Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I was good for the entire weekend.

Instead of running a 5k on Saturday, I did yoga. My neglected chicken arms are still sore. On Sunday I rode my horse on the sunny, windy morning. I stretched for a long time. Then I went with my manfriend to see a movie.

We were trying to decide between Underworld: Awakening and The Grey. It was tough. One is about a lady vampire who fights werewolves. The other is about Liam Neeson being hunted by a wolf. Since Underworld has both wolves and vampires, it seemed like the best bet. We'd get an ample amount of wolf plus a lot more blood than we would have seen from Liam Neeson. More bang for our $13.00 3D movie ticket.

Besides the insane ticket price, Underworld was surprisingly awesome. The simple moves fast, and it's incredibly easy to follow. After some questionable quasi-science about cryogenic freezing the main character, Selene, spends the movie flaunting her badassery. She sprints around in a black corseted ensemble, scowling through her lanky hair and flinging big weapons around. There's lots of shooting, some fun CGI wolf-people, and some really terrific demon-child material.

The 3D effect was lacking and made my head hurt, but it didn't take away from the movie enough for me to care.

After this movie, I can (almost) unabashedly say that I pretty much love these movies. And I have a shameless girl-crush on anyone who can pull off black leather so damn well.

And that got me thinking. If Selene from Underworld can wake up from a state of frozen suspended animation, I can certainly run on a foot that's a tiny bit sore.

So I bought some fancy designer athletic tape and headed out.

 It felt magnificent.

Friday, January 27, 2012

running into a rut

Guh. I just finished plodding 2.5 miles on the treadmill. And I feel like ass.

Earlier this week we had an absurdly nice day in Ohiopyle.

So I decided to make the most of it and do a nice, long run. Six miles in I felt a tight spot on the top of my foot. So I stomped down harder to make sure it was actually there. Ouch. I glared at my shoe it and told it to stop hurting. It didn't listen. When I finished running, I figured soaking my foot in the magical river water would make it better.

Actually, this just made my foot really cold for a few seconds and earned me some weird looks from tourists.

Since then I've been hobbling around on the sides of my feet and trying not to cry while I run. Every time I stretch my toes it hurts. Every time I flex my toes it hurts. When I walk it hurts. When I run, not so much. I've also been bumping into things, driving like an idiot, sleeping poorly, and eating way too much chocolate. The other day I could barely finish a simple tempo workout. And I felt so grumpy and useless that I couldn't even appreciate Montana's fabulous birthday dinner:

The International House of Pancakes isn't as mainstream as you might think. It actually uses pancake batter in its omelets to retaliate against the trendy gluten-free menus at other conformist chain restaurants. 
I started putting together a mental checklist.

  • Insufferable attitude toward loved ones? Check.
  • Insomnia? Check.
  • Inability to run over three miles without wanting to puke? Check.
  • Unchecked resentment toward the fit, happy people on STD medication commercials? Check.
  • Constant, sharp pain in a specific part of the body? Check. 

There. It's much easier to see in list-form. My foot problem - as well as an issue that probably stems from my uber-flat flapjack feet - is all rolled into overtraining syndrome.

Overtraining is a silly, sneaky thing lots of athletes tend to do to themselves. You follow your super-terrific-awesome ambitious training plan for a few weeks without taking any days off, because it's going to make you a STAR. All of a sudden you don't feel so hot any more. Your most obvious solution is to take one day off, followed by a long run. Then you continue to feel like shite, stop sleeping, and drive negligently. Everything is out of focus. Maybe you start making paperclip cowboys at work.

You've run yourself into a deep, dark rut.

I took yesterday off. Today's treadmill run should have been easy after that, but it wasn't. I felt like death. Then I tuned into my inner-coach. Maybe you need more than one day to recover, said mind-Coach.

I texted real-Coach and told him my situation in long-verse. Blah, blah, blah, whine... and I probably shouldn't be running the 5k this weekend. Coach's response: Yes, I agree. So that's that.

Now I've self-prescribed at least three days of no running. I'll be doing yoga instead, and perhaps dusting off my sad, neglected mountain bike if there's not too much snow. If there's snow, I should probably go stick my foot in it.

So, friends... Don't run too much. Your body will rebel.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Remember when I said I was running a race on the little track? Well, I did do that... five days ago. It was a pretty good race. I tried to run a steady tempo and then quickly realized how out of shape I am. Then dragged myself around the track for another 14 laps.

Still, second place and a time that would've beat my PR in high school? Not too shabby.

And the most interesting photo I managed to capture for the residents of blogtown?

Oh, Ohio.

