My Running Ingredients

Sarah & Dimity over at Another Mother Runner asked a great question this week.  What are the five key ingredients of your running? The elements that “define your running journey.” I responded on their site but I wanted to share my ingredients with you here as well.

1. The Fab 4 ~ Dawn, Khusana & Joy with me. They make long runs go fast!

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2. Saucony running shoes – I’m on my 3rd pair for the year. I keep testing other brands but always come back to my Sauconys.
3. Cool running socks – Toe socks, socks with cool sayings, wool winter running socks, compression socks for long runs. You name a type of sock, I probably have them!

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4. Compression tights or a girdle under regular tights and shorts – I’ve been rebuilding my core strength since my hysterectomy. But on long runs, I still need the added support.
5. My family – without them to encourage me, there are times when I might have given up on my aim to hit 13 in 2013 this year.

What are your 5 ingredients for running? Tell me below in the comments. Or better yet, enter the drawing on Another Mother Runner and place a link for your entry here with your list!

A Hysterrunner in San Francisco

The week after Memorial Day, I travelled to San Francisco for the Society for Prevention Research conference.  For those of you who may be new to my blog, in my non-running life I am a prevention scientist.  This is my fourth time attending this particular conference.  There is always a group fun run/walk on the Thursday hosted by the organizers which I’ve participated in each year.  But this year was different.  Last year, the conference was in Washington, DC.  I mostly walked the 3 mile loop from the hotel to the Mall and back.  This year, I am in much better shape as a hysterrunner.  So I did so much more than participate in the run/walk.

I arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon.  I checked in to the hotel and grabbed my yoga gear.  I had arranged to take a Muscle and Flow yoga class with my friend and Under Armour Women sponsored trainer Dr Shauna Harrison.

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The view from my hotel room!

I had been wanting to take this class with Shauna for a while.  When I realized that I would be in the Bay Area, I knew this would be my chance.  The train ride to get to Redwood City was uneventful.  The class was AWESOME!!!  It is not your average yoga class.  It is a fusion of different styles of yoga coupled with hip hop and R & B music.  If you are ever in the Bay Area, make it a point to get to this class. My only complaint was that about halfway through the class, jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks.  It got really hard to focus as my body started to shut down.  I had to spend a little time in half lotus pose resting to catch myself.  Other than that, I loved this class.  Shauna is going to be in the Baltimore area again at the end of this month.  I am going to try to get to the Hip Hop Cycle class that she’s teaching while she is here.  I was so tired when we left that I forgot to take a picture of us together.

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Above is the view from the train & a pic that Shauna tweeted about the #sweatpink laces I brought her.

Wednesday was spent completely involved in the conference.  I presented that day so there were no additional exercise breaks.  Thursday, however, more than made up for it.  I was able to get in TWO RUNS for the first time ever.  The first run was 3.39 miles from the hotel to Fisherman’s Wharf and back as a part of the fun run/walk.  I was able to explore the Embarcadero and even saw sea lions.

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The second run was possible thanks to a twitter connection.  Mizuno was hosting a Sunset Run in conjunction with Fleet Feet San Francisco.  There was a tweet about the Sunset Run which led to a series of tweets and DMs between me, Fleet Feet, and Seth and Jeff of Mizuno Running.  The Sunset Run was at Chrissy Field along the Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.  The weather was perfect.  Every one there remarked that it is usually chilly and foggy when they host them.  I was glad that the weather held up.  The run was from 3-5 miles to the base of the bridge and back.  I was able to get 4.5 miles in total.  But, the best part about it is that I was able to try some cool new Mizuno Wave Inspire running shoes.  They felt great to run in.  They gave me the support that I need as a moderate pronator but they were so much lighter than my Sauconys.  I felt like  I was cheating on Team Saucony but that Mezamashii feeling was great.

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I wish I didn’t have to give back the shoes.  I really want to know how they would feel on a long run.  I did get a really cool glass and washcloth to bring back East with me.

