Even though running requires relatively little in the way of gear, I did need a decent pair of running shoes and a sport bra to call my own. Fortunately, I live around the corner from See Jane Run. The salesperson was incredibly patient as I tried on eight or ten pair of shoes and walked around to see how they felt. In the end I bought the ones she had secretly expected to fit the best after analyzing my gait. I guess that's how they get their jollies at SJR.
One down, bra to go. Sport bras are not generally my idea of a good time. They smash you into an unattractive monoboob and are ugly to boot. I found one that wasn't too awful looking, and while it does indeed press my breasts into a single rounded shape, it zips up the front making it the easiest to put on and take off. In my book that counts for a lot.
Sadly, they only had the bra I wanted in "nude". I really hate "nude". But they found my size in black at another store and arranged to have it sent over. During the following week--while waiting for my bra to arrive--I continued to run wearing various sport tops with built-in bras, reinforced with a regular bra underneath. It felt like my chest was wrapped tight in an ACE bandage but my jerry-rigged brassiere seemed to do the job.
Meanwhile, my knee went wonky and started to hurt so much I had to slow my work-outs down to a walk. I rolled out my IT bands, stretched my quads, performed countless knee sets--all in an effort to stop the pain. It wasn't getting worse, but it wasn't getting better either.
I resigned myself to the possibility I am not destined to be a runner, but I kept showing up at the track. The track in question is above the Clark Kerr Campus at Cal. It's about 5 minutes from my house by car. Although I feel slightly goofy driving to my running work-out, I'm convinced the dirt track is better for me and my knee.
I walked the track for 30 minutes every other day until my knee stopped hurting. This happened to coincide with putting arch supports in my shoes, but I honestly don't know if the two things are related. The arch supports are still there and my knee no longer hurts. I plan to leave well enough alone.
Having finally finished Week 2, I prepared to move on to Week 3. I listened to the first part of the W3 podcast. After a 5 minutes walk to warm-up, it calls for two repetitions of the following pattern: 90 seconds running, 90 seconds brisk walking, 3 minutes running, 3 minutes brisk walking.
Those 3 minute runs had me worried.
I'm 56 years old and the last time I remember even trying to run was in middle school. My life as a Pilates instructor means I have plenty of opportunities to do strength training. In addition to two or three Pilates workouts each week, I'd walk 3 miles two or three times a week. But over the past year I noticed I was putting on weight around my middle. It seemed like it was time to try something to kick-start my menopausal metabolism.
A client mentioned she was starting the Couch to 5 K program (known as C25K). I downloaded the free podcast from a link she sent and scouted out the elementary school up the street from my house. They don't have a real track but there is a grassy area that seemed suitable.
Wearing my old sneakers and carrying my MP3 player, I arrived at the field already warm from walking up the hill. I put my earbuds in and turned on the podcast. A calm, encouraging voice told me exactly what to do and I started the training run, following the simple instructions as well as I could.
What followed felt like a disaster. Although I managed to finish, it was a decidedly unpleasant experience. About half-way into the 30 minute program of running and walking intervals I felt a sharp stinging pain in my left ankle. Bending over to bring my face close to the spot, I could see a tiny stinger sticking out of my skin. I pulled it out and hopped around for a few seconds as the pain flared and then subsided. Meanwhile, my chest and stomach were inching and burning, a sensation I still remember from those long ago middle school runs, and I had sweat running into my eyes. As I forced myself to finish the remaining intervals I kept thinking, "I never have to do this again. I never have to do this again. I never have to do this again." That silent chant is what got my through.
My ankle swelled up and the skin around the bite blistered and wept. I slathered the spot with Benadryl cream and popped antihistimines, but it was itchy and painful for days.
That would have been the end of my running if my niece hadn't come for a visit. Rachel is an avid runner. She's completed marathons and seems to run for the sheer joy of it. I was looking for some of that joy, so I told her about my unhappy debut. She offered to take me out for a training run.
Under Rachel's watchful eye I had a much more successful experience. Wearing one of her sport bras, she had me run on the gravel path around Lake Merritt, where I was less likely to encounter any wasps. She bumped up my running intervals to 90 seconds, but kept reminding me to take it easy. I completed about 21 minutes of intervals and felt I'd had enough, so I walked the rest of the way around the lake while Rachel took off like a gazelle.
This time I had fun. Rachel cheerfully distracted me the whole way and the bra helped too. The greatly minimized bounce resulted in a lot less itching and burning.
After running with Rachel I was ready to recommit myself to the C25K program. That meant I'd be doing some shopping.