Friday, September 5, 2014

Hood to Coast and Noxgear

I received an amazing invitation this summer to run in the Hood to Coast relay - which is either the world's largest relay or the most overrated running event everyone's ever heard of (I'm not exactly sure which yet.) My running friend, Robin, actually WON a team entry on her birthday from Nuun. Two weeks after the race, I'm not even sure I've begun to process it, so I won't try to express everything in this post, but there is one thing worth sharing - you may have to run in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! In my case, it was at 11pm along a busy highway in Scappoose, Oregon.

photo courtesy of Michael George Creative Arts

Luckily, our team had ultra-cool lighted running vests from Noxgear. When I received the vest, my kids immediately tried it on and took turns wearing it and slashing each other with homemade bamboo swords. I really wished I had two, because they would've have been AWESOME for the kids' nighttime sword fights! I didn't let them play with it for too long although as it is for very, very serious runners only - the kind of runners that run in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Me + my Noxgear Tracer 360 vest

Though we didn't have catchy daytime running costumes, at Hood to Coast we were the definitely the coolest nighttime runners there. At every exchange, people stopped us and asked us about our lighted vests. We showed other runners how we could change the color pattern by pressing the button the back, and how we could change settings from solid colors to flashing multi-colored. The best part of the vests was, I thought, was the way they were fitted to the body. As other runners passed me (I must have been road-killed 3,000 times in that race) their lights bounced, shifted and flopped around. The Noxgear Tracer 360 vest fits lightly on your body, and can be adjusted to just the right size - no bouncing, shifting or flopping around. I really did love it. I can attest to Noxgear's effectiveness too, as I did NOT get hit by a car while running in the middle of the night in Scappoose, Oregon.

My favorite photo from HTC - Noxgear in daylight.
photo courtesy of Michael George Creative Arts

I may not be the fastest runner out there, but I appreciate great gear. I have enough stuff flopping around without worrying about my gear adding to my problems. As a busy mom, my winter runs nearly always have to occur at night. Noxgear will be a great addition to my nighttime running wardrobe this year.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Running With (a good) Attitude

Usually I spend a lot of time hating running.

I hate looking out the window at grey drizzle and imagine myself stepping outside for a run.

I ALWAYS hate the first mile when my footsteps cry out with "plod, plod, plod" and my knees ache and maybe I'm getting the flu?!

I'm pretty sure my ass looks terrible in Lycra pants. I try not to think about it too much.

I hate doing speed work at the community college track, where 18 year old boys lap me - twice - and I'm working to my middle-aged max.


Fortunately, I don't hate running all of the time, otherwise I'd never do it, AND I do love how I feel after a good, hard run. Lately though, something has shifted in my running attitude. I think that I mostly like it now. Definitely not LOVE, but like - a nice, steady like as in it's part of my identity, and I don't hate myself for being a sloggy runner.

My attitude change comes from being more social about running. I have a core group of wonderful women that I've been running with on Saturdays in my Moms RUN This Town group. We're all training for the same two races, so that makes the long runs seem doable. They're pushing me to run faster too. Something I find very hard to do by myself.

I've also connected with another Moms RUN group in a neighboring city that's well-organized. I've met some new running buddies there too and have joined a few for a local 5K. We're also planning a relay group for Ragnar in 2015 - one of my bucket list runs! The enthusiasm in the group is contagious.

Since the Ragnar relay is over a year away, I was invited to hook up with another team to run the Epic Relay this year. After I paid my deposit, I stepped up my speed work. I don't want to let my team down by having to have another member run faster to make up for my time. We have to average 11 minute miles, and I'm not quite there yet. I'm still running 11:30 - 11:50 on my long runs.

My relationship with running changed when I least expected. At first I started running to manage my weight, stress level and mental health. Now, I'm running for those reasons, as well as to make friends and have fun.

Have a great weekend,

Miss Prickly

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm a Bad, Bad Blogger...I Was Busy Being Depressed

It's been 8 months since I lost my blogging mojo. I dropped my blog like a bad blind date, and to tell you the truth I'm surprised that I came back. I'll tell you what happened.

I have been cursed with intermittent clinical depression. I can go years without a depressive episode and I usually manage okay with good self-care, but in spite of my best efforts to eat well, run and keep a positive attitude, this time the depression snuck up on me and hit me like a ton of bricks. It knocked me down hard that I couldn't get back up on my own.

image source
I actually felt it coming on before the Hippie Chick Half last spring. I found it hard to finish my workouts two weeks before the race, and I would often gorge myself with carbs to feel better. I thought that it was no big deal, and it would pass so I kept doing my best to keep my chin up and not let the depression drag me under water.

Then I had surgery over the summer and I HAD to quit running for 8 weeks while I healed, which I was secretly glad for. I spent long hours lounging in bed since I don't work during the summer, or laying on the couch and eating crap. Of course I gained weight until I felt like a fat blob in really tight pants (except I wore sweats most days because I didn't give a shit.) By the end of the summer depression had taken over my body and my brain, but it would take a few months for me to reach out and ask for help.

From Hyperbole and a Half

Finally, I made a doctor's appointment, and for the second time in my life I started meds. I admitted my wretched state of being to my cousin and to my husband and they both recommend great resources. This helped tremendously, and within a month I was up and running again. Now I'm eating well again and am working on losing the excess weight. It's taken three months, but I feel like myself again and I have BIG running plans.

Depression is a horrible thing to live with. To me, it's as disabling as having two broken legs. At times it took extreme effort to barely get through my day. I'm finally at a place where I can admit that this is something that I will always live's not going to go away. I'm grateful for my friends and my family, and for all of the wonderful treatment options.

So glad to be back in the world!

