Thursday, February 7, 2013

Finally, shopping pays off!

I have a thing about shoe stores, specifically discount shoe stores. I compulsively check them for anything interesting and finally, it's paid off. In spades.

I've been running in Newtons but I've had some pretty severe foot pain after a few miles, so when I put my foot into a pair of the Sketchers GoRunRide shoes I felt like my feet were in heaven.

They're the only shoes I've worn where I didn't need insoles - they're super comfy and when I went for a run in them, they felt great. Just enough padding and they're lightweight.

I know I'm supposed to use the Newtons, but I think I've found a new shoe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Radio silence

About five weeks ago, I sprained my hip.

I didn't even know that was possible.

It hurt so much it kept me up at night, but worse than that was that everything - absolutely everything - irritated it. Running? Out. Biking? Out. Swimming? Oh, you better believe that was out.

Guess I'm an exercise addict because within a week I became the sourest, angriest, most horrible person you can possibly imagine. I'd try to write a post and it would turn into the rant from that angry jerk that you try to back away from and escape.

So I took a bit of a break.

As of right now, my hip is still sprained, but it's better. I can run for short distances (about 40 minutes), but I still can't bike or swim, which sucks...

Sucks, I tell you. I'm spending a fortune in gas because I can't bike everywhere and I love to swim and not being able to do it makes me super sad.

Next week, the orthopedist is going to shoot it with some sort of steroid, which should help - especially since I'm now having horrible knee pain.

Can't imagine why.

Friday, September 28, 2012

New shoes!

I've had trouble with my feet since, well, since I've had feet. I've got very narrow heels, high arches, and a wide forefoot so it's very, very rare that I get a properly fitting shoe on the first try. I normally have to take shoes back to the running store at least three times - it would be fine if the shoe companies didn't keep changing the damn things, but each time I go into the store, I have to start from scratch ("Oh, they don't make that model anymore? Well, what's similar?"), so I'm not very popular with some of the nice salespeople at the store near me. Apparently I'm high-maintenance, which I guess anyone could have guessed.

So a month or so ago, I took advantage of a combination of a Groupon and a wicked sale at a shoe store to pick up a pair of Sketchers Go Runs.

I initially grabbed them off the shelf because I really liked the deep turquoise color (which, of course, has been discontinued but they did keep that horrible lime green. WTF, Sketchers?), and when I tried them on they were very comfortable in the shoe store so I figured the worst that could happen was I wouldn't really like them and I'd be out a few bucks but could still wear them just to walk around - no returns on sale shoes at those warehouse stores.

I've gotten a few runs on them, and there are things I like about them and things I don't like about them.

I'm a mid-strike runner, so the padding on the center of the foot is perfect for me. They also don't irritate the neuroma in my right foot the way my Newtons do. They've got a slight heel drop, which is much more comfortable for my Achilles tendons (which still have a tendency to stiffen up).

But - for runs of much longer than about three miles, they just don't offer enough support. Saturday, I did my long run (about 10 miles) in them and the balls of my feet and knees hurt for about three days.

I think I'm going to stick with them for the shorter runs, and wear the Newtons for the longer runs. The Newtons have much more support, but they irritate the hell of of that neuroma, and I can't seem to resolve it with lacing. Oh, well.

This weekend is the dreaded "Carmageddon" - the 405 freeway will be closed and in a display of stunningly poor timing, the Los Angeles Triathlon is Sunday. I'm not participating, but have a friend who's doing it, so I may bike down and see them off.

But I'm not driving!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sleep is for the Weak: Nautica Malibu Classic race report

I do have to confess to having had a 'phone it in' attitude towards the Classic. I'd signed up with a bunch of good friends, and hadn't really been thinking of it as anything other than an opportunity to hang out with some folks I don't get to see very often and have some fun.

So, I hadn't really done any training for it. I've been doing some biking (mainly on the commuter), some running and some swimming (twice a week at Masters swim), but not really with any race focus.

So the night before, a very good friend of mine invited me to a fancy fundraiser dinner party at Beso in Hollywood. Free food at an amazing restaurant? A night on the town with good friends? How was I supposed to say no?

