Monthly Archives: April 2012

Recovery Run

I spent all night trying to remind myself that this was just an opportunity to test my feet. I have placed in one of the top three spots in this race since I began running the Papercon Runability 5K four years ago. (let me clarify that there is usually only about 10 women running this race so you usually end up in first or last without much difference in effort) But, knowing that the New Orleans title would go to another runner was a hard pill to swallow. I had to be smart, right?

I size up the competition at every race. It’s silly, of course, because I am far from the stereo-typical runner’s physique so I know you can’t judge a runner by the technical shirt she’s wearing. I do it anyway. I justify my actions by thinking they are doing the same thing to me and dismissing me because I look the way I do. I’m 40 lbs over weight. I wear black cotton Bermuda-yoga shorts, and an XL T-shirt with Kalamazoo printed across the front. I run barefoot but they don’t know that yet because I am wearing my Merrells until I know what the course is like.

The starting point at 6 am

While I am lined up at the starting line, I make a truthful, smart-aleck comment that since this course is flat and fast I’ll be blazing a 30 minute time. Inside, I’m lecturing myself that I can not try to race today. A 30 minute time is probably a bit much to be asking for. I need to keep an easy pace. After all, I can’t remember the last time I ran 3 consecutive miles. Actually, I can’t even remember when I ran more than 1 mile. I know it’s been at least 4 weeks. I could be in some real hurting if I am not careful.

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that after the gun went off I spent the first mile trying to pace with The Stomper and kept Turquiose Shirt in my sites as my third mile passing target. I said it’d be hard for me to not try to defend the title. At that point, the three of us were running at about 3,4,5 places. See, as hard as I was at trying not to make this competitive, I knew what place I was in the whole race. If I could just hang on to them, I could pull ahead at the end to place.

I started losing my competitive edge at the end of mile 1 when I closed my eyes and realized not a thing on my body hurt. My foot, fine. Hips, fine. Achilles tendon (thanks, new dress shoes), fine. I was out running without any problems. A smile lit my face and the Turquoise Shirt started to pull away. I was happy and didn’t really care. You’d expect that I would have pushed myself to go faster when I acknowledged that I was pain-free. Secretly, I’d been afraid I wasn’t even able to run anymore.

With one mile to go, I had fallen back to about 9th place. I couldn’t see the Turquiose Shirt nor The Stomper any longer. I let new targets pass me and drop me. Since I knew that I wasn’t going to win or even place, it was time to pull over and pull off the Merrells. I didn’t expect to finish the rest of it barefoot but I did. My first official barefoot race. Only one of the officials noticed my barefoot state and commented on it. Not that it really mattered. I was there running. Running barefoot. I hadn’t even been curious if an ambulance would be at the finish line.

Can you believe it? 29:40 thanks to the lady who tried to pass me at the last half mile. 10th place but not last.

Right now, I’m icing my feet (as a precaution) in the hotel bathtub. I’m contemplating the race and rejoicing that I’ve recovered my ability to run.




Filed under Barefoot, injury, minimalist shoes, running


Last night, I woke up screaming in pain several times. It was like someone had stabbed me in the foot with a knife. Just when I didn’t think I could take anymore, I drifted off to sleep.

Only to be awaken later by more severe stabbing pain.

Funny, I didn’t have this kind of pain before THE SHOE.

It never hurts while I’m running or walking. It only hurts when I’m standing still or sleeping. It comes on, it’s intense, it’s screaming pain for about 20 seconds then it dissipates.

Do I run tomorrow? Or not?

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Filed under Uncategorized

Darkness vs. Lightness

I’m the social sort. I’m always chatting with scouting families or commiserating with the soccer parents. I habitually check Facebook, email, Twitter, and Tumbler at five minute intervals. Yet, I’ve always been one to run solo.

Except that running alone in the dark scares the crap out of me.

Fortunately, a friend of mine, R, expressed a desire to walk early in the morning but also confessed to being fearful of going alone before the sun rise. Resolutely, we allied ourselves against the unending darkness.

My problem isn’t just fearing lightlessness. I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly difficult to peel myself away from the bed covers at 5 am … unless I know that R is braving the nocturnal hours to meet me. I would collapse under intense guilt if I knew she was solitarily wandering in the shadows because I had been slothful. I admit the conversation is as alluring as the protection from the darkness. Yes, this arrangement suits me. I haven’t been this consistent with exercise at 5 am in…ever.

This morning, I bolted out of bed at 5:09 am to a snoozed alarm. Stumbling rapidly through the kitchen, I hit every light along my way. I searched for my phone to text R to let her know I was awake late and almost awake, I mean, almost ready. But, R had texted me 15 minutes earlier.

I’m going to have to cancel. My daughter was up all night. I’m too tired

After a brief moment of relief that the Boogy monster wasn’t going to get R, I decided that I would proceed with the scheduled morning walk. Albeit, not until daylight began to press back the darkness. This would require some time as the sunlight was trapped behind a contiguous cloud coverage. While I waited, I occupied myself by going back to sleep. Don’t you remember that sleep is my super power?

