Monday, July 25, 2011
To quote The Cure it's "Hot, Hot, Hot"! Not a revelation since it's July and I live in the South. Some say this year is worse than others, but hot is hot and the heat index is just a conspiracy made up by the government to get us to agree to raise the debt ceiling. Just kidding! I'm really glad I took this year off from distance. I have little to no motivation these days to start my runs. Once I'm out there I'm glad I started, but I'm also glad to finish after 3-4 miles. Tonight I start back on the track. I'm aiming to do another race this fall, but I haven't picked it out yet. I'm going to Maggie Valley for a long weekend in September and I may look for something in that direction. Or maybe this will be the year that I finally get my Wooly Worm Woad Wace shirt!
The condo is getting close to ready for the market. The ugly, ugly housing market! But it's looking really nice and 'must see' will be a fitting description by the fall. Adam is getting ready for the Steamtown Marathon in October and I'm looking forward to the trip.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
So after a little more than 4 weeks of "rest" I'm back on the road. I missed a lot of beautiful, cool running days and now I'm running in the heat an humidity. I started back Tuesday, June 7th with a short, slow 1.5 mile run. I felt great and of course, I stretched before and after. I've run everyday since for about 1.5-4 miles. Stretching every day is part of my new routine. My knee hasn't been an issue, but I am feeling a lot of strange feelings in my Achilles in both legs.
What concerns me is back in April when I had a bad sinus infection, my Allergist prescribed me Levaquin, an antibiotic that is really effective in curing sinus infections. I took it without first reviewing the side effects. Something you should NEVER do. After experiencing some of the minor side effects of the medication, I looked up the drug online and found this:
"Fluoroquinolones, including LEVAQUIN®, are associated with an increased risk of tendon rupture or swelling of the tendon (tendinitis) in all ages. This risk is higher if you are over 60 years of age, are taking steroids (corticosteroid drugs), or if you have kidney, heart, or lung transplants.
- Tendon rupture can happen while you are taking LEVAQUIN® or up to several months after you have finished taking it. Call your healthcare professional right away at the first sign of tendon pain, swelling, or inflammation
- Get medical help right away if you hear or feel a snap or pop, have severe pain, rapid or immediate bruising after an accident, or are unable to use the affected area
- Stop taking LEVAQUIN® until tendinitis or tendon rupture have been ruled out by your healthcare provider and avoid exercise and using the affected area"
So naturally I'm concerned about what I'm feeling when I run. So far there is no pain, just an acute awareness that my tendons are there and working. This is also a lesson to review all side effects of the medication prescribed BEFORE taking them. My doctor is aware that I'm a runner and shouldn't have prescribed this. It has to be on me to research the side effects of the medication he prescribes. The "up to several months after" is quite vague, I wish they could be more specific.
I currently consider myself in recovery and so I haven't planned any races. I'd like to regain more strength before racing again. In the meantime, I'm enjoying running again.
Running streak 3 is at 7 days and counting.
I've run 120 days this year and a total of 426 miles.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Garden City is just South of Myrtle Beach and mid-May is biker week in Myrtle Beach and the surrounding area. I'm not from MB and I'm not into motorcycles so the thought that we could be at the beach at the same time as the Hell's Angels never entered my mind. It wasn't until my Dad sent me an email that Tuesday letting us know about the weather and saying "it's biker week, so it's really loud" that I realized I'd be getting a cultural lesson on my mini vacation this year.
The car ride to the beach was uneventful (not a complaint) and we arrived late Wednesday night. The condo was maybe a quarter of a mile from the famous Garden City Pier. The fishing pier is the largest attraction in Garden City. At the pier, in addition to fishing, the pier has an arcade, two bars and great "people watching." One of the bars is just outside the tackle shop and another is at the end of the pier. Each bar features live entertainment from bands to karaoke. It's a must see while in Garden City.
