Thursday, July 31, 2014

On the Run: MOTTEP LIFE Walk 10K 2014

This past Saturday I raced for the first time in over 2 months.  Since I've been dealing with my hamstring injury and running (ahem) "less," I knew that racing would certainly not be a good idea.  After taking my recent 2-week break, however, I came back feeling good and had minimal pain during and after running.  I had a week of running before the race to test things out and felt confident I wasn't making TOO stupid of a decision.  (No comments allowed, SG!)  I also wasn't looking to win or set a new PR for myself.  I would be competitive but not like my last 10K.  I had to be realistic.

And to be honest, the real reason I signed up for this race was to be with my RUNdetroit friends.  This was a target race for the store.  Saturday running group was cancelled for the day.  It was the graduation race for the 3.101 group who had trained hard all spring/summer to move from walking to jogging to finishing their first 5K race.  I wanted to be there to celebrate their accomplishment, along with all the others who were participating in racing either the 5K or 10K.  Look at our huge turnout!

Photo credit Brian Wolski

The race was LIFE Walk, a fundraiser for MOTTEP (Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program).  People were there to honor loved ones, raise awareness, and support the cause.  It was small, well-organized, and everyone was cheerful and friendly.  I liked the laid-back vibe. It took place at the Belle Isle Casino, which is a beautiful and convenient place for a race.  There's ample parking, a good staging area for the start/finish and post-race snacks, and space for packet pick-up.  You also have nice views of the river and the city.  Since Belle Isle became a State Park it's been looking more kept up, too, which is awesome.  

We couldn't have asked for better weather - blue skies, sunshine, 60 degrees, and a slight breeze.  Even though I would know a ton of people, Brian went with me.  He hadn't been to a race with me since Boston and wanted to take his camera along.  We got there in plenty of time for me to get my bib, catch up with everyone at the RUNdetroit tent, take the group picture, and warm up. 

Photo credit Brian Wolski
When the race started, I went out a bit too fast, trying to keep up with the fast RUNdetroit guys (well, at least keep them in my sights!).  I quickly checked myself and settled into something more reasonable for someone who is still injured.  There were only 2 women ahead of me and I hoped they would make the 5K turn, allowing me to back off a bit.  One of them did but the other kept cruising onward for the 10K. No worries.  We were less than 2 miles in so I knew I'd catch her.  And I did.  For about half a mile we were neck and neck, as she fought to maintain the lead.  She was fighting a lot harder than I was and eventually dropped back.  

After about 3 miles I caught up to the next runner and easily passed him.  I was maintaining a pretty steady pace but felt like I was slipping around mile 4.  I was starting to feel hungry and little nauseous.  As I neared the 5 mile mark, however, I chicked another dude.  That gave me more confidence to push it a bit.  I also saw Justin (owner of RUNdetroit) who shouted some words of encouragement (he had long since finished the 5K).  This is when I merged with the 5K so I had some company, plus more spectators were along the course.  There was still a guy close ahead of me but I just couldn't catch him.  Plus as much as I wanted to push it and pass him I didn't want to risk hurting myself over it!

As we rounded the last curve into the final stretch, I was amazed to hear and see the Cass Tech marching band lining both sides of the path to the finish line.  Then I saw my fellow RUNdetroiter's clapping and cheering me on as I finished!  What a way to finish a race!  

Photo credit Brian Wolski

I ended up finishing 1st female and 3rd overall.  My 1st racing win!  Justin won the 5K in 17:00 and Arni, a fellow RUNdetroiter, won the 10K in 40:26.  I also got to cheer in the other 10K runners and some of the 3.101 group (most of them were already done).  Everyone did an amazing job and I was so happy to be a part of it!

Afterwards everyone from RUNdetroit hung out on the steps of the Casino, enjoying some post-race snacks, listening to the band, and catching up with each other.  It was great to be with so many of my regular Saturday group run friends in a race setting.  We're hoping to find another race to meet up at soon!

