... and I bet you local folks thought I was doing the Hospital Hill HalfMarathon ...
So that 13.1 that I was training for? It was the Thelma & Louise HalfMarathon, a classic, run-with-your-best-girl, ladies only race set in the rugged cliffs of Moab, Utah. This race was an excuse for a girls trip with one of my closest friends. She's must faster than I am (former 400 m hurdler, that one), but she is the type that abides by the "run with", as opposed to "run at the same time" rule. In this race, it was especially fun to have a person that you run right beside every step.
As Moab itself is at about 4,500 feet and surrounding terrain can get up to 7,000 feet, we decided to fly in Tuesday for Saturday's race - to get adjusted to the altitude change and to also take advantage of the national and state parks surrounding the town. We hit up Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park (where T & L famously drove their convertible into the Colorado River), part of Canyonlands National Park and also some zip lining on petrified cliffs that somehow aren't part of any park, but are owned by the touristy places in Moab. For pics of those adventures, hop on over to my Instagram and check out #girlstrip.
Race day was an early early wake up call. Our alarms were set for 3:45 am in order to get to the buses by 4:45 that would take us to the starting line. It's the desert. It's summer. The race started at 6 am. Friend, M and I agreed to join the sports bra squad on race day, but found ourselves needing long sleeves in the incredibly cool and windy morning that we awoke to. We literally had been moving about our tiny home rental, barely mummering to each other until we stepped outside and the cold air caused us to scream in surprise.
That woke us up.
The bus ride was relatively quick and uneventful. The race starting point was right along the Colorado River and surrounded by cliffs - an insanely beautiful sight. However, that early in the morning, before sunrise, it was cold and the wind was not helping. Luckily, we found a spot that blocked most of the wind, and wound up chatting with two other women who had traveled from Seattle. When it was finally time to head to the start, we shed our layers, dropped bags, hit up the toilets one last time and lined up literally at the very end of the pack. It was chip timed, so who cares, right?
The course was described as a slight decline out and a slight incline back. So, the strategy was to keep things reined in the first halfso as to not crash and burn in the second half. M let me control the pace, which I'm sure was painfully slow for her at first. We ticked off the first 3 miles in 12:24, 12:37 and 12:28. Starting at mile 3, there were aid stations every 1.5 miles - key in the heat and dry air for us Midwesterners who weren't used to this climate. Our goal was to run all the miles, walk all the water stops, because we both suck and drinking and running anyway.
This was a great strategy, except for the part where it really messes with my split data, LOL.
Around mile 4, we ran by an arch (jug handle arch) and this amazing group of women drummers, Moab Taiko Dan that energized us and quite frankly, made me so happy I've been trying to find a similar group at home. Miles 4-6: 10:48, 12:14 (water stop), 11:34.
Slightly after this, we hit the turnaround and also the relay exchange point, so there was an amazing crowd, cheering everyone on. We both felt pretty darn good at this point, and we both were wondering when things were going to feel hard. For the first half, we'd been running in the shades of the cliffs, but the sun was up and over most of the terrain now. It was bound to get hot, right?
Miles 7-9 ticked by in 12:01 (water stop), 11:04 and 11:26. We both kept making comments about how things still felt easy. Should they feel easy? There was a surprising amount of shade, and the wind was still blowing, keeping us relatively cool. Every now and then, I would glance down at my watch and see us nearing 10:00 pace, but then I would get scared and back off a little bit.
Seriously, I need to stop running scared. LITERALLY.
The last few miles I could feel myself tiring. It was a mix of emotions, because I was getting tired, but I knew I was doing well. I also knew M was full of energy and could have jetted off easily, but she stuck by my side, staying slightly in front of me to "drag" me along. UGH. Push, push, push, dig a little more. One last water stop and onto the finish. As we neared the finish line and hauled it in, I just felt all kinds of emotion welling up inside me. Tears were already forming and we hadn't even crossed. When we finally did, I just lost it. M's watch didn't have 13.1 yet, so she went off to "finish" her mileage and that was fine with me. I just needed to be alone in the crowd, half crying, half trying to not cry.
I hadn't stopped my watch right away, but was thrilled by the time: 2:32.16. My previous PR was 2:35 and change. I actually did it. I finally broke that PR - set all the way back in my first halfmarathon. I was looking forward to seeing the official results and getting my actual chip time. Guess what? This race doesn't do chip time. Only gun time, which had us at 2:33 and change. Slightly frustrating, as I won't know my true PR. But hey, it's at least 3 minutes, maybe 4. Not too shabby.
PS - this race has the best snacks
Will I do another halfmarathon? Eh, I don't know. I know if the opportunity presented itself, I would do another race in Moab that is done by this race company and I would probably be willing to tackle this specific course again. After the race, I told M I'd love to actually be able to race her one day. She smiled - her goal is to get faster, too, so I may never catch her.
But I'll have fun trying.
BTW, girls trip came on the heels of a very exciting time in my life. The BF and I celebrated one year of dating ... and he asked if he could call me by another title for the rest of our lives. I said yes.
Time for my weekly update on Louie's lack of progress.
Saw the doc last Wednesday (maybe it was Thursday - whatever). He was pleased with the level of swelling (not much) and the way the incision sites looked (good). He was surprised when I answered his question about the amount of pain I was in compared to before the operation, "Not much different." He recovered quickly, but it didn't leave me with a warm fuzzy. Either the operation as a bust or my pain before was less than what he imagined it was.
He said to begin stretching and strengthening as long as it's tolerable, and in a couple of weeks I should be able to start some walking/jogging.
I'm hoping that the pain I'm still having is residual from the surgery and not a sign that something more needs to be done.
"Don't regret anything. At one time, it was exactly what you wanted."
B1 is still so fresh on the mind, so fresh on the body that it is almost too easy to make correlations between the two. And while the physical implications are ripe with similarities, my mind is a completely different spot. It's liberating that I don't feel the same darkness looming over me. I cannot pinpoint exactly what I was afraid of except that it was fear of the unknown. The uncertainty of when I would run again. The uncertainty of finishing the year's biggest race. The uncertainty of the weeks that followed. The uncertainty of this thing that had defined me for so long that I truly struggled with coping without it.
It is a classic case of too much, too soon with the possibility of an old injury hampering my efforts. A VO2 max ready to climb mountains and bones that said "hell no!" I was so anxious to get back to the same level that I didn't see that I had to complete steps B through Y. I just thought I'd go from A to Z. Looking back, I was aware of my own reckless behavior and aware of the potential consequences. I got part of the results I wanted: finish Boston and successfully pace Lauren at CJ100. The downside is that I likely overcompensated with my (formerly) good right side and wound up with a stress reaction* in my right tibia.
*I'm not even sure we are calling it that - the bone scan showed it was likely not just a soft tissue thing, but there were no definite cracks either. The x-ray was inconclusive as these things often are with stress reactions/fractures. The good news is that I've had no official breaks or even cracks seen. The bad news is that something (um, probably overracing the first time and too much, too soon the second time) is making my bones angry.
If we were to backtrack to about a year ago, I would relay the story of whacking my right tibia so hard on a stone planter that I bled though a pair of khakis. The bruising that followed was nothing short of epic. Over the course of the next year, that spot seemed to get angry from time to time, but never appeared to impact my running. It was just this funny little bump on my shin that almost looked like the blood vessel was swollen. I'd run my finger over it and it would feel like a bruise - tender and mildly irritating, about a 2 on the pain scale. I have no idea if it is related to this, but certainly didn't help.
Flash forward to June 2018 when the same area started to hurt again. The thing about most running injuries is that they typically are not pinpointed to one particular run or instance. They often start out with teeny niggles of pain and creep their way further in until you cannot ignore them any longer. My mind was slightly more attuned to watching out for these warning signs, but admittedly, I wanted to just keep marching on into my normal summer running. It was just 2 weeks ago that I somehow thought I was ready to jump back into weekly double digit runs.
But by that weekend, I had the ominous feeling that I was to be facing another DL sentence.
I cross-trained early in the week and by the time I had the bone scan on Friday, I decided to just take an entire week off of exercising. A whole week. No cross-training. No weight-lifting.
The following Monday, the podiatrist told me to drop by for another boot - I needed a taller version to protect my tibia - and to schedule a follow up appointment in 4 weeks. In my permanently optimistic brain, I am hoping that the 4 week time period means there is a slight possibility that I won't have to wear it after 4 weeks. After all, my foot recheck was at 3 weeks and I was sentenced to another 3 weeks after! But using that logic, I would be booted this time for a total of 8 weeks. <insert cringe face here>
Honestly, it doesn't hurt in the same way that my foot did. I'm sure part of that is because it is a different bone (duh), but also, I am hoping because I caught it early enough, it won't have suffered as much damage. Walking doesn't seem to bother it and I'm not changing my gait while walking because of it. In fact, it really only started to bother me towards the end of my runs and later in the day. The straw that broke the camel's back? It started to ache when I was just sitting around in the evening and lying in bed.
During the first weeks of B1, I threw all of my angry energy into working out. I went from running 60 mile weeks to zero. I had a lot of extra time and energy on my hand. Plus, I was so pissed that I was injured that I was determined to make my body stronger. I can't say I have regrets about any of it because I do believe it helped me finish Boston. But perhaps a little more R&R could have been beneficial if I had been able to channel some of that energy later. I ended up spending more hours per week working out while booted than I usually did while running!
