I’m one of those lucky runners who, for whatever reason, can put in lots of miles without getting injured. I try to be smart about it — not building too quickly, strength training regularly, listening to my body if something hurts — and it works. At least that’s what I thought.
A few weeks ago, for no apparent reason, my left butt cheek started hurting in the middle of a fartlek run (insert butt-and-fartlek jokes here), and the pain didn’t stop, despite my stretching and slowing down. I have no idea why this would happen now, when I was running less than half the mileage I run when I’m training for a race, but the pain was there, and it was persistent.
Some Internet research told me I had hamstring tendinitis, and I found stretches, strength moves, and general advice on how to treat it. I’ve been doing it all religiously: stretching, strengthening, foam rolling and rolling on a tennis ball, taking short walks to keep it loose, taking several days off running and resuming with short and easy runs (no hills or speed), and even getting a massage, but still the pain persists. I can run 4-5 miles, but 5 is the most I’ve run in over a month. Frankly, it’s starting to mess with my head.
I know I should be grateful that I can run at all, and that this happened when I don’t have any races on the calendar. Plus, I’ll be so busy soon with moving and starting a new job that running long shouldn’t be my priority anyway (but I will have this new town to explore…).
But there’s a huge part of my identity that is distance runner, and even though it’s been only a few weeks, I feel like that part of my identity is misplaced. Sometimes I toy with the idea of just moving on from that identity — becoming someone who works out purely for health reasons, with less cardio and more strength training and yoga — and for a minute, that seems like a great idea. After all, I’m certainly not a professional — it’s not like I’m paid to run long. There’s no logical reason for me to keep doing it. In fact, it would probably be healthier to go the other way.
But then I see an ad for a race, or a post in a Facebook group about an epic trail run coming up, or my trail shoes sitting by the door, looking sad because I haven’t taken them out lately, or even the “4.00” on my watch at the end of yet another short, slow road run, and I think, “No, the just-for-health exerciser is not who I am.”
I realize this post is a complete pity party, and if you’ve made it through my word vomit thus far, thanks for sticking around. I feel like I should end this on a positive note, especially because I know, in the grand scheme of the world, that this is not that big of an issue and probably doesn’t even warrant its own blog post. But I feel grumpy and negative right now. Here:
Commiserate with me: Tell me about an injury and how you recovered/are recovering. Or give me a magic piriformis-healing bullet.
If you’ve read my blog long (or if you know me in real life), you know that I’m a mountain girl to the core. This summer, unfortunately, has had a serious dearth of mountain time — selling and buying houses and getting ready for new jobs is time-consuming — especially for Jordan. His new job is at a brand-new school, so his summer has been full of meetings and trainings. Finally, last week we got in some mountain time. I took a lot of pictures.
I went to the Western slope for Fourth of July weekend; J couldn’t come because of the aforementioned working, but I knew that if I didn’t go, I wouldn’t see my grandparents until Thanksgiving (my parents will come see me, but my grandparents don’t travel anymore). While I was there, the weather refused to cooperate, but we hiked a little anyway.
The Thursday after the 4th, Jordan and I went camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. A few weeks prior, we had looked at the calendar and realized that if we wanted to camp at all this summer, it had to be that day. So we booked a campsite in RMNP’s Glacier Basin campground (the last site available!), and we headed up bright and early Thursday morning.
We started our day at Lumpy Ridge. It was really ugly.
We didn’t do the whole Lumpy Ridge loop because of our late start, but we loved the part we did. I’d like to run the whole loop (about 8.5 miles) sometime. (I didn’t do any trail running this trip, because I’ve been fighting piriformis syndrome, which is stupid. But at least I could hike!)
After our hike, we headed down into town, ate the lunches we had packed, and did the tourist thing for a while — wandering into shops, stopping at a new-to-us brewery, etc.– before we headed back into the park to set up camp.
The next morning, we were able to start our hike earlier, of course, so it was quiet and peaceful most of the way. Our campground was just across the road from the first big park ‘n ride in the park, and a trail to Bierstadt Lake starts from that lot, so that’s where we began our day.
We went up to Bierstadt, along Mill Creek, and back down through Hollowell Park, where we caught the shuttle back up to the campground. We had originally planned to go up to Cub Lake, but were afraid that we wouldn’t make it back in time to break down camp before we had to be checked out of the campground. Sometime, when my butt is completely better, I’d like to start at Hollowell Park, run up to Cub Lake, and catch the shuttle back from Moraine Park. Any of my trail running friends want to come along?
