Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

We've been remiss in explaining our blog title/theme to those who live under a rock are not familiar with the spectacular mind of Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. Our inspiration, of course, comes from Oh, the Places You'll Go!, and we found that just about every line of this children's book perfectly applies in the most poignant way to running and life in general.

Thankfully, as Liv posted a while back, one of our fave blog's did a little feature on our inspiration and took far better photos than we could provide. So, take a little jog with us through the fantastical world of Dr. Seuss...

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bouncy Gym: Workouts for the Motivationally Challenged

Ever since my knee threw up a white flag at mile 1 of the Marine Corp Marathon, things just aren't quite working the way they used to. I thought that certainly after I allowed myself plenty of time to recover, things would fall back into working order - but unfortunately, my running legs still aren't functional and my knees are still begging for mercy.

As a result, I've been looking for alternate forms of exercise - which can be a little challenging because I'm not currently a member of a gym. My office building has a workout room with a few cardio machines, but I usually get claustrophobic down there and extremely scatterbrained (read: I find myself more focused on watching 30 Rock instead of actually pedaling forward).

So last week, I decided to test out the bouncy gym workout (via Run to the Finish). It's basically a way to get yourself moving when you're feeling less than motivated. Whenever I hop on an elliptical without really wanting to be there, I go entirely too easy on myself and hardly break a sweat. The bouncy gym concept is basically a way of limiting your time on each machine, changing up your cardio more consistently and mixing in a few weights when you're feeling saucy.
I tried this concept a few times when I was first starting to run and attempting to increase my weekly mileage. When it was bitterly cold outside, the thought of trotting on a treadmill for more than a couple of miles was entirely too depressing for me, so I'd run a few miles, head to the elliptical for a few, and then back to the treadmill to finish my run. It kept me focused on my workout and decreased the likelihood that I'd plop down on the rower with an Us Weekly

Now that running is temporarily off the table, I'm going back and forth between the elliptical and the bike, and then a quick round through the weight machines. This workout definitely works for me - especially at the end of a long day when I'm not feeling particularly inspired by the four walls of my office's basement prison cell workout room.

Check out Run to Finish for more info. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Another Musical Monday

I've received a few recent requests for a long overdue Musical Monday, but sadly, my playlist has lately been limited to the soothing sounds of fusion. I've been kinda addicted to yoga for the past few weeks, so I'm a lot more likely to get meditative chants stuck in my head rather than Indie beats.

Thankfully, the folks at New Normal Music are always around to keep me young and hip. I was a little startled when I flipped over to this site and heard one of my favorite Birmingham groups belting out some familiar tunes. I've been kind of mesmerized by Great Book of John since the first time I saw them play several years ago at Bottletree Cafe in the 'Ham. Front man Taylor Shaw has a certain jen ne sais quoi that kinda leaves you with your jaw on the floor and a lovestruck twinkle in your eye (this applies for dudes too btw). They put out a self-titled album this summer that is rather delightful, though I'm still a little partial to their 2009 album Yves' Blues. Honestly, it's a win-win situation. Just make sure you check 'em out.

The Great Book of John by Communicating Vessels

Also, I highly recommend the soundtrack from Crazy. Stupid. Love. It's a sweet little collection of reminiscent songs, including what is probably one of my all time favorite tunes (that I'm pretty sure has already been featured on this here blog so just deal):


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just Another Musical (Saturday)

Okay, so maybe this song has absolutely nothing to do with my boys dressed in crimson, but I can't help but get a little pumped up for the Iron Bowl today with this little tune from Blind Pilot called "We are the Tide."

We Are The Tide - Album Preview 1 from Blind Pilot on Vimeo.

And another delightful tune...

Blind Pilot :: 'New York' via @liveset from Blind Pilot on Vimeo.

Be sure to check out their website for a free download of "Keep Your Right".

Rollllllll Tide!

Friday, November 25, 2011

It Was Only a Matter of Time

Or, alternatively titled:  My first humiliating experience.

