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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Runner (Girl) Problems - Edition: Sports Bras

On Sunday morning I awoke with the beginnings of what felt like a sore throat, but it was minimal and I didn't notice it at all during my half marathon. Yesterday, though, my sinuses were jammed, my throat felt swollen, and I spent the day in a bit of a hazy mind fog as I navigated through the Valentine's festivities and emotions of seeing all my old photographs again.

By the time I got myself out the door for running group with my daughter, I was congratulating myself on remembering to put on my running shoes and for simply finding my keys. But shortly thereafter, I realized I forgot something pretty important. What exactly, you ask, did I forget?

I was about one quarter of a mile into my run, chatting with a friend, when I felt my bra strap sliding down toward my shoulder. Without thinking, I reached over and readjusted the strap when it dawned on me with complete horror that I was wearing a normal, everyday bra instead of a sports bra.

Yes, that's right. I forgot to wear a sports bra yesterday. Those of you fellow athletes with a C-cup or larger can probably understand just how ridiculous I felt upon this realization. I'm not a very big person, but I'm curvy enough that wearing a regular bra is nowhere near enough support to run comfortably. My saving grace were my two fitted layers plus a reflective vest that probably helped keep things somewhat in place, and the fact that I wasn't feeling well enough to run more than a 5K.

So, there I was running and doing my darnedest to keep my posture upright and my shoulders squared as I resisted the urge to constantly adjust the underwire that was miserably soaking in the sweat and rubbing uncomfortably on my ribcage. If my daughter and her friend weren't running directly behind me within earshot, I likely would have confessed the absurdity to my friend and then proceeded to laugh hard enough to get a side ache. Instead, our conversation went something like this:
Friend:   That house you rented for Hood to Coast looks amazing!
Me:        Holding shoulders rigid with constipated-looking anal-retentiveness. Oh I know! I was so stoked to find it. I think most teams are procrastinating on booking, so there were a ton of great places to choose from. [Thinking: Oh crap! There's another runner coming towards us. Are my boobs bouncing all over the place?]
Friend:   It's great that it has a hot tub. That'll be perfect for after the race.
Me:        Oh my gosh, I know. There were a couple other comparable places, but come on, the hot tub won me over. [Thinking: I feel sweat trickling down. Oh no! SPARE ME, PLEASE! Don't burn the chafed skin just under my boobs from the half marathon! OMG IT'S FREAKING BURNING! My own sweat hates me!]
Friend:  And it looks like there are plenty of beds for everyone, which is awesome.
Me:        [Thinking: Oh no... OH NO! It's slipping again! My boob is going to fall off! The burning... the burning won't stop. Someone just put me out of my misery.Trying to inconspicuously adjust my right bra strap. Yes, so much better than trying to sleep on some crappy pullout couch. [Thinking: How on Earth did I manage to forget to put on a sports bra? I'm an idiot.]
Anyway, you get the picture. The whole thing would have been hilarious had I not been feeling under the weather and miserably uncomfortable from this weekend's chafing, which brings me to my complaint of the day: Why oh why can't I find a comfortable, high-impact sports bra that doesn't chafe my ribcage during a half marathon? I've tried several different ones, but there's always a seam or something about the fabric that irritates my ridiculously sensitive skin. Forget anything involving exposed elastic, and I hate adjustable straps because they either involve those cheap plastic hooks that pop open mid-run and dig into my back, or because they adjust with velcro, which leaves a lump that always hits my collar bones in the wrong way. Anti-chafe cream helps, but it doesn't get rid of the problem entirely.

The Gap used to make a sports bra that I loved, but sadly, they stopped making them a few years ago. Now, those bras are so old that the thread on the seams leave raw skin after more than a few miles.
Did you really expect me to stick to boring underwear colors?
One of these days I fear I'm just going to have to design my own sports bra, but I'm fairly pathetic with a sewing machine and I'd prefer to not reinvent the wheel. If anyone has a favorite sports bra that they swear by, I'd love a few suggestions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Valentine

While I realize a lot of people scoff at Valentine's Day, it has always been a favorite holiday of mine because of its simplicity and positive message of love. When I was a child, I looked forward to exchanging Valentines with my classmates, each of whom I matched to what I felt was the appropriate picture drawn on the cards that I so carefully chose each year. In high school, I searched the Val-o-grams posted on the walls and snuck the heart on which my several-year crush's name was written into my backpack when no one was watching.

