Tuesday, October 30, 2012

running slow is hard!

Today's run:
  • 5 min warmup walking
  • 30 min with a HR limit of 142, with 8 strides
  • 5 min cool down walking
I was actually invited to happy hour tonight (people seem to forget I exist at work... however, the one time I'm invited is also the same time this annoying girl shows up with the intention of happy hour.  sigh).  I was supposed to run tonight with Will (on flat trails) but instead I ran during my lunch.  The trail at work is the opposite of flat, with a big long climb and some rollers.

It turns out, it's impossible to run with a heart rate of 142 up a hill.
I forgot my MP3 player today.  Turns out, that wasn't a problem since my Garmin was beeping at me nearly constantly to slow down.  I attempted to lower my HR by slowing down (like I did Sunday) but it really wasn't working.  I let my garmin beep at me 3-4 times, then I'd run one of my strides, and then I'd walk until my HR went down to ~138, then I'd run again.  And repeat the scenario.

I was really focusing on running slow and smooth but my watch kept beeping at me.  Very frustrating.  Hopefully this gets easier over time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

learning how to run

Running is a complicated thing.  You think to yourself, you just run and its that easy.  But apparently (for me), its not.

I've been running regularly since 2008, so I'm not a novice.  I try to run ~20 miles a week.  My longest training run has been 16 miles.  So I should know what I'm doing.  Except, I just found out that I don't.

I have chronically tight calves.  They hurt.  And they make my right foot go numb.  I keep getting my calf worked on (dry needling, massage) to loosen it up.  Then a few runs later, it's like I was never treated.  I'm 99% sure my calf caused my heel fracture.  I was discussing my most recent calf tightness with my PT and she suggested I go and see her friend that does video running gait analysis.  We're thinking I'm doing something wrong (root cause) and that is causing all these calf issues and related injuries.

Video gait testing went something like this:
  • run ~10 minutes on the treadmill at a comfy pace to get used to running on a treadmill
  • run at above pace with your preferred shoes on while being videotaped from the back and side
  • remove shoes and repeat video from the back and side.
I did not like the barefoot running.  Immediately I knew my left foot was misbehaving because with each step, because there was a SMACK everytime that foot hit the treadmill. 

After the treadmill video session, I was asked to do a few tests:
  • stand on a box, balance on one foot, squat down and tap your heel on the floor down in front of you (evaluates glutes)
  • balance on one foot and do toe raises w/out setting your heel down (evaluates ankle)
I passed the toe raise test but miserably failed the step down test on my left side.  Awesome.

After a prelim evaluation of the video, I felt like I got a D- in running.  I am STILL heel striking (in Newtons!  Imagine how sad it would be w/out them!) and worse, I am not engaging my muscles when I run.  Most people get nice and pretty calf contractions as they run.  I have calf muscles (I see them when I do calf raises!) but when running the back of my leg is smooth.  There's no calf contraction.  I'm also not engaging my glutes.  STILL.


So I have more PT exercises to work on.  And in 3 weeks I get the full video evaluation and corrective measures.  And I'm going to work with my normal PT to evaluate my neural transfer.  I master my PT exercises pretty quickly (meaning they become too easy) and I KNOW I have muscles.  There could be something weird going on between my brain and my feet that makes it so I'm not engaging those muscles.

I'm also working with a new triathlon coach, and she's introducing MAF heart rate training.  You take your target fat-burning-zone heart rate (HR) and set that as your maximum HR for workouts.  This teaches your body to use fat as fuel.  And I suppose it does something to increase your fitness, as it teaches you to run faster at a lower HR.  Eventually.  I'm skeptical, but at this point, running slower is probably good for me.

