Thursday, June 16, 2011

Barefoot Running and My Vain Little Foot Secret

I have to admit that I was really discouraged about the marathon and my IT band acting up. Thank you for all your comments. They really lifted my spirits more than you know. I was really mostly down about the injury. I turned to barefoot running to heal my body and to run more efficiently. It was, in my mind, a last resort, a drastic move. I've endured a lot of comments and criticism along the way. I was really insecure at first, I didn't want anyone to see me. But now, I just don't care. I've been gawked at, whispered about, talked about very loudly right behind me, and offered rides from concerned people. I've had my neighbor ask me if I was doing poor financially and offer to buy me shoes. I've had things shouted at me like, "shoes are for feet, not hands." I've had people stop me in the halls at church and ask me why I'm doing it. I really have not been offended or hurt by any of the comments even when people tell me I'm crazy or stupid (and they have). I've considered myself the first exposure that they have to barefoot running. I've tried to be as positive about everything as I could possibly be. But after my IT band started hurting, I started doubting everything I had told myself and others such as, "my body feels better than it ever has before" and "my knees and hips don't hurt anymore".
But after a few days have passed and my mind has been cleared, I can still look back at my time barefoot and minimalist running and say with confidence that my body really has never felt better. Long runs don't hurt like they used to and the recovery time is almost nothing. Even though I may have this little setback, it's not going to stop me from continuing on in my journey to be a barefoot runner. I'm going to be more consistent with my weight routine. After the first taper from the Ogden marathon I really slacked on my weights. So that makes about 4 weeks that I didn't strengthen my hips and butt or any of my lower body. I wasn't stretching consistently either. And I need to realize that JUST barefoot running is not the cure all to every problem with my body. It is a part, but it is not the whole. Plus, when I look at this video clip, I can't help but marvel at the beauty that is barefoot running. Amanda from Miss Zippy and Don from Running and Rambling have both posted it, but it should be shared again and often. It's what I want to look like someday. Maybe it's the magical music or the serene surroundings, but it's absolutely mesmerizing.

Now to my foot secrets! First, when my feet are tired and achey or if I've overdone it a bit and the tops of my feet hurt, Nora from Tri-Living Together (formerly known as Barefoot Running Mama) told me about a little trick. It was one of those simple things that you would think would be too easy to really work. She said to get those toe separators that people use when they paint their toenails and wear those around. Finally, after the first marathon I got some and tried them out. My feet kept squishing the foam together and it didn't work super well.

So this last weekend I bought some soft rubbery ones and I can't believe how well it worked. The tops of my feet were sore for probably 2 1/2 weeks after the first marathon. After just 3 days of wearing them my feet are completely pain free. I can jump without hurting! I'm really so very excited about this!

My next foot secret is a purely vain secret. I get lots of compliments on my toenails. And I usually just say thanks and move on. But all my good friends know my secret and since you all are my good friends I might as well share it with you as well. My toenails are fake. They are acrylic. Like you would get on your fingernails. Only these are way better in my estimation. I started getting them 6 years ago when I was pregnant with my last little child. I decided that if I was going to be huge during the summer that I was at least going to have cute toenails. (Even my midwife complimented me on them in the delivery room!) And I loved them. They are no maintenance and last for 5-6 weeks.

Then after I ran my first marathon and lost 2 toenails during the training and another 2 during the marathon I went back in and asked her if she could do anything about it. She just molded me some toenails on top of what was left. I was so pleased and haven't quit since.
Sometimes I do a french tip.

But when my toenails underneath aren't looking so good, I just do a solid color on top. No painting, no fuss for 5 weeks. My lady only charges $20 bucks so I don't feel like I'm breaking the bank either when I do it. I call it my guilty splurge and I love how they look.

I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I thought I might as well clear my conscience and quit accepting compliments for what is not really natural!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Utah Valley Marathon 2011- #7 It is what it is.

