Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Polar vortex? Black hole?

This polar vortex version 3.0 has really gotten me down. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude, my wacky sense of humor, trying to keep moving forward, telling myself that I have no control over the weather and life, but I can control how I feel. I'm trying. I really am.

But I've been hit hard with some really stressful situations the last couple of weeks. Over the past weekend, I felt myself sliding into what I can only describe as a "black hole". My mood was dark and I couldn't shake it off. A long run in the cold, bitter wind on Saturday did nothing to improve my attitude. As a matter of fact, I felt worse when I finished, which is a rare, unheard of event following a run. It probably didn't help that I was frustrated by the failure of my mile tracker (this time I used Endomondo) and had to keep stopping my run to restart it. Later, I went to dinner with my family to celebrate my parents birthday. I couldn't get into the conversation. Later, my mom and my sister asked me if something was wrong and I just said I was feeling really grumpy. I shared with them some of the events of the past couple of weeks and they were shocked, telling me I should call them to talk about it.

They're right, of course, but I hate to bother people with that stuff. I'm the fixer, the one who helps people and it's hard to switch roles. I hate feeling like this. I'm the "suck it up" kind of person.  I've been trying really hard to push myself, to keep on keeping on. In my mind, I see myself clawing at the walls of this black hole to climb out. So far I've been doing ok. I've been talking more about how I'm feeling with my family and friends, which is helping. I always tell my patients who are experiencing anxiety to talk about it, that we know talking about it helps. I need to take my own advice!

I continue to run and cross train. Truly, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't run. I take it outside as much as has been possible this horrible winter. I'm trying to stay positive. Laughing a lot at the absurdities of life.

This morning I heard birds singing, even though it is bitterly cold. The sun is shining. It has to get better right?

Oh...and I bought a Garmin. One less thing for me to stress about on my long runs.

I'll be ok. I will. Thanks for letting me whine here.

Anyone else feeling the winter blues? What do you do to stay positive when you feel blue?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Who's old?!

Not me. Nope. Even though I color my hair to cover my gray every 4 weeks. Pull out my reading glasses to read small text. Go to bed at 9 pm. Lament those wrinkles on my forehead. 

Heck, I ran a 1:58 half marathon just 3 months ago! I can deadlift 150#! I can still get up on one waterski! Under pressure from my teenage sons, I wakeboarded for the first time last summer! I sure don't feel old!

Smiling or grimacing? You be the judge!

Yesterday at work, one of the younger nurses started talking with me about working out. 

"You look great, so fit," she said. Then the bomb dropped: "For someone your age."

I thanked her (and died a little, inside).

Then she went on. "I mean, you're older than my mom, I mean she's in her 40s and she doesn't work out at all, and you're in such good shape.."

Please, I silently prayed. Stop talking. I don't know how to respond to what you're saying. Stop. Luckily at that point, we were interrupted.

I know she meant to compliment me. Truly, I do. And truth be told, I could outrun her and most of the younger women I work with.

But what the heck? Just because I'm over 50 makes me that person, the one who is in good shape "for her age"? How about just being in good shape?

And what is the bigger picture? Are older women (and men) perceived as out-of-shape? Fragile?

Part of my reason for starting this blog and my Facebook page was to change that perception of the "older athlete" (and I cringe again). I don't feel old! But that young nurse sure made me feel that way, however well-meaning her intentions were.

Joe Friel writes a blog for endurance athletes. As a 70 year old triathlete himself, he also addresses issues facing older endurance athletes. Joe was recently featured in the Washington Post. His basic tenet: Athletes shouldn’t slow down as they age; keeping up the pace gives them the best chance of staving off decline. He also talks about the importance of weight lifting and high intensity training (HIT) as a way to slow decline and maintain or even improve aerobic capacity. An article in Runners World addresses the science of aging and endurance running. Basically: quality over quantity; flexibility and strength are key; recovery is more important than ever. And contrary to popular belief, running does NOT increase arthritis, in fact, runners have been shown to have less arthritis than non-runners. So there's that!