Yesterday was my MAF test, which consisted of the following:
  • 5 min walk
  • 10 min easy jog to warm up (during which my Garmin was FREAKING out, showing a HR of 180.  dumb technology)
  • 25 min of running with a max HR of 142, keeping track of 1 mile splits.
  • 5 min walking to cool down
I ended up taking splits every 1/2 mile because I wasn't sure I'd get in 2 miles.  I'm slow.  I was just hoping I could keep things slow enough  controlled without having to do much walking. The first lap wasn't too bad.  I had to focus a bit to keep my HR down, but it wasn't awful.  Same for the next lap.  The third lap required a bit more focus.  I was literally saying "slow, light steps" and trying to be very efficient and not waste energy to keep my HR down.  The last lap really required 100% focus.  Any momentary lapse and my HR zoomed up to >150 bpm, which required 5-10 sec of walking to bring it back down.

Essentially, it was a test to see how slowly something could resemble a run while keeping my HR down.  It was tricky, mentally.  But afterwards, I didn't have my usual calf tightness.  There may be something to this.
  • Lap 1: pace 12:37, avg HR 141, max HR 146
  • Lap 2: pace 12:50,  avg HR 142, max HR 145
  • Lap 3: pace 13:22, avg HR 142, max HR 148
  • Lap 3: pace 13:47, avg HR 141, max HR 153
I imagine that I'll be doing this test in a few months to see how I'm progressing.  Ideally, my pace will increase at that HR max. 

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    trail run

    I got a State Park pass this spring, with the idea that I'd go trail running at some of the parks by my house.  My foot had different ideas.

    I'd been building up my time and distance with my doctor-prescribed run/walk program and was up to nearly 4 miles.  I had a friend in town for GABF and she had running on her schedule.  We decided to go for a trail run at Castlewood Canyon State Park.  I looked at the topo map and decided it wasn't that bad.  I've also seen photos of other run groups there and it looked pretty.  I decided to take the creek trail at the bottom of the canyon.  How bad could it be?

    We got there at 9:30 AM and narrowly escaped a pack of kids, presumably on a field trip.  We decided to not take our phones (for photos), debated on clothing (I decided the canyon bottom could be shady and cold so I wore a long sleeve shirt over my short sleeve shirt), got our Garmins rev'd up and took off down the trail.

    Funny thing.  The park name had "canyon" in it and we were running along the creek at the bottom of the canyon.  Only the parking lot was at the top of the canyon.  That meant our "run" involved a whole bunch of stairs at the start of our run to get to the bottom on the canyon.  Which also meant that we had to go up the stairs at the end of our run.  Oops.  I think my friend was thinking about killing me at this point and we were only 3 minutes in.  I am such a good friend.
    View from the scenic overlook, taken after our run.
    Once we got to the bottom, it was really pretty but also pretty tricky.  The trail was singletrack with a ton of large rocks sticking out of the ground.  And in some cases, boulders we had to scrabble up, down, around, or over.  (Jumping over was my favorite.)  My orange Newons were probably a terrible choice.  Easy for my friend to follow but with the lugs on the bottom, they were a bit unsteady.  I tried to twist my ankle twice but thankfully my closed-eye balance exercises actually did something and my ankles were nice and strong.
    The trail only got wide and level in one place, a meadow upstream of an old dam.  But it was thick/loose gravel/sand, so it wasn't the easiest stuff to run in.  I did my best to maintain some semblance of running where I could, sometimes darting around or over rocks.  I definitely had to slow down for most of the climbing and any sort of scrabbling.  And as a bonus, my calf acted up and my whole left foot when numb at the end of the run.  That made things interesting.

    It was actually a super fun run, probably one of the best I've had all year.  It was challenging and not boring.  Dodging all those rocks keeps your mind occupied.  Plus, the canyon and fall colors were so pretty.  For longer distances, I probably would go do the rim trail or try a different park.  But for something quick this was definitely fun.  Even if it was the slowest 4 mile "run" of my life.
    The orange Newts are back!

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    I need a new liver

    so while more serious athletes were battling it out in Kona, I was drinking beer with 5 of my closest friends. 

