Thursday, January 30, 2014

All Clear!

Had a visit to the doctor today to check out my hip. Dr. Penny was right - bursitis in the hip was the diagnosis. The bursa is a little sack of fluid between the bony protrusion of your hip and your IT band. Mine is ANGRY!!!!! But not bad enough, and hasn't been around long enough, for a steroid injection. Any one ever had one of those?

The doc said the cause of the bursitis is a mechanics issue. My right arch "collapsing" during the foot strike. I have high arches, but I guess a bit of a pronation issue on this side. He told me to get an insole for more arch support. He also said that you can't really strengthen your arches (it's been studied). But he said the problem sort of comes and goes, so I may not need the insole in the future.

The collapsing of my right arch is creating a bigger"Q-angle" on the right side of my body than on my left side. A Q-angle is the angle of your femur, running from the edge of your hip to your patella. The bigger Q-angle on my right side is causing all the extra soreness in my right glute and hip. So the theory goes...

By OpenStax College [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom line - I can go back to running immediately!

I stopped by the running store after the appointment and got a custom insert for $80. It is supposed to last 1,500 miles. And while I was there . . .

I found a strap for stretching. A mini foam roller for travel. And in the clearance room, gloves and a Nike Run neon yellow T-shirt for $15. Remember two years ago after the Olympics and every one was wearing Nike in neon yellow? Now, dozens of these shirts are collecting dust on the clearance racks!

two little runners

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Big Surf

When you live in a surf town, big surf is a big deal. Everyone was talking about the big surf all week - and luckily it continued into the weekend.

I substituted my Saturday run (giving the hip an extra day off) for a stroll along Sunset Cliffs to check out the waves.

These are 7-10 foot waves with occasional 12 footers.

And it was a perfect opportunity to wear my new Panama hat! Since the hat is the statement piece of the outfit, I kept the rest of the ensemble plain. Navy top, light blue skinnies, boat shoes.

I think it's pretty cute, and I got a lot of compliments on it. I think I'll get a lot of use out of it.

two little runners

Sunday, January 26, 2014

December in the Southern Hemisphere and Running in the Mornington Peninsula (VIC) and Adelaide (SA)

So it's probably about time I showed you some more of the places I have been running since being back in Australia. I gotta say... goshdarnit, everything you hear about Australia being beautiful? ALL TRUE. Not just propaganda from the Australian Tourism Board. They may not tell you about our obnoxious drinking habits, and the absurd number of creatures here that can kill you... but it IS a very pretty place indeed. 'Specially for running.

For Christmas, my husband and I went down to the Mornington Peninsula to my aunty and uncle's place in Sorrento. The row of seaside towns along the Peninsula, offers about 25 miles/40kms of virtually uninterrupted cliff-side/beach trails, 6 of which I used as my first "long"(ish) run since my injury.

The trail was mostly gravel and sand (whoa, sand-trail running is haaaaard) and some of these wooden boardwalks that lead down to all the different beaches along the Peninsula. 

This is December in the Southern Hemisphere, y'all....

We then got the ferry across Port Phillip Bay (no screen-shot map...I'll allow you to exercise your Google maps're welcome). The Sorrento harbour (where you get the ferry from) is equally gorgeous...

The ferry took us across to Queenscliff, on the other side of the bay, and we drove from there to the Adelaide hills to visit my sister and brother-in-law and then drive back with them to Melbourne. 

Got my runs in there, through some really beautiful country-side...

We stayed at my brother-in-law's parents' farm house. Just down the road (before a very steep  climb to the house) is this row of flowers that attracts a RIDICULOUS number of butterflies.  Its pretty magical running through them (while panting and puffing your way up the hill).

 They also provide an excellent excuse to take a break from the hill to snap a picture or two...

I did all my runs pretty slow, because it was really warm, even quite early in the morning.  I refueled with my favorite new brand of chocolate milk, which is unfortunately only found in the great state of South Australia.  I guzzled several of these before we left Adelaide. They are approx 250 calories, for 100% RDI of calcium.  BOOM.