I get it. I don't deny that I feel different than I did when I was younger. My knees sound like Rice Krispies when I descend a staircase. If I skip a yoga class or don't stretch after I run, I pay the price with prolonged soreness and sluggish legs on my next run. I've incorporated HIT into my weekly regimen--crossfit--and it has enhanced my running dramatically. I run a lot of half marathons and I ran one marathon, but it took such a toll on my body that I've decided just to stick with half marathons. I haven't written off the marathon distance, but if I decide to do another, I sure would train a lot differently for it than I did for Chicago. Respect the distance. Lesson learned.

None of my friends run anymore. Most of them walk, in groups, carrying coffee drinks. Last summer, I invited one of my friends to go standup paddleboarding (SUP) with me on Lake Michigan. Always one to jump at working out with me (although she drew the line at running), after a short time on the board, she sat down and began paddling in a seated position. "It's too hard," she told me. My heart broke. 


Does aging mean you have to slow down? Why am I the weird one, who's pushing her limits? The one who looks good "for her age"? Am I destined to bingo nights, early bird specials at the local restaurants, short curly perms? 

Not if I can help it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

#throwbackthursday ramblings

Each Thursday, I've been posting pictures and race bibs from past races on my Facebook page. A little self-indulgent, maybe, but these trips down memory lane have been fun for me. I've been running for 20+ years, but haven't given much thought to the miles I piled up and races I ran back in the beginning of my running years. I started running to chase away some personal demons, but found that running was actually something I enjoyed and was fairly good at. I've always been a middle of the pack runner. Even back in the 1990s, in spite of some pretty fast running times, there weren't as many people running. A recent story in the Wall Street Journal lamented the trend of slower race times among runners, but this may be because of more people taking up running. Regardless, even though I've slowed down over the years, I remain in the middle of the pack. Alrightly then!

The Y-Me race for breast cancer was started in 1991 to support a Chicago based breast cancer hotline. Women who were diagnosed with breast cancer could call the hotline and talk to a volunteer who would provide emotional support and information. This race ran through 2012, until the organization declared bankruptcy. The race grew from a small Chicago based race to a national race that took place in multiple cities, raising millions for the Y-Me organization. Every year on Mother's Day, runners and walkers gathered to raise money to support this organization. The 3 years I ran the race, it took place in Montrose Harbor and we ran along the lakefront. The race grew in popularity, and moved to Grant Park the following year. I stopped participating because in 1997 I was 6 months pregnant and wasn't running during my pregnancy. And then time passed as I became absorbed with my growing family. While I kept running, I didn't run races for about 10 years.

When I returned to road races, I was amazed at the changes. First of all, races were huge! When I picked up my first race packet, there was a D-tag on the back of my bib. I felt like a newbie attaching it to my shoelaces and stressed about doing it right. At my races in the 1990s, there were no timing chips! You tore the strip off the bottom of your bib and handed it to a volunteer at the finish line, who slid it on a spindle. Someone called out your time and another person recorded it. Super lo-tech. My race time was never recorded in one of the Y-Me races that I ran. And of course, that was my PR race. That was the chance you took back then. When I posted this on facebook, I realized I had no pictures from any of these races. There weren't photographers at the finish line to capture your victorious finish (and sell you a photo or 2). Race shirts were cotton t-shirts (which I did run in!)--tech shirts? What was that?

I chose this race for 2 people dear to me: my aunt Dottie, who was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and fought for 10 years before she died from the disease; and my colleague and friend Lenore, who was diagnosed and died within 2 years of a very aggressive form of the disease. I thought about some of the women with advanced breast cancer that I had cared for as a home health nurse.

Funny how 3 race bibs could provide so much thought and memories!

Have you run any races for charity? Run in memory of someone? How long have you been running?

