Friday, 29 February 2008

The Double D Review: Foam Roller

I think I'm the last runner on earth to get wise to the wisdom of the foam roller. I was always kind of intimidated by them since I had no idea what to do with them. It's not like a weight machine or treadmill where the thing to do can be relatively easily inferred from the structure of the thing. I kept reading all these people raving about them, but I didn't want to buy things. But I've been so sore lately, especially after the 11 miles that ended with me limping the last 2 block home, that I haven't run this week at all. With a marathon 8 weeks away as of Sunday, now is not the time to fall off the wagon. So on Tuesday, I went for it, and ordered one. It arrived yesterday (!) and I rolled basically my whole body last night. Afterwards, for the first time in 2 weeks, I didn't hurt. I wasn't walking around looking for something to stretch myself against. My only complaint is that the exercises and how-to guide that came with this one weren't extensive, but a friend is a personal trainer in the States and gave me a link to some more detailed instructions which I'll be using this weekend after I start running again!
Pros: Worked out all the crap in my muscles to let me back on the roads
Cons: Kind of unweildy piece of equipment to have lying around
Double D Review Product Rating: 2 cups

Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Double D Review: Bendon Sport Max Out Sport Bra

I am what they call a "well-endowed woman." I don't run without at least one, sometimes 2, sports bras. These are not those cute, multicolored things you see super fit women in the gym running in with no top on. These are industrial strength, Grandma-style, major squasher over-the-shoulder boulder holders. Needless to say, I take my sports bras very seriously.
When I was packing for this trip, I sadly discovered that only my least favorite sports bra was clean. I have 2 of these, and for whatever reason one fits better than the other, so there's always the chafing one that sits around for desperate times. I often will wear it on a short run, but I'll wait 2 hours for a clean one before wearing it on a long run - normally. But I didn't really have that luxury since I was on my way out the door, so I'd resigned myself to major chafage and made sure the Body Glide was in the bag.

I stopped at City Sports (big sale!) to check out the running shoes, and I did something I never do - I bought a sports bra off the rack - no trying it on, no ordering from an internet site with bra support ratings, nothing. And I fell in love.

The new object of my affection is the Bendon Sport Max Out Sport Bra. ($55 - when you're built like me, you pay for quality. No $10 Target specials here.) It's got a racer back, with hooks below. This makes it a bit tricky to put on (and take off), and when I first put it on I thought I'd made a huge error - it was tight and there was no way I was going to get it over the boys, I thought. But once strapped in, it was seriously the most comfortable bra ever. About 5 miles into the run, I started feeling like it had come unhooked in the back, but the racer back was still holding things in. Turns out I should have hooked it a little tighter, was all - as I was moving it just wasn't against my back any more. But because of this, it started to slide down my rib cage a bit - there's a pretty good gouge in the shape of the underwire on one side. I'm pretty sure that's my fault, though. When I got home, I had a bit of a struggle getting the now soaking wet bra off due to the racer back, but my back doesn't hurt, my breasts don't ache, and I'm totally planning to add this to my rotation.

Pros: Available in a store! Great support. Racer back design will be great in summer. Wicking.
Cons: Difficult to put on/take off. If you don't get it hooked exactly right, slippage leading to chafage. Not cheap.
Double D ReviewSM Rating: 1 1/2 cups.

Update: If you've found this post via search engine, be sure to check out my updated review of this bra post-marathon.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Week 7, Day 4: The best laid plans...