In any regard, when I received the news last Monday that I was going to be booted again, I had a much different outlook than B1. Being in the middle of an exercise hiatus helped (pats self on back for forced laziness). But also knowing the value of myself as a (hopefully temporarily) non-runner was huge. I'd happily taken on this persona of runner girl and let the other pieces of me just kind of fall out where they could. When I couldn't run, I was so stressed out about not running that I was a mess.
B2 is different already. I'm working out again, but don't feel compelled to reach the same levels I did during B1. I obviously want to return to running as quickly as possibly so some movement over the next 4 (....to 8, FML) weeks will be good. I just don't have to go nuts. Also, B2 is happening during summer which is a loathsome time to be running in Georgia anyway. I miss those long, hard, hot days on the trails like you wouldn't believe, but there will be more of those. The runner girl will return, but she will hopefully have an even rosier outlook than before.
One likes to think there are reasons for this kind of thing happen. Reasons give us validation and purpose when life throws frustrating stuff our way. I don't know if there are reasons (beyond the science of overusing my body) that I feel strongly about with this hiccup. It has given me a chance to look at other areas of my life with a little more clarity. It has provided me with a bit more empathy. It has made me realize I'll be okay if I'm not running.
I am taking note of the progress I have made this year in other aspects of life and being grateful for what I have accomplished thus far. I set out 10 goals for myself in January:
Volunteer/Crew/Pace >5 races (7 total!)
Strength or stretch >30 minutes weekly (24 of 24 weeks so far)
12 new recipes (8 total)
Read >20 books (18 total)
200,000 impressions on LinkedIn
100 mile race (not in 24 hours)
Prepare financially/fiscally for Everest Marathon 2019 (halfway to financial goal)
Camp 2+ nights (1 night...ish)
Finish the GA Appalachian Trail
I'm not really a person who takes anything for granted, so ten years ago, when I was a new runner, I would have been skeptical if anyone had told me I'd still be running a decade later. But my t-shirt collection tells me that in 2009, I participated in the Fishawack Run, a 4--well really about 3.97--mile race in Chatham, NJ, that I've run every year since, including this past Saturday, which was the 41st running of this race.
This isn't my favorite race. It's in June. It starts at 9:30. It's almost always just on the wrong side of bearable humidity. The first mile and a half is a nearly 200-feet gain in elevation. But I have relatives who live walking distance from the start, and they've had someone in this race every year since probably the early 1990s, so it's a family event that marks a kind of summer kickoff for me.
For the first 7 years I ran this, I was chasing PRs and training for other goal races, so my times were always in the 29-32 minute range. In the last two years prior to this year, I was fighting burnout, so my running was a lot more casual, and often without a watch. This meant I would sometimes take long breaks or run once or twice a week. In those years, I finished this race in the 35-minute range. But in February, I hit the NYC Marathon lottery, which meant that I needed to add some structure back to my running. I chose Fishawack as a goal race to help me increase miles and get used to a regular schedule again. It also happened to be run a week before I planned to start my marathon training, so it would be a good transition point and a way for me to see where my fitness is at before training starts.
And it worked out well. My approach to this race has always been to try to find the balance between completing the initial climb with enough gas left to speed up through the middle miles before hitting the gift that is the last mile (or .97 mile) back down the hill to the finish. And that's what I did.
I passed more often than I was passed. I repassed some people who had passed me earlier. I high-fived many kids standing by the course with their hands out. (That never gets old.) Official time of 31:43 (7:56 pace). My fourth fastest time for this race, and about what I expected to run. I'm knocking out about 25 miles a week, and I feel ready for my next 20 weeks of running.
Some random thoughts:
I've yet to run a Jersey race where some house along the route hasn't had Born To Run playing through a speaker, because it's Jersey and it's Springsteen and it has "run" in the title. This race had that, too, but hearing it got me thinking that I would like it better if someone kept the Springsteen part but played songs that trolled the runners, like One Step Up or Long Walk Home or My Best Was Never Good Enough. Kind of like the time when I was at a 5k on an unseasonably cold May morning and the local high school jazz band played Let It Snow.
I met Bangle's evil twin after the race. (Bangle's words. Not mine.) He's fast like his brother.
This race is an informal reunion for some of the local cross country runners past and present, so it can be competitive for such a small field (231 runners). Winning time this year was 19:58. The fastest time of the 10 races I've run here.
This race is part of Chatham's annual Fishawack Festival, and the last two years, a food court has been set up in the parking lot where the start/finish line is. I can confirm that soft tacos and churros are a fine post-race meal.
I typically choose my half races based on how fast I can run them. End of season, point-to-point, flat or net downhill, fall temperatures. Sunday’s was none of these.
A few months ago my wife saw that there is a race 3 miles from our house to raise money for Charity for Children. In the back of my mind, I was thinking it was the wrong time of year and an awful course to race and run fast. But she encouraged me to run, so what the heck. This was a warm day half, with some pretty good hills.
I went in thinking I should run strong, but not do anything stupid. It’s been forever since I’ve done a tempo run of any distance. Or any speed work. Or hill sprints. Or running when the sun is out. With all my excuses neatly lined up ahead of time, I went out with the expectation that I’ll achieve a new PW.
And I crushed it. 1:51:15 for an all-time PW, beating my previous by 2 minutes. That was my first half, 4 years ago on a flat, fast course in the cool fall temps.
Most important, nothing stupid happened on the course, and I’m healthy going into next week’s race: a last runner standing event, The Table Rock Challenge. You’ll remember from my last report that I have this on my calendar. It’s a 1.2 mile loop. Everyone has 22 minutes to finish the first loop, then the time limit gets faster from there. You can either take it really easy in the early loops, or go a little faster and give yourself time to take care of business between loops. In order to take a stab at a strategy, I’m using my 19 mile run from last week.
Here’s a chart showing the required pace for the race (black line) and my pacing for my long run last week (gray). The bars show the elevation gain for my long run (blue) and the race (yellow). The race course changes after lap 10. Of course, laps for my long run were miles, and the race laps are 1.2 miles, but you get the picture: things will start to get hairy around lap 13. The time limit for laps 16-20 are all 12 minutes (10 minute miles), and that’s about where I was throughout my run on 6/2 with a little more elevation mixed in. Should be fun!
Mt. Evans Ascent – 14.5 miles – June 9, 2018
I signed up for the Mt. Evans Ascent mostly to get in some altitude training. I haven’t really ran at altitudes that high, and I knew it’d likely be a run/walk situation. Nonetheless, good training no matter what.
Weather warning from the race director:
“The weather at the start line has little to do with the weather you may experience once you pass Summit Lake at 9 miles. We have had a beautiful and calm start, but the wind above treeline was blowing at a steady 50 miles per hour. We have seen snow, hail, and lightning at the finish line more often that we see sunshine. We have also had runners stopped for 30 minutes at over 13,000 feet when a Flight for Life helicopter landed on the road to meet a rescue crew with an injured climber. Anything can happen, so we ask that everyone come prepared for the worst.”
This is exactly what I wore, minus my UD Vest
Having climbed multiple 14ers, I knew they weren’t kidding. We were required to bring a long-sleeved shirt, which I️ ended up wearing anyway. Having a cool race in June is pretty awesome, as it has already gotten really hot here on the front range in CO. I wore my Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta, and carried: my UD Ultra jacket, Buff, gloves, a water bottle, my phone, and one pack of Cliff Shot Bloks. I wanted to ensure I was prepared for anything, and I really didn’t even notice the pack on my back. That vest is comfy!
I drove up Mt. Evans road and was stopped about 1.2 miles from the start line. I had to park there but was able to hop on one of the shuttle vans to the start. I was able to find a “secret” bathroom located in the campground by the start so that worked out really well! I’d attempted to just squat in the woods but folks kept coming by and I didn’t want to flash them.
The start line sat at about 10,600′ at Echo Lake. From the lake, they had the road to the top closed to the public and any spectators. In previous years, the shuttle vans had major problems getting to the top and back down. Plus, there are no guard rails along the sides so it can be quite dangerous to runners.
14 of the 14.5 miles to the top are uphill. The only real downhill part wasn’t until mile 8-9.
There is a cutoff time at mile 9 of 2 hours and 30 minutes. You had to finish the whole race before 11am (that’s 4.5 hours to finish the whole thing).
You get a special rock with a placard on it if you finish under 3 hours (for ladies) or under 2:40 (for guys). William earned a rock for his one and only time doing the race (ya freak!).
It’s literally a piece of rock with stickers on it. Haha
Once we started, I was actually able to run a mile or so before I started taking quick walk breaks. Starting on a hill is always hard for me and I tend to need a few miles to warm up. For something like this, there was no way I was going to do any warm-up miles beforehand. Pffffffft! I passed quite a few people and finally ended up in the group of folks I would play leap frog with the rest of the race.
Honestly, the race was quite uneventful. Run, walk, run, walk, run, walk. I ran when I wanted to and walked when I wanted to. Everyone else around me walked pretty often too. If I fell behind someone I’d been running with, I’d make a goal to catch back up to them. I feel like there is always that token runner that drives me bat-shit crazy. The one for this race literally talked strategy the ENTIRE time. I felt bad for the guy he was running with because he would not shut the hell up. He even used the word strategy many times. “I think I saw this curve on Google maps.” “Around this bend, it flattens out just a little bit.” Let’s run until that pole up there.” “I don’t see a pole or another landmark to use as a start point! What should we use this time?!” “We are using good strategy for this thing.” Shut. The. Hell. Up.