Oooh! My favorite popchips can be yours for 6 months! Follow the link to the giveaway....The Happy Runner

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Slip slidin' away

Today was a planned yoga day. But then I saw this: 

And this: 

The forecast for the rest of the week does not look good at all. We are supposed to get torrential rains tomorrow, and on top of all the snow we have on the ground, it looks like we are in for a mess. Then the cold returns. Once it freezes, the region will become one big ice rink. And while 37 degrees may not seem warm to some people, to us midwesterners who have been in the deep freeze for 2 months, it is a heat wave. So I decided to bag the yoga for today, even though my legs protested, and hit the road. I almost wore capris, but my legs need a little deforesting....

The beautiful blue sky and sunshine felt warm. 
Still lots of snow on the ground behind me!

In spite of the warm temperatures, my run wasn't exactly perfect. I had to stop a quite a few times to navigate hazards. 

Like this:
Chunked up snow that melted and froze into ice balls. Agility is a skill that comes in handy here, jumping from one open spot to another.

And this:

This is what I like to call "take a chance on me". It looks like frozen ice, doesn't it? Solid, I'll just shuffle along to keep my balance. Oops, nope, it isn't as thick as it seems...and down to the bottom of the puddle I go. Cold water in my running shoe. Thank god for my SmartWool socks. They really do wick the moisture away!

And this:

There is no way I'm walking through this slushie. So along the side of the path is some chunked up ice. A test of balance, as I walked along the narrow icy stuff, arms out to the side.

And this.

Looks clear, right? Nope. Black ice. The absolute worst road hazard--a heart stopping experience. Just running along, enjoying the day, and woooosh! you're sliding, out of control, trying not to fall. 

Running in the winter and early spring is always a challenge. You might not get into a groove. But you take it for what it is. Fresh air. Sunshine. And the promise of spring.

I can't complain. We need days like this to lift our spirits, give us a taste of spring. Birds were singing. I know spring will come. 

Just be careful out there!

When is your favorite time of year to run?

Monday, February 17, 2014

To Garmin or not to Garmin...that is my question

Yesterday's run. I think the miles were pretty accurate but those splits? If I'm running that fast, watch out world! At least, watch out women in my age group....

I've been a runner, it seems, forever. I always talk about how running is fun, that I don't ever want to take my training too seriously--otherwise it feels like a job. Normally, I don't track my miles or my times, I just run by feel. But when I'm training for a long distance event, I like to know my miles on my long runs. Knowing that distance keeps me honest plus it gives me the confidence to know I can go that far. 

In the past, I always used Endomondo. Endomondo has a great looking interface. 

This is from last fall...

The app was a little quirky--sometimes it would quit in the middle of a run, and I'd have to stop and restart it. Overall, tho, I was pretty pleased with it. I felt that it was pretty accurate, and my split times reflected what I believed I was actually running. But then I ran the Fox Valley Half Marathon last fall. The app started calling out miles before I passed the mile markers in the race. Every mile was shorter than those marked out on the course. Hmmm.

So this winter, I thought I'd try Map My Run. This is a really popular app, and a lot of my runner friends seem to use it. But I'm having even more struggles with this app. First of all, my splits are crazy fast. Come on, I've been running a long time, and I know how fast I run. I'm a 9 minute miler at best on long distances. When Map My Run calls out my splits, I laugh out loud! Mile 9 7:25? Hahaha! You've heard of vanity sizing? Maybe Map My Run employs vanity timing! 

The other issue I'm having with Map My Run is that it quits suddenly. Then I have to stop and restart the app. Sometimes I stop to take a picture with my phone and that also makes Map My Run quit. So frustrating!

I could go back to Endomondo...the splits were certainly more realistic...Or....

