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When Yoga is Your PITA

March 26, 2012

So, I have a pain in the ass. My doctor approved yoga, with the warning that if the poses were hurting me, I’d take child’s pose and proceed from there. She agreed that yoga stretching could help, and I looked forward to my regular Monday night vinyasa class.

Until my regular Monday night vinyasa class WAS the pain in my ass. Vinyasa (flow yoga) is awesome…and in my class, you never know what you’re going to get. If the instructor told me that I’d be in utkatasana for the better part of an hour, I would have stayed at home in child’s pose in my PJs. Instead I tried half of the class and then…left. I felt a little bad about leaving, but I was just getting frustrated, and didn’t feel like I could focus on the class.

Ohhhh...it's an IMAGINARY chair. Still a pain in the ass.

I was pretty jittery, too; I am hoping that was just a side effect of the prednisone (and not a sure sign of impending crazy). The doctor warned me about that as a side effect, and, true to form for me when I take medicine, I was a crazy, shaky, hyper girl before class. Not exactly calming at 8:30 on a Monday night…

Two more days of prednisone. Walking feels great, but sitting at my desk chair for much of the day feels counter-productive. It seems like the tightness/pain is alleviated more quickly once I stop doing things that aggravate it, so…progress?

Big thumbs up for sleeping. No pain there.

Downward-facing cat likes home practice. And naps.

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Such a PITA!

March 24, 2012

Experiencing a total PITA (that’s Pain in the Ass) these days. Quite literally.

I went to a doctor yesterday (new-to-me doc since I moved recently) about the hip/knee/pelvic pain/inflammation/tightness/whathaveyou I’ve experienced lately.

Diagnosis? Tendinitis.

Treatment: 5-7 days off of running (walking, swimming, yoga are A-OK); 5 days of prednisone

I’m happy she looked at it, and absolutely willing to try the treatment, but what happens if the prednisone/rest doesn’t fix me remains to be seen. She was really all about more of a drug-heavy treatment, and I’m…well, not. I’ll take ’em when I really need ’em, but a lot of drugs make me nauseous…including prednisone! (Unrelated side: if prednisone makes you queasy, I highly recommend NOT seeing The Hunger Games in the theater until your treatment is over. So. much. camera. movement. But a great movie. And a totally different kind of Peeta that is not at all a PITA.)

No sense of relief in my leg/hip/pelvis/ass yet, but I’m trying to be patient. And do walking or laying around activities versus sitting activities. (Please do not send me one of those seat donuts just yet…actually, pretty sure that wouldn’t help at all, physically. And definitely not mentally.)

I’ve never had tendinitis or taken prednisone or been waylaid like this, and I’m trying to keep the long view. A little concerned about the race I have in four weeks. Equally concerned about eating everything in sight. It’s amazing to me that a little 10mg pill can make me so hungry. Better get to walking/swimming/namaste-ing lest the scale and I get into a fight because of ravenous hunger. If you’re not at work or offended by choice language, check out what Jack Black has to say about that

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Three Things Thursday: Billy Goat

March 22, 2012

High on a hill is a lonely…Billy Goat Trail. Well, not as lonely as I thought. I had the day off from work, and since there’s more to fitness that running, I went for a hike on one of the best trails in the DC area. Even midday on a spring Thursday, there were plenty of folks out there. Some reviews of this trail indicate that it’s good for beginners…I disagree. Section A has a lot of climbing and hopping on rocks high on a cliff above the Potomac. And today I had the shit scared out of me good fortune of seeing 9 snakes! And hearing the rustling in the grass of at least 3 more, but I didn’t hang around long enough to find out!

So today’s Three Things are some pictures from the hike. If you’re in the DC area and you’ve not been, get out there. You won’t believe you’re mere miles from the Beltway and downtown. Well, except for the weekend crowds…be prepared.

Those nice Carolina blue blazes mark the trail...much of which goes over big rocks like these.

You can park across MacArthur Blvd. from Angler's Inn for free (although they are doing construction there...hopefully that doesn't mean the free parking is going away), or head down to Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center (NPS). You can access the C&O Towpath and Billy Goat Trail from either, but if you go to the NPS visitors center, you walk past these gorgeous falls to get to the northern Billy Goat trailhead.

Sometimes your feet just want to break free of the confines of running shoes. Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend Chacos on the Billy Goat...too many snakes way too close to my feet, and I felt a little less stable on some of the rocks than I typically do when I go out in hiking boots. But totally worth it to get started on my Z tan.

I hope that, wherever you are, you’re getting to enjoy some sunshine this fine spring.

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Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon…Part II!

March 20, 2012

Continued from Part I…here are some thoughts about my first half marathon.

Course

I’ve been in the DC area for almost six years…this time around. I’ve lived in the area a couple times before, and having grown up a military brat, DC is as much a home — maybe a little more — as just about any other place. So getting a quick (relatively speaking) foot tour of a large portion of my “hometown” was…awesome. I loved this course. With the exception of the streets immediately at the beginning and end of the race, I’d been on every part of the course over the years.