The first morning that we were there, we got up early (by vacation standards) to do our exercise for the day. Adam enjoyed a nice cool run while I had to walk because I'm still recovering from quad tendinitis. My Dad decided to walk with me and we headed out south of the condo to walk in a small neighborhood. It was on this walk, I got my first glimpse of "biker week." We passed several parked motorcycles and their leather-clad owners waking up and greeting their fellow riders. Some were already on their bikes revving their engines to announce their presence. Or is it a mating call? We heard, for 3 blocks mind you, a man heaving over the balcony of a rented house. I don't know why he couldn't do that inside. I noticed, though, that there weren't as many bikers as I'd thought that there would be. I think most of them stay in Myrtle Beach and that the ones near us were older and more tame. There's no Hooters restaurant in Garden City which also could account for the small numbers.
The bikers weren't the most interesting people that we saw this trip, however. Adam, my Dad and I spent some time at the end of the fishing pier. There we talked to a man who was missing several teeth and had a tattoo across his chest that read "DO NOT RESUSCITATE." And then there was the guy from Isreal working at the Slick Track place who was wearing a white t-shirt that read in big black letters "And For My Next Trick I'll Need A Condom and a Volunteer."
Adam and I did try the Slick Track place. It was not a slick track. I think at one point it was, but it needs to be repaved. The carts were old and not in great shape. However, it was only $5 and we got to ride just the two of us for about 9 minutes. A bargain.
As Adam, my Dad and I were leaving the track and heading back to the condo, my Dad made a comment that really made me think. He said "As far as I can tell, all the bikers do is ride around, drink beer and buy (cycle) paraphernelia." My first thought and what I said was "Well, all we runners do when we go for a running weekend is run, drink beer and buy running paraphernelia."
Then I started thinking about all of the people that I've run into over the years while I was running a race in another city. Imagine a person who finds themself in Boston or Chicago on the weekend of the marathon having no clue that 40,000 runners will be their clogging streets and Italian restaurants. Someone with no knowledge of running races. What impression did we leave on them? I thought about the guy in Nashville that I shared a cab to the airport with. He was Australian and when he asked me where I was heading and I said Charlotte, NC, he didn't know where that was. And by 'didn't know where that was,' I mean North Carolina. I was his first and probably last encounter he'd ever have with a person from North Carolina. I thought about the European guys that stopped my friend Jody and I on a street in Asheville, NC to ask us about the Asheville half marathon that was finishing close by. They wanted to know how far a half marathon is, in kilometers. We couldn't tell them the answer. It's roughly 21.1km, just in case you get asked.
New races are created every year and old ones are gaining popularity. We book flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and arrive en masse to run, drink and buy running paraphernalia. Sure we pay taxes and help boost the local economy, but is every person living in the area on board with that? This week is a big week in Charlotte for NASCAR and it's fans. Statistics prove that this is a great boost to the Charlotte economy every year, but how many complaints from residents have you heard? I don't want people to feel this way about runners. I'm setting a goal to be more respectful of the citizens of the places that I visit and more knowledgeable of Charlotte. I plan to be more polite and empathetic to a bewildered person who stumbles upon a finish area full of sweaty, smelly, dry fit-clad runners, when they were hoping to ride their seqway through Grant Park. Runners think that runners are the nicest people in the world. We shouldn't keep that to ourselves.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
This past Saturday I ran the GBS 5K. GBS stands for Guillain-Barré syndrome. GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. A friend of mine contracted the disorder a few years back and became involved in organizing the GBS 5K, which started about 5 years ago. Saturday was my 3rd time running the race. It's a small race so the first two times I ran it I placed in my age group.
I told Adam when I signed up for the race. I told him that he should sign up because he'd have a good shot at winning it. Adam is fast enough that winning a 5K is actually a reachable goal. Adam, like a lot of people had never heard of GBS. He asked me the week of the race "you have that GHB race this weekend, right?" I laughed so hard!
Adam didn't sign up and instead got up early and ran 14 miles. I got up and hour before I wanted to leave and started my race morning routine which is just waking up early and getting my butt out of bed. I hate mornings. I peaked out to check the weather. It was foggy which is my favorite type of running weather! When Adam came back I asked him how cool was his run in the fog? He agreed it was pretty cool. Adam quickly showered and got ready to go with me to watch the race. The fog had started to lift by the time we headed to the race, which was only about 7 miles away in the southpark area of Charlotte.
