Independence Park Trot, 2015

One week ago, I ran the Independence Park Trot 5k. This is not the first time I’ve run this particular race or route, but this race definitely had a lot of firsts for me!

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This is me with my friend Theresa. Theresa and her family moved to the Kansas City area a little over a year ago. Theresa is a runner, too, and this was her first Kansas City race.

I’m pretty sure this is also the first time I’ve worn a race t-shirt during the actual race. Theresa had the idea that we could both wear our race shirts, and I figured, why not?

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My mom was our unofficial race photographer. If you can’t tell, Theresa runs much hotter than I do. I’m all about exposed skin; she covers up. :)

They say pride goeth before a poor race time, and this race certainly proved it. Theresa is a faster runner than me, but for whatever reason, before the race I was thinking she and I could run together. Ha! Theresa was running just under an 11:00 pace, while I had been hoping to run around a 12:15 pace. I kept up with her for the first .75 mile or so, pushing myself, but quickly realized there was just no way I could hold that pace for 3.1 miles.

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I finished the race with a time of 39:41.9. It’s a respectable time, though not my best. I really sacrificed some of my time on the back end by pushing at the beginning – I just had nothing left at the end to pull a few seconds off my time.

It was a fun morning and a great way to start a great summer!

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bandages, blisters, and miles of fun

I’ve had a week of bandages.

I should preface this by mentioning that I’m incredibly cheap when it comes to bandages. At times, I am VERY clumsy, and I have to deal with lots of little “owwies”. Band-Aids are not exactly cheap, and often, my wounds are insignificant enough that I can use fabric or paper tape (similar to this) to deal with them at a much lower cost. I also get plenty of “hot spots” and blisters on my feet that require tape.

This is the first time I can recall that I’ve gotten serious blisters on the backs of my heels. Out of habit, I suppose, I was treating my blisters by wrapping them with tape. Doh. At first it was okay. I decided I felt good enough to tolerate a 3.6 mile run on Wednesday (two days post-injury)…

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Eek! I mean, the running part felt great, but my feet felt pretty bad. Both blisters were now open and bleeding. By Thursday night (three days post-injury), my heels were unbearably itchy, wearing shoes was painful, and I suspected I was working on an infection in my right blister.

And so I changed my treatment methods. I broke out the REAL Band-Aids (technically store-brand), gooped ‘em up with Neosporin (also store-brand), and I’ve kept the blisters covered. What a difference! Much as I hate the cost, the pain is gone, and my feet feel 1000% better!

I was very, very tempted to run on Friday. It’s probably a good thing that it rained on Friday and kept me and my injured feet at home! On Saturday afternoon, the weather looked overcast and iffy, but I couldn’t stay inside any longer. For this run, I pulled out my old (and now dry, after last week’s soaking) shoes:

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Ahhh… comfy like an old friend.

I also used my Udderly Smooth udder cream around the blisters on my feet (in addition to tape, just for the run). Usually I just put it on the skin between my legs, sometimes on the underside of my arms, but this was the first time I’ve tried it on my feet. It was fantastic! Everything slid around on top of my skin, no additional chafing. Now I’m wondering if I should use it on my entire foot before these long runs!

Saturday was a GREAT day for a run! The temperature was just below 60 (Fahrenheit), overcast, light wind… could not have been better!

IMG_4170.JPGThis photo was at about 3.2 miles. I felt great, and I was really pleased that I’d made it so far. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve run this distance!

I wound up running about 6.4 miles in total. The sky threatened to rain the entire time I was out there, but it never did. Just me and my thoughts… pushing myself and getting a great pace! I managed to hold myself at just under 15:00 for the entire run.

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By the way… you know summer’s here when the stores are selling Ocean Breeze- and Everlasting Sunshine-scented conditioner! (Yes, I’m a fan of Suave Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s both cheap and effective.)

As for the blisters? They’re still there, but improving. By this time next week, I expect they will be gone!

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Blisters, blood, and 3.6 miles

Ahh, blisters. I’m getting to know you far too well.

You may recall that last Saturday, I ran a 5k race that led to me getting soaked. When I got home, I stuffed my (wet) shoes with old newspaper and set them in front of the refrigerator to dry.