I pretty much zoned out on the ridiculous hill known as 18th Street NW/Connecticut Ave. NW. After the race, a friend that ran it said, “Sweet, now I know where Vapiano is!” I replied, “Oh, did someone tell you?” She countered, “No, we ran past it…” Right. I was just struggling up the hill…

There was a band at the end of Harvard Street NW, just after Mile 8, as you turned down onto 5th Street NW. Something about that band got me really fired up. I had a great time between Columbia Road and North Capitol. I’m guessing the folks partying hard on their well-decorated porches did, too. And, while I appreciated the offers, I politely declined their dixie cups of beer. Offers of post-race BBQs welcome, though.

By Mile 11, my feet were pretty sore, and by about Mile 12, the top of my right foot was cramping a bit. I walked some, and periodically stopped to stretch and massage my foot.

The end of the race? Wow…what a doozy. Coming down C Street, folks on the side of the course kept shouting that the finish was just around the corner. Then we turned the corner. And folks on the side of the course shouted that the finish was just around the corner. Whaaaaat?

It was. An uphill finish where you couldn’t see the finish line until you were almost on it. Tough 1/10 of a mile!

When you're not concerned with beating any particular time, it's easy to pull off for a second for photo ops.

Friends

As I mentioned in Part I, my friends are awesome. I started the race with a friend, had a few other friends running (like her and her), and saw friends between Miles 7 and 8 (surprise – I didn’t know they’d be out, or where they’d be – and they met me at the finish too!), just before Mile 10, just after Mile 11, and at the finish. They all told me I looked great, and seeing them made me ridiculously happy. Not-so-secret secret: I looked great when I ran past them because I knew they’d be there. Who wants to drag ass past your friends? Not this racy gal. Thanks for the boost, guys! The excitement of seeing my friends definitely added a spring to my step.

And an interesting perspective from some of these friends: what it’s like to watch a whole race. I’ll admit that I’ve never seen a whole race before. When I’ve gone out to see friends run, I’ve pretty much just gone to see them, and didn’t hang around the whole time. But some of my friends hung out on North Capitol with food and drink and watched the whole thing. They said it was pretty awesome to watch the fastest folks go past, and then to notice the changes in pace and the differences in pacing between the marathoners and half marathoners.

And they confirmed, mercifully, that I was not the slowest one out there. But even if I was, I’d be OK with that. I mean, hey, I was out there, right?

So, new goal: go watch a whole race, from the elite folks at the front of the pack all the way to the folks at the end who need cheers just as much as the front runners.

I think my friends took this because they wanted to make fun of my "fanny pack." That belt came in pretty handy for stashing more than the microscopic pocket on my capris can hold.

Progression of Feelings

I am nothing if not sentimental, so I’d be remiss to not acknowledge my feelings about this race.

As I mentioned in Part I, I had serious doubts about my ability to run this race as late as the day before. I’d trained, but had some difficulty throughout, and benched myself for a few weeks. But in the few weeks before the race, I’d felt pretty good. Then I started experiencing some strange hip/pelvic pain unlike anything I’d experienced before (and for which I’m going to a doctor in a few days). So I had major apprehension about this race. If I attempted it, what might happen? I had terrible visions of my hip giving out and me collapsing in Dupont Circle…if I made it that far.

But during the run, I physically felt fine. Some soreness in my feet toward the end…pretty sure that’s the price you sometimes pay for pounding the pavement for mile after mile. When the going got rough, I looked at the mile markers, judged that I probably only had 20 minutes to go, and reminded myself of my favorite coach‘s mantra: You can do anything for 20 minutes.

So I did. And damn if I didn’t feel awesome when I crossed that finish line.

I promise I will never do this again. Total cheeseball move.

Random observations

Anyone else notice the banana stand in downtown DC? So many banana peels on the ground…clearly this would be a ridiculously tragic way to go down in a race…taken out by your fuel. Same goes with the GU packets. That shit’s slick.

My lucky green shirt? Probably being relegated to the yoga pile. I’d done a few runs in it with no issue, but I was Chafy Stacie during the half. Major red, painful blotch on my left arm. Really attractive at work this week when it’s been warm enough to wear short sleeves. I thought to Body Glide under the straps of my sports bra; guess I need to add inner upper arms to the Body Glide list. Or just relegate the shirt to the yoga pile.

I will never, ever run a race in a full bodysuit. I saw a few of those, and by Mile 7 or so, they appeared to be sweaty, sweltering masses of crazy runner. Anyone tried this before? Are there vents? Special wicking material?

So...add it to the necklace rotation? Maybe not?

So. That’s that. My first, slightly crappily-trained half marathon is in the books. I had an awesome day and it just reinforced the running bug I caught a little while back. My time was 2:32, and all things considered, I’m happy with that. It was a PDR and a PR, and I look forward to blowing that PR out of the electrolyte-enhanced water in future half marathons.

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Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon…Part I!

March 18, 2012

Going to commit a big blogger sin here and write only half a post of thoughts on my first half marathon (Get it? Half a marathon, half of my thoughts? Yeah, that’s pretty bad…). After the race yesterday and for almost all of today, I’ve been going non-stop and haven’t sat down to put good words to my thoughts. So…here’s Part I! Forgive the incomplete post.

