Running on Empty, Jackson Browne

People, the following is all about running and my decrepitness. I am so sorry.

As you know, I started the whole Couch to 5K thing back in September. At the three week mark, I stumbled and messed up my left ankle. I then went through a few months of physical therapy and was cleared to run again during the last week of December. SO, on December 31st I started up again. This past Sunday was my fifth run of the year and although I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary happening during my run, I *did* notice that Monday morning found me having all sorts of crazy pain where my left shin meets the inside of my left knee. (They meet a lot in the kitchen near the Keurig. They also meet fairly often at the Indian restaurant down the street. HA HA HA! Get it?! It’s like they’re friends and not body parts! That’s a funny one!)

I got really angry about the pain yesterday morning when I was scheduled to run again, but couldn’t. I was beyond angry when I went to bed last night, because I’m now off schedule with my Couch to 5K plan. (Please know that I know how ridiculous this is all sounding. Wait! It gets better! I’m about to consult Google for medical advice!) This morning I typed all of my pain information into Google (See? I told you!), and Google and I believe that I have posterior shin splints. Google gave me a kiss on the forehead and told me that it’s probably because of my flat feet coupled with the fact that I’ve been quite sloth-like, and this new Running Every Other Day thing is shocking my lower half.

I remembered that the guy who fitted me for my running shoes also wanted me to buy inserts, but I didn’t buy them. My migraine doctor (who is a runner) also told me to get the inserts. But I didn’t. (Apparently, I don’t take advice unless I’m limping.)

This morning I drove to the running store and asked the nice young man to hook me up with some inserts. As he untied my shoes, I sang to him about my woes.

Me: …something about a sprained ankle and three months later I’m cleared and now my leg is all screwed up where my knee meets my shin on the inside…

Him: Where are you running?

Me: I run at the J. It’s an indoor track.

Him: Well, there’s part of the problem. That’s a tiny track!

Me: It takes twelve laps to make a mile.

Him: You’re like a car driving at 60 miles per hour, and then making 90 degree turns every 15 seconds!

Me: I know!

Him: AND, chances are, if you’re going every other day, you’re mainly running in the same direction every time!

Me: Preach it!

Him: If the track is flat and you’re doing all of that turning and your body isn’t used to running, you’re on the road to disaster.

Me: Are you trying to make me cry?!

Him: What sort of program are you using for your running?

Me: It’s a Couch to 5K app.

Him: Those are really good if you know what you’re doing, but if you’re a beginner and all you’re getting is “Walk! Okay, now…RUN! NOW WALK AGAIN! RUN!!! WALK!!!”, it’s really not that great of a program.


Him: We offer a program. It’s one hundred dollars, and it goes from March 28th until June 2nd. It meets weekly, and you get the benefit of a personal trainer who talks to you about technique, hydration, and the importance of warming up and cooling down.

Me: Warming who and cooling what?!

Him: PLUS, you get to run with people who are at the same exact level as you.

Me: I hope they’re not terribly pretty or chatty. I also hope they want to go out for mozzarella sticks afterwards.

Him: They meet at Creve Coeur Lake.

Me: That’s embarrassingly close to my house.

So, there you go. I’ve been sidelined again (I’ve been told that shin splints should take less than two weeks to clear up) for the time being, but it looks like I have the springtime option to run around a lake with a group of people who aren’t any better than me! Definitely something to consider. I cannot even begin to express how discouraging my 5K journey has been. (I hate it when people talk about their journey, by the way. And here I go, being all “My 5K Journey” and crap. I’m exasperating!) I *will* run a stinking 5K with my sister (Unless I have bone cancer and have to have both legs removed. Google briefly mentioned that while I was doing my research, but I told him to settle down.), and I *will* do it before August.

(Unless, of course, I don’t. BUT, I’m sort of impressing myself with this newfound fortitude action. The sprained ankle didn’t bring me down. The physical therapy didn’t bring me down. The shin splint weirdness isn’t bringing me down. I’m a runner living in the body of someone who is not a runner! I need an exorcism in reverse. Or something similar! (Mozzarella sticks sound really good, too.)) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

The Hodge and the Podge

The worst paper cuts come from pizza boxes. I know this because Jeff is out of town, and when Jeff goes out of town, we tend to indulge. When there’s a fresh pizza in the house, I often cannot open that box quickly enough. (I’m currently sporting a Donald Duck Band-Aid on my right middle finger.)