Photo credit Brian Wolski



Dangerous / Big Data
Fever / The Black Keys  
Best Friend / Foster the People
Happy / Pharrell Williams
Move Like You Stole It / ZZ Ward
Gotta Get Away / The Black Keys
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) / Fergie ft. Q-Tip & Goonrock
The Walker / Fitz & the Tantrums
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
After the Disco / Broken Bells

Photo credit Brian Wolski
This was the first race that I got to wear my RUNdetroit Women's Racing Team jersey.  I felt so professional!  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jumbo Pina Colada Muffins

I love muffins.  Not mini muffins.  Not regular muffins.  JUMBO muffins.  When done wrong, muffins (especially jumbo muffins) are no more than unfrosted cupcakes made with unhealthy ingredients and loaded with fat and calories.  And it's not easy to find good vegan muffins anyway.  It's really best to make your own.  But sometimes I get lazy.

There's a good bakery - Bizzy Lizzy Flourless Bakery - that delivers vegan muffins to a nearby market.  They use high quality ingredients, too, so I feel okay about the treat.  I like that I can stop and grab just one muffin here or there.  Anyway, I fell in love with their Pina Colada flavor and have made it my mission to find a recipe. 

Alas, I couldn't find one.  I did, however, find a recipe for vegan coconut muffins that I thought could be adapted and turned into pina colada muffins.  After some experimenting I think the combination of coconut and pineapple is right; however, afterwards I wondered if maybe I should have used rum extract instead of vanilla.  Next time... 

So here's my recipe for healthy Pina Colada Muffins - JUMBO-sized!*

Jumbo Pina Colada Muffins
(print or share)


3/4 c. oat flour (grind oats in a blender or food processor to make flour)
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

2 medium bananas
8 oz. can pineapple tidbits, undrained
1 tsp. rum extract (or vanilla)
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
Additional coconut for topping the muffins


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the oat flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside.

3. Break up the bananas and toss them in a medium bowl.  Mash them well with a fork until no chunks remain.  

4. Add the pineapple, vanilla or rum extract, and sugars.  Stir well.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Stir until just combined.  Set aside.

6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the coconut flakes and stir constantly until coconut begins to brown slightly.  Keep a close eye on it - you want it to brown, not burn!  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding to the muffin batter.  Gently stir until just combined, being careful not to over mix.  

7. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way with batter.  Sprinkle with additional coconut flakes.

8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan on wire rack until you can safely remove them from the pan.  

Yield: 6 jumbo muffins

*For 24 mini muffins, bake for 10-15 minutes.  
**For 12 regular muffins, bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Berry Parfait

It's been forever since I've posted a recipe.  Like forever-ever!  This one is hardly a recipe but it'll have to tide you over until I get a real one for you. (I'm putting the finishing touches on a new muffin recipe that should be ready soon - stay tuned!)

I posted a picture of this on the Vegan Road Runner Facebook page recently but I know not everyone follows me there. In case you missed it, here's my current favorite summer lunch.  It would also make a fabulous breakfast.  

Summer Berry Parfait


1 cup strawberries, rinsed and sliced
1/2 cup blueberries, rinsed
6 oz. vanilla soy yogurt
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (dry)
1 tbsp. toasted wheat germ*

*If you have a wheat allergy, omit or substitute with something you can tolerate.  I like the flavor it adds but it's also tasty without it.


1. Combine the berries in a bowl.
2. Top with yogurt, oats, and wheat germ.
3. Mix together and enjoy!
Makes 1 serving.

This bowl packs a nutritious punch!  Antioxidants and vitamin C (berries); protein and calcium (soy yogurt); B-vitamins, folate, Vitamin E, minerals (wheat germ); fiber (berries, oats, and wheat germ).

What's your favorite fresh fruit breakfast or lunch?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Injury Update - On the Run Again!

When my PT told me I couldn't run for 2 weeks, it sounded like forever.  What was I going to do without running for 2 whole weeks?!?  I managed to keep myself active with cardio, strength, and stretching.  This was my routine for my running break:

Stationary Bike*: 45 minutes (13 miles)/daily
Treadmill Walking (backwards): 10 minutes/2x weekly
Treadmill Walking (side-to-side): 2 minutes per side/2x weekly
Yoga: 1 hour/4x weekly
Strength/Core: 30 minutes/3x weekly
Stretching: Daily

*Some outdoor biking in addition to indoor (better aerobic workout indoors and less chance of falling off my bike so I tended toward the stationary bike!)