Well marathon #7 is in the books. It certainly wasn't my best race. But what was I expecting? I knew this one wasn't going to be a PR and it was more about adding one more number to my list of marathons rather than the time. But sometimes false hope creeps in and sets you up for disappointment. Besides the fact that I ran a marathon 3 weeks ago and wasn't trained properly for that one. So am I disappointed? Yes. But not in my effort. Or in my time, even though it's a far cry from what I believe I am capable of. I am really disappointed because I think I have a new injury. And it's the same old on and off injury that I've been trying to escape from for 7 years now. The dreaded IT band. What is really discouraging is that this injury is what led me to barefoot and minimalist running. I was so sick of hurting while running. I knew that it was something I was doing wrong and have been determined to fix what it is so that I could continue doing what I love. So I must still be doing something wrong. I really wish that there was a pro barefoot runner around here so that I could get some coaching or something. I should be able to figure it out myself, but I guess I can't.
Thursday I was reviewing some of the race details and realized that I was going to have to leave my mom's house at around 3:00 in the morning to catch the busses. On a whim, I called the host hotel to see if they were still giving out the marathon discount. They had one room left and I booked it. I then called Heather to see if she could get away for the weekend and come with me. Her saint of a husband agreed and so Friday we were off for a girl's weekend!

We met up with the other blogger girls at yogurt land and then had fun shopping and eating.

Rachelle, Chris, me, Ashley, and Julia

I didn't really sleep much. My stomach was in knots and I just couldn't settle down. Finally it was time to load the busses and I met up with Julia and Ashley. It always seems like such a long ride up to the start. I still had pretty bad nerves.

But it wasn't long before the cannon went off and it was time to start. I did the same plan that I used 3 weeks ago in Ogden and carried my water bottle and Nuun. I ran with Julia for the first 5 miles. It settled my nerves and I was really excited for her to be running her first marathon. I stopped at the water station to fill my bottle and saw her a ways ahead of me. I could have caught up, but I knew that I was not going to be able to keep up with her the whole time and needed to settle into my own rhythm. I just didn't feel fresh like I did before Ogden.
It was beautiful scenery and perfect weather. This was touted as a downhill marathon but everyone had failed to mention the uphills. It was actually nice to have some variety. There was quite a large hill at around mile 7 that I loved. I took it nice and steady and cruised up it. I didn't even feel out of breath at the top. It was around this time that I had a conversation with a nice man from Arizona who was wearing Vibrams. We chatted for a bit about the transitional time because a woman was asking me about them just before I saw him. He started barefoot as well and got up to 18 miles. I picked his brain about downhill running a little and then told him I was going to just hang behind him and just watch him for a while. We hit the first real downhill into the canyon and I tried to mimic what he was doing. Quick turnover and man, he flew down that hill. It was pretty steep and I felt a little out of control and slowed down. There were several rolling hills and at about mile 10 I felt my IT band hurt. It wasn't just tightness. It was pain. I was unprepared because I haven't felt that pain for about a year and a half. And here I had just been telling him how great barefoot running has been for my body. I was good on all the uphills and the gentle downhills but every time we hit a steep downhill that pain would flare up and I'd have to slow down. I tried stretching it but it just wasn't working. I finally reached just the bathrooms right before the halfway point at 2:15 and took about a 5 minute bathroom, fill water bottle, and stretch break then headed on out. It felt like those first 13 miles had taken forever. So I stuck a smile on my face and tried to enjoy the scenery and soak in the race vibes around me. It was around this point that I stuck my music on. I also chatted with several people along the way. I reminded myself to embrace the suck. It was fitting that the race's motto is "Pain that you enjoy". So it wasn't a perfect scenario. So it was going to be a long day. I refused to let myself be discouraged at that point. I reminded myself that I was lucky to just be out there on the course that day. Pain or not, I was lucky to be running.