This morning I finished up my first redo week of Couch to 5K, and I’m hating it just as much as I hated it three months ago. My goal is to run a 5K sometime around my 42nd birthday, which is in May. 42 is one of my favorite numbers, so I’m feeling fairly confident that the birthday 5K won’t kill me. (I don’t believe in irony.)

This evening for dinner I grilled a portobello mushroom with some fresh spinach and plopped them onto an English muffin with some Colby Jack cheese and horseradish mustard. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in quite some time, and it added up to only seven points. Yes. I’m doing the Weight Watchers thing again. I love/hate it, and it always works for me when I do it the right way.

I’m knitting my first project from my handspun yarn.

Sky Drama

It will eventually be a pair of fingerless mitts.

Sky Drama

I’ll keep you updated. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Maybe if they put cupcakes at the finish line…

It seems that I keep putting posts up and then taking them down because I’ve become severely self-conscious of looking like a jerk or offending a group of people.

This should not offend anyone. (Unless you’re opposed to Halloween. If you’re opposed to Halloween, LOOK AWAY!)

On Saturday evening, we took Hermione and Evil Angel to Boo at the Zoo.

Boo at the Zoo with Hermione and Evil Angel!

(Evil Angel will eventually have vampire teeth. Her idea.)

It was very crowded, and sufficiently spooky.

Dark and Spooky

After about an hour of walking around (please know that I touched a hedgehog during that hour, which is a first for me), we decided to grab a snack and head out.

What could be better than funnel cakes at Boo at the Zoo?!

My kids are just like me when it comes to food and loving food and feeling especially fond of food that has sugar sprinkled onto the top of it. Sometimes I worry that they’ll eventually share my sort of crappy relationship with food. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and also thinking that I need to start up with the running again. It has been five weeks since I hurt my ankle, and my ankle still hurts. It still swells up at night. I know my doctor said Eight Weeks To Recovery, but I really thought eight weeks was more for people like REAL athletes with REAL injuries—not just a fake runner lady who stumbled. I have a friend who swears that the pain doesn’t really matter. “Just run on it. Just keep running.” (She’s a Real Athlete.)

I know six people who participated in the Rock and Roll Marathon in St. Louis yesterday. I sat here at the computer and tracked them as they were running. I cheered for them as they hit important milestones. Less than ten minutes after one of my friends crossed the finish line and became a Marathoner, I choked on a cupcake. (I took a bite, and when I heard Meredith coming into the kitchen, I shoved the rest of the cupcake into my mouth. I have no idea why. And then I inhaled, and part of the cupcake went down the wrong pipe and I started coughing and the kids thought I was sneezing, so every time I hacked and wheezed, both girls screamed “BLESS YOU!!! BLESS YOU!!!” My friends are running MARATHONS, and I’m beating on my chest in an attempt to dislodge cupcake crumbs from my lungs.)

I need to fix this ankle of mine. Or else just run on it. (By the way, it’s easy to love running when you can’t run. Very easy. I’ve been loving running for five weeks now. I think it’s time to start hating it again.)

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Pudding Down!

You know, I rarely start things out like this, but: Damnit.

As you know, I’ve been running. I leave the house at around 5:30 in the morning, I get to the gym at 5:36, I sit in the parking lot and blow my nose 37 times because I’m one of those people who has to blow her nose 37 times in the morning, I wish myself good luck, and then I head to the track to do my Couch to 5K gig.

On Monday, I did the Week Three, Day One run, which consisted of two 90 second runs, two THREE MINUTE runs (Argh!), some walks here and there, one tiny stumble (foreshadowing!), and lots of sweating and hating of running. On Monday night, my left ankle was hurting, and was approximately the size of a knee. I decided to show it to Jeff.

Me: Does my ankle look swollen to you?

Jeff: The right one looks slightly larger than the left.

