Running Noses, Running Pants

Yesterday was gorgeous and sunny and Peach offered to take the girls even though she was feeling rough. I took her up on her offer and am glad I did, because today is cold and rainy and it’s my turn to feel rough. All my recent tiredness was indeed the pre-cursor to a brand new cold virus. I should have known.

Thankfully, I can report that I have no fever or closed up throat, and had I not run yesterday I would have missed week fourteen’s long run and been unable to review the CW-X Pro pant that came in the mail last week.

Everyone knows how I love my Lululemon. It’s not just that there is thought behind the design; the stuff performs. But still, I’ve had trouble with my hips and couldn’t resist the urge to try out a pair of compression pants to (hopefully) reduce the pain.  I will certainly continue to run long distances once the marathon is over, since I am hooked, so I was hoping I could add them to my arsenal of gear goodies.

After a visit to Raleigh Running Outfitters a few weeks ago, where I invested in a pretty pink and painful foam roller, one of the running geniuses (sincerely) confirmed what I had learned through my research regarding compression gear; they are helpful to some and could aid in quicker recovery. CW-X seemed to be the ones to try and the Pro is made to help stabilize the hips and flexors.

I wore them yesterday and had high hopes. I wanted to love them, but I’m on the fence.

The good news is that the do what they are meant to do; they compress!

From the waist through the legs and to the calves they are tight with very little stretch. It took a while to wiggle myself in and get the placement just right to avoid any chaffing. The bands that act like Kinesio tape, used by sports doctors and trainers to help stabilize and protect the muscles, are made from a material that I could only compare to the sails on boats; rough and hard.

I did notice less pain in my hips while on the road, which was my main goal. My legs didn’t feel lighter or springier, but the compression made for less bouncing, which is always a good thing.

There were things I didn’t love, though.

For starters, the compression around my waist was sort of painful. I bought a medium, since my height and weight fell in the section of the size medium graph, but the tightness left a red mark on my skin long after the pants came off. I usually like a higher waisted running pant (it helps me stay focused on form) but the elastic on these dug into me so much that and I had to gradually move them down as the miles continued on. It took about forty five minutes to feel comfortable enough to quit fussing with them and I was seriously debating a pit stop at home to switch them out for my Dash tights. I missed the stretch and snap of my Lululemon’s, the softness of their luxtreme, but like I said, no hip pain was my motivator so in that sense, job well done.

When I got back to pick up the girls, I hung out on Peachie’s porch and watched the crazies running and falling the tall grass, creating huge stains on their knees. I also watched the salt evaporate through my new pants.

I have never noticed any of my running pants do this before and I had no idea I had such sweaty knees. I suppose this could be viewed as a positive, the wicking properties were working, but who wants to walk around with their pants covered in chalky whiteness, remnants of their workout? I don’t know why, but this grossed me out worse than that stripe of wetness that the lower back and rear end gets from a good sweaty workout.

It was time to go.  I collected the kids’ stuff, buckled them in the car and drove home for tubbies all around.

I didn’t have time for a good epsom soak, so I worried that there would be pain today, but I’m happy to say that I’m feeling fine in the lower extremities. Maybe the pants worked after all?

I’ll try them next Saturday as I set out for the tip top of the marathon training mountain; the final twenty miler. I still have hope that they’ll be useful, so I’ll give them another go.

For now and the next day or two, the only running that’s happening is occurring in my sinus cavities.

If only they made compression pants for my nose.

CW-X Pro 3/4 Pant
Weird Salty Knees. They got a little baggy too (and shifted), maybe from the lack of stretch?
The knees of one of my rough and tumble girls.
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Down to Days

The past few weeks of running, including my nineteen miler, were done without audio books. I finished the last chapter of Dead Until Dark a few weeks back, while sitting in my car at Whole Foods, eating kale salad before going to pick up the kids. I knew how it was going to end, since I’d watched it play out on t.v., but even so I was sad to say, “Goodbye,” to the book version of Sookie.

