January 31, 2011


My plan was to run the Mercedes Marathon on February 13.  Not for time.  It was meant to be purely for fun.  Birmingham has hills that make New Orleanians cry, but my good friend lives there and they have pretty sweet medals:
You could totally glue this on the hood of your car...

That was the plan, anyway.  But this winter has been frought with obstacles to running and runs that used to be a piece of cake are kicking my a-- more challenging than normal.  Sunday, I ran a local 30K as a slow long run and my calves didn't appreciate the effort.

So running Mercedes would be suicide.  It's a really stupid idea.  Really dumb.  But... uh... um... I might do it anyway.  Drinking beer with friends at the finish should drown the pain, right?  As long as I walk all the hills?  (And the slight inclines?)

Kinda sounds like a meth addict who can't get enough.  I guess there are worse addictions than running...


 noun \ə-ˈdik-shən, a-\

: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance [or activity?] (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

Why Small Races Rock...

I had planned on running the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL this past January.  It's driving distance from where I live (albeit a long-ish drive) and it was relatively cheap.  So I paid for it in the fall before I knew my schedule.  As luck would have it, I couldn't make the race.  I was invited for some exciting interviews that put me across the country the weekend of the race.

Much to my surprise, yesterday in the mail I received a package from L'Arche Mobile, the group that sponsored the race.  Inside, I found a long sleeve shirt from the event & a check with a partial refund for my entry fees.
Cute, no?

Let me make this clear... In case you don't know anything about L'Arche, it's a fantastic organization that supports and advocates for adults with developmental disabilities.  When I couldn't make the race, I figured no big deal.  The money goes to a great cause.  And they refunded my fees.  Being poor, I was super excited about getting money in the mail.  But for all the money I pay toward Rock N' Roll or other expensive races, they aren't donating to admirable causes.  (Races may be fun, but they ain't charity.)  So, I'm going to donate my refund back to L'Arche.  They showed me some unexpected kindness.  I figure that the least I can do is show the same to them.

Small races are so often run by great people & great volunteers.  How do you show your gratitude?

January 29, 2011


When this posts, I will have finished my last night shift (for a few months at least) and will hopefully be sound asleep.  So here's another scheduled post for a laugh until I can recover and get back to working out:

January 28, 2011


Hydration is really important.  Especially when you live in places like New Orleans where the temperatures can soar year round.  Finding this gem has made me realize my bike might need an upgrade...

January 27, 2011

Bull Headed

In full disclosure, I wrote this post a while ago but never got to posting it until now.  But still relevant whether we're talking about speedwork or getting out there in poor weather...

I always have to rely on my stubbornness for speedwork.  It's not something I particularly look forward to and Wednesday it kinda snuck up on me.  The plan was to run 8 x 800 intervals.  Did I mention I don't love tracks?  Or speedwork?  Or speedwork on tracks?

But, "lucky" for me I'm currently reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Traithlon Training by Steve Katai and Colin Barr. (Still debating the New Orleans 70.3 and whether I can afford a bike.  Figured I might as well learn how to get started if I go for it.*)  Tuesday night I happened to read the part about how attitude is one of the most important components of training.  There was this great quote that said something along the lines of "If you don't think you can do it, you won't be able to."  (Um... but I can't find the exact phrase again and need a post, so just imagine a really motivational statement.)  A positive, can-do attitude goes a long way.

Fast forward to the next morning.  Wednesday I woke up feeling groggy.  I snoozed for 30 minutes and then dragged myself out of bed.  (I never snooze.)  Once up, I started drinking my usual cup of Joe and made some oatmeal.  Then I peeked at my workout schedule for the day:  Speedwork.  I knew it was there, but I pretended it wouldn't be.  I really didn't want to do speedwork.  The first thing I thought was that I could simply push it back to Thursday (always a dangerous move to procrastinate), I then remembered what I'd read.

My solution?  I lied to myself.  Big, fat, positive, can-do lies.  "This'll be fun!  It'll go by really quickly and you'll totally end up loving it!"  And as a back up, I used two tricks that I find essential for workouts when I'm dragging my feet:
1.  Being completely & utterly stubborn
2.  Focus on the details.  And I mean, lose yourself in the details.

How many miles left?!?!
Since #1 is pretty obvious, let me expand a little about what I mean by #2.  I find that when I'm tired or feeling lazy, if I look at the big picture it's overwhelming.  It's like when you hit mile 20 of a marathon and think about having to run another 6.2 miles.  6.2 miles!  That's still a long way to go!  So I focus on the little things as distractions and let my body keep moving without the interference of my brain.  Get home from a long day of work and now you've got to hit the gym?  Don't think about the gym.  Don't think about the workout.  You'll get to that.  Think about putting your right shoe on.  Then your left.  Focus on grabbing your water bottle and whatever little things you need.  I find that once I'm at the gym I can convince myself, "Well, I'm already here.  Might as well do the workout."  And once you've starting running/biking/whatever, I find that I can usually convince myself to just go for another minute.  Then another.

