Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One Week Until My Daughter's First Ever 5K - With Me!

In exactly one week, my darling daughter plans to toe the start line of her first 5K event - with me!  I am over-the-top excited, and a little bit confused.  I mean, didn't she just learn to walk last week or something?  Where has the time gone?

Maudlin reminiscences and heartfelt mommy moment aside, I am pretty darn geeked that I can share something that I love - running - with my soon-to-be 7-year-old.  I have dreams of guiding her gently through the miles, urging her not to start out too fast, cheering her on when things get tough, and then victoriously running across the finish line - hands held high over our heads together - we did it!

Okay, so that is where I wake up from my daydream.  In all reality, I see this scenario unfolding in one of two ways:
Way 1: The gun goes off and the race starts.  It'll be packed, so I'll have to keep a close eye on her in the first few minutes, but as soon as she sees a hole, off she sprints with me trying desperately to hang on to her pace, only to have her stop to walk suddenly the first time she realizes she is out of breath.  I see the race continuing as a series of rabid sprint sessions interspersed with frequent walk breaks - Galloway-style. 
So, that is the Good Way.
Way 2: We start out running adequately (sprinting or not) and we continue to run until somewhere along the route when she suddenly realizes what she has gotten herself into.  The rest of the event will be a miserable complain fest as I beg, plead, and cajole her to keep going at a walk so we can finish the race and get to the apple pie.  
(Seriously, there is pie at the end.  I know, I know,.... enough to keep me motivated, but a 7-year-old?)

Okay, so this is all tongue-in-cheek, but witness the following....
Exhibit A:  E. does not want to practice for this run.  Whenever the idea comes up, it is batted down like a good idea gone bad.
Exhibit B:  At our summer fun run series last week, E. - who had the choice to run the quarter-mile or half-mile distance - chose the quarter-mile, even though once she turns 7 she'll have to go to the half-mile anyway and even though she knows she has the 5K on her calendar.
Exhibit C:  E. was very excited to run a 2-Miler this past winter, and run it she did.  However, it took her over 40 minutes and there was apparently a lot of misery along the way.
In her defense, for whatever reason, E. still remains very excited about this event.  I am just hoping that the excitement of the idea is enough to propel her three miles down the road.

Finishing up a half-mile event in April.
So, more than anything, I am really excited and curious to see how this all unfolds. Whether it is good, bad, or ugly, the event will no doubt offer something for us both to learn, and the best part is that we'll get to spend some time together - something that we surprisingly have little opportunity to do.

In my heart, I hope that this isn't really just a way for her to find time to spend with me.  What a sad state of affairs if a 7-year-old feels she has to run a 5K to have some alone time with mom.  Either that, or she thinks she'll get a bunch of sports beans and Gatorade out of the deal - which she will, no doubt.  Well, that and apple pie.

If you have kids, have you gotten them into running?  Do they love it? Hate it?  Could care less?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To love or not to love: Ultra Fuel Review

Ultra Fuel.  I want to love this stuff.  I really do.  My Hubby seems to like it well enough, and I have heard from others that it is an awesome fueling option for long runs.  Unfortunately, after testing it out this past weekend, I am left with the conclusion that it is really disgusting.

Okay, I would be happier if all the ingredients looked
like they came straight from Mother Nature, but for a
once-in-a-while concoction, I can trade in my purity standards
for the few ingredients it has.
So, before this past weekend's long run, I took a long, hard look at the calories that I take in during my miles.  After doing a little math on the issue, Hubby and I came to the conclusion that I may need a few more calories per hour of running than I am getting.  So, looking at options, I asked if adding some Ultra Fuel by Twinlab to my nutritional rotation would make sense.  Normally, I only drink a diluted solution of Gatorade and eat some Clif Blocks and maybe a gel or two.  (And I am trying to phase out the gels, because I really don't like them.)  I was attracted to the Ultra Fuel, because it is really made with very few ingredients, which I like, and it packs a more caloric punch.  (Trust me, if it weren't for the running, I would not be looking to take in more calories!)  The directions on the jar say to mix in 4 scoops of Ultra Fuel to 16 ounces of water for a whopping 400 calories.  Now, I don't need that much, and even Hubby doesn't use this stuff full strength, so we decided I should only mix in 2 scoops to the same amount of water for 200 calories, give or take.

Hubby had warned me to try a taste before taking off on my run, because, as he said, it is a bit... well, ... different tasting.  If I didn't like it, I was supposed to put the mix in the fridge and he would drink it later when he went for his run.

So, what did I think?  Well, in the morning, I dutifully mixed up a bottle of the Ultra Fuel Fruit Punch flavor we have, shook it well, took a sip, and...gurgle, blegh, gack, gulp....oh my.  Once I uncrossed my eyes, unpursed my lips, waggled the bitterness off of my tongue, I was left thinking .... this stuff is really gross tasting.  I took another sip...gurgle, blegh, gack, gulp.  Yep, still gross tasting, but strangely compelling, too - the gustatory equivalent of not being able to take your eyes off of something because it is so ugly.

So, I have decided that Ultra Fuel is complicated.  

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided that despite my initial reaction I was going to run with it anyway.  (Frankly, I am getting a little tired of Gatorade and if Ultra Fuel is all that and a bag of chips, I wanted to experience it for myself.)  It wasn't easy, but I managed to choke down the entire 16 ounces.  I mean, I am serious when I said I thought is was really disgusting tasting.  I hate to say it, but I couldn't get past how bitter it was.  I had to think back to all the times I have heard that nature tells you by taste if something is good for you to eat or not.  I.e., if it is really bitter, it's poisonous.  Seriously, I was worried I had gotten a bad batch.  If it weren't for the fact that I knew Hubby had successfully been drinking it and lived to tell the tale, I might have dumped it out after that first sip.  I mean, people wouldn't actually choose to drink this, would they?  

I am pretty sure I continued to make a face with every slug I drank, and I am equally as sure that made a ridiculous sight to any and all passersby.  After a while, I could almost convince myself that it was its grapefruit-like undertones that made it bitter.  That made it easier to palate, but not by much. At least then, however, I was able to get past the thought that I was being poisoned.  

So, to be fair, it wasn't all bad.  There were a couple of positive things to report about the Ultra Fuel.  One was that because of its taste, I was fairly judicious in how I spaced out my sips. I didn't suck down the 16 ounces shamelessly fast and without conscious thought.  I was aware of every gag-evoking taste.  My bottle lasted way past the six miles I can usually count on.  The other thing that was positive was that despite the taste, it was really easy on the stomach.  I had no stomach issues at all, and really I felt pretty adequately hydrated and fueled for the entire run.  And that is enough to make me look beyond my criticism of the taste and try it again.

