Cycling Downhill

cycling Thursday, 27 February 2014

I’ve been riding a road bike (what regular humans would call “a 10-speed bike”, a vastly less technical version of the kind of bike Lance Armstrong rode) for a month or so.  I’ve probably been on 6 or 7 rides.

I wear a helmet and very cool riding gloves.  I have a cycling jersey.  I have cycling pants (built-in padding in the butt and crotch to protect delicate butt parts from the hard seat).  I wear special bicycle riding shoes that “clip” (lock)  into the pedals.  (Gratuitous sentence to prove I am super hip.)

I fall over almost every time I ride.  Not exactly every time I stop.  But usually once a ride while stopped.  While I’m laying on the ground, someone on a bike almost always rides by and asks “are you alright?”  I always say “Yes.  Just a beginner.”

The last two times I’ve gotten on the bike I have been surprized at how much more comfortable I am on the bike.  Everything about it it vastly easier — including shifting gears — that it was a month ago.

Today I went for a bike ride that included uphill and downhill.  Riding uphill can be hard work.  Riding downhill can be crazy scary.

Today I was going down hill at god knows how many miles an hour — maybe 15 or faster — almost outside myself thinking “is this really fun?  Do I need to be doing this?”  I was (literally) locked onto a tool that weighs about 15 pounds (it’s made of carbon fiber) on wheels maybe 1″ wide.  (I’m sure that’s wider than they really are).  Wondering if it was fun.  The ratio of scared to fun was pretty high in the wrong direction.

I get, after just this little time, how wondrously fun this cycling thing can be. Almost every ride is lovely.  And I totally get the value of being able to go up and down hills (like if you were touring the country side in, say, Italy, where I will be in November).  And if you’re going to do that, there are going to be hills up and down.

The explanation I got today is that you have to be able to go fast downhill (don’t scream, don’t ride the brakes) so that you don’t get dropped from group rides for slowing down/holding up the group.  Humm.  Maybe that’s the wrong group?

I am hopeful that in another month it won’t be so scary.


Not Piling on the Miles

IMG_283116 November 2013

My friend Monica is conducting a November challenge Piling On the Miles, in which peep commit to an amount of weekly activity.  The goal is, obviously, to offset the eating on Thanksgiving day with additional activity during the month.  I picked what I thought was a conservative number — 20 miles a week.  Not gonna make it.  I would like NOT to feel bad about missing this commitment (and goal).  And I mostly do (not feel bad).

(Good news other POTM participants, no chance I’ll win one of the prizes.)

IMG_0319[1]I have a complete lack of burning desire (let me stand next to your fire) (yes, I do crack myself up).  And it comes from not having a big race coming up.  Which is a good thing, I think.  I’m not pushing too hard to get back into shape for some exterior goal.  I’m just meandering into more activity, slowly.  This week I walked with Scott twice, did spinning (relatively hard), and yoga (stretchy).

I walked with Scott last night (probably 3 miles) and decided that I was not going to run this morning.  I fully intended to go to Saturday night yoga, but when it dawned on me it was the right time, it was 6:30 – and yoga starts at 6.  Oops.

So my plan for the coming week.  Run once, walk twice (once with Kelly and the kids), spin, yoga twice, and swim once.   Starting tomorrow.

IMG_0719[2]I was telling Allen Arnette about my lack of drive and he suggested that I am in “deep recovery”.  Which I like.

I am doing stretching exercises for my whole body’s fascia.  And I am thinking about what I’d like to be doing in 2014 — what I want to train for seriously.  I’m going to run a marathon in the Fall, so I have to train hard during the summer.  But the lesson I’m taking away from a year full of injuries, one after the other, is rest.  Not complete rest like I’ve been doing lately, but rest as a friend to activity.

One of my goals in 2014 is to work on my balance in yoga.  I don’t have good balance on one leg, never have had since I started doing yoga, and haven’t much worked on it.  (I know that’s a function of core strength as much as anything else.)

Runner set stupid, completely random goals for themselves.  I have a friend who wants to run 50 marathons by the time he’s 60.  Why?  Just numbers he picked.  Again, my friend Monica decided she’d run 13 half marathons in 2013, and I, for some unknown reason, thought that was a good idea, and sorta aimed for that too.  (Disclaimer:  I know Monica personally and adore her, but we aren’t like serious friends.  Just fun friends.  So, no I cannot get you a lock of her hair.)  And I would have really done that if I hadn’t had to miss two marathons along the way with this injury.   But I am scheduled for a half marathon (Santa to the Sea) on December 8th, and when I complete that — and I will finish if I have to walk the whole 13 miles — I will have done 13 half/full marathons in 2013.

