30 Day Challenge – Running Style

Admit it.

You’ve completed tried at least one of those 30 day challenges.

The ab challenge. (yup)

The squat challenge (kinda)

The plank challenge (kinda)

The arm challenge (nope – I get enough arm challenge carrying twin toddlers thank you)

I follow quite a few fitness and running fanatics on twitter, one of which is Kinetic Revolution. He offers a free 30 day challenge that he claims will change your running. Run Faster. Run Stronger. Or so he says.

Historically, I am not very flexible. Yoga has helped this some, but even my once a week practices start out pretty awkwardly. I’m stretching almost every day, but I’m told by my chiropractor at every visit that I’m still too tight (ugh). Since I’m really focused on trying to keep running without injuring myself again, I thought I’d give this a try.

The first week focuses on Basic Mobility and Balance training. From what I can tell, its based on a series of stretches (hip flexor, hamstring, abductor) and balances (single leg with eyes closed) with a few tweaks.

If you’re interested in joining me, you can sign up here. (you get a daily email with the exercises.) Or you can follow along while I do this (and blog about it to keep myself consistent and honest) and see if it works for me.

What’s your go to running stretch/exercise?

Also, I know I’ve been pretty fitness heavy lately – fear not, more twins posts coming soon.

Brooks Ravenna 4

If the Shoe Fits

My shoes have a very distinctive wear pattern, and until fairly recently, I didn’t think much of it.

At a local 10k a couple of years ago, I stopped at a shoe tent to talk to the guy about the different shoe types and recommendations. At the time, I still bought what was on sale and felt comfortable. I knew at that point that I was on overpronater (i.e. I run on the outsides of my feet), but didn’t know much about the effect or consequences. This particular guy advised me that I was, essentially, running incorrectly. Instead of running heel to toe, you are supposed to land more on your forefoot. Supposedly, this was going to not only be easier on my joints, but also make me faster. You can read about that experience here.

You can see here that I am landing on the outside edge

If you look closely you can see I am overpronating here

So, I spent several months concentrating on form and trying to learn to run the “right way”. The barefoot running concept was very popular at the time and I figure that is where the suggestion originated. It was really difficult at first, but after awhile I got the hang of it. It wasn’t too long after that, though that we began the IVF process and subsequent twin pregnancy, so I was out of commission for awhile.

After returning to running a slight bit sooner than the recommended 6 weeks post c section (shhh, don’t tell my doc – or my mom, for that matter), the form issue was easier but still not perfect. In fact, even though it is better, I STILL overpronate when I run, particularly when running faster.

You can clearly see the wear spots here

You can clearly see the wear spots here

My next shoe purchase was a more well known shoe brand in the running world, but I still wasn’t REALLY shopping for anything that was supposed to be made for my type of stance, because I thought it was a matter of fixing it.

After my injury last year though, my mindset has changed. I’ve done a bit more research on the heel vs forefoot landing and it really seems like opinions are mixed, but I’m finding a lot of literature suggesting you can’t do much about pronation, and unless its a severe case, isn’t necessarily something you NEED to fix.

Still, I’m very paranoid about re-injury now, and even after almost a year of chiropractic visits, stretches, rest and cross training, I STILL sometimes feel tightness in my pyriformis muscle – the spot that started all the trouble. I notice it particularly when doing speed work, or historically when I’ve had the most trouble with my running form.

When my birthday rolled around I did something only my fellow run nerds would understand – my husband and I dropped the twins off at daycare, got a pedicure, and then headed for the local running store so I could have my gait evaluated. I told the man who helped me that I was an overpronator, but of course he said “well lets see”, threw me in a pair of shoes without much stability (and interestingly were a recent pair I owned) and I hopped on the treadmill. Looking at the video he confirmed my suspicions (see? I told you) and suggested a few pairs of shoes:

Brooks Ravenna 4

Mizuno Wave Inspire

Asics Gel 2000

I tried each pair on, and honestly, they all felt about the same to me. I find it difficult to tell much about a shoe jogging around a running store (and subsequently drooling over road bikes – that might have distracted me a little), so I just picked a brand I had worn before and knew I liked.

