The Green Girl and Lexa's First CicLAvia

The Green Girl and Lexa attended CicLAvia - Iconic Wilshire Boulevard yesterday.

CicLAvia is a partnership of the City of Los Angeles, and the non-profit CicLAvia organization.

CicLAvia - Iconic Wilshire Boulevard was the 7th CicLAvia. The event created a 6-mile car-free stretch of Los Angeles city streets from the Miracle Mile to Downtown. There was no charge to participate and people of all ages and abilities were welcome to walk, run, skate, play, or cycle in this web of temporary public space, free of car traffic.

CicLAvia Rules of the Road
Each CicLAvia event costs approximately $350,000 to produce. Funds used are a public/private split. The CicLAvia organization covers 40% of the costs and the City of Los Angeles covers the other 60% with money appropriated from federal and state programs dealing with the environment, public health and alternative mobility as opposed to the city's general fund.

The CicLAvia events were inspired by weekly street closures in Bogotá, Colombia known as ciclovías.

Lexa's first ride on the LA Metro on her way to CicLAvia
Lexa and I cycled from my apartment to the LA Metro Aviation/LAX Station. We hopped on the Green Line, connected to the Blue Line, and disembarked at the Downtown 7th Street/Metro Center which was near the east Pedestrian Zone.

Instead of formal 'starting' and 'ending' points, Pedestrian Zones on each end served as demarcation points for the route.

CicLAvia Free Bike Parking
The CicLAvia - Iconic Wilshire Boulevard Pedestrian Zones featured free bike parking, free water courtesy of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), food truck concessions, CicLAvia merchandise, family entertainment, and porta-potties.

Lexa parked at CicLAvia
The event logistics were well thought out and everything was exceptionally organized. Informative signs were strategically placed to help guide participants throughout the event.

I appreciated the instructional graphic at the free parking area since it was my first time using my Kryptonite Evolution Mini-5 U-Lock to secure Lexa.

In the Pedestrian Zone, I spotted a food truck I'd never seen before - the Vchos pupusas truck. I couldn't resist ordering a pork & cheese pupusa.

Food trucks at CicLAvia
After the delicious pupusa, I retrieved Lexa and headed west towards the CicLAvia route.

Once we exited the Pedestrian Zone, I hopped on Lexa and started cycling.

Although the majority of the 6 miles was closed to traffic, there were four 'Crossing Points for Cars' patrolled by LAPD along the route.

CicLAvia Stop signs
These open intersections were marked by large red 'Stop Ahead' signs.

The CicLAvia - Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route passed through Koreatown.

We heard Korean music and saw some Korean dancing. There were Korean BBQ tents and even BCD Tofu House offered specials for CicLAvia participants.

CicLAvia Dismount Zone
Leading up to the Pedestrian Zones were Dismount Zones where cyclists were instructed to dismount and walk their bikes.

The eastern Pedestrian Zone had all the amenities of the Downtown Pedestrian Zone.

It also included the Kids Zone Kids Zone with a kids safety training course and helmet giveaways.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)'s homage to Chris Burden’s 'Urban light' installation at CicLAvia
This Pedestrian Zone also featured the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)'s homage to Chris Burden’s 'Urban light' installation with 7.5 foot tall Oscar statuettes in the street in front of their soon to be Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in the former May Company building.

I locked Lexa in the free parking and wandered around. I stopped by the Fluff Ice truck and had an Original Fluff which is drizzled with condensed milk, strawberries, and mangoes.

Free Water stations at CicLAvia
I'd describe Fluff Ice as a frozen dessert that is cross between shaved ice and cotton candy. I found it to be too sweet but perhaps that's because I ordered it with the option condensed milk.

I visited the CicLAvia merchandise booth and donated $20 to CicLAvia and received a cute, limited edition LA Metro TAP card.

The Green Girl donated $20 to CicLAvia and received a limited edition LA Metro TAP card.
Since it was getting close to the end of the event, Lexa and I headed back Downtown.

The only less-than-positive aspect of this event was the inexperienced cyclists and careless non-CicLAvia participating pedestrians.