If anyone had told me last year that I would not only be completing the fun run while away at a conference but also that I’d be fitting in time to do yoga and running twice in one day, I would have said they were crazy.  Now look at me!

How do you fit in exercise when you travel?  What is your favorite way to sightsee?  Tell me about it in the comments.

2013 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Recap

This week has been very interesting for me – personally and professionally.  I am quite happy that it is the weekend!  I can catch up on lots of stuff and get this post done.

Race weekend started with a special BGR Event at Port Discovery Museum in Baltimore.  BGR has partnered with United Healthcare and REI to do a series of clinics across the country.  I was glad to be able to participate. Besides getting great information on running hydration and nutrition, the event culminated with Bellydancing for Runners! This was an awesome event! I even got to meet one of the founders of BGR – Toni Carey.

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Following the running clinic, my BRF Rhandi and I headed to the Metro to DC for the Cherry Blossom Race Expo.  We were supposed to be helping each other to not spend too much money.  But somehow, we managed to register for the Baltimore Ten Miler in June and buy matching skirts to wear in addition to a ton more running gear! LOL!  The only downfall of the Expo was that I didn’t get a chance to meet up with my virtual running buddy Amanda. Amanda was one of the social runners for the Cherry Blossom.  Read her race recap here.   Somehow with all of the excitement about the running clinic and the Expo, Rhandi and I managed to go the whole day with nothing since breakfast.  I think we were on a shopper’s high.  At least, we had water most of the day.  When we finally got back to Baltimore, I made a beeline for french fries – something that I had been denying myself for months.  I figured they were carbs so for once I was ok.  Although, I know they would have been better if I had made them in the oven instead of bought them from the local sub shop.

The next morning I was up at 4:00am.  Rhandi came by to pick me up at 5:00am to carpool to the Metro back to DC.  We got on the Metro and was surrounded by a sea of runners.  It was AWESOME!  Here is the view as we emerged from the Metro at the Mall to start the race.

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We made it to the bag drop to leave our warm sweats right before the first wave was scheduled to begin.  I had never been in a race this large before.  There were so many runners everywhere.  We were in the Purple Wave – last but not least.  It’s in this wave where the magic happens! Literally, there were jugglers and a dude jumping rope the whole way! Amazing! 

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I can’t wait until my prints from MarathonPhoto come in the mail.  They turned out great.

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We had so much fun running this race.  At the beginning, we were way ahead of our goal pace.  We used a 1:1 run/walk ratio and maintained about a 13:00 mile which was good for us.  We got to the 5K mark in a little over 30 minutes – fastest ever! About mile 4.5, we took in our nutrition – Gu for me – so that it would kick in by mile 5.  At about mile 6, I worked out a stitch in my side on one of our walk breaks.  Throughout the race, we got tons of encouragement from our BGR Sole Sistas – not only those who were there with signs to cheer but also those who volunteered as race guides and at water stops.  They were really supportive especially when we thought our energy was waning.  At mile 7, we gained a new pace partner, Amanda.  We ran with her until she caught up with her cheer section after mile 9.  I’m glad we were able to help her push through the rough patch she was having.  That loop around Hains Point gets lonely and is always better with running buddies.  We still had enough energy left to sprint the last 1/2 mile and I shaved more than 5 minutes off my last 10 mile race time.

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I am glad that I was able to run the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Race this year.  This marks my fourth race for 2013 – on track for 13 in 2013.  I definitely feel ready to run my first and second half marathons on April 28th and May 5th.  Titanium Girl, here I come!

How about you?  Have you ever run a really large race before?  Did you run the Cherry Blossom?

February Race Recap

Thanks to all of you for my birthday wishes! I ended my birthday celebrations on a high note.  So much was going on in the month that I haven’t posted since my birthday on February 20th – not even a Faith and Fitness Friday!  I intend to make up for that today.  I will be giving you a recap of my first 10-mile race.