Or while running laps at the track, I focus on the billboard, the other runners... the minutiae can get me through it.  Unfortunately, with speedwork you have to be somewhat invested in what you're doing.  It's important to pay attention to your form, your splits, etc...  But if I focus on running well, and memorize what time I should hit each 200m, then I can distract myself between the 200s and then check my times there.

You gotta do what you gotta do.  And let's be honest, it's rare that you regret a workout but we often regret skipping them.  Just distract yourself right out the door.

"Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you're going to be thinking tomorrow."
-Glen Beaman

*Unfortunately, 70.3 ain't gonna happen for me this year.  Way too expensive.  I just can't afford to buy a bike let alone pay the entrance fees this year.  But that doesn't mean I've given up on the idea...

January 24, 2011

Long Run Fail

I didn't make it out to run today, which means that I won't get my long run in this week.  This will probably be the first long run I've missed in 2 years.  I'm halfway through eight 12 hour shifts in nine days and tomorrow I switch to nights again so my circadian rhythm is all out of whack.

When I first started running marathons, I was given the (I believe) sage advice that you can miss runs here and there but don't skip the long runs.  That's what gets you in trouble.  So I didn't.  No matter how tired or rainy or late or early, I always squeezed them in.  But today... Today, after sleeping 12 hours I awoke to find myself still exhausted.  I changed into my running clothes to head out for the run, and then changed immediately back into pajamas.

So I'm living life on the wild side.  Being spontaneous.  And I skipped my long run.

What did you do today?

January 22, 2011

The Dangers of "Vitamin I"

In distance running and other endurance events, many people get a little cavalier about taking Ibuprofen, Advil, Aspirin and the like.  (These medications are in a class of drug called NSAIDs - Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.)  Heck... I even have friends who refer to Ibuprofen as "Vitamin I."  The danger is that taking any of the above can result in kidney damage or failure if you're not careful, especially when taken before working out.

I actually had a whole, long schpeal written out that I was tweaking to make less boring when my friend, Grace at How I Complicated My Life Today, came out with her own 2 part post on the same topic.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I'm going to steal work in concert with (ya like that?) her blog post.  She's a pharmacist and does a great job of talking about how NSAIDs work (Part I) and which might be good for you (Part II).

But there are a couple things I want to add/emphasize:

1.  NSAIDs can be dangerous to your kidneys when you're working out.  I already mentioned that but it should be emphasized.  Taking Advil or Aleeve before or during a long run is a bad idea.  You're likely already dehydrated, putting a strain on your kidneys.  Then you add a drug with potential to damage your kidneys & it gets even more concentrated there because you're dehydrated (and have less fluid in your vessels.)  It's a recipe for disaster.  Just because you've done it before doesn't mean it'll be ok next time.

2.  Another option is Tylenol or acetaminophen (they're the same - just the brand & generic names).  Grace didn't talk about it because Tylenol isn't an NSAID.  It's in a class of its own.  The main difference is that unlike NSAIDs, Tylenol isn't an anti-inflammatory.  (It does, however, relieve pain & reduce fevers.)  The advantage of Tylenol for athletes is that it is processed by your liver rather than your kidneys and it's not associated with kidney damage.  It can cause damage to your liver so it's very important not to exceed dosage recommendations.  If you have any other liver problems or drink a lot of alcohol, this is probably not the right choice for you.  But if you need something to help you get through a race or to relieve some pain afterward, Tylenol may help.

3.  As with any drug you take or pain you might have, ask your doctor first.  They can give you a better idea what might be right for you based on your specific medical history and other medications you take.  More importantly, they should have suggestions on tackling the source of your pain (rather than numbing it with pills.)  If they can't help, get a referral to a sports medicine doctor or find another family doctor who does a lot of musculoskeletal or sports medicine.  You've got options.

4.  Last but not least, don't ignore your pain.  This can sometimes be the hardest thing.  A lot of us don't like taking time off from our sanity sports or asking for help.  We see the warning signs, bright & clear, but ignore them.  Just pop in another couple pain relievers and get back on the treadmill or bike, run just a couple more miles...  Sometimes there's a simple fix.  For example, strength training or crosstraining can often help stabilize joints that are causing pain.  Unfortunately, sometimes it's not so easy.  But most of the time, addressing the problem sooner rather than later is a good idea.  Waiting until you can't walk or sleep or move usually means more time that you're on the sidelines and can even result in permanent damage.  Remember that pain relievers don't address the source of your pain, they simply mask it.

