March 31, 2009

Parking Space Stalkers

I took yesterday off from running to recover from my race. My legs thanked me for that. Today I did an easy 4-miler at the gym. Michigan is still trying to hang on to old man winter, and I didn't like the look of the sky when I stepped outside after work today. So, to the gym I went.

My workout was fairly unremarkable except that I decided to officially retire my Brooks for good. They are now gym shoes only. No more running in them. Didn't like how my legs felt today even after such a short run.

The remarkable part of the day at the gym came in the parking lot, of all places. When I left the gym, rush hour was just starting. The parking lot was starting to fill up. As I was walking to my car, I noticed a big, white Chevy SUV following SLOWLY behind me. Now, it was broad daylight and there were people all around me so it wasn't my safety I was concerned with. Oh, no. I knew right away what was going on. This person had come to a GYM and yet was insisting on cruising the parking lot looking for the closest parking space possible instead of just taking the first available and WALKING. Cuz walking might cause her to break a sweat?? It's a GYM!!!!!!

This behavior irritates me even in the grocery store parking lot, but finding this behavior taking place in a gym parking lot just blows my mind. I don't get it. I really don't.

Of course, when I catch on to someone stalking my spot, this stubborn redhead deliberately slows down. Juvenile? Maybe. But I'm also working on principle here, people. I'll take my sweet ole time getting into the car and then just sit there listening to music until the stalker gets frustrated and drives off. Score one for the redhead, zero for laziness!!

This puts me in mind of Dean's Blog from a few days ago. He is right on. America is fat because America is lazy (and gluttonous). The behavior exhibited today is just one tiny example.

March 29, 2009



I actually WON a race! Okay, it may have been a tiny little local trail race, but I'm still so happy!!!!

Not only that, but I got a course record. At least, I think I did. No chips or D-tags, so I'll have to wait a few days for results to be posted. By my watch, I got a course record. I did 42:42 for a 5.6 mile trail run.


Party time!

March 26, 2009

My Review of Salomon XA Comp 3 GTX Trail-Running Shoes - Women's


These waterproof trail-runners were built to perform on rugged terrain—ideal for adventure running and when comfort and precision are paramount.

Superb for Technical Trail Running

lvt4cats Lake Orion, MI 3/26/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Rugged, Comfortable, Good Traction

Cons: Hot

Best Uses: Snow & Ice, Technical trail running, All Weather Conditions

Describe Yourself: Competitive Athlete

Arch Type: Low Arch

I have 3-4 trail races (ranging from 10K to 25K) that I am training for this year so I spend a lot of time training on the trails! Most of the trails I train on are moderately technical. These shoes are a dream! I adore these trail running shoes to the point that I really wish Salomon would make a road running shoe!

The shoes were comfortable from day one. They let no water seep through! (Though Gore-Tex can't stop water from coming in through the top!) They are moderately breathable - they may not be ideal for long trail runs in the summer. My feet do get a little clammy in warm weather, but I hardly hold this against the shoe. My toes are forever grateful for the protection these shoes afford against rock and root!

My shoes have almost 200 miles on them - all trail running. They show almost no signs of wear. There are those who complain about laces wearing after a year or so, but I can't imagine any running shoe lasting that long. Even the priciest running shoes break down after 400-500 miles and I'll hit that number in well under a year. These aren't casual shoes, after all. I love the lacing system!

March 24, 2009

Good Things Come...

It's really late. I'm tired. But I wanted to get this blog entry in while I'm still feeling psyched about my last workout.

Today at work was kind of crappy. I had to cover for someone this afternoon - it is normally my afternoon off. Because I had to cover today, I'll end up working three 12 hour shifts in a row. Tomorrow is the last one (which means I should be in bed, not blogging!). My workout usually takes place during my afternoon off. No afternoon off means my workout today occurred after standing on my feet for 12 hours (well - minus my 45 min. nap at lunch). I was determined not to let a crappy work shift alter my running schedule, so I brought my gym bag with me to work. At 7 pm I drove straight to the gym and took the first treadmill I could find. I didn't have high hopes considering my sour mood and a full work day behind me.

I was WAY wrong!

It was an awesome workout. I ended up doing only 4.5 miles, but it was a great 4.5 miles.