    Beer week actually started before their arrival, as Will and I went to some rare beer tasting.  Highlights were a raspberry sour from AC Golden (what's wrong with me!?!?), an apple cider with lavender and rosemary, and many, many whisky/bourbon/brandy aged dark beers.  Lets just say that Thursday morning was a bit rougher than it should have been.

    Friday was Day 1, which all in the Boulder area and included:
    • Oskar Blues Tasty Weasel - I just had sips of what others were drinking
    • Pumphouse Brewery and Grill - Ryetoberfest
    • Gravity - Will and I split a sampler
    • Upslope - pumpkin ale, so good
    • Avery - Salvation (9% Belgian Strong, because that's smart at the last stop of the day when you're driving home).  I also sampled some Rumpkin, Tweak (15%), and some other bottle of beer that was 18% ABV and cost $24.  for a 12 oz bottle.  Also: sweet potato tater tots with green chile.  Awesomeness.
    yum.  and also dangerous
    Saturday was Great American Beer Festival Day!  We had members only session tickets (Sat afternoon) and our friend was entered in the ProAm contest, so we had tickets to the awards ceremony.  The awards ceremony also included breakfast beer at 10:30 AM.  Awesome again.
    note: this is not my hand
    GABF had 580 breweries and 2,700 beers.  Wowzers.  Highlights included:
    • Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin.  I may or may not have gone back 3 times for this.  In a very long line.  It was my favorite of the day.
    • some random mid-west brewery's PB&J beer.  Weird, but it worked.
    • Shorts Brewery Bloody Mary beer.  I do not like bloody marys.  I have no idea why I liked this beer.
    • New Glarus Rasperry Tart.  so good.  I wish they distributed here.
    • And many, many others.
    Part of the challenge with GABF is simply being overwhelmed by all the choices.  You can only drink so many beers, so you don't want to waste your opportunities with crappy beers.  However, the point is to try NEW beer, so you have to take a risk.  I know, first world problems.  My life is rough sometimes.  Fortunately, there are dump buckets at each table, so if you don't like your sample, its easy to get rid of it and move on.

    Sunday was even more drinking:
    • Renegade brewing - Banana Split beer (chocolate hefeweisen) and some brunch from a food truck.  I'm still sad they didn't have their Sunday Morning coffee strong ale.  That would have been brilliant with bacon and french toast.
    • Prost Brewing - I got the sampler and an extra sample of the Tivoli beer (historic Denver beer that went out of production in the 1960's).  Then my friend got this brilliant creation - a Russian - consisting of a Hefeweisen and Italian Lemon Soda.  Amazing.  So I had to get one as well.  This will be my summer 2013 beverage, for sure.
    • Strange Brewing - Cherry Kreik (so good)
    Russian at Prost.  Seriously delicious.
    We wanted to also hit Wit's End, but it closed at 5 PM on Sunday.  We realized this at 5:20 PM.  Fail.

    Monday (dear good lord) (after a 4 mile trail run) was:
    • Rockyard Grill and Brewery - lunch and a pumpkin beer
    • side trip to a liquor store for some Crooked Stave beer (hard to find sour beer)
    • Lone Tree Brewery - Ariadne Belgian Blonde (and an order of 3 x 1/6 kegs for my tri club party for next weekend)
    • Copper Kettle Brewery - I drank water and had sips of other people's beers.
    • More beer from our personal stash.
    And now my liver needs about a month's detox.  Definitely fun but not something I can do very often.

    Glade Expressions

    *This post is sponsored by BzzAgent Glade Expressions*

    About a month ago, I got a BzzKit for a Glade Expressions home scent package.  I was able to get an oil diffuser and a fragrance mist.  Scent options include Cotton & Italian Mandarin, Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice, Lavender & Juniper Berry, and Pineapple & Mangosteen.  I went with the Pineapple/Mangosteen because of the fresh fruity scent and the pretty wood panelling on the oil diffuser.  For scent consistency, I went the same direction for the mist.