Once we were back at camp, we cleaned up a bit (another baby-wipe bath. This seems to be a theme on my blog lately…), broke down camp, and headed back into town — just in time, as a typical Colorado afternoon thunderstorm rumbled through not long after we got to town. Before we knew it, our mini-vacation was over and we were driving back to the plains (and getting excited that soon, our drive will be less than half as long).
What’s your favorite hike/trail run? Bonus points if it’s close-ish to my new home.
Runners are a unique bunch. We’ll do almost anything to get our run in, and sometimes we finish a run with no time and/or place to properly shower and dress like civilized people. That means we have to get a little creative. Luckily for me, my teenage years in FFA taught me to subtly change clothes — once you can go from jeans and hoodie to full official dress (skirt, pantyhose, button-down shirt, scarf, jacket) in the back of a moving van without flashing the other occupants, you can do anything. Who knew my education would pay off so well.
Here are some strange places I’ve done the post-run baby-wipe bath and wardrobe change:
Decent public restrooms at:
A hotel lobby (of a hotel in which I wasn’t staying…)
The school where I taught until last year
State park visitor centers
Sketchy public restrooms in:
Trailheads (outhouses, usually)
A subway station in Boston
In my car:
In parking garages
In parking lots of race venues
On the side of the road (actually, I’ve never done this in my car. I did it once in Logan’s car, when I paced her at last year’s Hideaway 100, and once in my parents’ car, while they wandered up the road)
In a tent on a high school soccer field (during Chase the Moon)
In a tent at a campground (not so weird)
Hiding behind a space blanket at a finish line
In the middle of the crowd moving from the Boston finish line to the family meeting area (not a full wardrobe change; I just had to get my sweaty shirt off and my jacket and sweats on because I was FREEZING)
On the side of the road, not in a car (this was also when I paced Logan, before my pacing shift. It was the middle of the night and really, really dark).
No matter how weird or awkward the post-run cleanup is, the run itself is always worth it!
What are some weird places you’ve changed post-workout?
Last week, I recapped all the Skirt Sports fun of Friday and Saturday of the ambassador retreat, but Sunday was, by far, my favorite day of the weekend. I mentioned once or twice on the blog that I was running the 13er, but since my training had been minimal, I’d decided to run it as a training run: nice and easy, soaking in the scenery and the camaraderie with my newfound buddies.
Early on, everything went according to plan. The race started at 6:30 (sounds early, but in June, I’ll take an early start any day), so I rolled out of bed at 5, ate a granola bar (one I’d never tried before, breaking the “nothing new on race day” rule because, training run), slathered on sunscreen, woke up Jordan, and drove the 20 minutes from our hotel to the start. Once there, I wandered around, chatted with some of the ambassadors I’d met earlier in the weekend, and of course, stood in the porta-john line.
Before long, I heard the “line up” announcement, so I filtered in somewhere in the mid-pack, trying to ensure that I’d treat this as a training run and not push, especially at the beginning. Soon, the gun went off, 125 watches beeped, and we started a long, easy downhill run. I kept my pace easy, but I realized that I’d taken this mid-pack thing too seriously and I couldn’t run comfortably, so I did a little bob-and-weave until the crowd thinned out and I settled in to my long-run pace — a little faster because of the downhill.
As I took in the beautiful scenery, I realized that I could see the lead bike, so I counted women in front of me. I was in sixth. I told myself to calm down. “This is not a race for you, self. You’re not in race shape. Start pushing it now, and you’ll die by the hill at mile 7.” Believe it or not, I actually listened to my own advice. I know. Maybe I’m learning something in my old age. So I kept cruising at a nice, easy pace, enjoying the view and the coolness of the morning, even taking a couple of pictures along the way.
On the first hill, a pretty small one (even for flatlander me), I passed one woman and told myself not to think about how I was now in fifth. I kept running and kept smiling, waving to the cyclists passing on the other side of the road and telling myself to take it easy. I stopped and filled my handheld at the last aid station before the infamous hill, and then I started up.
This hill is nicknamed “The Bad Relationship,” because it hurts, but you’ve “just gotta get over it.” It’s not very steep, but it’s long, and by the time you get to the steep part (the last quarter mile or so), your legs are getting pretty tired. Last year, I think I walked part of the hill, so my goal this year was to just keep running. “Eat that elephant,” I told myself. “One bite… er, step… at a time.” And so I did. Up, up, up, past the fourth-place woman, up.