I'm actually considering getting a Garmin. Normally I love gadgets, but not while I'm running. I think I've talked about this before. The iPhone is ideal for me...all my gadgets in one handy, run Plus I don't want to be one of these people: 

The great thing about those running apps is that they are FREE! But considering all the issues I'm having with my mobile running apps, a Garmin may not be a bad idea. So readers, I need suggestions. I don't need bells and whistles. I just want time and miles, accuracy, and the ability to upload my routes. Something economical. Small, watch-like. And easy to operate. 

Any suggestions?

Do you find your Garmin to be pretty accurate? 

Have you ever run a race and found your Garmin miles to be different than the race miles?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

One tough week...

Last week I found out one of my youngest patients, a 3 month old, was diagnosed with a malignant liver tumor. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I work in a primary care clinic. Which means I see mostly healthy, normal, thriving children. This is only the second time in my career that I've had a patient diagnosed with cancer. What I know about this particular tumor is that it is fast growing. I saw her a month before the tumor was found. That visit was her 2 month well child checkup and there was no evidence of any tumor. She was gaining weight, growing, smiling...she looked absolutely sparkling.

Fast forward to last week and the discovery of the tumor. That news was bad enough, but when I went to the PICU to visit her parents, I was completely unprepared for the anger directed at me by the patient's mother. Her question to me, "are you sure you didn't feel anything?" was expected. I reassured her that I didn't, that her exam at her last visit with me was 100% normal; I also reminded her that these tumors can grow really fast. In fact, these particular tumors can double in size in 12 hours. She replied that someone told her the baby was most likely born with the tumor. I shook my head. The remainder of my visit with them was extremely uncomfortable. While the dad was very pleasant, the mom just kept staring at me. I felt like she was boring holes through me. I wrapped up the visit and went back to my office, where I started to cry.

Now, I'm not a crier. As a matter of fact, once I start, I can't stop. So crying isn't something I like to do. Fortunately for me, one of my partners, who has been practicing for years, took me in his arms and said all the right things. And I know in my heart of hearts that there was nothing I did wrong. I understand that this mom needs to be angry at someone. I know if I were in her shoes, I would too. It just doesn't feel great to be that person. Not great at all.

In addition to that, my father, who had minor surgery last week, had a major complication. My parents live in a small town and I continue to argue with them about where they receive their medical care. Let's face it, because I work in the medical profession, I don't have a great deal of faith in small town community hospitals. I can't help it. Last fall, my dad had quintuple bypass surgery. My mom wanted him to have the surgery at their local hospital and it was a tough conversation I had with them, to convince them to go to a major medical center in Chicago, to have the procedure done. He breezed through that major surgery with no complications. I hate to say I told you so, well, this time...I told you so. Yesterday my dad had to go back to the OR to have the complication taken care of. This did not make me happy. As a medical professional and a daughter, it is so hard to sit back and watch my dad go through this, when it most likely could have been avoided had the surgery been done elsewhere. Instead, I was subjected to my mom trying to sell me on this surgeon and defending him. It was so hard for me to sit back and watch this unfold, sit back and hold my tongue. 


So long story short, I have been hanging by a thread this week. I continued to run as always, but I didn't find that running was giving me a sense of peace like it usually does. While I ran, I did a lot of thinking. Sometimes that happens, but most runs, I just lose myself in the music. This week, even though I felt better shortly after my runs, the anxiety reappeared fairly quickly. I felt fatigued and sad most of the week.

On my day off, I went to my weekly crossfit session with my trainer and told her that I just wasn't feeling it this week. She told me that was too bad because she had some heavy lifting planned for me. I helped her load the plates on the bar and began deadlifts. In between sets, we talked about my week. Interestingly, I began to feel better. I thought I was done until she had me load a little more weight on the bar. "Just one rep", she told me.

I pulled that weight up to my hips and let it fall to the floor. You get to do that in crossfit. 150#!  It might sound corny but I felt so much better. The anxiety was gone. We moved onto the rest of the workout, and I came home, feeling like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. Literally! Who knew that weight lifting could do that for me?!