IMG_0754[1]I don’t know what my goals in 2014 will be — weigh less to run faster, improve yoga balance poses, run a marathon in the Fall, do a triathlon.  (That last thing will only happen if (1) I get on a bike and (2) I ‘m not scared and (3) I don’t suck.)   I would also like to have as much fun doing events in 2013 as I had this year (which is why I did so many things to my eventual detriment, not that I’m complaining about the fun).

There’s an event coming in the Spring that I’m not going to do — the Catalina Marathon.  But I might go for the event.  That would be a super good goal for me — go to an event for the run, but don’t run the big distance.  (There’s a 5K and a 10K, so I could do the 10K while my friends are running all over the island.)  Actually, this would be a SUPER goal for me because it would get me out onto the hills of PV for the work, while not forcing me into the long distances immediately.

Another friend of mine (two, actually) is doing the Ironman AZ tomorrow.  I’m going to get up early to watch the start “live”.  (OK, 1 minute delay.)  On the computer.  I am so excited for Carlos to complete this journey.  What a great day.  (All the better because I’m not in AZ being tempted to sign up for next year.)

Who in the hell runs 13 miles?

IMG_0621[1]Monday, 14 October 2013

I am registered for a marathon in 2 weeks that I am not going to be able to run.  Even though my inflamed bursa is MUCH better and I will soon be able to run again, I cannot run 26 miles in the next 10 days.  So I am coming to the end of my athletic year at a limp.  And I’ve been thinking about what’s next.

I started out this year with two goals…easier and lighter.  Easier – especially at the half marathon distance – which to me carried the sub-text of faster.  Lighter because I would need to weigh less to make “easier” happen.  In June I was well on my way to the weight goal and I was running faster than ever before.

Note to Self:  If you’ve clearly achieved the goal (and a doctor pointed out to me that I was already faster and lighter before I even recognized it) — SET NEW GOALS.

But the doc was wrong in part.  The half marathon distance wasn’t easier.  I was faster and lighter.  But easier is something different.

At the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Diego I PR-ed — even while “wasting” at least 7 minutes along the way (and maybe more).  Those wasted minute were because the distance wasn’t easier.

And then after the R&R I lost focus.  I didn’t stretch into the hard training that took me to a new PR in 2012.  I didn’t run 2 hours every Wednesday, which is hard to do and wonderful when done.  My runs with the coach didn’t stretch longer.  My strength training wasn’t as challenging (I was recovering from an injured shoulder).  A lot of stuff didn’t happen.  I did races that were to have provided progress markers, but I didn’t PR those races.  I didn’t focus on the harder every-day training.  And, I did a marathon in August that was an absolute waste of time.  Second Note to Self:  If you’re going to do a marathon (and this is no reflection on the people or organizers of the Santa Rosa Marathon), it had better be a race you are interested in running.

And then the butt.  My severe bursitis is, I believe, a message from the Universe that “you cannot run that much at that weight”.  (“And if you don’t believe us, we’ll make every single step feel like an ice pick is stabbing you.”)  The prescription for the bursa was “rest”.  And nothing else.

In an attempt to keep my cardio base, I was walking briskly, swimming, and spinning.  And then I got sick.  I’ve blamed the kindergarteners at Naples Elementary School.  But I really think this was a (backhanded) gift from the Universe.  I wasn’t resting.  And for the last two weeks I have been doing nothing.  Walking around the house.  Sitting.  Sleeping.  Sleeping.  Sleeping.  Nothing even resembling physical activity.  (OK, for 2 days in a row I worked 15+ hours a day lifting barges and toting bales.   But today I’m resting, again.)

I was going to start swimming again this evening (third note to self…getting into the pool in the cold dark of night is like getting to el dorado in the summer to run…once you’re off, you’re off…but getting out of the car is hell).  But I was wheezy after the last equipment pick-up, and I still had to unload in my garage.  So instead I’m home.  Writing.


On the mantle above the fireplace I have framed posters of every marathon that I’ve run and the medal from that marathon hanging on the corner of the frame.  Today I took down most posters and put all the medals away…except two.

In 2008 I ran my first 1/2 marathon.  It wasn’t a bucket list item (who says their life’s goal is to run a 1/2 marathon).  But it was the most enormous challenge I could imagine.  The moment it was done — even before I could move my knees again — I knew I could do a full — but I’d need help.  The help came via Sole Runners.  And in 2010 I ran a marathon.  I should be wearing the medal as I write this.  A very important “finish” for me.