Being a newbie and not having done speedwork for a while due to my tender achilles, I decided to play around with my speed on the treadmill today. This is what I did. Forgive me for not converting mph into min/mile, but I'm tired, after all. It is 45 minutes past my bedtime. :-)

Ran the first mile at 6.8 mph to warm up, second at 7.5 mph, third at 7.8 mph, then hiked it up slowly over the next mile and ended with last 1/4 mile at 8.4 mph. Didn't even start feeling tired til almost near the end. Did the last half mile back at 6.8 mph to cool down then walked another 1/4 mile at 3.8 mph.

I felt exhilarated after the run!! (I had to look up how to spell that word cuz I really wanted to use it.) hahahaha!!!!

I felt so good I did 12 minutes on the rowing machine afterwards and then my usual core and upper body workout. My post-workout shower never felt so good. I can sometimes gauge the quality of a workout by how darned good the shower feels. hehe!


March 22, 2009

The Beauty of Nap

My first few days of Spring have been fantastic. To start, I had a three-day weekend. Not working always makes things better. Second, I had two recent runs that were definitely to rave about.

The first took place in Kensington Metropark. Yes, I finally made it out there! I’d been trying to find some time and motivation to drive out there and finally did yesterday. It was well worth it! So much so that I’ve decided to drive out there again next Sunday for my 17-miler. There is an 8.5 mile paved hike/bike trail similar to the one at my local metropark, Stony Creek, only Kensington’s trail is much more scenic. It hugs the lake shore for most of the 8.5 miles. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be when the trees are filled with leaves and the ground is covered with wildflowers! Also, twice along the trail there were three big plastic containers; one with disposable Gatorade cups, one with two gallon jugs of water and another for trash – all labeled “Runner’s Water Station.” Nice touch! I tried out my new Mizuno Wave Inspires for the first time this day and they worked GREAT!

The second fantastic run took place this morning when Matt and I met up with fellow Loophead blogger, Beer Runner, and some pals of his for a great 10ish mile trail run. No post-run beers this time, but maybe later in the year. We stuck with Powerade today. This run gave me more confidence for my trail race next weekend (first race of the season – WOOOO!) and for my much longer trail race (25K) later in the season.

Following the run yesterday, we helped my mom move some furniture and then she treated us to dinner at the new Irish restaurant down the road. I had New England clam chowder in a bread bowl and shrimp kebob. YUM!! Thanks, Mom!!

After today’s run, I drove over to Lifetime fitness for a workout. It was a bit cool after the run and my fingers had become a little numb. They still hadn’t recovered all feeling by the time I got to the gym, so I decided to enjoy the heat in the car for a few more minutes and allow my fingers to recover. Next thing I know, my eyelids are getting very heavy. I decided to succumb to my fatigue – hey, it’s Sunday and I am definitely NOT in a hurry. About 15 minutes later I woke up feeling MUCH better. I nibbled some fig newtons and chugged some Powerade and I was ready to go! I ended up having a wonderful weight training session. All made possible by the beauty of Nap.

March 19, 2009


Today was one for the books. Not only did I get my first trail run of the year in, but I also got NEW SHOES!!!!!!!! My knees were bugging me just a bit on my long run on Sunday, so I decided it was time... My old Infinitis are now relegated to short, easy runs. I tried on probably 7-8 different shoes and went with the Mizuno Wave Inspire. It fit like a glove and had the best mix of cushioning and stability. Can't wait for my next road run now! Tomorrow, I'm thinking...

As for the trail run. It was FANTASTIC! I did approximately 7 miles in Bald Mountain North and managed it in 1:01:43. That is a great time for me on those trails. Only once have I ever done it under an hour. For the first run of the year, I was ecstatic with that time. It is a testament to the amount of work I put in over the winter on the treadmill and the one plowed trail I ran on all year, plus the cross-training I did while injured. Even if no one else is proud of me, I've got enough pride in myself! Go RED!! :-) My race on those trails is 1 1/2 weeks away and now I'm thrilled about my chances of getting an age group placement. WOO!

