About louda313

Soon to be thirty something professional enjoying life's great adventures.

Tri, Tri Again!

You know you are in deep water (pun intended!) during the swim segment of a triathlon when:

  • You can’t see your own hand in front of you because the river water was black and gross;
  • You can only see the first 100 meters of the course;
  • You didn’t check the course route and you think it’s a 500 meter swim, but it really is 800 meters;
  • You nearly swim right into a safety canoe…twice.

On 6/22/2013, I went to Philadelphia to compete in my fifth (!!!) triathlon. I had never been to Philly before, and I was really looking forward to the entire weekend – complete with Amish food (yum!) Rocky Stairs! I was nervous about the race because until that point I had not been swimming or cycling as much as I had for past races. My fears were ill-founded because the distance running I have been doing prepared me for the endurance of the sport.

I am proud to report that despite the above mentioned conditions, I did not need to stop or hang onto the life rafts on the swim course. It wasn’t my fastest swim, but it was by far my furthest.

The cycling was mostly flat and fast. I had significantly increased my pace time for the nearly 16 mile ride. I was leap-frogging a Clydesdale competitor, and ultimately I took the lead and kept it. I saw more crashes on this course than I ever have before, so I am kinda happy that my faster race pace is still slower than most of the competition.

The 5K was also flat and they handed out ice-cold towels on the course. During this tri, I had enough pick-up-and-go to knock off a minute from my fastest triathlon run time!

My final races times were: 800 meter swim – 24:04; 15.7 mile bike 1:08:53; 5K run 37:10. Overall race time: 2:18:42

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Do you know what I have my eye on now? The Nation’s Triathlon (International Distance) next September! That would be 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, and a 10K run.¬†ūüėÄ

Until then, marathon training has officially started – 18 weeks until the MCM 2013! Rocky would approve!

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Keep Your Feet Moving or Someone’s Gonna Steal Your Shoes!

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“Keep your feet moving or someone’s gonna steal your shoes.”

~Thank God It’s Friday! arguably my favorite Disco-themed movie from the 70’s

The need for orthotics has created a new problem for me¬†– finding running shoes compatible with orthotics in Women’s Big Foot Size (11.5). This has become a¬†month-long quest, and I am not entirely convinced that¬†the search is over.

The journey began when I put my orthotics into my old running shoes and went out for a routine mid-week run. I noticed my ankle felt fine, but the tendons on the side of my leg felt like they were being pulled and stretched. Not good. When I looked down at my feet, my feet were slanted to the outside of my shoes rather than flat. Really not good. I needed new shoes.

When I took a gait analysis test at the Nike Half Marathon, my tester seemed very knowledgeable about shoes and orthotics. He recommended a neutral running shoe known to work well with orthotics (Brooks Dyad). I kept this information in the back of my mind for my trip to the running store.

At my usual DC haunt, I explained what I was looking for, and tried on four or five pairs of shoes¬†to no success. It became clear to me that the guy I was working with didn’t really understand my problem and thought I needed¬†a newer version of the same shoe. (Remember tendons and slanty feet? Newer version of my current shoes was not what I needed.) Ignoring the guy who didn’t understand my problem, I tried the shoes recommended by the expo guy, but they were too small… and the next size up were too big. I left without any shoes and considered a new approach – Zappos.

I ordered four pairs of different neutral running shoes from the online retailer, and tried them on the treadmill at work. I returned all of them because either size was off or my ankle hurt. (Sad face.) Back to the drawing board.

I decided to try another running store and¬†hoped someone would understand my plight. Fortunately, the nice attendant understood my problem, but the store didn’t carry Women’s Big Foot Sizes in the store…so we turned to men’s shoes.¬†I was there for an hour trying on different shoes on the treadmill, and we¬†found¬†two strong contenders – Brooks Glycerine and Asics Nimbus 14 – both heavily cushioned neutral shoes.

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I went with the Brooks because the brand and I have had four years of successful running together. So far, I have gone on two 3.5 mile runs and I am feeling cautiously optimistic. The test on whether the shoes are keepers will come on Saturday during my 6 mile¬†long run. If not, it’s back to the store for the Asics.