Brooks Ravenna 4

Brooks Ravenna 4

$110 later (running shoes are the only shoes I will ever drop that much money on) I was off.

Since then I’ve run with them twice. I’m happy to report they are comfortable, roomy (I have wide feet) and doing some speed work today I have NOT noticed any tightness in my hip or butt. The jury is still out on long term use, but so far I feel positive about them.

Here’s to preventing future injuries.

Runners out there – what’s your opinion on stability shoes? Are they necessary? Have you ever had your run evaluated? How do you feel about the whole pronation debate (forefoot vs heel/ is under/over pronation REALLY a problem?) I’m curious!

How a Bacteria Stole My Birthday

Every birthday in high school was “celebrated” with long rehearsals up and down the band field, in my case with a flag in hand (or dropped on the ground, depending on the moment in time). Some might moan and groan about a birthday at band camp but as I was and am still one to enjoy the social aspect more than anything else (I am a Leo after all), I looked forward to birthday wishes. 

Not the singing, though. I’m still not much for the singing.

Every morning during band camp I’d get up, shower, put my hair in a bun (because it was the only thing I knew to do with the curly fro I had at the time) and put on my short shorts, ankle socks and spaghetti strap sports bra and tank top in my attempt to minimize the farmers tan that surely awaited me. We did marching drills, learned our spots, memorized routines and in return we took home the farmers tan, papers that marked our field spots and routines to practice (*cough* that never happened). 

My senior year, I caught strep. I can’t remember if my birthday was on a weekday or weekend that year but what I do remember is spending my 17th birthday sleeping on the lap of my then boyfriend while he watched movies. Consequently, that was also the year I found out I was allergic to amoxicillin after I was sent home as my body grew a huge red rash. Despite not feeling well I insisted on going back to band camp anyway because it was picture day. If you look closely at my picture that year, even though I tried to hide it with make up, you can tell my face is swollen. Ahh, memories. 

Fast forward about 15 (yikes) years. 

It’s August 22, 2014, and even though my birthday is technically over, I know Bryan has something up his sleeve (because he told me, and because he told me to come straight home that morning, when I usually make a grocery run after work). My alarm goes off at 7am. Bryan gets up and comments that his throat hurts, and not just a little bit. The twins, who have been back in day care for a total of 3 days at this point, both wake up with runny noses, but are acting fine so we get them ready and I drop them off.

At about 10:00 Bryan texts me that he has a fever.

Fifteen minutes later I have a voicemail from the day care saying Miles has a fever.

On the way home from picking Miles up, Bryan gets a call that Abby has a fever.

*facepalm*

Hearing of Miles’ fever Bryan scheduled a doctors appointment, which I was hesitant with at first because usually the docs won’t do anything for a fever until its been 72 hours. But after Abby had one too, I left work early so we could take them. Even once we got home we debated keeping the appt vs waiting it out and treating the symptoms, but in the end decided to go because a) it was Friday and if we didn’t we’d have to wait until Monday or visit the ER and b) since Bryan was starting to wonder if he had strep we figured we’d just get them tested.

Ironically, even though Miles had the highest fever (104) and was acting all sick and pathetic and Abby was acting fairly normal, SHE is the one that tested positive. They sent us home with two scripts though since he was showing symptoms. 

I didn’t know what Bryan had up his sleeve but as soon as I heard Miles had a fever too I figured it was going to get called off. 

He had planned a surprise birthday party. He was going to decorate, had planned to put together this cool big birthday card of online messages he had compiled, and invited some people neither of us had seen in awhile. 

Instead, I spent the evening taking care of two sick toddlers while he drove himself to the VA to get tested for strep himself. After waiting for 2 hours the doc did the test but said he was sending him home with antibiotics regardless of the result, so while we aren’t sure if he officially had it, he’s pretty sure he did. 

Two days later I’m sanitizing my hands like its my job, looking out for symptoms myself, and cursing strep throat into the fiery pits of hell.

Suck it, strep. 

