The Green Girl Has A Problem

The Green Girl's podiatrist made an interesting discovery when she went for a follow-up visit for her orthotics.

Before I started running a few years ago, I got my gait and stride analyzed at a few running shoe stores to make sure I was getting the proper footwear. My feet are small and wide - I wear a size 5.5 wide - and I have very low arches that collapse almost completely when I put weight on my feet. The consensus was that the Green Girl needed stabilty shoes. In terms of width, I was pretty much limited to only 2 options: Brooks or New Balance. Other manufacturers offer wide widths but they aren't as generously sized.

After some trial and error, I discovered the stiffer the shoe, the less my plantar fasciitis flared up. Running on soft surfaces for extended periods of time had the same effect so I stuck to the pavement. I also learned my feet swell a lot when I run so I need an extra wide toe box.

As I ramped up my mileage during marathon training, I added Green Superfeet insoles to help alleviate increased arch pain due to the plantar fasciitis. The combination of the New Balance 857 stability shoes and the Green Superfeet were ideal for my feet.

When it came time to replace my 857's, I stuck with the New Balance 85x stability line. I went from 858's to 859's. I was one content Green Girl who had achieved the ultimate shoe zen.

But then I ran into a problem. My magical prescriptiong orthotics were so powerful that when combined with my beloved stability shoes, my flat little feet were actually being overcorrected - I was oversupinating. I went back to my usual running stores to see what my options were. They all suggested I go with a pair of neutral shoes but no one had my size in stock.

Instead of waiting for a pair to be ordered, I headed to the New Balance South Bay store. I have nothing but good things to say about this store. Their customer service was outstanding. I am pretty sure I managed to run at least a quarter of a mile around their store during some of my visits while they patiently studied my gait and stride.

I started out with a neutral shoe that aggravated my plantar fasciitis. I exchanged them for another neutral shoe that gave me shin splints. I exchanged them for a different stability shoe. That one made my good left ankle hurt. Finally, they suggested I try a motion control shoe, the 1123. It was by far the most unattractive running shoe I'd ever seen but at this point, I was willing to give them a try.

The New Balance 1123's are heavy but durable. The sole is probably about as stiff as a sole can get and they are built on a straight last. I like to call them my 'Charlie Brown' Humvee shoes. My podiatrist actually felt the straight last would be better for my feet simply because my feet are so straight.

My podiatrist also examined my old running shoes and studied not only the outsoles but also the midsoles. He informed me that I am favoring my injured side. He showed me the midsole of my old left shoe and sure enough, there's a pronounced indentation that doesn't appear on the right shoe.

Correcting this issue is my number one priority. I am trying to be really cognizant of how I run. After he made that observation, I realized I've also made some changes to the way I walk. I'm right-handed and I would always step down on my right foot but ever since I injured myself, I always step down on my left.

With all my shoe complications, I couldn't help but wonder if I could benefit from the whole barefoot running movement with a more minimal shoe (as opposed to the 'Charlie Brown' Humvee shoes) but both my podiatrist and the physical therapist suggested I just stick to my orthotics and supportive shoes for now.


El Dorado Nature Center Walk

Every Sunday morning, the Green Girl walks with the Long Beach SparkTeam. I really enjoy our weekly walks.

We usually walk around the El Dorado Nature Center but due to recent restoration efforts, we've been using the park across the street as a temporary detour.

We were pleased yesterday when we discovered we could return to the Nature Center for our walk.

The 100 acre El Dorado Nature Center is part of the El Dorado East Regional Park. The park sits on what was previously farmland. It features only California native plants from 5 regional plant communities - oak woodland, riparian, chaparral, coastal sage scrub and grassland.

The Nature Center also features a small Visitor Center with educational displays and a small gift shop that offers environmentally themed books and gifts.