To celebrate life, I have been working towards running 13 races in 2013.  For February, that race was the Maryland Road Runners Club of America Club Challenge.  A 10-mile race in Columbia, MD with runners from RRCA groups from all over Maryland.  I was very excited for this race because it was my first chance to run 10-miles ever.  I’m running the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in April so this was my chance to get used to the distance.  I was quite excited that this race was 4 days after my birthday and continued my birthday week celebrations!

Two weeks before I had run my furthest difference in preparation for the race – 9 miles.  I kept up with my tempo and speed work in the week following.  Then, in the week leading up to the race – my birthday week – I was overcome by shin splints during my tempo run and had to finish by walking.  (Shout out to Candace @cherishedflight for walking with me!)  My running shoes were overdue for replacement and I had been holding out until after the race.  For my birthday, I bought myself a new pair of Sauconys – same style & size but different color.  I spoke with the awesome folks at Charm City Run about whether or not I should run in the new ones.  We decided that risking friction and chafing was better than shin splints, especially since my feet were used to that style.

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20130306192811Old in pink on the left followed by new in blue on the right!

The Good – I finished in 2:30!  I wasn’t last!  This was a decent time being that it was my first time at this distance.  It is a 15 minutes shorter than the pace that the sweeper truck at the Cherry Blossom picks people up at.  Focusing on speed the next few weeks to insure that I meet my 2:20 goal for 10 miles.

The Bad – I started to feel the friction in my new shoes at about mile 4.  I didn’t have any moleskin or bandaids on me. Lesson learned.  At the mile 5 water stop, someone had 2 tiny bandaids which I placed on the area to try to reduce the friction.  I stayed focused on finishing.  I kept reminding myself of how far I had come.  Instead of a 2.30/1 run walk ratio though, I began walking more as the pain increased.  Even still, I managed to get to mile 7 without even noticing when I passed 6!  Then, right at mile 8, one of my BRRC running buddies started calling my name from the sidelines.  She was a sight for sore eyes.  She didn’t run the race because she is dealing with some injuries.  But, she walked and ran me in the rest of the way! Dechen was extremely encouraging.  She made sure to tell everyone we saw on the last 2 miles that this was the furthest I had ever run.  She definitely made the end of the race worthwhile.  The next best moment was right before mile 10 when I saw my coach Jen. Jen is who took the picture of us below.  I hid Dechen’s face because I forgot to get her permission to plaster her face across my blog.  I guess Dechen and Jen made it not too bad!

 

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The Ugly – An angry red blister on my left foot.  Really never want to get one of those again.  Moleskin is now added to my kit of things to carry during a race.

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So that’s it – the good, the bad, and the ugly of my first Ten Mile Race experience.

Tell me, how far have you run? Raced?  Have you ever had a blister?  How did you treat it?

Three things I LOVE!

Of course, I love myself first. If I didn’t, then nothing else would matter. It is because I love myself that I am aware of the three things I love the most.

Family– My husband and my son truly are my heart.  I focus on getting better every day so that I can be the best I can be for them.

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I come from a decent sized family.  Talking to any of them – my parents, sisters, brother, cousins, etc – is usually a joy and a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

Faith – I can do everything through my God who strengthens me.  Battling back from my hysterectomy has taken a lot of faith that I would heal.  Daily prayer and going to Mass regularly helps me to remain connected to God.  I hope that sharing “Faith & Fitness Fridays” with you helps you to connect as well.

Fitness – I may not be an elite athlete.  But, I truly love becoming that FIT CHICK.  Whether I am running, doing Water Aerobics, or shaking it in a Zumba class, I love pushing my limits and getting physically back to the way I used to be.  I have been enjoying this journey back to fitness and look forward to the next stage.  Speaking about running…

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The guys over at the runchat have asked this week for us to post things you love about running.  So to elaborate on one of my 3 things I love, here are the things I love about being a HYSTERRUNNER!