Me: Wrong. You’re wrong.

I felt okay knowing that the pain wasn’t crazy and that the swelling clearly wasn’t as intense as I thought. The next day was my No Run Celebration Day, so I spent the afternoon doing the ice thing and the heat thing. On Tuesday evening I met a friend for dinner (roasted vegetable salad!) and on the way home I stopped and purchased an ankle brace for the Wednesday morning run. (Get a load of me Not Quitting!)

On Wednesday morning, my ankle was feeling slightly unstable, but not terrible. I put the brace on and decided to be a hero. I arrived at the gym at approximately 5:41. (I struggled with the brace for about five minutes. That explains the 5:41. Just in case you were wondering.) I blew my nose. I entered the building. I greeted a friend who was already running. I did my five minute warm up walk. “Ding! Run!” I took off running and lasted for about twenty seconds before my ankle started screaming for me to stop. I sat down and took the brace off and decided to try again. “STOP! EEEEEAUGH!!!! AAAARRRROOOOOO!!!!” (That was my ankle being a siren and/or a Beagle.)

I’m supposed to run again tomorrow morning. There’s no way I can make it with my ankle hurting the way it is right now. I’m bummed. Completely. I was doing so WELL. I was actually surprising MYSELF with how well I was doing. (Please know that I’m not quitting. This is just a bump in the road.)

I just spent twenty minutes taking photographs of my ankles to show you what Lefty looks like. Wow. These ankles of mine are severely unphotogenic. You don’t need to see them. With that said, I challenge you to take a beautiful photo of your ankle. If you succeed, you have my respect for life.

Wait. Before I go? Thanks so much for commenting on my ten anniversary thing. Each and every one of you is a superstar. (I want to eat lunch with you.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Running, Working, Spinning, Fighting!

This morning I got up and ran at 5:30. Seriously. I did. I’m not even lying to you. AND, I’m the first to admit that This Is Not Me.

Let me tell you the reasons why I loved running at 5:30.

1. I had the track to myself for the first twenty minutes. SO, I was able to try new running styles without feeling all weird, and I was able to sing along with my running playlist. As much as I hate running, it felt sort of awesome to be traveling in circles while singing Heretic Pride.

2. I got a really great parking spot at the gym. Last week when I went on a Friday at 6:00 in the morning? I had to park thirty miles away from the front door. This morning at 5:30? I stepped out of my car and into the gym.

3. For a few moments, I was the youngest person working out. I’m very rarely the youngest person anywhere.

4. I was back home before the kids got up.

After Jeff left for work and the kids left for school, I grabbed my laptop to get some freelance work done at a coffee dump. I got my coffee (which I view as Rent when I’m about to hog a two seater table), opened up my computer, and found that the battery was dead. I had charged it all afternoon yesterday, so this whole dead thing stirred me up a bit. (Especially since I had just spent $4.11 on a 16 oz. coffee that I did not need.) I packed everything back up, went to the store for edamame, a salad, and some macaroni and cheese, came back home, and discovered that the outlet strip I had used yesterday was in need of resetting. As I bore you with these details, the laptop is charging and I’ll be heading out again in a few hours.

Meanwhile, since my original plan was wrenched, I decided to spin the remainder of my first bobbin of Amaranth. I’ve never spun anything with silk content before (honestly, I haven’t spun much of anything because I was operating under the false assumption that my wheel was broken. Whee! I know nothing! But I’m learning!), and I’m loving it. So shiny! My plan is to spin the remaining two ounces before the weekend, and then ply them together. AND, depending on the result, I’m envisioning a shiny pink cowl. Or fingerless mitts. Or a thick and thin beret? (I realize my single ply is highly uneven. I’m working really hard at drafting the amount required to produce thicker yarns. This bobbin reflects my very happy experiment.)

Two ounces of Aramanth!

Tonight I’m hooking up with some friends from high school for Mexican food and fist fighting.