Anxious for action, I arose the second time (actually, the third because I used the snooze button at 5 am causing the rushed awakening at 5:09 am. ) before the alarm wailed again. Seated on the edge of the couch, I primed my muscles for prevention of Planter Fasciitis and healing in my psoas, tensor fasciae and piriformis (a.k.a hips). I followed the warm up with a steady 10 minute walk in my Merrell Pacers…

What? No shoe!?

Yea! No medical shoe.

After two continuous weeks wearing THE SHOE, and an even longer ban on running, my foot shows little to no improvement. I will not resort to immobilizing my foot again until I establish if my chronic hip issues generated my foot pain.

Confused? Check out The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy for his take on causes of foot pain.

After all, the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone, the knee… My apologies, the dogs in the neighborhood just started howling so I’d better stop singing and conclude my story.

Where was I?… Oh, yes, after walking for a bit, I slipped off my Merrells to jog a spell. The road was cool and damp. The sidewalks were dry but stone covered. My steps were easy and pain-free (minus stepping on the stones). I didn’t travel barefoot as far as I had hoped but, at least, I did not use R’s sleep deprivation to justify lackadaisical behavior. I put the darkness to good use and felt as light as ever running barefoot.

Here I am going south than north about 30 feet from the railroad tracks.



Filed under Barefoot, injury, minimalist shoes, running

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

We’ve been under siege from blustery winds for the last several days. Fortunately, we didn’t fall under tornado like other unfortunate towns. I am thankful for that.

Saturday, I planned to take the Cub Scouts (and willing family members) for a 7 mile bike hike along the Wauponsee Glacial Trail where we would end at the Kankakee River to be picked up by non-riding family members. I once ran a half marathon on this trail. I was very excited about taking the scouts on the trail, but I fretted over the weather for 10 days. When 1 PM rolled around, the winds picked up and the gusts started to blow the boys around. The problem was that these blustery winds were coming from the exact direction we were headed into.

Scratch that plan. The scouts wouldn’t have made it a half mile against that wind let alone 7 miles. We shortened the trip to 5 miles, put the wind at our backs, and headed north on the trail instead. Those kids pedal led their little hearts out. What a great time but all were happy to see the finish line.


Ironically, a month ago, a scout leader planned to fly kites on our regular meeting night this week. Now, we were worried the winds would carry the boys off with the kites. All day the winds were 24 mph with gusts as high as 36 mph. The wind advisory was scheduled to end a half hour before the meeting.

More ironically, as soon as the advisory was over, the wind was so dead it could barely be considered a breeze. We had to run the whole length of the field to get the kites to fly at all.

“Hey, are you supposed to be running in that boot?” I was asked.
“No, but the doc didn’t say anything about flying kites,” I called back.

We sprinted up and down that field for an hour having a complete blast. Two hours earlier, I had to scream at the soccer team just to get them to jog. Now, I was looking at a field full of boys begging for me to untangle their lines so they could run some more. The kites soaring higher and, really, not high at all.


Need a little variety in your runs? Need to do speed intervals. Try flying kites on a zero breeze day. Put play into your run because it’s a super smiley way to run.

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Filed under cycling, injury, running

The Foodaholic: My Unexpected Enabler

I have been weight conscious for the last 20+ years. I’ve had successful years, and I’ve had years where I pack on a few pounds. The last few have been in that later category. I’ve spent much of 2012 trying to figure out why that keeps happening.

As I said, I’ve been weight conscious (a.k.a dieting) for the last 20+ years. I have researched the ins and outs of nutrition and the latest theories on what you should or should not be eating and why. I’ve applied numerous strategies to understand the effects of food and blood sugar levels on my body. I’m not saying I couldn’t learn something from a nutritionist, but, I am at the head of the class when it comes to nutrition, calories, proteins, nutrient dense, and other health conscious terms. The problem isn’t knowledge.

Lately, I just don’t seem to care. I don’t care that I’m eating wrong. I don’t care that I’m gaining weight. I’m not in denial. I know what I need to do. I know that what I am eating is wrong for becoming healthier. My husband is going gung-ho on eating healthier while I just reach around him to get at the chip dip. I don’t care and I don’t even feel that guilty about it. I am a food addict. When I have it, I just want more.

But, why don’t I care anymore? This is the question I ponder. I think about losing weight. I talk about losing weight. I joined a biggest loser club at work. I exercise. But, these actions feel like lip service rather than a sincere statement.

I will go three to four days eating correctly. On day five, I look for the loop holes. I look for justifications and excuses. I acknowledge and accept that I am a food addict so, please, just pass me the fries.

I acknowledge… and accept… that I am…a food addict.

I say, to myself or to those around me, as I grab for my third brownie, I am a food addict. As in, it’s ok that I am eating this brownie because as a food addict, I can’t control myself. You shouldn’t judge me because this is a disease that I can’t control.