I planned to run 12 or so miles yesterday, but thanks to the suprise extra snow that started falling at 2am Thursday/Friday and didn't stop until around 5pm Friday, I bagged that plan in favor of a (hopefully) less snowy Saturday. When I went to buy new running shoes, there was a sale on hats and gloves, so I grabbed some. Saturday arrived clear and chilly. I pulled my running clothes out of my suitcase and discovered I'd only brought capri pants. Definitely glad I had my new hat and gloves. Then I discovered that Big G was out of batteries (again! Didn't I just charge it?) - this has got to stop. Luckily, NYC is kind of my home turf, so I have a pretty good idea how far things are and I'm not concerned about getting lost. Off into the cold go I. Big thank you to the folks from NYC Parks who, with 2 notable exceptions, had the East River Path completely clear. It took me a few miles to warm up, but after a while I relaxed into it and got into something of a groove. Around 30th St, I found myself 6 inches deep in icy water, and facing a dead end that meant I had to backtrack through the icy water. I forgot that the path goes up 1st Avenue here. I was feeling pretty good, running 4 songs and walking 1, though after about 1 minute I felt ready to run again - but I enforced the loger walk to ensure I'd make it through the whole run. While running up 1st Ave, I found myself behind a couple of cuties and I have to admit I sped up a bit to not get dusted by them, especially as we got back onto the path. They turned around at 79th, and I was on my own again. At 85th, the Parks Department fell down on the job again, and I was in the cold water again. Luckily the socks I was wearing were pretty wicking, and my feet didn't stay wet for long. Around here there was also a big hill, where the kids were all out sledding - pretty cute. I had intented to run to 120th, but at 96th my right IT band was starting to hurt, so I turned around and retraced my steps to my friend's apartment. Total distance: 10.7 miles. I can't wait to get back to London where it doesn't snow, and my sweetie is, and I can run with some regularity.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A pause to get my bearings

We went to Paris last weekend to meet some friends. I got up on Saturday morning intending to run 12 miles on the Champs-Elysees and next to the Seine. I've never been to Paris before, but I had my handy tracking device with me and thought I would be fine. But Meg rolled over and expressed concern for me and her fear that I would get lost, and that's a really hard thing to argue against considering my track record. So, off to the fitness centre. I really don't like the treadmill anymore, and this fitness centre wasn't great - no TVs, and the treadmill was facing a huge mirror, so I was looking at the prospect of 12 miles with nothing except my increasingly sweaty face and body to look at. After a half hour, I'd had enough. I slipped over to the bike and did another half hour, and called it a day. We walked and walked all over Paris, and I managed to come home without gaining weight, I think, so I'll call that one a draw. This week I've been traveling like a crazy person and completely exhausted, so much so that I'm having trouble remembering where I am and what day it is, so I have not been running at all. I'm off to NY for a short visit tonight, and since I have no real plans I'm going to run 12 miles tomorrow and a short run on Sunday before I come home, and get back on track next week.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Week 7, Day 3: Mama said there'd be days like this

Forgot to charge Big G. Got the "battery low" beep as I headed out. Looked down when I went to cross the street and it had turned off. (That's one of my biggest gripes - there's basically no warning between low battery and no battery...Garmin, are you listening?) OK, whatever, just run. Think maybe I've turned down the wrong street and won't be getting to the park I'm aiming at, so turn up a decent looking street. Check out my location on a bus map, discover my north/south has gotten screwed up but I'm still headed in the right direction. Turn towards home. Come upstairs. Check out the map. Discover I was actually almost to the park when I turned. Calculate that I cheated myself (AGAIN!) out of my total distance. In the end, though, it's what you do every day that matters, not what you do on any one day. I am a marathoner. 3.5 miles, unknown time.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Week 7, Day 2: I is for Intervals.

I should have run this morning in Switzerland, but I took advantage of having a late meeting and no dog to walk and slept in. So instead, I ran laps in the park when I got home tonight. 1 mile warmup, then half/quarter mile intervals with quarter mile recoveries for 4 miles. Then I planned to do 1 mile to finish, but I ran into Meg in the park and since I hadn't seen her since yesterday morning I decided to stop and go home with her. 5.2 miles, 1:01:25.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Week 7, Day 1: I can't believe I've gotten this far!

Out in the grey London morning for an easy 4 miles. Yesterday's rest day did me lots of good, and I felt great today. 4 miles, 44:54.