Around mile 8, I hit the only downhill section and tried to make up as much time as I could. This was also the only section where my knee hurt – uphill doesn’t bother it at all. Go figure. If I was going to get the sub-3 hour rock, I’d have to average a 12:something pace. That wasn’t happening, and that was 100% fine with me. I hit the 9 mile cutoff at two hours (30 minutes ahead) so I knew I was good to go for the rest of the race. They had aid stations at miles 3, 6, 9, and 11.5. The only thing I was getting at the aid stations was Gatorade, and it was STRONG! They didn’t have it watered down nearly enough so I tried no to drink too much – from previous experience, I’d get a tummy ache if I did. However, the only thing I ate the entire race was one block of my Cliff Shot Block packet. This may have played a role in how I felt later.
This was the bottom of the downhill section and just past the Mile 9 cutoff aid station
Around mile 10, the wind started to pick up and I started getting a little chilly when I wasn’t facing the sun. The wind was whipping through my thin long-sleeved t-shirt and buff. My arms and ears got quite chilly. I still managed to feel pretty good and was able to run/walk until I hit mile 12 at 13,500′. It was getting pretty steep and I wasn’t able to run very much, but any time I did try to run I’d feel really light-headed. I don’t think I ran any during the last two miles. I was just proud that I knew I was going to finish and I just didn’t care about my time.
I crossed the finish line at 3:29 and was handed my medal and a water bottle. We had to then wait for a shuttle van to pick us up (because they’d all headed back down to take earlier finishers). I hadn’t packed a summit bag because I thought my UD jacket would be enough to keep me warm. I was wrong. Some folks were making the 134′ trek to the actual summit of the mountain, but I didn’t give a fuck about that. I’m glad I didn’t because they had a few 15 passenger vans and several 6-8 person Suburbans, but I still had to wait in line about 30 minutes before I got on one. I was FREEZING and shaking by the time I got into the warm van. I was also feeling quite nauseous and my head was pounding. Luckily, I was able to sit in the front seat of the van, but I still felt quite queasy when were making the switchback turns. I honestly felt like I was drunk and could puke at any moment. I took deep breaths and made sure the keep my eyes straight forward. I felt bad for the driver because I couldn’t carry on a convo with her the whole way. I think she got it after the second question she asked me where I just nodded. Sorry!
My watch was a whole quarter mile off by the time I finished…
When we finally arrived back at the start-line where the post-race food was located, I still felt really bad. I went over to a picnic table and just sat there. I saw others eating the food, BBQ and baked potatoes, and I thought I was going to puke just smelling it. I finally got up, took a GIANT deuce in a porta-potty, and started the 1.2 mile walk back to my car. I did have a guy stop me to say thank you for the pace that I had kept because he was just trying to keep up with me the whole time. That was nice! I also got behind a couple guys I’d followed the whole race and talked to them about the race while we walked.
Once I made it back down to I-70 at Idaho Springs, I think I was at about 7,500′ and I felt 100 times better. I was also HUNGRY. I wanted Chick-fil-A and knew I’d have to wait until I got almost home to get some. It was SO GOOD.
Yesterday, I went to a local trail running festival where they actually ended up having the women’s winner as a guest speaker. She ended up talking to me for a bit after someone else there told her that I’d run the race too. She said something about it being hot at the top when she finished and I thought, I guess it may have been warm the hour and a half before I got there.Haha! I was going to run a few shake-out miles but two of my co-workers came and I ran/walked a mile and a half with one of them. The temp was sweltering and too hot to run during that time of day anyway.
Today, and the whole time since the race, I’m not sore at all. I’m not kidding. I can’t even tell that I ran uphill for 14 miles! That just goes to show how sore downhill running can make you. I also didn’t have any kind of blisters or hot spots on my feet either. I think running downhill makes all the awful shit that can happen, happen.
I did get some adjustments and needling for my back from my PT this morning. I tweaked it a little doing too-heavy deadlifts last week. I knew better. The Leadville Heavy Half is Saturday and I’m excited and nervous! I just hope my stupid knees hold up. I’m already anticipating them hurting because of this elevation profile…
That downhill after Mosquito Pass is gonna HURT. Ugh.
I’m just going to have to power through and deal with the aftermath later. I plan to use some Rock Tape to see if that helps mitigate anything.
Does anyone have any knee tricks I can use? I tried a patellar strap but it did nothing.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for another race report!
Getting a knee operation isn't a big deal anymore. The worst part of this was getting approval for the MRI. We've been through that story already.
I was the doc's second surgery scheduled last Wednesday. Mrs. Dave brought me in at 7:30. Paperwork, blah blah blah. In 2018, why do I still have to fill out the same information on twelve different forms? On paper! Whatever happened to carbon copies? Where's the computer/database/cloud efficiency?
Can someone tell me why I need to be buck naked for them to make two half-inch incisions in my left knee? Or why they need to shave my leg from ankle to upper thigh?
The last thing I remember was making fun of the anesthesiologist for failing to get the IV in my left hand. The nurse took over and then I was ready. The next thing I knew, Mrs. Dave was with me in recovery and I was getting dressed to go home.
They gave me a bottle of NORCO (Hydrocodone/paracetamol), but I never used any of it. The worst post-op pain I had was in my throat from the tube they stuck down it in case I had trouble with the anesthetic (which I didn't), and Tylenol took enough of the edge off that to let me sleep. On Thursday I worked from home and Friday was back at the office. The hardest part of that was walking from the parking lot to my desk (two round trips since there was a lunch off site for a colleague who's leaving). I was ready to sit around the house after that.
Small amount of fraying in the joint, zero arthritis, and a small tear in the medial meniscus (didn't show up on the MRI).
Minimal swelling around the knee, and the two incision sites are healing up nicely. Until yesterday I had this weird squishy noise when I bent or extended Louie fully. You could hear it across the room. Squish, squish, gurgle gurgle. It takes weight just fine. There's a little pain/stiffness at the back after sitting with the knee bent for more than a few minutes. I'll ask about that on Thursday at my follow-up appointment. That's also when I should get a date for my first tentative steps at walking/jogging. Maybe this weekend, maybe the weekend after.
Of course, we're already talking about the next marathon. I don't see anything sooner than December, and until I actually get back on the roads I'm trying not to think about 2018 at all. Trying hard.
One of the stitches came out yesterday morning. One of the knots was undone after my shower. I grabbed the end and the whole thread just pulled out. There was always going to be a little scar there, so nbd.
So, my assessment of arthroscopic knee surgery - so far - is, "ho hum."
Last December I was at the grocery store and I heard someone say, "Gwen, I've been hoping I'd see you!"
It was a friend's boyfriend. His name is Jim.
Jim had been losing weight after a health scare. He said he had a challenge for me. He wanted to race me across the Ocean City bridges. He would be walking the bridges once while he wanted me to run an equivalent amount of time.
I explained about my hamstring but said we would talk later.
I saw Jim again in March and he was beyond excited about the bridge challenge. I on the other hand was more worried than ever about my silly leg. Jim's infectious excitement made me realize come hell or high water I'd be racing Jim across those bridges.
Jim has been using a nutritionist at the hospital to lose weight. When I saw him in March it was the day before he found out he'd lost 100 pounds. The hospital did a big story on him and he told them about our race.
Jim and I decided on June 6th for our race not even realizing it was Global Running Day.
I kicked my butt to get ready for the race by combining Crossfit and intervals. Jim walked at the gym and even completed the bridge twice.
Jim was starting in Somers Point and I was to run from Ocean City to Somers Point and back. The goal was for the winner to claim the bench first.
We each had an official starter. My husband was with me and our friend Charlie was with Jim.
I was way more nervous than I should've been. Jim confirmed he was too.
At the word go I took off like a shot. The weather was perfect- 60 with little humidity. Up the first bridge and my calves were grumbling but my breathing was good. My husband had brought his bike and got some great shots.
Coming down the backside of the 1st bridge - a flying shot!
I just kept cruising along not really sure what pace I could manage. Mile 1 clicked in at an 8:42. Holy cow!
Mile 2 is flat at the beginning and then there's another bridge at the end. I got about 2/3 of the way across and stopped to ask my husband if he saw Jim. We finally saw him coming down the 2nd bridge (His 1st bridge). Jim admitted later when he wasn't further along when he saw me he got worried.
We high fived when we passed each other. Another friend tooted and cheered as she drove to the finish line so she could grab some pictures.
I cruised up to the top of the 2nd bridge still feeling strong. Mile 2 was an 8:40.
I bemoaned the fact that as soon as I hit the bottom I'd have to turn and immediately start climbing again.
Suck it up, butter cup! How lucky am I to be out running with a friend when nearly a year ago my running came to a screeching halt with a torn hamstring?
Up the bridge again. Climb, churn, go!
I crested the top and still felt fantastic. My husband would talk to me every now and then and I eventually had to wave him off. Every time I looked at him I would almost trip on the concrete curbing. I'm still favoring my left leg due to the injury. Not sure why because my left leg is almost as strong as my right.