Honestly, for me to keep drinking this stuff it is going to take some serious mind-bending thought gymnastics to wrap my brain around why this is such a good thing for me, but I am going to give it another try.  I may try mixing it full strength once to see if that helps improve the taste.  Or, as I have heard from online reviews the orange flavor is better, I might give that a go once instead.  As I said, I have heard so much positive about this stuff, I really do want to love it.  How about you?

Do you run with Ultra Fuel?  Like it?  Can't stand it?  

What other nutritional supplementation do you use during your runs?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sometimes "pace" is not what makes you slow

"Are you done yet?" 

That's what Hubby asked me when he called my cell phone during my 16-mile long run yesterday.  Well, yes, indeed, I was almost done....a quarter-mile to go.
Me: "Why do you ask?"  Him: "Well, you realize you have been out for almost four hours, right?  Did you have to do a lot of stops?"  Me: "Um, I guess so."
Oops.  Methinks someone was a bit irritated with me.

Have you ever had one of those days where the time on your running watch just didn't jive with the time as shown on the clock in the car, at home, or,... say... on your spouse's wristwatch?  It seems to happen to me a lot, and I don't know why.  As far as yesterday is concerned, I am still trying to figure out what went wrong.

For the most part, I believe in letting my Garmin do its thing from the time I start a run to the time I stop....with a few minor exceptions.  For example, yesterday, I will admit I did stop my watch to take a picture or two.  And, one time I may have even forgotten to restart it for about a quarter mile or so after said picture taking.  Then, I guess there were the times I stopped to do the necessities: potty break, shirt change (sweated through), shoe change (moving from roads to trails), hydration refill (x2).  Then there were the five or six times I had to stop and stretch because my hamstring, glute, and hip all seemed to be unhappy with me.  Okay, now that I think about it, I guess I stopped the watch during a few walk breaks, too - like the four times I strolled along eating my Clif Blocks while taking in the local scenery.

(It was worth taking in, right?)

Hmm, okay, I guess I might have had a bit of unaccounted time in there.  Although this didn't bother me too much, I suppose it did mess with Hubby's schedule somewhat.  Considering that I came home to two kids bouncing off the walls and him all dressed up and ready to run with no place to go, I could see why he was a bit irritated.

So, why do I stop the watch so much?  Well, to me it makes sense to stop it when you are not enjoying forward progress.  Is it really fair to let time roll when I am in the outhouse?  Or changing shoes?  That wouldn't accurately reflect my running time.  Of course, I suppose if it takes me five minutes to refill a water bottle, that probably doesn't accurately reflect my efforts either.  After all, that's a nice little break for my body that it wouldn't get in a race.

I have no explanation for not recording my time while eating Clif Blocks. I hang my head in shame on that one.  Thinking back, it just feels wrong - like walking across the shallow end of the pool when you are supposed to be swimming laps (not that I have ever done that of course).  Really, and how does it help me?  In the end, I actually end up with a "faster" time, but I also end up going further than my goal distance.  Something to think about.

So, yesterday's long run was good in the sense that I got it done.  I would be lying if I said my confidence hadn't been a little shaken by my failed long run from the weekend before.  I have never had to call for a ride during a run, and I was a bit worried I would get out there yesterday and feel I had to scrap it again.  Despite a hinky hamstring, that didn't happen.  In fact, mentally I was in a much better place than I was a week ago.  Instead of looking at six miles to go and thinking Oh gawd, I'd rather just sit on this bench and stare at the river, ...

... six miles to go was rather celebratory.... Yay! just six miles.  Compared to the 10 I had just done, that seemed like nothing.

I am disappointed that my left hip/hamstring/glute (I'm having a hard time pinpointing what exactly the issue is) still seems to be irritated with me.  Given the successful speed session and hill workout on the treadmill this past week, I thought we had moved past the little irritation I had felt pop up a week and a half ago.  It was a major disappointment to find that it is still hanging in there and unhappy with me to boot.  I might actually have to scrap my track workout this week, but we'll see how things go.  One day at a time.

In the meantime, check out this amazing sorbet that Hubby whipped up with frozen strawberries (that we picked ourselves), soymilk, sugar, and vanilla.  Although looking at the picture, I think I see why one shouldn't photograph their food.  Does anyone else see a little dog in there saying Oooohhhhhh Noooooo! a la Mr. Bill?  No?  Okay, it's just me then.

Well, dog or no dog, this is still a better dessert than what I had yesterday....

This is something I normally never would eat, but Hubby bought a stack of these things in preparation for his 100-miler, and we still have a bunch sitting around the house.  Very dangerous apparently.  I am such a sucker for dark chocolate.  Oh well....

Happy Running!

What's your policy on watch stopping during training runs? Forget it? Do it all the time? Don't wear a watch?

Have you indulged in a guilty food treat recently? How did it make you feel?

How do you know when to pull the plug on a long run when feeling discomfort? Okay to keep going if you can stretch it away for a bit?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Random review of the week

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and wonder what have I done all week?  Then you start remembering and you realize you did quite a bit?  That's what happened to me yesterday morning, so here's my random review of the week....

Why whine when you run, when you can WINE?

Wednesday showed me once again why wine and running should always go hand-in-hand.  Run Away Shoes, a local purveyor of running shoes, puts on a once-a-month fun run called the Run 'N Wine.  This takes place at a semi shi-shi local wine shop/bar.  Although I tend to wonder every time I go what the happy hour patrons think of having a bunch of folks in workout clothes hanging out smelling up the joint, that thought became more persistent this week as the weather pushed into the 90s - and we still went running in it.  So, not only were we just mildly smelly and sweaty, we were really pushing the envelope.  Luckily, because of the warm weather, it made sense to sit outside to enjoy our free wine after the run, so the nice breeze that swept through the area no doubt cleared out any odiferous offensiveness.  Despite the temps, I enjoyed running with a couple friends at a nice, slow pace.  Now if only I could get to the other running store's Pub Run to give that a try....

Change in Training Plan

Having run two weeks now on a Wednesday after my Tuesday speed workout, I have come to the conclusion that I should stop that.  So, with next week being a down week mileage-wise, I am going to be switching to my Plan B training schedule, which will mean running Tuesdays and Thursdays mid-week, instead of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It will also mean switching my long run to Saturdays instead of Sundays, and adding Sunday as a short, trail/recovery run.  This more closely mirrors my schedule from last summer and gives me that day after speed work to recover.  I am going to miss running with my friends at the Wednesday Morning Group Run, but I figure I can always join them for coffee after.  I think this is one of those cases, where I really need to think of what's better for me.