My deep introspection made me realize that I have reached a new phase in addiction. I’m like the drug addict who stood next to his angry father, after discovering that his son had been stealing his prescription pain medication, manipulating him to diffuse the anger by confessing “Dad, I’m an addict.” At the same time, you can see on his face that he is not one bit sorry for being an addict. While the father is and forgives him. I have learned how to use my addiction as a justification. I’ve learned how to use this addiction to manipulate myself into thinking it is ok to be an addict. It’s not my fault.

Ok, so, I have been in denial. I’m in denial that it’s ok just because I have accepted my food addiction. Where in truth, I’m using my acceptance to justify not changing or having control. The acceptance means I have no accountability and no responsibility for the consequences of my choices.

Food addiction has become my crutch. Acceptance my enabler.


Filed under Lessons learned, Weight loss

Easter Eggs

It started a few years ago, no, scratch that (ha, ha, pun intended even if you don’t get it yet) it started when I was a child. Probably the biggest Easter event in my childhood home was decorating Easter Eggs. My mom, my sister, Penny, and I would decorate at a minimum one dozen hard boiled eggs each. Then when we were done with the hard boiled eggs we would decorate every raw egg in the house. We had multiple types of dyes, dyeing tools, stained fingers, and beauty to behold. We spent hours on our creations.

So, it’s really no surprise to me that when my mother-in-law described the eggs her mother used to decorate, I was all for the challenge. My mother-in-law creates the traditional onion skin colored eggs. It’s akin to a tie-dye method where she places greens, leaves, or pine needles on a cheese cloth, ties it around a white egg, and boils it in a bath of onion skins. Liene, cousin-in-law, in France has some fantastic examples of this method on her blog here. There is another traditional, less common, decoration, which is to take an egg and scratch a design into the brown stain. This was the challenge I opted for.

Yesterday, my MIL designed, tied, and dyed her eggs, plus two all brown ones for me.


The first year, I tried several tools for scratching the designs and settled on a straight pin. (which reminds me that I’ll need to buy her a corsage for Mother’s Day so that I have a new sharpened pin for next year’s eggs) The large pins for corsages are easier to handle and stronger to take the pressure.

On the day of scratching, I wander around the house until a design catches my eye.


we’ll see how well I did…



Latvian designs are very geometric which is probably why my mathematical brain likes them so much. However, it is difficult to create symmetrical, geometrical designs on a surface that is rounded and narrower at one end. My portions never look quite right. This shears (inside joke, right, Jeanne?) was the best that I have done so far.
Although, I was pleased with the symeritry on the first one, I thought it lacked something.


A glutton for punishment, I started on the next egg. The shell was harder, the pin duller, and the design was just not coming out right.



Because I can not leave well enough alone, I continued to add additional designs to take away from the failure of my second design. It was only then that I realized how much the added borders and shapes enhanced the look of the egg. So, I went back to the first egg and added more geometric shapes.



MIL was proud enough to take these to baznīcu (church) to show off to her friends.


Filed under Uncategorized

An Apple For My Foot?

I must start eating apples again. After all, what is the old saying? An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

The podiatrist called me yesterday to discuss my MRI. I have to give her credit for taking the initiative to call me instead of waiting for me to make an appointment.

The diagnosis: NOT a stress fracture. Instead, it is a stress reaction which is (insert Charlie Brown’s teacher talking noises). Internet running board forums say its like a bone bruise. Some state that it is a condition you have right before getting a stress fracture.

It’s interesting how adaptable we become to the chronic aches and pains of our body especially as we grow older. Looking back on last year, I can remember trying to sit with pretzel legs on the living room floor while watching American Idol with the kids. I wasn’t able to sit in that position because the weight of my leg squeezed my metatarsal bones together triggering pain in the stressed area. Recently, I realized that for many months, when I sleep on my side, I intertwine my feet so that I don’t put any pressure on the side of my foot.

Yes, I’ve had this pain for a long time and I’ve adapted several coping mechanisms. Yet, despite how much it irks me, I am going to follow the doctor’s advice and WEAR THE BOOT (mine is more like a shoe) for two weeks. Why give in? Because, when I was in to see with the podiatrist originally, the nurse indicated that bending your foot slows down the healing process. I guess I’ll find out.

While there are many poised to point their fingers at my barefoot running, I am not quite so certain of that cause. A friend of my sister’s once told me a story about her knee pain and all the things she did to try to solve it. As it turned out, the pain was being caused by her using one foot to kick off the shoe on the other foot. Who’d have thought? My point is that I recently read a post by The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy about how weak hips and rear can cause barefoot injuries.

BLING!!. (that’s the light bulb going off)

I have had chronic hip issues since about 2007 or 2006 which if anyone is counting was long before I started the barefoot run. So, in addition to resting the soft tissues of my foot, I will also be working on some deep tissue issues and massive strengthening of my buns.

I have a 5 k race in 3 weeks. What do you think my chances are? By the way, hand me an apple, I want to run, not see a podiatrist again.



Filed under Barefoot, injury