I’d Rather Run with Scissors…Or, Running with ‘dese D’s

It always feels awkward returning to the blog after an extended (in this case, EXTREMELY EXTENDED) hiatus. Launching into a post without acknowledging the gap seems odd, but explanations sound more like excuses and, in the end, who really cares?

I don’t know. Hello? Hello!  I’m back. I have 2 kids now and I haven’t run for over a year. Oops. The “oops” pertains to the fact that I haven’t run for a year. I intended to have two kiddos, so……well done, me. Procreation goal complete!

I would love to feel like a runner again. I would love to be in decent shape and be able to go out for a 6 or a 7 miler without breaking a (figurative) sweat. “Oh, I ran an easy 7 today,” I’d like to be able to say.

There’s one thing standing in my way right now…well…erm…make that TWO.

I’m not talking about the kids, although scheduling a workout around the demands of mommyhood and miscellaneous adulting is not easy. The problem, you see, is that I’ve opted to breastfeed our second born, and I’ve gone from size 34A (pre-baby) to 36D.

At age 33, I’ve got boobs.

I have little to no idea how to cope with that.

The obvious first step was to BUY A SPORT BRA THAT FITS, so at about 3 months postpartum I did just that. I went to Target and bought the typical stretchy (and cheap) sports bra that I’ve worn before…just in a size LARGE rather than SMALL. Done and done, I think to myself.

Then I went on my first run after having a baby and learned a very valuable lesson: sports bras for the curvy need to actually DO something. As a flat-chested runner, the sports bra is mostly about covering what should be covered. If it looked cute, that was an added bonus. As a nursing mama runner, I learned that the added weight and bounce must be compensated for…or I will pay the price with every step.

So, I texted a friend who’s always been naturally gifted in the chestral department. “Tried to run…OW! What kind of sport bra do I need?” She texted back some recommended brands and I learned another lesson: pretty much every bra manufacturer makes a variety of “support” options. Huh. Seems like I should’ve noticed that before, but I’d always just bought the cheapest option, which of course is the one with “light support.”

Armed with this newfound knowledge, I bought a far sturdier sports bra and tried again. This time, everything stayed in place but the entire contraption felt so confining. It was hard to breathe. Dang boobs! Why is this so difficult?

After that experience, I let myself push running to the side. Maybe I’ll pick it back up in another 6-8 months, when the baby is (possibly) weaning. It just seemed like it wasn’t worth the effort. I’d as soon run with scissors as run with boobs.

The desire to “be a runner again” isn’t easy to squash, however. And because I’d rather not be attempting to get in shape in the middle of a Kansas summer (adding another degree of difficulty and discomfort to the already less-than-ideal equation of 1 year without running + 2 boobs), I tried again.

The third time may really BE the charm.

Or I’m just getting used to these things.

Or I’m a little farther out from giving birth and I’ve recovered even more.

Or…who cares? I went for a 2-mile run, and it felt surprisingly decent. That’s good enough for me!

Now, flush with a runner’s high (or delirious from prolonged sleep deprivation), I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some tips with any other nursing mama runners out there:

Tip #1: Get the Ugly One
I’m used to buying sports bras based on pretty color or cool pattern. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Seek out the ugly duckling of the sports bra world. You want something with thick shoulder straps and without too much elastic. If you can slingshot it across the store, it’s not for you. (Also, maybe don’t slingshot bras across a store. I think they frown on that.) It should feel sturdy and a little rigid. You need it to be strong enough to be up to the considerable task.

Tip #2: Try that puppy on.
It’s surprisingly tricky to get the right fit. Less elastic means more trouble finding just the right thing. You need something tight enough to provide that all-too-important support, but not so tight that it inhibits breathing.

Tip #3: Don’t forget the pads.
One of the only annoying things about breastfeeding is that you can’t turn the system off. It’s always there, ready to go. The bouncing, the movement, the warmth, or some combination thereof can unexpectedly activate letdown. I slip in some nursing pads as insurance against the wet t-shirt.

Tip #4: Pump (or Nurse) Before You Go
Make it easier on yourself by lightening your load before you go. It will make things more comfortable all the way around, decrease the risk of unexpected letdown, and if you’re like me and your baby refuses to take a bottle (augh!!!) it increases the chance that you can get a run in before a full on “I WANT MAMA/A SNACK” meltdown ensues. A win for everyone.

