Monthly Archives: March 2010

Learning the Ropes of Taping

So it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of KT Tape.  My PT taped me many times, and I was taped up before the Marine Corps Marathon at the KT Tape booth (the guy there taped me 100 times better than my PT ever did).  Well ever since then I’ve been wanting to learn how to do it myself, but the truth is that I really have no faith in myself to do this properly.  It’s my sandwich theory (or Pete’s salad theory): a sandwich tastes so much better when someone makes it for you.  And that’s not just a cop-out to get someone else to make me a sandwich.  But no matter how hard I try nothing I make will be better than what Pete makes.  The same goes for taping my shin splints, I feared.  I needed a professional.  Well I’ve got two races coming up, and I know that KT Tape will be at the Pittsburgh Marathon (I hope this is still true).  I’m not sure if they’ll be at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but it doesn’t really matter because we’re not even sure we’ll be able to get to the expo on time. So…

I went ahead and bought some tape last week.  I’m looking at it as training tape.  And so Friday night, after I got the package in the mail, I sat down and watched the video online about how to tape your shins.  And then I tried it myself.

My first attempt

Not bad.  But not great.  It didn’t seem to really do anything.  So I decided that Pete needed to learn, and that in addition to being my boyfriend/nurse/doctor/math tutor/running coach ect., we can now add “Personal Taper” to the list.  We had a really fun time last night.  I made him watch the video, then after he said he got it I kept correcting him and telling him he was doing it wrong but I couldn’t explain how to do it right. I’m lucky he’s so patient with me. There were definitely a few strips of tape that were wasted.  It’s frustrating because I’m the one who knows where my pain is and knows how the pressure of the tape feels, but I have to trust his hands because they’re a whole lot more steady than mine and he’s in a good position to apply it.  So in the end we made some progress.  It’s not completely right, but we’ve got two weeks to figure it out.  In the meantime we’ll practice some more (anybody know of any other videos online?) and I think I’ll go ahead and buy another roll of tape (this time I’ll get the real KT Tape.  I bought the knock-off kind by accident, which is fine since half of it is already in the trash). 

Pete's attempt - better than mine

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The Difference a Year Makes

I find that swimming is a good place to think, and so Thursday night, while doing my weekly laps in the pool, I thought to myself “wow, I’m such a better runner now than I was last year when I ran my first half”.  That thought surprised me though.  Big time.  Because for the last few weeks I’ve quietly doubted how I’m going to be able to run not one, but two big races within three weeks of each other, when I’ve hardly trained.  The cold hard truth is that I’ve never actually fully recovered from my injury last June.  Just when I was on the brink of getting back into the groove of things, I got hurt again.  For years I ran three miles a day, everyday.  Not fast.  Not particularly well.  But consistently and with no problems whatsoever.  I even ran in the same shoes for years.  When I decided to step up and take running a little more seriously, I was running 5-6 days a week, and a lot more miles.  You mull over what the cause of my demise was, but really it doesn’t matter.  I’ve changed my habits.  A lot.  So what is causing these conflicting thoughts on my abilities?
 
While training for my half last year I was all over my training plan; intervals, hills, long runs, tempos.  You name it.  I did it.  You had to force me to take a rest day.  And now?  For the past few weeks I’m running maybe twice a week.  Three times is a lot.  Four is in the distant future.  And anything above five seems impossible.  How I used to run every day is beyond me.  Days in between runs are literally Recovery Days.  My legs need time to heal.  So what makes me think that I can run a 10mile race and then quickly follow it up with a half?  And really, what made me think in the pool that I was actually a better runner than last year?
 
Experience.  I’ve spent these last few months in recovery learning about my body, and learning about the best ways of conditioning.  It’s not just about running.  My running partner the other night said to me, “I think being a runner makes you a better swimmer, but swimming doesn’t really make you a better runner.”  I nodded, and wanted to respond, but I was getting a little bit tired and couldn’t garner the energy to talk.  So I’ll respond now: I think I disagree.  I see where he was coming from, but I think the endurance aspect of swimming has an important impact on my running.  And of course it’s easy on my legs, which always helps my running ;-)
 
Cycling, not to brag or anything, has done absolute wonders to my thighs. My legs haven’t been this defined and toned since my competitive riding days.  In fact, they might be even more toned now.  The best part about the stationary cycling that I do is that I get to concentrate on the muscle above my knee, which in turns protects my knees from the heavy impact and beatings they receive from my running.
 
And pilates.  Aside from strengthening my core, I’ve increased my flexibility (key for runners who are known for not being so flexible) and learned a lot of new stretches that will hopefully help prevent me from future injuries.  Yes I subscribe to that belief.  I know many who do not, but I do.
 
And the truth is that the numbers show I’m actually a much stronger runner.  I hate going by numbers, and I really don’t want to jinx myself here.  But Tuesday night I ran 6.2 miles at an average of 8:19 min/mile pace.  Yes, I know, I probably ran too fast for a nice evening jog, but the conversation was good and I wanted to keep up.  Point is, the run ended, I was tired, but I was fine.  Last year, probably around this time I ran my first 6 miles.  In a little over an hour.  And I thought it was the end of the world.   