Despite the fact that Lexa and I were riding on the far left, I can't count how many times the cyclist in front of decided to stop without warning to send a text, take a picture, or for no apparent reason. I focused on being a defensive rider and thankfully, Lexa and I didn't get into any accidents.

The Green Girl and Lexa posed with a polar bear courtesy of REI and CicLAvia
It was admittedly frustrating but I was still happy to see that they made the effort to come out and be active.

Lexa and I thoroughly enjoyed our first CicLAvia. We even got to get our picture taken with a polar bear!


The Green Girl's Achilles Tendon Bursitis

Photo Credit: Sinew Therapeutics Achilles Tendon Bursitis Information
The Green Girl has been dealing with Achilles tendon bursitis (retrocalcaneal bursitis) since last spring.

The pain presented itself in the form of a constant, dull ache in my right heel. I initially thought I was suffering from heel spurs from plantar fasciitis.

When I visited my podiatrist, Dr. Richard Graves at Sol Foot & Ankle Centers, he diagnosed me with Achilles tendon bursitis (retrocalcaneal bursitis).

Visiting Dr. Richard Graves at Sol Foot & Ankle Centers
Retrocalcaneal bursitis is swelling of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) at the back of the heel bone (calcaneus), where the large Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. This condition is also called insertional heel pain.

The bursa acts as a cushion and lubricant between tendons or muscles sliding over bone. There are bursas around most large joints in the body, including the ankle.

The Green Girl's Achilles MRI
An MRI confirmed Dr. Graves' diagnosis of retrocalcaneal bursitis and indicated there were no tears and ruptures.

Dr. Graves gave me heel lifts to use with my orthotics. He advised against footwear that aggravated the condition by further irritating my heel. He also encouraged me to continue 'babying' my heel - I explained how I had to cushion my heel during yoga to avoid pain.

Orthotics and heel lifts
We agreed that the bursitis was most likely caused by my chronically tight calves. I appreciated that Dr. Graves didn't tell me to stop running but instead recommended listening to my body, stretching, and icing.

After getting the diagnosis, I visited Dr. Sebastian Gonzales from The Performance Place for some Active Release Techniques (ART) therapy sessions to help loosen up my tight calves.

Dr. Gonzales recommended I start doing eccentric heel exercises to increase collagen and strengthen my Achilles. Eccentric training is the lowering phase of an exercise.

Here's video of Dr. Gonzales demonstrating Eccentric Heel Lifts:

I perform Dr. Gonzales' eccentric heel lifts on my yoga blocks.

The Green Girl's current tight muscle arsenal: Softball, ProStretch, and Stretch Out Strap
My current focus is loosening my hamstrings/quads and calves.

I roll daily on a softball to loosen the knots in my legs. At the moment, I prefer the firmness of the softball over the more forgiving foam roller. The smaller surface area also increases the amount of pressure applied on a given muscle.

Stretching my calf with the ProStretch
Post-workout, when my muscles are still warm, I stretch my calves with a ProStretch device.

I hesitate to use the ProStrech prior to a workout simply because of how deep the stretch can get.

I use the Stretch Out Strap to stretch my hamstrings and my adductors (inner thighs).

When I travel, I always bring my trusty softball, the Stretch Out Strap, and The Little Stick.

I also try to stretch whenever possible. For example, I frequently stretch at the gas station while I'm waiting for my car to fill up.

Whenever my heel is feeling sore or I have a long run, I will use kinesiology tape on my heel. After long runs or anytime my foot hurts, I ice my heel.

Dr. Graves also gave me a Dorsal Night Splint. He explained he preferred this model because it allowed for walking and was fairly comfortable.

I'll be honest, I hated the splint at first. It was annoying and uncomfortable. I would kick it off in my sleep and every morning I'd find it lying on the other side of my bedroom.

As much as the dorsiflexion night splint irritated me, I quickly realized how much better my Achilles felt in the morning when I actually kept it on through the night.