(Worthwhile digression:   Once I was reading a list of peoples’ bucklist goals. One guy’s list was (1) sit in the front row of a Jimmy Buffett concert, (2) run a marathon and (3) climb a mountain.  I said to whom ever I was sitting next to, “Look, I’m living this guy’s perfect existence.”)

Two years later in 2012, I set a new goal, and came damn close at the Berlin Marathon.

But in the end, my accomplishments for 2013 will be a bunch of virtually meaningless races — before, during, and after which I had great fun and was totally happy most of the time.  Probably not a bad state of existence.


And knowing three blue-eyed babies.  (Even if they did, together, conspire in the Universe’s back-handed gift.)

Thinking about Goals:  I want to train at the marathon distance because I want to do the Sole Runners’ destination marathon each year.  (We try and find races with multiple distances, but it’s not all that common.)  Earlier this year I was thinking that my next gigantic goal will be to run a sub-5 hour marathon.   But I’m not sure that’s necessary.  A reliable 6:00, or even better 5:50, marathon is fine.  (And I haven’t done that, yet, so it’s a goal, too.)

Today I’m thinking that I want to focus, again, on Easier (at the 1/2 marathon distance).  And Lighter.  (More on lighter in a second.)  I’m thinking I want to run a 2:30 half marathon.  That’s a 22 minute improvement.  It means running at an 11:26 pace for 13 miles — probably a minute faster than I could possibly to today.  But a good goal.

And this Friday I’m starting into the Restoration Diet, lead by Dr. Michael Day, made famous by Carlos Romero.  Friday we go shopping at Trader Joes so that we’ll have food on hand to start the diet with on Day 1.  The kick-off meeting is Wednesday, October 23rd.  I’m immediately going on the road, so my goal is to do my best, and trail a week behind the rest of the class.

10-13-13 LeAnn & Michele Crop

This is my second favorite picture of the marathon.  Because everyone loves Michele.

This is my favorite pictures from the marathon.  It’s ‘way deep in the day (many, many beers).  It is totally Buzz Lightyear and Woody.  ‘Into Infinity.  And Beyond!’

I Daydreamed past my Off-ramp

bursae of the hipWednesday, 11 September 2013

One of my favorite comments these days is “we’re having a 1st world conversation, here”.  When I’m talking to my hairdresser about the people who clean our homes.  Seriously.  Or to my masseuse about anything.  Or my acupuncturist/chiropractor about anything.  Or my trainer about anything.  Or my coach about anything.  Or the cleaning service ladies about anything.  (OK, I don’t say it to them.)

I’m in the middle of a first world situation.  For the past year I have been focused on running a race in Berlin (Germany) at the end of this month.  Again.  Last year I had the race of my life in Berlin.  A friend suggested that we go run it again this year, and I was all for it.  I love the course (it’s super flat and fast) and it’s an interesting city.

I was really on track through the first of June.  I did a course PR at the 5K race on Memorial day, one of my measurement races, setting myself up to do a new, overall  PR in the 4th of July 5K.  I PR-ed the Half Marathon in San Diego the first weekend of June.  (Admittedly I had help because the coach came and got me at about mile 10 and ran with me the last 3 miles, which always helps.)  And I frittered away about 10 minutes in that June race, which is a lot.

But in the July 4th race I got lost on the course (in a manner of speaking), and did not PR.  And then I didn’t race again until the end of July, and that was too hard of a race to RUN — actually it was too dangerous of a race to RUN for a girl who has delicate ankles — and it didn’t really do me any good to WALK half of a half.  And then I did the Santa Rosa full marathon at the end of August, but for a variety of reasons that was not a good race.  (I didn’t know what my assignment was, in terms of running — why was I there?  I didn’t know.  And I was with a new marathoner who hit the wall about 17.  Yadda, yadda.)  And then I did the Disneyland Half the very next weekend in high, high humidity and pretty high heat and finished really slowly — which is something of a reasonable excuse except when you’re supposed to be building to a new marathon PR.

And then…

I have had this pain in my butt for about 2 years.  It is very intermittent, but when it strikes, it’s like an ice pick stab.  Over the last two years, it occurs only occasionally.  One the things that always makes it happen is moving from any yoga pose into down dog.  To get into that pose, I have to bend my right knee, move into the pose, and then straighten the leg.  In the Santa Rosa marathon there was a least a mile in which each step was like an ice pick stab in the spot where it happens.  I wondered if I would have to DNF from the pain.  But eventually it went away.

When 2012 started I told the body work experts (masseuse and acupuncturist/chiropractor) that I wanted to identify and solve that pain.  But sometimes I would forget to remind them.  And it was rarely an issue at the moment of treatment.

Occasionally my weight workout would be impacted, if some motion make the ice pick stab occur.  But the trainer was really the only person who ever had me say “ouch” right in front of him.

