Getting Geared Up for 2015

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I finished the Hot Chocolate run in November, then immediately got the flu. Then I took December off. The whole thing. What didn’t happen that really surprised me is I didn’t gain a whole bunch of weight. I actually only have three pounds extra as a result of my month long retreat.

Then, just before Christmas it began…

I found myself surfing the web for spring races. I discovered I was weirdly giddy when I received the first Shamrock Shuffle email. I started feeling drawn toward ads for running shoes. I started wearing my jogging pants and t-shirts around the house under my bathrobe. One month off and running is floating around in my head like memories of an old lover. Damn you, gorgeous Brooks PureFlow for your sexy lines and the way you caress my toes! I even found a pair in Kelly green to wear to the Shamrock Shuffle. The madness has overcome me. I guess I’m a runner.

Well, there it is. I’m hooked, so I might as well go with it. I’ve decided 2015 will be the year that I go for 10 milers and THIS year I’m also going to run halfs. Specifically, the Chicago Spring Half Marathon in May  and the Chicago Half Marathon in September are the two I’ve been really excited about. In my random surfing, I identified a number of 10s and halfs that I’m interested in – all of them spaced about a month apart, but not in the hot, hot summer months of July and August. I’m crazy, not stupid. Yay!

I wish miles and miles of joy, health, and prosperity to all of you in 2015 and beyond! Now go hug your favorite running shoes!

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The Curse of the Mysterious Headache

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In the whole month I’ve run four times. This kind of training won’t get me to the finish line at the Hot Chocolate 15K. On the other hand, I’m kind of grateful for my four little runs since they mean I’ve never given up completely.

So what happened? My head started hurting all the time. I couldn’t figure out why. I thought sinuses, so I took an allergy pill. I thought stress, so I tried relaxation techniques. After a week of the pain increasing and I couldn’t figure out what was going on I starting thinking about seeing a doctor, but I couldn’t find the time. Meanwhile, my motivation and energy were plummeting to where just getting out of bed in the morning to go to work required huge effort. This made me really start believing that I might be depressed in the clinical sense of the word.

I went to visit my sister in her new home. It’s a serious fixer-upper. As I reviewed the backyard a wasp stung me on the left side of my neck. Damn! Fortunately I’m not allergic to wasp and bee stings, but still – damn! After two days the whole area started to get itchy.

My headache continued getting worse and worse, but it began to concentrate in one area on the left side of my face. After seeing a dentist, I was sent in for an emergency root canal on the very back tooth on the left.

My headache continued.

Then, yesterday a teeny tiny pimple on the inside of my left ear burst. I didn’t even know it was there until I felt the warm wet in my ear. I wiped it down with rubbing alcohol and let it continue to drain. I immediately felt the pressure and pain diminish. I’m only writing about this in a blog (Who really talks about stuff like this in a public forum? This seriously crosses the boundaries of TMI.) is to give my fellow runners/bud wearers a heads-up and a reminder to be diligent about their bud hygiene. I honestly never thought about it before and wiped them down after each use with just a tissue. Am I really the only big dummy in the world who didn’t know? Well, I know now to wipe my buds with rubbing alcohol and clean my ears with rubbing alcohol regularly.

I thought it was kind of weird that I had a trifecta of left-sided issues hit me all together like that, and I’m still trying to figure out if they could somehow be related. I suppose I’ll never figure that out.

What matters, though, is that I woke up this morning headache-free for the first time in almost a month. I went for a three mile run. My energy is really low still and it took a lot of self-talk to get my running shoes on, but I know that it’ll take some time to get my energy back just as it will take time to get my distance back.

But really? Am I really the only big dummy in the world who didn’t know?

I’ve decided to claim a PR

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First of all…

http://comerchildrenshospital.kintera.org/race/angelmccoy
I’m running for Comer Children’s Hospital. Please forward this to as many friends as you can.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been true to my recommitment to running all while having a blast with my fancy dancy new Garmin watch. I’ll have you all know that my train home has a slower average pace then I do! I timed it.

Running around the neighborhood has turned out to be really nice. The fears that I had before seem, so far, to be completely unfounded. I did finally give up running on the sidewalks, though, as so many of them are uneven, broken up, or just a pain in the butt. Running on the street is going to take some getting used to. One of the main streets, 111th, is surprisingly busy at the crack of dawn in the morning. When I say busy, I mean four cars and a bus passed by me as I ran so maybe busy is too strong of a word. Still, one of the cars went by really slowly and way too close for comfort. I assume it was a creepy guy checking me out. It did make me reassess the wisdom of running in the street, though. For now I think I won’t let one creepy guy chase me off the road. Besides, it’s not entirely his fault. Nature made him creepy, and as a runner I have a back side that inspires creepy-guy creepiness.