  • I can run! It doesn’t have to be fast or far.  But, I can do it.  I have come back from 0 miles/week to just under 20!
  • It has helped me recover.  Being in decent shape because of running helped me to manage pain better immediately after my surgery.  Getting back to running post-surgery has helped me get my body back.  Slowly but surely!
  • I don’t need much equipment to do it.  A good sportsbra & my Sauconys are all I need.  Of course, being that I run mostly outdoors, I have invested in some tech gear/cold gear/etc.  But I can just get out there and run – anywhere, anytime, anyhow!
  • It’s the one thing I have TOTAL CONTROL OVER!!!  My body still has its issues.  I don’t always know when I wake up if my incisions will twitch or if I will have swelly belly and not be able to fit in what I thought I could wear to work that day.  But I do know that if I get out and run even a little bit, I feel better mentally and spiritually which is better for both my FAMILY and my FAITH.
  • I love the running community.  The online community helped me to focus when I was lying in bed recovering and could barely walk much less run.  My Black Girls Run group encourages me and pushes me to run even when I am not sure what my capabilities are.  My Road Runners Crew is always there with tips, tricks, etc.  My offline running friends are always there with personal support.

So there you have it – the Three Things I love combined with what I love about running! How’s that for a Valentine’s Day!

runners_valentine_card_i_heart_love_running-p137917693705586184bfmxk_400http://www.zazzle.com

A Quest for Tights

It’s Fall which is perfect running weather.  As the weather grows colder, it is time to figure out what to wear to run.  There are many blog posts and articles out there which can help you.  Cold Weather Tips for Beginners on active.com is one.  The Never Say Never November 2012 issue of Runner’s World has a great article titled “Bottoms Up” which is a great gear review for cold weather bottoms.  So this post isn’t about to recreate the wheel.  What I am going to do is share with you my quest for the perfect tights for my fellow hysterrunners. (WARNING – This post is longer than normal for me.)

Women who have had a hysterectomy know of the dreaded swelly belly.  What is swelly belly you may ask?  Well, according to the HysterSisters website, swelly belly “refers to post-op swelling of the abdomen. It can occur in any type of hysterectomy procedure, but seems to be more prevalent in abdominal surgeries.
The current views are that swelly belly is caused by trauma to the abdominal tissues, gasses used during surgery, and/or fluids collecting in the tissues due to trauma during surgery.”  Trust me when I tell you that it is UNCOMFORTABLE, especially at the end of the day.  From what I have seen and read, it can last for up to 16 months post-surgery!!! YUCK!!!

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Because I don’t intend to let swelly belly stop me from being a hysterrunner, I need to find running tights which support it.  During the day, I have been wearing a girdle under my clothes to support my injured stomach muscles in much the same way as someone would ear an Ace bandage to support an injured ankle.  However, girdles don’t cut it for running.  Hence, the quest.

On the HysterSisters site, a fellow hysterrunner had mentioned that compression tights were best.  I agree with that.  Now which ones should I choose became the question.  So during this month, I have tried 4 different types of compression tights – Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Compression, Nike Element Thermal, Saucony AmpPro2 Training Tight, and the CW-X PerformX.  You can check out the individual websites for their official features and compression fit for muscle stability, etc.  What I am going to share with you is how they worked for me and my swelly belly.

Saucony AmpPro2 – I had high hopes for these tights.  They came in a cute tube which I have had displayed on my television console during my entire recovery period.  They were what I dreamed of wearing when I ran my first post-op run.  For compression, my legs felt wonderful! For swelly belly, these were a no-go!  They were subject to slippage.  In fact, 1/4 mile into my first run, I felt a cool breeze as I discovered that they had slipped below my butt.  It was a good thing my shirt was long in the back!  They also didn’t really sit right over the belly and provide any support above the legs.  I will save these for next Fall/Winter when I can wear them with a pair of shorts over them because of the leg compression.

Nike Element Thermal – When I put these on, I liked the fact that there was a drawstring so I could pull them tighter around my waist and belly.  They also have a brushed fleecy feel on the inside which makes them warm and cozy just where it is needed.  Like the Saucony tights, these also were great for my legs.  They were ok to run in; but, I still had a bit of a belly jiggle going on.

