Three Things Thursday: Lake Views, NUUN, Winner?

1. Even though I am not running with my good buddy Zoë for my 20-miler this weekend, I am excited that I a.) am healthy enough to do it, and b.) will be running along a lake! I am not excited for two 10-mile out and backs, but hey, you can’t have everything. Huge thank you to all of my Virtual Running Buddies for your encouraging comments!
2. I received an e-mail invitation from NUUN to apply for their special all-female blogging runners Hoold to Coast team. You know I love me some NUUN. I only drink NUUN on long runs (no plain water for me), so I’ll have it with me on Sunday’s 20-miler. Anyway, I have to come up with a creative application, but have been feeling less than creative lately. I’ve been told I should “play to my strengths.” Um, okay. What would those be?

This special team is open for all female bloggers to apply. More details are being released. Check NUUN HERE at their Web site or HERE on their Facebook page.

3. Kristin (Running with the Runner Girl)! Are you out there? You are the winner of the Merrell minimalist shoes giveaway! Please, please contact me at kerrie (at) sanitydepartment (dot) com so I can get you hooked up with your prize. If I don’t hear from you by the end of Monday, I will have to pick a new winner.

20 Miles on the Horizon…If I Can Get There

I learned a fun little trick in high school cross country that I wish I could use in the other areas in my life. When running, if I’m behind someone in a race (or, hey, let’s be honest here…even when I’m just out on the trail), I imagine a big target on the person’s back in front of me. They could be fairly close or they could be 20 yards out. 
I stare at this target, I really focus on it, and my legs magically turn over faster and faster till, voila!, I’m passing the person — picking them off, I guess you could say.
It’s a fun little trick I wish I could use right about now. I’m just so far behind. I need to pick some of these things off: laundry, cleaning, packing, shopping, wrapping gifts. Oh yeah, so it’ll be T Junior’s third birthday on Friday. And even though we’ve been talking about it for the past couple of months, it totally surprised me. 
By the way, you know what else surprised me? T Junior telling me that I’m not making his cake. He wants the “makers to make it.” Wow. Okay. 
Anyway, there’s a lot of catching up to be done in life and on this blog. A lot has happened in a few short days. I’m just going to pick them off one by one.
T Junior and I had a fun day Monday. First, we went to a kiddie gym place where he got to run around, jump, throw things and act like a little monkey for an hour. Then, he ate his PBandJ in the bike trailer and watched The Polar Express (still) while I pedaled for 10 miles. I’m getting more confident on the bike. I really like riding on the trail where it’s mostly flat.

I ran solo on my lunch hour on Tuesday, and I decided not to listen to my playlist. Instead, I listened to the music of the world around me. The chirp, chirp of little birdies, the honk of the scary Canadian geese, the thump, thump, thump of a low-flying military-esque helicopter, the buzz-thwack of a bug hitting me in the face, the snap….snap….snap….of. Wait. What the hell is that?

I couldn’t figure out where the snapping was coming from. My hip, my ankle, my knee. I finally decided it was my knee. And it was driving me crazy! But my shin? It was fine. And that’s all that matters. Right?

Back at the ranch, I mean work, I didn’t even ice. I should have, but my shin wasn’t sore and so I forgot. Just before I left for work, I changed into running clothes again so I could head to my physical therapy appointment.

Tuesday’s PT Appointment
I was nervous about the appointment because I so badly wanted my PT to clear me for a 20-miler. With just a little more than four weeks till the marathon, I was worried that my longest run was going to be an 18-miler I completed in April — over two months ago!

But I talked to my PT, told him my shin held up well during my 10-miler and I had practically no soreness the next day. Then he pushed on the shin, tested my foot strength, tried to loosen up my big stiff freakish toe, and dug into my calf to get to my soleus muscle. Ouch! Good ouch, though. The result of all of this?

