY” she had her hands up and was so excited, I snatched her up and ran back to our stuff. She then wanted to run around again so I said okay lets go, we get around the turn and she head right to the fence and says “I go slide mommy” while pointing at the park. So I tell her after we run we will go to the park okay baby, let’s go run now. Her response “NO, I GO SLIDE NOW!” at this point she through a fit and I had to run around the track with a screaming and kicking additional 30 pounds. I finally get her to calm down and tell her if she is good and lets mommy run around just a couple more times we will go to the slide. This seemed to work and I got my run in, along with some extra strength training.

So last night Neal and I were doing Yoga with Amanda. She likes us to set up a mat for her and she will join us in some of it (it is really cute). I will say that Yoga with a 2yr old is NOT relaxing. While doing balance postures, Amanda found it very funny to push mommy or daddy so they would fall down; this seemed to really crack her up so she kept at it. Next while twisted up like a pretzel and having my head hanging upside down all of a sudden a little face would be right in mine saying “I WOVE OU MOMMY!” The next thing that Amanda would find funny would be to climb on top of me while I was in different poses. One such pose put me on my back with my feet bent over my head and my feet touching the ground above my head (this just sound wrong doesn’t it?), my little darling then climbed on my legs so I could not get out of the pose and frankly could not breath, Neal was kind enough to stop laughing long enough to rescue me. One hour and a half later we finished our Yoga feeling more frazzled than relaxed.

I love being a mom, and I would not trade it for anything; but there are times when it is a pain. Those of you with kids I am sure you can relate and are thinking been there done that, those without enjoy it while you can because once you have one your life changes for ever. But I will tell you this I would not trade it even for a nice run without tantrums and an extra 30 pounds to carry, or a night of relaxing Yoga.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another running injury

One of my biggest flaws is that I am stubborn the next biggest flaw of mine would be that I think I can do anything. Some would say that the second one is not really considered a flaw, but when combined with the first one it is a huge flaw.

I am a fairly new runner, meaning that I just started running about 2 years ago. In that time I have had 2 injuries the first being shin splints, the second was my knee. Both of these injuries were due to pushing too hard to fast. You see in both cases I was training for a race and wanted to do my best, and my best would be to run faster. So I pushed myself to do more speed work and a LOT more hill training. The end result was injuries. I got through the first race, but did not perform at my best, the second race I never got to do I hurt my knee too close to the race and could not recover in time to run it.

So having this experience with running and injuries you would think I would learn my lesson right? WRONG! I did it again, I have another race coming up and I want to do my best so there I go with the speed work again, this time I did cut out the hill training since my race will be in Florida on a flat course. Last week I started to notice my shins were hurting again, not to bad just tender. I decided that they would be fine and ignored them. Then the morning after my snow run this week I had pain when I got out of bed. This is a sure sign that my shins were not getting better and I should do something. Well this is where my flaws come in to play. I decided again to not do anything and continue with my training, I did however start to stretch more (a little too late for this decision I think). Well two days and 2 runs later and I had to stop in the middle of my run because the pain was too bad. So here I am with shin splints again.

For those of you who are following my training on daily mile, you may be thinking but you are not running that much. This would be a correct observation, the difference this time is P90X. There are a few workouts in P90X that I believe has helped the shin splints along quite well (Plyo). The first time I did P90X I had no issues, but I was not training for a half marathon at that time also. So here I am working out 2 or 3 times a day pushing myself in both the P90X and the running and I am injured again. STUBORN, STUBORN, STUBORN. I think if I had eased back in to my mileage and the P90X instead of deciding on Jan 1 that I was going to do both and jumped right in I would not be having issues. But once again I thought I could do it all, hell I have even decided to start the 100 push up challenge too. Can someone please knock some since into me!

So here is the new plan, I am going to take a few days off from running but continue the P90X. Then go back to only running every other day, and ONLY doing speed work one time a week instead of like every run. I will also be icing everyday and taking lots of vitamin I (Ibuprofen for those of you who did not know what vitamin I was). Then I will start the running again and hope the shin splints at the very least don’t get worse. I am also going to really start thinking about minimalist running so that maybe I no longer have to deal with these issues and can push as hard as I want to. I think a pair of Vibram FiveFingers are in my near future.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Running in the Snow!

