Friday, September 24, 2010

50 States Ride Tomorrow!

Just in case you didn't know, the 50 States Ride, it takes place tomorrow.  

The route covers each state named street through all 8 wards and 60 miles at a casual pace with a couple pit stops, lunch at Eastern Market, and drink specials at The Grill from Ipanema.

Check it out!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Packing Up!

I'm getting ready to head down to Virginia Beach for the Sandman Sprint! A girlfriend and I signed up for this as the perfect end of summer beach weekend. It's enough of a goal to keep us moving, but not something so extensive to stress over. Also, where better to end a race then on the beach? (Typical Florida girl!) September is also the perfect time of year for such an excursion: the tourists have all gone home, fall responsibilities haven't gotten too out of hand (Labor Day wasn't THAT long ago), and the weather is cool enough for race day with enough sun for beach time. It's truly the best of both worlds!

Though I'm very happy with my running lately, I have to admit my biking and swimming have fallen short. This is just another testament to workout buddies. With the girls I run with, one of us will always pick a route and time and all I need to do is show up (which is expected). With the swim and bike, I have to either find a partner for each outing, plan a workout, and/or get down to the gym for a class. Not that any of these options are tremendously difficult, just rather that they are up to me to execute. This will be an experiment to see just how much muscle memory can come into play come race day.

One last minute note included in a recent email that gave me pause:
"We know that Hurricane Igor is out in the Atlantic.  The current weather forecast is for sunny skies and a high temperature of 80 degrees.  The storm has the potential to cause rough surf.  No determination concerning altering or canceling the swim will be made until race morning." Yea... we'll have to wait and see how that goes.

Time to review my check list, pack up the car, and get ready for the fun weekend ahead!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review - "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall

At the beginning of tri training, back in March, one of my running coaches sent out her weekly email discussing our runs for the week and what to expect, but in this one she also included the following quote:

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

She had just begun reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and was raving about it. She wanted us to get as inspired as she was. The difference was she was a marathon runner who had already bought into the theory of enjoying to run ages ago, while we were newbies wondering if you could die from running 3 miles. So my first thought was more along the lines of "well if something was chasing me I might actually finish one of these crazy runs!" But extra motivation couldn't hurt so I downloaded the digital version and added it to the library on my e-reader... and there is sat. Life was moving fast between work, masters applications and tri training, so my to-do reading list was not necessarily at the forefront of my mind. Then when I took off on my recent adventure I was looking through my digital library to find something to distract me on my first 13 hour flight, and there it was.

Recently I found my reading juggling back and forth between fiction (ex: The Life of Pi Yann Martel) and fact (ex: The Paradox of Plenty Douglas Boucher). One thing I loved about Born to Run was the balance between science and storyline... I got the best of both worlds! It was like a recipe with a sprig of anthropology, a dash of biology/genetics, a dollop of adventure, and topped off with comedy and life. On top of everything else, it inspired.