Which actually brings me to another thought. I’ve been running for about two and half (or more, I forget) years and yet I’m still a “beginner”. I start and stop so much that I’ve haven’t really given myself the opportunity to progress much. Here I am now having to really start my training for the Hot Chocolate Run practically from the beginning. My average pace is back to about a 12 minute mile and a 5K is my average run distance. With all of this, I haven’t really had the opportunity to ever join in a conversation about PRs. I’ve decided that that’s a mistake on my part. A PR is exactly what I need to keep myself on track. The thing is, PR in everyone else’s sense of it has no meaning to me so I’m going to give it my own meaning.

I’ve come up with a few ideas to try out and see which one really resonates with me.

Posterior Righteous: Consistent or not, running has given me a tight, round, well developed rear end that sits up high. At my age, that’s an amazing thing – something worth being proud of. How many almost-fifty year old women do you know who can pass the pencil test?

Priority Reset: It’s all too easy to let all the other things roaming around in my head like feral cats lead me to forget or ignore what I know is truly important to me. When I start getting further and further from my core priorities, I definitely need to remember to reset.

Pizza Remover: There’s a joy to being able to join my friends and have that slice. I know that running regularly will all but cancel out any occasional indulgence. It allows me to enjoy myself without the constant fear about what I eat. It allows me to not have to be one of those people who weights their food and counts every calorie. I am working hard to eat better, and I am on a diet, but I tried that calorie counting thing and I was miserable every minute of every day. I never want to go back there again.

Planned Retirement: I know I may yet be far away from being really old, but I still think about what I should be doing now to help ensure a good quality of life when I do get old. Hell, isn’t that why everyone contributes to their 401(K)? I contribute to my 401(K) so I can live indoors and I don’t have to learn to eat cat food and I contribute to my running account so I can be as vital and healthy as possible when I get old.

I’m not sure which PR I’m going to settle on, but I think I’ll try them all on for size and see which one inspires me the most. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

What just happened!?

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Congratulate me! I just jumped right into the 21st century. I finally got a GPS watch to track my running. I admit, I’ve just been carving my run times into the walls of my cave up ’till now.

So last night I decided to take it for a quick try out.

Great googly woogly, I’m out of shape! I’ve been truly wonderful about making all of my Core Power Yoga classes. They are really challenging and I feel amazing afterwards. So I stopped running as often as I was figuring hot yoga was keeping me in shape. However, as wonderful as hot yoga is when used as an addition to my routine they did not keep me in running shape AT ALL.  I made 2.35 miles with panting, struggling, and a whole lot of blue language.

Here’s the crazy part. At home last night, I was lying on the sofa watching television with my S.O. when out of nowhere I felt a snap in my ankle and then felt a huge rip of pain cut through my foot. I wasn’t even moving – just laying there perfectly still. I immediately grabbed my foot and howled. My S.O. sat there looking stunned. When I finally stopped howling, he asked “What just happened?” but I didn’t have a clue.

I understand that, at my age, things will start falling off of me for no good reason. But this is ridiculous! I was sure that I had to at least be doing something to cause it and I still had a few more years before stuff just fell off spontaneously. Shows what I know.

Giving it further thought, though, the route I took wrapped around the neighborhood in all left turns (I hurt my left ankle). I suppose I was even more out of training than my gasping for air betrayed. That route must have caused uneven strain on that ankle and tired it out. I wrapped my foot and ankle tightly (I used a silk scarf since that’s all I had) to keep it from moving around while I slept. Today, I’ve kept my running shoes on all day to keep my foot stable. And I feel good.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to rethink my commitment to hot yoga. I’m recommitting myself to make running my primary activity and I’ll enjoy yoga as my weekend thing. The Hot Chocolate Run is this fall and right now I’m not in good enough training to make it to the START line. Now I have to figure out how long I’m supposed to rest my ankle before I can start training? It feels okay to run tonight, but there may be rules about this sort of thing that I’m just not aware of?

Forget all of that… I’m so stoked about my Garmin watch I can hardly stand myself!!

Days Spinning By – Literally.

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No yoga or running for me this week. I can’t lie, I did enjoy the break.