So the plan today was to get out and do a 9 mile run. I usually do my long runs first thing in the morning, but we had freezing fog and the weather man kept talking about the sun coming out today so I decided to wait it out. I ended up getting some chores done in the morning and even went to the running store to stock up on fuel supplies. So after I get everything done and eat some lunch, the fog is still there and it started to look like I was just going to have to run in it. So I got ready to go and headed out to my favorite trail.

On the way to the park the sun came out and that really brightened my mood. There is nothing like a nice run in the sun (well unless it is 90 degrees out then there is nothing like a run in the shade). I get to the park and start my stretches then put my fuel belt and iPod on and head to the trail. To my utter horror the trail is totally covered in snow. I was shocked, I mean it has been above freezing for a couple days, yeah there is still snow on the ground but this is a paved trail. I thought it would be melted or maybe plowed (I know here is another stupid winter thing the Floridian did, just something else to add to my duh what were you thinking list)

Well now I am at the trail the day is mostly gone so I say what the heck let’s give it a try. Man that first mile my calves were on fire. I knew there was no way I was going to make 10 miles in this so I headed out for 1 mile then headed back to the car. I decided that I should at least give it 4 miles and see how I felt then. So I left the fuel belt in the car this time stretched out my calves some more and grabbed my camera because I thought no one would believe I really ran in this if I did not have pictures of it.

I decided to head out in the opposite direction and see if the trail was any better that way. Nope same thing, snow covered and in some spots up to my ankles. Oh well it was worth a shot. My legs finally stopped hurting real bad and I started to actually enjoy the run. I am curious though, is there a certain form or stride for snow running? I found myself running like I was running through tires, I am sure I looked pretty stupid. There were a few spots where some of the snow had melted and I found myself really looking forward to those where I could run normal without all the slipping and sliding or knee rises. This snow running is a little confusing for this Florida girl.

After another couple miles I decide that I could do more so I head out for another 2 and now I am feeling like I got this snow thing down. In all but the deepest places I can actually run a little normal now except when I slip and slide that is. I kind of have a stride going, and am enjoying the sound my feel make as they crunch in the snow. As I get to 5 my legs are getting pretty tired and I start to feel that this is going to be my last mile. I am wishing at this point that I had not left the fuel belt in the car; I think if I could have fueled up a little maybe I could have made the 9 or at least another 2. Oh well lessons learned. I made it 6 miles in the snow on my first ever snow run. Granted this run was not planed as a snow run, but I had fun with it. It is things like this that really make me feel like a real runner. I mean come on who but a runner would say hey the trail is covered in snow let’s see what it is like to run in that! I know I am not the first and will not be the last person to run in snow, but I am glad I had my chance and now I know it is not that bad and I know I will do it again. I have a much greater appreciation for all of you who run in the snow; it is defiantly harder to run in but can be a lot of fun too!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Winter Blues

Well this week has not been such a great week. Basically the whole week I have felt sluggish, tired and totally unmotivated. It started out with me feeling sick, then just moved on to me not wanting to do anything. I got in my P90X workouts but really slacked off on my running. The motivation was just not there this week. Heck the motivation has not been there for much of anything except sitting around doing nothing. My house is a mess, and I have not really cooked dinner much this week.

So some of the things going on this week have just been crazy. As most of you know I have 2 jobs my regular full time job and a part-time job. Well my part-time job called last week to let me know they made an error and my pay check bounced. The assured me that they were very sorry and were totally at fault here and were sending me out a new check. So I get the new check at the same time I get my current paycheck in the mail, so now I have a month’s worth of pay checks and am ready to hit the bank so I can pay some bills. Before I ever even make it to the bank I find out that the checks are no good there is still no money in the accounts and I cannot cash the checks. Well let’s just say this has done a lot to keep my mood dull this week. It is now the weekend and there is still no money in the accounts to cash the checks. I am still not sure what I am going to do about this job, part of me just wants to quit, the other part knows we need the money (well if we ever get the money). I have been assured for the 3rd time that the money will be there Monday, I have no expectations of that but we will see I guess.

