She said: Don’t give up

Okay, she didn’t “say” it, she wrote it.
More accurately, she blogged it.
Don’t give up written by my second favorite Running Blogger in the entire Blogosphere.

Go ahead.
Read her post.
You’ll thank me.
I’ll wait right here ’til you get back.

See?
I told you so.
You’re welcome. 

I needed to read what she wrote about keeping some piece of running.
I needed to read what she wrote about achieving a running goal.
I needed to read what she wrote about giving ourselves time and space.
I needed to read “DON’T GIVE UP” and “but don’t quit”.

I needed to read these words because after Sunday’s five mile run – out of town where there was every reason not to run that I didn’t use any of – my knee was screaming. Not the sharp, shooting, debilitating scream I’ve heard before (The Scream that is my deepest fear at the start of every run) but screaming nonetheless.

Monday the knee was still stiff and whiny and the thighs were whimpering in sympathy. For the record: Sitting in a bucket-seated vehicle for seven hours after a five mile run isn’t necessarily the best post-run plan.

Tuesday was supposed to be a run day. Monday night I couldn’t sleep. Tuesday the knee was still stiff and the thighs were only speaking to me in angry, sore-muscle tones.  Tuesday there was no running.  I pretended not to care.  I pretended I wasn’t relieved that I wasn’t going to have to worry about feeling The Scream.

And this morning I woke up thinking “Maybe running really isn’t your thing. Maybe you are ‘too old’ to have started this. Maybe it’s time to just go back to walking and forget about half-marathons and PRs and all the rest of it.” and I re-set my alarm and slept past The Time For Running. But in my head I was ticking through the weeks between now and September 15th – My Second First Half Marathon – figuring the smallest increments of distance I can add week to week and still be up to twelve miles by August 25th in time to get at least two runs in at that distance and still have a taper week before The Half.

Then I read these words: “I wanted 2011 to be the year I ran. No goals, just run.” and I flashed back to last summer when I started this whole crazy “I’m going to become a runner” adventure.
I didn’t set out to run a Half.
I didn’t set out to PR anything.
I just wanted to run. And enjoy running.
I didn’t care if “all” I ran in a given interval was one minute or one hundred minutes.
I wanted to, as Terri Lee so simply and eloquently put it, “just run”.
That was it.

Which is precisely what I intend to do tomorrow.
Just run.
At my comfortable, workable, enjoyable pace.
And I’ll walk when I need to walk to recover my breath and recenter my intention.
No pressure.
No guilt.
No worries about whether or how long it takes to finish that Half in September.
Just run.
Run until I hit that sweet spot. And then run a little further in it.

And my knee?
It’ll be just fine.
Like the run.

Miles 2 – Pain 0 – No More Treadmills!

Ran two miles tonight.
Ran it in 1/4 mile intervals.
Finished with no knee pain.

Rewind to Saturday afternoon when there was substantial pain after not even a 1.5 mile run on a treadmill and I was afraid running any further wasn’t going to happen.  Again.  Ever.
Upon consultation with a runner friend who is also a trainer I learned that (often) when one has become accustomed to road running (ING not ER) switching back to treadmill running can exacerbate things like oh . . . say . . . RUNNER’S KNEE!

So I spent the weekend back with my friendly Mueller knee band, spent Monday and Tuesday laid out with some god-awful, streppish-stomach-bug-mutation virus that’s going around down here in Dixie, and after work today – and no twinges, pings, dings, or otherwise negative indicators from Ye Olde Knee – headed to our favorite running trail to do  two miles in quarter mile intervals at the end of which everything was A-Okay!

My reason for being on a treadmill Saturday morning was well-founded.  I’m working with my BFF in her desire to start running.  We’re following the same training program that got me started running last summer.  It’s slow, gradual, and fool-proof.
If starting out on a treadmill is what’s best for her I’ll just have to avoid the temptation to ‘bust a move’ and stick to walking beside her instead of running.  Then again, with her long-term goal being finishing a 5K she may want to go ahead and transition to road running sooner rather than later.  Heat/Temperature is a consideration for her, so we’ll have to see what works best.

Meanwhile back at the trail . . . I got my two in today!
Saturday’s goal is three and I might just expand one of those intervals to a full half mile.

It just feels so freakin’ good to be running again!
It feels good to think that my half-marathon in September is actually going to happen! 

P.S. To any of my co-workers who are wondering what happened to that “I’m going home after work and going straight to bed!”  Well . . . Running happened.  That’s what.  NOW I’m going to bed!

