Running pic

Running pic
Yup, that's me!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Graduation Day

Monday was Graduation Day from physical therapy. I’m not really going to miss some of the exercises like the band of doom and the torture hoop, but I am going to miss my therapists – they were truly excellent and fun to hang around with. I did exchange contact info with the therapist who is a runner – we’re bound to run into each other at races and she’d be fun to do long runs with (although I suspect she’s faster than I am).  Hmm. I just Athlinks stalked her and it looks like over shorter distances I might be able to keep up but over the long haul forget it – she’d run me into the ground. 

Now to try and figure out if I’m just thinking crazytalk. I am realizing at this point that the Shamrock Shuffle is a mere 11 days away.  It’s not going to be a marquee race for me by any  stretch of the imagination – it’s too soon to really try to haul ass, plus the ass is bigger than it was last year so there’s more to haul.  But, the Ravenswood 5K is at the end of April.  Shorter distance, more training/dieting time. Fleet Feet and Mizuno are offering speedwork sessions during their regular Monday night fun runs for the 4 weeks leading up to the race.  I met the ‘coach’ last night and he seems to be easygoing and I think he’d make the speedwork as fun as possible because let’s face it - only freaks love speedwork and I am no freak. I’m wondering if speedwork would be a bad idea this soon – thoughts?  The leg feels awesome - I ran 5 miles on Monday with nary a twinge and I’m going to try for 6 tonight. And starting today I’m going to really watch what I put in my mouth.  I think I may even start tracking my points again – after all it was the ol’ Weight Watchers that got me down to fighting weight a couple of years ago. If I can knock off 5 or so lbs. it would probably make a noticeable difference. Step one should be to knock off the drinking.  Whenever I say that I always need to qualify it because as a stand alone statement it makes me sound like a big alky when in reality I’m just looking to quit the beer or glass of wine with dinner during the week – empty calories and I should probably be drinking more water anyway.

Over the weekend I met up with the race director for the Madison-Chicago Ragnar. We went to the afterparty for the Chicago 13.1 Half-Marathon to spread the word about the race and hand out some postcards. I think I showed initiative. Luckily runners like to talk about running and races and if they ran a half-marathon with a shitty course (seriously – it got the worst reviews from bloggers) in crappy weather, then they’re just crazy enough to run Ragnar. I also volunteered to staff a booth at the CARA Lakefront 10 for Ragnar. I have run this race in the past but this year it’s on my anniversary and I don’t want to be dead tired while at a fancy dinner with my husband. So instead of getting up at the crack of dawn to run 10 miles I’ll get up at the crack of dawn to help set up a tent and tables for Ragnar and then stand around potentially freezing my ass off. It’s probably a tie as to which would make me more tired, but volunteering will get me some crazy brownie points.

And lastly, I can’t wait!!! I was seeded (that’s apparently the fancy running term for ‘gifted’) for a pair of the upcoming Saucony Kinvara 4’s. I will admit to being a total shoe whore and have and do run in: Newtons, Brooks Pure, Adidas Boost, Nike Free and Saucony Kinvaras. But it’s my Kinvaras that get most of my mileage: I did my training and ran my marathon in Kinvaras and I even take my old pairs and have my husband outfit them with drywall screws for traction when I run the Cross Country Challenge trail race every year. I’m very excited to try out the latest version and it gives me a little tingle that I’ll get them before they hit the shelves of stores because who doesn’t like to be the cool kid with the hot new shoes?

Gotta run – literally – I’m headed to Chicks Night to see my buddies and try to keep up with them!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easing back in

First off I suppose I should let everyone know that I CAN RUN AGAIN! Not far (yet), and not fast (yet), but the physical therapy folks gave me the go ahead to start running  for realz with the caveats that I:

1.       Promise to do my calf stretches before and after my run.

2.       Warm up before the run and cool down after.

3.       Not add too much mileage at once.

This seems like bush league warnings, but if you know me at all, you know that I tend to not do either of the first two things like, ever, and as to the third I’m prone to suddenly deciding that yes, a double-digit run WOULD be a good idea. Rules are a good idea.