And finally... the little people who were more fun to hang out with than any butterflies or chocolate milk...

At Adelaide Zoo, checking out the pandas

  Aaaaand.... the funny man/snuggle pot....

Next up.... some New Years beers (coincidence that that rhymes?? I think not...) and a 5K recap. Yes, that's right... I finally ran a 5K. Now I know why I have not run one of those before.

~ Penny

I'm a sucker for a shoe sale

I went online to buy my next pair of Saucony Mirages and ended up with pairs of Sketcher GoRun 2s and Saucony Virratas. Big sales! The Sketchers were $50 and the Sauconys were $70. January must be the time of year to buy running shoes!

They are both light weight trainers in the minimalist category. The Sketchers are 4mm drop and Saucs are 0mm. But they have cushioning so I've read. I was really surprised with how light they were when I took them out of the boxes. 

Off to try them out! 

two little runners

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pain in the Gluteus Medius, I think?

The day after the Carlsbad Half, my right hip was back to feeling cranky. (It didn’t bother me at all during the race.) Otherwise, my soreness was even in both sides of my body. I was pretty sore in the usual spot – the entire front and back of the leg – and also in my forearms and biceps.

Anticipating said hip crankiness, I scheduled a massage for Monday after work. I started out the massage on my stomach. It felt like the therapist was using her feet…and sure enough when I flipped over, I saw that she was. The modality is called Ashiatsu. The therapist uses an overhead support system to control her body weight and massages with the feet.

By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District from Wiesbaden, Germany (USACE host Health Fair  Uploaded by SchuminWeb) [CC-BY-2.0 ( or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This was very effective on the quads, which took out a lot of the tension in my right hip. I’ve never felt so much relief from a massage.

Following the massage, I did a long stretching session with yoga, foam rolling, sticking, and restorative yoga poses. I repeated it Tuesday morning and again Tuesday night. And my right hip now feels exactly the same as my left hip. They are sore, but balanced.

The exact muscle that is acting up is the gluteus medius. You can find it by putting your hands on the upper part of your butt, and when you walk, it is the muscle that contracts.

Behold the gluteus medius:
By Anatomography (en:Anatomography (setting page of this image)) [CC-BY-SA-2.1-jp (], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m not sure how to correct it. Brainstorming:

It could be a muscle imbalance? Perhaps my right gluteus medius is weaker than the left, and therefore the hip is collapsing on the right foot strike. But I see no signs of hip tilting in my running pictures. Or, it could be that my right inner quad is weak, relative to the right gluteus medius, which would cause an outward rotation and misalignment the leg.

It could be tight quads? When the quad are tight, they pull on stuff that tugs on the gluteus medius. (We’re very scientific here.) I felt reference pain during the quad massage in my hip, so it’s true. The massage therapist told me that the stick is a great tool for getting at the quad muscle, especially just above the knee. She’s right, it’s better than foam rolling this area.

It could be a tight psoas? The massage therapist checked that out, and it wasn’t painful at all.

It could be skeletal?

It could be the result of too fast of a mileage build up? Suggested by Penny - and a likely scenario…

I guess I lay off the long runs for a few weeks, work on the tight quads, and go about strengthening gluteus medius and inner thighs?

two little runners

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Carlsbad Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

1:33:42 (7:09) – a new PR by 30 seconds!

I decided to target 7:15 for the first half of the race, and I was more or less spot on. My plan for the second half was to go faster and to define what that pace would be on the fly during the race. The second half of the race went better than I expected. I sunk into a 7:00 pace and found the zone, taking it to 6:39 in the last mile, and then down to 6:24 to the finish – with lots of energy to spare.

