For the past couple of years, late fall and winter have been a time to wind down from high spring and summer mileage.

The weather is colder and more treacherous, plus the days are just plain shorter, leaving me less motivated to head out after work and more comfortable watching reruns of The Office, covered with a blanket on a comfy chair.

I’m OK with the cycle of cutting back just as the leaves have left the trees and the sidewalks start getting coated with white stuff.

Two or three weekday runs at 5 a.m. plus a longer run on the weekend suffices. Until a woman you’re friends with mostly online suggests you get together for a run on a Sunday morning to talk about blogging and running.

Don’t mind if I do!

I snuck in two miles with el husbando who is already on his third week back with Couch to 5K and doing great, thankyouverymuch, before heading out to a new-to-me park in my hometown of Holt, just south of Lansing.

At the corner of Keller and Pine Tree roads, Valhalla Park is bigger than I expected at 45 acres with wooded paved trails, fields, a large pond and a small lake.

I was looking forward to the run, but a little nervous as sleet started hitting my windshield and after remembering that Barb is a much-faster runner than me.

was sucking wind a bit, but she graciously slowed down and even stopped a few times to let me walk off an intermittent and annoying side-stitch that I now suspect is a rib out of place. (Gonna have to go see Dr. Awesome for that.)

The flooded trail under the I-96 bridge meant we had to do a little off-roading.

We easily covered seven miles while talking about our families, backgrounds and running journeys. It’s been a while since I’ve gone running with someone I don’t know well, and the experience reminded me of why it’s such a good idea.

We got around the flooding, but I almost hit my head several times.

Barb was much better at this than me. Plus, she had those styling neon shoes!

Other than my painful side and the flooded trail, the run was uneventful, warmer than I expected and gratifying after getting to know yet another cool, accomplished woman.

We quickly headed to a coffee shop to talk about the boring side of blogging and warm up with some yummy drinks.

Still smiling afterward, but I suspect Barb never imagined she’d be running with someone dressed as a Q-tip.

After five years (FIVE!) as a runner, meeting other runners remains my favorite part of the sport. It’s a special tribe and one I’m forever grateful to belong to.

When was the last time you went for a run with someone you didn’t know well? Did you run together again? Do you have any tips for Barb as she starts her own blog? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

The weather.com app calls for 45 degrees and 70 percent chance of rain. I don’t like it. Let’s look online.

It says 45 degrees with a 35 percent chance of rain. A little better, but what does the newspaper weatherman say?

He’s calling for 46 degrees and 46 percent chance of rain.

Who’s right? At this point, what really matters is that it’s probably going to be raining, but since it won’t be too cold, I’d be willing to head out as long as I dress appropriately (read: wear a hat or visor to keep the rain off my face and a rain-resistant jacket).

Weather checking and fretting. That’s what the night before a run looks like in the fall and winter, leaving me on the fence on whether to suggest to my friends that we meet up for a run. I’m often the instigator, suggesting that we get together for three or four miles at 5 in the morning during the week or at 8 on weekends.

There have been a handful of times when I didn’t check and we all paid dearly. Rain, snow or even sleet. Frankly, I’m surprised any of them agree to run with me between November and March.

Runner friends who freeze together stay together.

Now I never text without checking the weather, sometimes over the course of a couple of hours and after checking several sites.

My extreme-weather tolerance is on the high side, but only when at least one friend agrees to join. That said, I’ve learned some lessons and have set some general rules:

  • Absolutely no running in single digits. Too miserable.
  • Check multiple sources before making a decision. Once in a while, one source is way off.
  • Always provide the forecast when suggesting a run during questionable weather. A few friends won’t run in the rain except for race day; others will want to meet earlier if it’s going to be warm.
  • Dress warm and remove items once I get warm. I am too miserable if I’m remotely cold.
  • Never run if it’s icy. I have heard one too many tales of serious injuries due to slipping on unseen ice, especially on bridges. That’s why man invented treadmills.

In the end, I may be what we jokingly call hardcore, but I also try to be thoughtful so that my friends will keep turning out. Because who wants to run in the rain by herself?

What are your rules when deciding when to run in questionable weather? Who makes the call if you run with others? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Why can I stick to crazy-sounding goals but not seemingly easy ones?

I keep saying that I want to work on my core, but I don’t. Well, I certainly do it for a few days, but don’t follow through. I’m still running and walking, but that’s just not enough.

I also know I need to eat better, but continue to buy and eat donuts every Saturday morning.

Don’t get me started with my water consumption. It’s never even close to what it should be.

And, yet, I keep setting goals that I don’t stick to long term. But I do keep trying. Which, I guess, is what matters.

Well, at least I ran before I ate that donut this morning.

So here’s my gazillionth time committing to the same goals.

I’m going to focus on doing the yoga core body workout I found on Runner’s World magazine. The one that only takes 13 minutes. That I could literally do every day. Or at least a few times a week. Or a couple. Yeah, a couple.

As for food, I hope to get back to planning our meals so that I can pick better recipes in the first place. And I’ll start packing lunches again.