They were much more cooperative at 3 months

The Third Anniversary of my 29th Birthday

So I’m officially 32. I just chose the title I chose because “My 32nd Birthday” didn’t seem all that interesting (because, really, it isn’t).

I still get excited about my birthday.

I hope I always do.

I started the day with a picture request – one like last year where I’m holding both Abby and Miles.

31st birthday - August 19, 2013 (twins are 3 months)

31st birthday – August 19, 2013 (twins are 3 months)

This year was a bit different.

They were much more cooperative at 3 months

They were much more cooperative at 3 months – but we got it.

We re-enrolled the twins in daycare and yesterday (my birthday) was their first day back. We kept them home for breakfast and dropped them off about 930, then Bryan and I spent a few hours together. We perused the outlet mall and bought them some shoes, me some workout clothes and he some shirts. After that we both got a pedicure where I was allowed to sit in the chair and soak my feet in the warm water for almost a half hour. I got an extra long massage and a large glass of wine. We had a quick lunch after I did the nerdiest thing of all – visited a sports store to have my running gait evaluated. There, they videotaped my running and recommended shoes based on the way I run. I got to walk out of there with a shiny new pair of running shoes.

On the way to dinner we stopped and picked the twins up from daycare. Bryan managed to get some friends to come that I hadn’t seen in awhile and it was really nice to catch up. The twins were a bit cranky and Abby didn’t want to leave my lap, so I enjoyed the cuddles while we talked (and shared my french fries).

Celebrations are definitely different now, but in a good way. It was a great day. I looked back at the pictures often. I can’t believe how fast time has flown.

A side by side comparison

A side by side comparison

Bring it on, year 32. :)

It

Dear Yesterday

Dear Yesterday,

Apparently YOU woke up in a joking mood.

At 6am my alarm went off to go on my bike ride. I begrudgingly got out of bed, got dressed and trudged downstairs in my workout clothes and socks

At 6:10 am I stepped in dog poop on the wood floor – I then spent a few minutes cleaning it up.

At 6:20 am I nearly stepped in dog pee, which was so conveniently placed right under the baby fence, so I had to keep moving it back and forth to get all of the wet spots cleaned up.

At 6:25 I finally made it outside to put air in my tires.

I rode incident free (thankfully).

I got home, got the twins up and fed them breakfast. Bryan came downstairs and I was stretching. He was taking a video.

At around 9am Miles knocked over Bryans coffee cup (which was lukewarm, luckily), spilling it all over my Macbook Air.

At 9:10 it stopped working.

At 9:15 I took a very frustrated shower and tried to figure out how many pictures I’d be able to recover from my blog and family should it decide to die.

At 9:40 I took the twins out to play on the water table and started sneezing. I proceeded to sneeze ALL DAY despite my allergy pill and a Benadryl.

At 11:00 I laid down to rest for a bit, and then knocked over half a glass of sweet tea.

At lunchtime neither Bryan nor I could get the warped lid off of the milk container, so he punctured it with a knife, then spilled milk on the floor.

At lunchtime I went to put the rinsed blueberries back in the fridge, but forgot to shake off the excess water, thereby spilling a nice puddle onto the floor on the way to the fridge.

I’m still sneezing.

At 2:00 we take the twins and Quinn (my friends 5 year old we were watching) to the pool, which was luckily also incident free (thank goodness)

At 4:30 Bryan starts the babies dinner and spills more milk on the floor.

I am still sneezing.

At dinnertime the twins throw their milk cups on the floor for the millionth time and….you guessed it, more spilled milk.

At bedtime neither of them want to go to sleep because they are overtired (oops).

At 9pm I decide I’m tired of sneezing and go to bed. I accidentally drop my invisalign into the recycle bin.

I go to bed after 2 more benadryl and toilet paper stuck up my nose.

You suck,

The Powers*

 

*the macbook works! phew! And its been backing up all 2000 pictures since yesterday at 11am.

*no, I did not cry over spilled milk, in case you were wondering :)

*always put your pictures on a back up hard drive or online storage!!!!