We parked about half a mile from the race and headed towards packet pickup. The DJ already had the music cranked and there were volunteers still prepping the finish area. I found packet pick-up easily and got my bib and t-shirt. This race, like many races, sends a virtual goodie bag by email instead of giving you a bag with race brochures, coupons and other crap you'll never use. I am a huge fan of this concept.
It was about 45 minutes before the race start and I should have been stretching and warming up. Since I had only run the 2 weeks leading up to this race and those runs were shorter than a 5K, I knew placing wasn't a possibility. So instead I looked around for other runners I knew. I didn't know of anyone who had planned to run, but was happy to run into Mike and his family. Mike moved to Charlotte from Pennsylvania a few years ago and started running with us on Wednesday night. His wife and their 3 kids stayed in PA until the house sold and when they got to Charlotte, Mike disappeared. He reappeared a few weeks ago and was at the race Saturday to support his wife by watching the kids while she ran. We chatted a while and then all headed to the start line.
This year they were chip timing the start. I was really happy about this. Adam looked around at the competition and said that he should have signed up. He asked me how fast I expected to finish and I said I'd be happy to break 26 minutes, but considering how the past couple of weeks had gone, I'd settle for breaking 27 minutes.
The race director called the runners to the start line. Victims of GBS often make a full recovery with no lasting effects, but after a long, slow healing process. Victims who have to go on a respirator within the first day of coming down with the illness, usually have some residual disability or effect. This is why the race's slogan is "Running for those who can't." Another thing I love about this race. Many people at that race are running their first 5K and they don't always seed correctly. Case in point was an overweight lady standing about 2 rows off the line who was wearing spandex capri pants and long sleeves under a short sleeve shirt in 55* weather. I'll give her this, it was workout wear and God love her, she was out here!
The race started without a fanfare (which is also a personal favorite). The race starts on Colony road and continues down until turning left onto Ferncliff. The first year that I ran this race, I ran a 7:42 in the first mile fueled by a combination of downhill, adrenaline and the misplacement of the 'Mile 1' sign. This year it was just over 8 minutes with the sign correctly placed. Starting at Ferncliff we started climbing about a mile and a half of hills. There are only 2 steep ones with the rest being slow inclines. The race winds through neighborhood streets behind Southpark Mall and runs up Morrison which is the finish line for the Southpark Racefest races and the Southpark 8K. Once you get up Morrison, you turn left onto Sharon and it flattens out to the finish. I hadn't run the race in 2 years and didn't remember the course, though I knew it wasn't fast. I overheard a guy, before the race, telling a kid (possibly his son or he was the kid's coach) about the course flattening out at Sharon and his comment stayed with me the whole race.
I passed the lady in the capris within the first quarter of a mile and got passed by several people. I felt like I was walking while everyone else was in a race car. However at the turn onto Ferncliff and the first steep hill, I passed a few people and a few kids who were already walking. At the top of the hill is the Mile 1 marker and then there were several turns and some nice rolling hills until we took another left and had to go up the second steep hill. At that point, I thought "I don't remember this course at all!" When we turned onto Morrison for the last mile and I realized we had to run through and beyond the finishes for the Southpark Racefest races, it posed quite a mental challenge. But I came back to that man telling the kid 'when you get to Sharon it flattens out and you can kick it in.' Telling myself that helped me up the long slow incline and then the short, rather insulting hill up to Sharon. When I made the turn, I fixed my shallow breathing with three short blasts out and a long inhale and then did my best to kick it in. At the 3 mile marker, I checked my watch 25:43. I knew 26 was out of range, but I also knew I'd beat 27. At the turn back into the shopping center to finish, Adam was standing on the curb and cheered me on. I gave a wave or a thumbs up, who can remember at the end of a 5K? I finished at 26:38, 5th in my age group and 80 overall.
