Monday, June 20, 2011

On the Road Again

Hey Justine, I am loving this easy warm up.
Since you last heard from your intrepid reporter (are there any other kinds of reporters? I wonder), she has started running again.


Yipppeee. Last week I put on my sexy Newtons and headed out for a mile. I felt sleek and fast in those things and without a Garmin there was nothing to interfere with my fantasy of having Kara Goucher next to  me, pony tail bouncing as we warmed up with a 7  minute mile, discussed her new baby, Cole and our chances of winning Boston next year.  I concentrated on Kara as I ignored  my right foot rolling in and my lower calf nudging the edge of consciousness.

That night, oh geez, my knees were killing me.

I iced.

I stared at my Newtons accusingly. 

Next day: OFF.

Next, next day: ON. I put on my good ‘ol built up Nike’s and headed out for another mile. This time no pronation, no calf murmurings and, sadly, no Kara. Sigh. My legs felt good, but far from fast and sleek. Again, I didn’t need a Garmin to tell me I was running slowly enough that Kara had passed me by so quickly she was but a blur.  That night, my knees were fine. No ice, no craving Advil. I cuddled my Nike's and whispered that I had always loved them best.

Next day: OFF.

Next, next day: time to bump it up a notch: TWO miles, baby.

I was nervous but ready...wait, it’s 89 degrees at 6 o’clock?  Seriously? We’ve had no heat this summer and now it’s smoldering. I did what any smart person would do when presented with this temperature change and napped. I woke at 7 feeling rested and apprehensive. Finally, at 8 I headed out. The heat was radiating off the sidewalk but I was running. It’s probably been a year since I ran in any kind of heat at all, so it wasn’t pretty. My asthma kicked in, my mouth was dry, my heart was pounding, my feet were…… WALKING after the first half mile. Ack. I berated myself for not running the whole measly 2 miles.  Then I ran the last mile without stopping and kept reminding myself I’d been missing this. Or not.

In other news, I lost two toenails last week. I have not been running, and yet I get to experience losing toenails due to running. The world is so unfair. Some ultra runner had his toenails burned off with acid, and sadly, I can relate. My best toenail times are right after they come off and there is no nail. If they didn’t grow back in, I’d start putting polish on the skin right there and continue wearing open toed shoes. Looking at that photo you might cringe to think of me in open toed shoes. I know I am. For goodness sake. I've got to get ahold of some nail polish remover asap.

My newest toenail. So sweet.
So, there you have it, I’ve been running a mile or two every other day, on 8 toenails and two nascent nails. The weather has cooled. I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual 5-6 mile runs with my BRB (best running buddy) Charissa. 

As I run now it is amazing how my mind takes off without me. Half my mind is busy congratulating my speedy performance and plotting a redemption trail run wherein I return to Oakland, the scene of my last half marathon debacle and this time actually run most of the course. The logical, reasonable side of my brain is laughing manically at this plot but the other side is thinking, heck you’ve got nothing planned this Saturday, let’s go for a drive, let’s just explore the trail, let’s see what happens.

I’m thinking I need to plot out a training plan to get my mileage back up and then go for a drive, see what happens.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trail Running Wisdom

Even though I am not currently running trails <sobs> I do still have loads of accumulated trail running wisdom. Oh, yes I do. Wisdom earned the old fashioned way, which is by traumatic experience, rather than the new fashioned way of surfing the internet and watching videos on you tube. Actually, I surfed the internet for trail running help; I just managed to still make plenty of mistakes, because I'm a life long learner.

Rancho San Antonio
And with that, I present to you the fruits of my learning curve, in the order I plucked them, because I’m fun that way. 

I learned my first lesson early on, while I was running the gateway trails of Rancho San Antonio. At the top of your first hill of the day, pause a moment to bend over and kiss your quads goodbye, move your foot all the way back in your shoe and retie your laces extra tightly. I don’t care if you like them somewhat loose or if they are perfect the way they are (at least, that’s what he said, laughing hysterically). Retie. Make them tight.  As you run downhill you will find those laces loosened up somewhat. You will also find your toes do not go slamming into the front of your shoes, thus saving you painful toenails all day and into the night.  My first few times running trails I did not do this. I was bent over breathing like a buffalo, trying to stuff my lungs back into my chest and yet I could not take a moment to retire my shoes?  Apparently, my shoes were fiiine. Loser. <shakes head>  I remember one night when the pressure of the bed sheet on my toenails was agonizing. Learn from my painful, missing toenails my little wanna be trail runner. Retie those shoes and you'll sleep better that night.  It really does make a huge difference.

Lake Chabot, visor-less
Next up. Wear a visor (if you run hot, like me) or a cap (if you run cold or don’t have a lot of hair to protect your delicate scalp), regardless of the weather. For my first long trail run (Lake Chabot, 17 miles) I made a conscious decision to leave my cap in the car because it was a solidly overcast day and I didn’t want that sweaty thing on my forehead for hours on end . Well. Two hours later, I was on a ridge (ridges are often where your trail running will lead), running without tree cover beneath a mostly sunny sky without a cap or sunscreen. I would have been better just wearing the cap. If it rains, the wet is kept somewhat from your face and if it suns, you have a little portable shade. I never ran without a cap again, except once, in the rain, when I lost it (the visor that is).

Bring a bag for your shoes after the run. Do this every time, even if it has been dry because you never know how wrecked your shoes will be, sometimes from dust, sometimes from water. The first time I ran through a surprise muddy spot I had not thought of bringing a bag, my shoes were a mess and I LOVE MY CLEAN CAR. I survived to bring a bag the next time, but i was not happy. Sadly, the next week I didn’t bring a pair of shoes to slip into, which resulted in me walking into Peet’s barefoot. Not ideal.  No need to learn a new lesson two weeks in a row, just bring a bag and pair of flip flops, every time you run trails. Don’t question me on this. Seriously.
Sometimes your shoes will look like this.

And sometimes they will look like this.
And last for today (more trail running wisdom to come, don’t you worry), bring a long sleeve shirt unless it's summer, and then bring some arm warmers. On the street I am famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for my love of running naked. I get wicked hot running asphalt. And, NO, I’m not really naked, naked, but I whip off my shirt and run in the cool of my sports bra all the time. Have you seen swimsuits lately? My sports bra is downright matronly compared to what you see at our local beach. So, avert your delicate eyes and get the heck over it.
I haven't been to this camp. Yet.

On the trail, I inexplicably find myself shivering. There’s the elevation, the tree cover, the wind when I am above the tree level and the fact that I’m out there for a lot longer. Suddenly, Little Ms. Sports Bra is shivering in her short sleeve shirt, especially on the downhill...running downhill, my heart rate drops, all the sweat I generated running up that hill starts cooling me off and BAM my teeth are chattering.

I hate getting cold, so it didn’t take me long to start bringing a long sleeve shirt. I’d take it off while I climbed and put it on when I had a long descent and rolling terrain. If I wore that long sleeve over a layer I made my base layer a tank with wide scooped neckline so that my chest could let off steam, because I was still nervous of overheating.  I was surprised to find that I rarely took that long sleeve shirt off for long, but then none of my shirts are especially heavy. In the summer, I pack arm warmers, because I never know when I'm gonna zip right when I'm supposed to zag left, and, well, end up running a tad bit longer than I thought because I'm lost on an adventure in the woods.
At the top the views are gorgeous.

These are all pretty basic trail running thoughts and yet, in the beginning I didn't retie my shoes, didn't wear a visor, didn't bring a bag, and didn't wear a long sleeve shirt. I was a lot happier when I started doing all these things without fail. Don't over think it, just do it.