Mile 3 was an 8:21. Hell yeah! The wind was at my back. One more bridge to climb!
My DH was keeping an eye on Jim and I'm still not sure if he was keeping an eye on me so I didn't win. I had to slow on the final bridge as Jim was only 6 light poles ahead.
Look at him! He was loving life!
I came flying down the final bridge just amazed because without Jim's prodding I would have never figured out how to train while still rehabbing. Mile 4 - 8:33.
Hell yeah, baby! Jim and I both set bridge PRs on Global Running Day! Both total winners! 37 minutes and change!
We are setting up another showdown for a 6 mile race. Stay tuned!
Immediately on the heels of a fantastic Parkway Classic 10-Miler I dove head-first into another fantastic race weekend, this time involving some of my favorite Internet weirdos!
Saturday, April 29th, was the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K and 50 Miler (and a marathon, but we didn’t know anyone running it, so who cares?), which Zamgirl, RunningPlaces, ASchmid, and NCAthlete were all participating in, and which Vblevins, Bblevins, Running_Eng, SLCAthena, and I were all spectating/cheering for. And then Sunday, April 29th, was the inaugural National Women’s Half-Marathon, which Keep Running Girl, SLCAthena, and I were all running, and everyone else was spectating! So much moral support to fit into two days ❤️
To kick things off, I met up with Zamgirl for lunch on Friday afternoon when she came into town to pick up her and RP’s packets for the 50 Milers. The fact that we’d just seen in each other in Raleigh only three weeks earlier didn’t slow down the talking. It also gave us a chance to strategize for the next day, when I was planning on jumping in to pace her for the last of three loops that she’d be running on the section of the course that was accessible to spectators and pacers. Let’s be honest: I was more nervous about the 7 miles I’d be running than she was about all 50! I’m so inexperienced on trails, and obviously didn’t want to do anything horribly wrong as a pacer that could negatively impact her race. But this was kind of a perfect first pacing opportunity, because Zamgirl can run 50 miles in her sleep at this point, and was basically letting me tag along for my own fun and not because she actually needed the assistance.
On Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early, picked up my rental car (car-free life is great most of the time, except for when you need to get out to the middle of nowhere for races!), and drove across town to pick up SLCAthena from the friend’s house where she’d been staying earlier that week. We then hit the road out to Great Falls, VA, about 45 minutes outside DC. We got to the aid station area and met up with Running_Eng, VBlevins, and BBlevins just in time to see Zamgirl come through for the first time (Mile 15ish). We’d just missed RunningPlaces, but we’d see him again after each of the three loops they ran around Great Falls park. It was great to see the Blevins duo and Running_Eng, since it had been a long time since I’d hung out with any of them! After Zamgirl went through, we moved closer to the aid station and set up our chairs and picnic blanket to mark our spot for the rest of the afternoon. This is the central hub of the race, and we’d see the 50K runners come through on their way in and again on their way out after a single loop, and we’d see the 50 Mile runners a bunch of times as they completed three loops: at miles 15, 22, 29, and 36 before they set back out on the 14-mile trek to the Start/Finish at a different park. It was a lot of fun to hang out in the park with my fellow spectators, chit-chatting about all manner of things and cheering for all of the runners coming through the aid station.
At 11:45am, Zamgirl came in from her second loop and picked me up to run her third and final loop. By this point it was hot (75*) and sunny, but Zamgirl looked as strong and steady as ever. We set out onto the trail after she’d replenished some fluids, and met up with another runner that she’d been running with for most of the day. Rachel was doing her first 50 Miler that day, and had been wisely taking in all of the advice Zam was doling out! The three of us ran together for most of those 7 miles, and chatted on and off as we navigated the technical terrain of the park. I was having SO MUCH FUN running and power-hiking in the woods and soaking up the dramatic change of scenery from my usual road and bike path routes. It was a gorgeous day to be out in the woods, the technical course was an awesome challenge for me, and the volunteers were so helpful and perky at all of the check points and aid stations. Plus I was running with a totally badass ultra veteran who makes this stuff look easy.
All too soon for me (though probably not for Zamgirl given how much farther she’d run by then!) we came back into the main aid station and heard the cheers of our friends.
Zam took off for the last 14 miles, and we packed up our picnic stuff and headed back to our cars to drive over to the finish area and wait for our runners. Aschmid and NCAthlete had already finished by the time we got to the beer garden, and they met up with us shortly after we got ourselves settled at a table. There was more chatting, with beer this time, and watching the tired, muddy, happy runners come through the finish chute. SLCAthena were able to stay and see RunningPlaces finish, and then we had to drive back into the city to meet up with the final member of our weekend crew: Keep Running Girl!
The three of us met up for dinner at a pizza place downtown (because carb loading is important!), and then called it an early night in preparation for our own race the next morning: the inaugural National Women’s Half-Marathon. We shared a ride home since KRG’s hotel was near my apartment (SLCAthena was staying with me that night to simplify race morning logistics), got our flat girls ready, and hit the sack.
This half-marathon was just supposed to be a fun run for me, since I’d raced hard the previous weekend, and had two more long races in just a couple of weeks (to be continued in the next bloop…) So I decided that since it was a women’s race, and I wasn’t going for a time goal, it was the PERFECT opportunity to bust out the Wonder Woman running costume that I’d gotten last summer for the Vermont 100 on 100 relay! I’d decided on this race outfit several weeks ago, when I assumed that a race on April 29th in Washington, DC, would likely be pretty warm. The reality was that it was 35 degrees out with a windchill in the mid-20s (!!) that morning. But I was way too invested in my costume plan at this point, so I added some arm warmers and called it good. It would only be a couple hours of suffering, right?
SLCAthena and I had coffee and breakfast, and then headed out to pick up KRG at her hotel, and then share a Lyft down to the start line near the Lincoln Memorial. It was dark and oh so cold out! Definitely not what anyone expected of a late-April race in this area. We got the start area soon enough, and joined the crowd of bundled-up women heading over to the port-a-potties and the bag check. The wind was pretty relentless, but I was somewhat comforted by the fact that what would likely be the windiest part of the course was in the early miles, so we’d get it out of the way quickly.
My race plan was simple: run comfortably and have fun. Ideally I wanted to run strategically enough to negative split, because that type of pacing isn’t deeply ingrained yet, and it’s always good to practice racing that way (or so Coach says). I figured I’d start off at an easy 8:45-9ish minute pace, and see how that felt after a few miles, and pick up the pace from there, with an aim to finish a bit under 2:00:00. After all, I’d just raced a week ago and there wasn’t much point in pushing myself to run hard in a non-goal race.
Well. My legs had other ideas.
I FELT SO FREAKING GOOD!! I blame the costume. There was just no reasoning with it. The first mile felt super easy and fun, but the first mile often does when you’re burning off the adrenaline of the start corral. I figured around Mile 2 or 3 I’d start to feel a little tired and would rein things in, and deal with the bonk when it happened. But the bonk never came! And I felt so energized the entire race! It definitely helped that I was getting SO MANY wonderful cheers from both the spectators and from the other runners, especially on the out-and-back section. I’d expected a race like this to have a pretty strong costume game, but I was the only one that I saw, and I totally soaked up all the extra mojo.
I figured the crash would come eventually, and I’d just enjoy the ride until then. But nope! I hit halfway still feeling great, and figured I might as well step it up a little bit and try to negative split. I finally started feeling a little bit tired at Mile 11, but shortly thereafter I saw the whole gang of Loopsters cheering! I got high-fives down the line, and that gave me a great boost. I made the final big turn back towards the finish line, and ran into (pretty much literally) the only negative part of this whole race: the back of the pack of the 8K. They’d apparently been instructed to stay on the left side of the road, but of course they didn’t and there were many people walking the last mile of the 8K (in large groups, naturally) all over both sides of the road and I, and the other half runners, had to dodge and weave around them. Not the end of the world by any means, but pretty darn annoying when you’re trying to finish strong in the last half-mile of a race!
I crossed the finish line in 1:45:46! Only 19 seconds slower than my PR from New Orleans in March! (I 100% blame the 8K walkers for those 19 seconds, but oh well).
I got my medal, hurried over to bag check so that I could get back into my warm coat, and then walked over to where the Loopsters were cheering to join them! We cheered for a while longer and saw SLCAthena come by (apparently I’d just missed KRG), and then we walked up to the closest coffee shop to thaw out before our brunch reservations.
It was so cold out and the coffee tasted so good!
KRG had waited for SLCAthena to finish, so they walked up together and met us at the coffee shop just in time for us to all walk over to our brunch spot. We enjoyed warm food and bottomless brunch beverages!
All in all, an extremely successful Loopster race weekend!
(Why yes I did wear my costume for all of brunch! Did you expect anything different?)
I still can’t quite believe how fantastic I felt during that race. It makes me feel so good about my training and fitness, especially since I still have six months to go until Rehoboth. The barn isn’t close to full yet, but the hay is definitely starting to pile up.
