Two Plus Ten Plus Three

I’ve just returned from my first fifteen miler. It was a beautifully cold morning, the temperature only reaching thirty-five (even an hour later), as I sit here to type.

I bundled properly with my thick Target base layer, my trusty black Define Jacket, with a Lululemon wind breaking vest over top. My LLL Dash Tights have become my long run pant of choice, but due to the cold, I layered them with a pair of Speed Shorts and Running Skirts knee-high compression socks. Not a fan of running commando, I tested out my new hot pink Under Armour boy short underpants. The only part of me that was not layered was the space between my thighs and my knees.

Yesterday I signed up for, which is a site that charges a monthly fee for audiobooks. How happy I was to download The Hunger Games for a mere seven dollars. How happy I was that this book, like my last choice, is the story of a heroine. Girl power. My favorite kind.

I was tempted to name this post The Pee Pee Games, since my effort to hydrate this morning left me with a bladder that was full and uncomfortable after a mile. As I saw it, I had three options; find a bush, pee in my pants, or run back home. It was too cold to drop trou and if I peed my pants it would probably feel warm and nice for a second, but surely freeze within minutes making for an unhappy remaining thirteen miles. As I circled home, clearly the best option, I was lucky that the monsters were upstairs. I snuck in quiet as a mouse.

I literally had to peel off my pants to pee and my skin was both frozen and burning. The sting only lasted for a minute before I stopped worrying about it and focused on the warmth of the heat being pushed through the vent in the bathroom floor.

Pants pulled up, I was back on the road in one minute.

The next ten miles I spent transfixed by The Hunger Games and was reminded me what I love about books; story telling, picture painting, suspense, character development, all conjured through words. I love words. I love stringing them together and seeing what results. I think I’d like to meet the author of this adventure. I think I’d like her in real life.

My goal to run negative splits was like a dark cloud over my shoulder. I started slowly enough, but as happens around seven miles, I started feeling really strong and so I sped up more than I should. I told myself, “I can keep up the 12 point something pace,” but as I’d hit hills or a stomach cramp, would realize that I should have held back until a little later in the game.

The stomach cramps. I had three. They were more like bubbles that appeared out of nowhere and only subsided when I’d stop short, bend forward, watch my shoes for a few seconds and breathe. Maybe chinese noodles for dinner don’t really count as good carb loading before a big run?

My last three miles were happy ones. I was almost finished and my route home was familiar. I wanted to finish strong and I pushed so hard on my last half mile that my heart was beating out of my chest.

“Come on Martha! You can do this Martha! Negative splits! Negative splits! Finish strong Martha!” I was chanting to myself under my breath. Somehow repeating my name pushed me on. Miraculously, I finished my last mile a block away from home where I took a picture of the Garmin.

I can’t even imagine what I’ll be saying to myself as I near 26.2.

There may be no words, but there will certainly be tears.

Fifteen miles, 3 1/2 hours, average pace @ 14

Gear Goodies For December

In an effort to lighten things up, I’ve decided that it might be a good idea to update my “Gear Goodies” post once a month.  Let’s be honest, if I continued to write about cancer day after day, I’d be living in Debbie Downerland!

Here are my “Gear Goodies” for December!

The owner of a company  called, “Bic Bands,” also has a WordPress blog called, A Mom On the Run.  A few other bloggers had mentioned Bic Bands; cute headbands that don’t fall off or leave a running gal with a massive headache. I checked out the website and placed an order for two. My skinny gold sparkle and skinny zebra print arrived within a few days, and I wore one during yesterday’s six miler. I am happy to report that my hair stayed back and I didn’t have to hit the Advil due to brain squeeze. Love!

A few weeks ago I tried Swiftwick socks. I bought them at Raleigh Running Outifitters based on a review by one of the female employees. There’s nothing fancy about Swiftwick. They are low, white, with the size (M) in black on the foot. I didn’t have great expectations (I fall for gimmicks too easily and these are so plain), but wow, they are terrific! The toe is a bit cushioned and the sock is made of a dry weave fabric, but they don’t feel synthetic. They also washed great. As a side note, I was excited to see that’s adorable heart compression knee socks are made by Swiftwick. I’m hoping those arrive at my front door soon.