Yesterday I downloaded the second book in the Hunger Games series; Catching Fire. It started little ahead of where the last book finished, but I was pulled right back in and excited to see where we would go. I feel a sort of kinship with Katniss, Girl on Fire. It isn’t logical, but she did get me through some of my very first long runs, while at the same time running for her own life in the games. As I’ve mentioned, I’ll be channeling her with flaming fingernails on March 18th, so it was appropriate that she would be my choice for heroine du jour during these final weeks of training.

Those few weeks without stories made me realize that I’ve got to have one (or two) going at all times. I had checked out When Margaret was Young, by my favorite author Jane Hamilton, but could never figure out how to get it to import to my phone. In a way I was glad, though, because what if I didn’t like it? Could Jane Hamilton be my favorite author anymore if I couldn’t connect with her book? I returned it without listening, but will try to go back to it later, when I have less on my plate. I would hate to be disappointed by my book of choice at this juncture.

After my lunch date with Sookie, which turned out to be a surprisingly calm and enjoyable addition to my schedule, I decided that I needed a car read. While at the library, waiting for the girls to fill their “library purses,” I hunted down the audio book for Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

I’ve often wondered what it was about that book that kept me so entranced as a young girl in the sixth grade, reading it for the very first time. I figured that it would be good research as I ponder the kind of books I myself want to write, and at the same time, be my companion as I eat my lunch. It probably sounds like a pretty nerdy and isolationist thing to do, but it is very hard to get quiet these days, and it’s less sad than eating alone absolute silence.

As a side note, I have returned to the land of exhaustion. After writing about Sweet Sleep, where I felt recovered from the overwhelming tiredness that had been plaguing me, it took one night of a past eight p.m. bedtime to fall back into the realm of six p.m. crashing and burning.

I wonder if it’s this point of marathon training and part of recovery? Maybe I’m coming down with something?

With only twenty-nine days until the race, my most important goal is to stay healthy. Peach called me yesterday with another cold and cough, my girls have been blowing their own little noses, and I watched a coughing boy at pre-school wipe his hand down the entire banister as he descended the stairs, surely on his way to the doctor. Germs are everywhere!

It is my biggest fear that I’ll get sick within days of the race and be unable to compete. That scenario has occurred two other times in my racing history. There’s nothing worse than being ill with a deep lung cough and cold at the same time that hundreds of people are running your race.

Fear aside, books in place, continued rest, one more big run, and quiet car lunches are on the menu until tapering begins.

Tapering. The final stage of this journey. I can barely believe it’s almost here.

Deliciousness!
Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. By Judy Blume.
Library Purses from Port Canvas in Maine. Notice the quality reading in Sophie's bag! She couldn't resist SpongeBob LovePants. Can you blame her?

Give Me A Break

The weather has been perfect for running, but I am tired and need a break. My hips are sore and my left toe joint is flaring. If training for a marathon took up a lot of time before, it’s using even more lately as I have to stop to ice the old bones a few times a day, making it hard to do my job; kids, clean, kids, clean, clean kids, clean.

The first sign that rest is needed, after feeling old injuries coming on, is lackluster running. In truth the only thing that kept me going for yesterday’s eight miler was the extended description of Sookie and Bill’s first time. At least I had a smile on my face.

When I dozed off yesterday afternoon, leaving my kids to their own devices, I realized I needed to switch up the plan.

When I woke, both girls had emptied their piggy banks onto the bedroom floor and made a long circular path of coins for their princesses to walk upon. Surprisingly, they were playing nicely and unlike the last time I fell asleep in the middle of the day, no one had cut their own bangs.  I couldn’t help thinking they were like those dogs you hear about whose owners have died and then stay close for comfort. For this I was grateful, though I don’t really like being the dog owner in that scenario. The reality is that (indeed) I was (and am) dead tired.

I am choosing not to run tomorrow’s five miler in an effort to give myself an extra day of rest. By Saturday I am sure I’ll be itching to hit the road.

Until then I’ll ice, take ibuprofen, and rest.

Rest!

Nothing’s ever sounded so good!

The Truth About G.I. Jane

I debated long and hard before I hit the publish button after completing yesterday’s post. In the end I decided that what I wrote was the truth and if a certain someone was angry with me, well then, tough cookies!

