Shoes, the little artist, and ChickenDog

Jasper likes to take photos with the iphone. They always turn out really cool and abstract...this one in particular.

The highlight of my week was getting two new pairs of running shoes.  The first pair were given to me my my friend Michelle.  She just couldn’t get them to not rub a blister on her toes.  They’re way cooler than anything I ever get:

 Yes, those are racing flats.  I made sure it was ok with Michelle that these things would never see a race in my feet.  I am way to worried about getting hurt by running in something with such little support.  In fact, I had to throw my old over the counter orthotics in them just to walk around.  They are great with shorts to kick around in, and since I doubt I’ll ever wear anything but shorts again since the heatwave isn’t moving, they’ll get some use.

Next pair I got was because it was about time for a new running pair.  I always avoid temptation to get anything different, and try not to notice all the really cool colors the shoes for fast people come in.  My foot is like a 90 year old’s, so I stick with very supportive shoes.  I’ve faithfully worn Asics for years with success, but a little bit of my toe joint started to rub when I got the prescription orthotics.  I opted to go to a real running store instead of buying online.  Hill Country Running Company was great.  The guy working did not try to talk me into something trendier, but helped me find a shoe that my orthotic fit into a little better.  I am sure he had never fitted such a geriatric foot before, but the end of the story is I ended up with something new:

I am excited to give them a try tomorrow.  Today was a dusty trail run, so I wore my old shoes.  Every runner loves getting new shoes.

As soon as Jasper wakes up from his nap, he and I are going to see a variety show with animals doing tricks called ChickenDog.  It’s not too long and I hope he can make it through the whole thing.  He loves animals, so hopefully it will go smoothly.  It’s not one of his typical “burn a ton of energy” activities so we will see how it goes.   I hear the little artist waking up now….so off we’ll go, me in a brightly colored pair of racing flats.

Time flies…

Jasper does not crave pizza crust like I do

I had a half day off and child free today.  Through a series of events, starting Sept 1, we only are paying for four days of daycare.  This means while I have my day off, it’s not flexible at all.  It’s always Wednesday and Jasper will always be with me.    I will lose the ability to do my appts without a wild little boy and without missing work.  But the savings of not paying for the day of daycare I hardly ever used is quite remarkable.  So, since I will not have the chance again,  Jasper went to daycare while I am off work.  I got up at 430, ran, came home got ready, got Jasper ready for daycare, went to an awesome yoga class that made me realize how pitiful my core strength really is,  got groceries, mailed a package, got home and put groceries away and cleaned house, and now I have to get Jasper in 30 minutes to make a playdate.  Uh, what on earth was I thinking that I would do all this and go to lunch and shopping too?   And take a nap.  Yeah, right.  Time always flies when you don’t want it too.

On the running front, it turns out I am officially out for the San Antonio marathon.  Anyone want my number?    It would have been fun, but I suppose that is the risk when you sign up for something months in advance….stuff comes up.   I’ve been puttering around as per usual this week…but a little slower.  I’ve still got a minor cold that is slowing me down some.  For about 24 hours this week,  I entertained a plan that I was doing the Pike’s Peak Ascent next summer.  I started a training plan, and even figured out access to a treadmill for the steep grade training.  Mike gently  eased me back into reality, reminding me that a big undertaking type of run is neither fun nor entertaining for him and the Owl.  He’s right.  Local races it is.  So, I am really looking forward to the fall racing season.    Emphasis on fall…..as it looks like there is no  hope of a day dipping under 100 for the rest of August.

OK…off to get the little boy.  The rest of the week looks like a slight dial back week for running, avoiding the heat this weekend, and studying every night for my certification exam.  Yeah….the excitement is just killing me too….Oh, and thank you for all your Team Refuel votes, but PLEASE keep voting.  I have no chance of getting on the team unless my friends and family vote everyday.  Thank you!!!!!!

Back on the trail again…

I. am. tired.  Maybe I am getting too old for this hard run, hard run again, then hard yoga stuff.  Actually, ideally I would not do two hard back to back workout days, but like most of the workforce, I do it out of necessity since the other 5 days of the week require me to be somewhere early.  Throw a Jasper swimming lesson in there and bouncy gym and playground trips and it’s really no surprise I feel like I was run over by a truck.

Another weekend spend avoiding the heat, and another weekend slowly working my way towards a marathon.  My runs went well, but took a little more out of me than normal thanks to a mild cold.   Today was another run at Walnut Creek so I thought it would be appropriate for some trail running tips.  This is all just my opinion, and I know others maybe disagree…but here goes:

1.  It’s really not that big of a deal.  In my high school days of running I ran on trails all the time and thought nothing of it.  I didn’t have special shoes or any special gear.  The same should really apply today.  I’ve tried various trail shoes and always have come back to my road shoes for comfort.  I really like using trail running shoes for hiking, since I just do day hikes, but every long run I’ve attempted in them has me changing into road shoes at some point.  Yes, the trail shoes may have more tread, and that might be helpful, but that tread is useless if your feet hurt.   No need for special trail socks either, although you may want to avoid white just because everything gets so dirty.