On Monday, I decided to let the shoes dry for a couple more days. I had a new pair of shoes sitting on my bedroom floor just begging for a run:

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And I was off. The weather was beautiful. The shoes felt a little stiff, since they were new, but I felt great.

My pace was outstanding. It was really a great day for a run.

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Boom! Running strong and feeling amazing!

 

Check out these new kicks!

I ran 3.6 miles. When I got home, I felt incredible, but when I took my shoes off, I was alarmed to discover a significant blood stain:

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My feet weren’t much better:

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Okay, it really doesn’t look that bad. But hadn’t felt it. I was surprised, shocked, and (for a moment at least) very worried.

Once I took a shower and cleaned up my wounds, it looked much better. Still raw but not as frightening. The new shoes rubbed impressive blisters into the skin over the back of both my heels. I have an open wound on my right heel (presumably from a blister that popped). The blister on my left heel has not popped, but it’s large enough that I’m not sure if it will survive another run.

I’m determined to run tomorrow. I know I need to tape my heels, though I’m a little concerned about creating additional hot spots from the tape. Ideally I’d like to keep the left-heel-blister whole, and I’d like it if the right-heel-blister didn’t bleed any more… I know the blood gives them character, but those shoes are almost new! I’m not counting on it – these blisters are pretty big! – but I’ll let you know how it goes!!

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Eagle Egg 5k, 2015

What a surprising race!

This weekend, I ran the Eagle Egg 5k. It was hosted by Summit Christian Academy, where my mother teaches grade school.

It’s been awhile since I’ve raced, and I was so sick this winter that my training was pretty much nonexistent for a couple of months. I only had a couple of weeks of training before this race, so I intentionally did not aim for a particular time. I didn’t trust my legs to run particularly fast right now. I went into it with three goals:

1. Run strong and have a good time. The easiest goal, by far.

2. Run the entire distance. I felt pretty confident about this goal. I’ve trained myself enough, mentally, that I can run pretty far even if I’m not fast.

3. Run negative splits - in other words, run the second half of the race faster than the first. I actually have been doing a pretty good job of running negative splits in my training lately, but I didn’t feel too confident about this goal. I’ve run this race before, and I’ve never even approached negative splits. The route seems to have uphills and downhills in all the wrong places.

This morning was a perfect day to run. It was overcast and cool, around 55 or 60 degrees. Perfect running weather. Rain was predicted for later in the morning, but we were pretty confident it would hold off until the race was over.

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Pre-race selfie with my mom!

The beginning of the race was fairly unremarkable. I spent the first mile reminding myself to take it easy, don’t run too fast and burn myself out at the beginning. There were many spectators cheering us on, and it felt fantastic to let my feet lead the way.

At about 1.25 miles, I felt the first raindrop. For just a moment, I thought it would turn into a pleasant sprinkle.

Boy, was I wrong.

The skies opened in an absolute downpour. The rain was coming down in sheets. Within just a few minutes, I and the other runners were soaked.

I had started the race with my sunglasses on top of my head. It was overcast and I really didn’t need them. When it started to rain, I flipped the sunglasses down over my eyes, thinking they would provide some protection from the water running into my eyes. They did… but the rain was coming so fast that the sunglasses remained covered in a sheet of water, which blurred everything, limited my vision to just a couple of feet, and forced me to rely on my hearing somewhat to follow the course. I spent the remained of the race alternating between “no sunglasses, pretty good vision, but water running into my eyes” and “sunglasses, lousy vision, but no water in my eyes”.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I must admit, I really enjoyed running in the rain. In spite of all the challenges that come with it – soaking wet clothes, wet shoes, poor vision – it was really fun to challenge myself to push through it. My whole body was wet, but I felt awesome.

When I was around mile 2.5, I saw what might have been lightning. I couldn’t be sure. I was having such fun running in the rain, and (much to my surprise), I knew my pace was far stronger than I’d expected. There were trees on either side of the road, so I decided (perhaps stupidly) that if that was lightning, I was safe enough. The trees would get hit before I would.

At mile 2.75, there was a cross-street that had been blocked by a police car. As I ran past, a police officer rolled down the window and asked me if I wanted to wait in the police car until the bus came around. Apparently it HAD been lightning, and they were picking up any straggling racers who didn’t want to complete the race.