I’m thrilled because I really didn’t want to pitch my Shamrock Shuffle entry for the second year in a row.  Last year I signed up and then had to go out of town and I gave my entry away. Unwisely I gave it to a really fast guy.  Hmm – do you think they noticed when ‘I’ placed 10th in my age group? Why yes they did.  And then someone must have looked up the finish line photos to confirm the strangely high placement and noticed that suddenly I was a dude.  You can bet that time disappeared from the official results. Kind of a bummer since I was hoping it would put me in a super-awesome corral for this year’s race. Then I was worried that I’d be banned from all future Bank of America races (Shuffle, Marathon) but they seem to want my money more than my integrity and they accepted my registration and put me in Corral C (which I legitimately earned – last year’s fake-o time would have had me in the A corral).


So anyway, I ran three miles on Wednesday at Chick’s Night – very slowly and with two walk breaks when I thought I possibly felt a twinge in my calf.  But, no pain when I got back to Fleet Feet and nothing in the morning.  Then this morning I ran three miles with no stopping – again no pain.  It was no speed fest and I got a little winded when I was talking and running but other than that it went OK.  I’ve started wearing my Adidas Boost shoes and I like them.  I don’t notice much of a difference from my Brooks Pure shoes except I don’t seem to click my ankle with the shoes as much as I usually do – a plus. They are nice and cushiony and the uppers are very comfortable.  I’d like to start wearing my Newtons again but since they tend to make you use your calf more than other shoes I suppose it might be a good idea to hold off on them until I feel 100% better.


I’m thinking about running tomorrow morning too, but two days in a row might be a bad idea. Plus, I’m hosting a Thanksgiving in March dinner party tomorrow and my house is currently a pit of despair and needs a full day of cleaning. Like ALL DAY deep cleaning.  The only up-side to going running is my group would meet at the Fleet Feet Breakfast Club run at 8am so I’d be home by 8:45 and ready to start the day – not necessarily a bad plan.  Left to my own devices I would probably sleep in until 9 which would put me behind the 8-ball since I need to pick up the turkey at 9:30 and start getting it ready for the oven.


Next week my dream schedule would be:

M: Run 4

T: Sculpt, spin

W: Run 4

Th: Sculpt

F: Run 4, roller skate (I’m going to an open skate with a friend who is a derby girl)

Sa: Run 5

Su: Sculpt

With a few sundry other group fitness classes or swimming thrown in for good measure. What do you think – too much too soon? Just right? Not enough?
And hey - were you all at last night's Taste the Madness event at Fleet Feet-Old Town? If not, you should have been! The drinks were super tasty (especially the Bloody Mary's from Stu's) and lots of nice winter apparel and accessories were on sale (and are still on sale). I bought myself a cute lucky #13 shamrock tee for the Shuffle (if it's not freaking freezing on race day), and a nice black Icebreaker wrap dress - who knew they made clothes that I can wear to work? Anyway - if you missed it you should have been there!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Big week ahead

It was kind of a bust this weekend as far as physical activity.  I thought about going for a walk/run but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for the walking part.  Plus my house was starting to look like a pack of rodents lived there and I had to do some cleaning – that’s exercise, right? I did go to a CorePower sculpt class on Sunday and it kicked my ass. Literally. Like my glutes are SORE today. But, happily I have an excellent week scheduled to get me back on track:

Monday AM: 1 mile run (felt good!), Phys. Therapy (PT). PM: swim at old gym

Tuesday AM: sculpt. PM spin @ new gym.

Wednesday AM: BOSU bootcamp + Hard Core class @ new gym, PT. PM: Chicks Night – short run

Thursday AM: sculpt class. PM: Taste the Madness event at Fleet Feet-Old Town (you should totally go if you live in Chicago – $20 buys you a tasting glass for beer & booze + snacks, mini-massages and more!)

Friday AM: short run, PT. PM: weights class at old gym

Saturday: Maybe early short run, SHOP/CLEAN/COOK/ for party.

