Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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I thought new shoes were supposed to be fun??

Remember in middle school when buying gym shoes was so easy?

Step 1) Walk in to the sporting goods store
Step 2) Find the coolest/best looking/whatever floats-your-13-year-old-boat shoes
Step 3) Whine until your parents break down and buy them in your size

Easy, right?

Yeah, I wish it was still that easy.

There is so much conflicting information out there about what kind of shoe you should be in or avoid. Some people swear that all pronation should be controlled, while other say only extreme pronation should be controlled. There are lots of well-meaning articles out there touting the dogma of pronation control, and this has been the accepted practice for a long time now. New(er) research says that you should just buy the shoe that’s the most comfortable to you, regardless of what it’s specs are. Then there’s the minimalism vs. maximalism debate (not to mention the myriad options on the spectrum in between). Then there’s the colors. I know “they” say color shouldn’t matter, but I’m sorry, it does. Clashing is lame, no matter how fast your mile. #sorrynotsorry

And that’s not even taking into consideration the people who argue that people shouldn’t even run in shoes!

Geeze, that’s exhausting…

Admittedly, I have long been of the mindset that even though your feet may over-/under-pronate, most people don’t “fix” that in their daily lives. Your body adapts to whatever your quirky gait may be by adjusting accordingly throughout your life. If I don’t “fix” it in my daily shoes, what impact will “fixing” it have on my natural mechanics and what might the unintended consequences be? Basically – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, as soon as persistent injury – or even a single injury that can’t be assigned to a particular, acute event – enters the picture, it’s time to re-evaluate.

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For the last three years, I’ve been running in the Brooks PureCadence line – a 4mm drop shoe with moderate cushioning and a smidge of stability. I ran in the 1st gen and 3rd gen. I have loved these shoes since day one. Truly. They served me well through so many races and were wonderful through the half marathon distance.

I don't have a problem.

I don’t have a problem.

However, when I decided to take on the marathon, I considered switching it up for two reasons: a) more cushioning for the greater distances, and b) a higher drop to help my persistently achey achilles.

Given my past experience with finding new shoes, I was pretty nervous to go through the ordeal process again.

Several weeks ago I met with a physical therapist (who is now my new PT), who recommended trying out an 8mm or 12mm drop to help my achilles, when I came hobbling in to her eval clinic. I first tried the Saucony Guide. They didn’t feel awful, but they didn’t feel great. And they irritated old shin splints which had been behaving for the last year.

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So I took them back and exchanged them for the Mizuno Wave Inspires. (They clearly didn’t leave much of an impression on me – I had to go look back at my receipts to remember which pair came second!) They were nice shoes, but the rise on the shoe was really high and irritated my ankle bone.

Sooooo I exchanged them for the Asics Gel Kayano. This is a well-known powerhouse shoe that tons of people have had success with. It must be good – it’s in its 21st iteration. Third time’s the charm, right?? It’s a 13mm drop and super, super cushy. Honestly, they felt like slippers when I tried them on. I took them out for a hilly long run, but had to switch out of them halfway through – although they made my achilles feel amazing, they were causing some serious pain in my left forefoot on the uphills and flats. The pain got so bad that I switched back into my PureCadences halfway through the run, willingly sacrificing my achilles’ comfort for my forefoot’s comfort.

After this experience, I think I figured out what the problem was – too high of a heel-to-toe drop, along with too-cushy of a shoe, seems to cause the excruciating forefoot pain. So back to the (oh-so-amazing and accommodating) running store I went, for option #4. Brooks Ravenna. Cushioned but not squishy. Slightly lower 10mm drop. Supportive with a noticeable arch. I took them out for a spin on the track and they felt okay, so I decided to run my 18 miler in them. The arch support was higher than I’m used to, though, and that caused foot and leg discomfort for the first several miles, and then around mile 7 the forefoot pain came back and didn’t go away for the remainder of the 18 miles. Hoping that that was just because we were running on such a hard surface, I ran one more track workout in them, but no dice. Plus, they absolutely destroyed my feet! The 4th time was not the charm, either… *sad face*

I swear I'm not diseased...