We have all met Lexi when I mentioned that I may have gone crazy in taking on a new hobby.  Now I should tell you about our first near death ride together.  I bought her on a Sunday, her and a lot of shiz to go with.  One thing I'm holding out on purchasing until I'm sure I need it is car rack.  I live in a great location with access to many different biking trails so I don't need to be driving her to new unexplored territory just yet.  So when I bought her I had driven my car to the store.  No big deal - the store always does one final check before the bike goes to its new owner and they would install all of my "accessories" to boot.  I would metro the following night after work to the store to drive her home.

To say I was nervous was an understatement.  I mean - I know how to ride a bike, but this was different.  This was a big girl bike.  It was our first official ride together.  I imagined it being somewhat like when the hospital kicks new parents to the curb and they're all "wait, we're not ready to be alone with it...why can't we stay here longer where you tell us when to feed it and how to keep it living...what if we hurt it...what if it hurts us?"

I was stalling in the store asking my new friends at Revolution if they were sure I was ready.  "Yes, you are ready - now please get out of our store as we are closing, and this is the second night in a row you have stayed past close."  They didn't really say that, but it's likely they were thinking it.

When I say they installed all my accessories, that included my new pedals.  But remember, they are only "professional" pedals on one side.  Don't worry - I am a "professional" - a professional spinning class attendee that is.  One that became even more "advanced" in 2008 when I purchased my first pair of cycling shoes.  You know, the kind that permanently attach your foot to the pedal like some sort of torture device.  The purpose for this is a more efficient pedal stroke, and the experts are totally right. When you wear the shoes and are "clipped in," you can tell a huge difference in your stroke/form, the efficiency of the way your muscles move and the energy exerted to complete a revolution.

Before you say what I know you're going to say - I'm not naive enough to think that because I clip-in for spinning class I was ready for it on a moving bike.  I completely understood that there would be a learning and adjustment period.  I probably could have waited, but remember, I have the clipless only on one side. Plus they were installing everything on my bike for me so why not go ahead and have them installed for when I was ready and I would ease myself into them by using the traditional pedal side until I got used to riding.

Good intentions aside - I was 100% not planning on riding my inaugural ride clipped in.  However, patience is not my strong suit, and I just had to "practice" and see what it was like.  Never mind that one of my new friends gave me a total big head.  There we were in the store, him holding the bike just so I could practice clipping in and out with my new pedals.  He said, "wait - I thought you said you've never done this before."

To which I replied, "I haven't - not on a moving bike, only in spin class."  Then he was all "oh, pshh - you're way ahead of most.  Look, you've got this."

So off I go, with my new toy baby in the neighborhood behind the store, away from traffic where I could practice before I headed home.  Just to see if I could.  Everything is going great.  I'm riding around, coming up to stop signs, clipping in and out and adjusting to the bike.  Not even 15 minutes go by and I'm all, "okay, good practice session, I'm just going to go over here to this sidewalk and change out my shoes and head home."  There I go, up this teeeeny hill to a stop sign by the sidewalk...but holy balls - I'm stuck, oh my gosh - I cannot get my feet out!  Ohhh emmmm geee...I'm falling over, *bam*. Yep, that just happened.

I knew it was going to happen at some point, it happens to everyone learning (or so my friends say, probably just to make me feel better), I just didn't think it would happen in my first 15 minutes.  It's such a helpless feeling. It's like I was looking down on myself from above laughing and pointing, saying, "haha - you're stuck you sucker."  I couldn't believe how fast my momentum was just gone.  I have a lovely bruise as a souvenir.  I will not post a picture of it here, it's that gnarly - you are welcome.  Thankfully my bike survived the incident without a scratch.

So I stand up, dust off my pride, immediately change shoes and head home.  Terrified of everyone and everything around me en route.  Forget that extra mile I was going to throw in...I was looking for the quickest way to safety.

Things are going MUCH better now thankyouverymuch.  Each time I ride I feel more and more confident.  It only took me three rides until I felt completely safe enough to grab my water bottle and drink, while moving!  Baby steps people, baby steps.  It will likely be at least a year before I even contemplate riding with headphones....on the lowest volume possible (how do people do that?).