Let me tell you, I definitely had sticker shock when I bought these suckers. You know what? My feet are worth it, and I plan to keep them moving so no one can steal these shoes!

My Two Flat Feet

Some people have two left feet – I’ve got two flat ones.

Being flatfooted didn’t seem to bother me when I was growing up, but I noticed that I started having pain in my feet when I was in college. While it was uncomfortable, I never felt the need to seek medical advice.

It all changed in Ukraine when I woke up¬†one morning with a¬†swollen ankle. I had¬†assumed that¬†I must have injured it the night before while stumbling around in the¬†dark trying to get back to my apartment. I rested, but any time I walked the pain seemed to get worse.¬†I was on my way to Kyiv later that¬†week, so I stopped in the doctor’s office and told them I thought I had¬†sprained my ankle. The doctor took one look at my feet and said, “You realize you are flat footed and need inserts, right?” Huh? What did having flat feet have to do with a sprained ankle? I was incredulous. Clearly, I had injured myself¬†and some insert wouldn’t solve my problem.

The doctor took me to a store in Kyiv,¬†and within 20 minutes I had styrofoam inserts for my shoes. As soon and I put those inserts into my shoes, all of the pain that I had been experiencing melted away. It was a breath of fresh air –¬†I suddenly wanted to walk everywhere! I had a brand new outlook on life – all from some foam in my shoes. Who knew?

Fast forward 7 years. I was out on a routine 4 mile run in January, and I felt sudden pain in my ankle. Immediately, I thought I had sprained it –¬†or worse. I rested for a week and then I was out running again. WHAM!¬†In March, the pain returned. At that point I had a mini-meltdown. The Cherry Blossom 10-miler, Nike Half Marathon, Pittsburgh Half Marathon¬†were all coming within¬†the month. I was devastated thinking that I would miss them. I made an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist in DC. His assessment? My orthotics. Not for one second I thought the swelling and pain I was experiencing was caused by my flat feet. The doctor suggested that I start running with orthotics.

Getting used to running in orthotics took weeks, but I was able to run my back-to-back half marathons. I am really glad to have discovered my source of pain, but it is creating an entirely new problem – finding new running shoes. (To be continued…)

 

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Recap

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Runners of Steel!

One week after setting my half marathon PR, I was back on the road for my second 13.1 mile race (compliments of winning a free entry!).

I have to admit, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon is arguably¬†my favorite race. Partially because of hometown pride, partially because it is¬†a challenging course, and mostly because it’s a¬†community-supported event. Initially, I was going to type out another mile-by-mile¬†recap of the race, but I decided to post the highlights instead:

  • Cheer teams featuring pit bulls in tutus (the Human Society), greyhounds, Native American dance troops, a lone bongo drummer, and a drum line
  • A full choir performing on the steps of its church
  • Local businesses handing out gummy worms and oranges to runners
  • Food trucks offering free food for race spectators
  • Neighborhood¬†parties with beer
  • A pastor giving pre-race blessings and allowing runners to use the church’s bathrooms
  • Bands/musicians every one or two¬†miles and plentiful water stops
  • Eat ‘n Park Smiley cookies for post-race snacks
  • A finisher’s medal made from steel
  • Restaurants offering runners free beer
  • Unintentionally messing up my bib name (again), and hearing people cheer – “Go CP!”
  • Giving a high-five at the finish line to a marathoner who qualified for Boston by 24 seconds
  • WE ARE – PENN STATE chants from other runners and spectators alike
  • Crisscrossing the city over 6 different bridges
  • Owning the mile-long climb from miles 11 – 12
  • Getting to run and catch up with one of my best friends from college!
  • Seeing friends and family at the finish line!

Race time: 2:58:54. 

Nike Women’s Half Marathon Recap

After¬†I finished the Pittsburgh half marathon two years ago, I swore to myself that I would never run 13.1 miles again. My knees and back hurt for a week, I wasn’t properly trained, and it didn’t seem like I would want to do one again. Two years later, I ran back to back half marathons. The draw for this crazy feat?¬†A Tiffany & Co. finisher’s necklace and a free race entry. Holla!