We meet in the parking lot of the El Dorado Neighborhood Library and then walk over to the Nature center. The dirt trail is 2 miles long so if we loop around twice, our total distance, including the walk to and from the parking lot, is approximately 5 miles. The park also offers a quarter mile paved trail.

As part of the stream restoration, they added some foot bridges and made some changes to the trail. It was a pleasant surprise to find the path winding in a different direction yesterday. One duck wandered up on the path while the rest of the ducks remained wading in the stream. We also spotted a rabbit hiding in the bushes.


The Green Girl Has A Green Headlamp

The Green Girl went to her favorite store, REI this weekend because as an REI member, she received a 20% off a single item coupon and her annual dividend check this week.

For those of you not familiar with REI's membership program, the lifetime benefits include discounts and yearly dividends - typically about 10% of your purchases. My local REI's offer free classes on basic bike maintenance and hiking for beginners.

I've been coveting the both the Petzl Tikka 2 in Storm Gray (it has some green accents) and the Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp in Pistachio for months now. The price difference between the 2 models was $10.

After I explained I wanted a headlamp for trail running at night, the REI salesperson recommended the Plus model over the Petzl Tikka 2 because of the high-output LED and the red LED. The Tikka 2 has 4 LEDs but no high-output LED. She said the Tikka Plus 2's red light is convenient when you need to focus on something up close like reading a map. I was very pleased to hear this because the Tikka 2 had a green strap but a grey lamp whereas the Tikka Plus 2 lamp was actually green.

The Tikka Plus 2 is about the size of a pedometer. It runs on 3 AAA batteries. With the batteries, the lamp weighs 83 grams.

I also purchased the Petzl Poche Tikka 2 Pouch which has a pocket to store spare batteries.

When I got home, I noticed how convenient the packaging was. Instead of having to wrestle with the plastic, they pre-cut a tab in the back that you simply push through and then pull out. I was able to extract the headlamp from its packaging within seconds.

The design of the Tikka Plus 2 is very intuitive. I was able to pop it open easily to insert the batteries.

In its default position, the headlamp shines straight ahead but its angle can be adjusted to point downwards. According to the documentation, the white LED delivers 50 lumens in maximum mode and lights up to 35 meters. In economic mode, it is supposed to reach a burn-time of 140 hours.

The Tikka Plus 2 features 3 white lighting modes: maximum, economic and flashing mode. It also has 2 red lighting modes: continuous and strobe. To switch between the modes, you simply press the button on top but you do have to cycle through all the modes to get to your desired mode. One nice feature is that if selected, the lamp stays in red LED mode when you turn it off, so it is in red LED mode next time you turn it on.

The headlamp is supposed to be IP X4 water-resistant. I discovered IP stands for 'Ingress Protection' and the 2 digits following the IP X4 indicate degrees of protection.

The first digit of the IP code indicates the degree that persons are protected against contact with moving parts (other than smooth rotating shafts, etc.) and the degree that equipment is protected against solid foreign bodies intruding into an enclosure. The second digit indicates the degree of protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against the harmful entry of various forms of moisture (e.g. dripping, spraying, submersion, etc.). IP X4 means 'Protection from splashed water'.

Hopefully, I don't encounter a downpour when I am out with my Pistachio Tikka Plus 2.


Sole Runners Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Run

The Green Girl went for a run this morning at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve with some of the Sole Runners.

Our running group is officially on a short hiatus between the winter and summer training sessions so there were only a handful of runners who showed up today. The weather was absolutely perfect for a run.

This was my first time visiting the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. I had trained many times across the street on the beach path but I had never ventured to the other side of Pacific Coast Highway.

I've been doing a lot of city running lately so it was a nice change to get out on trails again.

I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. Initially, the trail consisted of hard packed dirt but further out, it softened into loose sand. Some sections were also partially paved.

The contrast between the yellow flowers and the green foliage was breathtaking. We passed a few photographers with their tripods set up.

I'm really looking forward to visiting the Bolsa Chica marsh again.