Sunday: Sculpt class

Pretty full week if I manage to do it all.  I’m hoping that since a mile didn’t hurt or re-blow out the calf I *might* be able to do 3 consecutive miles sometime this week? Maybe? Please? I have races coming up! Shamrock on April 7th (yeah – that’s going to go well…..) and the Ravenswood 5K on the 28th. For future races, I have the Green Bay half in May and I really have to hope that I can get in at least one double digit run before that race or I’m going to die. And then in June the biggie…….RAGNAR! But I was smart this year – instead of taking a total distance of close to 20 miles and wishing someone would just shoot me on the final leg, I’m taking a fairly easy 13.2 mile total distance which I should be able to kill – instead of it killing me. Plus, I'm still not giving up on my quest for 1000 miles this year. I was going to ONLY count running miles but since the setback I'm also going to count walking, swimming and eliptical too - I still might have a chance to make it.

So, that party on Saturday.  Last year I held a party for my running buddies called Thanksgiving in March and it was so popular I’m making it an annual event.  Basically I cook a huge turkey with White Castle stuffing and stock the house with beer, wine and booze, and then everyone else brings their favorite Thanksgiving side dish or dessert. It’s a win-win because turkeys are super easy and I hate making side dishes.  My husband is kind of freaking out because there’s going to be 15 people in our house and the dining room only seats 6.  I say who cares? There are 3 stools in the kitchen and plenty of room in the living room around the coffee table.  Last year I think I sat on the bottom of the staircase and balanced my plate on my lap and it was FINE.  He’s such a worrywart. Speaking of worrying, I need to call the butcher where I ordered the turkey from to make sure it will be fresh and not frozen – now THAT would be a tragedy.

Also, how do I break up with my old gym? I suppose I need to talk to someone in the membership department.  I’d love to have an exit interview so I could let them know that their craptastic spin classes are part of what’s making me leave.  They should know that – right? I need to get on this soon.

In some gear news I took advantage of a big sale at Skirt Sports and treated myself to their Skirt Breaker rain jacket.  I actually like running in the rain (as long as it’s not freezing rain or a complete downpour) but I needed a jacket that was water resistant.  I haven’t worn it yet, but it looks and fits great.

How do you feel about running in inclement weather? I love the cold, hate hot, humid weather.  I used to think running on ice & snow (with my Get-a-Grips) was fun until I f-ed up my calf. Tell me what you like!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Whee! I ran! A little.

Just a quicky update here.  I ran and………it was pretty great.  Yeah – it WAS only six one-minute segments out of a 30 minute walk, but none of them hurt and the later runs felt better than the first couple.  I kept it slow – no leaping with joy or taking off at a sprint – don’t want to be stupid about this.  I will give it another go this weekend and increase the running bits to two minutes and maybe tack on a seventh segment if it all feels OK.  I mean, I have GOT to get back in running shape.  I don’t really give a fig about the Shamrock Shuffle next month – it’s always a cluster anyway – but I DO care about the Green Bay Half in May and I care MUCHO GRANDE about the Madison-Chicago Ragnar Relay in June.  It’s not like we’ll win anyway, but I want to be able to complete all three of my legs without crapping out or getting reinjured.

Speaking of the Ragnar – have you done one? If not, you totally should.  It seems daunting – after all it is 200 freaking miles.  But, there are 12 runners and each runner only has to do between 14-20 miles TOTAL and that’s broken up into three legs.  And, your team only has to maintain an 11-minute/mile overall pace which means (like my team) you can have super-speedsters who can run sub-6 minute miles and you can have 12-minute milers too as long as it all balances out. Last year I had so much fun and solidified friendships and screamed with laughter and bought out all the purple popcorn shirts at a Walgreens in rural Wisconsin.  You too could have all this fun! Seriously – if you have any questions just drop me a comment . After all I am a Ragnar Ambassadress, so while they don’t pay me to blab about them, they do compensate me with some swank gear and a couple of race entries.  If they have the confidence in me, you can too.

So, go out and run some miles for me this weekend – make me jealous and run a long one somewhere nice like Waterfall Glen or Palos.  Heck – I’d even be jealous of a 3-miler on California Avenue.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

And.....she's off!