Did I mention my pace was far stronger than I’d expected? I yelled a “no thanks!” to the police officer and kept running.

I threw all I could into that last quarter-mile and blasted past the finish line. Man, that felt awesome! The rain was still pouring and the spectators had almost all retreated into the school. I could hear my mother’s giant cow-bell from where she stood under an awning. I didn’t know what my time was, but I was confident that it had been good.

As soon as I’d caught my breath, I headed into the school, where the post race activities were being held. At the doorway, a volunteer handed me a paper towel. I wasn’t sure how to respond, which was probably a good thing… I was so wet that a paper towel wasn’t going to help much!

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Cameras were largely put away due to the rain. I had so much water dripping off myself that I didn’t try very hard to get a good post race photo.

Inside, my mother retrieved a couple towels from her classroom and we dried ourselves off as best we could. The hallways of the school had turned into slip-and-slides from all the water dripping off the runners and spectators. We walked through the post-race festivities – booths for insurance salesmen, local fitness clubs, personal trainers, and so on. Papa Murphy’s was giving away free samples of pizza (yum!). Lamar’s donuts had brought several dozen glazed donuts. I can’t even remember what other restaurants and free samples we tried!

My Nike+ app recorded my race time as 39:47, with great pacing:

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Far better than I’d expected! I accomplished all 3 of my goals: a great race, running the whole distance, AND negative splits!

My official chip time was 39:41.9 – about four seconds faster than my best time on this course, and FAR better than I’d expected!

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3.6 miles, sore achilles

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This is what I look like when I’m crushing it. Or possibly when I’m struggling along at a snail’s pace. The difference between the two is very small. :)

Ran 3.6 miles today. It was hard, harder than yesterday. Slower, probably because my legs didn’t get time to recover. There was also a stiff wind blowing too.

My left Achilles gave me some trouble during the first mile. It seemed to improve, although when I was finished it was still sore. I iced it afterward and it seems to be okay now.

Tomorrow I’ll take a break to give my legs a chance to recover. This was a tough run, but still worth it.

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Spring weather and a strong body

I’m so happy. I ran today!

Yes, I suppose it’s a little cheesy, but the weather was beautiful this afternoon (sunny, light winds, 75 Fahrenheit) and I am finally beginning to feel strong and healthy again. After a reasonably productive work day, I changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running shoes.

As good as it felt to run again, I could definitely tell that I’ve been inactive lately. My lungs and my legs rebelled at the workout. My pace was slow (16:00). Since I’ve run before and trained before, though, I didn’t have the same struggles as I had back when I first started running. Some of that, I’m sure, is because I’ve learned how to maintain an efficient gait, but I believe most of it is because I’ve mastered a lot of the mental game. I’ve learned to convince myself to keep going – even when a run/race is long, even when my pace is slow, even when my body feels awful.

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About one mile into the workout, I spotted a police officer on a motorcycle, but parked, partially concealing himself behind a sign and pointing his radar gun at oncoming traffic. I didn’t have the nerve to walk up to him and ask to take a photo with him! I took this not-very-good photo from about a half-block away, but when I got closer, he got on his motorcycle and drove away.

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I stopped halfway to take a running selfie, and I was struck by my shadow. Very pronounced, and very interesting!

My nose is still dripping a bit more than usual, and it was at this point in the run that I had to sent out the first snot rockets. :) Don’t worry, I didn’t hit any people or cars. Just the middle of the street and a lovely flower bed. (sorry!)

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Back on the road, and I felt great. I found my groove and was just letting my feet lead the way. There were actually quite a few people outside today – no surprise, since the weather was so nice. I passed several bicyclists, a walker, and a whole crowd of people waiting at a bus stop.

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I was nearly home when I was stopped by this – a truck with a long trailer backing into a driveway. I’m sure it didn’t take more than three or four minutes, but it certainly felt like longer as this driver blocked the road.

 

I completed 3.61 miles today. It was really quite glorious to run again. If you’re not a runner, you won’t get it. Running is what makes me feel strong and healthy and amazing. Finally kicking the illnesses I’ve had this winter is just the icing on the cake – I am still blowing my nose a bit more than usual, and I’m still coughing a bit, but I finally feel strong. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to squeeze my training in before this spring’s 5ks!