January 20, 2011


I don't think I'm the only one who has this problem.  It's not something that happens on every run.  But if it  happens once I know I'm in for more.  I'm referring to the phenomenon of burping a little vomit.

Ah... the joys of running.

On my 19 miler Tuesday it must have happened a dozen times or more.  Enough times that it was on my mind.  (If it's just once or twice I forget about it pretty quickly.)  All this thought - and not wanting to think about my tired legs - led me to name the phenomenon.  I think it deserves a name, don't you?  And henceforth, I shall refer to it as:
burp + barf = burfing

Sounds better than burmit (a failed Muppets character) or vomurp (a swamp creature).  So burfing it is.  I"ll leave you with a benediction:  May all your runs be free of burfing.

See... even Calvin burfed.

January 19, 2011

Do as I say, not as I do

If anyone I remotely cared about asked me about what they should do after a couple weeks of missed runs and travels, I would have told them to take it easy.  Ease back into things.  If you jump right back into your routine after missing too many runs you risk injury.

So what did I do?  Ran 38 miles in 3 days.  After missing a gazillion runs, I decided to put my long run & two of my medium length runs 3 days in a row.  What can I say?  I have 12 hour shifts everyday for the foreseeable future and the idea of running a 10 miler after work was less appealing that pushing through today.  My legs are not going to let me forget the stupidity of it, but I think I fortunately avoided injury other than a couple small blisters and some chafed skin.

The best part of my run was when I got the trots.  Yup.  Always an adventure.  Looping back towards a park where there is a bathroom, I started getting increasingly concerned about how much further it was.  My legs felt like lead and my stomach was not happy.  Trying to gauge how much longer I had, I glanced down at my Garmin to see this:

Ahhh!  6.66?  When I've got the trots!?!  I'm not superstitious, but when you've got bathroom on the brain I don't need any bad luck.  Lucky for me, the park was around mile 7 so I pushed my lead legs as fast as they could go and made it in the nick of time.

A little trick I used to get through the run was something I've mentioned before.  Smile!  Every time I felt a grimace across my face I would force a smile.  So simple, but it really works.  You can't help but end up with a real smile.  Especially if you start with a goofy smirk:

Don't try this around small children.
They might cry.

January 18, 2011

Growing Pains

You know those runs when you hit your distance goal and stop immediately, even when you have a couple blocks left to get home?  Um, yeah.  That would be me today.

The last few months have been crazy.  I've spent less than a week at home since November and have driven & flown thousands of miles around the country for interviews.  I managed to cram a couple runs and walks into my schedule while in Seattle (ouch! hills!) but that was about it.  Now I keep switching night & day shifts while working in the ER and it's messing me up.  Luckily I had yesterday & today off, along with tomorrow.  (Not that I'm counting, but I'll be done with ER in precisely 10.5 days.)  Taking full advantage of the time off I ran 9 miles at pace yesterday & 19 miles today.

How did that go?  Um... You know those runs when you hit your distance goal and stop immediately?  (Did I already ask that?)  I definitely hit 19.00 miles and walked the last few blocks.  And ran into a couple friends on the run & made a point to stop and say hello.  And ask how they're doing.  And chat about the weather.  But other than that, it was awesome.

There's something about being stressed & squeezing a run into your hectic day.  Nothing can compare.  How's your running going?

ps.  You know if you google "zen runner," this is what you get?
Awesome.  Now that's some zen.

January 14, 2011

Dancing is not running

But they're both great workouts...

In case I haven't mentioned already, I'm an amazing dancer*.  (And singer*.)

*In my head

How 'bout you?

January 13, 2011


There are a couple benefits to being lost in a strange city.  In case it's been a while, here's what I've discovered:

1.  Anatomy lesson.  You might have forgotten that you had calves, quads, hamstrings, knees or ankles.  This is particularly true if you live in a city that's flat and you're visiting a city with hills, for example.  I promise:  you won't forget your muscles long.  In fact, you may even discover muscles you didn't know you had.

2.  Bonus workout.  Just when you thought you couldn't possibly squeeze in a workout for the day, you end up walking 4 miles.  Yup.  4.  Not me, of course... I'm referring to a "friend."

That doesn't look like a candle.
3.  Discovery.  You may have no effing clue where your actual destination is located, but you sure as hell can locate a butcher, a baker and a candlestick-maker.  Just let me know if you need any recommendations.

January 6, 2011

New Territory

Today I arrived in Seattle for another week of interviews.  This time I had some scheduling snafus which means that I'll be spending 9 days here... 9 days to find new places to run and explore.  Being a town full of running enthusiasts, routes shouldn't be too hard to find.  My first adventure was around Green Lake Park:

It's January, so reality was a bit less sunny & picturesque, but despite the cold, rainy weather it was refreshing to see the running trail well-populated.  When running in new places around dusk, I appreciate the "New Year's" newbies, if only for safety.  And in case I get lost, it's nice to have people to ask for directions.