I went to the doctor first thing on Monday because I was having frequent dizzy spells. I lost my balance a few times when I was just standing still and suddenly the whole world started spinning around me; and going up and down stairs was terrifying because the stairs kept moving left then right then left again. He said that something happened to my inner ear, probably caused by a cold or allergies that’s messing with my balance. There’s nothing that they can do about it at this point, but let it run its course and they gave me some medicine that’s supposed to decrease the dizziness. I didn’t take any of the medicine last night or at all today and I feel kind of okay. So I think I’m getting better.

Tomorrow morning, though, I’m going for a run. 

I finally threw my money in and registered for the Hot Chocolate Run in November. I made a commitment to my niece, so there was no point in holding off registering any longer. It’s a 15K race, so that’s perfect for me. If the world would just hold still for a minute while I put my running shoes on, I need to be out there training!

 

Running Stoned and a Yoga Chaser

Chicago has been rather cool this summer and I am grateful for that. It’s not been great for wearing shorts and tee shirts, but the running has been magnificent! I do miss Mexico, though. Just sayin’…

My sinuses have been killing me the past couple of days and last night my throat was sore enough that I finally broke down and took a decongestant. I should pause here to explain that I’m not the best for any kind of medicine. Motrin kills my stomach, decongestants make me high as a kite – for days. I only take them at night before bed so I can sleep through the crazy stoned-out feeling and I only take them when I’m really hurting. I was there last night. This morning when I woke up I felt kind of okay after a few cups of coffee and decided to go out and run. Let me tell you, that started out to be a trippy run. At first I was thinking that the world seemed to be going by in slow motion. Then I realized I was just running really, really slowly. I picked up the pace a little bit, but my legs felt super heavy and I was really unsteady. I decided to let myself run in slow motion for a while thinking maybe I’ll sweat out the drugged out feeling if I go for a while.

Color me shocked! I hadn’t run a full mile when I started feeling clear headed again. It was amazing! I don’t think I’ll try that again, though. At least, if I do I’ll ‘mill run so I have something to grab onto when I get wobbly. If things don’t go well I’d rather pass out in the comfort of my own home. It may be horrible of me, but I suspect the majority of my neighbors would let wild dogs eat me if I passed out around here. Given the neighborhood, they would all be tiny, fluffy little cutesy dogs. I’d rather be eaten by a Rottweiler than a Welsh corgi. I’d be embarrassed to admit what happened when I reached the pearly gates, so I’d lie and say it was a big, horrible dog, then I wouldn’t get in ’cause I lied. Okay. Yeah. I’ve thought this through.

But, I digress. I went six miles and felt great at the end. Truly, I felt better at the end of the run than I did went I first headed out the door. The run wasn’t as much of a struggle as I was anticipating given that it’s been about a week since my last good run.

Then I realized that I recently reacquainted myself with a long, lost love – Yoga! I joined CorePower Yoga and it’s been hard and wonderful. It’s been years since I’ve practiced on a regular basis and I don’t know why. I’ve always loved yoga, but I’ve had the hardest time trying to fit it into my busy days. The yoga studio that I’d been going to is a 45 minute drive away, so that makes it something that I can’t just do on a whim. But lately during lunch I’ve been walking by a CorePower Yoga studio about a block from my office and decided to give them a try. I’ve never tried hot yoga before and it was really different. I enjoyed it, though. Tomorrow morning I’m going to check out their hot yoga with weights. I think that I’m going to pull out some of my Rodney Yee videos too and take some time for “pure” yoga. I haven’t used my yoga room (the one that was my son’s bedroom and I painted it purple and turned it into my yoga room after he’d been off to college for a year) in ages. Unfortunately, it’s really become a place to store everything and the whole Zen vibe I was going for is gone. Anyway, I think that my past week of regular yoga has really helped me have a good run today. I’m glad I’m back into it and that I’ve make a commitment to keep it up.

Finally, I’ve also been getting out on my bike. Here’s a picture of the Chicago skyline as seen from the bike path. I typically start on the southernmost tip of the bike path and ride to the museum campus. When I get there I have a hot dog at the aquarium, feed the birds for a little bit, and then head off – either all the way to Lincoln Park or turn around and go home. My S.O. loves this trip and thinks it’s funny that as long as we stop for a hot dog at the aquarium, I’m good to go as far as he wants.

So far, the summer has been a blast! Just watch out for the man-eating corgis.

Ridiculous motivation, but I’ll take it. Ugh!