It was fine, especially once I got into my routine.  I would hit the gym at 5:30am and get it out of the way before I could talk myself out of it.  But it wasn't running.  Sure, I was sweating and getting a good aerobic workout but wasn't enjoying the same benefits that running offers me.

2 weeks was beginning to feel like 2 months.

I was still going for physical therapy.  A little over halfway through my running hiatus I had my re-evaluation.  When I initially started PT it was for Piriformis Syndrome and tight hamstrings.  I had made improvements with those but was still having a pain deep in my butt where my leg attaches.  Because I was still having pain, was still on my running break, and hadn't returned to my regular running activities (I'm a 40-mile/week runner when I'm not training), I was pretty sure that my PT would be extended (I had only had 8 sessions).  

I was wrong.  I was better but not healed and apparently that's good enough for ending PT.  I was told there was nothing more they could do with me.  Maybe I needed more rest.  Maybe continued strength/stretching would help.  Maybe it was actually tendonitis. Maybe I would never get better.  (That last one was the worst!)  So many maybes!  

Then the PT who evaluated me went on to say that I should try running, maybe a mile.  If it hurts, stop.  And if I can't run without pain then I should probably think about finding something other than running.  Like for good.  I wanted to cry.  Although I knew this wasn't true - nothing in my running form analysis indicated that I was a terminal case - nobody needs to hear this!

First I was upset.  Then I was just angry.  There are people with far worse injuries than a pain in the butt who don't have to give up running for life!  

That was Monday.  I biked for the rest of the week.  On Thursday I consulted with a PT from the DMC who suggested I use the elliptical to transition to running.  I went to my favorite cycle class on Thursday night, where we do a lot of standing (I liken that to the elliptical).  Then I used the elliptical Friday morning.

I went back to my doctor Friday to follow up from PT.  The plan we came up with was to get back into running.  Maybe alternate running with elliptical if necessary.  I'll take Naproxen 2x/day for 2 weeks, regardless of pain to fight inflammation.  After 10 days I can reassess how I feel.  If I want more PT, I can just call the office and ask for a prescription.  If it's just a matter of continuing the stretches and strength exercises, I can do those on my own.  Yoga is a big help, too.  So we shall see how things progress.  (And if I do have more PT it will be with the DMC, not with someone who left me high and dry!)

And today?  I ran!!  And it felt amazing!  

Photo credit: Brian Wolski
I did the 3 mile group run at RUNdetroit, which was awesome because there were people at just the right pace for my first run back.  (Man, I've missed my Saturday group runs!)  I could feel my butt just a little bit but not bad at all.  It's been a few hours since and so far so good!

What's next?  Time to start training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon.  Only 13 weeks away!  Let the countdown posts begin!  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Video Analysis - Taking a Closer Look at My Injury

Around the same time I realized it was time to see a doctor and start shopping around for a good PT, a friend at work handed me a flyer for something called Performance Enhancement Through Video Analysis.  She hadn't gone herself but had made an appointment for her daughter who was dealing with an achilles issue.  I have some odd quirks in my form (shuffle step, short stride) and although it works for me, I wondered if maybe something I was doing caused my injury.  Plus this wasn't the first time I'd dealt with piriformis pain - it was just the worst.

The program is called RunFast and is through the Henry Ford Health System Sports Medicine Department.  I spoke with Dave, the person who runs the program at the Novi location, on the phone.  He asked a few questions about my injury and we set up my appointment for my first week of summer vacation.  All I needed was to wear running shorts and take 2 pairs of shoes - old and current.  

I showed up with 4 pairs of shoes.  I wanted to be thorough.  (I left a couple at home.)