Another damper on the week is my wonderful daughter has decided that she is ready to test her independence and has been perfecting the art of the tantrum. There has not really been one day this week where we have not had a mind blowing tantrum. This kid is stubborn and she really knows how to hold out. I am now to the point of just ignoring her when she is having them. I have tried everything else and nothing has worked so this is the last step before we send her off to military school if they will take her (this is a joke people, don’t freak out).

So those are just some of the factors going on this week, the last one is just cabin fever. I am a work at home mom so I am home all day. I am also a total winter hater so I don’t get out much when the weather is bad, you put those two together along with the bad winter he have had and you got me stuck in this house for almost a month straight. I can’t take it anymore. I am an outdoors person; the sunshine makes me happy it recharges my batteries. I did make it out one day this week and had the best 5 mile run of my life. I am starting to think that had a lot to do with just getting out.

So I have decided that I need to get the heck out of this house, so I am taking my daughter out for a girls day. I have no idea what we are going to do, but as long as we are not home that is good for me. I am also secretly hoping that a bonding day may help with the tantrums but not sure if that will work on a 2 yr old. I need to start figuring out something to do that gets me out of the house more. It looks like the weather is warming up a bit and the ice has started to melt so more outside runs maybe in my future. But what other things are there to do in the winter? I will have to start finding something or get some airline miles and start flying south for the winter like the birds.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Sole F80 Review

I recently purchased the Sole F80 Treadmill. After many discussions (for those who can’t read between the lines, this means fights) with my husband about the dire need of a treadmill living in this frozen tundra he moved me too, I started my search for the perfect mill for me. A lot of my research was pretty easy a friend recommended that I check out the site for reviews on most of the treadmills out there. This site is great; I could see what seems like a good buy, what is the best treadmill in a price range and stuff like that. But now I had to figure out what my price range was and what exactly I wanted in a treadmill, because once I get one it will have to last me years.

From everything I was finding on treadmills, there is a huge difference if you want to run on one or just walk. That huge difference has a lot to do with price, all those treadmills you see that cost about $500 are not made for runners. The motors can’t handle it, the belt is not long enough, and the belts tend to slip after a while. What I found was that if you are looking for a running treadmill you need to start at $1,000 and up.

Now came deciding on features, wow people you can get a treadmill with almost anything these days. From heart rate monitors a virtual screen with a virtual runner to run different trails. Crazy the stuff you can get, but of course the more stuff you get the higher the price goes. I finally decided that what I wanted was a heart rate monitor strap not the hand holds (I mean come one try running and holding those things it is a pain in the Arse), an ipod hook up, and a fan would be nice.

OK, so now I finally had an idea of what I could spend and what I wanted then my search began. I read a ton of reviews and finally decided that the Sole F80 was the treadmill for me. It has an older sister the F85 that I was checking out also for about $500 more; the only difference is a larger motor and larger running surface. Granted those things are important for runners, but what the F80 had was perfect for me. You see I am not a fast runner and I am sort so the 3.0 horsepower motor and the 20x55 running surface is just fine for me.

Now I am sure you are wondering just what I think of it. All I can say people, is it was LOVE at first run. This thing rocks. The motor is quiet, the belt is soft and smooth, the speakers are clear and loud, the heart rate strap is accurate. The only down side is the fans kinda suck. Truth be told I don’t even feel them when they are on. But I can live with that. One of the best features this treadmill has is controls are the arms so you don’t have to reach up to the display if you want to speed up or down or increase or decrease the incline. This makes it a lot easier to change everything during a run. I have used several treadmills at different gyms and have always hated the heart rate grips. If I wanted to check my HR I had to grab those stupid things and hold one for a couple minutes to get a reading and most of the time it is not accurate anyway. Well this treadmill has the grips which I don’t think are very accurate at least not while running but it also has a heart strap monitor. So before your run you just put it on and you have an accurate reading for the whole run…. LOVE IT!!

