Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ice, Ice ... Maybe?

Two for the price of one.  Icing the base of my right foot's big toe, while also
icing the heel of my left foot.  That takes talent, people!  (Also note the
red blotch by my knee where I had already iced.  Sad, huh?)
I am sure this is just what you want to see - my bare tootsies on ice.  Sorry, but I thought it was a funny picture.

I am one of those people who rarely ices.  I have to have a pretty serious injury to sit around icing.  It's not that I am against it; I just forget that it is out there as an option.  So, I am grateful when I somehow am reminded that that is one more tool in the toolbelt I have to fight nagging aches and pains.

That's where I am at right now.  Last week's vacation to DC and beyond was supposed to be a recovery week of sorts for me.  Down mileage, few cross-training opportunities, etc.  What I didn't take into consideration was the fact that we would be walking and standing .... a LOT.  By a lot, I mean hours upon hours: several hours one day, almost eight hours the next.  We took cross-training to the next level!  Even with all the walking, I think I would have come away from the week well rested if it hadn't been for the stairs.

In Washington DC we took the metro around town a few times - you know, to avoid the walking?  Well, unfortunately, the metro station near us had a "down" down escalator.  So, instead of being carried into the bowels of the earth in relative comfort, playing imaginary muzak in our heads (doesn't everyone do that?), we got to march down the stairs to the beat of an internal drummer.

I wish I had gotten a picture of the escalator so that my massive whine fest here would make more sense, but I didn't.  Suffice it to say that I am not talking the length of a normal flight of stairs.  I am talking hundreds upon hundreds of steps.  The type of distance where you pause at the top looking down and actually point it out to the children - look, kids, see how far down it goes!  (I think historically it might have even been intended as a bunker of sorts in the event of nuclear attack.)

In any event, we took these monster stairs not once, but twice.  I tried not to complain too much, because touchy patellar tendon twitching and groaning aside, I wasn't the one who had just done a 50-mile running event the day before.  I know Hubby was hurting way more than me.  The problem is that I tend to feel the lingering aftereffects of insults to my body far longer than Hubby does.  So, while he is back to working his way into his running routine, I am icing everything.

Oh well, ice and foam rolling.  If this is what gets me through my marathon, then I am not going to complain about it .... too much.

On another note, I have to say that I am looking forward to rowing today.  I have missed that infernal machine while on vacation.  Hotel fitness centers just don't cater to the rowing crowd.  I wonder why.

Also, in other news, inspired by a friend's homemade granola (I may have eaten about half her stash while she was out teaching a yoga class), I decided to give homemade granola a whirl.  Lucky for me, in the new cookbook I received for my birthday, Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, there was just such a recipe - slow cooker granola.  It wasn't as tasty as J's granola, but it is edible and Hubby and I both enjoyed it for breakfast.  The kids opted for Cheerios.

Happy Running!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back after a Month of Craziness!

Wow.  Surely October 19 wasn't the last time that I last wrote something on this blog, was it?  Well, it must be, because now that I decided to finally come back to it, I had to Google it to find the webpage.  Seriously.  I couldn't remember the exact URL.  If that is not a sad state of affairs in a "writer's" life, then I don't know what is.

In my defense, to say the last month has been busy would be a gross understatement.  In fact, life threw me a couple of curve balls that I had to deal with and I attempted to do so with aplomb.  Time for writing was not part of the game plan, though.

So, when last I wrote, Hubby and I were headed to Door County for the Fall 50 relay race and a weekend away.  We had a great time with that - very fun and relaxing.  If I recall (sweeping the cobwebs from my brain), my runs were pretty good although I paid for them.  I was on a four-gal team and had two six-mile legs for the relay.  I pushed the pace as well as I could, but my hips and hamstring acted up and I got to about four miles in each leg before my hip would start to spasm.  Not fun.  So, I would say I had a good eight miles for the day and a struggling four miles total.  All in all, a good experience though.  Now that I have tasted success with a four-person team, I am sorely (pun!) tempted to try a three-person team next year.  I figure if I downgrade by one person each year, then by 2015 I'll be ready to run the whole thing solo.  Ha!