Water. Sigh. This is probably the hardest for me. I don’t drink nearly enough. Coffee doesn’t count, right? Hmmm. We even have a water cooler in the office. Any suggestions?

So here’s to trying to do better, even when I fall off the wagon. Because I can always try again. And again.

What do you struggle with? How do you stick to your goals? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Review: Oofos sandals

by lachicaruns on

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Oofos recovery sandals to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

When BibRave announced to ambassadors that we could opt in to review the Oofos Project Pink line, the excitement was immediate and infectious.

I had heard of Oofos sandals, but hadn’t yet tried them. I am so very glad I did.

Bonus? The company donates $10 out of the $59.95 price for every Project Pink shoe sold to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for breast cancer research.

The sandals came with information about the cancer research donation.

The OOahh Sport Project Pink sandals came in black, with a tiny pink logo on the outside of both shoes, and the always-present double Os on the top in white.

As for the feel, the shoe is absolutely comfortable, lightweight and can be worn with and without socks. That’s important to this chica because I’m always cold and often wear my SmartWool socks with my slippers at home.

I should note that I haven’t work said slippers since I got the Oofos sandals in the mail, in large part because the sandals are comfortable and because I can wear them outside to let the doggies out.

The company boasts that its sandal “absorbs impact, cradles your arches and allows you to move naturally.” I do like how squishy the shoe feels, especially after a long run, when I can toss my trusty Brooks aside and slip into something more comfortable.

They also don’t smell, despite my obviously stinky feet, and don’t make my feet sweat either. The company says they can be machine washed, something I haven’t yet done.

Good shoe post long run.

I haven’t worn flip-flops in years, mostly because I don’t like the smack-smack sound they make when you walk.

The only downside I have seen with my Oofos sandals is that sometimes, when I wear them without socks, they make a, well, fart sound when I walk. It’s not often enough that it’s stopping me from wearing them, but I also wouldn’t want that to happen when I’m out and about.

Overall, they’re a comfortable shoe that easily fit in my gear bag so that I can bring them with me when we go camping and after races. I can see myself wearing them for many years to come.

What’s your favorite post-long-run shoe? Have you tried Oofos? What did you think?  (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Amsterdam, that is. Or London, for that matter.

But I’m back from a 10-day work trip that saw me on my feet as much as 10 miles in a day despite taking various modes of transportation, including bus, boat, train and tram. I didn’t get on a bike or skates, but I did get on a jet plane and snuck in a few short runs.

Work and the early morning darkness cramped my running style in both locations, so I had to keep my runs to 5K-ish distance.

Amsterdam was by far my favorite, in large part because of its evident diversity in everything from its people to its food to its buildings. While running or walking around the city, I heard just about every language spoken, including many who clearly had a Spain-Spanish accent. Because I spent a whole week here, I also found it easy to navigate the area immediately around our hotel, so I didn’t get lost (too badly) on my runs.

Oh, Amsterdam, what’s not to love?

I made sure to stick to well-lit areas with people walking or riding their bikes on designated lanes (much unlike most Michigan roads), which meant that I stayed close to our hotel, the Kimpton DeWitt. But because the hotel is so close to the Central Station, there were lots of people around and I felt safe running by myself.

Central Station.

 

So. Much. To. See.

London was special in its own way, with its museum-looking structures as my backdrop, but the sidewalks were noticeably dirtier and I saw a lot more homeless people sleeping in front of stores or on park benches. There was also very little vegetation with a few small trees here and there. I tried to run to — and around — Regent’s Park because it was recommended by a fellow Bib Rave Pro, but Google maps failed me and I never did find it.

My hotel, the Nadler Soho, was near the Soho Square, but the park was way too small to run there. I did get to walk all over town and even got to enjoy a Diwali festival, street artists and Chinatown. A highlight was the beefeater giving us a tour at the Tower of London, which holds the Crown Jewels and showcases torture devices used throughout history.

Safety first at the Tower of London.

 

Look left and look right signs are all over crosswalks in downtown London.

 

The Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace.

I tried to pack as little as possible, making sure that I could wear each item multiple times, including my running gear. I stuck socks and a sports bra inside my running shoes (which took an inordinate amount of space, but were worth having), and brought just two tanks, a Skirt Sports skirt and capris. With temperatures in the low 50s, I was able to run with just my new Bolero reflective jacket. I had to wash all of the items in the hotel sink at least once, but I was glad to have enough gear for multiple outings.

For a trip I knew would entail long hours, I am grateful I got to run as much as I did. Should I ever get such an opportunity again, I’ll be sure to plan ahead better, including looking up routes and, if possible, finding a running group I can join for longer runs.

In fact, had I done that in the first place, I could have run the Amsterdam Marathon since I was already trained for the distance. I’m still kicking myself for not thinking of that before heading to Europe for the first time. Learn from my mistakes, chicos y chicas!

Have you run internationally while on vacation or on a work trip? How do you manage to find the time? How did you choose your route? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)