I was cleared. Twenty miles. But he wants me to do it this weekend so I have time to recover before the race. I have mixed emotions about the 20-miler. I’ve been doing all my long runs with my buddy Zoë (Run, Zoë, Run) and now I won’t be able to do this, the longest ever, with her. Makes me sad. And I will be in an unfamiliar location. A beautiful place, but a place I’ve not run in very much.

So there you go. I will be running 20 miles on Sunday in uncharted territory. I will do two out-and-backs so that I can assess my shin. Should be interesting.

But I don’t have time to think about it, so it hasn’t really sunken in. I just hope I don’t forget to pack my BodyGlide…or my Garmin…or my RoadID. I better make a list. Ugh. Another thing to do.

Hello Again, Long Run! I Missed You!

Am I the only one who loves long runs? I get a teeny bit nervous beforehand, but then once I’m done, it’s all I can think about for the rest of the day. When’s my next one? How far? I wish I could just go for another one right now. 

I planned to run 10 today with my long-run buddy Zoë (Run, Zoë, Run), but it didn’t work out. Her baby, Goober, slept in! Hooray! She’s a new mom and I KNOW how badly she needs sleep.

I got to the Cedar River Trail parking lot and got my stuff together when my stomach all of a sudden went sour. Thank GOODNESS for the nice park bathrooms! Maybe this is TMI, but it’s probably good Zoë wasn’t there. The start of my run was delayed for a bit.

Finally, I didn’t feel too sick anymore and made my way back to the car to put on my fuel belt. I wore my camo skirt today (testing thigh-rub ratio), a white sweat-wicking shirt, my white CEP socks and my black Moeben sleeves. I almost took off the sleeves because they seem a little big now. I didn’t want them falling down and driving me crazy. (Oh yeah, happy to report I lost weight last week and am only 5 pounds from my goal!)

It was about 50 degrees out and there was some wind. I was cold and left the sleeves on. Finally, I got going. It felt like it took me forever to just get out and get running on the trail.

Since I was going solo, I decided I would try out what I’ve been thinking my marathon race pace will be.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to run my race at the end of June. This will be my first full. And it may be my last, too. With all the shin problems, I may be sticking to half marathons for a while after this. So, while I want to enjoy it, I also want to “race” it.

I expect a lot from myself and, yes, I have some goal times in my head. But I also know 26.2 miles is a long way and that anything can happen, so if I “just finish,” I will be happy with that.

But I don’t think I want to just run it without paying any attention to my pace at all. You all know how I need a plan. I’m a rule-follower. A list-maker.

So, I was thinking of running around a 10-minute mile during the 5 minutes of running and then 1 minute of walking. I had no trouble sticking to this for the first three miles: 10:13, 10:11, 10:14. But that’s just about when my body gets nice and warm.

I felt good and my legs just wanted to turn over a little faster, so I let them. Mile 4 and 5: 9:36 and 9:44.

I saw a few runners here and there, and some cyclists, too. Not a lot of people, but enough to keep things interesting. And, when I got home, some friends had posted on my Facebook wall that they’d seen me as they were driving by on the highway. That’s a first!

The route I take on the CRT is great, but the way out is slightly uphill — about a 100-foot ascent over the first half of my run, 5 miles, today. You can’t really feel it.

Until you turn around. Whee! Now I really couldn’t slow down. And it was even worse when there was someone in front of me to “pick off.” Mile 6, 8:58, and Mile 7, 9:00.

I was really focusing on keeping my arms swinging front-to-back and not side-to-side, and keeping my core upright. I was talking to my PT last week and I mentioned that I have to remind myself to engage my core during running. So, guess what? That’s a good thing! He described our core like a fist. Many of us forget about it and it’s just a loose hand. By engaging it, it becomes a tight, strong fist. Then we forget about it again and it loosens a little, but it’s still tighter than if we didn’t engage it at all. Does that make any sense? It was easier to understand with him holding his fist in front of me.