So to break it down for you, this is a very reasonable priced runner’s treadmill. The average price is $1,500 new. Here are the specs.

• Assembled Dimensions: 33 by 75 by 58 inches (W x L x H)
• Folded Dimensions: 68 by 43 inches (H x D)
• Motor: 3.0 horsepower
• Speed: 0.1 to 12 miles per hour
• Elevation: 0 to 15%
• Deck: 1-inch Whisper
• Belt: 2-ply
• Running surface: 20 by 55 inches
• Roller: 2.75 inches
• Fold-up: Easy Assist Fold
• Pulse Grip
• Heart Rate Control
• Heart Rate Chest Strap Included
• Display Type: LED
• Six-Window Display
• Color: Red
• Accessory tray
• Six Standard Programs
• Two User-Defined Programs
• Two Heart Rate Programs
• Quick speed/elevation buttons: 12
• Speed/elevation in handles
• Built-in cooling fans
• Weight capacity: 350 pounds

So basically I would totally recommend this treadmill to anyone who wants one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Are we as runners ever happy?

Are we as runners ever happy? A blog one of my friends Bethany wrote really has got me thinking lately. She mentioned in it that once she completed the ultimate running goal a Marathon that she was left thinking what now? Well this got me thinking, are we as runners ever satisfied with what we can do?

I remember when I first started running and could not even run ¼ mile before I felt like I was going to die. My goal at the time was to run a 5k. Well I did that so then I had to have another goal, then another and another. Now I know that part of life is setting goals and striving to reach them then setting more, but is there an end?

The reason this has gotten to me so much is because it has really made me think about my running. If you asked me if I was happy with my running I would answer yes without a doubt. But sitting back and really thinking about it I would have to say no absolutely not. Currently I have no running goals, I want to try and have another baby this year so there is not much I can really plan for, but I am still not happy with my running. 2 years ago I would have never believed that I could run as much or as fast as I am running now, but nope still not happy. I want to run faster, I want to run longer, and I want to run more.

I am always the first to admit that I am a slow runner; I tell everyone this and have accepted that fact. Well people here is the truth, I have not accepted it, I am pissed off about it. I want to be faster, I am embarrassed to run with people because I hold them back with my slow pace. Do I want to run a 2hr Marathon, hell yeah but I know that is not going to happen although a 4hr one would be nice. I think I always pretend that I am OK with my pace because it makes it easier to deal with. I do my speed work, but my pace does not seem to change much. I don’t want to just accept the fact that I am slow, I want to be faster a 9min pace would make me happy. But I know once I reached that I would want an 8min pace. Ahh the never ending goal.

As far as running longer, I am just amazed that I have gone as far as 14 miles at one time. I never in my wildest dreams would have ever thought I could do that… but I did. Of course next is the Marathon, the big 26.2 miles of running glory. I wonder once that is complete if that will be enough for me or if like Bethany I will be left feeling like what’s next? I know some runners that move on to Ultra’s 50k, 50miles, and 100miles. Or there are the runners who decide to do 1 marathon in every state, Or ones that go for the BQ (Boston Qualifying time), I even know many who move on to Triathlons, but I am not sure if I have met any runners who say OK I did 26.2 now I am done. Are there any who do? So what will happen when I do 26.2, will I be happy with it or will I want to do more? Will I ever just be happy and content with what I can do or what I have done? Don’t mistake me here, I am very proud of what I have done and what I can do, I’m just not content with it. Maybe that is it, we runners are proud and happy with what we do and can do we just are not content with it once it is done. Maybe we just have to see what our bodies can really do, what we can do if we dig deep and push harder than we thought we could.

Well the Marathon goal is out for me till I have another baby, but I am curious to what will be next for me after that. I am sure there will be something lurking behind that finish line, what will it be?

Friday, January 8, 2010

This foreign thing called winter

Now really you all did not think I would start a blog and not put something on here about the COLD WINTER we are having did you?