Tip #5: Splurge on a few workout tops.
I’ve been fighting this one because I hate to spend money on a temporary situation, but I’d recommend buying at least two comfy workout tops that accommodate your new bust size. If I had things that actually fit, I’d probably have a little more motivation to get out there and run. Since I’m being stubbornly cheap, every attempt to run involves fishing through a pile of shirts that just don’t fit and squeezing into a too-small something and then frowning at myself in the mirror at all the extra bulges. It’s an unnecessary blow to my self-confidence.

Those are my tips! What haven’t I thought of?

 

 

 

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There’s No Need to Panic…Alternate Title, THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO PANIC!

On Sunday, I ran 10 miles. The Mill Creek Streamway Trail and I are getting to be good friends. Unlike our first meeting, however, yesterday the trail and I had some company. You see, after I tried and failed to join an “established” track club, I’m back to using Facebook to coax any of the dozen or so former teammates/rivals in the immediate area out for a run.

I have attempted this before. As mentioned previously, past attempts at social exercise have ended with me running solo through Corporate Woods…or, somewhat creepily, crashing the more successful group runs of random strangers.

Maybe I just don’t learn from past mistakes. Whatever the case, I’m giving the group run idea another try, and this weekend I actually pulled it off. For the first 5 miles of my 10-mile run, I had some pals to run and chat with. Glorious!

That’s not really part of the story, but it WAS fun. The second half of the run was fun, too. I almost stopped at 9.4 miles, which happened to be when I ended up at the car, but in a moment of Running Happiness and Dedication, opted to go past the car in order to make it 10 miles exactly. Ten miles! Yup, I think I can handle the race. I was feeling pretty good about myself.

This good feeling lasted approximately 10 minutes post-run…….which is exactly how long it took me to drive home, tell Scott and Drake that it was a COLD but fun run, and head to the bathroom.

Ok, guys. In order to continue with this story, I’m going to have to enter TMI Land. I apologize in advance, and consider yourself warned. I’ve debated over whether I should even blog this saga, but it might be helpful to someone else so I’m going for it.

TMI ALERT…

I started peeing blood, y’all. It was a frightening moment…scared the freakishly colored pee right out of me. I’m not talking, tinged pink to indicate the onset of an (ugh) UTI. I’m not talking, sort of orangeish, because that’s the color that yellow and red make when they’re combined together. The toilet bowl looked like a disaster…a red hot mess.

This has never happened to me before, and two things kept me from completely freaking out. (1) There was no pain associated with this anomaly, and (2) I seemed to remember reading something somewhere at some point that this could happen to runners.

I checked the Internet, and the Internet was all, “it’s OK, Megan. This  does happen to distance runners quite a bit, and it will probably be gone in a day. There’s no need to panic.

Ok, cool. If the Internet tells you not to panic, you shouldn’t panic. Normally, the Internet tells you all the scary things first and  I’ve been pretty much banned from Web MD…ok, still reading…

“Of course, if it’s not just the random running occurrence and there are no other symptoms, it’s probable that your kidneys are spontaneously failing and it’s really too late to do anything for you. Sorry, Megan.”

THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO PANIC! This isn’t good, this isn’t good. This could be really, really, really bad. Or nothing at all…or really, really, really bad.

It’s nothing. I was feeling slightly wonky through yesterday, so I succumbed to the panic and went to the doctor. The pee test revealed perfectly functioning kidneys and no other indicators of VERY BAD THINGS. The doctor described my pee as “perfect” (yikes) and wanted to know if I had been eating a lot of beets. LOL.

So, the moral of the story is this: even if you’ve been running for 20 years, completed 1 marathon and several rounds of marathon training…a batch of red pee can still crop up unexpectedly to scare the living daylights out of you. It’s not necessarily a reason to panic. Especially if you run. Or eat beets.

Stinkfest…or, A Good Rant

Typically, when I run with RB after work I bring my running clothes into the office. They sit tight in the bottom of my filing cabinet, waiting to be called into action. It’s a nice routine. Today, I’ve had to alter the routine for the sake of the rest of the office.