Despite a nagging ankle problem (blog post forthcoming), I¬†felt ready for the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC race. The¬†course route was familiar and flat, my goal was¬†2:45:00, and I was excited for the little blue box.

The race weekend started with packet pick-up on Thursday, and I must admit, the Nike Expotique was not what I had come to expect from large-scale races. They had hair dressers, makeup artists, bra fittings, and gait analysts instead of vendors with running gear, nutrition, and shoes. I was underwhelmed by the entire experience, with the exception of my honest gait analyser, who recommended I wear a neutral shoe with my orthotics and told me that under no circumstances should I run in a pair of Nikes given my foot structure. (Now, that is honesty!)

On race day, the start seemed crowded and chaotic, but the energy level was strong. To meet my race goal, I wanted run with a pacer until at least mile 10. I found the 12:13 pacer (Christy) and I planned to stick with her as long as I could.  The first three miles were slow, and I was shocked that many people were walking within a half mile of the start line. We came to a complete stop several times, and it took us almost 45 minutes to get to the 5K mark (10 minutes slower than our intended pace!).

Around mile 3.5, we had a nice crew of 4 or 5 runners and we picked up the pace to make up for lost time. I felt pretty awesome until mile 7, but I could tell I was starting to lose energy. I kept up with the pacer until mile 9, and then I needed to stop to walk. Two minutes later I had lost my pacer and I was on my own. Unfortunately, this happened on Hanes Point where there were fewer supporters and cheer teams to keep me motivated.

Between miles 9 – 11, I¬†started to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to make my race time. I was taking many more walk breaks and when I was running I could feel it was slower than before.¬†However,¬†when I got to Pennsylvania Ave. and could see the Capitol building, I rallied for the last two miles.

Ultimately, I finished in 2:46:33, a minute and a half off of my goal time (boo!) BUT it is a whopping 30 minutes faster than my last half marathon! And I received my Tiffany necklace!

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Post-race wearing my finisher’s shirt and Tiffany necklace, rewarding myself with some P.F. Chang’s!

20-year Fruit Embargo Ends

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I have always liked the taste of oranges, but the smell is another story altogether. If the orange was already pealed or cut, I had no problem partaking in the citrus, but if I were the person who had to peel or cut said piece of fruit, I just wouldn’t do it. I didn’t like the fruit THAT much. For this reason, it was about 20 years since I really ate oranges with any regularity. I remember distinctly sitting in grade school after peeling an orange for breakfast (and washing my hands twice) that I could still smell the orangey smell on my skin. Ick. It seems that no matter how much I washed my hands, I could still smell it, and it grossed me out.

Bananas and I have a different history. I have always loved bananas, but the year I turned 25, bananas didn’t return the affection. I started getting the worst stomach cramps I had ever experienced after eating just one banana. Since I was in Ukraine when this started happening, I assumed it was the Ukrainian bananas. I was wrong. After returning state-side, bananas were still off the table, literally. I would be doubled over for an entire afternoon after eating just 1 banana. No one could explain it, so I gave up even trying to eat them, despite wanting to.

Many people thought my animosity toward oranges and bananas were ill-founded and just bizarre. I get it. Most people love the smell of oranges and can eat bananas without health concern. I couldn’t.

In 2013, I decided to tackle my relationship with these two pieces of fruit. For oranges, it stemmed from fruit diversity in the winter – I couldn’t face eating just apples every day. I decided to give oranges a try (again). After all of these years, I still love the taste and I can still smell it on my skin. Instead of avoiding oranges, I have just decided to get obsessive with scrubbing my hands post-peeling. (Peel, scrub, scrub, sniff, scrub, scrub, sniff, scrub, scrub, scrub). It seems to be working. For bananas, I bought 1 banana and I cut it into thirds. I blended the third with my morning smoothie, and so far so good. It seems I can handle small amounts of bananas blended. I have not yet graduated to just eating a third of banana – I want to give it time.

I am pretty happy with the overall outcome of ending the fruit embargo. I am sure once spring and summer fruits make an appearance, I will once again drop these two fruits, but for now, reintroducing them is working quite well.