Review by Washington Post

Monday, September 13, 2010

The "M" Word

I have been asked to do a marathon. Me… the girl who 6 months ago almost fainted at the thought of completing a 4 mile jog. I guess this is the same mentality that makes me deny the fact that I’m a “runner.” I mean what constitutes a “runner” anyway. Well, that’s for a later post. It’s not like I have not been approached with the idea before. I have several friends who are runners and swear that completing a marathon is one of life’s greatest achievements. I’ve just never had the desire. The triathlon, though it scared me to death, also had an intriguing factor. There were new sports to be learned, and different ways of training and types of equipment. I mean look at this blog! It literally kept me on my toes. A marathon just has always seemed so… well, boring. You’re doing one thing… running. You’re training is just… running. There really aren’t any fun gadgets or techniques. You are just putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over again. As the last year of change has proven, I don’t seem to do well with monotony. So have I now somehow been wooed over to the dark side? Not sure yet.
Let’s just say that there have been many new positives to the situation that have recently revealed themselves. For one thing, my mentality towards this type of challenge has changed. Thanks to the triathlon, I don’t seem to question “Can I do something” anymore but instead “How do I do this” or “Do I want to do this.” The triathlon, to me, represented something that I considered impossible to accomplish. Now I feel like that word “impossible” has been erased from my vocabulary. In my mind I’ve done the impossible.
Another recent epiphany is that, without trying to or planning to, I’m already a quarter, if not a third, of the way there. I am now regularly running 8 miles. I recently had this conversation with one of the girls I run with who agrees that we have no idea how we got here. Obviously we “know” how we got here, but meaning this was not planned, or a goal. It just happened organically. I’m by no means implying that going from 8 miles to 26.2 will be anywhere close to as easy, but by realizing how far I’ve come in respect of running as a whole, a new world of possibilities has recently opened up before me that I truly never thought possible.
One of the greatest encouragements is that my best friend/tri training partner has recently had a similar breakthrough. After being asked to join, I went to him with this idea for some constructive feedback. He was, as usual, completely supportive and the one who brought up most of the pros already mentioned, but did not show any particular interest in joining me on this expedition. Then this morning, it just happened for him. He had a breakthrough 9 mile run and was tantalized by the same concept completing the triathlon gave me… “I can totally do this!” Knowing that I not only would have a training partner, but specifically the one who went through this last taxing journey with me, start to finish (literally), and all that it entailed, is invaluable.
There is also the point of view, turning a con into a pro, that doing a marathon would be something totally out of the ordinary for me, hence the opposite of monotony, and yet another check off the old bucket list.
This does not mean that I have not, and am not, still considering my list of apprehensions. For one, my knees have always been the first to revolt in the face of endurance, and out of the three sports I’ve trained in this year, running is definitely the knees arch nemesis. I would have to be uber cautious and proactive in training and strengthening to prevent injury. There is also the time commitment. I have a better idea of what I’m up against after my tri training, but at the same time, it has been nice getting my social life back. Am I ready to place it on the back burner again for another 6 months? And will running be enough to keep me entertained? I know that the second I lose interest or enthusiasm for such a goal, the chances of my accomplishing said goal diminishes significantly.
What needs to happen, what always happens at this stage of my decision making process, is research. I will now proceed to bombard myself with marathon facts and statistics until I’m blue in the face and cannot take anymore. At that point, the decision will be made.
Oh, and did I mention this marathon will be taking place in Rome?! Who says “no” to Rome?
Off to the bookstore!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Leave your watch behind...

It’s become way too common for us to get caught up in the pace. We are so focused on our speed, time, and distance that it is all too easy to forget to actually enjoy running. I know I’ve never been a huge advocate of the joy of running and usually look at it more as a dreaded school paper that I know I’ll leave for Sunday night to write, but turns out, if you leave all the pressures of performance behind, you might actually find yourself having… dare I say… fun.  
This beautiful Saturday morning I rolled out of bed, laced up my shoes and headed out. First of all, I almost never run without someone else. Without someone to talk to, how do you pass the time? Yes, I’m that chatty runner. Second, for the first time this year, I didn’t map out a route and calculate a distance/time goal. I just followed wherever my feet wanted to take me: Rock Creek down to the riverside, across to Virginia and back and then to explore the set up for tomorrow’s Nation’s Triathlon. I bumped into my running coach and stopped for some scenic stretching on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I didn’t focus on my speed and made sure to stop at my favorite cafĂ© for a latte before heading home. Sure training goals are important, but some days you just need a break!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Runner's Toe

Last week I was so swept up in the fact that I kept up and cranked out 15 miles in 2 days after my vacation that I didn't stop and consider the possible side effects. After the longer runs it's not unusual for one or both of my knees to be slightly sore for a day or two. But after Thursday's run not only was my right knee pretty tender, my right big toe nail felt slightly bruised as well. I shook it off and assumed the weekend would put me right.

