Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hitting the wall--and a longer run

I've been dreading the run that I eventually hit the wall. And now it's happened twice this week. This ended up being really long.

The first one I'm kinda embarrassed about--the run should have been pretty easy overall. The plan was to run the first mile as hard as I could. In Jeff Galloway's language, this was a "magic mile" run--the time it took me to run this mile would then be plugged into a formula to calculate how long I could run a half-marathon on my best day. After running consistently for the past 4 months, I really expected this to be a no-brainer. Before the run, I was playing with the formula and plugging in all sorts of numbers--I was giddy with the idea that I could run a mile in under 9 minutes. Ideally, I was planning on 8:30 minutes. After all, if I could run 8 miles a few weeks ago at a 10:40/minute pace, I could definitely cut off two minutes and push it harder for just one little mile--right? Oh, how wrong I was.

It started off with a little self-sabotage. I had planned on eating some breakfast Sunday morning, wait an hour or so for it to digest and then head out. The day was looking warm and sunny from inside, but was telling me that with the windchill it was only 34 degrees when I ate breakfast. I decided that I'd wait out the weather until it was at least 40 degrees with the windchill. That wait meant I waited an extra 2 hours before running and during that time I started to get hungry. Sadly, I don't have many snacks at home to limit my snacking, but I had recently bought some chocolate covered pretzels. I remembered during track (my one season in it) that pretzels were supposed to be a good snack to eat before a run--in fact some girls used to swear you could eat as many pretzels as you want before a run and not throw up. A little chocolate on top of those pretzels wouldn't do anything. And it was dark chocolate, the healthy kind. So, so wrong. Again.

The weather finally warmed up to an acceptable temperature and I geared up. I've been struggling during my outdoor runs to figure out how warmly I need to dress. I've got the bottoms figured out, but I've been gradually removing layers on top to find out what I need. Sunday was pretty good--some running tights (not insulated) and shorts with a long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirt. Probably didn't need both shirts, but it was nice during the warm-up walk to have the extra layer.

So, I walk to my starting point for the first mile. I had mapped out a mile that was flat and, although I had to cross some roads, none of them were busy and I knew I'd be able to keep running through. I hit the start button on my watch and took off. At a sprint. I slowed it down a bit, but before I even reached a quarter mile I knew I was in trouble. I could feel my stomach tightening up around those ridiculous chocolate pretzels, but I tried to just keep pushing it. "Just keep moving" became my mantra. Then a little after a half mile, I could feel that I was going to vomit soon if I didn't stop. I walked for a few minutes and then ran the last 0.2 mile. Very slowly. I finished that mile in 10:45. It sucked. I wanted to just walk back home and forget the other two miles I was supposed to run. I had had such high expectations for this run, I was going to prove to myself how far I had come in training and I blew it over some pretzels and lack of pacing. I did jog/run the last two miles (once I stopped feeling nauseous) and those went just fine. Lesson learned--start off slower than you think, no matter the distance.


Then the big run happened yesterday. A 9 mile run--which actually ended up being closer to 9.5 miles, thanks to Polly's inability to accurately measure distance after about 7 or 8 miles.

I'll admit, I was nervous about this run. Sure, I had run 8 miles two weeks ago, but the Sunday vomit run didn't help my confidence. Plus, since that 8 mile run, my right knee and shins have been a bit more of a problem than usual. A few runs last week were cut short due to the shin pain (I'm not ready to call them shin splints). I wasn't sure how my legs and knees would handle such a long run.

As I drove home from work, I noticed that the bike path around Lake Monona had also been closed off due to the construction going on. Part of my planned run had involved this path, so I had to map a new run when I got home. My goal was to be out running before 5:30 so that I could be done by 7ish, before the sun set. I quickly got changed and packed up my runner fanny pack with some full bottles of water, Sharkies, and my written map. Leaving my building, I was feeling good. I had finally dressed appropriately for the weather (an amazing 65 degrees! in March!) with just shorts and a t-shirt.