I swear I’m not diseased…

I spoke to one of my coaches, who is also the manager of our running store, about all of the issues I’ve been experiencing and all of the shoes I have been through and she recommended the Saucony Zealot. It’s a lot like the PureCadence – lightweight with a minimal drop – but it has a cushier (but more adaptable) ride. It’s technically a neutral shoe, but has a flat, solid sole that doesn’t allow for a whole lot of motion. I took them out tonight and so far they feel good (*fingers crossed, knocking on wood*), but I’m not getting my hopes up just yet. Having been in the higher drop shoes for the last several weeks, my achilles is feeling better than it’s felt in a year (yay!!) and I’m nervous about returning to a lower-drop shoe. Plus, they are kind of squishy, which makes me nervous.

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So next time you’re due for new shoes and plan to go in to your LRS for a proper fitting (something which, despite all of my opinions, I still totally support), be an educated consumer. The fitter may be an expert on shoes, but you’re an expert on you. Only you know what works and what doesn’t work for you. Only you know what feels comfortable and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to question them or speak up if something just doesn’t feel right. And don’t be afraid to take full advantage of their return/exchange policy. Trying out shoes is part of the game – don’t feel guilty about putting mileage on shoes and then returning them. Running shoes are no small investment and can totally make or break the running experience. It’s so important to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth – and getting the best experience for your feet. You can’t #findyourstrong or #runhappy if your feet hurt. 🙂

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Running in the Rain

It’s funny how something so simple can completely change your day.

Yesterday was a shitty day, for a whole host of reasons. I’ll spare the details (they’re really not all that interesting), but it ended wonderfully.

To try and console myself midday, I turned to a shit ton of sugar. Hey, sugar = carbs, right? Just go with it. At least it was fuel for my track session.

judgmental bitch.

judgmental bitch.

I got to the track extra early – the traffic gods were on my side – said hello to everyone (it’s one of the few times the HM and FM groups have been at the same place at the same time this summer), but mostly kept to myself and waited for our session to get underway. It was sunny and hot, but not humid, when I got there. Not too shabby for the first week of August.

Our workout was simple: 2 miles at HM pace, 5 min of recovery, and 2 miles at 10k pace. I ran the first two or so laps with a guy who has been battling injury, which worked out surprisingly well because it kept me from going out too quick. He fell off after the second or third lap, and I ran the rest of the workout by myself. Usually I prefer to run track workouts with someone, but this was the perfect workout and the perfect night to just run by myself and get lost in the zone.

My target for the HM segment was 10:15 pace, and a 9:45 pace for the 10k segment. And dammit if I wasn’t on target! With negative splits, to boot! *happy dance*

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I was feeling damn good at the end of the session, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Throughout the workout, the clouds moved in, providing us a rare bit of shade on an otherwise scorching track. Just as I was finishing up my cool down, I felt a few little drops of rain. Not surprising – they were calling for scattered showers. I walked out from the track to start my easy jog back, and a few more drops came down; then a few giant, cold drops plunked down on my head. Another 20 seconds – the deluge. It was like being at Brooklyn all over again.

For about 7 minutes it poured so hard I had a hard time keeping my eyes open, but I couldn’t help but smile the entire jog back to the car 🙂 The rain came down so hard that the road began flooding – a perfect excuse to aim my brand new shoes for each and every puddle 🙂

It’s amazing how something as simple as an awesome workout, running in the rain, and splashing in puddles can completely turn around an otherwise craptacular day 🙂

Mother Nature was quite accommodating, though – the rain stopped just as I got back to my car.

running in the rain


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The last weekend in July…

I swear the summer just started… how is the end of July already?? ☀️ I’m not ready for this.

Thursday night I took a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires out for a test run around the track. Despite not being sure about them while standing (they hit my ankle bone), they felt surprisingly good. I did 3×1600 in them, one at a warm up pace, one at a speedy pace, and one at an easy pace and they felt good in all three conditions. Seeing as they passed the first test, I decided to hold on to them for Saturday’s long run.

Yesterday we set out for 14 miles – my third time at this distance. I loaded up my hydration vest with 3 16.9 oz bottles of water and three Gus (I always like to have at least one extra on hand) and off we went. The run felt pretty good through the first couple of miles. The hill work is clearly paying off because the hills on the course weren’t so bad. We stopped at mile 5 to Gu and watch a few rabbits chase each other through a yard, and then crossed the main road that divides our zip code. We weaved our way through some neighborhoods, and then decided to wing it a bit – the route sheet had us going back up the road we take out from the store, something none of us wanted to do. As we came upon an elementary school, I noticed that my vest was getting light (and the group water tanks were getting low) so we ran around the school looking for a water fountain; we found two, but both were turned off. Luckily my running partners are more well prepared than I – we stopped at a convenience store for water. Lesson learned – always carry cash or a credit card.

