C25K W8D2+D3, Vibram’s Day 20 +21

It’s a twofer!  The VT Biz Expo ate the middle of my week so while the running was still right on target, I didn’t quite find time for the blogging.

I had two very different runs for my last days of week 8.  Both were 28 minutes but they took place in very different weather conditions.  Day two was full of fail.  It was Wednesday and the temperatures were predicted to be in the 90’s; this is Vermont, right?!  I decided to be smart and run before work so I’d avoid the mid-day heat.  Well, it was already in the mid-80’s by the time I headed out on the Mad River Path a little before 8am.  The humidity was incredible.  I had issues breathing deeply just during my pre-wamup-stretching.  The sun on the East side of the path was also full and HOT.  I expected the trees to shade me more, but there was no getting away from the unrelenting sun.  I was hot, I was covered in beads of humidity, and I hadn’t even started running yet!

I tried.  I swear I tried my hardest.  I kept telling myself I could do it, but around 20 minutes I started getting terrible side-stitches on top of the not being able to breath and being beaten down by the sun.  I continued to run in-between trying to relieve the cramp and at 25 minutes I made a b-line for the river and collapsed.  I guess I’m glad I made it to 25 minutes, but it’s the first run that I didn’t complete and I felt a little defeated.  I know I was only three minutes away from the goal, and some reading this might wonder why I didn’t just push myself a little harder, but I seriously pushed myself hard the whole time and that last three minutes would have been an eternity.  Ok…maybe I’m being a little dramatic there, but let’s just say I was DONE.  The river felt swell though. 😉

Day three was much more successful.  While it was still warm, the temps were in the mid to high 70’s with much less humidity so it was totally do-able.  I did the entire run on the West side of the Mad River Path and ended up on a part of the path I had never been to before.  I find it’s much easier to run if I’m running somewhere new.  I get distracted by looking around and exploring new places.  Once I’m back to part of the path that I’m familiar with it’s easier for me to find landmarks of “time” so I think to myself, “Ok, don’t get excited yet, you’re only to that bench and that means you have a loooong way to go.” or “This is the last bend in the path, only about three more minutes!”  Finding ways to take the focus off of the clock makes the runs more interesting for me and it seems less like exercise and more like brisk exploration.  I need to work on this since it’s much easier to fall into the routine of taking the same route every time.

The session ended with another luxurious swim in the Mad River.  Toby is getting used to my swimming with him now, but he was still surprised (and so was I) when I ran through the river and caught up with him, as he was taunting me with a freshly-caught stick.  I can’t believe my thighs are strong enough to actually run through the river current now.  It continues to be very exciting to see how my body is changing thanks to running!

I do have one potential injury that I’m a little worried about.  Thursday, while I was at the Expo, I wore heels all day; this is something that I’m seriously not used to, especially since I’m about 6′ tall and really do not feel the need for heels often.  My feet were very smooshed all day and they (and my lower back) were bothering me that night.  When I ran on Friday, my gate was off.  I tried to correct it but I could tell I was landing differently on my left foot.  Sure enough, last night my left big toe was bothering me.  After some palpation, I found the source of the pain is coming from higher up, following the path of the adductor hallucis and bugging some nearby muscles and fascia.  I did some self-massage on the area (and whole foot) last night and iced it a bit.

Today, the area is still sore.  I’m not thrilled by this.  Foot pain can be serious if left alone and as a massage therapist, being off my feet means I can’t see clients.  Not to mention, as an active person being off my feet is just NOT OK.  My next run is planned for Monday, but I’m going to be RICEing my foot this weekend (so much for hiking today) and I’ll have to assess how it feels before the next run.  That said, next week is MY LAST WEEK!!!  I can’t believe it’s already been nine weeks.  I’m still looking for fun suggestions on how to continue with running without getting bored.  Please pass any ideas my way!

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C25K W8D1, Vibram’s Day 19

Yesterday wins as being my most awesome run ever!  It was a hot one, 86˚ and humid, and I wasn’t looking forward to running in the direct mid-day sun.  However, Owen, Toby and I braved it and I really took advantage of the Vibram Fivefingers flexibility!

This was a 28 minute run; just three minutes longer than the previous week.  We headed out on the West side of the Mad River Path and I was grateful for the shade that the trees and foliage provided.  I felt good and strong and once again left the knee braces behind.  We curled around the first field and as we headed towards the second field I could see that the farmer was out on his tractor again.  I immediately looked at Owen, who was already lagging behind, and I started thinking of a way for us to avoid the tractor without having to double-back.