The first mile was rough, but I've learned to expect that. I need a mile or two to settle in and find my stride. I was feeling good, but I knew were the third mile was and it seemed to be taking forever to get there. My music is partially to blame...I've gotten used to the order. However, when I checked in with Polly, I was at my normal pace.

Miles 3-4 were awesome. The slight tweak in my shin was gone, I was feeling good. I took a short walking break right before the end of mile 3. I figured one walking break every third of the run was a good plan.

I was still feeling good through about mile 6. I had been sailing along and even though my knee was starting to bother me a little, it wasn't enough to make me worried. I stopped again for another quick walk break right after mile 7. I needed it. I drank some water and ate a couple Sharkies, but once I started running I knew I was going to be done soon. I could almost feel each step vibrate up my knees along my IT band to my hips. My knees and hips didn't really hurt, they were sore and tender. I knew the area I was running in and that I helped a lot. I would tell myself to just keep running until I reached the next street to turn on and then push again until the next street. Soon the end seemed in sight.

I forgot about the hill.

When mapping my run, I thought the last road I had chosen was flat. It was near the Capital (a hilly area), but I really thought it was flat. Well, driving and running give two different impressions. There was a huge uphill and I wasn't sure how I'd make it up without stopping, but I was so close to the end, I wanted to just keep running.

Suddenly, this "angel boy" comes running by me. I expected to be passed since I was going so slowly, but as soon as he was about 6 feet or so in front of me he seemed to slow down and run at my pace. It was like he was running along to motivate me up that hill--the natural competiveness as a runner came out and I wanted to keep up with him. Near the top of the hill, though, I kept moving more and more slowly, I just couldn't keep up and I expected him to fade away. But he stopped--and started walking! Now I was able to keep running, telling myself to try to catch up or maybe even pass him before he started running. And soon I ran right by him. Perfect. Now I had just a few more blocks until the end of my run. I thought.

Polly (I've named my iPod nano, not a second personality) wasn't ready, though. When I got to the end of my nine miles, according to (and Google), it claimed I was only at 8.55 miles. I have read that the Nike+ system tends to fail at accurately measuring distances beyond 6 or 7 miles, but I wanted to hear that I had run 9 miles. So, I kept going. I pushed the button every 30-45 seconds to find out how much further. My hips felt so tight it was tough to keep moving my legs forward. But I kept going--might've cut off a few cars in the process and given them angry stares, but I was on a mission to finish this run and I wasn't about to let some old lady cut me off and ruin my pace.

Finally, I pushed the button and heard that I had run 9.01 miles. It had taken me 1:39, but since that was really 9.2 miles, my pace ended up being 10:45/mile. I'll take it.

I felt vomity at various points during the walk home, but held it together. I quickly made my juice/sparkling water/salt drink and kept walking around my apartment. I wasn't hungry at all and still felt sick, but I made myself eat some dry Rice Krispies. I was starting to feel sleepy and cold--probably not good signs--so once I had finished the juice, it was time for the ice bath. This actually helped a lot. I'm not sure if the freezing cold water shocked me back, or just getting up and moving around a little was all I needed, but I wasn't tired anymore and started to crave french fries and all sorts of food. I decided that I needed to eat some good "real" food first before I could have fries--fortunately, I had some leftovers to eat. Jason came over to check-in on me and drove me to McDonald's for some fries. I inhaled them (while watching "The Biggest Loser"...I felt a little guilty and then remembered how awesome my fries tasted) and pounded some more water.

Today I've felt pretty good. At times I've had the feeling of "am I hungry or sick?". My knees are a little stiff when I get up after sitting for awhile, but my legs don't hurt at all. Yay, ice baths! And now I have two and a half weeks before my next long run.

And less than 24 hours til I'm in Miami!!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gearing up for 9 miles

I'm going to Miami...bienvenido a Miami...