 I still hate riding in traffic though.  I'm like a nervous chihuahua looking around me, "what's that car going to do? is it going to stop? should I go? should he go?  do i have enough time to get my feet right and make it across? On your lefffft! Damn, I should have just wrapped myself in bubble wrap"

This past weekend I was at the Revolution location in Georgetown and met one of their awesome staff.  She was so supportive of my newbie stank and telling me about the wonderful group rides that will start back up in the Spring.  They are fully staffed so they are "no-drop" rides (ie, no one gets left) - I'll learn how to safely ride in traffic and how to ride in a pack of others.  Fantastic, sign me up.  Just what I yesterday!

So until March, I'll just...pray.  And read books - blogs and a lot of books, Roadbiking for Dummies perhaps?  Soliciting all suggestions and humiliating stories for self-soothing.

 Oh and please pass the bubble wrap.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving, we're Turkey Trottin' across the map. Liv is knockin' out a race in DC while Sal is hobbling along in Austin. It has no doubt been an eventful year, and we're so thankful for the many blessings in our lives.

Here are just a few of the things we're gosh darn grateful for...

Best wishes to our dear running buddy Megs...

Precious little ones that could even melt the Grinch's heart...

And clearly this list wouldn't be complete without...

And looking forward into the next year, we're thankful our bodies are in working order so we can focus on new goals...
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, we're thankful for all of you! Wishing you all the happiest of Thanksgivings from Shoes Full of Feet!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things We Forget

'Tis the time of year for spending time with friends and family and showing gratitude for all of the many blessings in our lives. 'Tis also the time of year for regretfully overeating, not exercising nearly enough (if at all), and stressing about holiday shopping and a never ending "to do" list and entirely too many parties and... (sigh). So in honor of Turkey Day tomorrow, here are some reminders of the things we've always known and have heard many times before, and yet, we sometimes forget (via Things We Forget)...

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dogma of Down Dog

As the days get shorter and shorter this time of year, it's pretty darn easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes I can't help but grow weary of the monotony: wake up, go to work, keep working, work some more, never see daylight, hopefully squeeze in a workout, go to bed. (Sidenote: I know there are plenty of overstretched parents out there who tackle each day as a balancing act and would probably sometimes kill for some of that monotony.)

There's just something about this time of year that makes you want to pull an Eat Pray Love stunt and break free of the cycle. 

I've been feeling a little antsy lately, so I was delighted to wake up on this dreary rainy morning and find this lovely little email from Patty of DC's Down Dog Yoga:

I love my morning ritual. To wake up and be able to enjoy the stillness that comes along with early morning rising is one of my favorite things in life. As I sit here with a hot cup of French Press, I am realizing just how much I love the mundane of the everyday. 

As humans we are creatures of habit. And with life being as impermanent as it is, we rely on the comfort our daily routine offers.

But only so much is possible in this routine state because we can only grow as much as our space allows.  And when we reach our limit, change becomes essential in order to expand the experience of self.

All photos via The Atlantic | National Geographic Photo Contest 2011
So poignant and true. A very happy mundane Tuesday to you all! 

Rundown by Running?

Feeling a little bored by your running routine? Looking to shake things up a bit? Then give freerunning a try! It's as easy as brain surgery and all of the cool absolutely insane and freakishly fit kids are doing it...

Run on, y'all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

And I thought Lulu was Expensive

I wasn't unprepared.  At least not in every since of the word.  I knew cycling gear was expensive.  I knew I would need a lot of stuff.  I knew I wouldn't be able to afford all of it right away.

When I purchased Lexi, I had a clear frame of mind and a goal of how the purchasing of the additional "stuff" was going to go down.  I was going to start with the *essentials, then get out on the road, get acquainted with it all and from there figure out what else I needed.