This is the second time I’ve run the Carlsbad Half, and I’ll definitely do it again. The race is well organized, tons of volunteers and water stations, lots of spectators, live bands, nice finisher metals, and the course is scenic.  Miles 2 through 11 are along the Pacific Coast Highway with ocean views the entire way. The course is rolling hills, but nothing significant. And this time of year, you are almost guaranteed perfect running weather. It was about 55 at the start at 7:45 a.m. – a little warmer than usual but gorgeous.
The scenery. And big surf! 4-6 footers with occasional 8s that day.
I tried something new this race that I will definitely not do again. I read in a running book the suggestion of taking a sleeping pill the night before a race. I take a sleeping pill when I travel to the east cost for work. I need it to fall asleep early, and I wanted to go to bed early for this race. I thought I would be okay under race conditions, which is sort of getting up on east coast time = 3 hours earlier than I'm used to. But I was quite drowsy all morning, even during the race. I didn't get the cobwebs out until well into the second half of the race. I don't think it affected my athletic performance, but it probably affected my concentration. 

The Splits

6.748:53 (7:18)
6.40:01:3344:49 (7:00)
Total  1:33:42 (7:09)

I massively negative split this race. I ran the first 6.7 miles at an average pace of 7:18. And the last 6.4 miles at an average pace of 7:00. So my plan was a little bit too conservative in the first half. But that just leaves another PR opportunity in the near future. I look forward to shaving 30 to 60 seconds off of my next half marathon. Perhaps racing more often and targeting incremental PRs are the way to go?

The Stats

Overall: 206 of 7256 (1st place was 1:02:13)
Women overall: 45 of 4303 (1st place was 1:14:17)
Division F30-34: 12 of 795 (1st place was 1:21:31)

The Details

Mile 1 – 7:30
I was assigned to Wave 1. It’s a small pleasure in life to start a race in the first wave! This was my slowest mile, due to traffic at the start and a hill. This course has rolling hills throughout, and Mile 1 has the biggest climb. I tried to run the rolling hills by trying to keep the same effort level whether I was running up or downhill. I always seemed to pass people on the downhills.

Mile 2 – 7:01
This was a flat mile and because I ran the first mile a bit slow and because this mile featured a heavy metal band, I think I ran it fast. I also got a snot misting from a guy in front of me when he blew out his nose. Disgusting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mile 3 – 7:15
I remember thinking about how I should fuel at water stations for the first time during this mile. Luckily, this race has water stations at almost every mile, so I didn’t need to plan ahead. And at one of the later miles, they give out orange slices, which was so refreshing!

Mile 4 – 7:10
Grabbed a Gu this mile, I think. I was wearing arm warmers again (love them!) and discovered that I could easily hold the Gu in the arm warmer without having to grip them in my hand (love them more now!).
Mile 5 – 7:20
Ate about half the Gu during this mile. Got water.

Mile 6 – 7:05
The turn around and the halfway mark happened this mile. Began considering how fast to go in the second half.

Mile 7 – 7:15
This mile had an uphill and a downhill. Also grabbed some Gatorade. When I saw 7:15 for my split, I got motivated to speed up.

Mile 8 – 6:54 / Mile 9 – 6:56
Nice downhill miles. Got an orange slice and ate another half of a Gu. Pulled away from the 1:35 pace group, which made me happy. It was a very chatty group. It's sort of annoying when you aren't part of the chat.

Mile 10 – 6:59
This mile was flat, which allowed me to think about how I was feeling. With some visualization and mantras, I convinced myself I felt relaxed and in control of my breath at this pace.

Mile 11 – 7:08
This was a downhill mile, but I ran it slow. I started running with a group here but realized they were slowing down.

Mile 12 – 6:59
Broke away from the group. This mile was uphill, so it was a pretty solid effort to run it at this pace.