I also never have found that I use a “special technique” to run on trails.  Sure, you may find your hips a little more sore since trails with a lot of ups and downs seem to use these muscles, but I just run.  After a couple runs, those hips muscles will get used to it (mine still aren’t and I can tell I will be a little sore tomorrow).

2.  Well, maybe there is just a little bit of special equipment after all.  The only thing you will really need is a way to carry water, especially if it is hot where you live.  For runs of 90 minutes or less I am fine with a bottle, over that I use a Camelbak.  I wear a kid’s model that holds 32 ounces of water, which works just fine for me.  Camelbaks are a pain to clean no matter how you slice it.  I really do get used to mine though, and when I use it, I tend to not even really notice it.  The kid’s model was much less expensive too.  They are a good investment though because I now use mine for hiking too and biking (although it’s been all trainer rides for now.  The other thing is if you run before dawn you will need a light.  I prefer a headlamp for the hands free factor.  Yep, you’ll look like a total dork.  But they aren’t too expensive if you camp at all you will use it then.  It’s also not too uncomfortable.  Just make sure to check the batteries frequently.  A dim light is no fun.

3.  All trails are real trails.  I know a lot of folks who would disagree with me on this, but just pick the trail you want to run on and enjoy it.  Trail running clubs go for the super, rocky hard stuff, and kinda poo-poo smooth, easy trails.  I personally love a smooth easy trail, and I still feel it works muscles road running doesn’t.

4.  Toss times out the window.  No matter how fast you think you are going, you will run slower.  Especially if you run in the dark with a headlamp.  It’s all relative, because you will still feel like the run was hard.  I have friends who just can’t do the trail thing because they can’t stand how much slower they are.  Then there are other people who prefer it because they have no desire to push the pace and the trail naturally allows you to do that.

5.  Finally, check out your local urban trails.  I have barely run trails at all since I had Jasper since I just don’t have time to drive 30-45 minutes to go run.  Walnut Creek is in an urban park, and isn’t exactly wilderness, but there are 15+ miles of trail there.  Urban trails are a good way to get the feeling of escapism without all the effort of going to a state park or something.

So there you go….just my opinion.  Keep in simple…and no one should go alone in the dark on a trail.   Oh….and if you want your dog to experience pure bliss, take them on a trail run.  It’s like looking directly at dog heaven.  Just plan on getting out the doggie shampoo when you get home.  Trails can be messy.

Hope is in the air…

Exactly one year ago at Rocky Mt National Park

It is always so crazy to look back at photos from a year ago.   Jasper was already wearing Halloween gear, so I guess I am behind this year since I haven’t gotten him any yet.

I was spoiled this week with 3 days of having a running partner.  On Thursday, Mark and I ran at 430 am since I had to be at work by 630 (not my favorite start time since I leave without seeing Jasper).  Anyhow, Mark swears there was the slightest hint of fall in the air.  Not sure if I agree, since today was 107!  BUT, there is hope in the air.  It’s mid-August.  We are down to about a month to go before it gets better.  It’s been a tough summer with entertaining a toddler in extreme heat and Mike taking 3 big trips out of town.    I am looking forward to fall races, and there are a ton in the area.  I could race every weekend if I chose to.

I have some upcoming training challenges though.  We have an out of town trip in September for a long weekend, and then the first week of October Mike leaves for 10 days.  Not ideal marathon training.  The Owl has declared jihad on his stroller, so the only way I will manage to run is a lot of loops around the block early in the morning…praying none of my neighbors are up and see me running circles, holding my iphone while I listen to podcasts on the speaker since the humidity here is so high ear buds will not work after 30 minutes of running.    I don’t mind it so much, you do what you have to do, and it’s less  painful than a treadmill.   The bad news is I signed up for a half marathon while Mike will be gone that starts so close to my house I can walk to it…kinda a no brainer to do it, right?  And, when I signed up, it looked like October was totally free from any type of obligations.   I may bite the bullet and see if one of our baby sitting sources would want to cover for that one.  I really was looking forward to trying for a fast one on my stomping grounds.    So yeah, a few more barriers to running a speedy fall marathon get thrown my way…but in the big picture these are small things and I seem to do just fine running circles and riding my trainer in the garage at night.  I may have to open a gym in my house if this keeps up.