Sole Runners LA Marathon Mile 18 Support

The Green Girl cheered on her fellow Sole Runners and friends at Mile 18 of the LA Marathon this weekend.

Coach Gary and I headed up to Century City early Sunday morning to meet up with the rest of the Sole Runners support crew. We set up our tent and table just past the giant inflatable Mile 18 marker directly across the street from the Century City Mall.

Coach Gary mixed up a concoction of coconut juice and Trader Joe's Super Red Drink Powder. We had the usual bananas, oranges, and watermelon but we also had salted potatoes.

I had never heard of salted potatoes but Coach Gary suggested I cook up a batch of potatoes and drown them in salt for the runners. I was really nervous as I prepared the potatoes because I'm not exactly a seasoned chef so I was really relieved to hear compliments from the runners on the salted potatoes.

Coach Gary took the time to write out inspiration notes by hand to give to the runners as they came through. Before each one of our training runs, Coach Gary would share an motivational story with the group so I knew this was his way of giving that emotional support to the runners since we weren't with them at the beginning of the race.

One of the Sole Runners, LeAnn, received this quote from Gary:

I cannot have survival as my only goal. That would be too boring. My goal is to come back in my best running form. - Ludwilla Endguist

Before we knew it, the elite runners were already running by. I was surprised to see such a large group.

Once the elite went by, I knew it would be awhile before I saw anyone I knew. The first runner I recognized was Billy who was running with his friend Chic Runner. Angie actually saw me before I spotted her and we quickly hugged.

I enjoyed seeing the happy expressions on the Sole Runner's faces when they spotted our tent.

When I saw the 5:30 pace group go by, I knew my friend, Cherri, would be coming by soon. I put some some watermelon chunks and an orange slice in cups and waited. The minute I spotted her, I ran out to run with her. I was very impressed by how strong she was this far into the race. I ran with her for a bit and then I wished her the best of luck and turned around.

From that point on, I would look for Sole Runners going by and I'd run with them for a little while and then turn around and look for the next Sole Runner.

When I was running with Colby, we happened to go under a photography point so thanks to her, I have an offical LA Marathon shot of myself.

I know I might be a biased Green Girl but I think the Sole Runners running group is the greatest in the world. Once Coach Steve got to Mile 18, he waited until every single Sole Runner had gone by before he headed out to complete the marathon. I love the encouragement and support I get from my coaches and my fellow Sole Runners. It means a lot to me that there are always Sole Runners willing to wait for me at forks in the trail so I don't get lost because I'm so slow and so far behind the rest of the group.

I was really impressed with all my fellow Sole Runners and friends but I was especially proud of all the first time marathoners. You did it!


The Great Urban Race Report

My mentee and I did The Great Urban Race on Saturday. The challenges extended from Downtown Los Angeles to West Hollywood. The race started at noon with the Start and Finish line at Pershing Square Park in Downtown Los Angeles.

I wasn't as prepared as I had hoped to be. I had my new North Face Recon in truckee green with sunblock, water, snacks, a borrowed GPS, and an AAA guidebook. I had counted on the AAA guidebook including a map but unfortunately, it only had a small map that showed a small section of Downtown Los Angeles. We also didn't have a dedicated individual standing by to look stuff up for us over the phone.

A big part of The Great Urban Race is the team costumes. We saw 'Dirty' Runners, Lunch Ladies and Mormans, Roger E. Mosley and Magnum P.I, Where's Waldo?, and even toothfairies.

As soon as we were instructed to open our envelopes, we ripped it open and sat down in the shade. The clues were a lot harder than I had expected. I didn't realize how crucial Internet access was going to be.

One of the clues consisted of a tic tac toe board of challenges. We knocked these out right away:
  1. Picture with stranger wearing Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor shoes
  2. Picture with stranger wearing shirt and tie
  3. Picture of at least one teammate shaking a real dog's paw
We actually had to do 2 takes on the 'shaking a real dog's paw' because I freaked out the first time and the dog didn't want to cooperate after my breakdown. Note the terror on my face as I touched the dog.