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Now is the winter of our discontent…

I really am trying.

You wouldn’t know it, but I really am trying this year.

I am sick. AGAIN. I’ve spent all week sick with another cold, and because of it, I’m really struggling to kick the bronchitis I’ve been fighting. Just when I think the symptoms are nearly gone, I get sick again, and the coughing and shortness-of-breath flare up again just as badly as before.

On top of all that, I have the typical symptoms of a cold – nasal congestion, headache, low-grade fever.

I’m going through boxes of Kleenex like they’re going out of style. Seriously – I am almost out of Kleenex because I’ve blown through three boxes this week!

I want to run. Seriously, you guys have no idea how badly I want to run. But my body seems to be dead-set against it!

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A difficult 3.6 miles

I ran 3.6 miles today.

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It wasn’t particularly easy. It’s actually kinda funny… I was thinking while I ran about how strange it is that it felt like a hard run, because it was still so much improved from where I once was. A few years ago, a run like today’s would have been a great run.

Nonetheless – it didn’t feel great. It wasn’t terrible, but I definitely felt like I needed to get in shape. I’m still pleased with it. I’m glad I got out there. I have to get my body back into shape for the spring racing season. A few more runs like this, and it’ll feel so much better!

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Running, how I’ve missed you!

My last run prior to the Great Illness of 2015 was exactly four weeks and two days ago. I woke up with a sore throat exactly four weeks and one day ago, followed by a month of bronchitis and lung inflammation that prevented me from getting a decent breath, much less running.

Today, I am more than thrilled to announce, I got to run again!!

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I ran 3.72 miles, and it just FELT like it had been a month since I ran! My legs felt heavy, and I absolutely had to push myself.

At 0.82 miles, I paused to wait for traffic to clear, and was overcome by a wave of dizziness and nausea. I’m not unfamiliar with dizziness, although usually I only feel that at the end of a race – after I’ve pushed myself to the limit, and maxed out my blood pressure, so to speak. I was mildly surprised to feel it during an easy training run. I haven’t felt the nausea in awhile, but luckily it wasn’t too severe.

My apologies to the driver in the silver minivan who stopped to let me cross the street ahead of him. That was quite kind of you, but I wasn’t going anywhere until I’d gathered my wits.

I paused at around 1.85 miles to take a photo, and I was hit by another wave of dizziness – not nearly as bad as the first, but I paused for a moment here as well.

On my way home, I happened to see this laying by the side of the road:

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A small tube-type television with an attached VCR. What a relic!

I’m thankful that I got out for a run today, though I’m a bit disappointed that it was as difficult as it was. I was hoping that my muscles hadn’t broken down too much in the past month. Apparently I was wrong! Oh well – it’s good to get out there again, and I’ll work myself back into fitness!

 

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Desire muted by illness acuted

My last run was on Monday, February 9, exactly two weeks and one day ago. It was a great run, too. A fartlek. It was cold, sunny, and felt wonderful.

Two days before that, on Saturday, February 7, I ran long. 6.3 miles along my favorite route, up hills and down hills. During the last mile, I felt blissfully close to hitting the wall. I pulled every last ounce of energy from my legs. It felt wonderful.

On Tuesday, February 10, I woke up with a mild sore throat and a little nasal congestion. My mom had recovered just the week before from this same virus, very mild, basically just a minor cold. I cancelled my planned run, but otherwise I continued living normally.

By the time the weekend rolled around, I felt a little bit better, but it proved to be only a moment of respite. The next day, I woke up with laryngitis, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, and a really bad cough. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I developed acute bronchitis.

And that is where I am still. For over a week, I’ve been taking over-the-counter cough medicine just to get a few hours’ sleep. Since bronchitis is virtually always viral, I haven’t even tried to go to the doctor – what could they do? Charge me $200 to confirm that it’s a virus, and recommend that I treat it with OTC cough medicine? There’s nothing I can do but wait this out. I am getting better – but improvement comes in slow, tiny, baby steps.

Running has been out of the question, and it absolutely grieves me. Admittedly, it’s been cold, but I want to run! I still have shortness of breath and a bad cough, meaning a cold weather run is a bad idea.

I don’t have much more to add. I’m just tired of being tired, ready to be done with sickness. Unfortunately it seems like sickness is not done with me!

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