There’s no nice way to say this…my shoes REEK. Just a natural consequence of rain and mud and muck, I know, and although I tried to alleviate the effects by drying them as quickly as possible with newspaper, this smell is one for the record books. I could not in good conscience submit my co-workers to that odor for an entire work day, so a pair of flip flops will transport me from the office to the parking lot and my waiting, banished shoes. I shudder to think of what that smell is capable of in the confines of my locked car. (I’m thinking the Seinfeld episode where the BO from the valet transfers from him to the car to Elaine and Jerry and can’t be stopped…yikes!)

There’s an article in the April edition of Runner’s World with a similarly foul odor. I hope you’ll forgive the corny metaphor. One of the great things about a blog is that it gives me the forum to voice my opinion, so I’m going to take advantage of this privilege now. The article has really upset me…it ranks right up there with my smelly shoes.

I’m speaking of “Forgive & Forget,” an article featuring Coach Bob Timmons that claims to tell “his story.” You can read this article on the RW website here. I cannot recall ever reading an article so negative and mean-spirited in RW before, and if this is the way the magazine is going it is certainly not a direction I will be following.

This article was first brought to my attention by a close family friend of the Timmons’. She had only read an exerpt of the article and was shocked by its contents. She requested that I read the entire article from a runner’s/writer’s perspective, and I was happy to do so.

I should probably mention for those who don’t know the history—Bob Timmons is an honored track & field coach from Kansas. He’s most well-known for coaching Jim Ryun to become the first high schooler to break 4:00 in the mile. He went on to coach at the University of Kansas for many, many years and built a cross country course (Rim Rock) on his own land.  He later donated the course to KU, and Rim Rock hosts a number of invitationals as well as the 5A & 6A state championships each year. In 1998, it was also home to the NCAA I & II national meets. As a high schooler, getting to run at Rim Rock was a dream come true. Can you imagine—a place built for running? Here, I saw a cross country meet taking place in Cleveland Park. The athletes were running on sidewalks. Sidewalks! That’s not cross country! (Trophy Wife, I know, will agree with me.) In his retirement, he also volunteered to coach the junior high girls’ track team at a small town. That small town happened to be my hometown, and Coach Timmons coached my 7th and 8th grade track seasons. I have an enormous amount of respect for him, which partly explains my outrage concerning “Forgive & Forget.”

 I say partly, because I believe that any reasonable reader and runner would have a hard time stomaching it. I wrote a summary of my objections to it, but it is extraordinarily long. Then, I felt like I was contributing to the problem by rehashing all the bad things that were said. If you’re interested in reading a detailed account of my objections, you can find it here.

Here’s a summary of the summary of things that I find objectionable in the article:

  • The language choices are extremely disrespectful. Everyone deserves respect, and a great man and hero of the sport like Coach Timmons deserves more than most.
  • The article is written by someone who apparently has no knowledge of running and is more interested in fabricating drama than telling the truth.
  • The article has no discernible purpose, except to disrespect and debase a good man.
  • The author abuses the trust of his interviewees and misuses their quotes. Most thought the article was going to be a tribute to Timmons and are upset with the direction the author took. Read the comments on the RW website for more detail on this.

And as much as I’d really like to truly rant and rave and throw things until I get all of this indignation out, I think the best way to conclude this post is with some stories about the Coach Timmons I know.

  • He played a big role in showing me the importance of pace. He did his best to teach 12, 13, and 14-year-old girls that an evenly paced, smart race would make running faster, easier. He made charts for each girl showing their split for each 200m of a race. I can’t imagine the patience or the time commitment involved for this…others would have declared it wasted effort, but nothing is a wasted effort to him if it will help someone else.
  • Each season, he had tryouts for every single event. What I mean is…everyone tried out for every single event. His rationale was that at we were too young to be pigeonholed in an event, and by giving us a chance at everything we (and he) could make informed decisions about what our best events were. As an obvious distance runner (no speed, jumping ability, or throwing prowess here!) I dreaded these first few weeks, but it’s an incredible philosophy that speaks volumes of his character. He’s here to help athletes discover their potential.
  • The only part of the “tryouts” I enjoyed was when the whole team ran a mile. Granted…98% of the team hated this trial with a passion. My 8th grade year, some oh-so-smarties decided to pull one over on Coach Timmons. To a person, they would jog the mile together. How would he possibly know that they weren’t trying? Oh, the ignorance of youth. The man had how many years of coaching behind him? He saw that one coming a mile away.
  • Surrounded by junior high girls, you can imagine that he heard a lot of complaining. High on the list was choruses of “Coach, do we HAVE to?” after nearly every description of the workout. He would always say, “You don’t have to, you get to.” This statement has stuck with me, and it never fails to generate a positive attitude where there was none before.
  • My senior year, he and his wife were in the cart that led the field. The grin on his face as he watched me win league was priceless. But then, he was just as happy when I was 11th at the invitational as a freshman, or when I told him about how much simply running at Rim Rock meant to all of us. Truly, it’s not the winning that’s important to him, it’s the victories of the spirit.
  • When I signed my letter of intent to run in college, I got a letter from him saying how happy he was that I was going to continue running.