The next clue we did took place at the lounge inside REDCAT. We had to watch a slideshow of books and then identify the author of each book by looking at bookshelves behind a glass case.

In the heat, we walked all the way up to Sunset Boulevard and hopped on a Metro bus to head to West Hollywood. Unfortunately, I had assumed we could purchase a day pass on the bus but that was not the case.

When we got off the bus in West Hollywood, we made a stop at a check cashing place to purchase TAP day passes. We also stopped to get some socks to donate to the Shelter Partnership for another one of our clues.

Our next stop was Calumet Photo for a GUR mug shot. Just down the street was the Frosted Cupcakery where we had to take a picture of both of us feeding the other a cupcake. From there, we went to the CROWN Bar to solve a murder mystery and get a ruby stone. Next was a physical challenge where we had to ride a butt scooter around the perimeter of a tennis court and jump rope 100 times.

Once we completed that clue, it was time for us to head down to Staples Center where we got our picture taken in front of the Nokia Plaza sign and then we quickly imitated Oscar De La Hoya's pose.

We considered trying to get to PAWS LA to fill the 5 pound bag with dog food or kitty litter but it was getting late.

We realized we had wasted too much time riding the bus out to West Hollywood. Taking the Metro would have been much more efficient. Now, we had less than an hour to complete 5 more clues. We both agreed to return to Pershing Square Park. We were both disappointed that we couldn't finish all the clues but we agreed we'd head back since we wanted to see the costume contest results.

Yes, it's true, the Operation Jump Starters DNF'd at The Great Urban Race. They gave us credit for donating the socks to the Shelter Partnership when we turned them in at the Finish Line so in the end, we were only short 2 clues.

The Finish was nothing like a running race. Most of the teams went through the arch from the back. I lost my mentee on the way because she got distracted by the food and drinks. They did have a giant clock with the official race time but it was all very informal - at least for those of us who crossed the 'Finish Line' after the 5 hour time limit.

The costume contest was very entertaining. My hands-down favorite was 'Tiger and Elin' and my second favorite was 'We didn't sleep with Tiger Woods' - 2 girls in normal clothing.

After the costume awards were given, the top 25 teams received medals. The winning team 'Now You Know' completed the challenge in 2:08. The announcer mentioned that this team had won last year but got disqualified. I have no idea how they managed to do all that in just over 2 hours. I also couldn't help but wonder why they got disqualified last year.


EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women 5k

The Green Girl will be participating her very first women's event, the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women 5k.

I'm actually registered as a part of a group along some of my SparkFriends: GEE-KNEE, LISELUV, MissJCisRunning and Paola. My running buddy, Rad Runner Girl, will be joining us as well. Our official team name is 'California Dreamin''.

They are really putting a lot of effort into recognizing the survivors of cancer at this event. According to the website, all survivors will receive a special Survivor Cap. They will also have a Survivor Hospitality Tent offering commemorative survivor photographs.


The Green Girl Runs For Her National Holiday

The Green Girl went for a short run this evening in honor of her National Holiday.

Of course, I had to sport my green Bondi Band.

St. Patrick's Day makes me one happy Green Girl. There's nothing like seeing everyone dressed in the far superior color. I don't understand why we don't all wear green every day of the year.

I love running in the city. As you pass the businesses and residences, you catch a glimpse of people's lives. Tonight, I experienced so many different smells - both good and bad. I got a whiff of cherry scented car freshener as I ran by the car wash. The smell of grilled carne asada reminded me how hungry I was. The exhaust from a truck made me choke a little bit.

I ran by the same motorcycle cop pulling over cars two times.

I love to peek into the windows as I go by. I ran by a nutritional center that had lots of information for families in Spanish.

At Joe Jost's, I saw all the green-clad bar goers getting their drink on.