We ran a bit farther down the path, as the trail heads uphill over the field for a bit before coming back down right beside it.  Instead of taking the right turn to follow the trail downhill, I veered left, cut down to the river and ran (well, really quickly waded) across the river.  Then I climbed up the rocks on the other side, meeting up with the East side of the trail.  The dogs happily followed me on this detour, as they generally head off to run beside me through the river anyway.

I have to admit, I felt like a warrior!  At this point my Vibram’s and my shorts were soaked and I couldn’t have been happier.  Just a few moments later the polite British woman on my iPhone told me I was halfway through the run and I realized I had inadvertently timed things perfectly for the run back.  By the way, running in wet shoes might often be uncomfortable, but running in wet Vibram’s didn’t bother me one bit!

The East side of the path definitely wins for gorgeous mountain views.  It tends to be the more traveled leg of the trail, though with the weather being so unseasonably hot we only passed one person.  Surprisingly, the soaking wet dogs let her by unscathed.  The downside to the East side is that it lacks the shade trees that the West side provides, so the entire second half of the run was done in full sun.  It was hot hot hot, but I did it!

The pups and I then stopped at the swimming hole at the end of the trail.  They swam and dug up rocks while I completed my walking cool-down in the water and then stretched.  The water felt amazing; definitely the perfect way to cool down.  I think I might make this my normal “trail” on hot days.  Adding running through the river and climbing up rocks is a great way to break up the routine.

This run reminded me that a co-worker of mine recently posted something about Mud Runs to her Facebook.  From Googling it, it appears that there are several of these 3-5k runs all over the country that include obstacles and a grand finale of running through mud.  While I’m not interested in running marathons, a Mud Run sounds totally up my alley.  Now, if I could only find one in Vermont!

Last, but not least, I wanted to pass along this link to a great article (and videos!) from NPR on barefoot running.  Fun stuff!  Next run is tomorrow and it’s supposed to be over 90˚!  Eek!!

C25K W7D3, Vibram’s Day 18

Hooray to another week down!  I can’t believe that in two more weeks I’ll have completed C25K; where do I go from there?  No, that’s not rhetorical, I’m really looking for suggestions!

Yesterday’s run was a little more stressful than I would have liked.  I took Toby and Owen out with me on the Mad River Path and about a mile into the run I saw that one of the fields we run around was being tilled.  Large tractor pulling sharp blades + dogs off-leash does not equal good times.  I kept a close watch on Toby and Owen and they did a great job staying on the trail for the first half of the run.  However, when we turned around to head back, Owen, who was exhausted (he’s not in the best shape) got distracted and started heading for the field.  I yelled to him; Toby came but he didn’t want to listen.  Then I admittedly panicked and started yelling.  While it’s not my usual course of action, it got Owen back and it even got the farmer to stop tilling for a moment as he assessed the situation.  Owen was then sternly led by the collar past the field, so I don’t get credit for running non-stop in this workout.

Besides the stress of potentially having to tell my co-worker that his pup was chopped to bits in the cornfield, the run went pretty well.  At over 82º, this was the hottest day I had run so far and that definitely made some parts of the run laborious.  However, I also noticed that my pace was faster as we ended up getting much further down the path this time.  Due to the heavy heat and humidity, I opted not to use my knee braces.  So far I’m not feeling any repercussions, but I’m going to be paying close attention to my knees.

I couldn’t have been more grateful for my Vibram Fivefingers.  After the run, Toby, Owen and I ran right into the river and the three of us swam together.  Well, really, Toby and Owen dug up rocks and swam after sticks while I doused myself in the river and did some underwater stretches.  Regardless, it was heavenly.  I had so much fun playing with pebbles between my toes and seeing how stable I could get in yoga poses in the heavy current.

Next run is on Monday.  I really can’t believe I’ve made it this far.  I know it’s cliché, but, seriously, if I can do this you can too.  Try it, I bet you’ll surprise yourself!

C25K W7D2, Vibram’s Day 17

One of the things I’m really enjoying about running is that I encounter something new every week.  Whether I’m watching the trail evolve as the seasons change, or I’m experiencing new muscle aches and finding solutions to keep my body happy, there is always something new keeping my attention.  Yesterday, I was met with the challenge of a new weather experience.