Yes, I'm headed to Miami for a spring break with my family in just two days! I'm so excited to finally feel a warm sun and not feel a chill off of the lakes that just recently melted. We're going for 6 days of beach fun--well, probably more pool fun. I'm not a big fan of getting sand all over, but with enough persuasion I can eventually spend all day in the ocean. It's just that sand in between the pool and ocean that are the problem.

This trip challenged me, though, to rethink my training schedule. If I follow it strictly, I'd have a 9 mile run on Easter Sunday. And that's not going to happen. First, hello, it's Easter; I plan on eating good food and candy all day. Second, it's supposed to be in the high 70's down there and my body hasn't adjusted to warm weather running yet. And third, um, did I mention that I'm on vacation? Although running and I have definitely formed a closer relationship in the past few months, I don't want to spend over an hour and a half with it.

So, I looked at my schedule for this week and decided I'd just move the 9 mile run up to today. Probably start running in a little over an hour from now. After getting the 8 miler done a couple weeks ago, 9 doesn't seem as scary. It's only one more mile than last time and although I was hurting a bit at the end of the run, I feel like I had another mile in me (or have I just forgotten the pain after 2 weeks? maybe running is like childbirth.). In any case, I'll find out soon. I bought a big bag of ice during my grocery shopping yesterday and I'm not going to be a pansy again--there's going to be some freezing water in that tub and at least 3 pounds of ice.

Also...I have a delivery coming (hopefully) today! After my 8 mile run, I could literally feel my IT band stretching with every step (and every move you make...creepy stalker song). So I ordered a foam roller, conveniently profiled in a Real Simple article I had read in their April issue. I'm looking forward to using that baby a little bit tomorrow.

Maybe I've been watching too many true life crime shows lately (they make great Sunday afternoon TV watching), but a lot of them seem to have been about runners going missing. Madison isn't an especially high crime area and I make sure to run in areas with lots of other people around, but you never know. So, today I e-mailed my route to Jason (the boyfriend) with a planned call time. Probably not a bad idea to do this more often in for future runs.

Hopefully this oatmeal will finish being digested and leave my stomach in the next 45 minutes. Otherwise, at least it was just oatmeal and strawberries...that won't taste so bad again...


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Longest Run

Wow, it's been a looong time since I posted here. I'd like to say that life got in the way, but it didn't. I was just feeling very lazy.

But the biggest news since last time...that'll have to wait.

The other big news, though, was my EIGHT mile run last week. It's the longest I have ever run and it wasn't as scary as I thought.

Normally I do my long runs on the weekend (when there is more time--and a lot more daylight), but last week the weather made the choice for me. It was absolutely beautiful during the week--sunny, low winds and it even got into the 60s! But, of course (Murphy's law...), the forecast called for 40s, rain and possible snow during the weekend. I adjusted my schedule for the week and made my long run happen last Thursday--the last nice day of the week.

I had mapped out my run during lunch and kept it up all day to visualize the run. A little weird, but it made me feel more prepared. I was even smart about my eating and had some afternoon oatmeal to get me revved up for the run. As soon as I got home, I got into my running clothes, filled my fanny pack water bottles and grabbed some Sharkies (more to come on those...).

A lot of people in Madison think of the bike path along Lake Monona as one of the most scenic views...and it is beautiful. The lake is clear and sparkly, you can see the Capital along most of the route and the other buildings around downtown are amazing. But (there has to be a but) I get this strange competitive vibe whenever I run the path. The path is a main area for runners which could breed that natural competitiveness. Also, I don't like the path because it isn't level--it slopes downward towards the lake and with my jacked-up knees that's not the best thing.

And that is my long story for why I chose to limit my time on the bike path.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect out of this run. Like I said, I've never run this distance before. And, I wasn't expecting the best, either. I had gone for my first outdoor three mile run two days earlier and it was painful. Within the first mile, I wanted to walk so bad. I made myself power through, but it was definitely a struggle.