Dave started by gathering information to create a detailed portrait of me as a runner - how long I've been running, average pace (pre and post injury), daily/weekly mileage, usual running surfaces, which side of the road I run on, how much stretching I do, what other exercises I do besides running.  We talked about what I do with my legs when I sit and what my posture is like.  He looked at all my shoes and took notes.  

Next he looked over my legs and feet.  My arches checked out fine and my legs are the same length, which was good to hear.  (Not that I was worried.)  

After giving me the once-over, he did a variety of tests.  A lot of them were in the exam room and then we moved out into the hallway and gym area.  Those were videotaped using his iPad and later put into an app called "Coach's Eye."  The app allows you to watch the videos frame-by-frame to check form, draw lines and angles, and put two video clips side by side to compare.  It's very cool.  I didn't get my report and analysis until 2 weeks after my evaluation when I went back to see him.  Below I'll briefly describe what he tested and make note of some of his findings.

1. First Dave tested my mobility - ankles, feet, hips, and trunk rotation.  Then he checked strength, core, and postural control by having me do bridge, plank, side plank, and resistive testing.

Findingsmildly tight calves (both soleus and gastrocnemius), very tight hamstrings, weak hips/glutes - slightly weaker on right side, piriformis pain not reproduced with any testing of right hip (leading him to conclude piriformis isn't my problem - interesting)

2. Next Dave had me complete a variety of activities, such as squat, hop, jump, balance, step-down with medicine ball.  (This is when he started videotaping me.)

Findings: weak hips/glutes, mild pelvic drop - more on left side, collapsing in of right knee, turning out of right toe (jump, step-down, and squat)

Step-down with medicine ball
Single-leg squat, followed by single-leg hop

3. Then Dave had me complete a gait assessment, where he had me walk with one foot in front of the other, then toe-in, toe-out, and with big steps.

Findings: more pelvic drop and/or pelvic rotation on the right side in nearly all of them

4. Finally it was the moment I'd been waiting for - the running form assessment!  He only needed me to run on the treadmill for a few minutes at my usual pace and filmed me from the front, back, and both sides.  He also had me run a little in the hallway prior to the treadmill.  I hoped for immediate feedback but he just smiled and said I looked the same in both places. Ah well, I tried. When I did get the video analysis, however, it was quite interesting.

[I was not able to embed these on the blog but you can view my running videos by clicking on the following links: treadmill1, treadmill2, treadmill3, treadmill4, treadmill5]

Findingsmild heel strike but shins are vertical at contact (so okay), 192 cadence, right hip not extending, right toe out, more trunk rotation on the right side, more right side pelvic drop, possible trouble driving off left side

Are you noticing a trend here?  My right side is screwed.  Not a surprise considering the pain I've been in.  Then when I think about how long I've been sitting on the couch with my legs tucked to the side, how I only cross my right leg over my left, how when I stand I shift my weight onto my right leg.  When I used to do burpees I would always kick out my right left before my left.  I can't squat and keep my right foot on the ground.  How long has this been going on??

In video 3 (when watched in slow motion), I can clearly see my right arm cranking back, as if I'm trying to power myself forward.  My left arm isn't doing it quite so much but it's crossing over slightly, as well.  How long as THIS been going on??  Is this a new thing that started with my injury?  Or is this the CAUSE of my injury?  In any case, I need to get that ironed out stat!  I've been running along happily giving everyone the thumbs-up (which I learned about at my Good Form Running class), thinking my arms were in proper position.  But - gasp! - they weren't.  All that upper body twisting wrecks havoc on your hips which can cause everything else to collapse inward.  

I have a quick cadence which is a result of my short stride.  I've always just thought of myself as an efficient runner.  However, there are other runners who also have a quick cadence yet they have a much longer stride.  I'm not going to purposely try to lengthen my stride but is my stride short because of some of these issues I'm having?  My hamstrings are so incredibly tight that I feel like I couldn't lengthen my stride if I wanted to! Perhaps with increased flexibility, my stride will naturally lengthen.  

What to do, what to do?  Dave had a LOT of recommendations!  On my first visit he gave me a few stretches but when I went back the second time he spent about an hour with me going over both strength exercises and additional stretches to target the problem areas.  He made sure I was doing them correctly and that I understood why I needed to do them.