*The Essentials:

  • Helmet: duh, check!
  • Water bottle cage (thanks Revolution for the free water bottle to boot)
  • Light(s): one to see and one to be seen
  • Tool bag: although I do not yet know how to use anything in said tool bag. I watched the "pit boss" at the shop change out an inner tube. But lets be real, I'm going to have to do that like 3 times on my own before I get the hang of it. So if you live in the DC area and see a girl stranded on the trail with a busted inner tube, please stop to help. I have my own tools. Which reminds me... must watch YouTube video on how to put chain back on bike. Y'all, I'm that green - I had my friends/dad do that for me as a kid. It was greasy, ew.
  • Lock: I hesitated on this one because I don't plan on locking her outside at all. People do not think twice about stripping or stealing bikes in these parts. It is not unusual to see one lonesome wheel locked to a tree. However, I do ride her to and from work some days as my workouts and the Nazi guards downstairs won't let us bring our prized possessions into the office. (Even though our CEO is a borderline professional triathlete and tells us all not to leave them in the garage. Oh, he gets to bring his up...because the guards won't mess with Willy, but they fight any other employee). And while I don't think anything will happen to it in the bike cage of the garage, it's not going to be left unlocked.  
  • Air pump: Okay, wasn't expecting this one and it was like, the very first thing Alex (my new friend) grabbed as a necessity. And then I was all "Right, how was I going to check the pressure or keep air in my tires?" Because, the gas station air pump doesn't work on bikes. Oh and you should check the air pressure pretty much after every ride, and my pressure range should be around 90 to 110.   
  • DZNuts Chamois Cream: How can you not love the name? Marketing brilliance! Another one that wasn't on my mental grocery list; however, I only needed to hear the words "saddle sores" to put it on the counter. And I thought chafing was my biggest issue.
  • Pedals: I went with clip-in or "clipless" pedals on one side and your "traditional" pedal on the flip side.
  • Shoes: These were definitely not on my list. I had a pair of cycling shoe (granted, I got them in 2008 but whatevs). But, blue light special, a new pair of shoes on sale at only $25 bones from nearly $100. The shoes were literally the cheapest accessory (back light, water bottle cage and cream excluded), and again - same pair since 2008 (a very uncool pair might I add with three Velcro straps. I've felt judged in spinning class for years).

In my brief stint, here is my list of things I already think I'll be needing or wanting. Note:  I didn't buy any "clothes" when I bought the bike. I already had a pair of the padded shorts. Eventually I know I'll need another pair so I won't have to re-wash the same ones.
  • A jersey. Scene: Getting ready for my first long weekend ride. I've got my ID and a credit card zipped in the back pocket my lulu running tights per usual run preparation (which I'm wearing over my running shorts by the way - see below for riding tights). I've thrown on one of my Nike running shirts. I start looking for a place to put my phone (which my phone is about the size of a brick because while it is the thin iPhone 4, it is wisely and safely protected from the likes of nuclear war in it's otter box case). When I run with my phone, I hold it in my hand. (Yes, it's a little annoying, but it's also my ipod and safety blanket. I get lost, google maps.  I forget to charge my Garmin watch, Nike GPS App. And for races - Chris can text me and let me know where he is spectating, you get the picture). Anyway - I have nowhere for my phone, and let's be real, there was a higher probability than not that something would happen and Chris would have to fetch me: crash/busted tire/lost/exhaustion. I obviously can't ride with it in my hand. It won't fit in my tool pouch and there are no pockets on my shirt. And even some of my running shirts that do have pockets are only big enough for GUs, ipod nanos and maybe a credit card or cash. I was at a loss. Enter jersey at the top of the need list: jerseys (while I always thought those that wore them were either professionals or pretending to be professional) are quite practical, and now I know why: pockets! Bigger pockets for lots of stuff. Unlike me relying on my tights for storage while running, it's the tops in the cycling world that carry your shiz.  
  • Cycling tights: As mentioned, the lulu running tights worn over my padded cycling shorts is a great temporary fix (not to mention sexy), but I'm worried I am going to wear out the seat of my beloved lulu tights, which would be no bueno.  
  • Gore booties/Thermo Overshoe: It only took my first time riding in to work one chilly morning to come to this expensive realization.  If I am going to bike much past mid-December and even tempt the likes of Jan/Feb, these are going to have to become a reality. It wasn't even that cold out and my toes felt like they were going to fall off. Not to mention the leeetle patch of skin on my ankle that was exposed between my tights and shoes.
  • Gloves: "Pshhh, I don't need no gloves. I can wear my lulu running gloves." Wrong again. Your fingers are the very first thing the wind hits as you ride. And like the toes, as an extremity they are more susceptible to feeling like they'll fall off. Not to mention cycling gloves are made with padding along the palm of your hand where you will get blisters. And they have this special little soft spot on the top of the thumb for you to wipe your face/sweat/dripping nose. Yum. Sad thing about the gloves is that you basically need two pairs:  one if you plan to ride in the off-season that are warmer and thicker, another for warm weather riding that are thinner and are cut-off. So...
I'll take these 
oh damnit, and these too 

