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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Nothing good to say

Sometimes bloggers or Facebook friends will annoy me with vague posts, ones that seem crafted to garner attention, ones that nonspecifically beg prayers or offer universal threats. I'm about to run the risk of becoming one of those people. But hopefully I can write a post that is honest, yet not exploiting others in my life.
I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had anything good to say. I've been facing a lot of challenges, and in addition to being very busy, I haven't had the heart to write anything. Some of the stressors I can tell you all about:

  • Another vice president visit to my store (Two in three years! Why?!)
  • A promotion for one of my pharmacists - that's a good thing, but she'll be leaving, and that's a lot of upheaval. Plus we'll miss her, and it will entail more and more training.
  • Firing an employee
  • Working short a technician during a very busy period
  • Attempting to replace an employee.
  • Negotiating with both my own company and my leaseholders to expand my site
  • Being denied time off: I have only had a single day off all year, and that was when we closed for Mardi Gras.
  • Leading our community group solo while David attends meetings those nights
  • Hosting a weekly Bible study at 7 am Fridays
  • Starting another MBA class and figuring all of that out
  • The misery of an all-over rash and allergy (which is still hanging around)
  • Down one car for repairs, with the other flashing a check engine light
Everyday life stressors, plus some. It happens. I can deal with it. But it's all been magnified because I am very worried about a loved one (and here is where it gets vague).  A few weeks ago, a loved one texted me some results from a routine medical visit, and it was very concerning. And while it looks very much to me like cancer, and this person had a rushed oncology appointment right away, we don't have answers yet. We're waiting for additional labs to come back, and honestly, the waiting is worse than just getting bad news. I have already resigned myself to the worst possible diagnosis, and I'm vacillating between grieving and hoping that I'm over-reacting. And I might be. There are multiple benign explanations for the questionable results, and any one of them is a very reasonable answer. 
So for now, I'm just kind of anxious and sad and concerned and hopeful, all at once. Thanks for dealing with my vague-post and my general apathy for the last few weeks!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adult onset allergy

Last week was my break between classes, so I had a small dinner party at my house, since my tight schedule had prevented me from entertaining for a while. As we were eating dinner - which included shrimp - one of my guests asked, "What's wrong with your arm?"
I looked down and my arm was bright red and swollen, and, now that I noticed it, it itched. So did the rest of my body. When I could unobtrusively slip away from the party, I ran up to the bathroom to discover a rash from my stomach down (my chest, shoulders, back, and face are clear; the worst is on my stomach and arms).

Much to my sorrow, I think I've developed an adult-onset shellfish allergy! This is terrible news, because I love shellfish!
The timing is bad, too. The company vice president of operations is visiting my pharmacy today, and I look like a lobster. Hopefully I can keep the itching under control so he doesn't think I have some kind of gross nervous tick.

This is my only food allergy (outside of a minor problem with eggplant that has improved with age). Do you have food allergies? Any adult-onset? Any success stories with overcoming them?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Weights for runners

Ever since all my injuries and surgeries, I've been putting a greater focus on strength, even though I may not always have time for extended gym workouts. One of my favorite half-hour workouts is below. It's adapted from this article, made to suit my own home gym equipment (which is just dumbbells).
The reps listed are on the lower end of an appropriate range, but that allows me to complete the whole workout in 30 minutes or less. I'm currently using my adjustable dumbbells with the 7.5-lb plates, so with the bar, probably 16 or 17 pounds each. If I want a harder workout, I add reps, or add a core workout at the end.

Posture:
  1. Push ups on dumbbells. Three sets of ten.
  2. One-legged bridges: 25 per side
  3. Russian twists with weights, 3x10, sitting on cushion to add challenge.
Stability:
  1. Clams x 50 per side
  2. Hip side plank dips, 3x10 each side
  3. Side leg lifts, 20 per side
  4. Side bridge: Put one foot up on shelf, step, or stable chair; lift other leg up until feet touch and lower back down to ground. 10 x 3 per side
Strength:
  1. Romanian deadlift, weighted, 3x8 reps per side
  2. Deadlift, weighted, 3x 8 reps
  3. Dumbbell on shoulders squats, 3x10 sets
  4. Bicep curls 3 x 8 reps
Power:

  1. Step or box jumps, 3x10
  2. Jump squats, 3x 5-10
  3. Four-square jumps. Set up imaginary square; jump from corner to corner (alternate directions; don't pause) x 10
  4. Lateral jumps 3 x 6 reps (back and forth is one rep)
  5. Kettlebell swing plus shoulder press x 10 per side