Yesterday was the Rock n’ Roll USA Half Marathon and, considering how my hip/pelvis was feeling earlier in the week, I rocked it! It wasn’t the race I thought it would be when I registered in November, but it was SO much better than the race I thought it would be on Friday.

All smiles at seeing some friends just after Mile 11.

More updates to come, but overall: great experience. Good weather, albeit a little hot. No crazy course mix-ups, straight-forward gear check, plenty of food and drink available at the finish. And, key for me: no hip or pelvis pain during the run. At. all. Any aches and pains seemed pretty standard; my feet were a little sore by Mile 11.

And I was only punched in the face once.

True story.

At about mile 12.5 or so, a very uncoordinated girl who was raised by wolves was probably not used to crowded courses stretched her hands out very quickly at 90 degree angles, sending her closed fist straight into my nose as I was passing her. She felt bad, but wanted to chat about it. No way, lady! I assured her it was fine, but sped up a little, checking for blood. No blood, no foul.

The best part of the run? (Outside of finishing it, of course!) I have amazing friends and family who support me. I had such a fun weekend with these tremendous folks.

They also make ridiculously awesome signs.

Esuper Esexy ESWEATY Estacie! It was hot out there!

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Three Things Thursday: Pre-Racy Thoughts

March 16, 2012

With less than 36 hours until the start of the Rock ‘n Roll USA Marathon and Half Marathon, it’s time for some pre-racy thoughts!

1. You can’t always get what you want. I already know that this race won’t be what I wanted it to be when I registered. I imagine I’ll probably learn soon enough that that’s not an uncommon feeling. And I don’t say that to sound defeatist, just realistic: I was out of commission for a few weeks of training, and in the last few days, I’ve developed some inflammation in my hip/pelvis area. I’m managing it (and in what will surely be a joyous occasion, I have a doctor’s appointment next week), and I’m going to try my best on Saturday, but I’m trying to take the long view and not push harder than I can. There are other halfs out there, and I intend on enjoying my first one, a little pain or not!

2. The weather is here, wish you were beautifulIt’s damn nice in DC these days. Hot, even. I went for a last, short run this afternoon and wanted to die. Then I Skyped my parents and learned that today’s record high of 84 at Dulles had nothing on Abu Dhabi’s 100. Fine, fine. But it’s truly quite nice. Wednesday afternoon was so nice that I wasn’t sure if my co-workers were calling out sick or “sick” (I work at an organization that tries to get people outside, so verdict is out on that one). But I wouldn’t be surprised if people are actually sick, too. My boys at CWG report high pollen counts Wednesday and today. So if you’re coming into town for the race and you’re from some place that isn’t a-bloomin’ yet, bring yer drugs.

Oh, sure, they're beautiful, but that shit'll invade your body. Hide ya lungs, hide ya sinuses, hide ya eyes.

3. When Irish eyes are smilin’, sure ’tis like the morn in spring.  With the race being on St. Patrick’s Day, I clearly need to rock a green shirt. But a friend got mad at me because she says I’ll be hard to find, what with my insanely bright red hair and incredibly slow pace what with probably lots of other folks participating in the wearin’ o’ the green. So I’m adding a little sparkly bling to my outfit, sort of a beacon of Irish spring for my admirers friends.

Just trying to be a nice piece of lass.

Best of (Irish) luck to all the folks running on Saturday! Rock on and race hard!

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Hydration! Attempt #2

March 14, 2012

During my manic list-making phase, I added: buy a fuel belt. Carrying a water bottle in my hand, while incredibly attractive and only mildly practical, was getting annoying. So we’ll consider that Attempt #1 and move right along…

And that's just the little guy for shorter, winter runs...

Without doing much research (nerd alert: rare for me), I went to a running store and a big box sporting goods retailer and did the only thing I thought would possibly help me make a decision: I strapped a few different fuel belts on and ran through the aisles. The older I get, the less shenanigans like this bother me. I think I’d have been embarrassed as a 20 year old; now I’d rather get what I want and be confident in my purchases.

So I bought Attempt #2:

I'd post a picture of the belt in use, but I'm pretty sure the world has been attracted to staring at my ass enough simply by wearing it out on the trail. No need for more exposure.

It’s a Nathan Triangle, and while I’d like to say that I did some incredible scientific study of the various fuel belts out there, I really just tried to see how difficult it was for me to get the water bottle out of the holster while jogging through crowded stores.

This one seemed to be no better or worse than the kinds with two-four smaller bottles, maybe even a little easier. Given no significant different in comfort or ease, I went with price, and this was cheaper than the multi-bottle belts. More money to put toward new shoes? Win.

The first few runs I did with the belt seemed just fine, but overall this may not be such a win. I need to experiment with where I wear the belt, but I’m pretty experienced with backpacking and proper placement of weight on hips, and this just wasn’t doing it for me. I felt like the bottle was jabbing me right in the nerves in my lower back after a few miles.

So…maybe Attempt #3 is forthcoming?

Fellow runners, got a favorite hydration/fuel belt? What is it, and what do you like about it?