When I was having my "I need a jersey moment", Chris asked if Lululemon made cycling jerseys. Despondently, I responded that " they don't make any cycling stuff, but I REALLY REALLY wish they would, with a cherry on top."  Maybe one day. They have after all, just released dance gear.

Lay it on me riders - tell me about your favorite and must-have cycling gear.

Signed, the loan applicant,

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Might Be Crazy, but I Finally Did It

Meet Sexy Lexi, my new Trek Lexa S roadbike.

Why did I need a bike you ask?  For one, we have lived in DC for over two years now and every day of said two years I have wanted a bike.  On our recent California adventure, we did a little huffing up hills cycling of our own and I had such a blast, I knew I wouldn't be able to hold out much longer.

For two, call me crazy, but I would like to enter the world of triathlons (and...complete a century ride). I pretty much think I owe it to myself, no - to the friggin' world - to "tri" (ha, see what I did there). And here is my thought process - I swam year-round competitively for 8 years of my life. If given the opportunity, I would be a mermaid. I know I'm not as fast in the water as I used to be, but I still enjoy it and still have the endurance to bang out a mile or two on my swimming cross-training days. I could be wrong, but I think the aspect of a triathlon that holds most people back is the swim. Now that I feel comfortable with and love running - there was only one next step to tie it all together. Not to mention that swimming and cycling are great low-impact, counter-parts to running and good for your joints. Plus I have the desire... so why not go for it?

I know - I can hear all of the experienced people laughing at me through the computer as you are reading this. Note to all experienced laughing people: I do not take this lightly - I get that you can smell my newbie stank from a mile away. There are oh so many aspects of the road I'm about embark that are terrifying (ie - open water swims, all the crap gear that comes with three sports, don't even get me started on how nervous I get at the mere thought of what the start of cycling road race must be like - it gives me hives). BUT, I'm willing and eager to learn and share it all right here.

However, I needed to get through the marathon before I could even start looking at bikes or turn my attention elsewhere. But I also realized that now is a good time to buy, especially if you are a newbie like myself and you don't need the latest and greatest/top of the line/price tag of a car, model. I was hoping to score a 2011 model for a good price and some bang for the buck.

Many hours of internet research, time polling friends, visits to various local area bike shops, and a few test drives later - she was mine.  I heart her.

So what does this all mean? No, I'm not cutting back on running - in fact, quite the opposite. I want to improve; run faster, better, stronger and more efficiently. I want a sub 4:00 marathon time. I want to run the New York Marathon next October. I want to run a few halves and a ten miler or two before then. And in the meantime....I'm going to figure this here cycling thing out, and swim, and work on my core strength, aaand do yoga for stretching with some strength training to boot. Sounds like I'm going to be a busy girl.  Where can I get some more time?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PMS: The Other Kind

Bloating, irritability, food cravings, pain, fatigue... all symptoms of PMS. Along with comparison shopping, feelings of worthlessness, sadness, pessimism, feeling lost and rounding down.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may be a victim of PMS - otherwise known as Post-Marathon Syndrome. (It's a real thing, okay?) Apparently it's quite common to feel a little blue after you've finished something huge like a marathon. And according to Coach Jenny, it's not such a bad thing either...

"There are great benefits to living in this space for a little while. One, it allows you to slow down enough to heal and rejuvenate. And two, when you sit with it, you can gain awareness of the natural phases of a marathoner's life and see it as an opportunity to run seasonally and make the most of the free time." (Via Ask Coach Jenny)

So how do you break through the emotional torture? Well, for one thing, remember that time is relative. Just because you (meaning "me") didn't meet your goal time, it doesn't mean you didn't accomplish something awesome. And "one runner's personal worst is another's personal best." Then start to consider the following questions:

What were the lessons in this race? And what were the gifts?