So I get to run tonight and frankly I’m a little freaked out. The last time I ran was February 9th – that’s 4 weeks ago.  I suppose there are those of you out there who have had injuries far, far worse that have kept you out of the game far, far longer and are thinking, “that Poppy moron doesn’t know from injuries!” But, since I’ve never really had anything go wrong since I started seriously running it seems weird to have not run for any extended length of time.  I have all these worries: will I still like it? Will the weight I’ve managed to pack on be a problem? Will I re-injure myself? Mostly it’s the last one.  I still remember the horrifying feeling when I accidently ran (just to put my parking meter sticker in my car – I swear!) and I felt the pulled muscle in my calf move and feel like it was ripping (spoiler: that was just me being dramatic, but it did feel pretty awful) and I SO do not want that feeling again. So I will take it easy tonight – no period of running longer than 60 seconds and not more than 6 total separated by 4 minutes of walking – and that’s only if the first one feels good.  If it feels bad you can come looking for me around Rockwell and Leland – I’ll be huddled up against Bloom Yoga weeping.

In other news, I’ve fallen back in love with spinning.  As I mentioned before, Galter’s spinning classes…..suck. The music sucks, the pre-programmed routines that you have to stick to for weeks suck, the lighting sucks. LSAC though, is super awesome – great instructors who have original routines set to different music every week.  Makes me want to switch clubs. In fact, I may just sit down with a membership person.  What I’d like to get them to do is to give me a week free – I’d like to try to hit all the classes I’d go to on a regular basis to see if I actually like them and the instructors, to see how crowded they are at the times I want to go, to see how easy/hard it is to park, check out their new pool, etc.  Other than the awful spin classes my main complaint about Galter is that their evening classes start at 5:30/6pm which is close to impossible for me to get to. Then their next round starts at 7/7:30 which gets me out of there too late. LSAC has way more classes that start at 6:30 which is totally do-able. A plus for Galter is free parking and a track to run on (although the track is super small and kind of hard and banked which doesn’t always feel great on the joints).  Decisions, decisions. Maybe I’ll e-mail the membership person and see what they say. Plus I have three friends who are members and I’ll check with them to see what their monthly nut is and what their opinions about my concerns are.

What do you look for in a health club? Do belong to one and if you do, do you like it? What don’t you like about it?

Monday, March 11, 2013


People in my office need to stop bringing in delicious doughnuts.  I have a doughnut policy and it is this: no crappy doughnuts shall pass my lips. This means no Dunkin’, no grocery store, no Krispy Kreme. But bakery doughnuts get a pass and unfortunately  someone brought in a nice selection of fresh bakery doughnuts this morning which translated to me eating ½ of a chocolate cake doughnut and ½ of some sort of vanilla cakey doughnut.  Gah – so much for the spin class I took before work.

Speaking of spin classes, this one was a Ryder class at CorePower. I know they have the (probably) expensive, fancy RealRyder bikes and those bikes do manage to give you the possibility of a great upper body workout with the ‘turns’ to the right and left. But (there’s always a but) I always seem to bruise my ladybits on these bikes.  I don’t get that from regular spin bikes – just the occasional tenderass if I haven’t taken a class for a while.  I even broke out the super padded shorts for this morning’s class (I have three levels of bike shorts: tri shorts with almost no padding, regular bike shorts with a little padding (what I wore to my spin class last week), and diaper shorts with the equivalent of a maxipad under my ass) and still I have the painful ladybits. Le sigh.

I think I can finally say that I will be running this week.  I have felt not so much as a twinge in my calf since the beginning of last week despite having done a spin class, logging time on the elliptical, and walking several miles. I think the PT people want me to be able to do pass a few functionality tests like jumping, one legged calf raises, and extended time on the elliptical machine without pain and then I should be good for the Return to Run program.  I found this one online and it looks pretty good:

“Begin each session with a warm-up consisting of a 2-5 minutes brisk walk followed by your specific stretching exercise. Perform the appropriate walk/run combination based on the table below. Be sure to follow the walk/run with your stretching exercise.