Mile 13 – 6:39 / Last bit 1:33 (6:24 pace)
This mile began with a nice downhill, allowing me to pick up my pace without feeling the effort of that. I kept up the speedier pace once the course leveled out. I got into the zone (first time ever in a race) and felt relaxed and strong. My breathing was under control, and I felt like a running machine. I was having so much fun passing every one in sight - men, women, half marathoners, marathoners.
The running machine.
Sped up a little bit more in the last 0.1. It's just not right If I don't feel disoriented and pukey when I cross the finish line.
Disoriented...crossing the marathon side of the finish line, oops!
I wonder how many people were telling me to move over...
two little runners

Friday, January 17, 2014

Big week to medium week to crap-my-hip-hurts week

Medium week:  Following my big 48 mile week, including a PR 15K!, I cut back a little bit for a 35 mile week and also began my pull up workouts. I was feeling energized, great, and positive. Looking forward to the Carlsbad Half (on Sunday 1/19)!

Su 1/5
Needed a REST DAY post-race. Did Yoga For Athletes DVD, felt amazing!

M 1/6
RUN: 8.75 miles easy in the morning.
PULL UP: Workout #1. 3x10 assisted pullup, 3x15 low row, 3x15 3 way shoulder raises, 3x10 assisted dips.

Tu 1/7
RUN: Legs and core workout.

W 1/8
RUN: 7 miles easy, but hilly, in the morning
PULL UP: 2 miles easy on treadmill as warm up to pull up workout #2. 2x20 pushups, 3 sets cable rows, 3 sets military press, 3 sets pullovers, 2 sets 3 way plank

RUN: Speed workout on treadmill 6.5 miles total with 6 x 0.6 at 9.0 (6:39 pace) with 0.25 rest intervals at 6.0 (10:00) @ 2%

F 1/10
RUN: 2 miles easy on treadmill
PULL UP: Workout #3. 3x15 bar pull ups, 3x15 supinated pull downs, 3x15 upright rows, 3x15 close grip bench press

Sa 1/11
RUN: 8 miles easy

Crap-my-hip-hurts week:  So I went on a 15.5 mile long run on Sunday. Goal was a confidence boosting run for the race. After, my legs felt cranky. You know--sore, tense, curled up. By Monday, I noticed stiffness and soreness in my right hip.

Then Tuesday I sat on an airplane to Chicago for 4+ hours. Sat in meetings all day Wednesday and then another 4+ hour flight back to San Diego. Not good for el hippo.

I consulted Penny, who suggested it was hip bursitis, and then I consulted the internets, which pretty much confirmed it. 

I came across a Dr. Metzl video on Runner's World website on hip injuries, which I think EVERY RUNNER NEEDS TO WATCH!!!!!!! Hip injuries are potentially very serious, as we've all learned from Penny's femoral neck stress reaction. In short, pain in the front of the hip - bad, bad, bad! STOP RUNNING!!! Pain in the side of the hip - you're probably alright. Usually a case of too much too soon. 

Please, please, please watch the video!!

So I laid low the rest of the week. Doing tons of yoga, stretching, rolling. And I'm feeling pretty decent! Race day is Sunday!!

Su 1/12
RUN: 15.5 miles

M 1/13
RUN: 3 miles easy on treadmill.
PULL UP: 3x20 push ups; 3x15 single arm rows (20 lbs); 3x15 front raises (10 pound plate); 3 way planks 2x30 seconds.

Th 1/14
RUN: legs and core workout.

W 1/15
Traveling, etc. for work. No workouts.

Th 1/16
PULL UP: 3x10 assisted chin ups, 3x15 low rows, 3x15 3 way shoulder raises, 3x6 dips (unassisted), 3x15 bar pull ups, 3x30 sec 3 way planks.

F 1/17
Yoga, stretching, rolling

S 1/18
Yoga, stretching, rolling


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Going Home(Grown) and Getting Running (And Moo-ed At)

I'm still alive! Hullo hullo! As promised, coming to you at approximately 3 a.m. U.S.-Pacific time

Obviously everyone gets vaaaay busy over the holidays. This becomes exponentially more ridiculous when you're moving countries, packing up your crap, finding new places to live, leaving old jobs, beginning new ones... AND BEGINNING RUNNING AGAIN OMG. 