I mentioned in last weekends’ post that I ran into Lululemon to check out the new stock in Paris Pink. I have been waiting for LLL to release some pink gear; everything has been purple, purple, purple for far too long. The Paris Pink color is gorgeous and bright. Unfortunately, I hated everything  on me. The Turn Around Long Sleeve showed every lump and bump and the pace setter skirt was way too short. Since I was there, I tried on a couple other pieces that I loved! The Yoga to City Jacket (I tried black) is amazing with a ruffle placed at just the right point to hide what my sister lovingly refers to as the, “relaxed muscle.” The Essential and Run for it Jackets, also in black, made my must-have list. I told Brian I wanted an iPhone for Christmas, but maybe a gift card to Lulu would be better. Decisions, decisions!

Run:Turn Around LS
Turn Around Long Sleeve. Sadly, this is not a view of me from behind!
Cute, if you're thirteen.
City to Yoga Jacket
City to Yoga Jacket. This purple actually looks like a deep navy. really pretty. If it had been there in my size I probably would have gotten it.

I am always in the market for good running tops, so last week I tried Under Armour’s “Charged Cotton” tees. Under Armour’s fit is funny and I can’t rely on being the same size in every garment. The charged cotton fabric feels heavy and soft (the hang tag says it dries five times faster), and the medium was better than the large. I usually prefer a V or U-neck, because I think they are more flattering on me, but in this case the round neck was better. I didn’t end up buying it, but I might if it gets marked down.

Women's UA Charged Cotton® Shortsleeve T-shirt Tops by Under Armour
Under Armour Charged Cotton Short Sleeve

I also tried the Under Armour Escape Lightweight 1/4 zip in white. In this, I liked the large, since it’s meant to be a layering piece. As the title describes, it is lightweight. I’m just not in the market for thin gear right now. It’s still pretty warm in Raleigh, but I know I’m going to be one cold potato in about a month.

Under Armour Lightweight 1/4 zip in pink

I’m still on the fence about whether or not to try the CW-X Pro Compression pants. I have done lots of research about wearing this kind of gear for extra long runs (and also for recovery) and the consensus is that they work. I think I’m going to wait a little longer, until my mileage gets up to 14/15 to see if what I have is performing well enough.

CW-X Pro Tight for Women

Aside from running gear, I probably should mention some of the Mommyland clothes that have made an appearance lately, since I can’t live in running gear all the time (though sometimes I wish could).

I discovered a designer named Lesley Evers, out of Berkeley, California. Her day dresses and tunic are beyond cute. They are functional, well made, and thoughtfully designed. I called their design office to place an order and was met with the best customer service I’ve ever received (hand to God). Melissa, who I believe is Lesley’s right hand person, walked through the work room trying to find the right size dress for me. She even sent me a stack of extra pieces in different size to try for fit. Who does that?  I ended up keeping two tunics that will get lots of wear in the Spring, and a dress that I wore to the girl’s birthday party.

The Hope Dress. They were out of the green, so I wore the Platinum Tumbleweed pattern to S&G's birthday party.
Ellie in Pink Parasol
The Ellie in Pink Parasol. I can't wait for Spring to wear this one.

Another designer,Kayce Hughes, had a trunk show a few months back at a shop I love in North Hills; The Paper Buzz. Kayce used to work for Ralph Lauren and makes really classic, lovely pieces for women and children. I wore her Western denim shirt dress to meet my grandparents at Thanksgiving. I was planning on wearing my Frye (tall) boots, but since everyone took their shoes off at Aunt Nor’s front door, I decided against it.  I probably could have gone bare-legged, but I knew I’d be on the floor with the kids, etc. In the end, I paired it with my Banana Republic skinny jeans in black, which worked out fine. The dress was super comfortable, I felt great (appropriately attired), and am looking forward to wearing it again; next time with flats and the sleeves rolled (when the season permits).

nashville button down dress
This is the Nashville dress. The Western is more straight, not as full in the skirt.
jane dress
Her little girl collection is TDF!
Finally, my Garmin arrived! I chose the 210 over the 405, mostly because I’m old school and prefer buttons over a touch bezel. It’s charged and ready to run, but today is a rest day, so until tomorrow….
Tell me about your recent finds and gear goodies!