During the first mile, I had recognized a man that I don't know but I've seen at races before. He's tall and runs completely straight backed, on the front of his feet with his toes turned out about 30* in each direction and he has a small stride. His calf muscles are well-defined. He was ahead of me the whole race. I tried watching his feet and taking as many steps as he did, trying to figure out how he could stay ahead of me with such bad form. He finished about 30 seconds ahead of me.
When I finished, Adam told me that the winner had run a 18:42 and was "some kid." He was disappointed that he didn't run it, because he could have beat that time. Laughing I said, "You need to listen to me, I know how to cherry pick a race." Adam introduced me to a guy he knew that he'd been talking to while waiting for me to finish. While they continued to talk, I checked out the finish area tables. Earth Fare was there and provided the fruit. I grabbed a couple of Chic-Fil-A chicken minis for Adam and some Starbucks coffee for me. After seeing that I didn't place, we headed back to the car by walking past the finish line and out of the shopping center. There we saw the capri pants lady slowly jogging to the finish. We cheered for her. She had a satisfied look on her face and I was relieved to see that she was in a good mood.
After the race, my left knee hurt again. I was able to do a short run on Sunday but I had to take Monday off and won't run again until the pain is gone. There's no sign of swelling and I find that taking Aleve really helps. So I don't think it's time to go to a doctor. I found this site: http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/overusekneeinjuries/overusekneeinjuries.htm I believe I have "Quad Tendonitis." I plan to do the recommended stretches a couple of times a day. This course of action makes sense to me as stretching is a weak point. I do yoga, but haven't had time recently to be consistent. After doing the stretches this morning, my knee feels a lot better.
I don't have another race planned until I can get the knee issue figured out. Hopefully it isn't long.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday morning I woke up at 5:50am to start getting ready. Adam had agreed to take care of a friend's pets while he was out of town so we had to tend to them before heading to the race. I put on my race ready shorts, my Sharksbite singlet, my Herculisa socks and tried to wake up. After tending to the dogs and the cat, we headed to the race. We found a parking space right at the finish line in a lot where only one other car was parked, then walked to the Community Center to get my packet.
WE SAW ELVIS!!! Well, we saw a guy dressed as Elvis. He was the same guy who'd been dressed as Cupid at the Cupid's Cup 5K in February. He was outside the Community Center entertaining the few people who were standing around.
I got my packet and was pleased to see that they've started giving out tech shirts. We headed back to the car. Adam is still recovering and was there to do a run in the area during the race. He stretched and took off. I went in search of the three friends, Mindi, Jay and C.A., that I knew were running the race. I found Mindi, Jay found me and I didn't see C.A. until after the race. Mindi is married to a friend of mine from college. She recently started running to lose weight after having her fourth child. This was the second race she was running since high school. She had signed up on my recommendation. She was in a great mood and said she may try and pace with me in the beginning. I told her that my legs were tired and I didn't know how I was going to do. We seeded our selves about 5 feet behind the start line and chatted before the start.
I had run a short 2 mile route the night before the race on very tired legs. I hoped Saturday I'd be in better shape. Nope. Still very tired legs. But I pushed along. Mile 1 contained 8 turns taking us on mostly residential streets lined with houses and old apartment buildings. It was beautiful. Mindi was right with me during this mile. I was energized by the crowd and carried along with their momentum. Into mile 2 the streets began to get longer and there are fewer turns. I spotted Kathy Seavers ahead of me. Kathy Seavers and her husband Larry are an institution in Charlotte's running scene. At 65 Kathy is an "oncology nurse who has posted age-group wins at several recent local races..." (Theoden Janes' blog) I've seen her at almost every race I've run in Charlotte and over time, my times have caught up to hers. Of course, she's slowed down some over the years. She and her husband are very nice people and in addition to seeing them at races, I've seen them at The Neighborhood Theatre enjoying a concert. I'm not their only fan, though. To quote Scott Dvorak at the 2006 Dilworth 8K awards ceremony "Who doesn't love the Seavers?" I made it a goal in this race to pass her. At the water stop close to the mile 2 marker, I caught up to her. Shortly after the water stop, I did. But then I had to hold her off. Which wasn't easy.