Just after the crest of the hill, I also passed the third-place woman, but 0.1 miles later, I had to pull off and hit the porta-john. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter, because I’m not racing. A mile or so after the hill, the course heads into some trails at an open space for a few miles, and at the entrance to the park was an aid station manned by high schoolers. When I turned down their water (my handheld was still half full), one girl said, “Oh, please take some water!” Since I wasn’t racing, I said, “I didn’t know it meant that much to you!” and I turned around, jogged back, and chugged her water. The kids all cheered, and it made us all laugh. That moment was well worth the few seconds I lost off my final (non-racing, remember?) time.
At around mile 10, the race has a short out-and-back. I saw the lead bike and the lead woman coming back past me. I saw the second-place woman coming back past me. And then I reached the turnaround without seeing anyone else. Somehow, I’d gotten into third place! “Okay, self,” I thought. “You’ve got three miles left. You’re in third place. Let’s keep it that way.” I let myself pick it up, then, finding speed that I didn’t know my legs had after so many months of slow running. I cruised down the long, final downhill, watching the second-place woman and hoping I could catch her. I didn’t — she ended up finishing six seconds ahead of me — but I finished third, in 1:42:40. That’s more than ten minutes slower than my PR (from 2012, the last time I actually raced a half), but third place in a race in which I expected to be mid-pack was pretty darn exciting!
When I crossed the line, Skirt Sports founder (and my hero) Nicole Deboom greeted me with “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!” and a big hug — despite my sweaty grossness– and then Nicole and the top three finishers posed for a picture.
Here’s an example of why I admire Nicole so much: she greeted almost every single person who crossed the line in the same way, from the first three to the Running Start participants to the final finisher. Take a minute to scroll through the pictures from the race, and you’ll see Nicole hugging, high-fiving, and celebrating each person. I know I said this in my last post, but this is why I love Skirt Sports so much. Yeah, the clothes are amazing (and they have pockets!). But the community? That’s what makes this company amazing.
Anyway, back to me. #narcissism. After I finished, I drank some chocolate milk and got my award (a champagne flute, a Skirt visor, and a box of Love Grown Power O’s. Not sure which part of the prize I liked best). I’ll admit it, I kiiiinda want to pick a race and actually train for and race it. That podium is addicting.
J had to take off to be on time for a meeting in Breckenridge, but I stayed and cheered for the rest of the race, alternating standing at the finish line and chatting with my new friends. And dancing in the sprinklers.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’d never stayed until the very end of a race before. Now, I will whenever I can. Seeing those final finishers come in was inspiring. They put so much time and effort into their training and their race. They deserve to be cheered on just as loudly as the pointy-enders, and, as I learned from this article, that doesn’t always happen.
This race was a perfect wrap-up to a weekend of inspiration, camaraderie, empowerment, and celebration. I’m prouder than ever to represent this company, and I’m already excited for next year!
Have you run any races lately? Tell me about them!
Any recommendations for a goal race later this summer/fall? I’m thinking a half or 10k.
P.S. If you want in on the Skirt Sports love, use my 20% discount code: RRR20.
Last weekend was one of the best I’ve had in recent history. I’d been looking forward to the Skirt Sports ambassador retreat and 13er (13er, not half marathon, because “it’s not half of anything”) for weeks, even though I wasn’t sure if I could make it to all the events due to house-hunting. I made it, though, and I came away refreshed, inspired, and proud that I get to represent this incredible company.
Quick disclaimer before I get into my recap: As a Skirt Sports ambassador, I get some free and discounted product, but I’m not compensated for posting about them. I’m not one of those bloggers that have 85 ambassadorships and rep a ton of companies; I’m a Skirt ambassador because I love the product and I believe in this company and everything it stands for — namely, empowering women and embracing those of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. All opinions here are truly my own.
My weekend kicked off early. Jordan had a meeting in Loveland on Friday morning, so we went up Thursday afternoon to house hunt; we stayed with a friend in Fort Collins that night. Since Logan lives in Fort Collins and is my kind of crazy, she and I decided that a 4-a.m. wake-up call and a sunrise hike/run at Horsetooth Rock would be a great idea. We were correct.