The reality is that it turned out to be a good thing. Not only did I get amazingly positive and supportive emails (and comments) from my bloggy friends and family alike, the hubby was awfully nice for the rest of the day. He actually took Sophie to the grocery store on a Sunday (this never happens) and worked hard in the kitchen making the most beautiful sushi for our dinner.

Even though the truth hurts sometimes,  it’s always better to speak it than hide behind the fear.  Plus, if we shared our common experiences more, wouldn’t we feel a lot less the less alone in the world?

I think so.

An unfortunate truth about running long distances is the effect that the duration of exercise can have on the gastrointestinal tract.

It’s common knowledge among long distance runners that the depletion of glycogen stores in the muscles (that happens about every forty-five minutes to an hour into exercise) must be replenished to boost energy and aid in recovery. It’s also widely understood that any experimentation with how to manage carbohydrate and glucose replenishment should be practiced during training, never during a race, to ensure no unfortunate G.I. Issues (before, during, or after).

At the of start of my adventure in longer distanced running I played with different flavors of Gu (a sticky gel like substance). It has a funny texture, which is why a lot of people don’t like it, but one of my marathoning heroines (the amazing M.M.) turned me onto the Vanilla Bean flavor, which I love. Once a Gu is taken, it is important to drink a good amount of water to get it into the system. Soon after sucking it down I can feel the legs pick up steam, and the caffeine (in it) perks me up like a good shot of coffee would.

It was working fine, but I was curious about the Cliff Shot Bloks, which are like big square gummies with carbs and electrolytes, and so recently began rotating them in; Gu and then Bloks at about every five miles. I started to miss the caffeine, though, so I moved back to my Gu with a few Bloks thrown in when needed. I also filled two of my four Fuel Belt bottles with watered down Gatorade, a tip I received from the nice guy at the running store.

The strategy had thus far been successful, but in an effort to promote even better and faster recovery (or push my luck as I have been known to do), I decided to experiment even further.

I’d read that Gatorade (as fluid/electrolyte replacement) was better than drinking plain water after a long run, so soon after I got home on Saturday I started to guzzle the stuff.

This is when (I am convinced) the experiment went awry.

By awry, I mean that my G.I. tract revolted.

By revolted, I mean, it was revolting!

I tried to think of a good title for a post about an unhappy gastrointestinal tract; G.I. Jane, or G.I Martha, or Don’t Drink The Hatorade?

Whatever the title, my more important goal was to share this little piece of information with the hope that another runner might know and benefit from my disastrous test.

It’s always better to know than to wonder.

Ain’t that the truth.

S.E.X. and Math

I had a feeling that week eleven’s long run would be more successful than ten’s, if only because I could manage it mathematically in my head. Six plus six plus six equaled the eighteen I would attempt; easily broken into thirds and much more manageable than seventeen.

Seventeen is more than an actual odd number. It’s odd because of its placement amongst the other numbers on the line, yes, by it’s also odd because it’s so difficult to divide; at least when traveling approximately 12.5 miles per hour (for almost four) on working and weary legs.

Almost forgetting that my last audiobook had ended, I needed to come up with a new selection for today. I settled upon the first in the True Blood series by Charlaine Harris. Since I am already a huge fan of the show, I figured it would be fun to see how the book compared, and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the words I heard through my ear buds.

That Sookie Stackhouse is even better as a written character study; deftly described, true and honest, young and real.

But it was the descriptions with her Bill that determined a new audible element quite helpful for long distance running.

Listen to a book with S.E.X.

In our house, we spell it so that it doesn’t become a conversation starter during share time at pre-school.

Who knew it could make a girl run faster, for longer, long after her legs were ready to retire?

S.E.X.

A little Vampire Bill (and Jason Stackhouse and Sam Merlotte) helped me zone out enough to forget that my right rear glut was flaming for almost 10 miles. Was it cheating since I had actual images of them (Ryan Kwanten, et al.) to compare to the pictures that were painted in the story; Bill’s dark eyes and smoldering voice, Jason’s bod and easy conquests, Sam’s eagerness for Sookie to know how he felt about her?

No, I decided, just another motivator like Gu and skinnier legs.

Easy math, a flaming right glut, combined with the deliciousness of Vampire Bill and the boys of Bon Temps!

I almost forgot this was my longest run yet.

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 audible.com, 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