Monday, April 24, 2017

Gulf Coast Classic 10k

Slight improvement over on the 10k front this week! 41:53. I registered for the Gulf Coast Classic when I was disappointed in my time at the CCC 10k last week. But of course, I knew it wouldn't be easy. The weather was almost exactly the same as last week - start in the low 70's, close to 80 at the finish - and I'd be running with tired legs. I didn't feel sore after last week's race, but the fartlek workout on Tuesday demonstrated how little bounce was in my step! My legs actually felt a little heavier than I'd expected, but that might have been my shoe choice. I went with my brand-new Kinvara 7's, and I think they were still too soft and bulky (they are also a weird fit - I had to go up a size because my normal men's 8.5 was far too small, but the 9s are a little long). Another factor? An incredibly stressful day at work Friday. A generator test at the facility created a power surge that fried my server. We were out until almost 1 pm, and then swamped after that...until a company-wide system glitch at 4:30pm! I left work late and exhausted, and I really think that kind of overall fatigue works its way into your muscles, too.

I must admit, I woke up not at all ready to race. I wanted to enjoy a lazy morning and a few cups of coffee on the porch, but David was raring to go. He just missed 50 minutes at the CCC 10k, and he was ready for a rematch! So we headed out the door at 7 am for an 8 am start. We arrived at the park where the race was held, and got our bibs in about 2 minutes. That left lots of time to kill. I did some hip exercises and a 2 mile warm up (no strides again, I don't know why).


The course is an out-and-back that's in an upside down "U" shape - so you do that U out and back, for maximum wind exposure...seriously, though, a race on the beach is just always windy. I have yet to discover how to not over-exert in the headwind, so I can make use of the tailwind! When we started, I was running near another woman for about the first mile and a half. I didn't know who else was in front of me because they were too fast, but this girl was sticking with me for sure. I eventually lost her right at the 5k turnaround, and then I was quickly on the beach in a ferocious wind. Alone. Very alone. I could see a lady WITH A STROLLER far ahead, but she was out of range, and I was just fighting the wind by myself. I was trying to keep my pace at 6:45, to get under 42 minutes, a revised goal: as soon as I started my warmup, I knew my legs were not fresh. Initially I'd wanted to run closer to 6:40 pace. Mile one was 6:42 (tailwind), mile two 6:36 (mixed), mile three 6:50 (straight headwind).

As we approached the 10k turnaround, I saw the first woman sailing along, and then the second woman, pushing a baby and looking very fresh. I made the turn myself but couldn't push, even in the tailwind, to catch stroller lady. I couldn't really enjoy the pretty views, either, because the sun was blinding! And it was, indeed, quite hot: 70's at the start, but 80 at the finish. Nonetheless, I had my eye on average pace, and even though my Garmin was continuing to cheerfully chirp WAY before the mile markers, I thought I was pretty close. Mile four was 6:38 with a tailwind; mile five 6:46. I hit the home stretch - and another headwind - very exhausted, and ran my second slowest mile, 6:49, for mile 6. Definitely not my plan. I was nowhere close to ever catching stroller woman, and a full minute and a half behind first place woman, so I think I just got lazy (oh, and as I made the turn, I had determined that fourth place had dropped so far back as to make her catching me basically impossible). I think I need to learn to push myself more for the sake of racing!
Pizza for breakfast, waiting for awards.
Awards took awhile...(there's a mile, 5k, 10k, and racewalking division, plus every age group imaginable!)




David was mocking the huge trophies. And then they gave me one.

I jogged in as third woman, and the finish line volunteers handed me a tag and told me...the wrong time. She said, "41:33", but I knew it was 41:53. I told the race officials, and they said that there was a clock problem, and subtract twenty seconds. Er. "I think it should be added..." I murmured. So some people were adding time; some were subtracting from already shortened time. Luckily the finishing tags are in order, so the time confusion didn't mess up the overall placing. The cool thing about this race was that the top three got gift cards and I took home $75 at Academy! That never happens to me, so I am super thrilled!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Race review: Bursting with Speed 5k

Maybe you want to win $1000 in a race. Maybe you want to run the Bursting with Speed 5k!
Yep, this is a race with serious prize money: $1000, $500, and $250 for the top three men and women. So it gets a deep field. I don't normally review 5ks, but since this one not only has prize money, but is conveniently timed a week before the Crescent City Classic (meaning you could do a week's vacation in New Orleans and hit TWO goal races!), I thought I'd do a review.

Get race info or register here.