Or deadlifts!

I went to work yesterday with a new attitude. Still no anxiety. My medical assistant and I went up to see the baby. The mom was much less hostile towards me. The baby has received her chemo and so far looks good. She smiled at me, too! My dad had his surgery and is recovering. He says he feels much better. 

Tomorrow is a 12 miler. I plan on taking it long and slow. I'm hoping to just lose myself in my music. No thinking. I'm grateful the week ended on a positive note. I'm grateful the week's anxiety didn't pull me down. I know there's more to come in life...but for now, I'll take this moment of calm. We runners pride ourselves on mental toughness. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A few of my favorite things...

I love this movie. This movie is one of my favorite things! When I heard that there was going to be a remake, I thought: blasphemy! Why remake a classic? And no, I didn't watch it. I just couldn't.


Recently one of my favorite bloggers, Marcia, at Marcia's Healthy Slice, wrote a post on her favorite running things. It was fun to see what she likes. 

As a long time runner, I've seen lots of trends, lots of advice-good and bad, and lots of products guaranteed to enhance your running experience. 

So, ala Marcia, here are a few of my favorite running things, things that truly making running even better for me:

This innocent looking tube is actually a frenemy of mine. I've had regular foam rollers but none that get into the muscles like this one. It has grids on it and ridges, which for some reason loosen up tight tissues better than a standard foam roller. This baby hurts me, but I feel so much better when I use it. My construction working husband refuses to roll on it--last time I offered it to him for his back pain he told me that I would "have to call 911" if he ever rolled on that again. Hah! Who's the tough one in this household?

Let's be honest here..what runner hasn't experienced chafing? Even today, I had some chafing under my arms from the seams of my shirt. Sometimes you don't even realize you've been chafed until you take a shower and the hot water hits the spot--ouch! And then there's chafing in--ahem--the netherregions. I've tried a variety of products for this. Vaseline, desitin, triple paste, body glide...nothing was great. Until I discovered chamois cream. Cyclists use it all the time. I love this stuff! When I bought some recently, the guy at REI asked me if I was cycling outside this winter. When I told him I used it for running, he said he had never thought of using it for that. Hello Chamois Butt'r--you've got a whole other market out there! What I really like about this cream is that it is non-greasy. So no more white streaks on my clothing or car seat. Which means no more silly questions or comments that I '"sat in something". And my bottom is pain free. It's all good.

Do you GU? I hear that a lot of runners GU. Unfortunately for me, GU is not my friend. GU contains fructose, which is a sweetener, and for some of us unfortunate, sensitive souls, triggers multiple trips to the portapotty during a race. My ex brother in law used to call it "IBS" aka "I'll be stopping". I tried many different products. Clif gel contains cane sugar and is very tummy friendly. The only issue I have with these products is choking them down during a race. The Razz flavor tastes like raspberry jelly, and doesn't gag me like some of the other flavors. I cannot run and gel. I take a quick walk break to gel and drink water (you have to drink water with gels or else they will haunt you!). The only complaint I have about these is that I have had issues with opening the packages during races, even tho there is a little slit at the top. Sweaty hands and a slippery package don't work well. I've learned to snip the top with a scissors before I head out. Voila! 

Since I've had kids, I hate things around my waist. I cannot wear a fuel belt...the jostling of the bottles and belt is so distracting to me! I like to run unencumbered. When I ran Disney a few years ago, I realized that I needed a place to put a few things for the race. At the expo, I stopped at the Spibelt booth. I bought this exact model, because it is waterproof, and I run with my phone. I still have this same belt. I use the Spibelt every time I run. It is flat and lays low on my hips. It doesn't move. It can hold my iPhone, my car key, 2 Clif gels, and 2 packs of Chamois butt'r. Here's a picture of the Spibelt in action: 
This is not me..thanks to I missed your giveaway! You sell the spibelt well!