IMG_5162

Life With Twins – 15 months

I blinked, and it was time for another update.

Oy.

The four of us went out to eat tonight, and a waitress (among others) stopped by the table to comment on the twins. She asked if this age was harder than when they were younger. I thought for a second and realized that the description that it is just different really makes a lot of sense. They sleep through the night but now require lots more attention and movement during the day. It’s hard to compare what is harder and easier because it is so different.

Gross Motor

Miles took his first couple of wobbly steps a couple of weeks ago and is now officially a full blown walker. He does still crawl at times and still enjoys pushing the push toys around. At this point he still prefers to hold onto our finger when walking outside even though he doesn’t really need to. Luckily he hasn’t at this point tried to climb up anything but the stairs. Abby is still not walking on her own, but she is still showing signs that it is coming so I plan to give it another month before I ask the doc about it. She will stand on her own, now has full control of the push toys (they used to control her) and can turn with them and has recently started running with them. She’s let go and taken a kind of half step before squatting back down. I fully believe she can do it, but also believe that she won’t until she is 120% ready.

Fine Motor

Honestly there has been more focus on walking this month I think and I’m not sure there is much new here. Miles has started to get the hang of feeding himself with a spoon but only if you put the food on it first. They still both prefer their fingers which I guess isn’t much of a surprise. We’ve tried to introduce plates but they usually end up on the floor.

Speech/Language

Miles shocked the crap out of me recently while he was sitting on my lap looking at a book. I was pointing out pictures and he clearly imitated a couple of them (I’ll let you see for yourself).

He says mama as well. Abby has reintroduced some words that had seemed to drop out of her vocab last month so yay for that. She consistently say hi, up and yay. She can say mama but uses it sparingly. I swear she imitated pants today (of all things). She sometimes signs more. I know their comprehension is better so I’m hoping the expression will increase from mostly gestures here in the next few months. I try to label and/or sign everything before I give it to them so they at least have the exposure to the word. You can just tell they understand so much more – I’m not even sure I’d be able to list it all. Abby has picked out a dog, cat, and house toy a couple of times. Miles just grabs them both when I ask him to grab one. He’s like, whatever mom I just want the toy please.

Admittedly, they still sometimes get an “emergency paci”. When one wakes up in the middle of the night (which is not every night so I know its not a habit) I’ll give the waker upper a paci so he/she doesn’t wake the other. They go to bed every night without them, though. We’ve found that 7:00 seems to be a good bedtime that results in minimal complaint. We’ve dropped to one nap consistently. Miles is now in size 5 diapers and Abby in size 4. We’ve popped a few teeth lately too. Abby now has 6 front teeth and three molars. Miles has 8 front teeth and 2 molars.

Favorites this month: the water table, watermelon (Abby), Pocoyo (always), Abby gives hugs and kisses (mine), the push toys, brushing their teeth (no, seriously), swimming, walking/being outside/taking walks in the stroller (they giggle), reading a book before bed (Miles, he likes to flip through the pages and cries when I take it away).

Now onto my favorite part!

  • We have our first selfie
Miles selfie

Miles selfie

  • I compete in my first (and second) triathlon! (I know this is a baby update post, but this was big for me)
Other than the fact that I don't look like I'm wearing shorts (I am), I love how this pic turned out

Other than the fact that I don’t look like I’m wearing shorts (I am), I love how this pic turned out

  • We get a long awaited date night
Date night :)

Date night :)

  • Abby has relaxing down to a “T”. (HAHAHA)
Chillin out back and relaxing by the pool

Chillin out back and relaxing by the pool

  • Miles sports a new hairdo
Like my hawk?

Like my hawk?

  • Abby takes control
I will push BOTH, thank you.

I will push BOTH, thank you.

  • And relaxes while watching some (what else?) Pocoyo
Relaxing on the reclinodaddy 3000

Relaxing on the reclinodaddy 3000

  • Abby and I get silly
Quack.

Quack.

  • And she sports a new hat
I shall wear this pancake hat.

I shall wear this pancake hat.

  • Miles expresses his distain for shopping
OMG. Can we PLEASE leave now?