I’ve been lazy. Seriously. My first mind was to write about how all of the responsibilities that I have on my plate right now has overwhelmed me and prevented me from getting out and running. But I followed that thought carefully and realized what a big, fat, hairy, slap-me-till-I’m-blue lie that was. Nope. I’ve just been lazy. Each morning when it’s time to put on my shoes and get out there I just go, “nah” and find something else “more important” to do.

Today I got up and out and did my unique combination of run/walk/crawl/cuss like a sailor for an hour. It’s funny how the realization feels new every time – I always feel better after I run. I’ve said and written it a million times over and still it surprises me. Although, I would like to point out to whomever it is that creates the rules of motivation that it would be so much more useful before the run than it is after. Just a thought as you contemplate human beings’ next evolution.

Chicago has been so humid the past few days. Not really warm, just wet. Wednesday it was in the form of a fog that was so thick and wet, that my glasses got teeny tiny little droplets of moisture on them when I walked through it. This morning, although still a pleasant running temperature, the air had the thickness that it usually gets right before a really hard rain. Breathing was a little bit more challenging, but not enough to feel discouraging.

I decided to just run the border that encircles my neighborhood. I was surprised that there were so many people out and working diligently in their yards. After about three quarters of a mile I passed the big neighborhood garden on the northeast corner. A lady in the garden stopped me. She first said that she assumes that running makes me nice and strong. I agreed. She smiled and said, “Good! Will you carry this box to the back of the garden for me?” and she pointed to this huge, long box that contained a big event tent. It was heavy, but she was about 20 or so years older than me, and even at my age I’m not in the habit of disobeying my “elders” nor did I want to leave her to do it on her own. As I placed it in a clearing in the back I realized that today was the big neighborhood garden walk. I’ve told you before that my neighbor’s take their gardening seriously. They really, really do. I didn’t realize the garden walk was this weekend and I haven’t been out recently to clean up my garden and have it presentable for today’s walk. Ooops. My bad. I’ll do better next year.

That’s when I discovered a new, ridiculous, motivation. As I stood in the clearing of the garden listening to the lady discuss the improvements the garden club is planning for next year, I was attacked by millions of hungry mosquitos. I waived and slapped, trying to be very casual and pay attention to what she was saying, but they were loving my sweaty deliciousness and ate me up. So I quickly said good luck and took off running again. Some of those little a**holes followed me, and every time I stopped for a walk break they went at me again. My walk breaks were few and quick for the remainder of my run. Even as I felt the fatigue start up in my legs, the thought of getting eaten up alive kept me moving. I suppose I should thank them for the push. Instead, I’ll just make a mental note to wear obnoxious amounts of repellant on my next run.

When consistency is lacking

Saw on another post and died laughing!

I was really excited to have finished two five mile runs with no pain in my foot. Just as I declared my foot healed and registered for the Chicago Half, I came down with the flu. I was down for two weeks and just a miserable mess. But, now that I’m well again, getting back into running has been just plain hard. When I don’t run my energy plummets. When I’m low on energy it’s a struggle to get up and run. Mostly, I get out on easy Saturday or Sunday mornings when I can tell myself that I can take a nap right after I run. But then I don’t run again until the next weekend.

Only one run a week is not going to get me in the shape that I’ll need to be in to run a half marathon. Consistency is definitely a challenge for me. I just signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15K with my niece (November 9th). I’ve never had a running buddy before, and I’m hoping that this added “pressure” will be the kick in the pants that I need to get my little self in gear.  I only need to get back into my morning runs and then I’ll be fine. When I start, it only takes one run and I’m hooked.

High heels and flowers.

I’ve only run outside a few times since the 10 miler and each time that pain in my right arch comes back. Each time I let my foot rest for a week and try again. So that’s been kind of annoying. I know this isn’t plantars fasciitis because I’ve had that before and I know that just stretching my foot before I get up after not walking for a while prevents the pain. Also, walking for a bit makes it feel better. This is just the opposite, stretching first doesn’t do a damned bit of good and it feels fine after not walking for a while and hurts more as I walk more. So I don’t know what the heck is up.

The ultimate relief for the pain winds up being high heels. The morning after another run while my arch was really sore there was a big meeting at our office I decided to just deal with the pain for the duration of the meeting and wear heels. I was mentally prepared for a really bad pain day. As it turns out, just a few minutes in those heels and my foot felt much better. Moreover, I wore the heels all day long and my foot felt progressively better and better as the day wore on. If that weren’t counterintuitive enough, my foot didn’t hurt at all the next day, or the day after that. I thought whatever was going on was all fine and I tried running outside again. The pain came right back. But again, I went to work and wore the same pumps for the day. And again, my foot felt much better and the pain didn’t come back.