Has anyone ever been to a state that just oozes this much lameness out of its highways? Nebraska might be a close contender.

Oh and also, a big happy birthday to the Boyfriend!! He's 21 and pretty skinny so he's probably getting all trashed on gin and tonics.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

back to the little oval of hell

So someone recently asked me: "What do you eat to build up your glycogen stores?"

Answer: ice cream. Lots of refined sugars = energy for miles and miles and miles.

Just kidding. I'd love to geek out on foodie stuff, but I'm busy gearing up for the moment of reckoning for the Fighting Scots in our beautiful new GYM.

YUS. No more midnight practices at the local high school. 

I haven't been in the finished building yet, since I'm not on campus. But I hear it's a gigantic new 123,000 square foot building with a bunch of courts for court-sports (which I quit when I was 11), a few jumping pits, a beautiful new fitness center, rowing machines, a bunch of weights to throw around, rust-free locker rooms, new offices, and an NCAA regulation size 200 meter running track.

Or as I like to call it, the little oval of hell.

Even though I'm not going to Hobbiton for another month, Coach was nice enough to enter me in a few indoor meets this winter.

Like running on treadmills and treating ingrown toenails, indoor track is an unpleasant necessity. The track is tiny, so you have to do twice as many laps per race. The air is dry and raw. You get lapped a whole lot and cough like a chain smoker after the race. I know few distance runners who actually like running indoor. Look at these girls.

waaaaaaah D:

They're professional runners, and they're winning this race. But they look none too pleased.

Still, there are some seriously wonderful things about indoor season. After a whole season of sprinting around a hard little rubber oval under a canopy of fluorescent lights, you turn into a mole-person. You forget what sunlight feels like on your skin. You forget about things like wind and rain. You forget that sweat doesn't have to sting.

And then outdoor season rolls around and running gets real again - after your eyes adjust to the sunshine. Even though spring season's cold, rainy and miserable (much like winter), it's good for you. Outdoor season peels off the winter layer of soft, temperature-controlled flab built up on the indoor track (or is that just me?). It makes you hard.

Plus, a fervent hatred for indoor track makes just about anything else bearable. With every nostrilful of snot you blow out onto the track during a frigid 10k in early April, you wonder why the hell you signed up for this shit. But then as you splash through the flooded backstretch, you tell yourself: You think this is bad? Just imagine, you could be inside doing twice as many laps. If you're waiting in an absurdly long line at Macy's to return a pair of $12.00 slippers your brother rejected for Christmas, at least you're not running a 10k on an indoor track. Or if you have food poisoning from bad sushi, at least you didn't buy it at an indoor track

Then it's time to transition into cross country season for some real running.

It just happens to be my luck that New Zealand's cross country season begins in March, since it's fall in their hemisphere. So all I've got to do is survive a couple indoor meets, and then I'll in cross country mode all over again. And that's pretty terrific.

Monday, January 16, 2012

gluten freedom

I promised myself that I wouldn't do too much food-blogging, since I'm officially an athletic blog and everything. But I couldn't help myself this time.

The other day I overheard my dad complaining that a bowl of Cheerios made his stomach hurt. My allergy-sensitive ears perked. A twisted smile lit up my face.

"Maybe you're allergic to gluten!" I gleefully shouted across the room.

His face fell. I sneered. Glory be! Another victim of processed grains to join my celiac friends and me in our barren, breadless world.

"Oh no," he said. "That means I'll have to give up cookies." His voice was hollow. The man was purely devastated. I had torn apart of my father's primary reasons to live. My shriveled gluten-free heart grew about three sizes. I couldn't take it anymore.

I quickly rescinded my comment. We decided that it was probably just the high oat content. Then he walked away, munching on a chocolate cookie.

But if you're like me, don't fall into a deep despair. Sure, there are lots of things you can't eat - like whole-wheat pasta or everything on the Panera Bread menu.

But you CAN eat this:

That's right. It's a whole pan of cookie. Covered in chocolate. Covered in nuts. Covered in more chocolate.

Thought your dessert options were limited to tiny low-fat brownies that look like dried poo? Think again. Even though this recipe is gluten-free, there is literally nothing healthy about it. The main ingredients are butter and sugar. How could you ever possibly go wrong?

So go ahead, eat yourself a cookie. Or devour a whole pan. And then maybe go running or something.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

songs help

When I'm training alone in the winter, I tend to get severe team withdrawal.. as referenced in my uber-angsty post about the worst season of the year.

So my iPod turns into my surrogate friend for a few months. I throw a few upbeat songs onto a playlist and pretend there's a happy hipster band running beside me. Here are my top three in YouTube form.

Check them out. Don't pirate their music.