March 15, 2009

No More Same Old

My mission today was to explore strange, new running routes and get my 14 mile long run in at the same time. The idea of stepping out my door and running on my old standard and good friend, the Paint Creek Trail, just didn't seem appealing today. I feel like a traitor even admitting it. The trail has served me well. But today I was feeling bold and adventurous.

So I got in my car and drove to downtown Rochester. From there I took the safety path to the Clinton River Trail. I got a bit of a nasty surprise at this point - two miles of wet, shoe-sucking clay! At times it was possible to run on the far side of the trail and avoid the worst of the muck, but sometimes I had to just suck it up (literally and figuratively) and run right through it. I was splattered with Michigan clay in no time. I suppose I should have worn it proudly. When trail running, the slime doesn't bother me. I think it is mostly because I am expecting it and prepared for it. This was a surprise. Gah!

Once I hit the county line, the Clinton River Trail magically transformed into the Macomb Orchard Trail which is paved. Usually I prefer my trails to remain unpaved, but I was quite relieved to see pavement today! I soon realized there were no half mile markers, so I was either going to run 13 miles or 15 miles. If I tried for 14, I would have to guess at the halfway point. I decided on 15 and ran on the paved part of the trail for 5 wonderful, muck-free miles, sucked down my delish minty chocolate GU, then turned around and headed back. I was not looking forward to another 2 miles of wet clay, but it seemed to go by faster this time through.

Once I got back to the car, I was quite pleased to discover I had just covered 15 miles in less than 2 hours. I was quite happy with my time. I was hardly tired at all. I keep reminding myself that a marathon is another 10 miles further than I have ever gone (my longest long run so far is 16 miles). I don't want to lose respect for the distance. That has kind of been my mantra throughout my training. "Respect the distance." I am quite sure I do!

March 13, 2009

Almost Trail Running Time!

I took today off from running since I turned my regularly scheduled rest day into a tempo run this week. I had the whole day off work and I was getting pretty bored – really didn’t have the motivation to clean house like I should have – so I put on my hiking socks and boots and drove over to the wooded trails near my home in the Bald Mountain Recreation Area.

These trails are part of the state park system, but don’t let the name fool you - there are no mountains in southeast Michigan. The trails themselves are well-maintained, though the trail signs have been a bit neglected. The area is shared by hikers, runners, mountain bikers and (yikes!) hunters, which is why I shy away from the trail in the Fall! I still haven’t invested in a brightly-colored running jacket and I’d rather not have to run through the woods shouting, “Don’t shoot! I’m not a deer!”

The trails are moderately technical and a blast to run. When I first started running last year, I tried both trail running and road running. Trail running is FAR more fun. I’ve found I’ve spent more time running on the roads and have participated in more road races than trail races. I’m not sure why that is. It kind of defies explanation. This year I already have registered for two trail races and I’m hoping I can get in 2-3 more. Next year I want to run the Grand Island Trail Marathon, and who knows, from there I might venture into the land of ultras.

Trail running is a completely different sport from road running. For one, there is no opportunity to allow your mind to wander. If you do, you break an ankle - or worse. Every step has to be chosen wisely. The mind and body are both fully engaged. I love this about the sport. One benefit is that while my attention is focused on staying upright, I don’t think so much about how my heart and lungs feel. This allows me to go longer and harder because my mind can’t convince me that I’m getting tired when it is distracted with other things.

Another difference – no vehicular traffic. No traffic means no honks, no exhaust, no looking both ways before crossing the road and no stopping at intersections. I’d much rather deal with the occasional mountain-biker than cars any day.

The scenery just can’t be beat. My local trails offer the nature lover a virtual paradise. Before I started running, I hiked these trails several times a week and taught myself the names of dozens and dozens of wildflowers, trees and birds. There are some spots along the trail that can stop me in my tracks by their beauty – like the area that is blanketed with Large-Flowered Trillium on both sides of the trail for just a few weeks in the Spring. There are a few wetland areas that grow the most awesome diversity of water-loving plants. It is amazing to run through the area and watch the succession of tree and flower species as the elevation and soil changes. I really should have been a naturalist. Boy did I miss my calling.