Coming back from the Fall 50, we cleaned up the house and got ready to welcome Hubby's mom for a five-day visit with us.  Traveling from across the country, this is always highly anticipated by everyone, the kiddos especially.  They love seeing WCGM.  Unfortunately for WCGM, on the second day of her visit she had a biking accident trying to ride my bike to the park with the kids while I went on a run.  The result: a broken hip and a partial hip replacement.  Her five-day visit stretched into almost three weeks as she worked on recovery.  I did the best I could to help her along - mostly so she wouldn't be bored off her gourd for the duration (we don't even have cable TV!), and strangely I think it all worked out for the best.  The kids and WCGM (and I!) got to spend some serious quality time together, and WCGM got to take part in a lot of things she normally would miss - Halloween, extracurricular activities, LG's birthday.  She also was here long enough that she could enjoy some "normal" kid behavior.  The kids are usually so wound up when she visits that I always get the feeling that she doesn't see them as they really are.  With this longer visit, though, she got to see the real deal, and I think that was almost worth the price of admission.  (Not quite, though.  No one should have to pay for anything with a broken hip.)

After WCGM was cleared for take off and we said our good-byes, we had two days to turn around, do laundry, and pack up before heading out of town for a 10-day driving vacation to Maryland and Washington DC.  That wouldn't have been so bad, but unfortunately for me I had a school fundraiser distribution to work that sucked away about six hours of my day on the Tuesday between.  To say I started our vacation a bit stressed is my second understatement of the day.  Once out of town, though, I can say that I finally started to calm down, and in fact the vacation was really nice.

I'll gloss through the details of the trip, but will say that the whole reason for going to Maryland was a success.
Wrangling kids after the 50-Miler.
Hubby ran the 50th anniversary of the JFK 50-Mile ultra and had a great time doing it.  The kids and I passed the time during his race by going to the Antietam National Battlefield (from the Civil War for those not in the know), where the kids completed the junior ranger program happily.  For anyone taking kids to otherwise potentially "boring" national park venues, ask to see if they have a junior ranger program.  I thought I would be dragging the kids through Antietam kicking and screaming while I tried to get something out of the history of the place, but instead - with that program - I had two happy campers trying to complete the age-appropriate scavenger-hunt/activity books they received.  We were looking for weapons in the museum, measuring canons in the field, scouting out specific monuments, and more.  It was so much fun!  In fact, the kids were so keen on completing the program that we went back the day after Hubby's race to finish up.

Exploring the battlefield - day 1.
Exploring the battlefield - day 2.
After Maryland, we spent too short of a time in Washington DC.  All told, we probably walked eight hours or more going around to see the different monuments and the White House, visiting the Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo. The fancy schmancy hotel we stayed at (for a decent price!) was built in the 1930s, and I think I had almost as much fun there as anywhere.  (You know you are in a fancy place when you walk around in jeans, sweatshirts, and running shoes and everyone still treats you like you are wearing Armani and armed with Gucci handbags.)

Washington Monument on our nighttime walking tour.
At the National Zoo.
One thing I will say about Washington DC is that it just about FLOORED me to find out that all the attractions were joke. Maybe everyone else knows this but me, but the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Zoo (also part of the Smithsonian) were free.  And, Antietam cost us all of $6 for a three-day pass.  Being used to vacation attractions that regularly cost anywhere form $7 to $40 to get into, it occurred to me that we could probably pay off our nation's debt if the feds would just CHARGE ADMISSION to these great museums and attractions that get how many millions of visitors a year.  Just a thought.

The fun didn't end in Washington, though, because on the trip back, we stopped and visited some old friends in Ohio (we hadn't seen them in 15 years or so!) and then on to a family Thanksgiving in Michigan.  Finally, getting back home this past weekend, I thought I was ready to crash after a month of topsy-turvy.

Running-wise, I managed to hold my own this whole time (and that may be part of the reason my sanity is still intact).  I am following a new training plan that a friend put together and so far, so good.  I still have my hip/hamstring issue, but following the plan, which has me running a lot slower than normal but with speed work days added in, I haven't felt that bad.  The past two weekends have seen me becoming the Treadmill Queen, though....10 miles last weekend at a hotel in Maryland and 16 miles (!!!) on my treadmill at home yesterday.  Although I made it the 16 miles, the run was a bit of a failure as I was really supposed to do 18.  Ah well.  I felt okay for the run yesterday; nothing really barked at me pain-wise (although the base of one of my big toe's did bug me for the last little bit), but overall my legs felt kind of tired.  Mentally, I broke the run down into two-mile chunks - that's the only reason I could get so far.  I was pretty determined to finish the 18 miles, but by the time I reached 15.5, I was just done.  I walked it out to 16 and called it quits.  Strangely, I feel okay with the effort, despite being shy of the goal.  I think it's just what I needed yesterday.  We'll see how the rest of the week unfolds.

Happy Running!