Time to Row Further Downstream

My rowing workout on Thursday was fantastic - really felt good - and made me think I should start considering upping the time I spend on the rower.  So, starting this next three week cycle, I am going to stop rowing for distance and go for time.  Since it takes me about 31 minutes to do 6K, I am going to do 35 minutes for this cycle, and then either next month or the next three week cycle, I will up my time by five minutes.  I'll do this until I get sick of rowing, which I am guessing will be somewhere around 45 minutes - although ideally I would shoot for an hour.

Karate, Dinner, and a Treehouse?

Thursday is also the kids' karate class day.  There is nothing like going to a karate class and listening to the instructors drill the kids on how they are NOT supposed to use karate on their siblings or friends, and then go outside after class and have them immediately start pretending to karate chop one another.  Something is not getting through.  Of course, I guess LG feels a bit bad about this, because he had no sooner gotten into class this week than he raised his hand and confessed to the instructors that he had kicked his sister in the eye a couple of days ago.  Now, that had actually been an accident...a case of wrong place at the wrong time, but it was nice that he felt some guilt about it.  After karate, we got invited to friends' house for a super, yummy Egyptian vegetarian feast (the kids had noodles with pesto sauce).  It was so tasty, I may have made a pig of myself by having three helpings.  Despite their green noodles, the kids barely ate as they were too enthralled with the treehouse being built in the backyard that was almost complete and certainly playable.  It actually made me feel a twinge of backyard envy that they have something so cool.  I mean, I wanted to play on it.  Given the size of our trees, we have a ways to go before we could do something similar.  I don't know....what do you think?

First Hill Hike Workout

My hill workout on Friday consisted of a two-mile running warmup, followed by "power hiking" at a 10 percent grade for 40 minutes.  Unfortunately, that only got me two miles, so clearly more work needs to be done here.  Hubby has this little power hike shoehorned into my schedule every three weeks.  Additionally, he wants me to substitute one or two long runs for this, as he thinks I need to work up to being able to do this for two hours.  Ugh.  I guess he thinks getting up the side of the Jungfrau will be tough.  Who'da thunk?

We Braved Brave on Opening Day

Yesterday, the kids and I also went to see the movie Brave. I can't remember the last time I went to a movie on opening fact, I am hard pressed to remember the last time I went to see a movie.  While the movie was okay, it seemed a little too adult for my young crew, and while funny in spots, it lacked the constant humor of Cars or some of the other princess movies I have seen recently.  The kids swear up and down they LOVED it, though, so I guess that's good.  I don't know if it is just an opening day thing or what, but the movie theater handed out Brave coloring books and crayons to the kids.  It made me feel marginally better about spending our life savings to pay for the film and popcorn.  We may not be able to eat for a while, but at least they'll be able to color.  One little annoying development in my movie watching world is LG.  This is a kid who since his eyes could first track to a screen has been mesmerized by what he saw.  If nothing else, I could always count on him to sit in a screen-induced stupor when a movie was playing.  Well, no more.  The whole movie was spent with him leaning over to me, saying, "Mom, why did she do ....?," "Mom, why is the bear there?" or - my favorite - "Mom, look there's snow."  Since when did he become such a movie talker?  Clearly, we have a little etiquette to work on.

Happy running!

Kids admiring person in chicken suit at
random weekend festival we found.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My second track workout: On my way to speedy

Week 2 of Track Time is in the books, and - perversely - I like it.

I really do!

What I like about it, I don't know, because it is harder than hell.  Take yesterday for example....With predicted highs at just over 90 degrees, and a sure temp in the 80s, I wasn't sure I would even make it through the workout.  I mean, I don't even like doing a slow run in those temps.  However, despite that and the worry that my hamstring and left glute might still be a bit draggy, I forced myself into the car to go.

Getting there, doing the warm ups was sort of a joke, since we were all mighty warm as it was.  However, we got out there and did our 50 yards each of butt kickers, high skips, long skips, accelerations, and striders.  (It's super fun finally getting to learn what all these fancy, elite-sounding terms mean!)  Then it was time to get serious.

On the schedule for yesterday was 3 x 4x400s.  Say what?  I felt like the coach was talking in code.  Luckily, it wasn't a secret one, and it was soon broken for me.  What that meant was that we were going to shoot for three sets of four reps of 400-meter runs.  Between each rep we were allowed to choose how we would recover.  It was recommended we take no more than 200-400 meters at a slow jog or walk, depending on how we felt.  Between the sets, we were encouraged to take 3-5 minutes of recovery, either walking or jogging.

We were split into three groups according to our projected time per 400, based on our time trial the previous week.  I was in the second group and was supposed to hit each 400 between 2:00 and 2:07.

So, here's the breakdown of how it went:

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
1:51 2:00 1:59
1:55 1:58 1:50
1:59 1:58
1:54 1:57

I obviously had a hard time hitting my parameters.  While I would like to think that that just means that I am super studly, I think it really means that I need to shorten up my recovery between reps.  I was walking out 200 meters between each - as were most others - in deference to the heat and the gasping for air I was doing.  So, next time I might try to slow jog between reps or walk for a shorter time.  We'll see.

Obviously we ran out of time before we could get in the last two reps.  Well, the speedy group managed 12, and maybe some others in my group.  I managed nine with everyone else, and then decided to do one more on my own.  I just didn't like the idea of ending up on nine - not a round enough number for me.

I was pleasantly surprised that my body held out fine.  After warming up and getting the muscles loose, I only ever noticed a couple of mild twinges in the hip area.  This morning, things seem okay too.  I won't make the mistake of running with the morning group again this a.m.  Well, that is less by design than simply the fact that childcare via the GPs is not available.  Plus, I do have the Wine Run this evening.  Yay! More on that tomorrow.

So, my second session of speed work is done, and I have to say I thought last week was a fluke, but no, I really do enjoy it..... I think I like the playfulness of it, the fact that you are running more "all out" like a kid would but in a controlled fashion.  I like going fast.  And, it's nice to see that on the super short sprints I CAN go fast.  I just cannot sustain it.  Maybe in the weeks to come I will learn to articulate better what I like about speed work....or I will learn to hate it.  Either way, it should make for a good story.

In the meantime, Happy Running!

Do you do speed work?  How do you go about it? 
What's your idea of great fun on a balmy hot summer evening?

Monday, June 18, 2012

A weekend review in photos...and an award ...for me....for running?!?!?