So as you all know I am from Miami Florida, about as far south as you can get and still be in the US. Well we moved to Tonganoxie, KS (try saying that 3 times fast) about 1 ½ years ago. I will tell you, I love it here. The people are nicer, there is more to see, the traffic is not bad (OK there is no traffic compared to Miami), we are in the country so we have land (the houses in Miami have maybe 3 feet between each house), we have wild animals that come to visit, all in all I love it. Then there is this foreign thing call winter that keeps happening. I know most of you are like give me a break Tracey it is not that bad there. I totally understand that, but you all need to understand how it is to grow up in Miami. I mean really people there is not winter none, it does not happen ever… sometimes it may get cold but never for long before it is back in the 70’s.

For many of you it must be hard to believe there is a place with no winter and people may not understand what winter is; but it is true. Growing up in Miami you don’t know things that the rest of the country know, and people from the rest of the country don’t share the information thinking that it is common since…well people it’s not. There are many things that I have done that you all will think is stupid, but people who are from Miami would understand. First thing, we Summer folk put water in our windshield wiper fluid because water is free and it works just fine, well no one told me that you CAN’T do that in winter, Let’s just say when you try to squirt your windshield all it does is create a layer of Ice on your windshield so you can’t see a thing…URGH frustrating I tell you. Second thing, I never heard of an ice scraper thingy and of course did not have one for the Ice on the windshield. Third thing, being from Miami there is a thing we call Wash and go. All the hair stylists there understand this, we get hair cuts that are wash and go cuts. This means we wash our hair and then we go, no styling, and NO DRYING. This is something you absolutely CAN NOT DO in winter, but of course no one ever told me. I learned this lesson when my hair froze solid, it really froze people my hair was hard as a rock WTF. Now all of you not from Miami are thinking what an idiot, all of you from Miami are thinking I would have done that too. You see people we really are totally clueless about this stuff, there needs to be a winter handbook to prepare us summer people for this foreign thing called winter.

The Beginning

Well this is it; I decided to jump on the Blogging bandwagon. It seems anymore that everyone has a blog. I have always wondered why people had blogs, and then I started reading some and realized that it is a great way to get your thoughts out there and get things off your chest. I have never been much of a writer; I have struggled with spelling and grammar since I was in Kindergarten. Because of the embarrassment of it I just hated writing, if I had to I knew I would spell everything wrong and my grammar would be wrong. So I decided at a young age that writing sucked and just did not do it. Now look at me with a blog. If you are reading this please excuse my spelling and grammar OK.

Pretty much all of the blogs I follow are from runners. Running has become a HUGE part of my life. It is funny how over the years your life can change so much. Growing up I was the smoker, drinker, burnout, party girl, who never worked-out at all. Working-out was not even in my vocabulary; it was all about going out and parting. Don’t get me wrong here, I had fun and although things have change drastically in my life I would not trade those years for anything. But today all I think about is exercise; I want to work out all the time. I think the big change came when I got my divorce. I was so unhappy back then I guess you can say I hit bottom. My salvation was the gym. I joined a bodybuilding gym by my dad’s (I moved back home after the divorce) and started going at 4:30am Mon-Fri. I was overweight and had no clue what I was doing, but I was going to get in shape. The only people at the gym at that time were people who were serious about working out, I mean if you get up at 4:30 to workout you are going to get in a good workout or you mine as well have slept in. I don’t know what they all thought of the short fat girl who obviously had no clue what she was doing, but after a couple of months we would all talk. Then they all started to train me, show me what they did and how to do things the right way. Hey free personal trainers, I guess they realized I was not going away so they should try and help be before I broke everything in the gym.

This is where my love with working out started, and when my life changed. I ended up quitting smoking because I was pissed that I worked out so much and still was out of breath climbing 3 stupid flights of stairs, so the smoking had to go. Then this all just became a part of my life. I finally got into running after I had my baby. I was talking smack with some people from work about running a 5k and then realized that I better start training if I did not want to look stupid. I ran most of that race with y sister, my now husband and pushing my daughter in her stroller. This is where my Love of running started.

Life changes, we gotta learn to roll with it!