CW-X PerformX – These were the third pair I tried.  I was planning to save them for a long run because of their reputation for supporting muscles that have gone the distance.  But when I realized that my first two choices weren’t as supportive as I would have liked, I decided to try them out on a 2-mile run.  As soon as I put them on, I was in heaven.  My muscles and joints truly felt like they were in alignment.  They provided perfect pressure and support to my swelly belly as well.  When I ran in them, I didn’t hear LL Cool J rapping – you’re jiggling baby! I had hit the motherlode.  These tights are the go-to in compression for most runners and they are definitely the go-to for me as a hysterrunner.  However, the price is somewhat cost prohibitive.  I want to be able to run 3-4 times a week and only one pair isn’t going to be enough.  So I continued my quest.

Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Compression – Last but not least, I tried these.  They look like plain black tights; no fancy stitching or reflective stripes.  They don’t even have a drawstring waist. But…wait for it…they have an awesome fit for my swelly belly!  They come up above my waist with just enough support and pressure.  I wore them around the house for about an hour before I headed out for my run and didn’t feel uncomfortable.  They kept supporting me while I ran and I only heard LL when my MP3 shuffled to him!  These are definitely a keeper.

So, basically I have come up with 2 pairs of running tights which are about to be in heavy rotation this cold weather running season that work with the swelly belly of this hysterrunner.  CW-X and Under Armour will be my new best friends.  I will probably invest in at least one more pair, which one will depend on if I can get a sale or not. (I’m a frugal Franny!)

I should probably tell you that I was not provided with any of these tights for free.  I bought most of them on clearance during the summer when everyone else was focused on shorts. (Frugal Fanny again!)

Talk to you all soon! Continue to Never Say Never this November!

Hysterrunning–Finally there

Never say Never November is here and so far it is definitely so good.  I have been chosen to be a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador.  I look forward to working with GGS to promote fitness and share my experiences as a hysterrunner.

I kicked off the month RUNNING!  On November 1st, exactly 6 weeks post-surgery, I had my first run!  I got 1.4 miles in around the Lake.  I promised my doctor that I wouldn’t do more than 1 mile my first time out to test how my body was healing.  But, the Lake is a little over a mile and I completed the loop.  I felt good like I could do more.  I followed this up with 2 miles the next day and 1.6 miles on the 3rd.  Short distances, yes; but, long enough to not stress out my still healing body.  From what I have read and discussed with my doctor, I won’t be fully healed until about six months post-surgery just in time for my birthday in February.

The key to running this soon after surgery is to wear supportive gear.  Abdominal binders may be good when you get off a bedrest but aren’t conducive to exercise, especially not running.  Girdles are fine to deal with the bloating and help you fit back into your regular clothes but they also are not for running.  Compression gear is the way to go.  So far I have run in Saucony Amp Pro tights and Nike Hyperwarm Dri Fit tights.  They both provide just enough support without being restrictive and irritating my incision.  I haven’t run in my CW-X tights as yet.  I’m saving those until when I get to my longer runs.

exercise your right to vote

Today is Election Day here in the US.  I chose to Exercise my Right to Vote by running a 5K for my home town of New York.  I donated money to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund and decided to run4nyc.  This was a virtual 5K which was perfect for my first attempt as a hysterrunner. I am glad that my first 5K back could be dedicated for a good cause.  If you are still looking for ways to help Sandy victims, consider donating to the American Red Cross.

I joined my Twilight Tuesday Black Girls Run Baltimore group for a cold, dark run/walk around the Lake and the surrounding neighborhood.  I completed my 3 miles in 41:51 which is faster than my last race pre-surgery!!!  Lack of pain and cramping coupled with the cold air worked for me. 

I’m looking forward to my progress in my new body.  I am now officially a HYSTERRUNNER!

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15, 2013
Aiming for a PR!