Anyway, I was able to keep my hands and forearms loose, but my shoulders felt tight toward the end of my run. It was starting to bug me during Mile 8 and I started to feel tired. Still taking walk breaks every five minutes, though.

But then a big group of runners approached from the other direction. They all had big grins on, and were smiling and waving at me. I felt energized! Mile 8 was 9:09, but Mile 9 was 8:57. Mile 10 I kept with what Zoë and I have been doing on our past long runs and ran the entire mile: 8:03.

It was a great run. A confidence booster! My shin is sore, but not any more than it’s been after 3 or 4 miles. Hoping for a good PT session on Tuesday and clearance for that 20-miler. I really need/want it. Let’s see if I’m still loving long runs after that one!

Friday Fitness! My Physical Therapy Routine

Bennie is pouting. He got yelled at for trying to eat my PT band.

Maybe it’s all in my head, but I feel like these are helping. Here is my physical therapy routine. It is helping build muscle memory so my knees don’t collapse inward and to help build muscles in my weak feet:

  • 2×15 bilateral squats with band on thighs (pictured above on the first night — I’ve since gotten better at these). I’m supposed to focus on keeping my shins perpendicular to the floor, sticking out my bum and not allowing my knees to go forward or inward. With the band on, I’m pushing them out toward my two last toes.
  • 2×10 (on each leg) one-legged squats. Same idea as above, but way harder, and no band. My left leg, especially, wants to turn in and with my lame-o toe, my foot wants to roll out. Yikes. It is hard.
  • 2×15 (on each foot) one-legged heel-raises. I’m supposed to focus on raising up on the center of the ball of my foot and not let my foot (mostly the left one) roll out to the pinky toe. I really have to concentrate on that left one, I tell ya.
  • 2×15 reps of practicing cupping my feet. It has a fancy name, but it escapes me right now.
  • 2×10 bridges, hold for five seconds, with the band around my thighs. I’m supposed to focus on keeping my knees straight and not letting them collapse inward while remembering to engage my core before I start the move.

Three Things Thursday: Sit vs. Stand, Win Shoes and Celebrity Workout Style!

I am reposting this since it was eaten last week during Blogger Meltdown ’11. But it reappeared, so I added some stuff and voila! A newish blog post!

1. I heart this article posted over on Inperspire’s blog: It’s all about how sitting is bad for your health. So true! I want to post more on this later, but go HERE and read the article first. I guarantee you’ll be standing a lot more after you read it!

Sitting is what got me in trouble, weight-wise, and it caused my herniated disc to get pissed off and hurt me. Too much sitting. But, in a way, I guess sitting is what got me running since I opted to get in shape instead of getting surgery for the herniated disc. It’s a long story that I’ve told before, but the moral is: sit less, stand more.

Last week, because of the article I linked to above, I decided to stand more since I can’t work and run at the same time, but that would be awesome, wouldn’t it? I had about a million box layouts to proofread, so instead of hunching over them at my desk I put them on a tall counter outside my office and stood there marking them up with my trusty red pen. And nobody thought I was weird. Well, no more weird than they already think I am.

2. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway HERE for a pair of Merrell minimalist shoes thanks to It ends on Saturday. Guess what? They’re having another giveaway right now, too! Go HERE to enter to win a pair of KEEN trail shoes!

Fergie and Josh. Forget earbuds,
those are more like earbuns.

3. Okay, so I subscribe to three magazines: Better Homes and Gardens (because it costs practically nothing), Runner’s World and People StyleWatch. Oooo! I love looking at celebrities and clothes! Right now, they are post “Stars’ Sporty Spring Styles” HERE. I’m totally hooked! (Confession: I sometimes check out celebrities legs in photos to see if maybe they are runners. Sometimes you can really tell!)

“Star Workout Dates” has some good exercise action shots HERE. My fave is Fergie and Josh Duhamel workin’ on their cardio fitness, and Jim Toth and Reese ninja running.

Reese and Jim – ninjas!