“People run in the rain; I’ve seen it, I know it’s true!  Not only do people run in the rain, but many seem to really enjoy it!”  This is what I told myself and my co-workers before I set out yesterday into moderate to heavy rain.  I had run in light rain and light snow before, but this was the first time that I set out knowing I was going to get soaked.  I could have run on the treadmill at work, but then Toby wouldn’t have had exercise, I would have been bored, and I wouldn’t have had the awesome experience of working up a sweat while getting drenched by warm rain.  I totally made the right decision!

To prepare, I wrapped my iPhone in plastic wrap, strapped it to my armband, and wore a hoodie on top of that.  Amazingly, I could still hear the speakers quite well.  Now, the Certified Apple Technician side of me is obligated to say that I am not recommending you run outside with your iPhone (or iPod, or iPad or computer or anything else electronic, ok?).  I did it knowing full well that if it ended up getting wet it was my own damn fault for stubbornly taking it out in the rain with me.  Luckily, it stayed bone-dry throughout the run.

I stretched indoors because I knew I would rush it if I stood outside.  While it was a fairly comfortable running temperature, at around 60º, it was still uncomfortably damp and cool when I first trekked out.  The rain, however, felt much warmer than the ambient temperature and that encouraged me to get my body moving and dive right in.

This was another 25 minute run, as all of the week seven runs are.  It’s getting easier and easier to complete the long runs without getting cramps or muscle aches or breathing issues.  This run went very smoothly, especially once I took my hood off (it was just getting in my way and causing my to tip my head forward a bit) and succumbed to the rain.  Toby was pleased as punch to combine his two favorite activities: swimming and running.  He was completely drenched by the time we got back to the office and he lay upside-down for most of the afternoon with a big grin on his face.

I felt extremely accomplished when I got back, but I also felt a little wonky; it was as if I had sea-legs.  It wasn’t a bad feeling, but I was definitely a little out of it for about 30 minutes; thankfully it was lunch time.  I’m also thankful that I carry so many extra clothes in my car so I had plenty of dry things to put on.

Today, I feel great!  I should mention that I did end up wearing my knee braces.  My right knee felt a little achy yesterday morning; I most likely was using poor body mechanics during the massage session with my client the previous evening.  I just didn’t want to risk it.  I’d still like to phase those out if possible, but the health of my knees comes first!

Tomorrow is the last week seven run and it looks like it’s going to be a HOT sunny day!

C25K W7D1, Barefoot!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) Spring Conference.  It’s always a treat to network with local businesses and bring many minds together to look towards a future of business that give back to their employees, the economy, the environment and the community.  The real highlight of the day was hearing great keynote speeches from both Senator Leahy and Sanders.

Due to the conference, my day was thrown off a bit.  I planned on running on The Stowe Quiet Path on my way back home.  Unfortunately, Toby was stuck in Morrisville with his “grandparents” so he did not get to join me for this run.  I had been planning since Friday, when I made a point to bring my Vibram’s, knee pads, and iPhone armband with me.  I pulled into the Quiet Path parking lot, threw on a pair of shorts, and opened my trunk, but I didn’t see my gear (other than my iPhone armband, which was with my computer).  My trunk is kind of a mess (side effect of being on the road for work two days a week) so I started digging around.  Nada.  I somehow either left my gear at work or had managed to take it out of my car and usher it in my home.

Well, this did not stop me.   I’m stubborn, sometimes to a fault.  For those unfamiliar with Stowe, it’s a major tourist town in Vermont, boasting fabulous ski runs, beautiful views and great food.  The folks who live there year-round are generally pretty well off; at least they have to be to afford the heinous land taxes.  The Quiet Path is definitely the best-kept trail that I run on.  I noticed as I pulled into the parking lot that the lawn crew was just finishing up grooming the path, so it was in particularly good condition yesterday.  I decided to give real barefoot running a try.  Honestly, I was more nervous to be without my knee pads than the Vibrams.

It was unusually hot yesterday.  The news said it would hit a high of 72º, but my car thermometer told me it was 78º and that’s what it felt like.  I took my time stretching and told myself that if my feet hurt I wouldn’t run.  I started off on the five-minute walking warmup.  The grass felt cool and refreshing on my feet and I began to relax.  My iPhone app told me to start running.  I took a deep breath, this was to be a 25-minute run and I was prepared to stop early if I had to, and took off.

I ran, barefoot, along the grass, over pebbles, rocks, wooden bridges and even on the asphalt.  You know what?  I ran the entire 25 minutes and I was really OK.  The only time I experienced discomfort was running on the small jagged pebbles, but the wooden bridges and even the asphalt felt just fine.  When it was all over I did feel some skin discomfort on the balls of my feet.  This is very different than muscle pain; my muscles feel good.  This felt like dry skin; like when your hands get dry in the cold of winter.