Happy belated Father's Day to all the dads out there.  Hope you had a nice time celebrating!

Right now I am trying to recover from what proved to be a very busy and fun weekend.  As I sit here typing, my hamstring and left glute are still mildly aching from all the running I tried to do - after my first week of speed work.  More on that in another post.  But, here, I have my weekend in review....starting at the tail end of the weekend's adventures.

Last night, we took the kids to their first run in the Neenah Summer Fun Run series.  This series of five races is solely for kids, completely sponsored and free and open to the public.  It's amazing!  I think this is our fourth year doing it, and the kids really look forward to the event.

Pre-race, E. and LG are all geared up to run their quarter-mile sprint.

Gathering at the start.  This is race one of two 'six-year-old and under' races.  There are also separate races for girls and boys 7 to 9, and 10-14.... There are HUNDREDS of kids who show up to these each weekend they are held.

 And they are off....It's hard to see, but E. is in the lead for a short bit.

E. coming around the bend.  She has a tendency (like me) to take walk breaks, so she was no longer in the lead, but I was impressed that she was still in the first wave of runners who came into the finish.  She is getting so big! 

LG wanted to run with Daddy, which I thought was sweet on Father's Day.  Apparently, he ran the whole way, and he definitely came into the finish strong!  

The real reason the kids like these pizza, cookies, fruit, and popsicles afterwards.  No wonder kids like running with all the junk they get to eat after race events!  :)

 Red, white, and blue popsicles allow the kids to show their patriotism.

Another big hit at the race is the "mountain." Luckily, Hubby likes hiking up there with them and then racing down.  I love the way they all start out together and then end up widely dispersed at the bottom.  Is that following the rules of physics or something?

I didn't run with the kids last night, as my hamstring and left glute were really bothering me....Looking back, there are several things that contributed to that - one being my attempt at a long run yesterday morning. I headed out for fifteen miles but only made it eleven before I had to do something I have NEVER done before, namely call Hubby for a ride home.  My hamstring and glute were bothering me throughout the run, and it was a slow slog through the heat anyway.  Normally, in a situation like this, I would just slow down even more or go to a run/walk.  I am not sure what made me make the call; I just knew that I didn't care enough to continue.  That is a first for me.  When I called, Hubby and the kids were in the middle of Wii Bowling.  After laughing a bit and then trying to make me feel better by saying it happens to all of us, I was told that they would finish their frame and then head out to collect me.  A quick Facebook update while I walked and waited, and there they were.  Yay!

The run wasn't a complete loss.... I took a couple of nice pictures at my halfway point - the same place we had had the fun run the week before....

I even finally got a picture of the toxic green algae...

Even at the halfway point, I knew I wasn't really into this long run.  Here's a picture of what I really wanted to be doing.  See all the sweat beaded on my brow?  It was only in the mid-70s, but it felt HOT. Must have been the sun.

So, what caused my long run blow-up?  (Aside from the soreness left over from my week's running?)  Well, this may have contributed... Date Night, a rare occurrence for Hubby and me.  We hit The Melting Pot for fondue (we had a gift card!). So, it's been decided that:

Too much cheese....

 Plus, too much chocolate and desserty items...

 Plus, too much wine....

Does not make for a good long run the next morning.  Did you already know that?  You learn something new everyday.

It does, however, make for a happy Average Runner while it lasted, though...

So, prior to date night, I decided I am pretty pathetic.  I went to put on these gem of high heels that I haven't worn in forever (I don't really wear heels anymore), and I decided that they were WAY too uncomfortable.  So, then I decided I would wear the Birkenstocks until we got to the restaurant.  We were still on the road, however, when I decided screw it - once again comfort trumps fashion.  As Hubby pointed out, we're not that cool anyway.  Might as well enjoy ourselves instead of being uncomfortable.  Sad, I know, but true.  Oh well.

I would have worn my strappy but comfortable sandals, but they had gotten soaked earlier in the day when we stood for five hours (also possibly a contributing factor to the soreness I experienced running) while working our running club's water station at the High Cliff Triathlon.

Triathlete running through our station as the deluge came down.  I retreated to the safety of shelter and selfishly decided the runners could grab their own gel packets for a few minutes. (Sorry!  But the rain was coming down sideways!)

Here I am actually doing my job...Hammer gel anyone?  As LG proclaimed as he helped sell the gel packs - "Hammer Gel! It makes you speedy fast!"  Only a four-year-old could get away with that.  If I had said it, I would have been flipped off no doubt.  

LG and E. did a fantastic job hawking gels, but then at some point, they found they liked working at the orange slice and cookie table more.  I wonder why?

Anyway, working at the water station was a blast again.  We've done this for several years, and as the kids get older, it gets more enjoyable.  They work really hard doing this event.  I am so proud of them.  Afterwards we treat ourselves to beer (not the kids!) and a cookout.

So, if you have stuck with me thus far as I have worked my way backwards through my weekend, here is a brief synopsis of how my weekend started....With the Kornerstone 5K on Friday evening.  This was a race put on by a friend's daughter as she tried to raise money for her school's community garden.  The race was a lot of fun.  It was a small crowd that showed up to run a local high school's cross-country course in the heat, but that was okay because it meant I got my first running award EVER - third place female .... OVERALL.  I was so geeked.  I realize I only got this because it was such a small group of runners. After all, I didn't even run my fastest 5K (by far!); the heat got to me and running on grass was tough.  But, I'll take it!  Woot!

Here's the shirt I still owe $3's nice to know the race director's mom....and the pair of socks I won getting third place.  Very cool.  I hope they have this race again next year.  I would like to improve on my time a bit.  Although, sadly, I am sure year two will draw a larger crowd, thus lowering my chances of placing again.  That's okay, though.... it's all about improving for myself. Right?

So, how was your weekend?  Any races? Any events? A good Father's Day?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Should I modify my training plan already? Help or thoughts needed!

Help! I am already having doubts about my new training plan, and I don't know what to do.

For the longest time, my training week looked something like this:

Long Run Yoga
30-Minute Elliptical
6K Row
6-Mile Run 6K Row 6-Mile Run REST

This really worked for me.  When I started this new training cycle, I added an element that I have never formally done before, namely speed work.  Oh sure, I had thrown in some intervals once in a while on my own before, but nothing scheduled and nothing remotely resembling what speed work really looks like (at least to my mind).  So, here's my new training plan, and this is what a typical two weeks are supposed to look like:

Sunday still has the long miles, indicated by the little number in the corner.  Monday's elliptical got sidelined to fit in rowing.  TT indicates Track Time, and I think the rest is pretty much the same.