The Refueling Conundrum

I had a delightful long run this weekend. The most delightful part was that last week was a “down” week, so I only had to run 11 miles. Only! That’s hilarious. We can all remember a very few months ago, when running 20 miles for a week was a serious accomplishment, right? My, what a difference a training plan and the persistence of tiny squares makes. These days, I can scoff at an 11-miler: “You call yourself a LONG run? Please. I could eat you up for breakfast and ask for seconds.”

This week marks the midpoint of marathon training. Week 9 of a 17-week plan. It also marks the point where I’m going to need to show the long runs a bit more respect…or suffer the consequences. I’m talking, of course, about refueling. I struggled with this concept during my last foray into marathon training. Eating/drinking on the run is just a completely foreign concept to me. I’ve strategically placed water bottles or strategically routed runs to pass water fountains in order to grab a quick drink every now and then, but that’s about it.

I also have a bit of a sensitive stomach, which is definitely a problem. I forced down gels of various brands and flavors last year, but it was always a battle with the gag reflex that I occasionally lost. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Husband likes the Jelly Belly Sport Beans, but I didn’t really care for those., either. Now I have a taste that I don’t like that requires chewing. Excellent. A friend shared that she eats real food on her long runs—graham crackers, bananas, etc.—which sounds more appealing to me but doesn’t do much to help with the actual race if I get accustomed to eating something that would be hard to carry and unlikely to be offered at aid stations.

There’s also the problem of transportation. How to carry the necessary supplies? I have a feeling that a fuel belt (or fanny pack, as RB calls them) and I would be uncompatible. Not that there’s anything wrong with a fuel belt! This is just another weird, illogical Megan thing. The longer I run, the less I want to have to lug around. One time during a cross country race I became convinced that my watch was slowing me down. (Yes, it’s crazy. I already said this fell into the “illogical Megan” category.) I don’t even know why I was wearing my watch at all. I probably thought getting a mile split was dreadfully important until the race started and I remembered that there’s always someone reading mile times. Anyway. After trying unsuccessfully to quell the irrational idea, I spotted my family cheering in the crowd up ahead. I peeled off the watch in one quick motion and tossed it in their general direction. Grandma snagged the watch and I won the race even if everyone thought I was crazy. Problem solved! This solution doesn’t work so well when there’s no one to intrust the offending item with, and I’d hate to lose a $40+ fuel belt due to long run induced insanity.

Last year, I pretty much ignored the refueling need, which led to some pretty uncomfortable long runs and fairly miserable recoveries. This year, I’ve resolved to be better. And thanks to my own personal Marathon Expert, I think I may have found a solution to the refueling conundrum.

ME’s solution is simple. As I was agonizing over the “fuel belt or no fuel belt” quandry, she recommended carrying a small, recycable water bottle during long runs. It’s easily accessible and can be disposed of. Although hauling around a water bottle sounds inconvenient, it can’t be any heavier than several smaller containers of water strapped to my waist. Right? I tried it out a couple of weeks ago during a 15-miler, and I was pleasantly surprised. Genius! A solution that appeals to cheapskate Megan and illogical Megan. About the time it started to drive me crazy, we passed a conveniently placed trash can.

ME also suggested “shot bloks” for the other component of refueling. I haven’t tried any of these on the run yet, but I’ve eaten a couple beforehand and I’m seeing some potential. They pretty much taste like fruit roll-ups, which I have no problem with, and there’s no real mediciny (no way that’s a word) aftertaste. They’re a little harder to carry than, say, a gel packet, but I’ll manage.