This was my 3rd year running the race and each time it was a goal race. I missed my goal the past 2 years (2:11 instead of 2:10, then 2:01:5X instead of sub2). After last year, I swore I wouldn’t do it again. It’s obviously a huge race so logistics make me more anxious than necessary but it is well organized with lots of support along the course (both aid and spectators). The downsides are it takes several miles to feel a bit of space and the course profile does not agree with me. It is net downhill but has 420 ft elevation (including some incline near the end) but more importantly, you don’t really notice most of the downhill. So there’s not much to look forward to…except the end. I didn’t sign up for the race until April because, like I said, I swore I wouldn’t do it again. But after my marathon in January, I started running more and saw my fitness improving. I felt like I wanted a goal HM at the end of my season and this was the only race to fit the bill. But I should have known, sigh.
Training went great! I worked with my same coach again and hit 180 miles in April and 170 miles in May (vs 100 and 141 in April/May last year). Based on the workouts I was nailing, she felt like a 8:55 pace was doable. I really wanted an official sub2 since my “PR” half in December was a short course and decently net downhill at 1:55:21 (pace 8:57) for 12.9 miles. So my plan was to start at 2 hour pace (9:07 pace) and try to speed up. LOL as I’m typing that. No injuries during training and I didn’t miss any workouts. I cut a few runs short the weekend before the race because I was traveling and it was 95 degrees with 1000% humidity.
Race morning started just before 4am. I splurged for the VIP experience through RnR since the parking and PoP situation is awful for this race. My first year, I stood in line for almost an hour and missed my corral start. Year 2, I got in line immediately but then had to pee again before the race started and just held it throughout the race. Not ideal. For $69, I got parking in a garage right next to the finish line, shuttle directly to the start, and then a tent area that had seemingly 1 PoP per person (!), light breakfast, chairs, VIP gear check, sunscreen, etc. Worth the $$. There were also heaters but they weren’t turned on…because at 5am, I didn’t even need my long sleeve. By 6 am, before my warm up, I was already warm in a tank. Desi Linden was supposedly part of the 2 hour pace group. The corrals are madness so while I saw the sign for the group, I didn’t see her and couldn’t get close to that corral.
Race started at 6:15am and it was close to 6:30am when my corral crossed the start line. Why are there people walking at the start?? I started off, aiming for 9:05-9:10 which felt a bit harder than I expected. Through the early miles, I really tried hard to focus on the current mile, try to stay relaxed and take in water or Gatorade at most of the aid stops. The Sun came out blazing after the 5K mat and I never saw a cloud again. It gave me PTSD flashbacks to my marathon in Phoenix back in January where I was running directly into the sun for hours. Not good. I saw mile after mile click off that was around 9:10 or a little slower and I knew I needed to start picking things up, but I just couldn’t. With every small hill, I felt myself slowing more and more. Around Mile 8-9, I gave up. I didn’t have sub 2 in me that day and reasoned I’d rather run quite a bit slower and enjoy the remaining miles rather than really crash and burn. I even walked briefly up an incline while my brain was screaming (hopefully not out loud) how much I hate this race. There is some nice downhill at Mile 10 and it was here that I realized just because I won’t go sub2 doesn’t mean I can’t PR the course. So I picked it up a little more but too little too late. I would cross the finish line about 10 second slower than last year in 2:02:07. Which kills me –less about the actual time—and more because I am fitter this year but I have no race to show that. The weather definitely played into things a little but it wasn't crazy hot. Probably mid to high 70's and very sunny.
So yeah, I’m a bit bummed. I was really hoping to be able to put this sub2 obsession behind me and make new goals for the future. Time and time again, I just don’t have the mental game for these goal races. I get through the training just fine (and enjoy it!) but then come race day, I give up rather than push through. I know that my current fitness isn’t a waste and it will benefit me going forward yada yada yada but I’ll allow myself to be disappointed for this week.
For those reading, this race is really a great course and I look forward to running it again but ONLY FOR FUN.
After the Chicago Marathon last year, The Wife and I were discussing races and goals for the year ahead. We were heading down wildly divergent paths; while she was deciding to take a break from the marathon, I had spreadsheets devoted to selecting my next one and was wondering how big a chunk to try to bite off. I kept throwing out times I thought I might be able to improve by, 5, 7, or maybe even 10 minutes. But then I started to think how close that 3:15 or 3:11 was to a BQ and kept dismissing it as unrealistic. I’m not fast enough, can’t run enough miles, I don’t do strength work or stretch, I’m a Gemini born in a year of the dog, and a whole host of other excuses were bandied about. The Wife cut me off mid-sentence with an exasperated sigh and got up to walk away. She responded to my slightly hurt, confused look with:
“Stop debating and just do it.”
This didn’t help. “...wha… you mean… Vaporflys… ?” I feebly offered.
“No you idiot. Just go for it. You always spend weeks hemming and hawing over times like you’re planning to invade Russia in winter, then go run whatever you want to anyway. You’re like a machine. So just shut up and go BQ.”
I’m a machine. Visions of Rocky-esque training montages ran through my head and my swollen ego decided yes damn it, I’m going to BQ. I figured I’d be running the friendly Wineglass course and started writing up the training plan and convincing myself the workouts and paces weren’t beyond my ability. I downloaded the Rocky IV soundtrack. And I slowly started to believe. Then I got into the NYC Marathon, and my focus changed. I was ecstatic, this was the race I’ve wanted to run since before I even wanted to run, and for a while I forgot about goals and just enjoyed the fact that I would finally be joining the party on the Verrazano Bridge. Any running train of thought quickly ended up at Grand Central and included images of flying up 1st Ave through a tunnel of noise, and I spent weeks in this euphoric daze like a kid who got the “it” toy at Christmas. But as the spring racing season began the excitement gradually faded and I revisited my training plan for the year. The NYC course is definitely tougher than Wineglass. And I remember watching some nasty windy days in recent years on the first weekend of November. I need to run a 3:10 to BQ, but to get in I probably need to cut it down to 3:05. That’s almost my current 10k pace, and I couldn’t imagine running that over the 59th Street Bridge (sorry Mayor Koch).
Then Boston happened. You all know how that went. The winners weren’t the flashiest athletes or the ones in the most commercials or those with the best PRs. They were the grinders, the ones who don’t take no for an answer, who don’t make excuses, who don’t ever stop. The telemarketers of the marathon world, you could say. I marveled watching elites drop like flies while the regular folk endured and in a few cases even finished in the money. It was a race for those who lace up not because they’re getting paid to, but because they want to. Or maybe need to. It was a race celebrating those who consciously choose, without glory or paychecks, to be perpetually exhausted, always hungry, in pain, and forever lacking a complete set of toenails.
There were a lot of theories about why the elites seemingly suffered worse than the citizen runners. One thing I didn’t see mentioned but that I kept coming back to was that for most people who endured the conditions, they probably didn’t know if it was their first or last or only shot to run Boston. They couldn’t drop out and collect a check a few weeks later and try again next year. They may never again have the chance to go right on Hereford, left on Boylston and they weren’t going to be denied the opportunity, even by an apparent act of God. If you’re not inspired by that, you either need someone to check your pulse or you’re about to lecture me on how running will ruin my knees.
They say you should announce your goals and put them out there for all to see. Helps keep you accountable, they say. Helps you to, with apologies to the already long dead horse, keep showing up. So here we go. On November 4th I’m going to return to the city of my birth and qualify for the BostonMarathon. I’m not going to try, it won’t be an attempt. I’m going to just fucking do it.
Happy Sunday, everyone! As I discussed in my last post, I’m not training for anything. Right now, I just like running. I might want to run fast, or I might want to run slow. I just don’t know. The world is mine!
Great times with my family. I miss them already.
I got back from California on Thursday morning and I felt a little out of shape to say the least. I ran while I was there, but I wasn’t capable of running the miles needed to break even from all the pizza and junk that I ate.
4 miles burned off one of the slices of Round Table that I ate. Too bad I ate like 15 slices.
I was pretty worn out from a red eye flight on Thursday, so I didn’t go to work. I had Friday off too, so I guess I came home to a 4 day weekend! I ran a few miles on the treadmill on Friday (one on the manual treadmill, which is unpleasant but they say is good for me). On Saturday I ran my longest run since the injury, a 5 miler!
Felt great to hold up 5 fingers!
Running buddy Wade and I decided to run a lake loop on Sunday morning, and then it hit me. I ran 3 days in a row. I had to look back for the last time I ran 3 days in a row and that was back in August.
I’m going to try something new. I’m going streaking. I don’t care what the distances or the paces are, but I’m going to run SOMETHING every day until I don’t feel like it anymore. I might only run a mile, but I’m running.
Who’s with me?
Anybody else have any streaking experiences to share (running or otherwise)? I’d love to know how it went.
No running here. I'm going to celebrate National Running Day on Wednesday by getting my knee scoped. Last Tuesday I reviewed the MRI with the doc. He showed me the areas where there was significant "fraying" around the meniscus. Said it was an easy job for him to go clean it out. It's an outpatient procedure, and if I'm careful with the recovery, I should be back to running in 4-6 weeks. This is good news, but it does mean that 2018 will be marathon-less for me. That's disappointing, but best not to push things right away, and to fit one in before January I'd have to push pretty hard.
The last time all of my brothers, our sister and I were gathered in one place was 1984, when our younger brother was killed in a snowmobile accident. I'm the geographic outlier, so I guess it's mostly my fault. Although the two oldest don't get along. It happens.