The reason I am all of the sudden plagued by doubts is that I am SORE.  I just started Track Time this week, I followed that up with my typical Wednesday morning group run, and I am still a little sore from that - and it's Friday! Hubby expressed doubts about the Wednesday run originally when he saw this new schedule, but he said to just see how it went. Ideally, though, he thought I should do track Tuesday, rowing Wednesday, and my other mid-week run on Thursday.

So, what were my reasons for sticking with the Wednesday run?  Well, mostly because it is my one group run a week, and I really enjoy doing it.  Secondly, I have gotten used to - and I think it is important - to do a couple of hour-long runs during the week.  I guess I was worried that if I do Track Time, it won't equate to that hour I have gotten used to.

Ugh.  Honestly, thinking about all this makes my head hurt, so I am going to lay out some random thoughts in bullet point....Anyone who has ANY advice for me, I would so greatly appreciate it!  Here goes:

  • I love the Wednesday runs and hate to give them up, but I can if I have to
  • Better to do the speedwork on Tuesday and cross-train Wednesday?
  • Is it really potentially damaging to continue trying to run Wednesday?
  • Should I ignore the soreness I feel in my left glute and hamstring and just assume that is normal? Continue the wait-and-see policy?
  • If I drop the Wednesday run, I could show up to TT early and get in a mile or two of warm-ups to get the mileage/time I am used to.  Is that beneficial, or stupid? 
  • Since speed work is so new, should I drop the idea of getting in that hour?  Is that really that important anyway?
  • Continue the Wednesday runs, but really make sure I do short and slow recovery run?
  • Adding track time without modifying one or both of the other two runs during the week would result in more mileage than I am used to, and that seems sketchy to me.

Looking at these bullets, I think I am asking the same question basically in different ways over and over again.  Really, should I continue the Wednesday run or not?  If I were to completely rework the schedule, then it would probably mean Monday, Wednesday, and Friday would be rowing days (this would ADD a day of rowing, but not an extra day of exercise a week). Tuesdays would be Track Time, Thursdays would be tempo runs, Saturdays I might be able to make my long runs, and then Sunday would be for rest.  This would only be for the summer after all.  Once Track Time is done, I could go back to my previous schedule.

Again, please weigh in if you have any thoughts on this at all.....THANKS!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Haha! I fooled my body - briefly...Track recovery and other random thoughts...

I have read a few posts recently from other blogger friends that list out random things about that person.  I LOVE reading these posts for some reason.  Maybe because I usually come away with a little more insight on the person whose blog I am reading, or because it offers me the opportunity to learn a little bit more about some piece of running gear or nutrition that I didn't know.  One of these blogs even challenged me - the intrepid reader - to come up with my own list of five random things....So, I sat down to write this post, all excited like, and came up with the following:

big, huge, fat, BLANK

Seriously, I can't think of anything random about me that would be worth posting about.  Maybe it is the early hour; maybe I haven't had enough coffee.  So, I will have to noodle this over in my head and save that post for another day.

In the meantime, I'll fill you in on what you are all no doubt waiting to hear - and that is how am I recovering after my first track session?  Well, after the session Tuesday night, I felt pretty good.  (You can read about it here.)  A mere 12-hours later I got up and ran five miles with my running friends, which of course ends with coffee - YUM.

I really think my body didn't quite know what had hit it yesterday morning, so I decided to jump in and do my PT leg exercises which I haven't done regularly in several months.  That went well, too.  Around noon, however, my body did finally start to process everything. (Apparently, it's a little slow on the uptake.)  It was like everything caught up with it.  Suddenly, my hip flexors and quads, especially, were sore.  It wasn't a bad sore, just a tired sore - like I had enjoyed a good workout.  Which I had.

The yoga class I was planning to take yesterday afternoon suddenly seemed like too much, so I ended up skipping it.  That made me a bit sad, because if I don't go to my class on Wednesday afternoons, I will have a hard time fitting it in at all during the week.  So, while running errands yesterday, I picked up this little gem:

I hope that it's worth the $3 I ended up paying after taking off the Target gift card I had earned weeks earlier buying unearthly amounts of toilet paper and kleenex.  (I love those gift card offerings.  They get me every time!)  My hope is that if I can't make a yoga class all summer, this will at least give me a yoga option.  It offers two programs - one for relaxation and one for flexibility, both of which I can use.  Anyway, it seemed a better choice than the yoga for beginners, the pre-natal yoga, and yoga for mommies DVDs I saw.  We'll see!

In the meantime, I am foam rolling and softball rolling like crazy.

Foam rolling can be a bit of a challenge - what with Dog
thinking I want to play.
Yesterday, our running club hosted a fun run at a local park on the water.  And, nothing gets you more excited about a fun run at a local park on the water than seeing the front page of the local newspaper talking about toxic algae blooms, complete with photo taken at said park.  Ewwww.  Good thing we're not the local swimming club.  (I wonder if there even is one?)

If I were a good blogger, I would have gotten a picture of the toxic algae, instead all you get is runners.

Hubby joined the pack for the run - his second since his 100-miler and that seemed to go well.  I and the kids exercised our right to play at the park with friends.  Afterwards, we enjoyed veggie subs and ice cream sundaes.  Some of us enjoyed the ice cream more than others.

Nothing gets kids hooked on running like sugaring them up with a bunch of treats.  Positive association and all that. Anyway, a fun night by all.

Today, the plan is to do my 6K row - nice and easy.  I may also plug in my yoga DVD if there is time.  Finally, I am hoping to bike the kids to summer school today.  We'll see if they go for that.  Then it's errands, clean up time, and karate.  Isn't summer supposed to be relaxing? What's all this running around stuff?

Happy Running!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

First Track Workout EVER

It's Track Time....In my head I am saying that like the opener of "You Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer......(You know, It's Hammer Time). Don't ask me why. I am a child of the 80s, I guess. (Or would that be 90s? Anyhoo....)

So, yesterday evening was my ~ drumroll, please ~... FIRST....TRACK....WORKOUT.....EVER.  Period.  And I was incredibly nervous about it for some reason.  I wish I knew what intimidated me about it so much.  Perhaps it was the flashbacks to high school gym class I suffered whenever I thought of it - the idea of being last and having everybody wait for me.  Perhaps it was wanting to avoid having the world see just how incredibly slow I am.  Or, maybe, just maybe, it was that I didn't want to know myself just how far my laziness and lack of motivation go.