The calf cramps started around mile 16 or so. I had one salt packet which I took and it held them off for a while. I didn't have any cramping in Ogden and didn't take any salt and I think I fueled about the same so I'm not sure what was going on. I even had my fancy calf sleeves on. I'd stop and walk to get rid of them and then start running again. It was getting hard to keep the negative thoughts out. So I started naming things in my mind that I was thankful for. That helped distract me and got me back in a good mood. Through the rolling hills, I would pass people on the uphills and then as soon as the downhill started I'd have to slow down because of the pain. That was pretty sucky. You're supposed to be able to make up time on the downhills!

Mile 21 hit and I got to see Heather. It was SO great! What a mental lift that was. I stopped and complained to her about all my ailments and then started back up again. Those last couple of miles were long. I made sure to thank every police man directing traffic for my safety. After thanking one of them, he told me that I was a better woman that he was. My first response was to tell him, no, that anyone can do this, then I said, "wait! I AM a better WOMAN than you are!" He laughed and said, "I was just checking to see if you were still mentally there!"

Mile 25 and I see Doran and Jody. They're my neighbors and Jody is such a great support to me. She's always sending me good luck texts before each race and is always checking up on me. Doran ran the half and decided to be gracious enough to run me in the last mile. It was so great having company and support! It really was kind of a lonely race. The last two blocks my calves were in a permanent lock but I was not going to stop and walk the last two blocks. However after crossing the finish line and stopping, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to walk again.


Another big surprise was my dad at the finish line. My mom has been to almost every finish line but my dad has never been able to come. It was great to have them both there.

And then there was Heather. I don't think there are words that really express how grateful I was to have her there. I don't know many people that would sacrifice to come and be my race photographer when she really should be running the race with me. She has handled her injury with such grace. I am so grateful for her in my life. She is so unselfish and is truly happy for me even when I know it's not easy to hear or see others running when you can't. I love her and I couldn't ask for a better and truer friend. And I didn't even get a picture with her.
Now that I've had a day to think about things, I am more discouraged than before. It's a good thing the negative thoughts I've been having now didn't creep in during the marathon. I may not have even finished. I'm kind of baffled. I've gone and looked at my photos. It looks like I'm landing correctly. I've only gotten blisters from barefoot running on a smooth hot asphalt road and even then the blisters were on the outsides of the middle of my feet. Maybe it was just the two marathons too close together. Maybe my body can't handle that. Maybe my body just can't handle the distance. Maybe trying to mimic that guy threw off my normal stride and I screwed something up. Maybe that brutal trail run I did a week ago did it. I got a massage on Tuesday where I knew my quads were sore but as we got into the massage I realized that my IT bands were sore too. So she really worked them so much that I still have the bruises from it. Maybe it was too close to the marathon to have that done. I may never know. I've done 7 marathons now and 2 of them have been good and positive experiences. Why do I keep coming back? I ask myself that a lot. As does my husband. I've tried to be really positive at home. I've let these things really bother me before and it doesn't do anything good for me or my family. And that's not worth it. So you all will have to listen to my whining. I keep coming back because I believe that someday I will feel like I've done my best and reached my potential. And until that happens, I'll be back. It just may not be for a while.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Winner and A Blogger Meet Up

First things first: Chris is the winner of the race entry! Congrats Chris! Shoot me an e-mail and I'll get you all hooked up to run this weekend! I really hope you enjoy that pancake breakfast! (That's the part that got me all excited!)

Now on to the other important stuff: There are 2 sleeps to go until the Utah Valley Marathon. I am more nervous about this one than Ogden for some reason. I need to talk to myself and get rid of these nerves. At least I have plenty to do before the big day. I have mounds of laundry, church stuff to get ready for, mountain bike trails to mark, lots of ballet car pools to run, and there's always cleaning of some sort. Plus I'd like to get a new playlist going, I need to buy gels, pack to sleep at my parents, and grocery shop so my family has something to eat while I'm gone. This will be the second marathon that my family will miss because of dance. My mom will be at the finish line though and I'm excited about that.
There is going to be a meet up Friday for any bloggers out there that want to come. It will be at Yogurtland in Orem at 5:00. I can't wait to see my blogger buddies and hopefully meet some new faces!