Today's run also involved one of the classic new run bonuses:  what I thought was a 4 mile run turned out to be 4.85.  Wouldn't have run that far otherwise & didn't need to, but honestly, I can't complain.

Have you done any exploring lately, at home or away from home?

January 5, 2011

Dodged a Bullet

It's rainy today and after working an overnight shift I put my run off all day.  Having finally recovered enough for a run, I thought I might head over to the gym for my run to avoid the rain.  And then I remembered:  It's early January.

The healthcare worker in me thinks it's wonderful:  People take advantage of a new year to alter their habits and adopt a healthy, new lifestyle.  The gym rat in me knows that this lasts approximately 1 month, during which I get pissed off every time I head to the gym.  "Go walk your 40:00 mile outside!  And hang up your cell when you're on a treadmill!"

<Deep breath>

Outside it is.  I don't mind running in the rain.  And I don't care if everyone else doesn't like my singing.

January 2, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

The last 2 weeks can best be described as couch surfing.  No, wait.  That implies more activity than is appropriate.  Basically I was a paperweight for my parents couch.  And a garbage disposal.  (I love leftovers, particularly when they're free). Having run a lot this past year and with an incredibly crazy November & December, I wasn't too hard on myself about it.
*No couches were harmed in the making of this photo.

But now it's January and vacation's over.  Time to get back on the road and start eating healthy again.  I'm pretty lucky to have some great friends who are also my running buddies.  Friday, with 30 more miles of driving before I'd reach New Orleans, I already was committed to a 5 mile loop with a friend.  Last night, my usual Sunday morning group was texting each other to make sure we'd all be there.  I had company for 16 out of 17.8 miles... that ain't bad.

Sometimes we need a little
help from our friends.
I'm lucky to have such a great support system.  People who'll notice if I'm not there for a long run or am huffing more than usual.  They hold me accountable to myself even though they would never put me down.  (Well, they might laugh if I faceplant on a run but that's all in good fun.)  Technically, I probably could have done it alone, but I would have enjoyed it a lot less.

Need a running buddy?  There are many options...

1.  Running groups.  There's a ton of them.  Local running clubs often have (at least) weekly group runs and frequently there are people of all paces who attend - you don't have to already be a speed demon.  You can also try local running stores (though this does not apply to big box chains... look for smaller specialized running or biking stores.)  Getting started with these groups generally means access to people who've been running a lot longer and who may have great advice or suggestions as you encounter new obstacles, problems or questions.

2.  Friends or family.  Know anyone who runs?  No?  If you're just starting out, you might be able to find a friend or co-worker who's also interested in starting.  You can use each other as motivation and running partners.  If they're a long-time runner, it can sometimes be hard to find people at the same pace but they may be willing to  keep you company on one of their relaxed run days.

3.  Imaginary friends.  The bonus here is that they tend to be available when you're going for a run.  (Not a guarantee, however.  Make sure you make plans well in advance so they can schedule it in.)  Unfortunately, they're not always big talkers but they are good listeners.  If strangers give you weird looks, just pretend you have a bluetooth and point to your ear.

What or who keeps you active or gets you back in the saddle after time off?

January 1, 2011


With everyone talking about New Year's Resolutions, I keep trying to figure out what mine should be.  I'm not really a resolution person.  I try to constantly work on being a better person, staying healthy, blah, blah, blah.  But then I thought of something that might work.

I've already conned inspired my little sister and a great friend of mine to start running and complete a half marathon and marathon respectively in 2011.  I'll be running both races along with them and have been pretty excited about sharing something I love so much and being there for such a momentous occasion.

So I think I'll stick with this as my "resolution:"  I will share the passion* I have for running and support others as they get started.  This also means I have to keep up my own running and continue to strive for a healthy lifestyle.  And since balance is healthy,  I still get the daily occasional beer, chocolate, poboy and the like.

*The key is to not forget that people don't like to be bludgeoned with lectures on the subject.  Attacking people about starting to run is probably the quickest way to turn them off.  I should know.  It worked for me for a long time.

And now for your moment of zen, a little gem I saw on Urban Dictionary...

New Year's Heaves

The "article" where I got this picture
is also pretty hilarious.
To "throw up" multiple times on New Year's Eve, typically caused from excessive drinking after the realization that it was yet another sucky year of life.

This happens many times when people see their significant other kissing someone else on the "stroke of 12" during the Midnight hour.
If it wasn't for Bobby having the New Year's Heaves, we could have seen Dick Clark celebrate his 243rd straight New Year's broadcast.

Thankfully, my New Years was not exciting enough for the New Year's Heaves.  Happy New Year!