Pre-race information, logistics, organization
You can get all the information needed on the New Orleans Track Club's website, plus follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Packet pickup can be morning of or the Thursday before the race. There is plenty of parking on the Lakefront, although I was a tad late and was about half a mile from the start. There is a half-mile for kids before the 5k; both races started on time. 
Cost:
This race benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and on race day it's $35. But early registration for NOTC members is just $15. 
Swag and prizes: 
Oh, so much! Besides cash to top 3 finishers, top 2 AG and overall kids/grandmasters/masters get awards (which I think were donated items this year). But there are also drawings throughout the afterparty for tons of door prizes, including ten drawings for $300!
Runners get a gender-specific, soft T-shirt and a medal...that's interesting for a 5k, but it looks like a Cowboy boot, so it's going on my Christmas tree at some point (oh, WHEN will I ever do a medal tree?).

Course:
It's on the Lakefront, so two things are guaranteed: full sun, and wind. It's also the "hilliest" 5k in New Orleans, with a couple of bridges. If you have real hills where you are, please ignore this comment. You will laugh. Rumor is that the course was short this year, but I have my doubts about that; NOTC has been doing this for a while and I've never run one of there races with a short course. 

Coming through the finish on a beautiful day

After-party:
Live music, lots of food (barbecue beef or pork sandwiches and red beans, plus the usual fruit, cookies, and Chee Wees), beer (with Abita bock or sweet orange this year, fancy!), and plenty of vendors with give-aways...including Walgreens, so I popped in and volunteered for a bit! 

Overall, I had a nice morning at this race, loved the after-party, and enjoyed the novelty of a race on the lakefront. I recommend!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Never mind, still slow! CCC 10k

Eh, ignore everything I just said...I'm still slow. A crazy 42:15 at the CCC 10k. You know, 45 seconds slower than my last 10k! All I can do is blame the weather - and it wasn't great. High 70's, humidity in the 90% range, windy. But other than that, it was a good day to run and my muscles felt ready. I just had zero speed.
We parked at my work the morning of the race and jogged to the start. With 20,000+ runners, the start is always a madhouse, and like every single year, I could not find the entrance to the seeded corrals! I ended up walking all the way from the back. Due to the crowds and the heat, I kept my warm up to 2 miles, and couldn't fit in any strides. We were packed in with about ten minutes to go. Finally, we started, and I was boxed in at once. Now, I wanted to go out slow, so a tight first mile isn't so bad, but coupled with the 25mph headwind, I hit mile one in 6:57. Luckily, I'd get some tailwind for the next two miles, before alternating headwinds and side gusts; anyway, it didn't register that I'd run a 6:57, because my Garmin was NUTS again. It read mile one in 6:49! By mile two, I was a full 18 seconds off the clock, and I hit lap to get back on track. Stupid. I struggle with pacing a 10k, as it's not a pace I run often, and I rely (perhaps too much) on my Garmin - this inaccuracy is a huge problem!
A friend sent us highlighted results from
our group. 
Once I realized how off my Garmin was, I settled into a race by feel, and honestly, that gave me pretty good results. Not fast, but consistent: I ran the first half in 21:02 and the second in 21:13, and that's with the benefit of a tailwind for miles 2 and 3. So I was actually remarkably consistent, and my first mile was my slowest. Who knew? I actually CAN pace by feel!

After I hit the 5k point, I passed a local runner who runs a similar pace to me, and when she didn't respond, I realized that everyone was suffering in the humidity. I just had to hang on. A few minutes later, my fast friend Jared surged up to me to offer some encouragement. "Keep going girl," he said. "You're slowing down. Stop that." He was pacing another friend, so dropped back again, but it gave me a good boost and I picked my feet up again. By the time we got around City Park, my head was cooking in the sun, and the wind was a factor again. But I was passing people, so I kept plugging away. I caught up to our running group coach (who is running slow coming back from injury), and committed what is an apparent egregious error. We exchanged greetings and I indicated I was having a poor race with a thumbs-down. And I never heard the end of it. I guess this group of runners wants total positivity...I got yelled at. Lesson learned! No thumbs down from now on! The rest of the race was just me pushing forward and fighting a cramp. Not at all fun.

I was super annoyed not to have a good sprint finish, but I just didn't. I ran 42:15 and was honestly surprised to see that. I thought I'd worked harder than that! But it was 80F at the end, and I was hot and miserable, so I guess it makes sense. I'm still disappointed. I finished 35th female, 5th in my age group - so really, it seems everyone struggled. This is a big, fast race, so those stats point to how much the field slowed.

After getting thoroughly sunburned at the after party (did my sunscreen evaporate?!), I did what any disappointed runner does: I immediately registered for another race. Gulf Coast Classic next week, here I come! Even though it's projected to be even HOTTER next week!

Friday, April 14, 2017