Category Archives: Running

sports bras

It seems like whenever I find a sports bra I like, it ends up becoming unavailable.  With pregnancy, the problem became a bit more pressing, so I ended up ordering a bunch of bras.  When I was younger and skinnier, I was an A cup, and I could wear basically any old sports bra worth its name.  I liked the champion ones you could buy for $20 on Amazon.  I put on some weight and became a B-cup, and needed a more supportive bra, but most moderately supportive bras worked for me.  Pregnancy and breastfeeding is a different story.  I’ve taken the two-bra route for breastfeeding in past, but it’s uncomfortable and not my favorite.

Currently, there are two bras that work for me:

New Balance Women’s Metro Run Crop Sports Bra – not available anywhere as far as I can tell.  

LuLuLemon Pace Perfect Bra – available only at $100 on eBay

This one is awesome because it has a handy back pocket for my phone.  Love it!  But not enough to pay $100 on eBay.  I think.

Since neither of these was available, I ordered a bunch to try:

Brooks Juno Crossback – This is a super popular bra, but I’ve always been un-enthused about a bra with hooks for working out.  In the end, it was just tight and uncomfortable and unflattering.  Maybe I just needed a bigger size.

Nike Indy Hyper Femme – I honestly thought this one was cute, but it looked horrible on and just didn’t provide anywhere near enough support.  I think it’s more of a bra to look good than functional.

Oiselle Bra-Zen Bra.  This one was too stretchy and didn’t provide enough support.  I own an Oiselle bra, and it’s also not sufficient supportive when I’m pregnant.  It’s fine otherwise, but it won’t work now.

Lululemon Zip Front Enlite Bra.  I actually really like this one.  It was comfortable, easy to get, and supportive.  It comes in true bra sizes instead of just Sm, M, L.  However, unfortunately, I think I’d need to size up the band for pregnancy, and then it wouldn’t fit afterwards, and this is a $100 bra.  If I was desperate, I’d pay, but I’m not, so I’ll pass on this one for now.  I think this one is a good option for more busty women, a category I don’t normally fit into.  I’m just a tourist.

Lululemon Energy Bra – This ended up being the one I decided to keep.  I love the floral pattern.  It’s supportive, not too hard to get on, and was reasonably comfortable.  While I liked the Enlite Bra a little more, this one is more forgiving (and less supportive as a result) and should fit fine after pregnancy, too, so I don’t mind paying $50 for it.  It ran in it yesterday, and it provided enough support for comfort.

 

Caster Semenya

I find the popular media Caster Semenya coverage horrifying.   I wonder if most of the columnists are just firing off snap reactions without really understanding the situation or what.  Reading the NYT, as an example, you’d think Semenya was just a woman who was being discriminated against because she happens to have higher than normal T and happens to look a bit butch.

Back to Semenya.  She has XY chromosomes.  This was acknowledged in the CAS report, and this is why they made the decision they did.  IN FACT, the new rules apply ONLY to athletes with XY chromosomes.  So if Caster was XX, it wouldn’t matter if she had elevated T.

It’s typical for female athletes to have elevated T, but there’s a range women fall in, and a range men fall in, and the two don’t overlap.  It’s one of the fundamental differences between the sexes, which is why Semenya, with XY chromosomes, no ovaries, and testicles, has such high T.  I actually think it’s generous and unfair to XX women that she be allowed to compete at all.

In the last Olympics, XX women were shut out of the medals in the 800 m.  I think feminists sometimes get carried away in the “men and women are equal” mantra.  Sadly, men and women are NOT equal.  Women have the privilege and burden of being designed to carry children.  This makes us vastly inferior athletically, especially in certain arenas.  The 800 m happens to be one of these.  An above average high school boys’ runner could win a gold medal in the Olympics.  A high school runner!  (High school girls do not compete in the Olympics in T&F, to be clear.  This is not gymnastics.  It does not reward child-like body shapes.)  My brother was a fairly average runner at a small school.  He never won anything of note, but he would have been national class had he elected to compete as a girl.  In fact, he could have been national class at a number of events – the mile, the 800 m, the 5K, and so on.

Anyway.  The incomplete coverage is making me crazy.  But I am thankful that the playing field has been leveled again, and the XX women who have been shut out for the last decade will once again have a chance to compete.