If you run outdoors all year round like I do, there are times that you may run in the dark. When I was training for the Chicago marathon, there were a few mornings that I had to run at 430am to get my miles in before I went to work. I thought that running around my local retention pond would be a safe bet. I was wrong. I couldn't see my feet on the ground. Even scarier was the rollerblader who came flying at me out of the dark. Who was the bigger idiot? I won't debate that point but I did get myself one of these headlamps. The Petzl Tikka headlamp is great--the beam goes far enough ahead of you that you are able to see any possible hazards AND you are visible to cars (and rollerbladers). 

For the past 4-5 years I have been dealing with plantar fasciitis (PF). For a while, it was really bad. I had also developed a bone spur in my heel, which was all part of the package. My podiatrist did shockwave treatments which broke up the scar tissue and fixed my heel pain. But I still get PF after I run. I roll my arches, I stretch my feet, I ice them too...but nothing has helped me stay relatively pain free likes these compression sleeves. They aren't cheap, but worth every penny in my book! I'm wearing them as I write this! One caveat...they are sold individually, so if you have PF in both feet, you need to buy 2 of them. But I don't ever want this common running issue to keep me off the road!
I'm sorry, but I love puns...

These truly are my favorite things. I'm not sponsored by any of these companies, nor have I ever received any free products to try. But if they want to send them to me, I'll be happy to receive them!

Everyone has their favorite must have items. What are some of yours?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

As seen on the run

I like nothing more than a good LSD. Me, alone with my thoughts and my music. I actually enjoy running alone--even long distances. I entertain myself by listening to my music and being observant. I've seen some pretty interesting things on my runs. I learn a lot about my neighbors just by running by their homes on a daily basis--you get to know their patterns and routines. One of my routes takes me along a stretch of a busy suburban arterial road and I see stuff people throw out of their car windows. You'd be surprised what is laying on the ground. But in the winter, the snow covers everything up and there isn't as much to look at. So I have to find other ways to entertain myself.

About 2 miles into my 10 miler today, I saw this guy ahead of me: 

As I ran down the path, Chevron Man came into view. Like a beacon in the distance, his jacket signaling me to approach.
Hey guy..the 80's called..they want your jacket back....

What an ugly jacket, I thought to myself. Must get ahead of competitive juices flowing. I kept telling myself to slow down, this is just a training run. But Chevron Man was there for the taking. A guy wearing something like that can't be a serious runner, right? Those stripes were just inviting me to race, his arms flapping like a checkered flag. As I approached, Chevron Man turned around. I've had a few weird incidents on this path, so I understood why he might be a little nervous. No worries, Chevron Man, it's just little old competitive me....And I passed him, giving him the runner's nod and a friendly good morning. Eat my dust--or in this case, snow--Chevron Man. Nice jacket.

What's wrong with me? It isn't like I'm a fashion plate: 

Just me and my thoughts.

I was moving pretty well, I thought, and the path and roads were pretty clear:

A few miles into my run, I realized that the app I've been using to keep track of my miles, routes, and times, Map My Run, wasn't calling out my miles to me. I stopped to check and found that the app had quit. When I opened it up, my miles appeared, most likely because of the GPS. But my splits were hilarious. Mile 2 was logged at 3:22 pace! Holy Moley.

Thankfully this will keep me honest:
Actually it read 7 when I approached...
Frustrated, I restarted the app and kept going. Which I had to do multiple times this morning. Here's the summary it gave me: 
If only I could have those 6:28 splits!

Overall, it was a decent run. I didn't like having to stop and restart that app so many times. I'm just going to chalk it up to the cold weather. I think I am the only runner in the world who doesn't run with a Garmin. I also forgot to wear my watch, so I have no idea how long I ran. At least the distance is accurate. Oh well. Hopefully once it warms up again, if it ever warms up again, the app will work properly.