Just before we stopped, around mile 9, I had commented on how great the run felt. Apparently the universe wanted nothing to do with that. As the clock approached 10:00am, the sun was getting noticeably hotter and shade was becoming more and more scarce. Almost the entire last 4 miles were in the direct sun; we hopped between shady spots as often as possible, but that only helped so much. I didn’t fall apart, but I didn’t feel good. I had a hard time finishing, but we all cheered each other on and did our best.

I followed my usual fueling plan before and during the run, but I just felt so drained – and unusually hungry after the run. I’m sure the sun had something to do with it, but it wasn’t all that hot or humid out. I’m going to try a few fueling strategy this upcoming week (16 miles!) – I picked up some Honey Stingers and I’m also going to pack some stroopwafles (which I hear the guys on the Tour de France love for fuel on the go) and see if they help out any. Carbs the day before also need to be upped. Either way, after I cleaned up and chatted with some group members, I made a beeline for Dunkin Donuts and did some damage to a turkey cheddar bacon flatbread. Healthy? Not so much. But it’s got carbs and protein and is super yum.

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Unfortunately I also found out that my Garmin had broken 😦 The band half popped off.

IMG_1290I’ve been told that Garmin’s customer support is pretty good, so I’m going to call them first thing tomorrow morning.

I had planned on going to a picnic yesterday afternoon, but I got home so late and was just so zonked that I fell asleep and didn’t even make it into the shower until after 2:00pm…

This morning I woke up earlyish (okay not really but I sleep like a log after these long runs) and took my mom out to my favorite hill! She’s running a race in mid-September that ends on a pretty sizable uphill. I had her run .75 mi on flat trail, then 3 repeats up the hill. She did a whole lot better than I expected! That’s a tough hill! And it was her first time on a real hill.

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I should’ve been meaner, though – she made fun of my compression socks 😦

IMG_1294I think she’s just jealous.

How was your weekend? 
Has this summer absolutely flown by for you, too?? 


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PT, Vol. 3

This morning I had my first meeting with my new physical therapist. I so love that they’re so much closer to home.

Today was primarily about them evaluating me and figuring out a house of action. My right hip is (yet again) being a lazy freeloader – and the crux of all of my problems. Even though I’ve been doing all of my old PT exercises continually, it’s just not stabilizing or strengthening up substantially. We’re going to work with a running specialist to see if we can’t figure out why.

She did another poke-and-prod exam and thinks what’s causing my tibia pain is actually the soft tissue that connects to – and pulls on – the tibia; majorly good news, but if left untreated, that kind of tension can cause a stress fracture.

We went over a few exercises that we’re going to work on and that I can incorporate into my workouts at home, and then I got to play on the Alter G! It was only for 15 minutes though, so boo 😦 Unlike the other location, they don’t have a tv in front of the Alter G, so if I’m ever allowed to do a long mid-week run on it, I may need to bring along a fully-loaded iPad… haha.

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After a little time with some ice, I headed on over to Charm City Run to get a new pair of shoes! Hey, if a trained medical expert tells me I need a new pair of shoes, who am I to argue? 😉

Based on the advice of one of the guys there last weekend, I’m giving the Saucony Guide 8s a try – they’re a bit more supportive than my current shoes (which today’s PT said might be worthwhile) and have a higher heel drop (which Saturday’s PT said might be worthwhile). I’ve had mixed luck with Saucony’s in the past (Omni’s were good but too supportive, Triumphs were super comfy, until I ran), but I’m holding out hope for these guys. I was cleared for running tomorrow, assuming I promise to a) not be stupid and b) listen to my body if it sends out any warning signals. Hopefully tomorrow’s 8-10 will both go well in general and with respect to the new shoes (it’s an out and back, so I can’t just switch shoes if things don’t workout).

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My afternoon was capped off with a car ride with my super sweet pups and a nice nap.

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What’s your weekend running looking like?
When was the last time you changed shoes? How did that transition go? 


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A long, hot three miles

Holy moley it’s hot! Last night I met up for a fun run at my local running store. It was my first run post-DDH so I knew it was going to be a bit rusty (I’m not sore per se, but my legs are still tight in a few places).