Do you have music suggestions for me?
Are you coming to the meet up?
Any last minute advice?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Savoring the here and now

Because of this sweet girl, I started reading this book. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but I like it. It's the way I try to live my life now and it's broadening my vision. I'm sure many of you have read it and if you have, I'm sure it's been life changing. You can't help but be changed by this book. And though it doesn't talk about running at all, I couldn't help but think about running while reading it.

Running has been many things to me over the last 9 years. And as my needs have changed, so has my reason to run. I initially started running to lose weight. Then it changed as a time to get out and be by myself. Truthfully, it still is a lot of times. I love being free from responsibility for an hour or so. There have been times when I've had consistent running partners and running has filled a social need. And there have been times when running has been a connection to God. It's been my solitary prayer time. My thankful time. Time to ponder questions and get answers.

Lately though, running has just been fun time for me. I've enjoyed just being out there. Experiencing and appreciating the now. Not looking forward to something in the future, even a finish line. Just loving the current moment. It has come about partially because of barefoot running and how it forces you to slow down and be in the moment. It is like being a kid again. For example: my 5 year old son and I went on a barefoot run. I let him lead. We ran when he wanted to. And it wasn't slow. We stopped and walked when he was out of breath. We walked along balancing on the curb. Then we ran balancing on the curb. We climbed rocks and crawled under bushes. We jumped over pinecones. We rolled down a grassy hill. And we went over 2 miles. It was one of the most fun runs I've done in a long time. Children can be great tutors.

But I also think this attitude shift that's happened is because of the season of my life that I'm in right now. My oldest child will be a senior next year and my youngest a kindergartener. My life is about to change drastically in the coming years. And I want to savor every minute that I have with my family how it is right now. It's not like I don't think the future will have happy times too. I'm not dreading a college student or even being alone during the day. I just know that it's going to be different than what I have now. Our family vacations are not going to be the same. We're going to have in laws join our family and someday I'm going to become a grandma. (O.k. Now that thought freaks me out a little.) I guess my point is that I want to really enjoy life right now. I don't want to wish or waste away time. Things sure have changed from when I was a first time mom and couldn't wait to hear their first words or have my little baby walk for the first time. Maybe a little wisdom and maturity have occurred and I am learning to love where I am right now. Somehow it's translated over to my running. Times don't seem to matter as much anymore. Even distances are a mere number and though I long to go further and faster, it doesn't consume me. I am happy in the here and now.

This is how Saturday's run was. The last "long" run before my next marathon. I decided to do it on trails again because that's where I really enjoy myself. From difficult downhills to lots of mud and water, I tried to savor every minute. Here's a few snapshots from what I saw on the trail.

I'm not alone in this shift of thinking. Mike has adopted this philosophy with his running. And Katie noticed that smiles were the "in" thing nowadays. She and some other bloggers have started a collective blog that embodies the run smiley thinking. Go and read a few entries. You wont' be able to stop the smile from spreading across your face. Krista made some awesome logos for it. Go check it out and then try it on a run yourself. Leave the watch at home, bring the camera or phone along, and run for fun. Notice things around you. How the sun feels on your skin. How the wind moves even the hairs on your arms. How the sunlight dances through the shadows. Then come tell me about it!

Run :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Race Entry Giveaway!

There's no shortages of charities out there. And I find myself drawn to races that have a charity behind them. There's no better motivation than thinking of someone struggling to survive on a daily basis rather than my pale in comparison struggle to finish a race that I signed up for voluntarily. I've run a few races in my day for good causes. And I've donated to some really great causes. And the optimistic side of me feels so good about what I'm doing and the money I spent. I hope in a small way that it makes a difference. But the skeptical side of me can't help but wonder how much of the proceeds really goes towards the charity. I wonder about the shirts and the food and the prizes and hope that they were all donated so that the money can be utilized best.