So I stopped running outdoors and stuck with the treadmill for slow and easy 30 minute runs. So far so good. The pain hasn’t come back.

Another big distraction has been the weather. We’ve had a couple of really nice days between the cold and the rain. It only takes a few nice days of the season before I start hearing the siren calls of my garden singing sweet songs of playing in dirt and planting flowers. So I’ve been spending much of my free running time with my garden. This year I added double red Columbine, Lemon Thyme, Catmint, Candy Mint, Orange Mint, and Ginger Mint.

I planted the Catmint for a very specific purpose. I had Catmint in the back yard for years and finally pulled it all up and got rid of it because it attracted all of the neighborhood feral cats. When it was at its peak, at the end of June and beginning of July the cats would gather for a few days and have a big cat orgy in the back yard. All night, every night for these few days I wouldn’t be able to sleep for all of the kitty cat yowling all night long, followed by stoned out kitties lazing around in the backyard all the next day. I’m sure all of the neighborhood feral cats were conceived in my back yard. It was like I was running a kitty cat opium den in my back yard. So, the Catmint had to go. This spring, however, as they continue the cleanup of the house next door where a little old lady lived who they discovered was a hoarder in the truest television series sense of the word, I discovered a hole dug up right next to my house. It was too small to be from a raccoon or opossum and too large to be a mouse (do mice dig holes??) so I assumed it must be a rat. Last year, while sitting on the steps of my back porch just looking around my yard I saw a rat walk right from her house, across her yard and into the alley. That freaked me out and I bought a dozen packages of those rat poison squares and threw them all over the place. The following weekend I saw that something must have found those things super yummy and ate them all up. Every single one! But there wasn’t a dead anything anywhere. So, when I saw the hole this spring I figured the only thing that I can do to is politely ask the feral cats to come back and enjoy the hedonist pleasures of my backyard again. I bought four big Catmint plants to put back in the yard. Of course, I just learned yesterday that it’s not an animal hole at all, but I need to replace a water pipe. Ugh. I’m keeping the Catmint. I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll take a few sleepless nights of kitty cat passion yowls over a rat any day.

Now that my garden is all set, I’m going to go outside this morning and run. I still don’t know what’s up with my foot so I’ll keep taking it slow and easy. If it does start hurting again, I’ll put my high heels back on and then stick to the treadmill for another week. I mean, my foot has to get better one day. The Chicago Half is coming in September and I would really love to run it. I’m just not going to register for it until I can run six or seven miles on solid ground without my arch swelling up and hurting.

Race, relax, repeat!!!

puerto vallarta sign

I’ll give you ONE guess as to why I haven’t written anything since the Lakefront 10-Miler. Hint: the fact that I’m a slacker, while true, is NOT the reason! Well, sort of.

During the course of this year’s visit from the Polar Vortex, my sister and I planned a Mexico vacation for right after the race. What a perfect time to relax and reset! The weather was 85 degrees and sunny every day that we were there. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort and the food was phenomenal! The end of this winter and this spring have been particularly harsh and a vacation in Puerto Vallarta was the perfect cure.

I did not run while I was there – I only ate, shopped, swam, and sunbathms_parasailinged. I did talk my sister into parasailing – let me tell you, I did not expect to succeed in that. But, as you can see, she (literally) rose to the occasion! I was trying to vacation on the cheap this year, so, since I’ve been parasailing before I didn’t spend the $60 this year to do it again. Although, I plan to be better prepared the next time we go vacationing so I don’t have to worry about being so careful with money.

view from room

The final vacation pic I’m going to subject you to is the view from our room. I have to admit every morning I thought about how wonderful it would be to run down that beach. What stopped me? I didn’t want to get sand in my gym shoes. I know that sounds stupid, but it seems like it would be horrible trying to get all of the sand out. Of course, during this vacation I walked around enough to feel comfortable with the lay of the land. So when we go back (we’ve already started talking about it and making plans) I won’t be afraid of getting lost if I run on the road.

Now, my mind is firmly focused on the Chicago Half in September. I have a good amount of time to train and I’m dying to do it. I’ve raced then relaxed – time to get back to the training. I am so stoked it’s crazy!!