During the eight-miler, I started out on the same path I had followed Tuesday. When I hit the one mile mark (where I had wanted to die two days ago), I was feeling awesome and was nowhere near ready to stop and walk. It took awhile for me to get into my ideal pace--it was probably around mile 2 or 3 when I really hit my stride. Because I didn't have the Nike+ adaptor for Polly, I couldn't check in on my distance, which might've actually helped my run. I couldn't count down the miles until I was done--and I also couldn't start freaking out about how far I had gone.

Once I reached mile 4 or 5, I had a few Sharkies. In talking with other runners (or people who know runners), I had heard that miles 6 or 7 can be the hardest to run because that's when the wall usually comes up--hard. I haven't hit a wall while running since I was a sophomore in high school and racing in the 400 meters for track. It's such an awful feeling--struggling to put one foot in front of the other and all I wanted was to lay down and pass out. Since this 8-miler would possibly take me into the "wall" zone I made sure to eat a few Sharkies periodically once I passed the five mile mark.

My knees were not such a fan of the running once I got to mile 6. My right knee had been bothering me during my 3 mile run earlier in the week, so I brought a knee strap with me during this run--good move. I pushed it until somewhere around mile 7 or so and stopped to put the strap on. It helped the pain a little, but I probably should've put the band on earlier in the run. My knee just felt so sore, but I knew that I was getting close to the end. Unfortunately, I had chosen to include a huge hill right at the end of the run. It's a hill that I'm very familiar with--I had to walk up Observatory Hill every day for two years when I lived in the dorms during college. And I used to run up that hill at least once a week.

The final mile was perfect--flat and easy, and the stoplights were on my side. Even my music worked well--I have "Within a Mile of Home" by Flogging Mile on my playlist and it just happened to come on during the final mile of my run. It's the perfect song to give me a push at the very end.

I ended my run with a ginormous smile on my face. People were giving me some strange looks, probably because my face was bright red--it always gets super red when I run, as if I got a bad sunburn. I was a good half mile or so to walk home and my legs definitely needed it. I could feel that my IT bands were incredibly tight and my legs and hips were so sore. Not painful but I imagine this is how my knees will feel when I'm old. The walk home helped loosen things up and once home I did a long stretching session. I also had a half bag of ice for a post-run ice bath.

I was a bit of a pansy for my ice bath. The large chunks of solid ice scared me so I filled the tub with water that was less than freezing. Unfortunately, this meant that the ice melted pretty quickly and the water never got very cold.

Post-run day: I felt like an old lady. After sitting for more than 10 minutes, it was a struggle to stand up. I had to do a shuffle walk for the first few steps to get my hips and knees loosened up and then I could walk normally. Within two days, though, my legs felt like they were back to 90%. I could feel that I had done a good run, but it no longer felt like the longest run ever.

I'm enjoying this easy recovery week and hopefully it means that I'll have more time to write.


UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot about my time--guess that shows that I really am more focused on just finishing than how fast. But, I still like the numbers.

My goal for 8 miles: 1:30 (or 11:15/mile)
Drum roll, please...

Actual: 1:25:23 which is 10:40/mile. Woohoo! I'm faster than I think.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A running fanny pack

Okay, so it's not really a fanny pack, but I recently watched "Best of I Love the 90s" and they had a whole little section about fanny packs.

Anyways...the running fanny pack. Otherwise known as a hydration belt. I always feel thirsty while running, even just 3 miles, and I knew it'd be good to have around once I get into some longer long runs. Also, last Saturday (my 6.5 mile run) I had planned on giving blood a few hours after finishing the run (poor choice I know, and they ended up denying me anyways). If I was going to survive donating blood, I knew that I'd also need to make sure that I was fully hydrated.