I’ll get to test my solution out this weekend during our 17-miler…and then during the 18 and 20-milers to follow. Hip-hip-hooray…I guess. 🙂

New Trail, 14 Miles, & a Biker Bar…All In a Day’s Work, Folks!

Road trip! RB, ME, Husband, and I headed to Charlotte yesterday. We had two objectives: run 14 miles and find some new shoes. The new shoes thing was just to add legitimacy to the outing—most people will think we’re crazy for DRIVING to find someplace to run, so we added “and to buy running shoes” in an attempt to turn our crazy trip into a plausible errand. It wasn’t a totally plausible errand of course…as we do have two perfectly good running stores here in Greenville.

Plausible or no, we failed miserably at the errand of finding shoes. Store 1 had a very small selection, and most of the shoes on the shelf were size 8 or higher. I instantly noticed this because I’ve found that the policy in most stores is to put the smallest size on display. My size 5.5-6 feet were preparing  themselves for disappointment. RB and ME noticed that there were no price tags on the shoes. RB asked the salesman for the price on her shoe (she’s worn the same brand/type several times in a row) and he told her—grudgingly—and then explained that their policy is to fit someone to their “perfect” shoe, not have them come in and pick one out based on price. It’s a nice pitch, but it doesn’t account for those people who are convinced they have to have a specific shoe based on color. Or brand. Or style of shoelace. You should probably hide all the shoes, just to be sure. But then, of course, you go to all the trouble of finding them the perfect shoe, and what will be their first question? “How much is it?” Drat those customers! Price matters, fella.

The cool thing I learned in that store, however, is that there’s a potential for a size 5.5 Adidas Supernovas in stock. I used to wear Novas (back when there was only one type—pre-Nova Control, Classic, Glide, etc.) but there was a redesign several years back, after which a size 6 was too big. I was intrigued by the prospect of getting back to Adidas…the shoe in question, however, was pink. Enough said. Moving on.

We had only planned on hitting one store before hitting the trail, but since we were in and out of Store 1 so fast we had the ever-helpful GPS direct us to Store 2. Store 2 also had no prices (so weird) and my inner running snob took issue with the salesperson. I should have been more assertive to keep her from going into full-on sales mode, but I’m just not so I settled for being passively rude as she tried to find my “perfect shoe” instead of bringing out the Supernovas (blue this time) that I wished to try on. I feel a little bad about that (the passively rude part), because she was just doing her job, but the inner running snob wishes her radar to differentiate between “experienced runner, knows what she wants” and “novice runner,  needs lots of help” was a bit stronger. As it was, I’m pretty sure we were mutually annoying each other. She kept trying to get me in support/control shoes, and I kept trying to convince her that the shoes she was bringing out were too big. The inner running snob almost escaped when she looked at my Vomeros and said in disbelief, “oh, you’re not wearing those to run, are you?” Why, yes. Yes I am. In fact, those shoes have 500 miles on them and the only grief they’ve ever caused me was some heel blisters when I first broke them in. But thanks for asking.

Back in your cage, inner running snob. Oh, well.  Better to support the local businesses who support the races I run anyway. I believe a trip to Augusta Rd is in order.

Hey…was that a rant? I do believe that was a rant. I haven’t had one of those in awhile. How refreshing! Anyway, we learned our lesson after Store 2 and hit the trail. This week, it was the Campbell Creek and McAlpine Park Greenways. We parked in approximately the middle of the trail. Two miles up, two miles back, a loop around the 5k cross country course, two miles down, two miles back, another loop around the 5k course, and…a mere two hours and six minutes later…done! It’s starting to get long, and it’s nearing the point where long run “fuel” begins to be an issue. The next couple of weeks will be tough on me—my stomach particularly—as I struggle to find the balance between “not enough” and “too much” and hope to learn what precisely I can keep down while on the run.

The trail itself is great. It’s well-marked and popular enough not to feel isolated. Parking in the middle was a great idea, too, because it provided the opportunity to swing back by the car for a quick drink.