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The run was sponsored by Brooks which meant we got to try out some new shoes! I’ve been intrigued by the Transcend since it was announced – it’s touted as being a supportive shoe with lots of cushion, so I was considering adding it to my rotation to stave off repeated injury.

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Well, sad to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed with them. For all the cushioning they supposedly have, they were a rather hard ride. They also felt a bit firm and heavy. Now granted I was running in men’s shoes because they don’t usually bring women’s size 11 shoes to events like this, but I’m not sure that made that much of a difference.

The run itself wasn’t half bad – the only down side was the heat and humidity. We were running along some main roads, which while the asphalt made it a even hotter, the constant breeze from passing cars felt pretty good. Our route took us right past the house that my other grandmother used to live in (what a trip down memory lane this week has been). It’s amazing how much the neighborhood has changed over the years.

I’m not sure if it was because of the shoes or the race, but my legs got heavy during the second mile and I ended up walking most of the last half mile. I ran 11:03 and 11:04 in the first two miles, but closer to 13:40 in the last mile.

After the run they had beer waiting for us. As I don’t drink beer, I’m thinking of stocking my running bag with small bottles or juice boxes of wine for the post-run celebrations 😉 Just because I don’t like beer doesn’t mean I don’t want to enjoy myself…

How have your runs been this summer? Has the heat and humidity been an issue for you? Or have you been able to acclimate yourself?


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Weekly Wrapup

This week was another light week. Our Tuesday track session was cancelled due to thunderstorms. I feel kinda bad – earlier that day, because it was so ungodly hot and humid, I joked that it would be perfect if we got a cloudburst while we were in the middle of the workout to help cool us down. Well, we did. It came in just as we were gathering for our pre-workout powwow. It was cloudy, and then all of a sudden our coach was like “it’s down pouring right over there” – and then not ten seconds later it was down pouring right over us. Like a biblical-style downpour. So we all huddled under the bleachers until we heard thunder, and then ran back to our cars as quickly as possible (although a nice woman from our group gave my mom and I a ride back to our car so we didn’t have to sprint 3/4 of a mile huddled under our teeny, broken umbrella).

I woke up was startled awake Saturday morning by my mom, after getting maybe 4 hours of sleep (I’m looking at you, insomnia). We had agreed to walk the dogs early so she could get in her workout, which would double as my extended warm-up, and then I’d head out for my run. I eventually dragged my exhausted self out the door and we got in a nice 2.53 mile walk , which pretty well exhausted the westies but just energized the Beast, who spent the rest of the day zooming around the house. After the horribly humid and rainy week we had, a storm rolled in Friday night and cleared the air – we really couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for a walk/run. I seriously hope the next two weekends are this nice for my upcoming races.

Once my mom headed back home with all of the doggies, I went off for my run – in my new shoes (and new KT Tape)!! Woohooo! They’re just as marshmallowy as I remember my first pair of PureCadences feeling.

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Because of the new shoes, the addition of the KT tape, and the extended time off, I decided to keep my run shorter than I had planned, but to also try out something new-ish. When I was in PT, my therapist had me run on the Alter G with a metronome to keep my cadence quick and steady throughout the run – so I whipped out the metronome app on my phone, dialed it up to 170, and set off on my way. I tried to focus only on my pace, breathing, and mechanics, avoiding my Garmin whenever possible; however, I couldn’t help but notice that my pace was a fair bit quicker than normal. I was astonished when I hit the end of my 3.1 mile run – 31:51! I have NEVER run that fast!!

I am definitely going to be using this method again next week in my 5k race. I’m a bit concerned about the nuisance the metronome might be for other runners, but the way I figure, it just might help them reach a new PR too 😉 (“ahh! run away from that annoying woman!”) Eh, whatev. Plenty of people do far more irritating things during races. And it’s only a 5k – it’s not like someone else will have to listen to that for hours on end.

Later Saturday evening I went out to visit an old friend of mine who was in town for the weekend. Lauren and I have known each other since we were in 2nd grade and it was great to catch up. She lives in NYC, which while it’s close, is just far enough away that we really don’t see much of each other. It was a nice chill evening – she popped a bottle of wine, I brought over cannolis to celebrate my awesome run and her kicking ass in the Baltimore 10 Miler that morning – and we just drank and chatted all night. It’s funny how much things change over the years, but how much they really do stay the same.

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And of course, lest I forget – Happy Father’s Day to my daddy!! He detests cards, so this counts as the official non-card acknowledgement of fathers day 😉

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