Back to your Tuesday, then. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

The Stirring of the Stumps

So, it has been nearly two months since I told my doctor I was going to do a Couch to 5K program. School started, and I didn’t get off of the couch. I used my surgery as an excuse to stay on the couch a little longer. Then I got a cold. It’s difficult to run when you’re on the couch with a cold. (I’ve got the couch part down. Funny how I think about running only when it’s impossible for me to run. “Tra la la. I should be running, but it’s tricky when the anesthesia is wearing off, so here I lie. Fiddle dee dee!”)

My sister is a runner. When I told her that I was toying with the idea of running, she started calling to encourage me to put my shoes on.

Jen: So. How’s the running going?

Me: Well, I’ve got that surgery in two weeks and right now I need to shave these legs of mine and…

Jen: Ang. I think you’re okay to get started.

Me: I can’t hear you.

I set my start date for Tuesday. The day after Labor Day. My running day. Yes. Tuesday. And then I had to take Henry to the vet and get through some paperwork for school and figure out what I was going to wear for a meeting, and damnit. I finally reached the point where I was getting sick of my own excuses. SO, I watched this video again.

(It makes me cry Every Time I Watch It. I’ve watched My 120 Pound Journey about 25 times now, and I can barely think about it without my lip quivering. The most recent Shrek movie made me cry. Glee does it to me fairly often. Toy Story 3? I was a mess. I have no idea what’s happening over here.)

Yesterday morning I got out of the shower and put my “running” shorts on. I call them running shorts because they’re slippery. I then reached into my Drawer o’ Underpants and pulled out two sports bras. The first one was a nursing bra that was purchased to hold my lactaters back, and it always seemed to come unhooked at unfortunate times. (This is not an option at the track.) The second one? I purchased it during my sophomore year in college. Because I was really getting into the Jane Fonda workout. The year was 1990. My sports bra is 21 years old, and I am no longer the same shape that I was  when I was 20, but I didn’t let that stop me. I wrestled myself into the thing and immediately felt an uncomfortable tightness in my chest. (I then said a little prayer that the bra would be the ONLY cause of tightness in my chest.)

Confession: When I think about running, I am terrified of two things: 1. That my heart will explode. 2. That I will pee myself.

I found my athletic shoes, loaded my running app onto the iPod, ate a banana while telling myself that the extra potassium will hug my heart and prevent it from exploding, and drove to the gym.

The first thing the app does is choose a tune from your iPod. Then it says something like, “Ding! Walk!” So, I walked. And as I walked, I watched the program count down to my first sixty seconds of Run. And when I had less than ten seconds to go before Run, I started freaking out. It’s happening. It’s happening.

“Ding! Run!”

I took off running like someone was chasing me, and it didn’t take long before I realized that I didn’t really know how to handle running. Three other people (who knew what they were doing, as evidenced by their cute running clothes) were running, and if I would have kept up at my “Someone is CHASING ME HOLY CRAP!” pace, I would have lapped them repeatedly. I slowed down to a jog and immediately felt a lot less frantic. “Ding! Walk!” Yes.

Because I’m a huge fan of experimentation, every time I got the “Ding! Run!” I practiced a new style of running in order to figure out what was the most comfortable. Do I use my heels? Do I run on the balls of my feet? Do I kick my legs backward? I tried everything, and sadly, I never found a style that felt right. (I *do* know that the heel-to-toe method felt very wrong.) If anyone was watching me, I’m sure I provided great entertainment as I sweated and panted and snorted and hopped and repeatedly replaced the ear buds that kept falling out of my ears.

When I noticed that I had only one more run followed by a five minute cool down walk, I got really excited to hear if I would be congratulated when the workout was over. I ran a little faster. I walked with a bit more bounce. And then the vocal track went out on my iPod, and I immediately knew that I was having a stroke. I was sweaty, my right leg felt like it was about to separate itself from my torso, I was seeing a few spots before my eyes, and I could no longer hear Cee Lo Green. It’s all over.

And then it WAS all over. Week One, Day One. Completed.

Tomorrow is Week One, Day Two. And just typing that makes it seem like a plan. I just need to figure out  HOW to run. (Do you use your heels? Do you kick your legs up? I would hate to think that I’m running the exact way that will surely lead to a heart explosion or a bladder failure…)

Don’t look at me. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>