I may not be running as much as I was, but I’m stronger; physically and mentally.  I play the head games.  I work through the pain.  I know my rhythm and my feet.  I have so much more under my belt, and I have so much more in my heart this time around, that I’m hoping it will count for something.  My race in Pittsburgh has taken on and entirely different meaning in the past few weeks.  It’s really no longer just a race.  So hopefully my legs will feel ok for Cherry Blossom and the Pittsburgh Marathon.  They don’t need to feel perfect.  Just as long as they can take me through the miles.  If there was no pain?  Well there’s no doubt I’d hit my PR and come very easily under 2:00:00.  But who knows.  It doesn’t mater too much anymore.  As long as I can run. 

Snowy...forever loved, our beloved Little Prince <3

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In a Rocker State of Mind

I’ve got some pretty big decisions to make in the next couple of weeks. I’d prefer to be vague here for now, but I think that it will suffice to say that no matter what I choose it will be a life changing decision, but in very different ways. These past six days have taken me to a very similar state of mind that I was in leading up to my days at Simon’s Rock. Have I mentioned the Rock here before? Simon’s Rock College of Bard (now Bard College at Simon’s Rock) is a liberal arts college in the country that takes students after 10th or 11th grade, and was probably the most influential place I’ve ever been. I chose to leave high school after my junior year and go to college when I was 16. It’s definitely not a choice for everyone, and please spare the whole “omg, didn’t you miss not going to your prom?” Nope. Didn’t miss it at all. Didn’t even think about it in fact. I truly believe that going to the Rock was the best decision for me, but I know that I did not make the best decisions while there and that it has taken me all these years to truly appreciate and value the education and experience I got. There really was no possible way for me to predict what I would go through at the Rock when I was sitting in a parking lot with people I shouldn’t have been in a parking lot with, dreaming of my escape. The prospect of a school, full of people like me, was too intoxicating. I brushed off all criticisms, concerns and doubts and refused to take any of it into consideration; I was intent only on going. Here I am again, in a similar state because of the excitement I feel. I know that there is really no way for me to fully anticipate what is about to come my way. But this time I’m really intent on not fully giving in to my excitement. Intent on bringing a little skepticism in the picture, and trying – with all my might – to listen to the concerns this time around. I always wish I could go back to the Rock and do it all over again. I know exactly what I’d do differently, and what I’d do all over again. But I’m not in one of those movies where I get to go back in time so instead I get to do it all over again in a different way. (like a sideways world – sorry, had to make the Lost reference).

And on a very different note, had an awesome group run last night. Ran 10k at a great pace and my legs are feeling quite good today. These runs are really instrumental to my sanity. It’s a time to clear my head, push out my anger, and to think – and not think – all at the same time. So onto Cherry Blossom and the Pittsburgh Marathon.

The Arch at Simon's Rock

Bash Bish - a true gem of W. Mass

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Letting it go

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately.  I came down with a pretty nasty bug last week and I’m just starting to feel more like myself.  Still not 100% though.  I’ve been getting exercise here and there, but I’ve been really surprised how much energy and strength I lost from all this. But with the gorgeous weather last night I decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance to run and was determined to head out with my runners group.

The weather was ideal, and my legs were feeling good (yay!) but my stomach just wasn’t quite there yet.  I decided early on that I wasn’t going to be able to run the full 6 (partly because of my stomach but also because I’m just beginning to run normally again.  No reason to go ahead and aggrevate my legs by racking up the miles).  The first quarter mile of our run is downhill…a very nice way to ease into things.  But right out of the gate I wasn’t feeling fantastic and couldn’t quite keep up, which was really frustrating.  I rejoined the group when we got stopped at an intersection, and followed in with them closely for the next half mile or so.  Conversing was out of the question for me.  But I was hoping to draft the group (not sure that’s the correct usage of the verb but just go along with it) and tuck myself in at the tail end and just kind of flow.  But it soon became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen and I slowly let the group drift away from me (I had my own headlamp, reflectors, and knew that there were two runners still behind me somewhere).  I’ll tell you, it was a little difficult to watch them run away from me in the dark.  I’m competitive by nature, and while I’m not competing with any one of them (I wouldn’t stand a chance) there was this little voice in my head yelling at me to keep up and prove myself.  It was just like in the old cartoons where you have an angel and devil on your shoulders.  One side was yelling at me.  But then the other jumped in and reminded me that it’d be stupid to run faster or farther.  I’m just starting to come back from running, and while I’m in great shape, I haven’t run in awhile and my fitness level is not quite there yet.  You can cycle and swim all you want, but it’s just not comparable to what your body feels when you’re running.  So at 2.06 miles, at an average of 8:29 min/mile, I turned around and headed back.  But right before I did, a biker came up behind me and passed.  His bright, fluorescent headlamp revealed my pack that I thought had left me in the dust.  Turns out they really weren’t much further ahead than me.

I slowed up my pace for the next two miles back to the shop and finished 4.21 miles in 37:23.  Not bad.  In fact, I probably should have run slower.  My point of all this: I’m really glad I did the run, upset tummy and all.  And I’m really glad I let the pack go.  I’m carrying so much on my shoulders these days, everyone’s problems plus my own feelings about it all.  Letting my group run away from me was my own way of letting things go and just living completely in the moment, even if it was only for an hour.  Just another one of those interesting things running can do for you.

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Change is good…

As there seem to be a lot of changes in my life….and probably some more coming my way….I’m [slowly] revamping and stepping up my blog.  Look around, enjoy. Hopefully there will be more to come soon ;-)

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