Kipchoge

Great article about Eliud Kipchoge. It’s well worth reading.  Kipchoge is one of the true greats of sport, up there with Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Serena Williams.  he just broke the marathon world record by a greater margin than it had fallen in fifty years.  I also love that he is so well-spoken and such a philosopher.  He looks so tall and skinny, but he’s apparently an inch shorter than I am.  Anyway, I wish I could have witnessed history, but reading about it is nice as well.

Personally, I am still struggling with my leg.  I couldn’t resist running the company 5K last week, and then I couldn’t resist going for a short “hike” with a friend from out of town yesterday, and my leg was hurting as a result.  I went running today and stopped after two miles.  I am very frustrated, and I guess the only way is to cut back and rest more, again.  I think the hiking I’ve done both yesterday and on previous occasions is as detrimental as the running.  My leg really does not like walking downhill on uneven ground right now.  It’s very frustrating because in order to run on flats I have to drive a good ten minutes from my house, and I just do not have time for that right now.  It’s already mid-September so that fall running season is pretty much shot at this point.  Argh!

back to running

I’m slowly getting my running back on track.  I ran 9.2 flat miles last week over four runs.  This week, I’ve run 9 miles so far over three runs.  Two of the runs were around my very hilly neighborhood.  I’ve been avoiding hills because my specific injury is exacerbated by running downhill.  I felt fine, though, maybe a little tight, but definitely no pain.  I’m hoping to run at least four miles this weekend, maybe five, in my “long” run.  I’ll drive to the flats again, though, to lessen the impact on my leg.  I think from the perspective of stress on my leg, three very hilly miles is at least equivalent to four, maybe five, flat miles.

I’m excited about getting into shape again, but getting up in the morning is BRUTAL.  It’s so easy to make excuses.  The important thing is form a habit.  Once the habit is formed, it’ll get easier, right?  But right now, temperatures are ideal, it’s not raining, and it’s light.  In four to six weeks, it’s going to be cold, rainy and dark.  Eek.  Better not to think about it.

Goal-wise, I’m contemplating the Seattle half marathon. For obvious reasons – weather – there aren’t a lot of races in midwinter Seattle.  The Seattle half is the only major race, and it is extremely hilly with over 1000 feet of elevation gain.  Unfortunately, though, there aren’t any flat options with more than a hundred or so runners, and I like having company.  I could give the long races a break and train for a 5K or a 10K, but I find the long distance motivating.

Having taken a few months off running, I’m seeing all the down-sides of starting again: less time, not just due to the time of running, but also because I’m more tired and need more sleep, even with a 3 mile run.  The tiredness is really a big deal – I just want to relax and watch TV in the evening rather than knit or do other productive things, and I definitely need to go to bed earlier.  They say running makes you energetic, but I have not seen any evidence of this.

the first of september

It’s the first of September today.  Good riddance to bad rubbish as far as August goes.  And July.  Will September be better?  Who knows.  I’d never have guessed what this summer would hold, and now fall is approaching, and I hope it’ll be better.  The general philosophy of just putting one foot in front of the other is encouraging to me.  It’s just about getting through the day, whether it’s good, bad or horrible, and then the next one.  I know my mere presence is huge for my kids, if not for anyone else.  Life is a lot better now than it was even a couple weeks ago, though I still feel this need to replace what I lost, and I just don’t know if that’ll happen, and I fear going through morning sickness again.

QOTD – Lay down.  Bleed awhile.  Get back up, and fight again.

I’m not really feeling it though.  Only some things are worth fighting for.

I ran 3 miles today, longest run in a while.  The short-term history is that after missing five weeks due to my “illness,” I went out, angry and upset, and ran 7 hilly miles and injured myself.  Pretty sure it was my IT Band.  Taking two weeks off didn’t fix it, so I started more stretching, foam rolling (aka self-massage), and strengthening.  A week after that, and I was able to run 2 miles pain free.  Today I ran 3 flat miles and felt good.  9:30 pace, 150 HR.  Tired, hot and very out of shape, but still good.  The nice thing about starting from zero is that the fitness gains are very obvious with (relatively) little effort.

more on bicycling

I tried Saddle #4 today.

Saddle #1 = Saddle that came with my bike, Riva Sport Plus, 155 mm

Saddle #2 = Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow, 131 mm

You can see this saddle looks visibly different from the one above.  I bought it because of the large gap, but what I didn’t realize was how much narrower it was.

Saddle #3 = Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow, 152 mm

I hoped this one would be a compromise between the hard, racing saddle with the large channel, and the more cushioned saddle that came with my bike.  However, it felt just like the one that came with my bike (not comfortable.)