I wasn't very prepared, though...I forgot about giving blood until Friday morning, so after work I had to book it over to the nearest running store, Berkeley Running Company, before they closed and find a hydration belt. I've seen some at Amazon, but they use sizes and don't tell you what a size small means. Good news--they cost the same at Amazon as at the running store and I got to try on the belt before buying it. Bad news--they're still pretty pricy. The belts at the store ranged from $40-$47 depending on how many bottles were on the belt.

They guy working there was super friendly and helpful--which totally made me want to buy even more there just because he was nice (I'm such a sucker for that)--I don't remember his name, but I'm going to call him Andy, he looked lke an Andy. They had the Helium Fuel Belt and I tried on the medium first--he had warned me that the belts tended to run small. It was a little big, so I tried on the small and it fit perfectly (for reference, my waist is 24.5 inches). The belts come with either two or four 8 ounce bottles...I went with the two bottle belt in pink. I'm not sure I'd really need all four bottles during a run (and during the run last week, I only ended up drinking one bottle).

Now the bottles and the little pouch lie on the back. So, there was an adjustment I had to make during the first part of my run. Even though it's only 16 ounces of water, it added a little bit of weight to my back. Not enough to fall over, but I noticed it. Whenever I needed a drink, I'd turn the belt a little bit and pull out the bottle--it was just too difficult to twist my arm. I had a bag of Sharkies (I deleted my post on them by accident, but eventually I'll get back to writing up my thoughts on those) in the belt pouch along with my keys, making it easy to quickly grab one.

Now I have 3 pink running-related items--and I'm really not even a pink girl. It's definitely growing on me, though.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Reflections on the halfway point

I've been thinking since my long run about how awesome it was that I ran 6.5 miles. I kept trying to downplay it a little in my mind because compared to other people's runs that I've read about 6.5 miles might be an easy run.

Buuuut...I ran 6.5 miles.
I ran for over an hour.
I felt good during my entire run.
I finished the run strong.
I wasn't sore the day after.
I proved to myself that I can run long distances.

Also, when I was comparing my 5 mile run (my previous distance record) to the 6.5 mile run I just did, I realized that I think I psyched myself out a little during the 5 miler...maybe even the 6.5 miler a little too. I mean, by the time I hit mile 2 (of the 5 miles) I was starting to walk a little bit. I had run 4 miles before that without walking. But somehow, going from 4 to 5 miles seemed like a huge jump. Going from 5 to 6.5 miles didn't feel as difficult--I ran a lot farther before I started to walk and I took fewer walking breaks. I was still really nervous about running for 6.5 miles. I had never gone that distance and didn't know if how my body would feel--how thirsty I would get, whether I'd get hungry, if I'd hit the wall...I haven't hit it yet, but I know it's bound to happen sometime. They can't all be perfect runs.

In a little less than two weeks, I'll be doing my next long run--8 miles. I feel much more confident about this run now that I've done 6.5 miles. Until then, I'll just be keeping up with my little runs.

I bought some Rice Krispies today...time for a bedtime snack!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Half of a half

I'll be able to make it half way through the half-marathon!

And I got a new background for my blog!

Yesterday I ran 6.5 miles--my longest run ever (again). By the end of it, I was grinning like a fool. I passed a few people during the last mile and I'm sure I confused a some of them. I felt so good while running I just couldn't keep the smile off my face.

And, on top of just being able to actually run 6.5 miles, I shaved 10 seconds off my average pace--I'm down to 10:54/mile! Since this is my first half-marathon my goal really is just to finish it, but I'd also love to finish under 2 1/2 hours--my goal pace would be between 10:00/mile and 10:30/mile.

Using Map My Run, I plotted out my course and tried to hit up parts of the Madison half-marathon. There were portions of the run that I had never done before, so I made a point to try those out and actually run down the streets in the same direction of the race. Some parts of the course (I'm looking at you Langdon and Gorham) are uphill for the race, but if I had reversed my loop, those would been some nice gradual downhills.