After the run, we high-tailed it to RB’s favorite biker bar. (It, um, may be RB’s only biker bar…I don’t believe she’s in the habit of frequenting them. 🙂 ) According to her, the food is amazing and it’s somewhere that four sweaty runners can go without causing a scene or disrupting anyone else’s meal. Sounds decent, right? When we found the place, it looked like it was going to ruin RB’s day. Saturday was probably the nicest day we’ve had for a long while, and the biker’s were out in full force. The entire parking lot was crowded with motorcycles and the outdoor seating area was covered with their riders. Uh-0h. It’s after 2:00 in the afternoon and we’ve all run 14 milesstarving is hardly an exaggeration. RB,  how disappointed would you be if we didn’t eat here?” “Extremely. Let’s at least see how long the wait is.” So she calls, and tells us 15 minutes. At that moment, as if by magic, a parking space opens up. In we go, where we’re immediately seated. RB is a happy camper, and we learn that her devotion to the place is well-deserved. Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte, if anyone’s interested. We can vouch for their pulled pork sandwiches and veggie burgers. 🙂

Eh

I think I just heard the Greenville running community collectively groan. The meterologists have been talking about an “arctic front” heading our way, and the overnight lows for the next several days will be in the teens. Now, I’m not saying this isn’t cold. In fact, the predicted 12* low on Friday night could very well be the coldest the temperature South Carolina has ever shown me. Brr.

It could, however, be worse. The predicted high in my hometown tomorrow is 16*. The overnight low will be “2* and blustery” …which, roughly translated, means “you don’t even want to know the windchill, people.” I’m sure it’s much, much colder than that right now in Alaska…or Russia…or Antarctica…or on the moon. Cold is mostly about what you’re used to.

So that’s why, when there’s talk of “artic fronts” and “cover your delicate plants” and whatnot, my response is “eh, whatever.” Because even though I’ve lived in South Carolina for three and a half years, and if I was magically transported back to the midwest for a run tomorrow I’d have a hard time accomplishing it, the experience of running in a midwest winter is etched into my memory. Recalling the ice, the snow, the frozen hair, the white fingers, the wicked windchill…those things make me feel grateful. Or if not grateful, accepting. Or, if not grateful, resigned.  And sympathetic for our Kansas friend who’s training for the marathon with us. Hang in there, T!

And hang in there, Greenville! Here are a few tips that have helped me in winters past:

  •  It’s all about layers. I find that dryfit is the best “first” layer, because a sweaty cotton shirt next to your skin will only make you colder. If it’s windy, you’ll want a windbreaker on top to keep the wind from cutting right through you. And if it’s wet, less is sometimes better than more. For example, don’t wear a hooded sweatshirt out to run in the rain. It’ll weigh you down while making you colder, which is a pretty bad combo.
  • Be conscious of the wind. If it’s breezy, try to tailor your course accordingly. Say you’re running an “out and back” course. It’s better to have the “out” into the wind and the “back” with the wind. You don’t want to get all warm and cozy (and sweaty) on the first half of the route and turn around to realize that you have a 20mph headwind the whole way home. Now you’re wet and tired, and fighting the wind the whole way back will be unpleasant.
  • Put something on your head. Everybody knows you lose a lot of heat out of the top of your head. Find what’s comfortable for you. I like fleece headbands. (Fleece because it’s not scratchy like wool, headbands because they work better with pony tails and caps make me too warm.)
  • If in doubt, treadmill it out. If the cold really makes you cringe, the machine runners love to hate may be for you.
  • Everyone’s individual.  RB and ME will probably show up to today’s run wearing tights or sweatpants, two to three layers of shirts, gloves, and headbands. I’m planning on wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. And maybe a headband. Who’s right? Everybody. You have to figure out what works best for you.

Running…I mean READING RAMPAGE!

Note to readers: I (Running Buddy) am still here. Obviously, my summer slump is still in full force. I hope it will pass in the next month though…I’m looking forward to fall training (not! but I’m trying to stay positive and hope that it will get better once the weather cools down). So, what have I been up to lately??! Well since I’ve been having a lack of training I have been on a serious, full-fledged rampage. A READING RAMPAGE!!! It took me by surprise last week and has not loosened it’s grasp.

Explanation: Megan brought a book to work and was sneaking in chapters between writing/reading/other important work-related stuff. I was intrigued…what book could possibly draw her attention away from writing/editing training materials? That book, well, that series of books has changed my life. Now I know she doesn’t want to reveal this, but she is just as addicted as me, and she is the reason for my recent foray into the vampire romance novel. Yes, I’m talking about the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. And no, I never thought I would read this type of book, let alone like it. No, like is too weak of a word. I am completely obsessed! I LOVE them! I stayed up three nights straight and read over 1500 pages of the first three books just because I could not put them down. Who needs sleep when you have the most gorgeous vampire in the entire world falling in love with a regular girl just like me? Hey, it could happen!