Miss Prickly

Resources I used to get better:
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D.
Moodhelper by Kaiser Permanente (must get through your insurance)
Lexapro as prescribed by my doctor
Yoga and Running

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hippie Chick Half 2013 Recap

Last week, I was SO nervous about the upcoming race. I don't remember having quite so much anxiety, but then this was the first race that I ran without a buddy, and the first race I had a time goal to meet. I wanted to run under 2 hours 45 minutes, a little over a 12 minute mile.

I sprung for a new Lululemon top for this race.

My family got up with me at the crack of dawn to drive me to the start - the best Mother's Day present ever! 

It was hard to see the pace signs, and I started with the 10-minute milers. I know it's prudent to start slow, but running less than 11-minute miles at the start seemed excruciatingly slow. Plus, it was cool and the first 2 miles were slightly downhill.

The course was just okay, flat and pretty in spots, but the last third of the half-marathon course is a crowded out and back (which is also the quarter-marathon course). This was my second time running this course, so I knew what to expect. The race was crowded, and there weren't enough bathrooms. I waited until mile 8 to use the bathroom because there was no way I was going to blow my modest time goal waiting in line at a bathroom stop.

I felt great, and was well under my goal until mile 11. I expected to struggle at the end. My training plan called for my longest run to be 10 miles. I know that this is common in training plans, but psychologically, I wanted to be done at 10! My legs kept cranking a steady 11:40 pace until mile 11, then my legs went noodle-y and shaky, and I had to walk.

At mile 11, the sun was hot, it was humid, and the lovely 2-mile downhill that I so enjoyed at the start became my uphill nemisis. A darling high-school cheerleader yelled at me, "you're almost there!" and I snapped back, "I have two miles to go, what are you talking about?!" (Sorry about that).

My pace slowed to 12:30, then 13. Uggh...those two miles were excruciating, but then I saw the "FREE TUNNEL of MIST!" The misters were having a grand time, and I had to drag them out of there when the race was over.

How happy would you be to see this at the end of a hot race?

My little girl ran me in, and I couldn't even look up at the finish line. I was fixated on willing one foot going in front of the other. I finished in 2 hours 37 minutes - beat my goal by 8 minutes! I actually finished in the middle of the pack in my age group. One thing I like about this race, is that the finishers get little necklaces instead of medals.

It was exciting to make a time goal and meet it. Even though I'm still a slow runner, I look at my race history over the last 2 years and can see a lot of progress. That's so exciting!

No more long races this summer - just a few short, fun runs. This summer, I'll continue to work on my speed during my Thursday night track workouts, and I'll focus on losing the extra 13 pounds I'm packing.

Do you have any tips for those last few miles in the race? Should a training plan include a long run that's as long as the race? Help me out here so I can get faster!

Miss Prickly

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

30 Day Strength Challenge at Run To The Finish


Run + glute strength
Core Strength + Stability
Run + glute strength
Stength + Stability
+ Hip Stretch and Stength
Strength + Stability
Long Run + Hip Stretch
Do 3-5 strength moves each day for 4-8 reps / 2-3 sets
1. plank
1. Single leg squat (barefoot)
1. plank
1. plank
1. kneeling hip flexor

2. back lunge to a knee raise
2. bicycle
2. bicycle
2. squat stretch

3. Hip bridge
3. Hip bridge
3. pigeon pose
3. superman
3. pigeon pose

4. Bear Crawl
4. Bear Crawl
4. Clam shells

5. Open Twist
5. side raises

5. Open Twist
5. side raises

6. donkey kicks

6. donkey kicks

A new challenge to start today. Amanda at Run To The Finish is hosting a 30-Days Stronger Challenge. It's nice timing for me since a) I had to drop my bootcamp class and b) I'm nearly done with half-marathon training and c) I'm all out of challenges right now.

This is how I'm organizing my time. 

Until last fall, I didn't do much strength work (or cross training for that matter). It makes a big difference in how I feel - plus it's nice having that bread-loaf shaped butt, if you know what I mean? I tend toward the pancake butt if I'm not doing something for those muscles back there.

If you run, what do you do for strength? 

Miss Prickly

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I ran 10 miles today :) and then I got on the internet :(

Note: I wrote this last Sunday, but wasn't ready to publish it until today.

I swear. The internet is the BEST and the WORST motivator.

After I finished my 10 mile run, at a 12:30 pace, I came home excited to learn how I could continue to improve my pace. While I iced my achilles (trying to avoid the dreaded tendonitis that I developed last year at this time), I google searched "how to run faster".

While I found a lot of helpful and supportive advice. I first had to wade through this ridiculousness:

What's the best way for really slow runners (12 minute/mile pace) to get faster? 

      "Just tell them to stop eating so damn much. Seriously."

      "I'm no elitist or anything, but 12 min/mile is pitiful for an experienced runner (unless we're talking     about senior citizens here)."

      "You cannot give them pride in themselves if they do not want it"

Yuck! Who are these people to say such things? While I often rely on the internet for support and advice in my running endeavours, I think that it's better to shut it down occassionally. I'm really my own best critic, and have to work hard to drown out the negative voices in my head.

That being said, I do have speed goals. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • Continue to do speedwork on Thursdays and long runs on Saturdays (even after the Hippie Chick half)
  • Run two shorter races this summer, and run for speed. I'm pretty sure that I can run a 5K at 10:30 min/mile
  • Cross train with strength moves twice a week
  • Weight loss - I would feel a lot better if I lost the extra chub. I'm at the high end of normal on the BMI, but I know that I would move better with a 14 pound weight loss. I lost 10 pounds with Diet Bet, and I've been maintaining that for a month. Time to get back at it.
  • Resist the urge to slog through a marathon until my speed improves. Maybe another half-marathon in the fall.

Has anyone used the training plan from Run Less, Run Faster? Any advice from readers is appreciated.

Miss Prickly