This Saturday, June 11th, the Anne Stirba Cancer Foundation is sponsoring a 5K race. This is no ordinary race. 100-percent of the registration proceeds will go directly to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for the continued fight against breast cancer. It seems that cancer literally touches all of our lives. Either it's affected someone in our families or someone that we're close to. It starts at 8:00 at Highland High School at the corner of 21st South and 17th East in Sugarhouse and will end at the Wasatch Presbyterian Church on the corner of 1626 S. 1700 E. It is a chip timed race but is also welcomes strollers and dogs. And if you are a breast cancer survivor, you can run for free. Plus, it features a pancake breakfast afterwards. If that wasn't addition there are awesome door prizes including a gift certificate for 4 people to try out scuba diving, Great Harvest Bread gift basket, Sizzler gift certificates, along with much more. They have also donated one entry fee that you can win! And then even if you don't win, get your friends together and sign up for a good cause and a fun time this weekend.

To enter:
You have until Wed. night:
*Leave me a comment saying why you'd like an entry.
That's it folks!
Go check out their website and help spread the word!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recovery is hard work

Usually I love the week after a marathon. You have a legitimate reason to lay around and order people to rub your legs and feet. How well this works depends on what time of day it is, who is home, and how much bribery chocolate I have left. This time around I just feel like a slug. I have recovered really well from the marathon. My big toe has somehow been fixed by running 26 miles. I've only felt a few little twinges of pain from it. My right foot still has some soreness on the top of my foot. But other than that, my body has felt great. And it felt that way about 3 days after the marathon. Not wanting to make a mistake and do too much too soon, on Wednesday I took my body out for a little run. It was just a two mile barefoot run but it felt great. The tops of my feet still hurt. I came home and iced them. On Friday I did a 3 mile barefoot run. It felt even better. And the tops of my feet felt better. So on Saturday I headed out for an 8 mile run. 5 of it was barefoot until the rain got to be too much and my feet started feeling tender. Come to find out I had gotten a blister. I stuck on my monkey feet and finished it out. I didn't dare lift weights yet so I just did push ups to make sure that I could still do them. 3 sets of 40 Tuesday and 3 sets of 50 Thursday. I'll have to start back up on the push up challenge after the next marathon.

This week has been about the same. I feel like a slug. The holiday weekend didn't help. My teenager was driving me crazy and I felt emotionally spent. We had company and I feel like I'm still recovering from the weekend. I feel like I need a nap every day. I did 3 sets of pushups again yesterday. 40 apiece. I did a 6.5 mile barefoot run and got blisters of the heat. I waited until the middle of the day and the asphalt was hot. Well, relatively hot. Utah's weather is really messed up lately. We had snow this weekend with our highs in the 50's and then it was 39 degrees yesterday morning but 75 by the afternoon. I really hope that my feet adjust and that summer weather and the heat won't always make blisters. I've really been looking forward to summer and more barefoot running. That has been the upside of all this downtime. I've been able to do every run barefoot. I get to finish out this week and then start tapering again for next week's marathon. I don't really know what kind of mileage I'm even going to run. Like I said, I feel like a slug.

I tried to go for a bike ride last night. It resulted in my first crash of the season. And it was less than a block from my house. Stupid stop signs and stupid clips. My hip and right hand and arm still feel banged up this morning. And my pride is bruised. Right in front of 3 guys hanging out on their front porch. All got up to make sure I was o.k. Why, oh why can't I ever fall when no one is watching? Heather and I went for ice cream to celebrate her getting her boot off! Yay!

Meet White Wilma and Blue Betty! (Our bikes!)

I'm also feeling really nervous for this upcoming marathon. I had such a good experience with Ogden and I felt really mentally prepared. What if it doesn't work this time? What if....? I have a million different answers to fill that in that space. I guess that's the beauty of the marathon. You never know what to expect.

In the meantime, I'll be keeping myself busy with last week of school events, getting ready for a ballet performance, working in the yard, and working out our new summer schedule. I really do love summer and having the kids home. I love the freedom that it brings and the fun things we get to do.

Do you have big plans for the summer? Please tell me about them so I can live vicariously through you.