So here we are in September and the problem hasn’t been solved.

Last Tuesday, after a massage, my butt hurt from the deep, deep muscle work the massusse had done.  About 4 hours after the massage I went for a 5 mile run.  Every step was the ice pick stab.  I could not believe the pain.  Needless to say that run wasn’t at race pace.  That run was a hobble back to the house.

But it needed to be a 40 mile week, so the next day I went down to the beach to run 13 miles.  When I got to 5 I turned around — I had no idea how I was going to get back to the car.  Every step was the stab of the ice pick in that one spot.  It was astonishing pain.  I ran all of the way — if you can call that hobbling I was doing running.

The next day I was telling my trainer about the pain and he said “I think it’s time to bring in the Western medical experts”.  I went to see my internist, who by her own admission knows nothing, but thought it might be ischial bursitis.  She referred me to a local ortho guy (who takes my insurance).  I got in to see him on Friday and he was great.  All gung ho with me about how to treat this matter to get me running in Berlin.  Heavy duty anti-inflammatory pills, prescription anti-inflammatory cream, an MRI, a cortisone shot, and, as protection, a pill to take to Germany to mask the pain while I run.

Same day, next appointment I went to see the acupuncturist/chiropractor who said “that all sounds fine”, then stuck needles in the spot and told me not to run over the weekend.  It was hard not to.  By Sunday night I felt pretty good and wanted to go for a run, but I did not, trying to abide by the directions.  Interesting to find that I was so anxious to get out there and do it.

Monday evening I went out for a little run at the beach.  I ran 100 steps and had to stop.  I could not imagine taking 4500+ more steps at that level of pain.  It wasn’t an ice pick anymore, admittedly.  It was like a hammer blow – hard and dull.  That was disappointing.

By the time I saw the acupuncturist again on Tuesday morning, I was thinking seriously about the whole German trip — the marathon is in 3 weeks and I am unable to run 100 steps in what should be my last, high-mileage week.  Not good.  I was having serious second thoughts about doing all the interventions to do the race.  I not getting paid to do the race.  It’s an optional thing.  He listed to me for a long time, asked some questions and then said to me – “don’t go”.  In his opinion, the interventions might allow me to do the race, but the effects would probably require 9 months of recovery.  And he helped me reminder that I always say the goal is to be walking into Ralphs on my own two legs when I’m 80.

Then I talked at length with Janet, the friend who is going to Berlin with me.  She flat out said “don’t go”.  Don’t put yourself at risk.  The long term damage isn’t worth it.  (And she’s speaking from experience of not treating an injury immediately.)

So the Sole Runners were at the beach for hill repeats last night.  The coach and Mark and I were talking, and one of them said “aren’t you running tonight” and I said, I can’t run.  And I don’t remember the next sentence, but the response was “I can’t go to Berlin”.  Now Mark doesn’t know what a big deal this is — to be saying I’m not going for the first time — and so he said “oh, that’s a bummer”.  Told a story about somebody else who couldn’t do an event, and the conservation went on.

It’s not a big deal.  It happens to people all the time.  And, once I came to grips with the issue, I’m OK with not going to Berlin.  The coach and I talked about the training year, thus far, and how I’m falling back from the peak with no way to recover.  Even if I were all better tomorrow, I cannot recoup these last 3 weeks of training.

Then, today I got a call from the doctor, himself, who says there is a dark spot on the MRI and they want to do another one, with contrast.  The dark spot could be a blood clot, or something else, or nothing.  They’re scheduling the MRI.  I’m NOT looking on the internet — I don’t want to know.  I got to tell the doc that I’ve decided it’s not imperative that I run the race at all costs, and I want to take a less invasive, less aggressive approach to this.

The picture that starts this blog is, indeed, exactly where it hurts on me.  It doesn’t radiate.  It doesn’t go down my leg.  It’s that one spot.  It may very well be an inflamed bursa.  But I’m not getting a shot to fix it (unless it’s a last resort).  I’m going to try PT, acupuncture, massage, and rest.

What’s next?  I’m going to hope to be ready for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27th — that’s about 6 1/2 weeks.  I want to run a half marathon with Stacey and Brian Soares the first weekend of December (but running isn’t required, necessarily).  And I want to run the Rose Parade Bandit Run on New Year’s Day.  (But that is totally at my own pace, whatever that may be.)

I worked out with the trainer today and we set a new path at least through the end of October.  And we agreed that I have to walk as aggressively as I was running in an effort to keep my cardio endurance up.  (I also went to the beach and walked briskly 3 miles in 56 minutes.)

