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Showing posts from July, 2011

A Perfect Stranger

Friday night I went on a 12-mile training run along Bayshore Boulevard. I had made it through the toughest part--the halfway turnaround--and I was about three-quarters done with the run when some instinctive calling told me to stop and turn around, observe the sky. It was about 8:20 p.m., and an earlier storm had left behind a sky of cloud that veiled the intensity of the summer sun. And even though the sun does not set over this particular bay, the Hillsborough Bay (the shore of which faces east), the muted sun did a couple of magical things that I had to stop and take pictures of.

The first thing it did was cast a golden gleam onto the buildings of downtown Tampa. From the distance at which I stood, the buildings were not so recognizable that they were familiar; instead, the golden speckles made the downtown area look to me like a gilded city, another place entirely.

Still smiling from this encounter, I continued on my run. I was about 8.5 miles in when I decided on a whim to look up…

Bloody Toes, Blisters, and Bruises, Oh My!

Okay, so it doesn't exactly conjure images of Dorothy prancing along the yellow-brick road in her pristine ruby slippers, but these are the true signs that I am back in training. In a way, I feel like I never came out of training in the first place. Not since September of last year. But what made it real to me was the blood spot on my sock from one foot and the blister on the fourth toe pad of my other foot after a week of higher-than-usual mileage. Ah, the joys of running. I had forgotten how the feet get battered from the constant pressure and pounding of long runs. Granted, the bloody toe was more a product of my over-grooming habits (i.e., I am a compulsive nail clipper), but there was something almost delightful about the sight of bright red blood on my white sock after I pulled off my running shoe. These are my battle wounds. I've earned them. And while they're uncomfortable, I can handle them.

In fact, I have a bit of a fascination with blisters. I know the common w…

Women Runners Make Strides--in Fashion?

When I received my August 2011 issue of Runner's World magazine in the mail, I glanced down at the cover and my face fell a bit. The cover image features an obviously athletic female runner decked out in bright pink designer running clothes--skirt included--with a link to the article title "Fastinistas: The Flashy New Gear Culture and the Women Who Love It."

Frankly my feelings are split on this matter of fashionable athletic wear. On the one hand, I believe women (and men) should be able to wear whatever they want when they run. On the other hand, I can't imagine a similar cover story about, say, "MetroMilers: Chic New Running Apparel and the Men Who Dig It" (can you?).

One thing that bothers me about the article is that it focuses on women's desire to stand out and get noticed--but treats this as a positive aspect of women's running, as if bright colors and flattering fits demonstrate pride. And while I can't argue with this viewpoint in theor…

My First Adventure Race

At long last, I made it to the local Picnic Island Adventure Run last night, which is actually a series of three adventure races held in Tampa each summer at Picnic Island Park. I had been out of town for the previous two races of the summer, so I was determined to make this one.

Although the race was not set up to be intimidating or particularly brutal (think Tough Mudder), it was the first race I would run that had intentional obstacles--things I typically try to avoid. I knew parts of the race would take place in sand, water, and mud, and that there would be a hurdle to jump over, some tires to run through, and hills to zigzag up and down. For someone who does not typically run on anything but flat pavement, these obstacles caused a bit of concern for me beforehand. But because I was trying to fend off an injury to my right lower leg, I vowed I would not actually race but just run "for fun" (seriously, who really does that?). I've declared this before about previous r…

Chicago Marathon Training -- Part I

So I started training for my first marathon (again) in June. I had a setback almost immediately, hence the NO RUNNING days. After a fairly busy race season over the past fall and winter (three half-marathons), I should have rested before taking on this new endeavor. But I didn't; instead, I joined a running group and intensified my running because I was a newbie and felt I needed to be competitive to prove myself. The result? Unforgiving shin splints and persistent pain in the muscles surrounding my right shin. Out of fear that the pain might turn into a(nother) stress fracture if I kept running, and upon the unsolicited advice of several friends, I grudgingly decided it would be better to rest early on to prevent an injury than to push through and possibly create an injury that may take me out of training completely.

I'm the first to admit that I'm stubborn about training. To get a personalized training schedule, I looked at several different training schedule put togethe…

On Group Running

Two months ago I joined a local running group through the social organizing website. I knew a couple of the guys in the group from the pub run that I'd been attending for a while, and they invited me to go out to the Monday night runs with this group. I'd rejected a couple of previous invitations because I was intimidated by the idea of imposing myself into an already established--and rather serious--running group. But I also had the Chicago Marathon--a race I'd signed up for a bit spontaneously--looming in October, which meant I'd have to do some heavy training throughout the summer. Based on previous experience, I knew I was not likely to tough out the hell-like heat of summer training on my own, so I thought I'd give the group running a go. I should also add the disclaimer that I had a crush on one of the guys who'd invited me to join. (If you see the potential for disaster already, you are smarter than I was.)

My first meet-up with the group was …