Rain Run

When I left the house this morning, the air outside was misty, the ground was wet, the leaves were everywhere. I set off down the road and wondered where my feet would take me. I was grateful to be well enough to run, but I still looked down at my ankle for the entire first mile. I watched my sneakers hit the ground and only winced once, when I hit a crack in the road. After that, I felt steady and started to look around. It was a beautiful Fall morning!

The rainy road at the beginning of this morning's run.

I was wearing the Lulu pants with the DWR (Durable Water Protective) front that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, but I wondered if I should have worn regular tights, since it wasn’t raining all that much. I pondered that for a little while, but also thought I made a good choice with my Dash Long Sleeve and my run vest.  My black, 1/2 size too small Mizunos were the shoes of the day, since I figured it would be a short run (and I didn’t want to get my new sneakers all wet).

The Lululemon Outward Bound Pant. My go to wet and cold winter running pants. See how the front is DWR and the back is Luon? Love them!

I was feeling good and decided to run my favorite loop, which is mostly on side roads. I had to be careful to avoid the broken pavement in places, and when cars looked like they weren’t slowing down, I just jumped onto the grass to the left of the street. There was a lot of maneuvering and careful foot placement, so I just walked in those moments; better safe than sorry.

At about mile 2 I started to have fun and quit worrying about the sprain.  It noticed that the rain had picked up and I was glad that I had chosen the right pants. Little beads of water sat on the top of the fabric. I had taken off my glasses by now, because the beads were making it hard to see, and I readjusted my headband to cover more of my ears.

It started to pour. I kept thinking, over and over, that I should have brought the Flip. It was coming down hard, and huge drops of water were falling from my eyebrows. I started laughing out loud. Cars drove by and I imagined the people in their warm, dry cars making comments about the crazy running lady with the big smile on her face. I didn’t care. I was in the mode.

The rain came down even harder.  I saw a runner, up ahead, and I recognized her immediately; the fast lady who never smiles. I’ve been running past her for 4 years and she’s never even cracked one, not even a wave. I’m pretty sure the fast lady and I are about the same age, but besides her speed, I always notice what she’s wearing. This morning she was in her Outer Banks pale pink old school sweatshirt, regular sweatpants, and a big fleecy headband (she looked soaked). Running fashion is clearly not her thing, but it doesn’t hinder her performance. I usually wonder (while she’s flying by me) if she thinks, look at that girl in her fancy running clothes! I wonder if she thinks I’m less of a runner because I care about what I look like (and feel like) while pounding the pavement?

In the pouring rain with sheets coming down sideways, I raised my right hand to say, “Good Morning,”  as I always do. And it happened! She actually raised her hand and said, “Good Morning,” right back. She was smiling too. I felt so happy.

I kept thinking about the Flip, so I decided to forgo the last half mile of my loop (by now I’d run about 4 1/2) and ran home to get it. Hopefully the girls would be upstairs so I could grab it and head back out. No such luck, but I was still in and out in a flash. I tried to film a bit, but by now the rain had let up and I didn’t get anything great. I circled up the road and then back home.

Usually after a run, I sit to map, take of my shoes, roll down my pants (can you say plumber?), and drink some water. I was so soaked that instead, I ran upstairs, peeled out of the wet clothes and jumped in a hot shower.

I realized, as I stood there in the warmth, how lucky I am. I was able to run without pain and found joy on a wet (and some would say, “miserable,”) morning. The fast lady found joy too. I could tell. I wonder if she’ll ever smile at me again?

The Gear Goodies

Since I can’t write about an actual run today, I figured I’d write about one of my favorite things; winter running gear!

Back in the day, when I first started to run, I would wear a plain old t shirt, sweatshirt, and whatever leggings I had on hand. I remember buying a fleece hat from the Gap to keep my ears protected. I looked like a goof.  My arsenal of goodies has (thankfully) gotten much more functional and cute, and has upped my game, sincerely.

I’ll go from head to toe!