So today I went out for three reasons: 1) I was bored. 2) I wanted to see what shape the trail was in because my first race of the season is a 5.6 mile trail run two weeks from now right here on these very trails! The trail was about 80-90% clear of snow and ice, but if those spots don’t clear up, they will make the run very tricky. Good thing I always keep my YakTrax in my car! 3) I wanted to see how my heel and achilles would feel after a brisk walk on the route. I’m afraid I’m going to have to run the race very conservatively as I was a bit tender today. :-(

Treadmill Incident #3

Okay, I'm REALLY freaked out now! The treadmill SHUT OFF ON ME AGAIN!!! This has never happened to my husband. I have never seen it happen to others around me. What is going on!?!? I'm happily running (not jogging - nod to Emerging Runner) along and reach over to increase the speed and **shock** - the machine shuts down. My first thought was, "Not again." And then,"Why me?" ...all in the span of time before the machine pitches me forward again. Oh, and every time this has occurred, it has been on a different machine. It has also happened on two different models!

This is incident number THREE!! *sigh*

All freakishness aside, I had a really great, awesome, wonderful, super run today. No pain. No tightness. Just nice, fluid motion. Time to get excited about the marathon again? Not quite. I need a few more good long runs without incident before I stop feeling nervous about it and start getting excited. This Sunday - 14 miles.

March 11, 2009

Unintentional Tempo Run

My local Rails to Trails trail, the Paint Creek Trail is CLEAR of snow and ice!! WOO! I couldn't resist getting out and running FAST today. I probably shouldn't have. No, I really shouldn't have. Today was supposed to be a rest day and I'm still not 100% recovered from the injury. But I got out of work early today and the sun was shining, the temp was in the mid 30s - perfect for running - and the trail head is literally in my back yard. How lucky is that!? The little runner-devil on my shoulder was so persuasive, I couldn't resist.

Whenever I go out for a run and tell myself, "I'm only going to do 4 easy miles today," those easy miles turn into speedy miles. I just can't seem to run such a short distance slowly. Anyone else have that problem? :-)

So I labeled today's run in my RW log as a "tempo" run even though it was not intended as one and, in fact, I wasn't planning on doing any speedwork for several more weeks. When I checked my average pace, it was around 7:45, which is about what I should be doing for a tempo run. I did get a little tired a few times and had to slow my pace temporarily, but I couldn't help picking it back up again once I started feeling better. What a thrill! Shame on me! hahaha!

March 10, 2009

Cheeseburger Withdrawal

Rain, rain, rain, cold, and more rain...

So, today was a treadmill day. Did 5.75 miles at between 8:13 and 8:49 pace, which always seems so much faster on the mill. My achilles felt GREAT! It was a very successful, confidence rebuilding run which put me in a good mood to have a great core and upper body workout afterward. Then I rewarded myself with a double cheeseburger from BK. hahaha! Don't worry, I don't do that very often, but I deserved it today. Usually I reserve my cheeseburgers for post-camping trip, back-to-the-real-world eats. It has become a tradition. But I can't very well go all winter without a cheeseburger! It would be fatal. Really.

If my achilles still feels this good by the weekend after next, I may look for a St. Paddy's Day race to do last minute.

March 8, 2009

Here Comes Kitten Season

Friday’s weather ended up just being a teaser. The past few days saw temps dropping back down to the upper 30s to low 40s with lots of rain. I’ll still take those temps over the teens and low 20s I dealt with most of the winter.

There are other signs of Spring on the way. Today I heard the voice of a Red-Winged Blackbird. Soon they shall be squawking at me all summer to get out of their territory. Snotty little birds. Also, I can’t look up without seeing scores of Canada Geese making their way back to the area – the skies are filled with V after V of geese honking their return!

The streams are close to overflowing with the snow melt and rain from this weekend. Many roads are closed due to flooding. And soon I will be keeping my eye out for the first Skunk Cabbage bud peeking its ugly, smelly little head out of the ground. Yes, daffodils and crocus flowers are prettier and smell a whole heckuva lot better, but the Skunk Cabbage is always first!

The last and best sign of Spring for those in the veterinary profession is: KITTEN SEASON!!!

I managed to get my 12 mile semi-long run in this morning between bouts of rain. My achilles made it the entire 12 miles! It complained just a little, and I babied it up the hills, but we made it together. I started picking up some speed near the bottom of a long hill with about 2 miles to go and asked my running partner (hubby) if we could try to keep that pace until the end. He agreed and we did! We ended with a great kick at the end that left me exhausted but feeling thrilled! Man, I sure wish I knew how fast we were going!