At about 2 1/2 miles I saw Larry Seavers and made it a goal to pass him. I crept towards him and was gaining ground when just after the 3rd mile marker the course turned onto Dotger Ave and headed up the largest hill on the course. After the hill, we continued climbing for about half a mile as we looped around Deacon/Emerson/5th streets. I noticed Larry taking peeks over his shoulder. I would get closer, but then fall behind him. The course began to descend at the turn back onto Dotger Ave and then flattened with the turn onto Kenmore Ave. I passed Larry and as I did, he said "Go Sharksbite!" in labored speech. "Oh" I said in equally labored speech. "Go Lary Seavers!" I added.
Having passed Larry I now had to work to stay ahead of him. We soon passed the 4th mile marker and I began wondering "How long is an 8K again?" Math and running don't mix. I knew a 5K was 3.1 miles and that we were passed that, "so if 1K=.71 miles, then we have..." Actually 1K = .62 miles. I really should have looked it up before the race. I did know that an 8K is less than 5 miles so I knew we had less than a mile to go. I also knew that Greenway Ave was one of the last streets of the course. So shortly after turning to go up Cameron Ave I saw "eenw" on a street sign and new the end was near. We turned onto Greenway Ave and then finished on Park Dr.
I finished with a chip time of 41:28(8:24/mile pace) 138th place overall and 4th in my age group. Larry Seavers was 4 spots behind me with a time of 41:48 and Kathy finished at place 159 with a time of 42:40. So I beat people more than 20 years my senior. But they're fast, so it was a tough victory.
Adam was cheering at the finish and was surprised at my fast finish. I joined him in time to cheer for Mindi and C.A. who finished neck and neck. C.A. finished 166th with a chip time of 42:18 and Mindi finished 167th with a chip time of 42:29. Jay, who was wearing a knee brace at the start, finished 331st at a chip time of 48:39.
Speaking of knee issues. At some point in the race, my left knee started hurting. I think with my legs really tired, I either locked out my knee or hyper-extended it when landing. After the race, it really bothered me, but not as bad as it did Sunday morning. I took 2 Aleve before yoga and made the sad and hard decision to not run on Sunday. I decided it wasn't worth the risk of further damaging or seriously injuring my knee. So the first running streak of 2011, ended at 99 days. My goal is to run as many days as I can this year, so my goal is still in play. My knee isn't swollen and it only hurts when I put pressure on it, so I don't believe it is a serious injury. Today, Monday, it is significantly better. I can still feel little twinges of pain, so I plan to take today off too. This was a hard decision, but I know it is the right one. Better end the streak than end running period.
Total Days Run: 99
Longest Running Streak: 99 Days
Longest run: 8 miles
Longest week: 32.6 miles
Shortest run: 1 mile
Shortest week: 20.6 miles
Number of races run: 5
Total Miles Run: 374.35
Next Race: GBS 5K
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
We all took Friday off and headed out mid-day to drive the 3 hours to Charleston. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, changed in the room and went in search of food and drinks. It was probably the chilliest weekend I've ever experienced in Charleston. It was cooler than it had been in October! The official temperature was around 50-60*, but the wind was dropping the temperature by at least 10 degrees. I hadn't packed correctly but I was still determined to spend time outside. After dinner and a trip to Firehouse Subs to get Todd his traditional pre-race dinner, Adam and I went up to the Shark Fin Bar which was next to our hotel.
The bar was on the second floor of Vickeries restaurant and outdoors, open on 2 sides. Luckily they had propane heaters and we found one to huddle under once the sun went down. The actual bar was shaped like a shark fin that's laying on it's side. It was a small place and the bar took up a lot of room. There were about a dozen people there. The views of the sunset and water were gorgeous! After a couple of beers we headed back to the room.