Speaking of that spring, towards the end of my run, I had a somber moment as I saw a dead robin on the path. It doesn't seem appropriate to share a picture of it. I thought about how that came to be. Did the bird not migrate south for the winter? Did he come back too soon, thinking it was time? The path runs under those electric towers, so most likely he flew into a wire. I felt kind of sad, seeing that. And as it began to snow again, I headed towards home, legs numb, face numb. Cursing the cold.

Another long run in the books.

What do you think about when you run alone? Or do you run with a friend?

Do you use a Garmin to track your runs? Or an app on your phone? Any recommendations either way?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reason to run #386: Teenage Sons

There is a great Tumblr blog called Reasons to Be Fit. Anyone can post a motivational reason to work out. I personally love these.  For example:

But let's face it. There are other reasons we run. Reasons that might not make a great motivational poster. For example, you might be the mother of this guy: 

Truly, I am grateful JB is not my son. And no, JB is NOT one of the reasons I run. As a matter of fact, I'm tired of hearing about his antics. He represents the worst example of teenage decision making. Does his mother run? If not, she should consider it!

I know, I know, the teenage brain=poorly developed prefrontal cortex=bad choices. Lack of reasoning. A feeling of invincibility. Clearly JB hasn't developed his frontal lobe completely. I get it. I just don't want to experience it. But my son?

About 5 months ago, my 16 year old was arrested for shoplifting at Walmart. When we got the phone call from the police to come and bail him out of jail, my first response was disbelief.

"Seriously, Walmart? Why would anyone shoplift there?"

Ok, maybe that wasn't my first response. Actually, I couldn't breathe after that phone call. And I didn't go for a run, but I did go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood before we went to the police station. Have you ever had to pick up your son from the police station? We had to go into a special side entrance where the sign said "Bail Out" and waited in a little room for the police to "process" him and his 2 equally idiotic friends. 

I didn't speak to him until the next day. I went for a long run and lost myself in my thoughts. When I got home, his father and I talked about how to handle this. His punishment was handed down: grounded indefinitely + he had to pay his father and me back for whatever this was going to cost. We told him he had to find a job. But in all honesty, I wanted to throttle him. 

I accompanied him to court about 5 days later and watched with wonder the process of settling cases of other people with poor judgement. What amazed me is that people actually showed up and told the judge, "no, I didn't do my community service". Or "no, I didn't buy car insurance". The judge actually wanted to help these people make things right, and they still blew it. I pointed this out to my son and he nodded. I thought, ok, he's starting to take this seriously.

We stood in front of the judge and my son received a lecture on crime and a sentence of 20 hours of community service. The judge also threatened my son with juvie.

I see some of those kids as patients in my clinic. These aren't the kind of kids he's ever met. My pampered, suburban son has no idea what juvie would be like. He joked about it on the ride home. It took every ounce of self control not to throttle him again.

At first, the community service hours weren't hard to get. He did some hours at a not-for-profit where my sister works and I had him volunteer at a couple of races, handing out water to runners. He tried relying on one his buddies to help with the hours, but oddly, those opportunities never panned out. I kept nagging him to get it done. 

Fast forward to now. We are one month away from the court date and he still has 8 hours to go. The other night I woke up after a dream where he stood in front of the judge and told him he didn't do his hours. Before the judge laid down the verdict, I woke in a sweat. The next morning, I went for a run and thought about all this. When I got home, I started making calls. Luckily, our church said they would take him this Saturday for 8 hours, so he could finish. When I told him, he said, "oh yeah, I was going to call them". His dad laughed at that. I wanted to throttle my son again. And no, he hasn't found a job yet.

I never was one of those moms who complained about her kids. Don't get me wrong, they weren't angels, but when I listened to other moms talk about their kids, I always felt lucky. They gave me very little trouble as toddlers and school age kids. Both my boys are good kids. They make me laugh and we still have fun together. But for the first time as a parent, I am struggling. How do I support them and guide them, without being controlling and alienating them? I know I have to let them make mistakes, but I'd like to avoid another brush with the law. 