Details:Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

  • Book One: Twilight (similar plot to Pride and Prejudice)
  • Book Two: New Moon (similar plot to Romeo and Juliet)
  • Book Three: Eclipse (similar plot to Wuthering Heights)
  • Book Four: Breaking Dawn (similar plot to A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, or so I’ve heard..Book comes out at midnight August 2nd!!!!)

The fourth and final installment of the Twilight Saga comes out this weekend…so that is what I’m looking forward to and focusing on. My running/training will just have to wait for me to find out if Edward and Bella ever get married and if Bella gives up her humanity to be with him for all eternity. Who could concentrate on training with questions like that to answer?!

Oh, and to relate this to running…since this is a running blog —-> vampires are impossibly fast and would win world records in any event!

~Running Buddy

Old shoes? Donate! Really old shoes? Recycle!

It’s pretty fashionable to be “green” right now. I can’t claim to be truly hip to this latest fad, but I have some “waste not want not” tendencies that occasionally coincide with “going green.” Such as…re-using ziplock bags. Turning off lights when I leave a room (thanks, Mom!). Hanging my running shorts and sport bras to dry and wearing them again so I don’t have to do laundry so much. You know…I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that last one. My husband thinks it’s pretty gross. Oh, well.

There’s one thing that’s always bothered me. One question I ask myself, and something I feel guilty about…what do I do with my old running shoes? “They” say to change your shoes every 500 miles, and while I don’t usually listen to what “they” tell me…an eventual change of shoes is inevitable. Between two runners, the used kicks have a way of piling up alarmingly. We both have a hard time throwing them away…but after you clean up a pair to wear around and dirty up a pair as the official “yardwork” shoes, what’s a person to do?

Recycle them. Yes!!! A little quick research gave me a long list of possible donation/recycling outlets. Some places have local drop-off points, but I’m not sure if there are any local to Greenville. For me, boxing up and shipping shoes to somewhere that they can be used is far better than letting them languish in my garage…or rot needlessly in a landfill somewhere.

Nike has a shoe recycling program that turns old “athletics” shoes (of any brand, as they make a point of saying) into playground surface. The program is called “Let Me Play,” and you can learn more about it here.

There are also a multitude of organizations that take used and “gently used” shoes and donate them to less fortunate runners in the U.S. and around the world. A couple of quick lists can be found in this article at Runner’s World and at Run the Planet’s website.

Between Scott, Running Buddy and I, eight pairs of running shoes have been saved from the dumpster. It’s a small thing, but it’s better than the alternative.

Nike+ News: See Your Run, Hear Your Run

I was posting my workouts to the Nike+ website yesterday and I noticed a new toy that’s coming out soon. On April 18, Nike is releasing the Sportband, a device that can be used instead of the Ipod Nano to receive workout data from the sensor.

From what I can tell, the Sportband is sort of like a watch but not a watch. It’s a rubber wrist strap with a (very small?) display built in that will read pace, distance, calories burned…all the data sent from the sensor. When you’re finished with your run, the display (they call it the Link) can be removed from the wrist strap and plugged into a computer with a built-in USB connector. All the run data gets uploaded to the Nike+ website, just like it does through iTunes for the Nano. The Sportband is selling for $60, which includes the Sportband and Link, as well as the sensor that goes in (or on) your shoe.

Nike is marketing this as a new Nike+ option…you can “hear your run” or “see your run.” Typical of Nike, that’s pretty clever. At first, I couldn’t quite grasp a possible use for this. If I want to see my pace or overall time, I’ll wear a watch with the Nano. The other data can wait until I get home. I’ve never had a mid-run desire to know how many calories I’ve burned. For me, the neat thing about Nike+ is that it combines music with workout data. Then I realized…this is Nike’s attempt to exapand their market. The sportband is targeting folks who don’t care about getting music while they’re running, who don’t want to spend $200 on a Nano, but they would like to be able to track their workouts and see how far they’ve run. As such, the sportband seems like a pretty economic option.