  • Hip flexor stride stretch
  • Pigeon pose
  • Soleus (toe against wall)
  • Gastrocnemius - using this calf stretcher
  • Hamstring

  • Clams with band
  • 1-legged bridge
  • Side plank with leg raise
  • Single-leg step up on bench with overhead press
  • Single-leg squat with back leg on bench
  • Single-leg balance, hip abduction with band

  • Use good posture to prevent weight from resting on my hips.
  • Do not sit cross legged, particularly with the right leg over the left.
  • Do not sit curled up with my knees shifted to the left (right knee on top).
  • Keep even distribution of weight on both legs when standing rather than shifting weight to right hip/foot.
  • Watch right foot when standing to be sure it's not turned outward.

Running Form:
  • Less upper body rotation
  • Eliminate the right arm "crank-back"
  • Pull-through (get my legs back behind me more) to use more power

Once I get back to running in a couple more days (fingers crossed!), I need to be very mindful of my arms upper body.  I've been so focused on my legs that my arms never crossed my mind!  I also need to be diligent about stretching and strengthening, something I've neglected for at least the past year.  

All in all, I was quite pleased with my video analysis and follow-up session.  Many of the things Dave said went along with what my PT had told me (weak hips and glutes) but having the video component was a nice added feature for me, especially for the running form.  I already had an idea about what my legs were doing but I never would have guessed I was cranking that right arm back until I saw it in slow motion!  Plus, I liked how comprehensive the assessment was, taking every aspect of your legs into account to put it all into one big picture.

I would definitely recommend this for anyone with a running-related injury.  You'll gain a lot of information and leave with ways to help yourself feel heal.  Even if you aren't injured it could be a cool thing too!  You might learn some good preventative tips to keep you running healthy.

The total for two sessions is $125.  I also downloaded the "Coach's Eye" app for $1.99 (it was on sale - I think it's usually $6.99) and had Dave send me the videos.  You can watch the videos online but without the app you won't be able to play around with them and use the additional features that the app offers.  

For more information about the RunFast program or to set up an appointment, you can call or email Dave.  

David Tomsich, certified strength & conditioning coach, physical therapist
Office: 248-344-2331

Have you ever had a running form assessment done?  If so, please leave a comment to tell me about your experience.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Running Hiatus

I can practically count on one hand the number of days I've taken off from running this year.  One day off during Boston training; one day off after.  "Rest days" mean 2-3 easy miles.  Running is a part of my day and a day without running just isn't right.  

So imagine my dismay when my physical therapist delivered the crushing news that I would need to take 2 weeks off from running.  TWO WEEKS?  NO running?!  Not short runs.  Not easy runs.  NO RUNNING.  

Let me back up because you're probably wondering where this all came from.  I've been a bit delinquent with blogging lately, so I apologize.  I noticed pain in my right glute the day after I ran the Novi 1/2 Marathon. I wasn't sure if it was hamstring or piriformis.  I wasn't sure what caused it - poor form exacerbated by fatigue, tweaked something on a pothole?  In any event, it hurt when I ran but instead of taking a break I just kept running.  Because that was definitely going to help it get better, right?  Ha!

I did some stretches, bought new shoes (yay, Newtons!), and got an awesome deep-tissue massage.  And kept running every day.  It wasn't getting worse but it wasn't exactly getting better.  Then I ran the Back to the Beach 1/2 Marathon, which I shouldn't have done.  First of all, I could barely run before the race even started.  I wanted to stop at mile 4.  Then there were the trails and hills.  Finally I "had" to kick it into high gear after going the wrong way.  If it wasn't worse before that race it definitely was after!  So I took a break after, right?  haha.  I wish.

Finally I called my doctor and got a prescription for PT, which I was able to start the following week.  I was diagnosed with Piriformis Syndrome - which I refer to as my pain in the butt.  My hamstrings are very tight as well but the pain mainly is piriformis and glute.