I hate the actual CRBR race! It's crowded, people don't seed well and you end up walking more than you want to. Then you get into a slam packed Charleston where you have to wait in line for everything you want to do. So I go for the after parties (at the Windjammer and Red's) and not for the race. Adam is still recovering from a severe calf muscle strain and wasn't running the race either. But he and Ellyne woke up, before Todd (the only person among us running the race)to get ready and drive over the bridge into Charleston prior to the bridge closing to traffic for the race.
I slept in until about 7:30am when Todd came back to the room for one last pit stop. I wished him well and then got up and dressed in my running clothes, at my Kashi bar, watched TV and watched the race leaders cross the Shem Creek bridge from the room's balcony. Around 8:30, I ventured out to the end of the hotel's drive way. This year the race directors finally added wave starts. Each wave was released every 3 minutes. I was watching runners in probably the 8:30-9:00 min/mile pace group. I saw my friends Steve, Kate and Kai run past but no one else that I know.
Some people wear costumes for this race. I gave Adam my camera to take pictures of Todd's finish, so I don't have pictures of the costumes I saw, but you can use your imagination. I saw two guys dressed like 'Reno 911' police officers. I saw 4 guys dressed like 'Bay Watch' lifeguards. Two of them had fake boobs. I saw two of the 'Seven Dwarfs.' I saw one bride and groom. I saw one 'blue man' and a lot of people in funny hats, pink boas and other outfits that I can't describe.
Todd is fast enough to start pretty close to the line and managed a 37:13, which wasn't a personal best, but I think it was pretty great.Meanwhile, I finally cut across some walkers and started my run in the neighborhood across Coleman Blvd from the hotel. I had mapped my run online before leaving for the trip and had an 8-mile route planned. I had never run in the area before and wasn't sure what to expect. The neighborhood across from the hotel was full of well-kept, mostly brick homes. The neighborhood was probably built in the 60s-70s and the homes were landscaped with beautiful azaleas that were in full bloom. There were also magnolia and oak trees around. I was only in this neighborhood for about 2 miles. The last 6 were run in the neighborhood on the other side of Shem Creek from our hotel. It was a gorgeous quaint version of Charleston. Old (or old-looking) plantation homes on the water and other beautiful homes surrounding them. The streets were lined with shade trees and the whole area was flat.
When I finished, back at the hotel, they were cleaning up the continental breakfast items. I managed to grab a chocolate, glazed donut and half of a sesame bagel before going back to the room to shower. I had a missed call from Adam and when I called him back, he told me they were heading back to the room. He had said that they would be in Charleston most of the afternoon, but by 10:30am, they'd had lunch and were ready to come back.
After they got back I was hungry for lunch. Ellyne was ready for a nap. Adam, Todd and I walked across Shem Creek bridge to Red's. Red's is by far the most popular bar in Shem Creek and it was packed. So we went next door and I got a shrimp po-boy and a beer from RB's. RB's is really delicious and is on the water at Shem Creek. We sat upstairs outside and shivered every time the wind blew! After lunch, we headed over to Half Moon Outfitters. It's similar to an REI, but much smaller. Adam was impressed with the huge Rainbo flip-flop on the wall.
After our shopping adventure, we grabbed Ellyne and headed over to the Windjammer on IOP. It wasn't as packed as I've seen it in the past. It was 2 or 3 by the time we got there, so maybe the crowd had left. We ran into a lot of people that we know from Charlotte, Karin, Mike, Vincent, Jim, Wendy and Joey. We had a great time catching up and hearing how people did. The sun was shining and it got nice and warm on the back deck. Todd and Ellyne caught a ride in Charleston with friends while Adam and I stayed on the island. We then walked over to ACME Cantina for dinner and the NCAA Tournament games.
Sunday morning Adam and I ran a 3 mile loop around Patriot's Point. After a little shopping and lunch, we headed home. I snapped the picture below of the bridge on our way out of town. I think I have everyone, or Adam, talked into the Savannah Bridge Run in December. I haven't done that race in a couple of years and would love to go back.
Total Days Run: 95
Longest run: 8 miles
Longest week: 32.6 miles
Shortest run: 1 mile
Shortest week: 20.6 miles
Number of races run: 4
Total Miles Run: 360.15