    Here's the oil diffuser hanging out on my side table:

    cute, right?
    The scent is nice and fruity without being fake.  The oil diffuser does a great job in scenting my large front room.  I can't wait to try out the other scents.

    Friday, October 05, 2012


    The news has been hyping snow for Saturday.  Well a snow/rain mix in the morning.

    This morning (Friday), I went to 5:30 swim practice.  WeatherBug said it was 32 degrees out, so I grabbed my hat and gloves.  I stood out on my driveway and realized it wasn't all that cold out, so I ditched the gloves.  Roads were damp but fine.  I went to swim practice, spent 60 minutes face down starring at the black line in my lane.  At the end of practice, we looked up and saw white suff on the hill outside of the pool.

    I wandered over to the window to check it out and saw little fluffy flakes coming down.  I may have done a little dance at that point.

    Last year, the first snowfall was on Oct 8th.  The day before the Denver RnR Half Marathon.  I think I cried that morning.  Last year, I had serious PTSD from Ironman training the previous winter.  Snow days meant 4.5 hours on the bike trainer.  Cold and dry days meant 6 hrs on the bike freezing and stopping at public bathrooms to thaw out.

    Last winter's mission was to enjoy winter and learn to love snow again.  Snow should be happy.  I should not want to cry each time I see snow.  I season of skiing and playing and I love snow again.

    We'll see how I feel about snow in April 2013, with CDA on the horzion....

    Monday, October 01, 2012

    Back on my feet

    I have "ran" a whole 6.5 miles in the month of September!  Yay!  It still isn't real running, but its getting there.  So far I have done:

    • 14 minutes, alternating 1 min walking, 1 min running.  That sure was tough! (/sarcasm)
    • 17 minutes of the 1 min walk/run deal
    • 20 minutes of 1 min walking, 2 min running
    • 28 minutes of the 1 min walk/run deal
    The fun part is that Will is running with me.  Its pretty funny because even though I've been broken all summer, I am still in much better shape.  The last couple of minutes back to our house is up a small hill and I always push that hill.  Will was breathing pretty hard and I was being very helpful, trying to make him talk and pushing the pace.  I'm supportive like that.

    The other great part is that I've been running just before sunset and the weather is fantastic.  The light is amazing, the fall colors are great.  I try to not think about the fact that snow will be flying soon.  I'm just trying to enjoy things right now, in the moment. 

    I also volunteered at a trail race yesterday - the Bear Chase Race, which consisted of a 10k, half marathon, 50k and 50 mile trail race.  I worked the 5 - 10 AM shift (with a 3:45 wake up time... yowzers) and I got a free reflective vest for my efforts.  It was really early, but it was also fun.

    I brought some of my SunRype along, as I just got a shipment of 480 Just Fruit and Grains bars (summer berry).  I brought a couple of boxes with me, hoping to help out.  I was not prepared for the literal buffet our aid station had.  Seriously, it was crazy.  Oranges, watermelon, banana, nilla wafers, oreos, honey stinger gels and waffles, m&ms (plain and peanut), skittles, pretzles, chips, pb&j sandwiches.  My poor SunRype bars weren't getting a whole lot of love. 

    I was carpooling, so I had to leave right at 10 AM.  In my time at the aid station, I saw the half marathoners (a lot of them grabbed pb&j's.... for a half. marathon. ) and I saw 2 loops of the 50k and 50 milers.  These people had run ~24 miles by the time I saw them.  And most of them looked really good.  I wish I could have stuck around longer, as it was very inspirational to be around these athletes. 

    This volunteer effort meants 5+ hours on my feet, which is something I haven't done in a very long time.  It was sore but I managed to do my "run" last night (28 minutes of the 1 min run/walk deal) and today all is well.
    time stamp was 6:57.  Yep, I was volunteering 2 hrs before this was snapped.

    shot of our aid station buffet.  I was joking that we needed doggie bags for the athletes.

    if you look closely, you can see runners along the road and off in the distance

    helping athletes getting their food on!
    Goooo SunRype!