OMG. Can we PLEASE leave now?

  • And Abby thinks applesauce is awesome sauce
Applesauce is awesome!

Applesauce is awesome!

And of course some videos

  • Put that back
  • Duck face
  • Peek a boo
We win! (he won first)

If At First You Don’t Swim Well…Tri Again (Sprint Tri #2 Recap)

You can read my first race recap here.

When I initially ran the triathlon idea by Bryan I presented the dates as a one or the other type situation. I.e. I’d like to try this, and these are the two dates. His response?

“Don’t lie, you want to do both”.

“No, no” I claimed “I don’t even know if I’m going to like it, I really just want to do one or the other.”

Who was I kidding?

Do I look nervous?  I am.

Do I look nervous? I am. Also, my swim cap is super sexy.

The Swim

Distance: .3 (i.e. eleventy billion) miles

Sprint 1 time: 17:51

I had two goals this time. First, don’t panic. Second, don’t finish last.

I actually did a swim warm up this time, and I’m honestly not sure if it helped. I did figure out over the last couple of weeks that I tend to veer towards the left for whatever reason, so I started all the way to the right of the group, and in the back. I knew I wasn’t going to be fast and I figured it would help me avoid getting kicked. Still, standing in the water waiting for the horn to go off, the buoys seemed REALLY far away. Did they place them further out this time? I think they did.

Either the number of laps that I calculated in the pool as .3 miles is way off, or swimming in open water really is a totally different thing, because I was still slow as molasses. The good news is, I managed to not panic, and kept my eye on the bouys enough that I didn’t veer way off course this time.

And I finished second to last (2 seconds behind third to last), so I considered it a win.

Those buoys look awfully far away

Its really a 80 trillion mile swim

Sprint 2: 17:22

Transition 1:

Sprint 1: 2:01

I would have managed a shorter transition time, except I ended up having issues getting my shirt and number on, so that cost me 10-15 seconds. At least I didn’t have to walk this time.

Sprint 2: 1:58

The Bike

Distance: 12 miles

Sprint 1: 42:28

I pumped a bit of extra air in my tires right beforehand this time. I’m told more air = less friction = faster time. The logic makes sense assuming  you don’t pump so much air that you blow your tires, because that definitely isn’t going to help your time.

I think it also helped that I was familiar with the course this time and expected the sharp turns. I was still passed by about 50 people on fancier bikes (on your left! yeah, you and everyone else!), however, not only did I pass a few mountain/hybrid bikers, I also managed to pass 5 road bikers!

My dopey bike and stupid got messed up shirt

My dopey bike and stupid got messed up shirt

Sprint 2: 40:41

Apparently there is some truth to the tire thing.

Transition 2

Sprint 1: 49 seconds

The girl next to me put her bike on the rack crooked so it took me a little more time to put mine back. Otherwise it was pretty uneventful.

Sprint 2: 48 seconds

The Run

Distance: 3.1 miles

Sprint 1: 25:56

I find it interesting that, even with all my years of running, by the time I get about halfway through the bike I wonder how much energy I’m going to have left to run when I’m done. I pushed myself a bit more with this bike, too, because I had this back and forth thing going with another girl in my age group (on a road bike) and purposely pedaled faster to get in front of her because I was annoyed that we were so close.

Anyway, I knew that I’d psych myself out either way if I paid attention to my pace (either be annoyed I was running slower than I thought or nervous I was starting out too fast if I was going faster) so I only watched the distance on my watch and ran the 5k by feel.

It was a good call, apparently.

Sprint 2: 25:06

We win! (he won first)

We win! (he won first)

Final Standings

Sprint 1: 1:29:01

Sprint 2: 1:25:53

Age Group: 9/14

Overall Female: 55/106

Swim Overall: 99/106 (told you I swim like molasses)

Bike Overall: 62/106 (not bad for a hybrid bike)

Run Overall: 25/106 (hey! this is actually pretty good!)

With some swim lessons and a better bike, I think I could be competitive in my age group next year.

Wait, did I just say next year?