Got a full weekend including surviving the heat and avoiding the crowds for tax free retail weekend.  Not like Jasper lets me go shopping anyways without some kind of massive incident.  I seem to have a touch of a stomach bug and a sore throat, which I am praying remains just a touch, so we’ll see how the workouts go this weekend.

Thanks again for the votes for my spot on Team Refuel, and keep ’em coming.  I have a couple of ideas for blog posts that are more interesting than rehashing my week and complaining about the Texas heat…so hopefully I have something entertaining soon!

Keep ’em coming…

Jasper eats about 6 different foods total (yes, he’s picky), and one of them is Babybel cheese, so imagine his joy when the shopping cart rolled over to this!

I am super flattered and very thankful that so many of you voted for me for Team Refuel.  If I get on the team it’s probably due to all of Mike’s campaigning for me and to the disc golf gang for their votes.  Please vote multiple days, because I think that is the only way I can get on the team.  You can vote everyday, and I am guessing everyone who applied is having their friends and family vote everyday.  Thanks again!

I am super excited that in a couple of weeks Jasper will start gymnastics!  We had been going to occasional toddler yoga, and he does swimming once a week.  He does a lot better in the swimming class since it is shorter than yoga and structured.  The gymnastics class sounds pretty structured so I think he will do great with it.  I can’t wait to see his little tumbles he’s going to learn how to do.  It’s a pretty big commitment as it goes until December, but I think he will enjoy it so much.

After Mark and I had our fantastic Walnut Creek run, I admit I started thinking of doing a 50K.  It’s no more training than I do now, and there are a few nearby 50Ks that are not on extreme terrain and wouldn’t require the timesuck that is running on the greenbelt.  It wouldn’t be until the spring, but I do like having something on my calendar to keep me motivated.  More to come.

Ok, I hear noise from Jasper’s room and I still have housework to do before his nap is over, so time for me to get a move on….

Please vote for me!!!!!

Rick Perry isn’t the only one from Texas who wants your votes.  I do too!!  I have applied to be on Team Refuel with Chocolate Milk.   I love helping people with their running, especially new runners and I would love a platform to be heard a little more than this blog allows.  Plus, I actually use chocolate milk, and it’s something I  feel good about promoting.  You can vote once a day from now until September 15th.  So if all two of you that read this set a reminder on your phone to  vote everyday, that will really add up.  If I make it on the team I’ll get a grant and you can read all about what I would do with it and vote for me by going here.  Please spread the word to any of your friends and family that you think would like to see me as a part of Team Refuel.  It looks like there are some really cool athletes on the team from different sports, pros, and normal folks like myself.  Thanks so much for helping me get out there to help others by giving me your vote.

The return of the trail dog, the little fox, and wearing myself out…

Up to no good...

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Whew, a busy weekend.  Saturday started great with a long run.  It went really well.  It was just a run where everything clicked and I always felt good.  Protein smoothie when I got home, and Mike declared the Vega protein powder horrible stuff, so it may be all chocolate milk from now on.  The rest of Saturday was a blur.  Groceries, Kid and Play bouncy gym, some pizza and IPA, and a hard crash into bed, followed by a little boy with a nightmare that put a serious dent into my night of sleep.

Sunday was good though, despite being a little sleep deprived.  Mark and I planned an assault on Walnut Creek, and the best part was Pancake was joining us to make her re-entry into trail running.  I love running at Walnut Creek.  It’s a very runnable trail, so you can get in a nice rhythm.  If you go early and beat the mountain bikers, you have it all to yourself.  Most the local runners poo-poo it for not being hard enough.  Well, this runner will take the easy trail any day.  We did 7 miles with Pancake in pure dog nirvana….being off leash the entire time and getting to chase a nice big deer.  Mark and I joked and laughed and I found myself cracking up twice where I thought I would have to stop running: once about Rick Perry and once about Bruno (Sasha Baron Cohen).    Oh, the things you talk about on a run.  I was going to get some pictures of us after the run, but forgot when I was distracted by discovering Pancake had thrown up in my car on the way there and I hadn’t noticed until we were done, and it been sitting there awhile….gross.

Then it was a mad dash home to clean up, inhale my super awesome french toast, take Jasper to his swimming lesson, go home, pass him off to Mike who was taking him to the daycare carnival, rush to Ashtanga, and then rush to daycare to work at the carnival while Mike took Jasper home to nap.  I really didn’t have to do anything, as by the time I got there most the games were fizzling out, but it was more time on feet and hot sun and I got home TIRED.   I took advantage of the tail end of Jasper’s nap and said housework be damned for day and passed out.  The afternoon was a blur of frozen yogurt (Jaspy’s favorite treat) and watching Rango again.  Have you seen it yet?  We bought it yesterday for Jasper, but I loved it.  It was so funny and clever.