And get this, the faster I went near the end, the better my achilles felt. Weird, but I’ll take it!

So, after the first 8 miles I would have classified the overall run as mediocre, but the fabulous ending pushed it into the “not bad” range. haha! Being able to finish 12 miles really gave me a lot more confidence that I’ll be able to complete this marathon after all. I’m quite happy!

March 6, 2009

Moms Rock

Hi, Mom! I love you! See you tomorrow!

March 3, 2009

The Treadmills Have it in for Me!

I swear to god! It’s a plot!

Some may remember a few weeks ago when I reported about the treadmill that shut down on me after giving me a light electric shock. Well, today I had a similar experience, sans shock. This time I had no warning, it just shut down quickly and flashed “motor disabled” across my readout. Of course, the “motor disabled” indication came after the machine had already pitched me forward. I mean, I’m the one who usually stands up for the treadmill. I’ve sung its praises on posts and comments here on The Loop. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever…. oh, wait, yes I have referred to it as the “dreadmill.” Maybe just once. Shoot.

It’s a good thing warmer weather is just around the corner.

Today I put in a 5 mile run on the lovely treadmill, wonderful machine that it is. It was a so-so run for me. My achilles started acting up a few times during the run. Call me stupid, but I ran through it at a slower pace when it tightened up. Twice the discomfort/tightness (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “pain”) went away after a few minutes. The third time I just couldn’t loosen up the tendon so I stopped and walked over to the stretching area to, well, stretch. It felt better after the stretching and it didn’t bother me the rest of the evening during my core and upper body workout.

I’m still not feeling very confident about my return to running since the achilles has bothered me almost every run, but I’ll keep plodding on and see how things go. Let’s hope for the best. My choices at this point are stop running again and forget about my Spring races (including my first marathon), or train despite the achilles discomfort and keep my fingers crossed that the tightness slowly improves. The achilles problems I had last summer DID get better with time, stretching and a cutback on speedwork and hillwork, so hopefully the same will be true this time.

I tried a new cross-training activity today – I swam!!! I didn’t swim for long, but it sure felt good. I could feel the heart a’pumping! Now to get some goggles… and a bottle of Visine.

March 1, 2009

I Couldn't Move my Fingers!

High praise to the incredible edible egg! It often helps me refuel after a run with lots of protein in a small, nutrient-dense package. Muy yum! I always keep hard-boiled eggs in my fridge. And soon they shall be pastel-colored now that Easter is approaching! :-)

On a sadder note, I lost my favorite REI fleece gloves. They were perfect for temps in the 30s as they also doubled as a nice, soft nose-wiper. haha! Maybe my gloves are not gone though. Maybe they are only temporarily misplaced and will show up unexpectedly sometime soon. Here's hoping... *sigh*

I did a 9 mile run today which went wonderfully until the very last quarter mile when my achilles started acting up again. I was forced to walk about 3/4 of a mile back to my car with temps in the low 20s and moderate winds. I was so cold when I got back I couldn't use my fingers very well. It was hard to start my car to get the heater and heated seat going! Usually the heated seat gets so hot on the "high" setting that I have to turn in down after a few minutes. Today I kept it on high and couldn't feel it at all after a few minutes. Bizarre and a little disturbing. Anyway, I just couldn't get warm. I was going to drive to the gym, but drove home instead so I could warm up with a blanket draped over me and a heat vent. That's the fastest way to warm up in my condo - even better than a hot shower. It did the trick but then I was bone tired. I napped for several hours this afternoon. It made me start wondering how much energy it takes the body to warm up after being exposed to so much cold. I also wonder what my body temperature was. I don't know what the technical definition of "hypothermic" is, but I was headed that way... Needless to say, I didn't stop and stretch before getting in my car! Now that I'm finally back to normal body temp-wise and energy level-wise, I'm about to start my core and upper body training here at home. No gym today!


"Cats are like greatness: Some people are born into cat-loving families, some achieve cats, and some have cats thrust upon them." -William H. A. Carr

red's 2011 race schedule