And so it comes to this

Alternate Title: How cute, harmless looking little flats kept me from getting back to running.

I got my first pair of Real Heels the Christmas I was fourteen years old.
These weren’t glorified Mary Jane Slingbacks with a minuscule wedge ‘heel’.
These were Heels.  Black, pointy-toed, nearly-stiletto slim, three inch Heels.
And I.  Was.  Smitten.
In the years that followed I became a connoisseur of Heels.  By my early forties I had a veritable reputation and had attained Consultant/Rockstar Heel Wearing status among my peers.  People asked my opinion about Heels.  People gave me Heels they “couldn’t” wear.  I accepted their gifts  but not – at times – without a touch of pity as I took possession of My New Babies.
When my best friend was diagnosed with MS and realized her Heel Wearing Days were behind her it was me she called to come over and go through her shoes with her, and it was to me that she entrusted many pair of beautiful, slender-heeled pumps and sandals.  I was to be her Proxy Heel Wearer.  And I did so.  But there was always a trace of guilt when I’d wear a pair from my Lisa Collection.

And then, I took up running.
At first I believed I could strike a balance between My Two Lovahs.  If I only wore Real Heels on Sundays to church when I wasn’t really on my feet much, and maybe out to dinner with HCRP when I wasn’t really on my feet much, I could totally satisfy both of them: Fitness and Vanity.
That lasted about two weeks.
Then the Calf Cramps came to town. (Awesome garage band name isn’t it?  “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Calf Cramps!)   And The Heels – even the Lisa collection – Had. To. Go.  I sent them to a good home.  A dear, sweet, heel-loving, and not mid-forty year old newbie runner friend at church.  And with that
 I resigned myself to a future filled with cute flats, and little (I’m talking less than 2″) kitten-heeled slides and what-passes-for pumps.

Spring springs and it’s time to unpack the Spring/Summer clothes and shoes.  And everything is peachie-keen.  After all, as I’m putting on all those clothes that have been stored since last October things are too big, too bigger, and too biggest.  I’m talkin’ fall off without being unbuttoned/unzipped too big.  It’s awesome!
Until this past weekend.
Saturday night HCRP and I went out to grab dinner and go see a friend play and sing at a Songwriter’s Night at a local coffee house.  It was a beautiful, summer-like night so I broke out my favorite pair of summer sandals.  They’re flats – like nearly barefooted flats – and all cute and hippie-strappy, and I’ve had them forever and they just make me happy to wear.
Sunday I broke out my cute, pink, kitten-heeled slides to wear to Church after which we had to run a couple errands.  And by 1:30 My Left Knee was screaming.
Yes, that Left Knee.
The one I’ve been rehabbing from Runner’s Knee since February!
The one I’ve been following Chiropractor’s Orders about the care and rehabbing of.
The one that had, after two weeks of aerobic pace walking and strength training, been pain free for the entire two weeks.
Until Sunday it was pain free.  Sunday it went back to being un-pain free.
Monday it was more un-pain free.  Which meant no getting back to running.
Tuesday it was even more un-pain free.
And early on in all of this un-pain free-ness I knew exactly what had happened.  Cute little flats and low, kitten-heeled slides with zero cushion, shock absorption, or support.  Apparently this little knee of mine requires cushion and shock absorption lest it decide to get all tweaked and un-pain free.
And on Wednesday when I saw The Incredible, Amazing, Super-Genius Chiro Doc he agreed with my assessment of the cause of the un-pain free-ness.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

Remember when I said I gave away “all my heels”?
Well maybe I lied just a tiny bit.
I did keep one pair.
I kept these.
These are my Red Bandolino Pumps.
These are fairly representative of My Heels. High, sleek, sexy, and very powerful feeling.
I love and adore these shoes.  Moreover, my husband loves and adores these shoes.
I haven’t worn them in months, but I do reserve the right to wear them for a special night out and most assuredly one where I don’t walk further than ten feet at a time.


These are the cute little kitten-heeled slides that were the undoing of my knee Sunday.

These are what I walked out of Payless wearing and was deeply grateful to have found in my size.

For contrast, here are the three side by side by side.
I’m going to need a moment of silence to grieve.
And to accept my heel-free, well-cushioned future.

PREPARING to Embrace The Caveman

Well.
We haven’t begun the Paleo Diet thing quite yet simply because that takes a lot more planning and preparation than I had originally realized!

Cleaning out the pantry? That was a breeze.
Being fully prepared to make the meals and have the snacks on hand and ready to roll? Not so easy-breezy.
Tonight I’m going to make up a meal plan and a shopping list and Sunday Morning it’s back to The Stone Age for us!