The Green Girl's Exercises For Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

After the Green Girl was diagnosed with posterior tibial tendonitis, she made an appointment at Medcessity for some physical therapy.

I had worked with another therapist at Medcessity a couple of years ago when I injured my right wrist and ended up with a bad case of tendonitis. After working with him for a couple of months, I was thrilled with the results - I was able to punch bags right after my last session. I was instructed by the orthopedic surgeron to always duct tape the wrist to prevent re-injury so I religiously tape my wrist over my wraps when I kickbox.

Here are the exercises the physical therapist recommended for my posterior tibial tendonitis:
  1. Ankle/Foot Gastroc Stretch

  2. Gluteal Planks

    This one doubles as a core builder so you can work on your six-pack while you strengthen your posterior tibial tendon.

  3. Pronation/Supination Exercise

    This was the hardest one for me. He had me twist my upper body back and forth and then he told me to mimic that movement that the arches of my feet makes when I twist but without the twist.

  4. Dynamic Balance Exercise

He also recommended going on a treadmill backwards for 2-3 minutes at a time and also 'grapevining'. The grapevining was difficult for me because I'm really uncoordinated and I kept kicking my other foot. Since I also suffer from plantar fasciitis, he recommended I do self plantar fascia massage. I do that on a regular basis using the Foot Wheel that Rad Runner Girl gave me for Christmas.

My plantar fasciitis manifests itself as an intense, burning pain in my arches. The problem with this is that it's hard for me to differentiate the plantar fascia pain from the posterior tibial tendon pain.


The Green Girl's Short Evening Run

The Green Girl went on a short, easy 4.5 mile evening run (with walk breaks) after work today.

I had hoped to visit the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden but I discovered it closes at 3:30 PM on weekdays. I jogged by the Parkside Commons on-campus housing just as one of the school shuttles pulled up. Watching the students exit and walk towards the dorms brought back a lot of fond college memories.

I am really partial to running in the evening. I learned to like running in the morning when I trained with groups but my preference is still at night.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I started out running late at night. When I was in graduate school, I decided I wanted to run a 5k. I followed the Cool Running Couch-to-5k Running Plan and did my runs after I got out of class at 9:45 PM. I was one of those people who 'hated' running but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love. After a stressful day at work and sitting in class, running outside just made me feel so free.


The Green Girl Tapes For Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

The Green Girl has been struggling with issues with her right foot ever since she sprained her ankle last year.

When I twisted my ankle, I damaged the posterior tibial tendon. This injury made it very painful for me to flatten my right foot when I walked. My podiatrist (also a runner!) diagnosed me with posterior tibial tendonitis and recommended prescription orthotics.

The posterior tibial tendon helps hold your arch up and provides support as you step off on your toes when you walk or run. I tape my arch when I run to give the posterior tibial tendon additional support.

I always use Mueller M-Tape® but I would assume any brand sports tape would do the trick. I use sports tape instead of kinesiology tape for my posterior tibial tendonitis because it's much more supportive.

This is how the I tape for posterior tibial tendonitis:
  1. I take 3 approximately 10" strips of sports tape and I stick them from one side of the ankle bone to the other. Make sure your foot is at a 90° angle when you are taping. You want the tape to be snug but not too tight. This will be one of those things you figure out by trial and error. If it's too tight, you foot will start to throb.

  2. Here's the second 10" strip:

  3. Here's the third 10" strip:

  4. The next step is to wrap sports tape around the ankle to secure the 3 strips. If you do this too low, you will find it pinches your skin with each step:

  5. The final piece of tape will wrap around the arch once more. Start the tape to the side of your leg and 'figure 8' it down around:

  6. And 'figure 8' it back around the ankle and then cut the sports tape:

  7. Your wrapped foot will look like this:

I am hoping by taping my foot and icing religiously, I'll be able to successfully train and complete the Athens Classic Marathon with the Sole Runners in October.
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