This past week we joined for another sad occasion, the passing of our mother. She was 82 years old. Back in 1953 she was swept off her feet by a young Air Force mechanic and together they started a journey that carried them away to nearly every state in the US, eventually bringing along seven sons and two daughters (one of each taken away too soon). It wasn't an easy life thanks to boys being boys, and having battles of her own with depression and anxiety to deal with.
But she was old school. Always there. Always loving. Always cooking, cleaning, supporting, teaching. Mostly unrecognized by her self-absorbed children. She never complained. Her approach to life was to do your best, regardless of who did or didn't notice.
The last 20+ years of her life she had severe rheumatoid arthritis. The pain in her hips made it painful to walk. The pain in her hands made it painful to play her beloved piano. She still served three separate 18 month church missions (Louisiana, Kenya, Martin's Cove, WY) with Dad, despite the pain.
We laid her to rest beside her son Jim at the north end of the Teton Valley in Idaho. They'll have a great view.
Total mileage for the month: 355 (in comparison: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307). I guess this is peak month -- also a monthly mileage personal record! Before this month I'd only run one week of mileage in the 80s ever (CIM peak mileage week), and the most I'd run in a month was 323 in October 2017.
April 30-May 6: 76.2
May 7-13: 81.0 (all time weekly mileage PR)
May 14-20: 82.2 (all time weekly mileage PR, the sequel)
May 21-27: 86.7 (all time weekly mileage PR, part 3 in this trilogy!)
May 28-June 3: projected at 72
We start many runs from this church & loved this sign!
May 19: The Bill Snyder Highway HalfMarathon in 1:21:41 for 2nd overall female. I was thrilled with this outcome with the mileage I had on my legs for this race (which I intended to run as a workout). Running a 1:21 during an 82 mile week has to be good for marathon training, right?
My May 19 race time was the second fastest half a woman ages
35-39 has ever run on a certified course in Kansas
May 2: 3 x 2 mile split tempos in 6:07, 6:05 / 6:09, 6:05 / 6:12, 6:02 (6:06 average) with 0.5 recovery jogs (2.2 warm up, 2.3 cool down). This was a pretty big workout a few days off of the Illinois Half, but so goes marathon training! My goal pace range was 5:55-6:10, and as per always I'd prefer to hit the lower end, especially at the end of the workout, but my legs were tired the entire run so I was happy to mostly hang on to the range. I had a hard time getting rolling on the final rep, and at about a half mile in I was averaging 6:23 pace, so I had to fight to bring the second to last mile down to 6:12. This was my first warmer workout, at 66* and 75% humidity...which is not bad, but was an abrupt change from the 30s-40s!
May 9: Flippin' Fartlek (2.3 warm up, 2.3 cool down). This workout is pushes of 6', 5', 4', 3', 2', 1' with recoveries of 1', 2', 3', 4', 5'. My push paces were 5:56, 6:01, 5:57, 5:48, 5:42, 5:18. I also ran this workout last month, so the obvious objective was to beat last month's paces, and I am happy to report that I mostly did that even at a humid 71 degrees. The 6', 3', 2', and 1' were faster this time; the 5' was 2 sec. slower and the 4' was exactly the same pace. I am pretty sure the 1' push is the fastest pace I've hit all year, although in full disclosure it included some decline and Strava grade-adjusted it to 5:30, whomp whomp. But on the flip side, Strava grade-adjusted the 6:01 5' push with some incline to 5:58. All in all I was perfectly happy with all of this on marathon training legs.
May 16: Medium long 12.3 miler with 0.15 (1:00ish) pick-ups in the final 5 miles. My push paces were 5:40, 5:27 (downhill), 6:07 (uphill), 5:40, 5:40 (average for the whole run was 7:13). The last time I ran a similar workout (March 27) I struggled to hit 6:30 paces on the pick-ups for whatever reason, so it was nice to not repeat that! It was fun to have a little work within the run instead of just a straight base one, and between the pick-ups my pace stayed faster than it had been before they started, I think because they opened up my stride.
May 19: 13.1 miles at tempo (6:13 average), with 2.2 warm-up and 5 cool-down. This wasn't the 3 x 4 mile split tempo workout I had planned, but hitting my goal tempo pace for those for 13.1 miles continuously instead was sure a confidence boost that I could use! Details are here.
May 23: 12 miles with 4 progressive fast finish in 6:48, 6:34, 6:21, 6:17 (7:01 average for all 12.3 miles). My goal splits for the progressive fast finish were 6:45, 6:35, 6:25, 6:15, so I was right on, but this type of workout always makes me wonder how in the world I ever ran a marathon at about the same pace as those final 2 miles, and even more so how I just ran 13.1 miles straight at 6:13 pace 4 days prior to this workout. In other words, that last mile was really hard! It was an uphill finish (our infamous Mentor Hill) and I was solo, but whew.
May 29: 8 x 0.25 hill repeats (3 warm up, 3 cool down). Hill repeats always make me feel like I'm going to go into cardiac arrest, but I'd chose this workout over 8 x 400 m on the track any day. This workout was extra challenging since I started it on tired legs (it usually takes me nearly a week to really come back from 24 milers)...I feel like I'm a broken record mentioning running everything on tired legs, but that pretty much covers my month! I got them done with grade-adjusted paces between 5:30-5:53. Actual paces were all over 7:00, showing how challenging the hills I run these on are. Climbing 97+ ft in 0.25 mile is no joke!
Doubles on May 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, and 28.
Strides on May 3, 14, 27, 31, and at least a few before all workouts.
Full body strength workouts on May 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 20, 23, 26 (after 24.5 miles!), 30, and 5-10 minutes of core work nearly every day.
Favorite workout: Definitely the tempo turned race at the Bill Snyder Half on May 19, but if I can't count that then the split tempos on May 2. None of my workouts were bad this month, so that also feels like a big victory (refer to earlier this season when all of my workouts went poorly)!
May 5: 18.3 miles base pace (6:57). I celebrated this one! I am pretty good at pacing by effort level on runs, so when I saw a sub-7:00 mile split on mile 3 when my effort was low, I had a flashback to the relaxed long runs that I did leading up to CIM when I was averaging 6:5X. This season I've often wondered how I did those and how they seemed so easy! But on this run I felt back to my fall self, and clipped off the miles on rolling farm roads (608 ft elevation gain). My final 8 miles were all 6:39-6:50 (except for one 6:56), and they felt amazing! I was very thankful for this run. Rebecca joined me for about 6 middle miles (from about 3.5-9.5...we have a meeting up system because no one else is currently doing marathon long runs), but otherwise I was solo enjoying God's creation.
May 12: 22.7 miles (7:03). Hello summer! I was pleased to get this big one done and to finish feeling strong! Apparently over-dressing on cooler runs really helped (more details below), because I usually suffer on my first few long runs in warmer temps, and even though I went straight from 47 degrees on May 5 to 71 degrees and 80% humidity for this run, it didn't phase me aside from needing more fluids. I ran 3.5 miles to meet Rebecca, ran about 9 miles with her, ran to a spot Amy had dropped water, then ran a course that Amy and Jeff were running in the opposite direction so I could say hi to them on the way back to my house. I dropped bottles with nuun in two spots, carrying 2 bottles for 0.3 then 1 bottle for 1.1 farther to place them at spots I'd be passing again later in the run. I drank at approximately 6.5, 12 (also a gel), and 18. I didn't stop my watch for any bottle pick ups, but grabbed them while on the run (also no bathroom stops). I did have to stop twice to safely cross a highway, so my elapsed time was 25 seconds longer than my moving time, whomp whomp (I try not to stop my watch on these runs since race clocks don't stop)! The course I ran had 696 ft elevation gain, and when I had to choose from 2 routes that would get me back home from mile 17.5ish, I chose the more difficult course over the easier one that I knew would give me faster splits. I want to be prepared for Lemondrop hill around mile 22 of Grandma's! My 22 miler before CIM was 9 second/mile faster average, but it was also in 28 degrees (I love that Garmin Connect saves weather data), so I think this was comparable.
May 19: 20.4 miles (2.2 warm-up, 13.1 at 6:13, 5 cool-down), described above and extensively here.
May 26: 24.5 miles (7:00), The Big One! I hoped to run around 7:00 pace, so I was happy to hit that right on, although of course 6:59 would have been better! Always thankful, never satisfied, right?! It was warm (72*), sunny (no shade on the route), and humid (90% humidity) for this, and I wanted to finish it faster/stronger than I did, but based on how I felt during the final few miles I was happy just to hold my pace steady. It pretty much felt like the end of a marathon, and I kept telling myself "This is making you stronger, this is good practice for the marathon, just run the mile you're in" and also "Just get in and don't walk!", which is something I've told myself in the final miles of many marathons. The course had almost 800 ft of elevation gain, which is almost double what Grandma's has. I took one gel during the run and that was not enough (my blood sugar got really low towards the end), so lesson learned to at least carry two, but again probably good practice. I ran 6 with Rebecca, 6 alone, then 12 with Daniel. A big thanks to him for pulling me along at a consistent pace towards the end when I was struggling! I again did all of my drinking on the run and had no stops. My 24 before CIM was a little faster, but it was 42* for that one so I feel this was comparable. When I got in from the run, my husband went outside for a bit then came back in and said, "It's jungle humid; 7:00 pace is like 6:45 today!" I hope he was right! This run was also a good reminder that although overall I'm dying less in the warmer temps this season, they do still affect me so if Grandma's is warm I need to go out more conservatively. Around 70* and sunny feels way warmer than 70* and cloudy too!
