thank you, sir.

It’s Kentucky Derby Day. And it’s time for me to make a pick for today’s race.

After conducting a thorough analysis of the horses, their bloodlines, the owners, the trainers, the jockeys, the odds and the expected weather at Churchill Downs today, I came up with exactly nothing.

But how can I not pick a horse named I’ll Have Another? Because I almost always will.

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all better. probably.

After several days of angst, I finally got to go outside and run this morning.

And I didn’t die. Neither did my right foot.

I took my bum wheel out for what was intended to be a short (check) and easy (actually a little quicker than I had planned) run, in order to test the foot that had been bothering me since my last run on Wednesday.

The result? No big deal. And that, my friends, is a relief.

Yesterday’s post netted me some decent advice, especially from Facebook; I will get a foam roller for my feet, I’m going to think about my stride and how my foot strikes the ground — but probably not until after I’m done with this spring’s races — and I’m going to do my absolute best not to watch the calendar. To the degree that’s possible.

Yesterday’s post also got me a call from my brother-in-law — you know, THE PODIATRIST. I actually did think about calling Chris on Friday, when my foot was still swollen, but I decided to wait until I had a better idea of whether this was an actual injury or just grumpy muscles. Chris didn’t think it was a huge deal, given that the foot felt better over the weekend; he also advised me to continue icing it after runs and to generally take it easy for a while.

I hate peas. Except for this.

And I listen to what my brother-in-law tells me. Especially if he’s talking about golf or my feet.

So, kids — I think I’m back. I’ll go out again for a little bit on Wednesday morning and if that feels OK, I may be up for meeting the North Parkers Saturday morning.

And in the meantime, that’s two straight posts about running. It’s time I write about beer. Or barbeque. Or maybe both.

See you tomorrow.

feet.

Shut up.

In the five months since I’ve started running, I’ve been most surprised by one thing — I enjoy it enough that it bothers me when I can’t go.

I’ve been through a couple little head colds since I started back in October, and took the necessary days off that I wasn’t going to risk making myself worse. In both instances — in the fall, when I was starting to feel really good about C25K and one during the winter as I was picking up the pace of my half-marathon training — it made me nuts to stop, even for a couple days. I was especially panicked in the fall, when I worried that taking even a day or two off would derail my progress. I know better now, but the illness earlier this year was no less frustrating.

And now? I haven’t run since Wednesday morning, and there’s a pretty good reason. I did three miles then, at a pretty brisk pace for me. I felt great during the run, but later in the morning, I noticed a pain in my right foot. The pain went from annoying to holy-crap-what-did-I-do by the end of the day, and I started thinking about the possibility that I had injured myself.

It was still with me on Thursday morning, and I limped through a Giant Eagle on the way to work to buy myself a couple bags of frozen peas so I could ice the foot while sitting at my desk. That helped, and the foot was feeling better. When when Mrs. Crappy and I got home from dinner Thursday night, she noticed that my foot and ankle were swollen. And Mrs. Crappy, being the experienced runner she is, laid down the law: More icing. No running, not even with the It’s Not A Training Group on Saturday morning. No Chuck Taylors or street shoes for a few days — old running shoes or something similar only.

So. More icing? Check. No running? It killed me not to go out to North Park Saturday morning — I’ll explain that in a later post — but I didn’t. And I’ve been wearing a pair of old cross trainers or — gasp! — Crocs pretty much constantly. Yes, even out in public.

As annoying as the illnesses were, this one is scarier. If it was just a pull, I should be able to pick up this week without too much trouble; if it’s a sprain or something else, though, I’ll start to wonder about how I’m going to prepare for the 10K we’re running at my sister’s house in April and the Pittsburgh Half a month later. It’s also troubling because I don’t have a clue as to what happened. There were no false steps during my run on Wednesday, nothing that I could logically look at and say “That’s when I hurt my foot.” Overuse? Maybe. My newish shoes? That’s possible — I hurt after running three in those on Wednesday, but felt fine after running 7 in a different pair the weekend before.

Or maybe something else? I have no idea. Crap.

But I know this: I’ll find out tomorrow morning. I’m going to run just a couple miles and I’m going to keep the pace slow. If I feel good, I’ll be able to ease back in to the training schedule without having lost too much time. I’ll still have to wonder about the shoes, but I’ll be able to figure that one out later.

And if I can’t finish an easy two miles because it hurts too much? If that pain comes back during the day? I’ll have my answer. And I’ll be off to see our doc.

1. a little help.

