Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Like it Hot!

Loved that song from the 80's. Power Station: Robert Palmer and my favorite hottie: Duran Duran's John Taylor! It's fall now and the weather is finally cooler. What a summer the states had; record breaking heat and drought affected so much of the country, so many people. My heart goes out to those who were hit so hard.
I ended up taking two short vacations in Ludington, Michigan. The first was with my boys and dad in June (that's a story in itself) and then I spent Labor Day weekend up there with family and some friends. Both times we swam, fished, hiked the dunes, boated around Lake Hamlin, and admired a few Lake Michigan lighthouses. Ludington is beautiful; a perfect lakeside town. I hope to spend more time there in the near future. I spent countless hours photographing..., well, it's easier and more accurate to say -- EVERYTHING! In fact, I entered two Michigan photos in the Lake County Indiana Fair. Overall I was pleased with how I did. Four of my seven entries won ribbons.
On several occasions throughout the summer, I got to take my kids to a friend's pool. We visited Deep River Water Park three times, and I even got to Chicago for the air and water show in August. Seemed like if you were outdoors you had to be around water to enjoy anything.
Anything except running, that is. Wait? I actually like running now and don't just tolerate it? I think so. I didn't want to give into the weather and stay indoors too much this unbearably hot summer. It's not like me to sit around, so I decided to challenge myself and do something crazy. I said I was going to run 100 miles in July, and I did. (Before this I would run up to six miles a week, but not necessarily every week, and only two to three miles at a time). I said I'd run 100 miles mainly so I'd always REALLY remember how hot it was and also to get in better shape, maybe even condition myself enough to be able to do a 10K or more this fall. To accomplish my goal I had to run virtually every day, three or four miles at a time. If I skipped a day I had to run double the next. Whenever possible I would set out first thing in the morning or wait until about an hour before sunset in the evenings, but still I'd return home always red-faced and dripping with sweat. I'd reward myself and rehydrate with iced coffee, yum. Every few days I'd drive around the neighborhoods figuring out the mileage I ran pairing it with the time it took to run that far until I got a cool phone app that literally logs my runs. It figures my pace, reports elevation changes, tallies the miles, and allows you to enter data about the weather and how you are feeling. Super cool. It really motivates you to run in new places and while on vacation even. What I mean is I ran in Ludington, up and down the Chicago River Walk route, and even ran a few miles along Wells St. beach in Gary in early September just so I could see my runs on the map. You can see the path you took and send it to friends if you feel like sharing or bragging.
The longest distance I ever ran in July (well, ever) was slightly over six miles in one day. I did that a few days in a row though and ended up getting blisters on my toes half way through the month. Towards the end of my trek my right heel started hurting. But I kept going, too close to the finish to give up, and even went a few miles over. One hundred and four to be exact. I really believe I got addicted to running in some ways. I felt like a machine when I was out there beating the pavement. Not a fast machine, but once I got going I just felt mechanical somehow, like it was easier to keep going than stop. Turns out I now have plantar fasciitis and can't run much or go to step aerobics too often even after taking it easy these past two months. Even two weeks off didn't help; once I start back up the same pain comes right back full force.
No, I will probably never run 100 miles in a month again, and I am disappointed that I can't really run at all right now. Any exercise or long walk means shooting foot pain in the mornings and an achy heal for at least five days. I don't want to do any real damage so I'm resting it as much as I can without giving in entirely. I'm trying to avoid a painful shot of cortisone and/or a boot. A few weeks ago I bought some over-the-counter insoles and now I'm taking ibuprofen. Maybe that will provide some relief. I was able to do the Monster Dash this past Saturday and am feeling ok. My 14 year old son ended up coming in first in his age group (14-20) so I definitely don't regret doing it. I don't regret running the 100 plus miles either. This year and summer I trained in a way, my own way, and built up my endurance. I ran farther than ever before and more frequently and did get in great shape. I'm proud of myself even if I ended up taking steps back to recover. And the craziest part of it all: all those miles I ran in one hot month amounted to only twenty hours total. (The suffering seemed much longer at the time!) To think marathon runners and extreme athletes run twenty-six miles or more (incredible distances) twice as fast without stopping, all in one day - well, it just blows me away!