My Wednesday medium long runs all morphed into workouts this month, so are described above. It also seemed like I ran double-digit mileage more days than not, making there no real distinction between medium long runs and every day runs this month.
Favorite long run: I'm going with the 22.7, because I felt stronger at the end than I did on the 24.5!
Amy, Jeff, and I are all Grandma's bound!
While I sure hope it's not hot and humid for Grandma's Marathon, I'm training as if it will be. I suffered hard in the Dam to Dam Half last year, when we were hit with temperature and humidity levels much higher than anything I'd trained in during our relatively cool spring, and I don't want to repeat that. I did a lot of over-dressing in training this month, wearing more clothing than I needed on most easy morning runs I did. I never imagined how much I'd sweat wearing a stocking hat at 65*! Of course, I also never thought I'd wear a stocking cap running at 65*... My friend Liz and I used to call runners who over-dressed at races "Arctic Runners", and every time I'd put on too much clothing I'd think about that term! Not dying in or even feeling bothered by the warmer humid temperatures during my 22.7 miler and at The Bill Snyder Highway Half made me confident this strategy works. Dying a little on my 24 miler made me confident that sunny is more difficult than cloudy at the same temperature!
I had blood work done in April that showed some irregularities that may have explained my running slump in February and March. Since I was already feeling much better when I had it completed, my doctor wasn't too worried and had me re-test about a month later, and I am happy to report that everything is back to normal in May! The high values in my April test indicated that I had a virus, possibly mono, which is crazy but would certainly explain why I had many runs where I was grossly off the paces I should have been able to run.
I feel like female runners are constantly told that we are likely to be low on iron, so I'd started taking an iron supplement back in February when I was feeling bad, thinking that was perhaps why. My blood work came back high on iron, indicating that I didn't need a supplement! I stopped taking it as soon as I got those results, but learn from my mistake and don't supplement unless your physician has approved it, even if society tells you that you probably need it. I'm lucky I was only taking it for a short time period; too much iron over a long period can damage your liver and kidneys.
I logged into my Athlinks account for the first time since 2010...it turns out I had a lot of unclaimed race results, but now it's mostly updated. I'm not sure why some races are on there while others aren't, but my only one missing that really mattered was my halfmarathon PR race. As I was going through to claim my results, it really reminded me just how many races I've run that were the wrong distance over the years, with results including a 10K in the 35s (short!) and a mile that was 6:08 (long!).
No days off again this month; I've run every day since 1/27/18...if all goes according to plan my next day off may be June 17, the day after Grandma's (or I may run a little that day to promote recovery, we shall see...but I will take the week after mostly off).
Photo bombing Amy's daily Lululemon photo after heat adapting
My fast young training partner left for med school, but I'm
going to convince her to run a marathon with me soon
Albani had Awana awards night.
Albani ran her second ever 5K at the Girls on the Run 5K on May 5. It was warm, and before the race she said she was worried the weather would hurt her race time. She really does listen to things I say! After the race we went to Artsfest (a lot of walking outside), and that afternoon Albani ran all around playing with a neighbor. We all slept well that night!
Mother's Day! Albani gave me a sweet card that she and Jon bought when I was present (they tried to be sneaky but were very bad at it) and a bird feeder she made at school. After church that day I got a nap and we watched the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials from YouTube, hah.
Albani's art was chosen out of over 3,000 pieces created at her elementary school this year to be exhibited in Missouri State's art education department, and we got to attend a special young artist's reception.
We did a family fun weekend in Manhattan following the Bill Snyder Highway HalfMarathon! I am so thankful to be able to incorporate races into activities like this, and that my family supports my racing.
May 24 was the last day of school! Albani will go to summer school in June, because our district offers it for everyone and she enjoys it, plus I like keeping her in the routine and getting some extra learning in. They will do a unit on inventions and get to make their own creation! I cannot believe I have a 5th grader...
We took Albani to the drive-in movie theater for the first time over Memorial Day weekend. I hurt for about 36 hours afterward from staying up until 1:00 a.m.!
We do a lot more outdoor and weekend activities when the weather is nice! Related: I didn't read as many books this month.
Excited for her second ever 5K!
Proud but hot!
Some were more capable of holding frames
than others...Jon took this without even telling
me all of the problems with my pose!
Lightsaber at Artsfest
Sucker Days in Nixa (named after the sucker
fish, not the candy, haha!)
Bubbles at Sucker Days
Baby ducks at Orsclens
This was on Mother's Day
The title was "Sunflower Weave"
Proud Mom moment
Outside the MSU art building
Last day of school!
What she did after school on the last day
Good morning! I have a few hours of an airport layover to kill, so I figured I’d draw up a training plan. Here it is…
Week 1 – ?
Week 2 – ?
Week 3-? – ?
Isn’t it beautiful? I promise not to deviate from it in any way. I promise not to stress out about hitting the right paces or making sure there are enough hills or laps.
Now that I’m done with my structured running as part of my physical therapy, the world is mine. I’m not about to be tied down at my first taste of freedom.
I’m still not quite right. My baby calf tires. My lungs lack the capacity that they had before my injury. 4 miles was once a warmup and is now a long run. There’s work to be done. I’m going to joyfully do it.
I miss that speedy fella. Time to bring him back.
(*except for Rehoboth, which is really in its own category of everything)
There are some sure signs of spring’s arrival that I look forward to each year. Birds singing in the mornings again. The sun coming up before I’m done with my pre-work run. Daffodils and tulips poking their colorful heads out, even through the snow sometimes. Cherry blossoms of course. And the George Washington Parkway Classic 10-Miler! This was my very first double-digit run back in 2012 (only a couple of weeks before I broke my ankle), and I’ve run it every year since. It’s become my favorite DC-area race due to its beautiful course, reliably crisp spring weather, and well-organized logistics. It is also typically held the Sunday after the BostonMarathon, so I’m usually still a little high on all the excitement of tracking superstar Loopsters on Marathon Monday as I head to my own race. The fact that I’ve PRed there all but one year doesn’t hurt either…
This year, the Parkway Classic was designated as my big spring goal race by Coach, so most of my workouts over the last few months have been aimed at this, with a target 10M pace of 7:40-7:30. This would be a good 30+ seconds per mile faster than I ran this race last year, so this felt like an audacious goal. But I’ve learned to do as Coach says, and even if things went poorly, it was “only” a 10-miler, and life wouldn’t be terrible for too long before the finish line.
April 22nd looked to be another perfect spring race day: sunny with an overnight low in the mid-40s and a high in the mid-50s, with a light breeze. I got Flat Caitlin ready and made it an early night given the ridiculous time that I needed to leave the next morning to get the shuttle to the start.
I left my apartment at o’ dark thirty to board the shuttle bus that would take me from downtown DC to the start line out at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, VA. It was a long ride, but I chatted with a few of the runners sitting near me, mostly about how crazypants Boston was, and about upcoming race plans. We got to the start just as the sun was coming up and illuminating the little athletes’ village on the lawn of George Washington’s estate. I like to get to the start excessively early (one year of having to sprint off the bus, drop my bag, and race to the start corral just in time for the gun to go off was enough, so now I over-correct), so I found a nice place to camp out and killed some time on social media, since runner friends are reliably up early.
This was my second time running, and first time racing, in my new Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes, which look pretty darn cool with neon socks.
Eventually it came to be time to ditch my warm layers, check my bag, and go do my prescribed 2-mile warmup. I headed off down the bike path alongside the parkway we’d be running on, and immediately didn’t feel awesome. There was no reason not to feel awesome: the weather was perfect, all my workouts leading up to today had been stellar, it had been 7 full weeks since the New Orleans half-marathon, and I was wearing my magic shoes. But I just didn’t have any pep in my step, and it was a struggle to get those warmup miles under a 9:00 pace. I tried hard not to dwell on that, and told myself that race-day adrenaline would kick in once I was in the company of the other runners. I made my way back to the start line, and got into my corral.
A few minutes later, the gun sounded and we were heading off down the parkway! There’s a big downhill right at the start, so I made sure to keep my pace in check and tried to just stay relaxed. My plan (i.e. Coach’s plan) was to try to hit the upper end of my pace target (7:40/mile) right away, and camp out there for the first 3-4 miles. Then I would try to drop the pace by 5 seconds or so for the next 5K, and then try to drop the hammer as much as I could for the final 5K and bring it in at whatever pace I could manage (preferably under 7:30).
I clicked off the first mile right on target, but the downhill start provided a big assist. Once the road leveled out and we entered into several miles of small-but-noticeable rolling hills, it was a much harder effort to hold that 7:40 pace than I wanted it to be. I tried to focus on the mile I was in, rather than worrying about how I was possibly going to drop the pace come Mile 4 when Mile 2 felt so hard. I also had the added mental boost/torture of knowing that Coach had signed up for live tracking, so she would know if I’d been able to follow our plan before I’d even finished the race.
I finished Mile 4 and knew that it was time to pick it up. I told myself that it was just one mile at a time. I could run this one mile at 7:35 pace and then see where I was. I focused on the upbeat tempo of my music and dug in.