Dr. Graves and Dr. Gonzales helped me through my posterior tibial tendonitis diagnosis so I am confident that with time, the Achilles bursitis issues will subside.


Ragnar Relay Madison Chicago Race Report

The Green Girl and fellow Sole Runner, Sarah, participated in their first out-of-state relay, Ragnar Relay Chicago.

The 195.4 mile Ragnar Chicago course started in Madison, WI, and ended at Montrose Beach in Lincoln Park.

The route was divided into 36 legs of varying difficulty and distances between 3-11 miles, with designed exchange points. The teams consisted of 6-12 individuals split evenly into two vans.

For teams of 12, Van 1 contains runners 1-6 and Van 2 contains runners 7-12. Van 1 Runner #1 begins at the starting line. Once the race starts, Van 1 goes to the first exchange point where runner #2 will prepare to run. Runners from Van 1 continue to run in order up to exchange point 6; this is the first major exchange in the race.
At exchange 6, Van 2 should be waiting. At this point, runner #6 from Van 1 will hand the slap bracelet off to runner #7 from Van 2. Then, Van 2 continues along the race course rotating runners until the next major exchange point, exchange 12, where they will hand off to Van 1 again. This pattern continues until the Finish.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Course Map
Team R.U.N.sane? comprised:
  1. Sarah O. - Legs: 1, 13, 25
  2. Ken - Legs: 2, 14, 26
  3. Emily - Legs: 3, 15, 27
  4. Boyana - Legs: 4, 16, 28
  5. Craig - Legs: 5, 17, 29
  6. Caroline - Legs: 6, 18, 30
  7. Krishna (Team Captain aka 'The General') - Legs: 7, 19, 31
  8. Mary - Legs: 8, 20, 32
  9. Todd - Legs: 9, 21, 33
  10. Sarah B. -Legs: 10, 22, 34
  11. Jay - Legs: 11, 23, 35
  12. Jim - Legs: 12, 24, 36
Team R.U.N.sane? sans Captain Krishna
Prior to the relay, each team plugged their respective 10k paces into a Ragnar calculator and the results determined the start and estimated finish time.

R.U.N.sane?'s official pace was a 9:37 minute mile (all teams must average an 11:00 minute mile or less). We were assigned an 8:00 am race start and our estimated finish was 3:58 pm the following afternoon.

Team R.U.N.sane?
Van 1 started at Olin/Turville Park in Madison, WI, at 8:00 am.

Van 2 went directly to Exchange 6 at Lake Mills High School in Lake Mills, WI, for the requisite safety check with our respective headlamps, reflective vests, and flashing lights.

The Green Girl and Sarah at Ragnar Relay Chicago Exchange 6
After the team safety inspection and briefing, we received our bibs, van magnet, copy of the official Ragmag which contained runner and van route information, and a pair of reflective flags for street crossing.

Jay either volunteered or was nominated to be the official R.U.N.sane? Van 2 Safety Officier*.

Team R.U.N.sane? Team Captain Krishna at Exchange 30
Van 1 arrived at the exchange and the first Van 2 runner, Team Captain Krishna, headed out.

Despite the heat, my first leg was an easy 2.9 miles and on an uphill, I managed to get a roadkill. Tallying up roadkills on the side of the team van are a Ragnar tradition and each hash indicates a runner you passed.

Team R.U.N.sane? Van 2
My leg ended at Vetro Winery where I received a special Ragnar Vetro Winery bottle opener.

After our first hand off back to Van 1, we stopped for dinner at Jose's Blue Sombrero in Racine, WI.

Then, we parked the van at Exchange 18 at Martin Luther High School in Greendale, WI, and tried to get some sleep.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Ragnarians sleeping and resting Martin Luther High School hallways
Some Ragnarians camped out in the high school corridors but we stayed in our van.

It was soon time for Team Captain Krishna to head back out for Leg 19.

The night leg is always the highlight for me because I love running in the dark.

Team R.U.N.sane? Captain Krishna at Exchange 18
Jimmy generously offered to accompany Sarah and me on our night legs.