For me, the lessons were: I committed to running too long of a race before I really loved anything about running. And, you can't cheat your body into thinking it's more prepared than it really is. Aaaand, I can't compare myself to my dear running mate, Liv, who just so happens to be awesome at goal setting and sticking with a plan and doing lots and lots of athletic things a billion times better than me (sigh). The gifts? My totally awesome support crew and running buddies and strangers cheering and the total rush knowing that, "I finally did it."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knee Deep in Self Pity

So after all my moanin' and groanin' about my severe knee pain and its untimely return early in the marathon, I finally sucked it up and visited the doc. And this wasn't just any doc. I went to a guy that has run 35+ marathons and ultramarathons, including the Grindstone 100 (with the totally awesome belt buckle to boot). So I had a hunch this guy would immediately be able to size me up and know that it was amateur hour when I walked in the door. 

I talked him through the history of my knee pain and described the moment when my IT band first flared up. I also shared with him that the pain is no longer limited to just when I'm running - I feel it nearly 24/7 these days. He nodded and asked a few questions here and there, but basically gave me a look that said, "You're a newbie and a wimp. Suck it up." I took no offense though, because he was completely right. 

We did a few exercises in the mirror and he pointed out how different the movement is between my right and left kneecaps, which is primarily caused by my extreme bowleggedness and a definite factor in my painful stride. He then put me on the table and tried a few resistance exercises - and that is when things got interesting amusing for him... and rather humiliating for me. He pressed against my leg as I pressed back, and though he tried, he could no longer contain his laughter. He looked at me and said, "Well, how do I say this nicely...?" I saved him the awkward moment and filled in the silence... "You're calling me a wimp, huh?"

Though I've never exactly claimed to be Wonder Woman, I didn't think my strength was that bad. But apparently I was mistaken. He taught me the proper way to do several stretches that will build strength in my hip and butt (so that I can give my knees a little rest).

And here they are (sorry for the creepy Internet pictures, but it's better than self photography)...

#1 The Bridge - with a resistance band around my thighs/just over my knees so that I'm more conscious of my form. It was also particularly challenging to quit doing the bridge like a yoga move - I kept rolling down my spine rather than lowering from the hip. 

#2 The Clam. I've always hated the clam. It feels so Jane Fonda-ish and completely unnatural. But doctor's orders...

And speaking of Sweatin' the Oldies... #3 The Leg Lift - against a wall. I told him the reason I hadn't been doing this exercise is that there's not a wall long enough in my apartment for me to do this against (wall space is limited in my glorious 429 square feet). He rolled his eyes for the 17th time and told me to friggin' find one. The reason the wall is so helpful with this exercise is because it ensures that your leg rises straight up - and it forces you to pay more attention to your form. 

Obviously, none of these exercises are really new. But the way in which he taught them was. I need to focus on doing 2 reps of 20 each as slowly and controlled as possible. And you just wait, before you know it, I'm going to look like this...

Dr. Ultramarathon won't know what hit him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Do They Wear That

It blows my mind when I see people wearing crazy costumes in races.  One word comes to mind - chafing.  How could it not happen in starchy, itchy polyester costumes?  How could they not be miserably hot?  How do they do it for a 5k, forget the people that do it for a full marathon?

The Marine Corps Marathon is always the last Sunday of October, so naturally, close to Halloween.  Last year it was actually on Halloween.  Chris snapped some good shots this year along the course of these costume clad individuals.

There was a shark

several penguins

and a few that actually didn't look too uncomfortable, like a bee

and a Mrs.Waldo looking for her match. She was pretty cute with her "Looking for Waldo" sign.

This guy made the news as he ran the entire thing barefoot and in a tuxedo. 

Spectator superhero got in on the action

So seriously guys, what's the trick to running in outfits like these?  A Vaseline bath?  

I can't thank my sweet husband Chris enough. Not only did he document the whole experience, but he was so amazing the whole weekend, chauffeuring our family around, herding cats the day of the race making sure they were at all of the viewing spots in plenty of time to see me, waking up at the crack of dawn to drive us to the metro.  I couldn't do any of it without your support.