Since I knew I'd be running early in the morning (my goal was to be out between 8 and 8:30am), I tried to eliminate all possible excuses I might come up with--I checked the weather, laid out my clothes, charged up Polly, set out some Multi-Grain Cheerios (doesn't seem to bother my stomach) to eat in the morning, my hydration belt (more on that later) with Sharkies, and wrote out my route. And I knew that I'd likely be sore after my run, so I bought a bag of ice too (for the eventual ice bath).

I started out on the bike path along Lake Monona--it's so pretty, but I was having a hard time forgetting about the cold at first--it was about 17 degrees with the windchill--and I kept wondering if I'd dressed warmly enough. I told myself to just keep going (farther and farther away from home) and that I'd eventually warm up (true fact). Also, when I started the run, my legs felt like they were numb and it was a struggle just to bring them up and down to move forward. This same feeling happened during my 5 mile run a couple weeks ago and I think it's just my legs' first mile regret. Then they remember how to run and things move smoothly.

By the time I was running through the campus, I was in the sun and warming up quickly. I took my hat off even before mile 2--running with a wool hat is not recommended--but it was warm enough that I never needed to put it on again. The cool thing about downtown Madison is that it's right between two lakes--Monona and Mendota (they sound like bad twin names). And it only takes about 10 minutes running to go from one side to the other, so before I knew it, I was running along a lake (kinda) again. Lake Monona has more paths directly along the lake, whereas Mendota is more built up--the campus runs along it for awhile, and then houses for real people. So, I really just saw flashes on Mendota, but I could feel the cool breeze off of the ice and loved it...I was really getting warm.

I ran down Frat Row (Langdon with it's constant, gradual uphill and sudden steep climbs) and then continued to follow the roads along Mendota. The miles really just seemed to fly by--I have rarely been in this area of Madison, so I kept looking at the houses and the views of the lake. I barely noticed how far I had run until I suddenly looked at the street name and realized that I was less than a mile from the end!

I felt really good throughout the entire run and didn't want to die at the end. I took a few breaks to walk, mainly when I would hit a red light and have to wait. I only ate a few Sharkies, but I really didn't feel hungry or that I needed more fuel--I haven't had a run yet where I've hit the wall, but I've heard that usually comes when you get to 7-8 miles...two more weeks until I get to try that out. My legs were definitely tight and sore, especially my knees, but by the time I had finished my cool down walk, they weren't so bad.

When I got home, I did my standard ab workout (I should post that sometime...) and stretched out. Then, I started the ice bathing...

The bath was awful. I always make a cup of tea to take with me in the tub and start with just a little bit of cold water (enough that there's a layer to sit on). Then, I get in the tub (with the tea!) while it continues to fill up (thanks to a great tip from Chic Runner!). Then, I gradually added in the ice--there was one ginormous chunk that I couldn't break before I dumped it in. That one hurt a lot. It upped the cold factor like 10 times as soon as it was in the water. Once my legs went numb, it wasn't so bad and I stayed in for 15 minutes--poor choice. My legs looked like they were sunburnt and it took over an hour to warm up, even after a warm shower. My legs still feel sore, but without the ice bath, I'm sure it'd be worse.

This week will be a recovery week with just 2 three mile runs and a four miler. Also, I'm going to New York this weekend to visit a friend! I've gotta rest up for it--last time I was out there, I fell asleep at the bar...head back, mouth open, not pretty. I need to fix that image...

On to the Oscars!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Homemade Sports Drink

Another Friday food edition...

I read about this in Self magazine (maybe?). It's really easy--equal parts water and orange juice with just a bit of salt (for the electrolytes). I tried measuring how much I typically use and it's maybe a little more than 1/8 teaspoon.

I couldn't imagine drinking watered-down orange juice, so I've been using sparkling water. Yum--it's like orange soda. This is what I look forward to after each run. I don't take it with me, though--I like pulp in my orange juice, but I can't imagine trying to drink a pulpy drink while running.