Exchange 24 was at John Pershing Park in Racine, WI. The Racine YMCA offered shower facilities for $2.

We parked the van along the Lake Michigan waterfront.

Sun rising over Lake Michigan
I sat out on the rocks watching the sun rise as the rest of the van napped and waited for Jimmy to complete Leg 24.

The final hand off from Van 1 to 2 was at Exchange 30 at North Chicago High School.

A local non-profit organization, Bernie's Book Bank, held a pancake and sausage fundraiser. A plate of 3 pancakes and 3 sausages was $3.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Ragnarians sleeping on the North Chicago High School lawn
Exchange 30 is always exciting for Van 1 because this marks the end of their legs while Van 2 still has their final ones to complete.

Leg 3 seems to always be the most challenging because by this time, the exhaustion has set in, and you are anxious to cross the finish line because you're dreaming of a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and real food - and not necessarily in that order.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Team R.U.N.sane? Van 2 Roadkills
Our final runner, Jimmy, brought us in at the Montrose Beach Finish Line in Lincoln Park.

We enthusiastically cheered as we ran through the finish arch in the sand.

Our captain, Krishna, ceremoniously slipped the Ragnar finishing medals over our heads and we proudly gathered for our final R.U.N.sane? group photo.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Team R.U.N.sane? Van 2 Roadkills
I want to thank the R.U.N.sane? runners - especially Emily - for accommodating Sarah and me with the last minute van changes.

Thank you Jay, Jimmy, Krishna, and Todd, for being awesome van-mates.

I also need to thank the Weather Gods for the perfect temperatures and low humidity.

Team R.U.N.sane? Captain Krishna
And last, but not least, I want to thank Captain Krishna aka The General for organizing the R.U.N.sane? team.

*Van 2 wouldn't let me forget that I misspelled 'officer' when I was decorating the van.


The Green Girl's Ragnar Chicago Packing List

The Green Girl is packing for Ragnar Chicago relay. Rain is tentatively forecasted for the weekend so in addition to rain gear/supplies, I am bringing a second pair of running shoes.

I'm not checking a bag for this trip. In addition to the list below, I'll also have clothing/personal items for an additional 2 days of sightseeing.

I'll be carrying on my North Face Recon backpack, Eagle Creek Load Warrior LT 22", and a REI Chock small messenger bag*. The luggage will be left behind in the trunk of someone's car and I will only take the backpack with me in the Ragnar van.

*I leave the messenger bag on my body during the entire flight and never take it off. I've only been asked to consolidate down to 2 bags a few times when boarding planes and in those instances, I just crammed the messenger bag into my backpack. For more carry on tips, refer to 'The Traveling Green Girl: Carry Ons'.

The Green Girl's Ragnar Chicago Packing List

Three outfit changes ([stored in individual gallon zip bags in which the dirty clothing can be sealed] in North Face Recon backpack)

Safety ([stored in a single gallon zip bag] in North Face Recon backpack outer mesh pocket)

Other items (also in North Face Recon backpack)

Nathan Intensity Race Vest

*Update: I was able to carry the instant ice packs onto the plane without any issues.


Running for Angels Virtual Summer Race Winner

The Green Girl is pleased to announce the winner of the Running for Angels Virtual Summer Race Giveaway.

There was one entry submitted via blog reply.

By default, that entry is the winner. Congratulations, LeAnn from Sole Runners!

Running for Angels Virtual Summer Race

The Running For Angels 5k race series benefits the Foundation For Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics to help fund important research for treatment for Angelman Syndrome.

Angelman Syndrome is a genetic disorder. Characteristic features of this condition include developmental delay, speech impairment, and problems with movement and balance (ataxia).

Angels have a happy demeanor and laugh easily. While Angels cannot speak, they do have much to say.

Many angels also suffer from epilepsy. The seizures can be debilitating and, in some cases, even fatal.

Registration for the Running for Angels Summer Race the week of August 25th is still open.

Participants have the option to complete a 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, or team marathon.

Please show your support by taking a moment to 'Like' the Running for Angels Virtual Race Series on Facebook.
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