So I find Sunday night here already and Monday looming.  The good news is even though the crazy hot days of the hardest summer I have ever done remain, August is half way over!!

Sporting a foxtail from today's carnival at daycare.

Look what arrived yesterday!!!

It’s not everyday I get one of these.   This is from my marathon back in June.  I thought I had at least placed in my age group, but I didn’t think I’d be getting anything.  What a nice surprise.  Actually, in the grand scheme of things, age group awards do seem a little silly.  It’s not like I won the race.   They don’t have age groups in the Olympics…you just compete against who is there regardless of age.  But, I guess there’s that little kid in us all that enjoys winning something, no matter how we come by it.

Mike was out of town for half of the week and Jasper and managed to make it through his minor stomach ailment, a killer wasp in the house, and the 50th day straight of 105 degrees (or something like that).  I got in my loops around the block and rode the trainer this morning.  If I keep this up, I may consider upgrading some components on my bike to something made this decade. 

Coming up this weekend…17 miler, Walnut Creek trail run!, swimming lessons, Ashtanga yoga, and a carnival at Jasper’s daycare.  Whew!

 

A request for help from me and Jasper…

I am not a very political person, and I don’t often make requests for charity, but the famine in Somalia just breaks my heart.  As a mom, I am much more affected by this news than I was before I had Jasper.  I just cannot imagine watching my child starve to death and die.  I can’t imagine my child crying from hunger and being completely helpless to do anything.  I can’t imagine watching my child die from something 100% preventable, and I can’t imagine the desperation these mothers must feel.   I am sure all my mom friends who read this agree.  After you read this, please go a relief organization’s website a donate a few dollars.   Don’t say you will do it tomorrow….do it right away before something comes up and you forget.   Jasper and I donated through UNICEF, and it was fast and easy.

Thanks, everyone……

Why I don’t do triathlons…

An ancient picture of Pancake with PeeWee. This is when I first got him (the bike) probably about 7 years ago.

Chances are if you are a runner, you have found yourself in a situation similar to this:  You are at work, or a party, or some group situation.   Conversation turns to your running somehow and a friend or your spouse says “Clea (or you) just ran another marathon, or 100K, or 50 miler or whatever.”  And someone in the group inevitably responds, “Yeah, but so- and- so did a triathlon.”  Instant Ohhs, and Ahhs by everyone else present.   Triathlon trumps running, every time.

Once I really liked the idea of doing triathlon someday.  I even got a book on it.  I researched cycling and not being able to decide between a road bike or a mountain bike, ended up with both.  I did some long rides, well for me at least, the longest being 30 miles.  But I realized I triathlon probably was not for me.  Here’s why:

1.  It’s expensive.  I bought a used road bike from a friend and at the time it was still a big chunk of money.  From what I understand, a road bike would get  laughed out of most tris, as you need a tri specific bike.  Don’t ask me what all goes into a tri specific bike, but they aren’t cheap.  Then you need bike shorts, helmet, bike shoes, etc.  And you need more than one pair of shorts if you are riding more than once a week.  There are also tri specific suits to do all three sports in, wet suits depending on how warm the water you are swimming in is, and the list goes on.  Then inevitably if you just get the basics, you hit a point you want to start upgrading.  Yikes, even more money.

2.  The swim.  I don’t have a pool.  I don’t belong to a country club.  I never did any swim team type stuff.  For me to start up swimming I would need to pay to use a pool somewhere, and probably get some type of lessons if I wanted to swim with any level of efficiency.   I love the idea of being able to go for a nice long swim to recover from hard runs, but getting me to the point I could do that would take a lot.

3.  The time.  I barely can do one workout a day.  Most of my friends who do tris do 2-3 workouts a day.  I sometimes run and do yoga, or run and do a short ride on the trainer, but never a long, serious session.  And, I am not a fan of people saying “you could find the time if you wanted to”  Yes, I could.  I could do away with sitting down to a movie with my non-endurance junkie husband, I could skip having a glass of wine and catching up on my friends’ blogs, I could let my housework slide.  But, all these things are important to me, and while once in a while I skip it all to do yoga or cycle,  but getting rid of things that are my downtime all the time may not be the healthiest thing.   I have friends that do Ironman with the demands of family and job, and I admire them for finding a way to balance it all.  How they do it is really beyond me.  Even when I trained for ultra runs, I put in way less time then my triathlete friends.  I guess everyone has their line to draw somewhere, and my limit comes before an Ironman’s.

Now, I never said I would never do one.  Who knows, maybe someday when Jasper is in school I’ll have more free time than I know what to do with.  Maybe injury or my crazy arthritic feet will force me into running less, and I’ll gladly start supplementing with other activities.  But I don’t plan on it in the immediate future.  I’ll enjoy my “just doing marathons” for now.