Friday afternoon, we did some more (unsuccessful) house shopping, and then I headed up to Boulder and the new Skirt Sports store (on Pearl Street; if you’re ever in the area, hit it up!) for an ambassador cocktail reception. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous at first, as I’m a socially awkward penguin (as J says) and I didn’t really know anyone there — at least not in real life.
Of course, I had no reason to worry, because Skirt Sisters are as cool in person as online, and soon I was at ease. The tasty food (provided by Mad Greens and Kim and Jake’s Cakes) and beverages (provided by Ska Brewing and Bhakti Chai) also didn’t hurt.
After some time to shop, eat, and chat, Skirt Sports owner Nicole Deboom spoke. I first met Nicole (and fell in love with Skirt) before last year’s 13er; you can read about that here. The more I read Nicole’s articles, listen to her podcast, and spend time around her, the more I admire her. She is committed to inspiring and empowering women, and her passion shows through everything Skirt Sports does, from the #REALwomenmove campaign to using ordinary women as models to the Running Start nonprofit.
Nicole talked about finding your word: the one word that names your purpose and drives everything you do. Her word is “relationships.” I’m not sure yet what my word is, but I’ve been giving it a lot of thought since Friday night.
After Nicole spoke, we had a little fashion show to preview the new stuff for this fall and next spring. I can’t post pictures yet, but I can tell you there’s a lot of cool stuff coming up. I’d better start saving money now. The night wrapped up with cake, which is, of course, the best way to end an event.
Saturday morning, we met at Skirt Sports community outreach manager Noelle Wilson’s house in Lyons for breakfast (provided by sponsors Justin’s, Two Moms in the Raw, Bhakti Chai, and Noosa… yum) and a beautiful hike… complete with a few unplanned hill repeats when we couldn’t find the trailhead.
Also Amy’s picture.
After the hike, we split into two groups for breakout sessions. My group went with Nicole and brainstormed some outreach possibilities for the future. These women are super smart; they had some great ideas that I’m excited to see come to fruition!
After the breakouts, we came back together as a group, and Kate and Amy led a session on selfie-taking. Maybe now I can decent pictures while I run… but I probably won’t. Knowing how to do something and actually doing it aren’t always the same thing.
I had to leave before the wrap-up because we were doing more house-hunting, but the morning was absolutely wonderful. I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity to spend a weekend with such smart, strong, and wicked-cool women!
The weekend culminated in Sunday’s race, which will have its own post later this week. Stay tuned!
What’s the most inspiring, empowering, or exciting thing you’ve done lately?
I’m going to be unoriginal today and copy the “Coffee Talk” posts that I see all the cool bloggers doing. Lots has happened since I was last blogging regularly, and since it’s summer now, I can drink coffee and blog at 9:15 a.m. Try not to be too jealous.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that getting a house ready to sell is stressful. This is the first day of summer break that we’ve been able to do the coffee-at-9:15 thing because all the other days, we were up early and working like crazy to get our to-do list done. It worked, though: we had all of one showing, and we’re under contract! Now, to find a new house near our new jobs…
If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’m SO EXCITED for this move. Yes, I’m a little sad about leaving “my kids” (my teacher friends will understand that one) and the friends we have here, but I’m really excited for new opportunities, new friends (and being closer to old ones), a new group of “my kids,” and, of course, being so much closer to the mountains!
If we were having coffee, you’d probably ask how my running is going. And I’d tell you: not great. I’m running the Skirt Sports 13er this Sunday, and when I signed up, I thought I’d train hard and try for a PR, since I haven’t raced a half in several years. And then, the job hunt and house prep/hunt came along, and training fell farther and farther down on my priority list. I’ve been doing the bare minimum to stay in kind-of okay shape, so the 13er will now be treated as just a normal long run. I don’t really like to not race races, but that’s okay. I’ll just focus on having fun. And by the way, if you want to run the 13er, too, it’s not too late! Use the code SkirtBrand15 for a discount!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m also super excited for the rest of this weekend. We’re house-hunting; I’m meeting Logan for a hike/trail run; I’ll be meeting lots of my fellow Skirt Sports ambassadors at a couple of pre-race events; and after the race, I’m meeting my girlfriends for a badly-needed pedicure and even more badly-needed catch-up time.
Now, I think you’re fairly up to date on my doings lately. If we were having coffee, what would you tell me?