So, yar, beginning running again would probably have been even more exciting that moving countries... if it wasn't for my renewed ability to cuddle THE CUTEST NIECES AND NEPHEWS IN THE WORLD OMG. 

For the first couple of weeks here, I stayed at my parents' place in country Victoria (cuddling said nieces and nephews). My parents are avid gardeners and apparently are also trying their hand at forestry. I am actually being serious. Parts of the property are getting that kept-wild look.

 Here is the civilized side: roses...pretty panels...


 And out the back, the veggie garden, "orchard" and beyond...

Aaand...gah, forest!

There is a garage here somewhere...

Anyway, parentals, as I know you are reading this, the place looks GREAT. And I have certainly been enjoying the "fruits" of your labor. My running has been fueled by all-sorts of home-grown goodies. Snow peas, broccoli, mini squash (actual squash, not pumpkins... look up the difference Americans)... all different types of lettuce, apricots, cherries...

It's pretty amazing to be able to walk outside to "gather" together your lunch!

Running has been going well also. I spent December building up from my run-walks on the Pfizinger plan, to unbroken runs, which felt like a real victory! As Kristen said, the last 10% of healing seems to take forever, and building mileage through that is a frustrating experience. But it's rewarding when you take it reeeeeally slow, and just focus on being healthy, before being fit.

Mileage wise, my first week running was 3 miles, then 10 miles, both in November, 2013.

Weeks 1-4 of December were: 8.5 miles, 14 miles, 15 miles and 22 miles respectively. Frankly, I haven't been off running too long, so the weekly mileage is not a big deal (in terms of taking it slow building up again). Going from 0 miles to almost 30 (presently) has felt like nothing in the rest of my body; no soreness or the stiffness I got when I first started running distances. All of the distances were run at a high-end easy pace... around 8-8:30min/mile.

What HAS been crucial, is keeping each run slow, and relatively short in order to not to put too much stress on my recently healed hip. I am very careful in building up the distance/intensity of individual runs, and making sure I have rest days between runs, and most especially if I've just run more than I have before. Initially my runs were 3-4 miles, then 4-5 miles, now they are between 5-11 miles (more on recent training later).

All in all, I would say its been a successful recovery, hurrah! Occasionally I have nearly panic-texted Kristen in the middle of the night (her time) whole-heartedly believing I've reinjured myself, but they always turn out to be phantom pains. The ONLY redeeming feature of these sorts of bone injuries, is that the bone actually heals stronger than it was originally. Good consolation prize, I reckon!

And I'll leave you with a picture of the road I spent most of my December runs on. Sun, trees, a very open road...and cows that seem to moo at my running in either a mocking or encouraging fashion... I can't really tell which:

~ Penny

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Did I really find a way to complain about January temps in the 70s? And the complaint is that it caused me to run too much. Yep.

I commented on Gracie’s “Obligatory ‘I went running in the cold’ Post” that it’s been so beautiful in San Diego. It is perhaps too cruel to even mention that for the last two weeks we’ve been experiencing June in January while the rest of the country is frozen in.

Or perhaps not.

It’s been gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! January is absolutely the best month to run in San Diego. The sun is out, the skies are clear, but the temperatures are mild. Mid 50s in the mornings and low 70s at noon.

My mom texted me a weather report on Monday:  it was -45F in Illinois.

Conditions in Chicago
Meanwhile in San Diego, it was 75F.

Conditions in San Diego the same day (a view from the reading
room at our new central library).
130 degrees warmer . . . cRAzY!

Never-ending gorgeous days, however, have their own hazards! Having just come back from cold, snowy, icy Illinois for Christmas, I ran every single day the first week of January, resulting in a 49 mile week that included a 15K race – which I ran pretty hard.

Feel sorry for me?

Race week – 49 miles…oops!

12/29 (Sunday) – 13 mile long run on OB bike path and in Mission Bay. 8:30s and 8:00s at the end.