Now as an adult, I love surprising my girls and James with something simple but thoughtful. They always know I love them, but their extra excitement when finding a new pencil holder filled with chocolate and the handmade Valentines waiting for them fills me with that warm fuzzy feeling that just makes my day a beautiful one.

Today, though, James was the star of my show. In addition to a fancy new camera, he surprised me with the most amazing gift - he had all the photographs I had stored on both the hard drive and the backup drive that crashed restored. My memories that had fogged over during my postpartum illness were captured on camera but have been lost for several years, and I thought that I would never see them again.

First, he handed me an envelope with a stack of favorite memories printed, then he gave me the new hard drive with the thousands of restored photos. This is, without a doubt, the most meaningful gift I could have imagined.

2003 - Shortly after James proposed while
backpacking Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon
October 23, 2004
We were basically 12-year-olds.
2006 - Who knew this curly-haired munchkin would
turn into one heck of a runner a decade later?
And again... our chubby firstborn cherub!
Our second hairy baby one day after birth! Now that chubby
munchkin is a gymnast with an 8-pack!
Our second (huge) baby at a couple months old.
She still has wild hair and crazy dimples!
I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with love and friendship... and if it's not, I hope you treat yourself to some self-love and chocolate! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Better Half Marathon

In attempt to build my endurance, I have decided it is again time to attempt difficult and/or high mileage runs back-to-back. My first taste of this kind of training was preparing for Hood to Coast last year. While I ran that well and felt proud of my overall performance, I realized after the race that endurance is my weak point. Increasing my overall endurance is going to be even more important in 2017 as I prepare for Ragnar Trail Rainier and Hood to Coast Washington this summer, so my goal over the next several months is to focus my energy on becoming a stronger runner with decreased recovery time in between long runs.

This weekend I decided it was time to step up my game and actively focus on achieving this goal, so I started Saturday with a 9+ mile hilly trail run around Lake Youngs with a couple of friends, then I woke up at a comical hour and watched the sunrise over Lake Washington before running the My Better Half Marathon at Seward Park on Sunday.

Lake Washington at Sunrise
My Better Half Marathon ended up being five loops of the park, which would have included some hills except our stormy weather knocked over several trees last week, so the course had to be modified just before the event. Running the same loop over and over was a bit monotonous, but Mount Rainier made her majestic appearance, so at least the views were spectacular for the entire race.
My apologies for the poor quality in the photo...
iPhones cameras struggle in dim lighting.
Of course, in light of the theme, I ran with my better half even though I did spend part of my time glancing over my shoulder to make sure he was keeping up with me. He hasn't been training as much as he should due to all his recent travel (and because he has been spending more time playing ice hockey than in his running shoes... but we're letting that slide because I don't want to be a nag... *cough*).

Looking a little haggard, but whatever. No shame.
Despite my long, hilly run the day before and James' lack of preparedness, we ran a strong 13.1 miles and finished with a decent time. We weren't out to set any records with this particular race; it was more about spending time with each other and our friends. Nevertheless, I was proud of our strong finish.

Finishers say, "CHEESE!"

Yes, we wore matching INKnBURN shirts, and I realize just how painfully cheesy (or shall I say... ridiculously spectacular!) we look with our gooey-lovey-dovey hug and smiles, but whatever. We love each other and the whole event is meant to be pretty cheesy, so we fit right in. By the way, the shirts have a hidden unicorn... do you see it? 

INKnBURN Men's ISO Shirt
Anyway, I know you're dying to hear my list of What I Learned this time around. Here you go.
  1. Some of my friends are really grumpy in the morning (*cough* no names mentioned, but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE)... approach with coffee and do not make eye contact next time. And here I thought I was the grumpy one. 
  2. I need to remember to use the foam roller on my calves and achilles after a trail run if I plan on running a PR the day after a long training run.
  3. The trick I learned from Golden Harper regarding thinking of swinging my arms back instead of pushing them forward really keeps my posture upright when the fatigue tries to sneak in.
  4. I learned from my last half marathon and didn't push the first few miles, which led to a strong pace even through mid-and-late race. 
  5. Steamy, salty vegetable lentil soup is my favorite post-race snack ever. Must find a good recipe and make some to have ready after next race.
  6. Not only is James not allowed to be the pacer, but he also runs into me and swipes me with his elbow if I allow him to get too close while running with him. Next time I'll just have to run with a taser and zap him with it if he gets too close.
  7. Stashing warm clothing in the drop bag was a really smart idea. Note to self: do this every time.
  8. Wearing matching shirts might be a little dorky, but it was actually really fun.
  9. Running a race for fun at a conversational speed is very rewarding, and I still ran faster than expected.
  10. I am a better runner and stronger than I think I am.
Side note... it is my Better Half's birthday today. Even though I give him a lot of heck about running into me when we're running a race together, he's still my favorite partner for just about everything in life (except for maybe a girl's night). 