I’ve been back walking (other than to and from the car and around the office and house) and doing strength training for a week now with zero complaint or opposition from Ye Olde Knee.
Which means that Monday I can start back running!
Slowly and for short distances to begin with.
But running nonetheless.

I’ve learned quite a bit about . . . well . . . a lot of things really while I’ve been recovering and recuperating from this injury.  But mostly these things:

  • I have learned that if one doesn’t listen to one’s body when said body whispers about something being not right, one will listen when the body screams.
  • I have learned that those bodies – given the time and attention they need to actually heal themselves – are amazingly resilient (and eventually forgiving) things.
  • I have learned that you really won’t “Lose all my progress in a week!”
  • I have learned that running (probably any fitness practice but running is my thing) is a lot more of a mental thing than I had given it credit for.
  • And I have learned that running (again, probably any fitness practice) truly does change every aspect of your life. It changes how you eat, how you sleep, how you think about things. I catch myself saying things like “This neighborhood would be a great place for a run!” or “Oh now this would SUCK to run!” The difference generally comes down to hills.

Finally I know that I am so looking forward to the breathing hard and sweating that only a good run produces!

Embracing The Caveman

It is a well-known fact that most overweight people who take up running do so not just for the joy of wearing out $100+ pairs of shoes and collecting Race Bibs. No, we are also looking for what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss.
Okay, I was/am.
So was/is HCRP.
And, to a certain degree we’ve each attained a level of success in that pursuit. I guess when you run enough miles pursuing something eventually you’re going to catch up with it!

My Left Knee (why does that sound like the really bad title of a really bad runner’s memoir?) has finally had enough rest, elevation, stretching, icing, rolling on a foam roller, braces, knee bands, and generally anything-but-running that it is now accepting of moderate exercise.
Wednesday we hit the gym to begin adding strength training to our overall program which had been The Plan all along once we/he finished that first Half. I backed off the amount of weight on the leg machines and did only one set and all was well.
Thursday we headed to our favorite outdoor running venue where I walked once around the 1.6 mile track at one of the lakes with a friend while Rich ran it twice. That little bit of walking it once wisdom was thanks to my friend saying “Uhhh… No.” when I asked “Should we go around again?” in what probably sounded the way eager puppies sound in people’s heads when they stand there wagging their tails with tennis balls in their mouths. I have smart friends. Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t all okey-dokey and rarin’ to run.  I was feeling notsomuch twinges at the end of the once-around, but definitely a little bit of stiffness and mild inflammation in the tendon by the end of the walk. But no actual pain and this morning everything is a-okay in Kneeville.
Tonight we’re back to the gym for (still modified for me) strength training, and tomorrow while Rich runs three times around the lake I’ll walk once and a quarter then turn around and head back to sit, soak in the sunshine, and read a good book.

But back to the topic of today’s post.
So HCRP and I have been running along, following The Runner’s World Runner’s Diet and dropping a pound or two one week then gaining it right back the next. Oh, yeah, I had that fabulous six pound weight loss of a couple posts back but I gotta be honest and say that was basically dumb luck + the generosity of my metabolism staying ramped up even when I wasn’t able to run + the fact that in not running my apetite has reduced itself to crap. (On the up side: I have been eating breakfast most of the days since making Meus Amplitudo Mea Culpa). But really, we haven’t been getting the consistent results we’ve been wanting.