Saddle #4 = Specialized Power saddle, 155 mm

There are a bunch of different versions of this saddle, and I bought the cheapest, the Power Comp.  The more expensive versions are lighter and in some cases less padded.  I’m definitely not in a situation where ounces matter, and less padding doesn’t seem ideal.  The version I got was not particularly well padded.  The version I got wasn’t very padded, so I can only imagine how hard the unpadded version is.

Anyway, I’ve now done about 40 mi on the Specialized Power, and it’s definitely the best option so far.  It’s a marked improvement over the saddle that came with my bike.  With my original saddle, I really started experiencing serious discomfort by around 30 mi, and felt I just couldn’t go much more than about 40 mi with it.  I’m cautiously optimistic that a better saddle for me will allow me to cycle longer distances.  I do have one more to try, and then I’ll make a decision and sell or return the rejects.

Today’s 30 mi ride featured more than 2000 feet of elevation gain.  It’s definitely the hilliest ride I’ve done this year, and it featured two particularly difficult hills.  I don’t mind a long, gradual hill, even if it climbs a substantial amount of elevation.  However, the very steep sections, just kill me, even if they’re relatively short.   The first hill was only about 130 ft, per Strava, but was about half 11% grade or more.  The second hill was 250 ft and also included a large section at 11% or more.  I did manage to get to the top, but only just.

 

 

 

saddle woes and the revelation that I have a big butt

My comfort while riding the bike has improved since I started thanks to Chamois Buttr and high-end bib shorts.  Still, at the end of a typical ride, my butt hurts more than my legs, and this just seems wrong to me.  Shouldn’t my legs be the limiting factor?  I decided to try upgrading my seat might help me, and without getting too explicit, I thought a seat with a channel down the middle could be the ticket.  I ended up getting this seat:

This is a Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow saddle.  I found it massively on discount from the list price of $200 from some sketchy internet site, 60% off or so, and ordered it.  (Coincidentally, or not, I had $6000 in charges on my credit card rung out a few days later and had to cancel it.)  It came in two sizes, small and large, and I decided to go for small.  I mean, I don’t have a bit butt, right?  I decided to test drive it on my planned 44 mile cycle this weekend.  What could possibly go wrong, I ask you?

About 10 miles in, I noticed the soft tissue discomfort I have been dealing with for the last year or so was completely absent.  No discomfort, pain, nothing.  Perfection!  Unfortunately, this had been replaced by increasing levels of discomfort on my sit bones.  At 18 miles, I texted H and told him he might have to come and pick me up.  At 28 miles, I told him I was still surviving but only just.  Basically, it was torture, and it was just got more and more painful.  After a certain point, I just couldn’t handle the pressure on my sit bones anymore, and was sliding forward and back on the saddle, bearing pressure on other places just not really meant to bear pressure, and I got some nasty chafing.  I’m still in a significant amount of discomfort today.  I guess I am stubborn, because I refused to stop, and finished out the whole ride, with only a small “short cut” that cut a couple miles off at the end.  Said shortcut is a route that I normally avoid like the plague because it features a massive hill.  I’d in fact never ridden up it before, but I was in so much pain, i said screw it, and 40 miles in, up I went: only 0.4 miles, but 8% average grade, peak grade 17%.  At one point, I was going back and forth like it was a ski slope, trying to reduce the effective grade.  It was BRUTAL.  But worth it.

Anyway, I’m not really sure where to go with the bike seat thing at this point.  I measured the location of my sit bones.  (I really could have lived my entire life without measuring this.)  Turns out, I have an above average size rear for a female (and women are wider-arsed than men.  Who knew?  I always thought I had a small butt, but I guess not.  In some ways it makes sense.  My labors probably wouldn’t have been as “easy” if I were truly narrow-hipped.  Anyway, I’ve re-ordered the saddle from the sketchy website in the large size, and I’m waiting to see if this new credit card will be ripped as well.   I also ordered a couple of other saddles.  I’ll sell or return all but one, and hopefully I can find one that will work for me.

This weekend’s ride:

42 miles, 2100 feet of elevation gain.  It’s definitely my hardest ride since last summer.  I went slower thanks to the saddle issue, but I still think I got a good workout.  Now let’s hope I can get this sorted and be back on the bike next weekend.   I had been hoping to do 45+ next weekend, but now I’m thinking I’ll repeat this ride.  I still have to spend a lot of time consulting directions on this route.