You see, the crux of the problem with me is that I am slow, but I am unmotivated to punish myself to get faster.  I am Lazy, with a capital L.  Back in college I used to joke with my roommate that the only way you would see me run is if I were being chased by someone.  I am just not motivated to push myself.  Well, somehow I got over the "never run" part, but I still lack that "killer-instinct, go-for-the-jugular" gene that most people have.  I have conditioned myself to such a degree to accept that I don't care if I get faster that pushing myself to go faster just seems like a foreign concept to me.

And, that is why I really need a Track Time class.  I won't go faster on my own.  However, if I have someone telling me what to do, maybe - just maybe - I can break through the mental barricades I have in place.

So, showing up to yesterday's Track Time was a HUGE thing for me, and also nerve-wracking.  Luckily for me, they had planned a nerve-calming activity to get us started - namely filling out more paperwork than I have seen since giving birth.  We had the typical "don't-sue-us-if-you-die" forms, but also some questionnaires that - if the coaches actually read the answers - will help them get to know us better: a lot of questions on goals, PRs, injury history, how running and meeting goals (or not) makes us feel, etc.  I am not sure about that last one.  Why do they want to know how we feel if we don't meet our goals?  Are they afraid we will go postal if we don't do a sub-5 mile by the end of the summer?

There were two coaches for the class and they were great.  After filling out our ream of paperwork, they started the actual teaching part of the class by taking us through a few drills.  Fifty yards each of butt kicks, high knees, skipping high, skipping long, and then some accelerations.  Those last ones I kind of liked. I have to say by the time we were done with our "warm-ups" I was already out of breath and ready to sit down for a while.  Not a great confidence builder right before your time trial.  Instead of sitting down, though, it was on to a warm-up jog.

So, the Time Trial. I have to say I was really dreading this for the aforementioned reasons.  I just didn't want to know how fast I could go while at the same time I really wanted to know how fast I could go (I was very conflicted apparently).  We were given the choice of doing a one-mile or a two-mile time trial.  The idea was that if you were shooting more for 5Ks and 10Ks, then the one-mile made more sense; half marathons or marathons, then the two-mile.  Mentally, I was all set for the one-miler, because I didn't actually know there would be a two-mile option, but given the reasoning, I ended up going with the two-miler.

Let me start by saying that the Time Trial was really hard! I had no idea if I should try to start out slower and build up speed or just sprint from the get-go. I guess I figured since this was a time trial, I should just try to go as fast as I could.  So, when it was ready, set, go time, I went.  I sprinted around the track for my first quarter mile in 1:37.  The first clue that this was too fast for me was that I was one of the first people around the track.... I am NOT that fast.  Halfway around the track for my second lap, my legs were already starting to feel heavy.  One nice gal let me know as she passed me that I was supposed to move in to Lane 1 to get the most accurate measurement, not stick stubbornly in lane 4 like I was.  Who knew?  (Seriously, folks, I have never done this before.)  By the time I was done with my second lap, I was already trying to convince myself why I shouldn't stop at the one-mile point and call it good.  I really struggled with that decision, so that even after I passed one mile I was still asking myself why I didn't stop.  Anyway, long story slightly less long, I did my first mile in eight minutes and my second mile in nine.  So, 17:00 total for the two.  Not bad, I guess.  A friend of mine predicted I would finish my first mile in 8:02, so she was pretty right on for that.  I guessed 9:02, so I sort of win, too (if you count the second mile as the first).

After the time trial, we wrapped up our track workout with some fartleks.  Basically, we jogged in formation in a long line, and the person at the back had to sprint to the front of the line and set the pace.  We kept this up for one mile, and I got to sprint to the front twice.  We did about eight minutes worth of stretching at the end and then we were done.

I was a bad blogger, so I failed to get some pictures - hopefully next week.  And, there will be a next week. In the end, I will admit that I kind of enjoyed the track workout.  I mean, I hated the time trial - too much pressure for me somehow.  But I really had fun doing the accelerations and the fartleks.  And, the squishy feel of the track was nice.  I think running as fast as I can for short distances appeals to me.  I like the way it feels to go fast; I just can't maintain it for longer than a sixteenth of a mile apparently.  I guess I have some hope that doing the track workouts will help me get marginally faster, and maybe I will be able to get closer to that goal of doing a four-hour marathon.  Hope springs eternal!

After the workout, getting to sleep last night was not the easiest. My body was all energized after running and then adding some food to the mix didn't help.  I slept horribly.  Getting up for my Wednesday morning group run was challenging but a lot of fun.  We've moved to summer hours, which means meeting at 7:30 a.m.  That was a little rough, and I wonder what my body thinks about doing speedwork and then running again twelve hours later.  I am hoping that it will just sort of consider this all as one run and not hold it too much against me.  We'll see.  My plan was to go out and do an easy three miles, but I ended up doing 5.3 miles at a 9:36 average pace.  This is the danger with the group run.  So far, so good, but I will have to watch closely to make sure I don't hurt something by doing the infamous "too much, too soon."  Luckily, I don't have to run again until Friday evening, so there should be plenty of time for rest.

In any case, I hate to give up the group run.  Today was just another lovely reminder of why I do it.  Run done, and then coffee and chat for another hour and a half.  A great way to start the day - made sweeter by the fact that with the earlier start time, the coffee hour is actually at a more acceptable coffee drinking time.  I am already looking forward to the weeks to come.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wanted: New music for Average Runner's playlist....HELP!

Recently, another runner asked me what was on my musical playlist, and I had to laugh.  Why?  Well, because I am not a music worshipper.  I just don't care about it as much as some.  

I know,... shock...gasp...but the truth is that, for the most part, I can take it or leave it .... and usually I leave it.  

There is music I like and music I don't like, but there is no soundtrack to my songs that come to mind because of certain memories, and no memories that come to mind because of certain songs.  I just was never one to attach my life's milestones and memorable moments to a song that happened to be on the radio at the time.  And, now that I am so busy with the kids and life in general, it has not been a high enough priority for me to seek out new music to keep things fresh.

Hubby helps keep me out of the dark abyss of complete musical cluelessness.  He has always been much more into it than me, but still when I hear people talking about music and what's hot today, I feel lost. My playlist is stuck in an endless loop of Green Day, The Killers, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Clash, and The Decemberists.  (Obviously, I am partial to bands that have "The" in their name.)  

Clearly, I need help.