How I wish I could go back and talk to my 18-year-old self and tell her, convince her, that she's fit and running is fun anyway. Somewhere around then I decided that if I couldn't be a size 2, I'd just do nothing. And now I'm paying for it. I miss the days when I could run 5 miles in under 35 minutes. I'll get back there someday, I hope. When I was a kid, I started playing volleyball. I was terrible, but over time I got better. My coach said to me, "No one told you you weren't an athlete, so you became one." I know she meant well, but I took it totally wrong and became convinced I wasn't an athlete. It took me until I was out of college to think about myself as an athlete again, even though I played volleyball, swam, ran in high school, ran/swim a little in my first year of college before I had my do nothing revelation, played rugby from college through graduate school. Only when I started playing rugby well did I learn to think about myself as an athlete again.

Shameless plug: One of my coworkers is running the London Marathon to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association. I believe she's got a family member with a spinal injury. If you're interested in sponsoring her, I know she'd be thrilled.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Week 6, Day 4: n of 1 learns what doesn't work

I had a rough time getting up this morning. Might have had something to do with the 5 glasses of wine I drank last night. Then I got out there, and my legs absolutely felt like lead. Could be that running at 5 yesterday, going out for dinner and drinks until 1am, then getting up at 9 to run for the third day in a row doesn't agree with me. I'm also not sure that the audiobook is working for me as well as it used to - I was kinda bored! I kept tripping over rises in the sidewalk when I didn't pick my feet up enough, and may have twisted an ankle or something - it really hurts now. And I still feel like lead several hours later. I ran through east London, up the marshes, then as I was turning toward home wishing I was more than 6 miles in, I came across the Blackhorse Road tube station on the Victoria line, which conveniently goes to my stop. So, despite the fact that there won't be a Blackhorse Road on my marathon, I hopped on the tube and came home.

I am traveling for work this week and will be in Switzerland on Wednesday morning. I had been thinking about running on Monday and Tuesday and taking Wednesday off, but honestly, I think I need the day off more tomorrow and I'll just bring my shoes with me.

6.3 miles, 1:18:00 (I think - need to confirm the time but I'm too lazy to go look at my watch right now).

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Week 6, Day 3: Saturday night on the roads

I live an exciting life, clearly, when Saturday night at 6 finds me running up the "hip" street in my neighborhood instead of visiting the bars on said hip street. (Full disclosure - I'm going to go out for wine shortly.) But I really wanted to run and get back on schedule. I've got something of a superstition about filling every box in the book's journal to prepare for the marathon. I don't know why, and I know it's irrational.

After yesterday, I decided to pick up the pace a bit on this "easy" run. Which was good, but then I got it into my head that I should always be under 11 min/mile, so I welcomed the opportunity to catch my breath every time I crossed the street. I'm looking forward to next week when I can try to do this run more smoothly.

4.5 miles, 49:14.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Week 6, Day 2: N is for negative splits (again!)

OK, I'm back. I don't know what was up on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tuesday I decided in advance I wasn't going to run, so that's ok. But Wednesday and Thursday? No excuse. Just sleepy. Anyway. As promised, I'm repeating the "negative splits" workout. I really struggled with the pacing of this. The first mile was pretty right-on the desired 12 min/mile. The second mile was just under that. The third mile was higher, but there's a huge hill in the first half of this mile on this route (I walked up about a quarter-mile worth) so I was working harder even though I was slower, so that's ok. The fourth mile was down in the low 11s, and the last one was in the mid 10s. (I'll be more specific when I'm back with Big G but he's at home and I'm not right now, but want to write this down before I forget any more.) So, I did pretty well at negative splits, but I think I should be able to do this more smoothly, and I think overall I can push myself a little faster on all my runs. I want to finish this kind of workout feeling tired, like I can't run any more, but not like I'm going to die. I would have had to slow down, but I could have kept running this morning. I ran along with PodRunner's Ramp Mix this morning. I'm not a huge electronica fan, but this actually was pretty good. I think I'll keep using DJ SteveBoy for mid-week "speed" work, my preferred chic-rock for easy runs, and find the time to read by listening to audiobooks for long runs. I'm just starting The Shadow of the Wind, which is supposed to be really engrossing.

So, the plan for upcoming runs is: 4 miles tomorrow (let's pretend it's still Friday), 11 miles Sunday (regular weekend run - I'm going to pick out the faster of the first 9 or the last 9 for 9 on the 9th [ok, 10th]), rest Monday, get back on schedule with Tues/Wed/Thurs run, rest Fri, run 12 miles on Saturday while we're in Paris!