Being a big believer in the old adage about the definition of insanity being continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results, I started poking around Ye Olde Worlde Wide Web for alternatives that blend weight loss and what I like to call Fueling The Machine. As I was doing this poking a Facebook post of a friend who is a fitness machine (martial arts, running, body building – and does he have the results to show for it!) about starting the Paleolithic Diet a few weeks back towards the end of dropping his body fat percentage. Of course at the time I read his post (which accompanied a picture of a ginormous t-bone steak and half a plate of broccoli) I thought “All well and good for you Carnivore!” and dismissed this as an undoable for me since I don’t eat meat. (Actually, tomorrow it will be one year to the day since I stopped eating meat. Happy No-Meativersary to me!)
But the phrase “Paleo Diet” kept swirling around in my brain. Which led to the following thoughtversation. (Don’t you love how I just make up words? I need to become some kind of spokesperson for a society or association of word makeruppers like my friend Terri Lee is the spokesperson for Butt Falling Off Syndrome or BFOS. I digress . . . Which is another societation I could be spokesperson for. The Nationally Associated Society for Compulsive Digressors – NASCD. We need a poster. And a logo. Wait, I did it again… See?!)
Dang it. Where was I?
*scrolls back up*
Caveman eating without eating meat . . .
Runners need carbs . . .
Oh. Right.
The Thoughtversation.
Me: That Paleo Diet thing does sound interesting.
My Brain (MB): Yes, yes it does. For a CARNIVORE!
Me: True. But I do still eat fish, eggs, and dairy.
MB: Fine. Google it.
Me: Fine! I will!
GoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Ah HA!
MB: What?
Me: Look! That No Meat Athlete Guy says it can be done. And he is HARD CORE Vegetarian. He might even be Vegan.
MB: Okay fine. But what about that “Runners need carbs” thing?
Me: Vegetables and Fruits are carbs. Ask Atkins people. They practically break out in hives at the sight of anything vegetablier than lettuce!
MB: Atkins people eat more than lettuce.
Me: Whatever. Not an option.
MoreGoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Hey. You. Brain. Check this out. Written by a Runner for Runners on a Runner’s Magazine Website! HA!
MB: That’s one article.
Me: Oh yeah? *insert googling sounds* Well look at this: The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Dr. Loren Cordain. One of the guys the vegetarian runner dude had dinner with.  And it’s not “one article” it’s a BOOK!
MB: Huh. Well. Well huh.
Me: That’s all you’ve got? Look dude (yes, MB is sometimes a ‘dude’) I’m willing to try this. Obviously what we’ve been doing isn’t really working. And if I’m going to be able to train for a half-marathon without incurring any future knee injuries, and HCRP is going to be able to shave that nineteen minutes off his half-marathon time it seems to me that one of the biggest obstacles is the extra weight we are each lugging around. This isn’t necessarily a “weight loss” diet per se, but I can’t help but think that dropping grain-based carbs and dairy from our diets might help a little in that direction. Besides, Dr. Jeff has been none-too-subtle in his “go gluten free” messages and what better way to maybe kindasorta go along with that ‘nudge’ without actually going along with it than to do the same thing with a different label? Huh? This way we get the same benefits and results without him being able to come and say “I told you so!” because really, we didn’t do what he told. We did something different. Entirely.
MB: Well. Okay there is that. It’ll be like the Certs of dietary changes: Two, two, two benefits in one!
Me: You have entirely too many 70s references readily available.
MB: You’re the one who watched all that television as a child.
Me: I have Googling to do.
So after all that I ended up with the aforelinked book by Dr. Cordain and the The Paleo Diet Cookbook notsomuch because I need ideas for cooking – I love coming up with interesting and creative uses for food all on my own – but because, well, it was a reasonable excuse reason to buy a new cookbook!

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be going through our pantry, fridge, and freezer(s) and strafing all the grains and grain-based foods. (I’m not throwing them away, but one of my co-workers is gonna love me every time she makes spaghetti with whole grain noodles for the next six months!) And tomorrow evening I’ll be making up a menu and shopping list. I’m pretty much going to ‘automate’ our breakfasts and lunches and get creative with dinner.

For me it’s going to be a matter of just not eating pasta, bread, and potatoes and upping the vegetable and fruit quotient. There are a few – very few – staples of my diet I’ll have to find a new ‘source’ for. Such as yogurt. I’m hoping our local Whole Foods stocks the So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt because yogurt is a huge breakfast component for me.
HCRP may struggle a little more with the absence of bread, rice, and pasta but I’m pretty confident in the end results I expect us to see and that going a long way towards offsetting that struggle.
And yes, once this has become a habituated dietary pattern for us there will be allowances for occasional ‘cheats’. But honestly, based on everything I’ve read from people who have gone this route and stayed on it, I think we’ll find that we don’t necessarily miss all that grainy goodness as much as we might anticipate on the front end.

But today and tomorrow?
Oh honey, we’re goin’ out with a bang!
And a bagel.
And probably cookies.

The Velveteen Runner

In Margery Williams’ classic The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real the following discussion takes place between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”


For some time now I have struggled with fully embracing the idea that *I* am A Real Runner. Never moreso than in the past several weeks while I haven’t been able to run. Oh I’ve put forth the rhetoric of “Well, I must be a real runner because I have a runner’s injury!” But that’s felt forced and hollow at best.