12/30 (Monday) – 6 mile easy run on treadmill. 8:30s mostly. +yoga

12/31 (Tuesday) – 6 mile easy run in Balboa Park + 6 short, steep hill sprints (about 40 steps). These left me sore for days. +yoga

1/1 (Wednesday) – 8.5 mile easy run on OB bike path and Presidio. Never saw another runner the entire time!

1/2 (Thursday) – 4 mile easy run on treadmill. Upper body/core. +yoga

1/3 (Friday) – 2 miles easy on treadmill as warm up to long yoga/stretching session.

1/4 (Saturday) – Resolution Run 15K. 9.4 miles at average pace of 7:08. 

two little runners

Sunday, January 5, 2014

San Diego Resolution Run 15K

On Saturday, January 04, 2014, I ran the Resolution Run 15K in San Diego.This was my second time running this race. I ran over 3 minutes faster than I did in 2012, which was good enough for a new 15K PR of 1:06:55. I was the 11th female overall and 4th in my division, F30-39.  

My plan for this race was to use it as a fitness test and break through workout for my spring half marathon training.  With the help of a flat course and absolutely perfect weather conditions – no wind, 54 degrees, and overcast courtesy of a coastal eddy – I accomplished both!

Going into the race, I had in mind an average pace of 7:20. I ran the first 6 miles of the race at 7:15-7:20. This felt "comfortably hard," which is how it's supposed to feel, I guess. My breathing was relaxed and my legs felt great at these paces.

Mile 1 – 7:19:
The start was relaxed, and I easily got around some of the crowd and settled into the 7:20 pace.
Where's Kristen?
Mile 2 – 7:15:
I settled into this pace with 2 other runners.

Mile 3 – 7:14:
But I soon lost my running buddies, one to a untied shoe lace (never saw him again). And the other picked up the pace to around 6:50, so I let her go. But I kept her pink shirt in my sights.

Mile 4 – 7:19:
I passed four female runners this mile around Fiesta Island.
Course Map
 Mile 5 – 7:16:
A race of 500 runners, and I was alone on the course this mile. So check out the outfit. I wore arm warmers for the first time. They seem like a silly and completely unnecessary item of clothing. And they probably are. But I was exactly the right temperature in them.

Note sure what this finish line was doing here in mile 5. 
Mile 6 – 7:14:
Miles 5 to the end were on an out and back straight away. I like courses designed like this so I can see the fast runners and be inspired. And, most importantly, count what place female I am. I was 15th. I decided to try to push the pace in the last 5K of the race to 7:00 minute miles.

Mile 7 – 7:01:
Passed 2 female runners in this mile and was slowly closing in on the pink shirt runner that I had let go of in mile 3.

Mile 8 – 6:58:
Passed 1 more female runner. Still closing on pink shirt runner, but she had picked up the pace too. I still had a lot of energy left, and breathing was pretty good. Just a little choppy, so I ran the rest of the race fast.

Mile 9 – 6:50:
Starting to breath heavy at this pace and point in the race. Still behind pink shirt runner.

And to the finish (~0.4 miles) – 2:28 (6:24 av pace):
I caught up to pink shirt runner after mile 9.  She was listening to head phones, so she couldn't hear my heavy breathing.  I stayed behind her, and then I surged by in the last quarter mile or so, beating her by 5 seconds.  I felt sort of petty for doing this. Thinking back, 24 hours later, with the competitive instinct worn off, I wish I would have said to her, “Come on, let’s sprint to the finish!”

Oh well… 

But I was proud of myself for keeping the idea of staying with her in my mind the entire race and being tough enough to catch her in the last 3 miles. She was about 100 meters ahead of me most of the way.

It was also great to negative split and be able to pass a lot of people in the final miles and feel strong (recommended) instead of going out faster, trying to hang on, and feeling like death (not recommended). In this race, the two approaches might have resulted in the same time, but I strongly prefer being the passer not the passed!

two little runners