I do like music.  I DO!  And, I especially appreciate a good song when it pops up at the right moment. In fact, that happened during this past weekend's Bellin 10K when I was running through what felt like an oven.  I had stayed up way too late the night before and somehow I just wasn't dealing well with the conditions.  Just when my suffering was at its greatest the Fugazi song "Shut the Door" came on (Hubby had modified my playlist for his 100-miler)....There was something about the lyrics that made me laugh at the time....
She's not breathing  She's not moving  She's not coming back  I burn a fire to stay cool  I burn myself, I am the fuel  I never meant to be cruel 
It still makes me smile.... Man, it's funny how sometimes song lyrics just fit the moment even without intending to. :)

So, given the direction of my musical tastes, can anyone recommend any NEW music that might appeal?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bellin 10K Run Race Recap

First of all, let me start out by saying that race day was HOT.  It seems to be the trend of late, and I didn't escape it.  Somehow I thought that since this was "just" a 10K that heat wouldn't be a big issue for me.  I was wrong.  It was HOT and I was miserable.  That all being said, I was pleasantly surprised when my chip time turned up a 1:00:13 (average pace of 9:42).  Considering how many walk breaks I took and how early I started taking them and just generally how sluggish I felt, I was amazed to see that time.

So, what's to say about the Bellin?  It's an awesome race - that is, if you can get past the crushing crowds and the insane children trying to take you out at every turn.  If you can get past those things and just take in the crazy amount of energy generated by all those people there in one place with one purpose, then it is an amazing event to take part in.

The Bellin Run celebrated its 36th year Saturday, and the feel of the race reflects that.  It is well organized, well loved, and well supported.  Volunteers are AWESOME, crowd support is phenomenal, and the community really rallies behind it.  With big names in running like Bill Rodgers and Joan Samuelson showing up to run it, too, it can be fun for race gawkers.

Hubby and I started our day early as we roused the kids from their beds to head up to the start line.  Since I was actually running as part of Hubby's corporate team, I needed to be there a half hour before start time to take a team picture.  Getting off the highway, we already ran into race traffic.  With 18,300 registered participants signed up for race day, this was to be anticipated.  We made it to the general vicinity of the corporate tents with plenty of time to start our search for parking on the nearby side streets, and as luck would have it we found a spot relatively quickly.  A moderate walk to tent city, and we were there just in time for the photo op.  After the picture, I walked Hubby and the kids to the playground, said my quick good-byes and trotted off to find a porta-potty before the start.

The nearby bank of pots was heavily in use with lines practically out of the park, but from years past I remembered another bank of them near the start corrals, so I headed that way.  T-minus 20 minutes to the start.  Unfortunately, I tried to take the shortest route between two points, and that was a fail.  The Bellin start is situated at an intersection of roads in the heart of the Bellin medical complex.  Cutting across to turn up the road that leads to the finish, I got stopped by an official looking gentleman (gun and badge), telling me and a few others we couldn't go that route. T-minus 15 minutes.  Jogging faster now to get to the start on time, I retraced my footsteps and made it to the park next to the start line.  A quick question to a volunteer and I was headed in the right direction, past a pre-race water table (thanks!), and on to the porta-potty line.  T-minus 10 minutes.  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.  Done. On to the race corral.  T-Minus 4 minutes.

Made it!  Corral 2.  I was so excited to start in Corral 2, but as it turned out, I started more right outside of corral 2, because there wasn't enough room in the corral.  The corrals line the street and then go around TWO corners to accommodate all the participants.  They are blocked off by metal barricades and have clear entries, guarded vigilantly by volunteers.  I made it to the Corral 2 Entrance, only to find that that was the closest I was going to get to Corral 2 before the start.  It was all good, though.  As Corral 3 was gated off from Corral 2, once the race did start, we all got to get underway before Corral 3 was allowed to enter the mix. (Okay, how many times can I say "corral" in that paragraph?)

The race started with a bang.  A four-minute walk to the start line, and I was finally off. (Not bad considering in previous years I have crossed the start line 20 minutes or even 30 minutes after the start!)

I won't bore you with a mile-by-mile description of my race.  As stated, it was hot, and as I had brilliantly decided the night before during my pre-race indifference that I wasn't going to wear a watch - rather run by feel - I, of course, started out WAY too fast.  (In retrospect, wearing the watch might have helped keep me in check in the first mile or so.)  That first mile is an ever-so-slight uphill with no shade.  The sun was shining brightly, and it didn't take long for me to feel the heat.  I ran out too fast, and before the first mile marker, I knew I was going to suffer.  By mile 2, my legs already felt heavy, and I had taken several walk breaks.

I have to say that with the temps pushing the mid-70s at the start and in the wake of the Green Bay and Madison Marathon cancellations, that this race did everything in its power to make the run as safe and comfortable as they could.  From daily news interviews leading up to the event advising runners how to deal with the heat, to announcements at the start, to medics and first aid on the course, this race had it all.  Water stations were plentiful with water cups stacked three deep on the tables, and shuttles were on standy-by at several points ready to ship runners back to the start if they  decided they were done.  There were misters on the course, but they didn't provide nearly as much relief as the sprinklers and hoses, provided by the good citizens of the area.  Before the race, I jokingly had said I would try to hit every watering device on the course, but I couldn't!  There were too many!  I tried, but I soon realized there were certain sprinklers that had I gone for them I would have caused traffic issues, so I let them go.  I still managed to get soaked.  Towards the end I took to dumping half cups of water on my head after taking a few sips.  The water cups were full, and there were a gazillion of them (that's the official number).

Then there is the ice cube.  After running five-plus miles in the heat, getting as much water and Gatorade as I could stand, running through sprinklers, I was presented with a single, lonely ice cube in a cup at one aid station.  Hmmm.  I stared at it.  I didn't quite know what to do with it.  Was I supposed to eat it?  Rub it around my face?  Put it in the water they then gave me?  Then I remembered my friend L. and her story of running Boston a couple of months ago....something about ice in a jog bra.  So, I hooked my finger in my soaked running shirt and jog bra and tipped my one ice cube into the spot where my cleavage would be if I had any.  There it sat all the way to the finish until it finally melted away.  That actually felt pretty good, and I can now say I have found a new purpose for the jog bra.

So, as stated, the crowds in this race are not to be dismissed.  With over 18,000 people running a 10K, there is really no escape.  Unless you are in the very front (I would imagine) or the very back, there is no point in this race where the crowd thins out.  Brushing up against people, slowing suddenly, stopping short, dodging through holes in the crowd,  jumping up on the sidewalk to get around people are all a part of this event.  