And, starting 1 November, I’m going to train for an early spring triathlon.  Buy a bike.  Get a swimsuit.  Get a wetsuit.  The coach says “you have to swim two days, bike two days, and run two days…that’s six days a week”.  He said that like I haven’t been working 6 days a week for months.  It will be interesting to be doing different things.  (Although I don’t know about the swimming the most.  I took swim lessons about 5 years ago and never did feel like I was making much progress.)

I need to get a diagnosis and start working towards resolution on this thing.  I’m looking forward to the new challenge.

In the long run

IMG_3720Saturday, 3 August 2013

This morning I ran an hour (56 minutes, really) at substantially under race pace.  Between 2 minutes per mile and 1 minute per mile faster than I can really run.  To do that, I had to walk some.  I am unsure if that’s a good thing.  If I could run 5 miles at, let’ say, 12:30, without stopping, is it better to run all 5 at that pace without stopping or a couple of miles at 11:30 (or faster) and then stop after 2.5 and walk a little?  I’m not walking far, maybe 100 feet or so.  Maybe a little longer.  I wonder?

I’m getting up in 6 hours to go running with Connie for a longer run at a faster-than-usual pace through Sunset Beach and Huntington Beach.  Places I’ve never run before.  Interesting.

After Sole Runners today I had to take a nap and then work ALL afternoon and early evening on a work project.  Which was boring, tedious, detail-oriented, difficult, and made my right arm hurt from the mouse work.  About every hour I got up and ate something.  Hummus on cuke slices with salsa.  Hummus on gluten free cracker-like-thingie with cuke.  (This sounds like american-mexican food — all variations of the same 3 ingredients.)  But done.  I put together a gigantic contract, all the little pieces edited together, etc.  Tomorrow after the run I have to work on my second big project coming to conclusion this coming week (maybe).  And then I can go have fun (while working) in San Diego!

Then this evening I watched the History of the Eagles, again.  I bought the CDs of the story of an American Band when it first came out.  Three outstanding moments in the movie…(1) Jimmy Buffett introduced the Eagles when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ha!   (2)  The movie opens with the band singing acapella before a show.  It’s that harmony that makes the story.  They got their first producer when, just before lunch, they quit playing music and sang an acapella ballad for the guy — and he was blown away at the harmonies.  Who isn’t.  (3)  At the very end of the movie, one of the narrators NOT in the band said the band allows everyone to re-live the 70s they had or imagine they hand or would have liked to have had.  I think that “moment-in-time” ness of their music is a big part of the band, for me.  Last time I saw them was at the Hollywood Bowl.  The MOST quintessential California evening possible, I think.  Also, watching Joe Walsh come together at the end is really gratifying — because he was totally lost before the reunification in ’94.

OK, to bed so I can get up and run at 7 AM!

Food — only partially recorded

Training:  4.75 miles at an average of 11:58





Ran with the lovely Janet Chan this morning.  My Garmin wasn’t charged, so I had to depend on Janet for pace (and distance and time).  And my damn metronome wasn’t working.  So I had to use hers.  It took most of the first mile to get that comfortable (although I couldn’t tell you what cadence we ran at).  The run was 1:40.  So I had to run about 50 minutes out and 50 minutes back.  I asked to train this season at 12:30. I would guess that last year at this time I was able to run at about 13:30 on an extended run.

I did something else today, that is probably just as, if not more, important.  I ran all the way home along the Marina Vista parking lot.  I always walk that 1/2 mile.  I’m pretty pleased that I ran all the way.

The coach asked me some time ago “how long can you run sub 13”?  The answer today was 8.something miles.  Today is probably my longest, fastest run in life.  Pretty cool.  The coach managed told me today that the next goal is 13 miles at sub 12:30.  I’m not at all scared about being able to doing it, although I might not be able to it today.

And it turns out that two other friends are going to run the Santa Rosa full marathon (I’ve already signed up).   A bunch of people went for a bike ride after the run today…some for the first time with the Sole Runners.  As I told my friend Michele P, talk to me in January.  I’m busy this year.

And another thing…I am going to start running back to back on the weekends — starting this weekend.   I think that rather than go down to the ocean and grinding out the miles alone, that I’m going to go run 10K races.  (There has to be a 10K someplace in southern California every single weekend day.)  It’s only 6 miles, but it’s 6 miles at race pace (that’s more than an hour run at race pace).  And it’s with people.  I have absolutely no idea what’s gotten into to me.

I have to take a nap.  I’m going to a dinner with the new President (and 500 of my closest friends) at the University of Redlands, in Redlands, at 6 PM tonight.

Training Today:  8.something times at 12:30-ish/mile