Last evening, I soaked my feet in a warm Epsom Salt bath and then slathered them in a local foot salve and babied them with comfy socks.  The skin still feels a little dry today, but it’s not painful and it’s definitely no where near as bad as when I managed to blister up my feet running on concrete (with the Vibrams).  My knees also feel just fine today.  I might start running without the knee braces just to see if my knees have grown strong enough to go it alone.

I have to say, this experience is so empowering.  Not just running barefoot, the entire C25K experience has been really motivational for me and I can’t deny how awesome it is to watch my body gain strength and adapt to this new sport.  It’s all long runs from now on until I get up to 5k!

C25K W6D3, Vibram’s Day 16

Yesterday rocked!!  I was a little bummed that it was overcast and cool outside.  This was the longest run I’ve done so far so I was nervous and the variable weather added to those nerves.  To combat my insecurities, I took my time stretching and really tried to connect with my body and ground myself before taking off.  When I felt really ready, Toby and I took off to the “other side” of the river.

The East side of the Mad River (what I lovingly refer to as the “other side”) is more traveled but also one-ups the West side for views.  Along with views, the East side offers more fun textures for my feet.  I ran over mud, grass, pebbles, boulders and across bridges of questionable architectural integrity.  I’m still loving my Vibram’s.  I’ve also found that they are phenomenal dandelion-pickers.  After my run, I looked down to find dandelion heads poking out between my toes; it was hysterical and I wish I had a camera to capture it.

Speaking of Vibram FiveFingers, I found this video very inspiring.  Yeah, I know it’s a promo video, so please forgive me for posting an advertisement here, but I think it’s killer:

The BEST news from this run is that I ran the full 25 minutes without looking at the clock, getting tired or getting side-stitches!!!  When the polite British woman in my iPhone told me I could stop running I literally threw my hands up in the air and yelled “Woo-hoo!”  Yes, it’s a good thing I live in rural Vermont and there was no one around to watch me make a fool of myself; except Toby, who did his own happy dance when I cheered.

It’s the next day and I feel pretty darn good.  I have some tightness in my left calf that I’ll work out by stretching today.  The rest of me feels phenomenal.  Next run is Monday!

C25K W6D2, Vibram’s Day 15

Another gorgeous day in Vermont yesterday!  I headed out early to The Mad River Path with Owen, my co-worker’s dog, and Toby.  The routine was two ten minute runs with a three minute walk in between.  The first run was smooth as silk.  We headed along the trail past the first meadow, curled into the woods and popped out at the second meadow to quite a Vermonty surprise; fresh manure!  For two young retrievers this was like stumbling upon a (stinky) pot of gold.

When I first moved to Vermont it was late fall, which is a prime season for spreading manure on the fields; spring being the other popular time.  I remember scrunching up my nose as I drove around, wondering how anyone ever puts up with that smell.  Now, only a year and a half into being an ex-flatlander, I can honestly say that I find it comforting.  It’s a smell that I associate with the change of season and in the Spring that smell means growth and new life.  Pretty wonderful things can come out of a field of poop.

I’d like to state the obvious for a moment.  Since running increases heart rate and breathing, and I’m working on avoiding cramps by taking big belly breaths while I run, there was no avoiding the stench in the air.  Luckily, the manure was mixed with the scent of freshly-cut grass, blooming flowers and river aromas; so it all blended together into an amalgam of Spring.  I smiled broadly at Owen, who had decided to firmly plant himself upside-down in the middle of the field and he rolled and rolled the scent into him.  My pup, Toby, who is obviously the valedictorian of his species, decided it was more fun to watch Owen than to join in.  Unfortunately, as soon as Owen noticed Toby’s disinterest, he tackled him, smearing his black fur with brown streaks.  Bleh.

The run was fairly uneventful, though I was frustrated when I got a cramp near the end of the second run.  My research taught me that some people are more prone to cramps than others.  Apparently, I got the short end of the stick here but I’m not giving up!  Every run the cramps are more and more manageable so I can only hope that I’ll get to a point where they are non-existant.

Today, my body feels great!  I’m noticing new shapes forming in my legs as my muscles begin to mature.  My pants are getting looser, my posture seems to be getting better and my overall energy level is sky-high.  I really hope I can stick it out for the full nine weeks (and beyond) to really see how my body can be transformed!

Next run is tomorrow, and it’s a long one!  I can’t wait to see how it goes!