Making Sense of Anteverted Hips and a Big Freakish Toe

You know what doesn’t make sense? What I did last year (AKA running through pain until I injured myself then seeking treatment). This year is different! This year I’m taking preventive measures to make sure I don’t get injured!

I am such a huge nerd, but I loved going to the physical therapist on Monday. I kept asking myself why I was so dumb and changed my major in college. Darn you, 1995-Kerrie!

After checking in at the front desk, I went over and introduced myself to Suzanne (our appointments overlapped), who was having her calf worked on. She referred me to this particular clinic. We chatted for a minute, and I asked her and her PT, “Why is it that some people can run one, or even two, marathons every weekend and the rest of us can’t even run one?” The PT just shook her head and said that these people are lucky and their bodies are built in a way that allows them to do this. Sad. But it makes sense and I know Christopher McDougall may argue that point, but it’s not always about the feet.

Sometimes it’s about the hips…and a toe.

So yes, the evil anteversion is, in fact, the main culprit. Probably. I mean, it’s all educated guesses, isn’t it? Most women have some sort of anteversion because our hips are typically wider and so our knees point inward in order to balance us out. Mine’s not horribly bad, but it’s a little more pronounced. So, like I suspected through consultations with the podiatrist last year and some Interwebs reading, it puts a majority of the impact of running on the inside of my lower leg. Not a huge deal.

Well, not a huge deal until you start talking about marathons. Sixteen miles, 17, 18, 20, 26.2. As my PT put it, it’s the sheer number of reps the leg is doing. This would definitely explain why it’s been all good until I started to ramp up the mileage in the past couple of months. Same goes for last year.

But like anything, it’s not as simple as a hip anteversion. There are other factors in my shin soreness on the left side. One I hadn’t noticed before, but I noticed it immediately once the PT had me do some barefoot heel-raises with my left foot. “Whoa!” My heel-raises on that side are shaky and rolling. Right side? Nice, smooth, up and down. Left side? My foot starts coming up nicely and then rolls out toward the pinky toe. This would explain some random soreness I was feeling on the outer side of my shin.

Why am I doing this with my foot? Well, my freakish big toe on my left foot is not very flexible. The joint is stiff. The PT explained I may have some arthritis in that toe.

“So you’re saying barefoot running is out?” I half-joked. I also speculated the rolling might be from me babying that side when I started running in 2009. I was battling a painful bulging disc (sciatica) so I sort of limped-ran for a long time. He agreed. So, basically, my left foot is weaker.

I also have flat arches. That doesn’t help me, and because of the orthotics I wear, my feet muscles are weak. But that’s all part of the ball game…er, run game. So. Just because I/you wear orthotics doesn’t mean you don’t need strength in your feet. Do your feet exercises!

The prescription? Muscle memory and strength exercises (coming in a separate post). I was instructed to do these every day (except long-run day) and I intend to do them. However, if I get lazy, Mr. T informed me that he’ll be making sure I get them done.

The most important thing is I can run! But I have to ice afterward. After every run. Thankfully, I have an ActiveWrap. I’ll be asking for another one for my birthday.

There definitely is no fracture, which I was 95 percent sure of. I’m trying to be preventive instead of reactive.

My PT called me today. Surprise! He wanted to check in and he gave me a soleus stretch to do. I had a couple other questions I’d thought of. So nice to be checked up on.

Next week, I go back to the clinic. I may have my running evaluated by their expert — the one that helped Suzanne go from walking with a cane to running Boston. If the expert’s not available, however, I will still see my PT again for an update/progress report. And, if I get clearance, I may even be able to run a 20-miler around Memorial Day. Maybe.

I’m wondering, though, if it is decided that the super-long run isn’t a good idea, maybe I can run 10 and then bike the rest of the way equal in the amount of time I would be running 20 so I can get the aerobic benefits. Make sense? I think so. As T Junior would say, “You’re making sense, Mommy.” (He always forgets the “not” part.)