I shot up to the site Saturday to pick up my race packet and say hello to a friend who was working the Cliff Bar booth, and ended up getting a cheap haircut. The Sassoon Academy were giving $15 haircuts to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which is a wonderful charity and since I needed a haircut anyways, why not?  

I was more afraid of getting busted cheating on my regular hairdresser than I was about getting a cheap haircut. Hair grows back but angry jilted hairdresser lasts forever.

I fought the traffic back home got dressed and then off I went, $15 haircut and all, and I have to say I had a fantastic time. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful and the lack of sleep was completely and utterly worth it.  I got home around 11 pm.

He's tall! And super duper nice.

Except that I kind of overslept and showed up at Zuma beach about five minutes before they closed the transition area, so I couldn't really get set up. I just dumped my crap on a rack and figured that I'd have a slow transition, which isn't really anything new, now is it?

During the pre-race meeting, there were five foot waves coming in and since I've had some issues getting through the surf, I got really mentally rattled. I couldn't shake it and ended up not doing the swim, which is a shame since it's the leg that I'm best at, but I stand by my choice since the lifeguards were dragging people out of the water, and I wasn't the only one who opted to walk the beach instead. 

Exiting the 'swim'.

Of course, T1 was something like 12 minutes as I dug through my bag looking for the stuff I would have had laid out had I gotten up sooner, but probably not that much shorter. Also, I was still in 'don't care' mode. I was chatting with friends, taking my time walking around, etc..

The $15 haircut rears its ugly ducktail
The bike seemed.. short. Super short. Like just getting warmed up short. I guess at 18 miles, it would qualify as a warmup giving the distances I've been biking lately.

18 mile Bike: 1:02

The bike course was nice, but it's always nice, it's PCH. There were a lot of folks out there who didn't have a good idea of bike etiquette - not moving over, zig zagging without warning, stopping suddenly, etc..

I suppose I'm just glad I didn't crash and that I had fun. I saw a lot of friends, said hello, and had a good ride.

T2: 5:24

Again, no surprise there. I took a moment and stretched out my hamstrings before I started the run, and then I saw a friend and we chatted briefly as I was putting on my shoes.

4 mile run: 39:59

Note flat ocean in background, mocking me.

I think, no, I know that this is the single best run I've ever had in a race. EVER. I averaged a 9:59 mile, and according to the tracking program on my phone (which I had in my back pocket) I did mile 1 in 10:16, mile 2 in 10:08, mile 3 in 9:54 and mile 4 in 9:15.

This was the first time I've ever been able to pick a runner and pass them. I kept up a steady pace (although it felt much slower - I'd have guessed I was running a low 11) and felt really good the entire run.

I even had enough gas in the tank to pick it up just as I got to the finish line.

Total time: 2:22:34

Still in the bottom half of my age group, but I'm so pleased with that run I don't care.

After the race, I hung out for a bit, jumped in the ocean (of course, the heavy surf died down right after the swim) to cool off,  got some food from one of the trucks (fish tacos and coffee. What could possibly go wrong?), and then headed home.

After spending an hour in traffic on PCH, I stopped by the gym with the idea of just getting a kickboard and loosening up my legs a bit - lucky for me, the pool heater was malfunctioning and the pool was 95 degrees. It was like a bath. Felt gross, but good for the muscles.

Between the lack of sleep the night before, the being tired and the hot pool, I think I went to bed about 8 pm, and surprisingly, wasn't sore at all the next day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The squeezy shorts

Besides being slow, the main problem I've had with running is my hamstrings and IT bands tightening. I can foam roll all I want, stop and stretch all I want, and nothing seems to help. Hell, I've even tried that weird-looking tape stuff. No help.

So, I figured that I'd try compression shorts, which a good friend swears are the best thing she's ever worn while running.

A few clicks on the Internet and I became the proud owner of some CW-X 'conditioning shorts'.  The description stated that they were for running, but according to the manufacturer's site, they're for recovery, so I'm confused.

First thing, they're incredibly uncomfortable, which I guess isn't a surprise given that they're compression shorts. As soon as I got them on, I had to pee - but since it took a lot of hilarious gyrating to get into them, I opted to just hold it for the duration of my 40 minute run.