Worse than the big people, though, are the little people.  They are fearless and slightly insane.  Don't get me wrong .... I love kids - I have two of them myself, and I hope E. and LG run fast and far as they get older.  HOWEVER, that being said, I hope they never do what 90 percent of the kids out there seem to do, namely dodge in and out of foot traffic not knowing how long their legs reach behind them.  I almost got tripped up on several occasions by kids who darted in front of me thinking that if our shoulders weren't touching, they were good.  They fail to understand that their legs reach out further away from their bodies than anything else.  On more than one occasion, I was forced to do a couple of fancy dance moves to avoid a collision.

Then ... there was the collision.

Approaching the finish of all places, a 10 or 11 year old boy burst past me and cut right in front of me.  I didn't see him coming and next thing I knew, his "kick" kicked me in the right shin.  I experienced but a momentary startling along with a burst of pain.  He, on the other hand, went sprawling on the concrete with a nice little skid in there to boot.  I and another gentleman went to ask if he was okay, but quicker than quick, he picked himself up and sprinted for the finish.  I would bet anything he had two bloody knees to show his parents.  While I felt a twinge of guilt for any part I may have played in his downfall (unwitting as it may have been), I would be lying if I said I didn't also feel an avalanche of vindication for all the times in this race I had to dance around other kids.  I would call it poetic justice, but I am sure that any higher power out there wouldn't push a kid down just to make me feel better.  I know, shame on me.  Oh well.  I'll get over it.  And, judging by how fast he moved on, I am sure the kid will too.

So, despite the heat and the crowds and the slower time, I feel I had a pretty good race.  The first few miles were rough, but I feel I perked up quite a bit after mile 4 or so.  Somewhere in there, I finally found my groove.  I hit a pace that I should have been going all along and suddenly got comfortable.  I made a mistake thinking to leave the watch at home and run by feel.  Really, I should have had the watch to ensure I ran slowly in the first mile or two, then used it to set a manageable pace.  Ah well, it's all a learning process, and I am obviously still learning.

So, my fourth (or fifth?) Bellin is in the books.  I only had a seven-mile long run on my schedule for this weekend, so this fit in nicely.   Now, it's time to get back to a normal weekly schedule and get back into marathon training in earnest.  There are several fun things on the calendar this week, including my first track workout and a local 5K.  I can't wait!

Happy Running!

So, I am editing this because I forgot to put in my big question to anyone reading this....Namely, what was I supposed to do with the ice cube?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pre-Race Indifference

I should be sleeping. I have a 10K run tomorrow that I was actually hoping to do well on, but somehow I don't feel like sleeping.

Mom and I after last year's Bellin.
Notice the fleece I am wearing?  Gotta
love Wisconsin weather.  Fleece will be
sidelined tomorrow. It's supposed to
be a high of 86 and already
in the 70s at the start.  Ah well.
I don't know how this race will go. I don't really care at this point.  It's going to be hot - and although the heat does not intimidate me mentally - I know it will affect me physically.  I don't really think this is going to be the right day to try for a PR.  Therefore, I have decided not to wear my watch tomorrow and just run by feel. I will have my music, as I know I will be racing alone.  (It's strange how you can be surrounded by almost 19,000 people and still be on your own.)  I will carry my own Gatorade, because I think the water stations will be jammed, and I will make it a point to run through every mister and sprinkler offered.  I'll cheer on the stragglers and strugglers and yell "good run" to those passing me - unless I am too caught up in the moment to notice them.

I just plan on coasting comfortably hard for the conditions and having a good time.

Afterwards, I'll hang out with my kids and Hubby at the park, chat with any friends I happen to see, and then drive home and go about my day.

Just another morning running a local race event.  Strangely, this makes me think of that way overused phrase "life is good."  Overused or not, life IS good, and one should not forget that.

Some pix from strawberry picking today....Obviously, I survived.  No big knee blowouts, but that wouldn't happen until tomorrow anyway.  I am cautiously optimistic that my little plan worked.  After going on and on about what I could possibly take to help ease my knee pain, I ended up nabbing one of my kids' art table stools.  It worked like a charm - got me low to the ground but seated, and it was light to carry and not too obnoxiously bulky.  I got some odd, supposed-to-be funny comments from fellow pickers, but so be it. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, I didn't crouch for three hours picking berries.  Of course, my butt bones are sore from perching precariously on the small hard plastic surface for so long, but that's another story....

The kids had fun strawberry picking at least, and this was mostly after all for them.

Happy Running!

Strawberries - a serious injury threat to runners?

I am afraid.  I shouldn't be, but I am.  Today I pick strawberries, and I can only hope it doesn't lead to training-interruptus - as it has in years past.

Around northeast Wisconsin, where the winters are about six months long, any type of fruit season is keenly anticipated.  Because of my interest in buying local when I can and my spoiled taste buds, which turn their tiny little noses up at most grocery store produce, I especially look forward to these short seasons.  So, in June that means strawberries; July, raspberries and blueberries (if I am traveling to Michigan); and in August and the fall, apples.  Most of these items do not pose a problem for me.  

Strawberries, however, are another story.  

Picking strawberries kills my knees and is just another example of how some non-running related activities can impact your training - all that squatting, bending, and crouching.  It makes me cringe just thinking about it.

I hate to give up fresh strawberries freshly picked (mainly because it is about the quarter of the price of pre-picked berries, and I am cheap.)  Also, the kids LOVE strawberry picking.  Check out this cuteness from a couple of years ago ....

Priceless, right?  Well, except for the fact that it was a day after this that I went for a long run and came home with a case of patellar tendonitis that didn't go away for nearly two years (okay, that was my fault; I didn't take care of it properly).  

Anyhoo, yesterday a friend mentioned her family was going strawberry picking and knowing the kidlets would not be able to pass up an invitation to an adventure like that, I said we'd go, too.  Since then, I have been trying to think of a good strategy for making myself look useful strawberry picking and yet not kill my knees doing it.

A quick scan of the garage offered these possibilities:

The stadium cushion, which I have used in the past.  It looks disgusting, though, and I am too lazy to clean it right now.

There's this little gem....I could actually push it down the rows and I don't think the kids would miss it.  It kind of pushes the limits of how ridiculous I will let myself look at any given time, though.

Here's one idea that actually makes sense - the granny gardening chair my mom gave me for Mother's Day.  It actually works and it's how I do my weeding now.  The downside is that it is bulky.

Now, here's a possibility - the hard-sided cooler.  I could sit on it and store cold drinks at the same time.  I love things that have dual purposes.

Well, I will noodle it out for a bit.  No doubt something will make sense.  One thing I know for sure is I don't want to spend my morning like this...

Well, the eating strawberries part is okay, just not the crouching.  I do have the Bellin 10K Run tomorrow, and I don't want the combination of crouching and running "fast" to kill me.  

Happy Running!