5.03 miles, 59:10.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Week 6, Day 1: Lessons learned

The short runs increase to 4 miles this week. Obviously nothing I can't handle, because I've done these mid-week before, and I ran 10 miles this weekend! Off I go, at a pretty good pace. I can feel the lactic acid in my legs, so I remind myself that the goal of this run is to work that out so I can have a good run tomorrow or Wednesday. I use my new mantra: "I am a marathoner. I love to run. I feel fit, and strong, and healthy. I always finish. I am a marathoner." I think about what I learned over the weekend: I can finish 10 miles. After, I will be hungry, and food will not seem to stay in my stomach. If I then start to drink beer or cheap champagne, I will be very drunk. But I will still feel amazing for having run 10 miles. And that gets me through 4 miles, 46:34.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Totally unrelated: perhaps someday I can get married

No more words than this:

Except to say: wtf is up with some of the comments.

Week 5, Day 4: I feel good

Hrm. Let's see. Today's plan was 10 miles. I decided on 9 min/1 min to ensure I could finish it all. After 5 miles I changed out for 1 mile/1 minute (the rest of 1 mile). Quite happily, I did the whole thing. Mostly great - though the last 1/2 miles was tough. And the rest of the day I was not too sore, and I really focused on practicing success until I finished, when I went for beer as a recovery drink. Oh, and and google were right. A great (if chilly) day. 10.0 miles, 2:05:54.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Week 5, Day 3: Getting it together (and a bit of celebration)

Ha ha ha. Yesterday I was all gloating about how I have been so motivated lately, and I was working from home to make sure I could run today, and on and on and on. I should know better. I spent the better part of an hour reading blogs and saying "I'll run in 15 minutes." Finally I was reading Marathon Moon, and she was talking about the blahs, and I was all set to write her a "hang in there, girl" comment, and I realized I didn't feel good commenting on runners blogs if I hadn't run my scheduled run for the day. So I gave myself a stern "get your shit together" talking to, put the dog in his crate, and set out for an easy 3 miles.

Pretty good run, I felt really relaxed and had to keep reminding myself to slow down so I'd be able to run the whole way. I was thinking about all the runner-bloggers, and how I don't do anything half-way (hence: Couch to 5K 18 months ago, marathon less than 3 months away) and whether that's a good thing or not (still no conclusion), and how excited I am to see my sister this weekend. I got irrationally annoyed at the smoker who blew her smoke right into my path just as I needed a big breath of air, and at the school kids who took up the whole pavement (aka sidewalk) and made me run into traffic (though I guess it serves me right for running when non-runners are awake).

I cheated a bit and stopped the timer and walked just a little, but then I was thinking about how in The NonRunners Marathon Trainer they talk about building up successes, and that when the marathon comes you'll be able to keep going even when you think you can't because of all the times you've kept going when you thought you couldn't in the past, and I ran the last quarter mile instead of saying "I've already done my 3 miles" and walking home.

And another thing. I'm scheduled for my first 10-mile run tomorrow. I'd prefer if it wasn't crappy out. So which weather should I believe?
The Google weather widget, that says this:

Today Sat Sun
Chance of Rain Mostly Sunny Cloudy
46° | 33°
44° | 37° 44° | 41°
The weather widget on my computer, that says:
Today Sat Sun
partly cloudy partly cloudy completely rainy and shitty (editorializing mine)
50/31 59/35 56/54, which reports:
Feb 1
Partly Cloudy
N/A/31° 20%

High not valid after 2pm
Feb 2
Partly Cloudy
43°/40° 20%
Feb 3
Cloudy / Wind
45°/41° 10%
My partner's reading of an unknown weather source:
Today Sat Sun
Nice Snow or rain Rain, maybe
Windy, but not too cold Freezing Cool

In any case, I'm running tomorrow. Let's hope for Google/ weather!

And now, the celebration:

If you look closely, really really closely, you will see that my average pace was under 11 min/mile! Not so long ago I was hoping to get under 12!
3.23 miles, 35:01