Besides making what turned out to be a half-hearted stab at getting back into blogging in October, I made another pretty serious change last month — and I’m at the point where I’m going to ask you for help.

Since I started running, I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of people who have taken the time to offer support here, at Daily Mile or elsewhere. And despite the fact that I had to take nearly a week off because of the Mancold, it’s continued to pay dividends.

I have a couple C25K workouts under my belt since I returned, and I feel like I’m mostly recovered from the unplanned week off. And that’s good, because the first of my goals is coming up in about six weeks.

I promised you when I started that I’d pick a 5K and give it a shot.

Done. The chosen race is the Jingle Bell Run/Walk on the North Shore the morning of December 10; I picked that one because we live close, the course is dead flat and Allegheny General Hospital is just a few blocks away.

(I’m kidding about that last part. Mostly.)

That will be my first 5K as a runner. I’m excited. And terrified. And excited. And terrified.

And I hope you can join me.

I know that’s a ridiculously busy time of year and I understand if you can’t make it. But if you have time — and you want to — I’d love to see you there. You can run it if you want. You can run with me if you want — although I’m still pretty much unable to speak while running, so I’m not sure how entertaining that would be. And even if you only had time to stop by the finish and watch me struggle across, it would mean the world to me.

(Also, I’ll probably need a whole bunch of people to help carry me back to my car.)

Again, I understand if you can’t make it. No worries. If you can, though, I’d love you forever.

20. setback.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been sick.

As I mentioned before that, I’ve been running.

What has happened in the interim is something kind of scary: I’m enjoying the running.

If you’re not familiar with any of the Couch to 5K apps, they work sort of like this: Each week you’re given a schedule with times to walk and times to run, bracketed by five-minute warm-up and cool-down walks. You do three each “week” — kind of an arbitrary term, since I’m doing these every other day — before stepping up to a little less walking and a little more running the next week.

What that’s meant for me is that the first run of each week is a tough one — and that’s expected.

But the third run of each week? I’ve been looking forward to them. They feel awesome.

I can track progress by ticking off each workout in the app. I can see that I’m going a little longer as I add more running time. But the best way for me to see myself getting better is knowing that a run that was tough just five days earlier was suddenly easy.

And that feels amazing.

I did the first run of Week Five on Saturday morning. It was, predictably, a rough one: A three-minute run, followed by 90 seconds of walking, followed by a two-and-a-half minute walk, followed by a five-minute run and then repeated. Ouch. I completed the whole thing, though, and was looking forward to Monday’s run as a way to mark the progress.

And then I started feeling like shit on Sunday night. My coaching staff said I’d be OK to run if the congestion was just in my head on Monday morning, but I felt so lousy when I woke up that I didn’t go. The gunk had moved to my chest on Tuesday, and my coaching staff said running with a chest cold is a no-no. And I didn’t go.

So now I’m two days off schedule, and I’m kind of freaking out about it. I understand that I’m not going to lose everything I’ve gained by missing two or three days before going again. But.

But. I miss it. This is an odd thing for me to say, but I do. I have goals for this stuff — the 5K which I’ll discuss shortly and next fall’s Great Race are the immediate ones — but while I hadn’t planned on stopping at those, I hadn’t really thought much past them. I’ve had friends warn me that I would get hooked, and I didn’t really believe them. Until now.

Unless something changes between now and then, I’m going tomorrow morning. Just don’t tell my coaching staff.

9. not dead yet.

Things I’ve learned after a successful first week of Couch to 5K:

  • My street only looks flat.
  • The nice English lady who lives in the C25K app sounds awfully earnest when she tells me to run. I always feel like looking back over my shoulder to see if she’s noticed someone following me.
  • Strangers really want to talk to me while I’m running.
  • Or maybe they’re checking to see if I can still breathe.
  • So far, I can.
  • The crossing guards in my neighborhood are pretty cool. They cheer for me as I go by.
  • The people in my neighborhood apparently lose sunglasses with alarming frequency.
  • The little hooligans who watch deck hockey games in Marmaduke Park need to do a better job of keeping their balls to themselves.
  • If I ever have to vomit in someone’s front yard, I’ve already picked out a couple where it probably won’t matter.
  • I still love the iPod’s October Mix, but it’s not the best running music ever.
  • The Ballgame Tailgate mix might be, though.
  • When you announce you’re going to give something like this a try, you instantly get a ton of support from friends. If you have friends like mine, anyway.
  • No matter how hard I try, I haven’t yet come up with a reason to stop.