In other news, I recently purchased my first honest-to-god hiking pack for my big New Zealand trip from Exkursion Outfitters in Monroeville, PA. Other than the name of the store being hard to spell, this is a terrific shop. All the merchandise is really well organized and the sales people were willing to spend almost half an hour fitting me in a good pack (while I stumbled around dropping things and demanding to see everything in a different color). Plus, the guy who sold me the pack even said he'd just gone on a backpacking trip to Tibet. I trust that kind of experience. It sounds super legit.

So I got a Gregory Jade 34 (in blue). It fits my narrow, un-muscular ladyshoulders really well and cinches tight around the hips with a comfy padded belt. And unlike the 60-70 L packs, it didn't make me look like this:

The 35's just about big enough for carrying on to the plane and taking a few long day hikes. I'm not sure if it's large enough to haul the One Ring to Mordor, though. I'll have to find nine other people to help me with that...

In closing, I'll leave you with an image I found while Googling "New Zealand"


Do they all look like that? Half of me hopes so. The other half is scared.

Monday, January 9, 2012

you sure you're okay?

I've had a super disgusting cold for the past couple weeks. In a desperate attempt to kill it and get the mucus out of my lungs, I took a trip to Med Express. After sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes, I gave the front-desk nurse my social security number and promptly forgot my own father's birthday. Then they swept me back into a tiny examination room.

Another nurse came in to ask me questions. She clamped a blood pressure reader onto my finger and wrapped the velcro strap around my arm. She squeezed the air pump and it inflated around my arm. She narrowed her eyes at the number and pumped the gauge again.

"Huh," she said, scribbling a number on the chart. "Is this normal?"

I looked at it and shrugged. I had no idea what the number meant. I'm bad with fractions. She scribbled another number down.

"And your heart rate is super low. Forty. Are you feeling okay?"

"Well," I said, "I think I have a sinus infection."

She put both fingers on my wrist and looked at her watch. "It's steady. Are you an athlete?"

I nodded.

"And when was your last period?"

I searched the back of my mind to the last time I was sedentary enough for my body to work like a normal girl's. "I'm not sure. It kind of goes away when I'm running a lot. But I'm not pregnant, I swear."

Her eyes narrowed. Then she banged the clipboard down on the countertop and scribbled "Preg??" next to my name. "Wait here," she snapped.

I studied the picture of a sailboat on the wall. Why would there be a sailboat painting in a landlocked state? I heard doctors and nurses tramping through the halls, shuttling patients around and talking in their metallic medical jargon. One of them was boasting about seeing 75 patients in one day. MedExpress is one hell of an efficient machine. Finally a doctor with a dark moustache breezed into the room.

He clacked around with his stethoscope to check my pulse and my breathing. He agreed that I did have a sinus infection. Then he glanced at my chart one last time.

"Are you... an athlete?"

I bit my lip and nodded. "Yep. I run."

"Hm. Do you run a lot?"

I shrugged again and smiled. "Yeah, I guess so."

Dr. Moustache puffed out his cheeks. "Okay. But just so you know, people with your heart rate usually  get sent to the emergency room."

I half expected him to give me a pregnancy test as well. But then he just handed me the prescription slip and told me to take a couple days off from running. Huh. That really never occurred to me. I shook my head. Apparently doctors in this town aren't exposed to endurance athletes too often.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

life lessons January 4, 2012

1. If the car is leaking a trail of black goo, it is not the universe playing a practical joke. It is an oil leak. Don't drive sixty miles out to the nature conservancy. Don't expect your oil light to stop blinking. Stop at a gas station and start feeding your car a few quarts of motor oil every 10 miles.

2. When doing an interview with a microphone, make sure you don't have the mic plugged into the mic port, not the headphone port. This will save you loads of embarrassment. And time.

3. If you're at the local Fed-Ex/UPS/U-Haul/Post office, don't let the shady, scruffy looking girls wearing Baby Phat jeans cut in front of you while you step aside to fill out one line on your address label. They're trying to rent a U-Haul truck. It's going to take half an hour. Fill out your shit in line and make the bitches wait.

4. Run in the morning, when the day is still smiling down upon you. Don't try to run at night after a long day of life lessons. Learning is too tiring.

5. Chocolate is not a suitable pre-workout snack. Don't eat half a bar of chocolate and expect to be able to run eight miles. You won't be able to do it.

Yuck, what a Wednesday.

And now I'm sitting in my room, gazing out at the nothing I can see from my window. I'm thinking about summertime, when it would've been acceptable to run at 7 p.m. Now everything is too icy and black, and it's only 6.

How long is this winter thing going to take?