Happy birthday, my sweetheart!
(Yeah... I know this is ultra mushy. Deal with it.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Playing in the Snow

I know that Sunday was the Super Bowl, but this photo sums up how I spent my day...

Just before my friend took that picture on Sunday morning, we went for an icy, somewhat miserable run that ended with running face-first into a mixture of rain and snow and increasingly colder wind for the last mile or so. By nightfall, my backyard looked something like this:

SNOWMAGEDDON: Seattle Edition 2017
Now you might be thinking, "Um, so what?"... to which this Arizona-born gal is going to respond, "HOLY SH** YOU GUYS! IT'S SNOWING!!!"

Though Seattle may have a reputation for rain and chilly weather, snow is relatively uncommon here. When white fluffy stuff does occasionally fall from the sky, it usually dusts the ground in a few patchy, half-melted areas and sticks around for less than a day.

With that being said, we have been covered in a layer of several inches of actual snow since Monday morning, and the entire Greater Seattle area has been a gorgeous winter wonderland that included my kids' first "snow days" from school. And, because James' flight arrived from India and his taxi couldn't make it up our neighborhood hill, I got to watch him trek his way through the snow lugging his suitcase while wearing pajama bottoms. I'm not going to lie... I thought this was pretty hilarious and proceeded to snap photos of him rather than help. Don't judge me. He was laughing, too.

Nothing to see here, folks. Keep moving along.
Due to the weather, we have had a mellow and fun couple of days off. While my girls enjoyed playing in the snow for several hours with their neighborhood friends, my close neighbor friend who coerced me into trying yoga and running (which, by the way, I am eternally grateful to her for this) came up with the great idea to drag a couch into my front yard so we could drink hot coffee and watch our kids have the time of their lives while lounging comfortably. It was a great couple of days, and I took the opportunity to play a little in the snow myself because no one ever told me that I have to act like an adult all the time.

Learn from me and wear gloves before trying this at home.
Lotus Pullover and Blue Cable Knit Capris by INKnBURN
Every once in awhile I have this realization that I am now the age that I once considered to be kind of "old." In my early twenties while working at a ballroom dance studio, a few of my friends were in their mid-thirties, and I always thought - wow, when I'm their age I hope I'm in as good of shape and as young-seeming as they are.

I think it's safe to say that at thirty-five, I'm not that old.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

An Unwanted but Necessary Rest Day

I hit the ground running my way through this week trying to stay on top of my girls' activities, work, entertaining my mom, and keeping my head above water while James has been working from India. While it has definitely been tough, I've managed to bust out a difficult 10.5 mile trail run through one of the nearby mountains, take my daughter to Tuesday night running group, and spend time in the hot room doing power vinyasa yoga twice this week.

Tonight, though, I couldn't keep up the (unintentional) Superwoman act. After an overwhelming day of helping out a friend, spending time with my mom, and hours of driving my girls back and forth through Seattle and its greater surrounding area, I made the decision to skip running group tonight. Though it was a sunny day, it was chilly with a heavy, bitter wind, and I was too exhausted to fight the voice telling me to just go home and rest for the evening.

Instead of sweating in the frosty wind while my arms and legs flailed through the dark for a good five miles or so, I came home and tossed a whole organic free-range chicken in the pressure cooker with some spices, herbs, and lemon juice over multi-colored potatoes and carrots and pressed the "start" button. While I normally would have been basking in the glory of the runner's high, I helped my oldest with her piano practice and let my mom pick my youngest up from gymnastics.

Sometimes, I feel like I have failed myself when I skip a run. Tonight, though, I realize that it was a much needed break.