When Sunday's usual yoga and brunch date with the girls came around I barely noticed that I was still feeling that weeks running endeavors. Until I was in a full front bend, staring at my toes and noticed that my right big toe nail was raised compared with my left. At closer inspection I confirmed that my right big toe nail was actually lifting off of the nail bed. Gross! Left alone it had no discomfort, but when touched it felt like I was poking a dark bruise, though the coloring and everything else visually looked normal. I figured I hadn't run since Thursday and I wasn't planning on heading out again till Tuesday, so as long as I made sure Tuesday's run was a bit more conservative, I would be giving my toe ample healing time. Nothing seemed to change between Sunday and Tuesday morning, so I kept my plans for a short 3 miler. I wrapped my toe in gauss to offer some cushion and headed out. Everything felt fine for the first mile but then suddenly it just started throbbing. Once I hobbled my way home I saw that not only had the area underneath and around the nail bed swollen up, but for the first time there was discoloration. My toenail was officially turning purple. Awesome.

My solution? To do what any other straight thinking person this day and age would do... I went online. What I found was that this was common and referred to as runner's toe. Good news right? Sure... except for every article I found said that if you felt like there was pressure (hello, it felt like my toe was a balloon being filled with water) you needed to release the pressure to relieve the pain and avoid infection. Suddenly thoughts of prehistoric techniques for headaches like drilling holes into ones temple ran through my head... and I wasn't far off base. Each of these articles described how to do this "procedure" at home. Since I doubt you'd believe my description of these torture methods, I've listed some of my sources below. Basically they were advising me to take a paperclip, sterilize it under a lighter flame until red hot, and then place it on the area of the nail where the discoloration is. This will immediately melt the nail leaving behind a hole where the fluid can escape. If you’re “lucky” and the fluid is located more on the edge of your toe nail, you can instead use a needle which you will stick in the delicate skin around or underneath your toe nail to give the fluid a way out. I’m sorry but isn’t sticking bamboo shoots under ones nails considered torture?!
Full disclosure: when it comes to medical procedures, I am a complete and total wimp. So there was no doubt in my mind that these “at home remedies” were not an option. Instead I called up a Podiatrist, who couldn’t see me for another 2 days, but told me until then soak my toe in warm water and Epsom Salt for 20 minutes twice a day and then bandage with neosporin. Like a good patient, I followed the doctor’s orders, and also didn’t attempt to run, bike, swim or even put on a closed toe shoe. By the time my appointment came around, the swelling had completely gone away, and all that was left was the purple discoloration. What needed to be done was basically what all my research had told me… it needed to be drained. At least a professional was doing it. The doctor pulled out a drill that had a rounded sandpaper head and started to work. He slowly sanded down the purple section of my toenail until it was paper thin, and then with a tiny tap of the drill head the nail cracked and the toe started to drain. With a Philips screwdriver looking scalpel, he assisted in making the crack a bit larger and then massaged my toe to make sure all that needed to be drained was removed. As mortifying as the procedure looked, it was surprisingly pain free. I mean, it was tender and I didn’t really want to look at the deformity that had become my big toe, but all around not as bad as I expected.
Even though the pain from the pressure build up was gone, I still had to wait four days until my toenail was healed enough to feel comfortable back in my sneakers. I ran 3.5 miles and so far so good. Now to play catch up… again…

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Keeping Up

One negative of not running alone, and having become dependent on my running girls is that I cannot always set the pace, distance, etc. So even though I've been out of commission for 3 weeks doesn't mean they have. In fact, they have been really pushing it and upping their distance, which is great, except it makes playing catch up a bit more intimidating. Tuesday they planned on revving it up with our favorite 8 miles down across the Potomac, around Roosevelt Island, and back over Memorial Bridge.

View Interactive Map on

I agreed to go along, but figuring I'd turn around 1/3 of the way in. Instead, I only cramped up once and, though there was plenty of huffing and puffing, end up plowing through the whole thing. Needless to say I was surprised.

I was promised a shorter run for Thursday, since I expected to really feel those 8 miles in the form of seriously achy calves. It was technically shorter, though not as much as I expected. We ended up doing a 7 mile run which included Massachusetts Hill and trail running through Georgetown.

View Interactive Map on

Not only was I not in as much pain as I thought I'd be considering Tuesday's 8 miler, but again, I kept pace as if I'd only been gone for a week rather then almost a month! It shocked me just how fast your body can bounce back and the amount of muscle memory you obtain. Moral of this story, don't take it easy because you think you can't.