Last night Rich and I were on our way to a meeting with the Race Planning Team for what I affectionately refer to as “My 5K” and as we were driving through a particularly beautiful subdivision, rather than commenting on the (ridiculously early blooming) Azaleas and landscaping and whether or not I would have chosen that color to paint the shutters and trim on the house, I heard the following statement fall out of my face: This street would be a pisser of a run! in reference to the rolling hills we were driving up and down.
After a beat of stunned silence I said “Well dang. I must be a runner now!”
Rich?
He laughed.
I giggled a little bit. Kinda the way newly-minted thirteen year old girls giggle the first time they’re asked their age and get to say “I’m thirteen!”  But even with that it wasn’t Real for me.

But today.
Today The Realness of me Being A Runner hit me right smack between the slightly-tear-filled eyes.

On Sunday my husband is running his First Half Marathon!
And I am more excited for him than that one little exclamation point might indicate. I am like a bajillion exclamation points excited for him.
He’s been a runner for thirty years, and this is his First Half.
He’s playing his excitement pretty low-key, but I know it’s there.

I was typing up an entry for my online journal and when I got to the “Yeah, I’m really okay with not running this one with him and getting my own Finisher’s Medal because there’s the Air Force Half in September and The St. Jude in December” lie part I got completely choked up and had to stop writing there to come and write this here. And as I was closing one Wordpad document and opening another suddenly that whole “being Real” thing from The Velveteen Rabbit started running through my brain and it finally and fully hit me: I Am A Real Runner.

So, for all my fellow Velveteen Runners out there, let me tell you How You Know You’re Real: You know you’re A Real Runner when you feel the pain of the race you can’t run when you can’t run it.
At least that’s how it worked out for me.

P.S. Of course I’ll be posting Proud Wife pictures of Dearest HCRP at His First Half-Marathon Finish Line on Sunday! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! I wouldn’t let you miss that for the world!

Big Day for My Little Blog and Progress!

Yesterday was a really great day for me for two reasons:
The First Thing was a comment I got right here on this little blog from one of my running mentors/friends/blogging heroes Terri Lee, author of Run. Dog. Cat. Me. Check her out. She’s smart, funny, determined, and one of those people who gives freely from the benefit of her experiences not just as a runner, but as a person.
Anyway, her comment was “GIRL! YOU HAVE BEEN NOMINATED KREATIV BLOGGER! CHECK IT OUT: http://rundogcat.me/2012/03/13/you-take-a-few-days-off-and/” And for as flattering as the nomination itself was, when I went to her post (which I would have done anyway because I love reading her!) her comment about me and my blog had me absolutely puddled up sitting at my desk at work.
I’m still a little verklempt just thinking about it.

The Second Thing actually happened before The First Thing and it took place in the single most unexpected place on planet earth for Good Things to Happen: My bathroom scale!
Last Tuesday when I weighed in I had gained three pounds. Which wasn’t at all unexpected given the fact that I haven’t run in . . . awhile. Let’s just call it “awhile”. I’m tired of thinking how many days/weeks/soon-to-be-month since I last ran without pain or incident. (Although the fact that my last incident/pain-free run was a ten mile run is a nice thought. I digress . . . ) Anyway, I was prepared to have gained back some weight last Tuesday and was fully expecting the same thing yesterday.
Boy was I in for a shocker!

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a FIVE in the tens column there.

At first I doubted the veracity of my scale’s statement so I stepped off, reset it, and stepped back on. When I saw the same number twice I grabbed my phone (Because doesn’t everybody keep their cell phone handy in the bathroom when stepping on the scale? I mean, accidents happen most frequently in the home and bathroom scales have got to be responsible for a significant percentage of those. Oops, I digressed again!) and snapped a picture before Le Scale could change its mind, and that second digit!

For the record: My toes aren’t horribly disfigured or even particularly camera shy. I am however a Good Southahn Girl who happens to be woefully delinquent in removing chipped polish, I am also well-versed in The Rules about such things and feel that they apply equally to posting pictures of one’s feet in any context so I placed my poor little neglected toes in the Toe Polish Protection Program for purposes of sharing the important part of the picture which is . . .

The F-I-V-E in the tens column. I honestly can’t remember the last time there was a five in the tens column on a scale I was anywhere near. With or without a camera handy.

So that was yesterday.


Today’s Big Improvement is that I have ‘stepped down’ the level of support I’m providing to Ye Olde Patellar Tendon. After several days back to wearing the big, bulky brace

and ending two of those days pain free I decided to drop back to one of those groovy little knee bands.

So far, so good.  And in the interests of full disclosure – mine is black, not red.  So no, that isn’t my knee.
If I continue having no pain at the end of the day, I think on Saturday I’m going to get out and walk a mile or two at a good clip and see how it responds to that.
But no running.
Yet.