Well hello, Internet. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The thing is, I’ve been job hunting. And it turns out, looking for a job is almost as time-consuming as having one…which means that while you’re trying to do one and looking for another, spare time is a rarity. The time I used to spend blogging and reading blogs became my time to search and apply for jobs. Plus, even when I did have a minute to blog, I had nothing really to talk about that wasn’t affected by my time-consuming job hunt, and I didn’t want to tell the Internet anything until I actually had a new job.
In case you didn’t figure this out by the fact that I’m blogging about it: I have a new job. And so does Jordan. Our little school has been a good place for the last nine years, but it’s time to move on. And here’s the exciting part: we’re moving WEST! (If you’re not from Colorado, you might need a reference point here: the mountains are west. This is great news). We’ll be moving to the Loveland area, and I’m all sorts of excited. I might have to change the name of this little blog, though, as Loveland is not exactly “rural.”
The next few weeks will be a frantic dash of getting our house listed and (fingers crossed) sold, then finding and (fingers crossed) buying one in our new area, but what an exciting mad dash it will be. I hope I’ll be back to more regular blogging soon, but I’ll be happy with once every couple of weeks while we do the mad dashing.
Here’s to new adventures!
Anybody in the Loveland area? Want to be my friend?
Have you ever sold your house? This is our first time selling. It’s a little nerve-racking.
Today was one of those rare, warm March days here on the plains when the sun shines and the wind doesn’t blow. I had to leave work early to meet a repairman from our internet company, and once he left, I embraced my chance to run outside in the gorgeous weather while the sun was still high.
I’ve been hearing a lot about MAF training lately and was curious about it, so I dug out my heart rate monitor strap, synched up my watch, and headed to my favorite loop around the local park. I was thoroughly enjoying my run, but glancing at my wrist every few seconds to check my heart rate.
As I looped around, I approached a young woman walking with a little boy, probably four years old. As I got closer, the little boy started running, too, looking over his shoulder at me and giggling.
“Are we racing?” I asked him. He giggled harder. “You’re fast!” I said.
He stopped giggling and turned to face me. “No,” he said. “I’m very fast.”
Then his mom called him back, and he turned, laughing again, and ran back to her, little legs and arms pumping as fast as they could go.
As I continued on my way, I wondered, why don’t I run like that? Instead of staring at the numbers on my wrist, why not enjoy the sun on my back and the speed in my legs? Why don’t I have that confidence in my running? He didn’t care that I passed him — after all, I’m three times his size! He was “very fast” because his little legs cruised fast for him. Why shouldn’t I enjoy being “very fast” for me?
The sheer joy that little boy felt as he ran is why I started running. It’s fun. It feels good. It makes me happy. That joy sometimes gets buried under a pile of data, but really, what’s more important than being so happy you can’t stop giggling? Not a bunch of numbers, that’s for sure.
When I head out for my run tomorrow, I’ll be thinking of that little boy, of his joy and his confidence. And I’ll enjoy every step. Because I’m very fast.
How do you keep the joy in running (or your fitness activity of choice)?
A few weeks ago, a rep from the company SLS3 contacted me about reviewing their Dual Pocket Run Belt. I was skeptical at first, as I’ve tried several different run belts that have been terrible and I’m pretty attached to my Flipbelt, but I decided to give this one a try. After a couple of test runs, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.
Disclaimer: I was sent the SLS3 Run Belt for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my actual thoughts.
When I took the belt out of the package, my first thought was that it would bounce, as it looks similar to another belt (the brand of which shall not be named) I’d tried that bounced so much that I actually turned around, ran back home, and threw it in the yard. I’m not sure what the SLS3 folks did differently, but this belt didn’t budge. My iPhone lay smoothly inside the pocket and didn’t bother me at all.
The best thing about this belt is the pockets. They’re huge without being obnoxious. My iPhone 5 in its Otterbox fit easily in one pocket, and there was still room to spare, plus another whole pocket on the other side. Since I’m not training right now, even my “long runs” are pretty short, but I’ll appreciate all the space once I decide what I’m doing with my (running) life and start running long enough that I need to carry fuel.
The pockets are also water resistant, which I definitely appreciate. I’m a heavy sweater, so when I wear my Flipbelt or stick my phone in a pocket, I put it in a Ziplock first. And then it’s a pain to take it out if I want to pretend I’m a decent blogger and take a picture. The SLS3’s waterproofing eliminates the need for a baggie… and also my excuses for not taking pictures. Darn. The water resistance will also be appreciated when I get back to trail running this summer (because I WILL) and need to carry non-sweat-soaked TP.