And then I wonder:

  • How long can the built-in USB drive last? It seems like sweat plus delicate electrical connections can’t be the best of all possible connections. Perhaps?
  • How big is the display? Is the data even legible?
  • What kinds of controls are on the Sportband? Are there any?
  • If you already have the Nano but want the Sportband for, say, racing…do you have to use 2 different sensors or is there a way to order a Sportband WITHOUT a sensor?
  • Can you use the Nano and the Sportband at the same time, or will that cause a rip in the space-time continuum?

I’ve already spent enough money on running accessories so I won’t get to try out a Sportband, but I’d love to hear about anyone else’s experiences who does buy one. Anybody? Sportband? See your run?

Adpinions

I’ve been noticing more running ads than normal. It could be for any number of reasons. Possibly because of running’s increasing popularity…and thus marketability and profitability. Maybe I’ve just been watching TV more than usual…and the more TV I watch, the more commercials I’ll be subjected to, and the greater the chances of occasionally seeing one directed at runners. Or it could be related to the fact that most of the “more TV” I’ve been watching has been March Madness related (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!) and thus on a “sports” channel. That’s a happy thought, because it means that someone out there in TV land considers running a sport! Yes!

There’s the Nike Sparq Training commercial. Granted, this is more about training for “sports with accessories” (soccer, baseball, football, basketball…jumping frog?) than about actual running, but it SHOWS people running so it counts. Right? It wins the “hip and cool” award of all the most recent ads, which is typical Nike. I feel cooler just watching it! It also wins the “crazy background noise that makes people think there might be something wrong with their TV” award. I’m not sure that’s the most coveted of these impromptu Megan’s Adpinion Awards, but there you have it. The first time I saw that commercial we happened to have the surround sound on and I thought my ears were going to explode. (Sidenote: It totally reminds me of the “most annoying sound in the world” from Dumb and Dumber.) (Other Sidenote, added May 21: I’ve been getting some search hits about the song, which is called “List of Demands” by Saul Williams. Hope that helps!) Now that I’ve become accustomed to the sound, I spend most of the commercial trying to figure out why the jumping frog is in there. Is there a deeper meaning to it, or is it just because the green and black match the Sparq colors? It just seems incongruous with the rest of the video, which includes an image of at least one human athlete in every frame. And…this is how I spend my weekends. Analyzing commercials. I just lost any “cool” points that watching the Sparq ad may have given me. Drat!

There’s the New Balance LOVE/hate commercials, which I’m sure will be critically acclaimed (if commercials actually receive critical acclaim) but I really don’t care for. They get some credit for trying, but it seems like they’re trying too hard. Everything’s just overly dramatized. I don’t like the surreal background, I don’t like the choices of red and black for the predominant colors. The voiceover seems cheesy and inauthentic (to my running experience, at least), and the entire idea seems reminiscent of the faux Nike ad from What Women Want. You know, the “no games, just sports” one. We’ve got the voiceover, the lone runner, the supposedly original dialogue about an inanimate object. In the movie, it’s the relationship between runner and road. In the New Balance commercial, it’s the relationship between runner and running. This is all totally my opinion, and I admit to being more than partially biased because my only experience with New Balance shoes led to a particularly wicked Achille’s injury. So, as far as the Megan’s Adpinion Awards go, New Balance gets the “nice try” pat on the back and “best adaptation from a movie” award.

I’ve talked about the Lance Armstrong commercials for Dick’s Sporting Goods before. Quick summary: I like ’em. They’re funny. 😀 And…it wins the “best use of the word ‘cardio’ for comedic effect” award.

There’s also the Nike Plus commercials, and anyone who’s read the I Heart Nike+ post can guess my opinion on these. They’re mostly pretty well done, and my favorite is the OK Go one because, well, I also heart OK Go. And not just the treadmill song, neither. They have some great music! Nike+ earns itself another award, this one for “best soundtrack.”

Those are my current adpinions. The all-time winner for running ads, hands down, are the Adidas print ads that ran in Runner’s World several years ago. They captured real running perfectly with their “Runners. Yeah, we’re different” series. My favorite is the one where the runner clears his sinuses without benefit of, um, a handkerchief (I was trying not to offend the sensibilities of any non-runners, but I feel like I should add that the practice is descriptively called a “snot rocket”) and the look of disgust on the face of a nearby pedestrian. Runners ARE different! Nice work, Adidas.