Zeal Optics are the sunglasses I’ve been wearing for about a year. Their website is down but they can be found on amazon. They also have a great facebook page filled with photos of athletes wearing their glasses and goggles. I love my Orb’s. They are shaped a little like goggles, a little like aviators (big ones), so they block out a lot of gunk, wind, and other irritants when I’m on the run. They also make a great headband (a must in my book). If it’s too dark out, I can put them on top of my head and forget that they are there. Love them!

Lululemon Running Toque’s and  wide headbands have made my winter runs bearable. I loathe cold ears, so I never leave the house without one or the other. The ones I have are made of luon, though I believe they’ve changed the name of the fabric this year; it’s now called rulu, for running luon. They also have a Brisk Run Headband that I probably should get, since it’s even wider than the headband to cover the entire ear. My neck warmer from them has been a lifesaver when it’s freezing outside as well.

I have boobs, which I try my hardest to strap down. For years I wore two bras, but have found success with the Moving Comfort Fiona.  It has a racer back and three hooks and eyes that help to hold me in really well and minimize bounce.

Because of the boobs, I never like running tops on me. I have tried them all, but am too self conscious. I have many from Lululemon (the run swiftly really performs nicely), Nike, Oiselle (love their short sleeve shirts for Summer), to name a few. The top I reach for the most is the Seamless Athletic Tee From Target. I like that it is thicker and fits close, but doesn’t show every bump and lump. It’s cheap too, at $24.99, so I don’t feel so bad blowing my nose on my sleeve when I run out of kleenex. Runners do what they have to do. Believe me, I have heard of worse!

I often like vests to keep my chest warm. Any will do from hi-brow to low, from L.L. Bean to Lulu. In the dead of winter I layer with pullovers and Lululemon always comes out with fantastic ones. My favorite is the Alpine from last year. The Define Jacket, made of Luon, is great too. They both fit close, which helps me feel warm, but wick so I don’t get clammy with drying sweat.

Last year, when I first learned of Lucy Athleticwear, I ordered a pair of their Propel Capris and a pair of the Propel Tights. I’m often a 10/l in bottoms, but customer service said I should order a medium. I’m glad I did. They have a bit of compression, which is nice and keep me toasty. I have heard good things about C-WX Pro Compression Tights, so they are on my list of things to try in the next couple of months.

I am in need of new running socks and was going to restock my Lulu No-Show Ultimate or my trusty Nike 6 pack, but I recently tried Zensah Compression Socks and love them. I think I might try a few other brands and see which I like best. The RunLove Running Compression Socks from are adorable (they have hearts on the calves). The black ones are backordered until November 30, but I definitely want to try them.

When I was training for my first half marathon last year, I went to my favorite Raleigh running store to get my gait analyzed and to try to pick the best running shoe for me. I was surprised to learn that I needed a neutral shoe. The Mizuno Wave Rider 13 in a half size larger (9) than my regular shoe size (8 1/2) that I bought that day were fantastic. I found that I am the kind of runner who likes to “feel the ground.”  I always thought I preferred cushioning, since I’m (ahem) a little cushioned myself. I bought two more pair of the 13 and figured I’d be fine buying the Wave Rider 14 online. Dumb move. It turns out that the 14 fit shorter in length than it’s predecessor and I spent the Spring and Summer running in shoes that didn’t fit properly. In July I ran the Old Port Half, in Portland, Maine and struggled the entire way. My toes were cramped, and at mile 9 I wanted them to just fall off. I went back to Raleigh Running Outfitters in September and they sized me up in the 14 (a whopping 9 1/2). I wasn’t so sure they’d work, but again I was wrong. The moral of the story; get fitted by people who know about running shoes instead of being new models online. Lesson learned.

The Zensah Compression Socks and the enormous Mizunos

Finally, I couldn’t run long distances without my belt. For the past few years I have strapped on the GoLite HydroSprint Women’s Pack, but I’ve recently purchased the Classic Collection 4 Bottle Fuel Belt. I was hoping to use it tomorrow for my 11 miler, but that will have to wait until the ankle is feeling a lot better and the swelling has gone down.

Oh, and how could I forget my favorite Gu? The Vanilla Bean is delicious! I actually crave it when I’m not running!

What do you love? Any of the goodies on my list?