They also gave me horrible camel toe. No, I'm not kidding. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to run with 10 yards of Lycra up in my lady business, but the having to pee thing totally took my mind off it.

Note super sexy muffin top and pained expression

Actually, the wedgie wasn't all that bad once I started moving bu what you can't see is that the way the shorts dissipate sweat it looks like I pee'd myself. Or maybe I did - I don't know, everything was kind of jammed up down there.

Also, it was hard to breathe because of the compression over the lower abs - since I breathe out of the bottoms of my lungs, not the top it was very noticeable, especially when I was running up a slight hill and got a bit winded.

I did feel some support from the shorts, but not on the outside of the leg where I really need it. My glutes felt really good, though.

I think I'm going to stick with my lightweight shorts for now, as it's still hot and maybe give these a try again when it's cooler.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Guess that's a hint, then.

This morning, I decided to be industrious, so I hopped on Gary and headed out to do hill repeats. Four blocks from the house, my front tire went flat.

I walked back to the house, figuring I'd use the floor pump instead of a $3 Co2 cartridge.  That's when the tire itself decided to act up. It's not dry rotted, it's not split, there's nothing wrong with it other than it just will NOT come off the rim.

I'm normally really good at changing bike tires. I can whip those suckers off in record time, but this morning I couldn't get the tire over the lip of the rim no matter what I did.

After about , I just gave up and figured I'd try it another time, so instead of some leg-burning hill repeats I ran errands on the commuter instead - which is when I noticed that the commuter needs new brake pads.

It needs a tune-up too, so I guess I'm bike-store bound. Maybe I'll bring Gary's front wheel in and see if the mechanic there has better luck.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today, the sun works for me!

It's gotten hot again in Los Angeles, as I found out yesterday when I rode from my house to the garden plot in West Hollywood. Coming back around 1 pm, I really felt the heat.

Today was laundry day, so I broke out the clothesline and used the heat to my advantage. Even the jeans were dry in under four hours!

I've recently been using the recipe on this blog to make my own laundry detergent. The commercial stuff's gotten so expensive that I finally snapped and refused to buy it anymore.

The home made stuff works well, and combined with air drying makes the clothes smell really good (but not perfumey), and for some reason they're less stiff when air dried with the home-made stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Finally, I can think again.

It's been hot. Not seasonally hot for Los Angeles, but much too hot and much too humid.

One of the bad things about living near the beach is that none of the apartments have air-conditioning. The reasoning is that it never really gets hot at the beach, so you'll never need it.

Normally, this is true - even if it's hot during the day, it cools off at night, but for the past few weeks it's just been sweltering around the clock, meaning I've just not been able to gather my thoughts enough to do more than moan about the heat and take cold baths.

Thankfully, the heat's finally broken and it's once again beach weather - right now it's cloudy and overcast and I've never been happier!

I've not been doing much bike riding due to the heat (no, really, it's been too hot to ride), but I've got no excuse now!

Also, gas has shot up to over $4 per gallon, so driving doesn't look all that attractive now, even with the car's air conditioner.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I feel so left out!

We've had two smallish (4+) earthquakes here in Los Angeles in the past 24 hours, and I didn't feel either of them.

I don't mind earthquakes (although I prefer them to not destroy the city like the 1994 quake did). I guess I'm just kind of used to them, but this many so quickly makes a bit nervous that we might have a big one - there's some thought that hot weather we're currently having brings on quakes. The 'Shake and Bake' effect, if you will.

I'm going to stock up on my emergency water, just in case, and then I'm taking the bike to the beach and staying there until it cools off! Like many folks who live near the beach, I don't have air conditioning so huddling in my living room watching Netflix isn't an option.

The advantage of riding the bike to the beach, is, of course, that I don't have to pay for parking. The disadvantage is riding home all sandy because I can never really get it all off in those beach showers, but it's better than sitting at home, slowly roasting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Food, drink, and non-biking stuff

I'm now contributing at the TJays Yay or Nay blog - a place to write about everyone's favorite grocery store, Trader Joe's.

Come on over and watch me wax poetic about paprika