I've got my weekend long run tomorrow. It might rain on Sunday, so I've decided to do it tomorrow. Once again, it'll be my longest run ever--6.5 miles. I'm excited for it!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Walking the Walk

On my way home last Friday, I happened to run in to my chiropractor friend, Dr. Eric. I told him about my new running shoes and about my half-marathon training. The next day, Saturday, his office was scheduled to bring in an orthopodist (I'm not sure if I've actually called her job the right thing)--someone who studies feet and can correct foot pressure and stride. And by fixing the feet, other pains in the knees, hips and back can disappear. She was going to be doing free foot scans and analyses, so I got signed up.

At the appointment on Saturday, Lisa (the foot lady) had me first stand on a mat that checked how I stood on my feet and where the pressure points were. Here's the scan:

Makes it pretty clear that:
a-I have ridiculously high arches
b-I pretty much stand on my heels (and yes, my left heel hurts every now and then. at least I know why)
c-I don't use my toes to stand--they're nowhere on this scan

So, this first picture gave her a pretty good idea that I have some messed up feet (and lots of areas for possible pain).

Then Lisa did the second scan--a dynamic scan. I walked towards the mat and had to make sure to get my full right foot on the mat as I walked; and then repeated it with my left foot on the mat.

And from that, I got this lovely:

The yellow lines show how I walked. Ideally, the line would be straight from the heel to the toes, and rolling off the big toe. My feet are not so ideal--the line zigzags all over both feet. My right foot stride started at my heel and rolled in a little bit, then went all the way out to the outside of my foot. The left is a little more "correct" since at least on my heel the line is fairly straight.

Lisa recommended that I get shoe inserts and start using them right away--otherwise I could get bunions. I'm not entirely sure what that would do to my feet, but they sound awful. The only problem is with many commercial brands is that there are very few that could get close to my arches. But, at $200/pair for custom orthotics, I'll try out the cheaper ones for awhile.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Buy new shoes - done!

I took off of work on Friday. It had been a busy past couple months, so I was ready for a long weekend. During the day I toured a few potential apartments--sadly my top choice had already been taken. Now I've learned not to fall in love with an apartment based just on my imagination of how great it looks. The good news, though, is that after looking at a few others, I found a new apartment! I'm signing the lease later this week. It feels good just to know that I have a place to current lease doesn't end until the summer, but I'm a planner.

Also on Friday, I visited Fleet Feet on the westside of Madison. I checked out a few different running store websites and this one sounded like the best for how they fit the shoes. And I was definitely impressed. When I got there, the saleswoman (fit specialist?) sat down and talked to me about the distances I'm running and I told her about my plans for the Madison half-marathon.

Then, she had me roll up my pants a bit and walk barefooted across the floor so she could see my natural pronation. Then she measured my feet and arches while sitting and standing--to see how it changed when my feet were bearing weight. I already knew that I had high arches and would need a good shoe for support and I have a pretty neutral stride, so I didn't need a lot of additional correction.

She brought out three pairs of shoes--a Nike, Mizuno and Asics. I tried on all three pairs and she watched as I ran on the treadmill in them. The Nikes were super comfy, but I ended up choosing the Mizuno Wave Inspire. Also, one new thing I learned--for running shoes, it's best to buy a shoe that is a full size bigger than your normal shoes. This way, your toes have room to move and--big bonus--no black toenails, or worse, losing your toenails.

I had had big plans to run in my new shoes right away on Friday, but last week was not so good for running. I finally got back to running yesterday. The three mile run went pretty well actually. Knee pain--gone. A little bit of pain crept in towards the end, but I'm going to assume that it was caused by not running for a week. Also, I could feel the shoes trying to make my stride straighter, rather than running more from the inside of my foot in.

I've got another 3 mile run tomorrow so hopefully they continue their knee magic!