My prescription was for 9 sessions.  After the initial evaluation, most sessions followed a similar format:
  • Bike (10 min)
  • Treadmill - walking backwards at 8% incline for glutes (10 min)
  • Strength - squats with weights on Bosu, 1-legged stand on Bosu
  • Stretching
Jerry, my PT, also used sports tape on me a few times to provide compression to the muscles over a few days.  The tape was sort of a last resort before what Jerry referred to as "the nuclear option" - a.k.a. 2 weeks off.  It gave me time to process what was coming and gave me a chance to get in a few last runs before the long break.

I am now on day 5 of not running.  I miss it so much!  Thankfully Jerry said I can bike, so that's something.  Brian got our bikes out on Friday and we went for rides over the weekend.  I'm still learning about my gears and trying not to fall over while stopped at a light (so clumsy!) but overall riding outside isn't as scary as I thought it would be.  The stationary bike at the gym is also becoming my new 5:30am friend.  45 minutes is about all I can stand so far, during which time I can get in 12 miles.  I have no idea if that's a good pace or not but it's what I'm doing.

I'm also doing stretching (glutes, hamstrings, hips), strength training, core work, and yoga.  That all takes time so it helps keep me busy.  And those are all things I should be doing anyway.  Things that I've neglected and ultimately may have led to this problem in the first place.  

In the grand scheme of things, 2 weeks off isn't so bad.  I just hope and pray that 2 weeks will be enough.  Enough to let me come back strong to start training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon (and the half marathons and 10ks that I love to race in the fall before that).  I already dropped my 50k in August and declined a few offers to join teams for the Great Lakes Relay in July.  

I also went for a running form evaluation with video analysis a couple of weeks ago.  That was very comprehensive and provided me with a lot of information.  I'll save that for a later post.  

I have one more PT session before reevaluation.  And 9 more days without running. Hopefully not a day longer!  Fingers crossed!  I'll keep you posted.

And until then at least I can bike! 

Has an injury kept you from running for an extended period of time?  What did you do to instead of running?

Read about the last time I was injured here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Soaps of Summer

Summer is here and it means a lot of things - hot runs, suntans, fresh tomatoes, grilled tofu, and dinners on the patio.  For me it also means one other important thing - new soap!  That's right, Cellar Door Soap and Skin released their new line of summer soaps a few weeks ago.  Good timing, too, because my stash had dwindled down to just one bar!  Eek!

This new line of soap is so amazing that you'll probably have a hard time deciding which one to buy.  You might just want to buy them all.  That's what I did!  All 10.  And then I got 1 free because I filled up my punch card.  Oh happy day!

This first group here is bright and citrusy.  You can't go wrong with Yuzo (grapefruit and mandarin) and Lemon Verbena but Bon Temps Rouler has quickly become my new favorite of the collection.  The blend of citrus, pineapple, and blackberry is a vibrant, refreshing summer scent.

Next up are the fruity/flowery scents.  Melon Spritzer is a delicious blend of cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew.  For Cucumber & Coriander, the name says it all.  It's a unique blend that smells like fresh cucumbers with a hint of coriander.  You won't find this scent anywhere else.  Lastly we have Summer Fling - a slightly floral scent but not overwhelmingly so.  The label says magnolia and lily but I'm not good enough with flowers to discern particular scents.  I think it's just nice and fresh.

With the exception of Colada Sunset (which smells like a delicious pina colada - another favorite of mine!), these last soaps are a bit earthier.  Carcosa Woods is woodsy and mossy - in a good way.  Like taking an early morning nature walk.  If you love the smell of fresh cut grass, then you'll love Grass Stain because that's exactly what it smells like.  Fresh cut grass without having to actually cut the grass?  Sign me up!  Lastly we have one of my new favorites - Black Mamba.  I can't really describe this one.  It'd consider this one of the more "manly" soaps but I've also been using and love it.  In fact, I came home with two bars of this!

There you have it - the new Summer Collection from Cellar Door Soap and Skin.  All vegan.  All awesome.  You can find them online, on Facebook, at select specialty shops, or at local Michigan farmers markets this summer!

What scents make you think of summer?