All things to consider while I run. Running is my therapy. And one of the reasons I run is because I am the mother of teenagers.

Why do you run?

Monday, February 3, 2014

A pain in the a**

Injury is unavoidable after all these years of pounding the pavement. The list of the 7 most common running injuries reads like the 7 deadly sins: ITB syndrome, plantar fasciitis, runner's knee (aka patellofemoral pain syndrome), shin splints, hamstring issues, achilles tendonitis, and stress fracture. And yes, I've suffered almost all of them.

Now I get to cross another one off the list.

For the past month, I've had some nagging pain in my right butt cheek. Yesterday during my run, it really started to hurt. When I finished my 10 miler, I had trouble lifting my right leg up to go up the stairs. My friend Sara, aka Cheesy Runner Mom, commented yesterday on the severe grading of the roads around here. I've been doing a lot of road running this winter. I think that may have nagged this one on...

Yep. Piriformis syndrome. Actually..I'm not one for drama, so let's call it pre-piriformis syndrome. A major pain in the ass. Hasn't travelled down my leg yet. And it won't, if I can help it.

A little preventative medicine: yoga stretches and rolling.

I stretched out into pigeon pose:

And rolled on my lacrosse ball. And no, this is not me!

After this targeted therapy, I felt some relief.

Today was a planned yoga day. I have done yoga for a long time, and since I was so sore from running yesterday on slippery roads, I wanted something that would stretch me out. Something akin to Yin Yoga. None of the videos I have would do, so I turned to YouTube and found a great slow video that hit all the targets. The poses were held for a loooooooooooong time. This type A+ gal had a little trouble settling down at first but once I started my yoga breathing, it was all good.

Now I feel loose and relaxed. On tap for tomorrow...treadmill intervals. Let's see how that all works out.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I've got the music in me...

Anyone remember this?

I guess I've always run with music. When I first started running, I ran around a track at the local health club. Eight times around was a mile. Which I guess isn't too bad...but the walls were painted gray and it was pretty boring. To help pass the time and shut out the grunts of the muscleheads in the weight room, I used to listen to cassette tapes on my Sports Walkman. It had a nifty handle on the back, or I could wear the neoprene waist pouch. Can't believe I still have it! EBay lists it as "vintage". Yikes! Outdoor runs were music free, though.

Once my son was born, I stopped going to the health club to run. I wanted to avoid the health club day care. Germs. I bought a treadmill and set up a mini stereo, which was an upgrade from my cassette player to a CD player.  The downfall with the CDs and cassettes was that you had to listen to an entire album. First world problem, I know...

Then I received one of the first iPods for a birthday present. And suddenly, I could make playlists to match my running mood! I began using my iPod for running full time. I found that if I didn't have to listen to my breathing, I could go farther and faster.

It still works!

The iPods got smaller and the playlists grew. I got an iPhone and found Spotify. What I like about Spotify is that for $10/month (which is less than I used to spend at iTunes, sadly), I have unlimited access to music. I can make playlists and change them at will. If I don't like a song, it's gone. This is a great feature if you want to try a song out and you find that it doesn't work for your needs. 

One thing I don't like about Spotify is that some of the songs cut out/stop playing, unless you have the playlist in the "offline mode". The offline mode allows those songs to be available on your device, even if you aren't connected to WiFi. You need adequate storage space--a potential problem. 

Overall, for me, Spotify has been a great fit! As you can see by the playlist below, I have pretty eclectic taste in music. Don't judge me..I won't apologize for any of the wackier songs...anything that gets me moving is fair game. If it is a really great song or a really great run, you might catch me singing...

Finally, if you need proof that music can help your running to feel effortless, click here for some research to back you up. Just remember to stay safe, stay know the drill.

Do you listen to music when you run? Why or why not? And if you do, what songs are on your go to playlist?