Week 1: Day 1: 6x: walk -- 4.5 min/run -- 0.5 min. Day 2: 6 x: walk -- 4.0 min/ run -1.0 min Day 3; 6 x walk -- 3.5 min/ run -- 1.5 min

Week 2: Day 1: 6x: walk - 3.0 min /run - 2.0 min Day 2: 6 x walk - 2.5 min/ run - 2.5 min Day 3: 6 x walk - 2.0 min/ run - 3.0 min

Week 3: Day 1: 6 x walk 1.5 min/ run - 3.5 min Day 2: 6 x walk 1.0 min/ run - 4.0 min Day 3: 6 x walk 0.5 min/ run - 4.5 min

Week 4: Day 1: run 30 min Day 2; run 30 min Day 3: run 30 min

Upon completing week 4, resume a gradual transition back to continuous running following 2-5 minutes of warm-up and stretching. As you return to your pre-injury running level, training duration or intensity should be increased by no more that 10% per week to minimize risk of injury recurrence. Be sure to continue a stretching program in concert with your running.”

However, I know myself and if I don’t have any pain when I’m running I’ll probably condense weeks 1 & 2 and then weeks 3 & 4 and then just go from there.   I’m going to try running a little bit on Wednesday at Chick’s Night and if it goes OK with no pain then I’ll continue on with the return plan.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gotta spend money to get healthy

These physical therapy people – they are MEAN.  Sure, outwardly they seem very chipper and pleasant but just wait until they put the shackles o-doom onto your ankles.  That’s the rubber band thing with the ankle shackles that they want you to wear and then walk sideways until your hips feel like they are going to burst into flames. Nice. I look at the appointments as 30 minutes of torture that you have to endure to get the nice calf massage at the end – they make you work for it.  But, it seems to be working because the calf is hurting less and less. I’m hoping they will let me start some sort of return to run program next week or the week after.

Swimming is going swell too.  Now that my instructor has figured out that I know how to swim she’s treating the sessions like she’s a swimming personal trainer.  I know you burn more calories running but swimming is way more exhausting.  She had me doing 100’s with mixed strokes and NO HANGING OFF THE SIDES thank you very much. My flip turn is coming along nicely – thank you for asking. However for some reason last night I decided to flip to the right instead of the left – I don’t know what I was thinking – and I may have swallowed half the pool and the other half accumulated in my ears.  Bad plan.  My instructor said it’s common to only be able to go in one direction and I am living proof of that statement.

I took a spin class with a friend last night at Lincoln Square Athletic Club and compared to Galter that is one swank club.  Also, the beautiful people were definitely there.  Makes me realize that Galter is so NOT a pick-up spot - unless you have a thing for the older and infirm.  I mean I’m married anyway (but not dead – it’s nice to have good looking scenery) so it’s not like I’m trying to find a date to the prom, but if I was this would be a great place to start. The spin class was SO MUCH BETTER than the ones at Galter.  Having a dedicated spin room makes a huge difference. Plus at LSAC they have fancy lighting, a better sound system and the instructors get to pick their own music.  At Galter 99% of the spin classes use music provided by the ‘Group’ (Group Power, Group Ride, Group Centergy, etc.) people.  This means remixed pop hits – a new set every quarter.  Sometimes this is OK but there are usually one or two clunkers per class and the agreement is that they have to use the music as-is for the first 8 weeks of the quarter before they can change out tracks for ones from older releases. Consequently ever since I started running more mileage I pretty much quit going to spin classes except for the occasional CorePower Ryder class (side note: those bikes that lean to the sides are HARD to ride) and my ass has lost its resiliency.  I am a bruised woman today and I even wore the adult diaper bike shorts to try to avoid this.  And what’s with the shoulders hurting? I guess I must have had a death grip on the handlebars because I’m in need of a massage stat.  Luckily I have a 90-minute massage scheduled for Saturday.

And the last puzzle piece of this rehab came in too – my old Pilates instructor finally got ahold of me and I’m going to try to schedule some appointments with him. The ol’ core could use a little work so this seems like a good time to get back on the torture device reformer and start with the strengthening. Rehab = EXPENSIVE. 10% of the PT cost (at least I can claim this on my flex plan), swimming lessons, Pilates lessons, massages….. it’s getting spendy.  But, if it gets me back running or at least keeps me in some sort of shape other than ‘round’ during my off-time then it’s worth it in my opinion.
How about you? What do you spend your hard-earned cash on? The latest and greatest shoes (just wait for my review of the Adidas Boost shoes that will come once I start running again)? Are you a Lululemon whore? Race entries?  Tell me - I want to know!