7:34. Boom. Ok self, you’re halfway done now, and the back half of the course has more downhills. You got this. And COACH IS WATCHING.
Hitting my Phase 2 target right when I was supposed to provide a major confidence boost (as did finally getting to the nice long downhill in Mile 6!). Miles 6 and 7 clicked off relatively quickly, and then it was just the final three miles to go. Phase 3. Drop the hammer and race. I pretended to be the kind of runner that actually “races” during a race and started picking out people ahead that I could try to catch up to and pass. I tried not to look at my watch as much as possible during this last phase and just ran as hard as I could manage. There was one final short-but-steep hill right at the Mile 9 marker, a left-hand turn onto Union Street, and then about 0.75 miles straight to the finish line. I caught up to one of the women I’d chatted with on the bus who had been just ahead of me for the last few miles, and as I passed her she picked up her pace and we raced each other down the last quarter-mile or so (I won by a few meters).
I waited a minute for my new friend to finish (we follow each other on Strava now). We high-fived and congratulated each other as we made our way over to where they were handing out breakfast tacos (totally a step up from the usual boring snack boxes from past years!).
I was eager to get my checked bag so that I could upload my Garmin data and look at all my splits together. I knew that I’d hit my target paces and had negative split as we’d planned, but I wanted to see the pretty pretty graph that proved it.
PR by 7 minutes!
I went over to the beer garden and found some run club friends who had finished earlier, and enjoyed some liquid recovery.
More people joined the party as they finished, and it was fun as always to rehash the race, talk about upcoming race plans, etc. with runner friends. I love this race so much.
I headed out with one of the run club friends to go meet some other run club friends (who didn’t race this morning) for brunch. Obviously, such a great race called for an appropriately celebratory brunch drink.
Another year, another fantastic Parkway Classic.
(They didn’t start giving out medals until my third year, which was the race’s 30th anniversary, so I don’t have a medal for all my times doing it. But it is pretty cool that I have all the medals that this race has ever given out!)
Next up (thanks to the time machine that enables me to post bloops about races that happened a month ago): the National Women's Half-Marathon with some Loopsters!
So I ran another 5K, and I feel the need to post a race report.
This was just a small, local race. About 800 people, many walkers. I just got back into training, so I didn't have serious expectations. But you know, it IS a race. So I had a few goals.
1. Sub 21:00
2. Top 3 in my AG
3. Beat my coach Ed
I arrived early and chatted with the usual friends from my running groups. Nice long two mile warmup felt pretty good. The course is almost flat, with just a couple small rises. Two 360 turns, but otherwise straight and fast. My plan was to go out about 6:50, and then drop down to 6:45 and 6:40.
Started conservatively and was right on track. Ed took off fast as usual, and opened up 20-30 yards on me right away. But I figured he would fade. I stuck to the plan.
As I neared mile 1, Ed still had a good gap on me, so I felt the need to push it a bit. Glad he was out there for me to chase. The familiar 5K pain was kicking in. But experience tells me what I can handle and so I trusted my instincts and tried to embrace the suck. Mile 1 was 6:48.
In mile two I continued to pass people who went out too fast; The usual assortment of kids and weekend warriors. Ed was slowly coming back to me, which made it easier to accept the growing fatigue and the heavier breathing. At the turnaround at 1.5 Ed could see me closing on him. It was about a five second gap still. Work to do. But I knew he was gradually getting closer. I was in full race mode as I reeled him in and caught him just before the mile 2 sign. I passed with authority and without a friendly comment or wave. I know he is a serious racer and would expect nothing less. Plus I could barely breathe. Mile 2 was 6:36.
Now I had no one to chase - no one I personally cared about anyway. And the piano climbed on my back. Still a long way to go, but I tried to maintain. It looked like I would get my sub-21, but I had to stay on pace. I didn't know of anyone in my AG ahead of me from my group, but I could see a bald head up ahead that could very well be in my AG, so I tried focusing on him. Unfortunately, he was running strongly and I could not gain on him at all. Still, it gave me something to chase.
The suffering was pretty bad, and I basically was just holding on. I figured Ed wasn't likely to catch me, but it was possible, so I kept the hammer down as much as I could. Finally the finish came in sight and there was a slight downhill for the last 0.2 miles and I cruised in - but took the time to pose for the paparazzi.
Still flying. Mile 3 was 6:45, and I finished at 6:08 pace which got me in at 20:47. Check.
Ed came in at 21:10. Check.
Bald guy WAS in my AG and beat me by 8 seconds, but I got 2nd, which was good for $15 at the local running store. Check.
47th overall, and met all my goals, so I was a happy runner. Good to be healthy and feeling good. Now I'm going to keep ramping up the miles and building base.
Firstly apologies for delay in posting. DS has currently absconded with my home laptop whilst his is getting repaired and I’ve had to ban myself from uploading from my work one. You see my last post was my virtual Pikermi entry and somehow my picture of me in 80’s blonde mullet wig, pink flouro shirt and smiling loopsters race bib ended up embedding itself as my lock screen. As it turned out even the administrators in Chennai couldn’t reset it so for the next 6 weeks I was having to explain “virtual races”, “pikermi’s” and “loopsters” every time I went to meetings!
Anyway back to racing. It’s been a very slow build to this. This time last year involved a couple of extended sick leaves including a nasty spell in hospital (with my swollen...recovery was slow ...)...so first races for a year. Yippee!
First up was the Great Train Race. It’s a 13.5km run through the beautiful dandenongs trying to beat the old steam train. It’s a challenging course, net uphill despite the last few kms downhill (~300m elevation gain). There’s also 4 level crossings and the train has priority so stay ahead!
With an initial downhill and tight pack (I was in 2nd group but only 10 meters or so back) it’s a case of quickly hit your stride and don’t drop your lollies! My goal was to try and hold ~4:30 k pace (7:15) until the main hill which starts at the 5k mark and climbs for about 2 then push hard and bust a lung the last few. This worked well and despite being a little toasted by the time I reached the top just past halfway I forgot one important thing. If you’re trying to beat your previous times it helps to recheck what they are prior to the race! So whilst I pushed on through the 3rd quarter my quick sums told me I was off pace to get near my PB and probably eased off too much. I finished off the last quarter strongly with all I had, remembering to “double bangle” at the finish (no photo!) and a 61:57. So slightly down on my PB but not as much as I thought! D’oh.
The following week was the Red Bull Wings For Life world race which is where all the races around the world start at the same time. The “catcher cars” then set off half hour later at 15km/hr and speed up each hour. Once they pass you your race is done. For Melbourne this meant a 9pm start and our course is south east along a motorway heading out of the city. My best run was 33km 2 years ago (31 last year) so I had an idea of pace. Was hoping to at least get to 30k, maybe amongst my previous efforts. Whilst my run the previous week suggested I wasn’t quite finding form I knew in hindsight I probably mucked up my pacing so who knows.
This race is unusual on a number of fronts and doesn’t have the usual cross section of road runners. The upside of this is based on my previous run I’m in the first group. So like a good running geek I spotted myself in the start pic under the N in run about 8 rows back (looking down at my watch haha). Conditions were ideal, cool but not cold, dry and for a change we weren’t running into a breeze so I was feeling somewhat confident of a solid run. They sound the horn and we’re off!
The freeway is undulating with some decent climbs, the biggest around 11k another at 20, and 28. They’re long slow climbs not steep so manageable if you can stay mentally strong. In my head I’m thinking stay under 4:50 (7:45) pace until top of peak at 11k and see how I’m feeling. I should point out despite my long slow build I’ve been struggling with a few ailments but mainly R shin soreness (hoping not shin splints). Anyway I took an extra light week leading to last weeks race and whilst it’s feeling “puffy” it’s ok tonight.
The first section goes well, I find a few unlucky new chums to chew their ears and time passes quickly. I get to that 11k point and whilst I’m feeling a little flat I’m in a good rhythm and have tagged with a nice lady who’s pacing around 4:45 so just perfect! 4:45 is my PB pace so if I can hold that at least through 25 I’m thinking I should make 30 or so. As I get closer to 20 I can feel signs in my R hammy. Yeah I’m yet to finish a marathon without both hammies cramping so I know the signs well. I back off a little for the hill at 20k and push back on pace crossing my fingers.
Lots of runners bail at certain points like 20/21 so by 25k mark there’s a good chance you’re stretched out like a (night time) trail race. This is where it gets tough mentally (especially if you’re balancing a testy hammy on edge)! At 25 I’m really tiring but feel like I’m closing in on goals. I get to the hill at 28 and try and hold as much pace as I can though I’ve also reached for my homemade “hotshot” concoction which hopefully will keep the cramps at bay. Ok I’m now getting to 30...yes! First goal ticked off. Fatigue has really set in but I’m pushing hard as I can & faintly hear the catcher car tooting. As I pass 31 I know I’ll beat last year which helps me lift slightly. Car is really getting close now but I can see the 32km sign. It’s a little uphill (not good for the hammy!) but I push harder, pass 32 and here comes the car. Done and salute the driver at 32.2km. Too tired to notice who the celebrity is. There’s a dude just behind so we walk to the next pickup spot and luckily it’s not too long before we’re on a bus and heading back to the event hq.
It’s a bit strange sitting down in front of a big screen watching other runners from around the world whilst chowing down on pizza and coffee in a largely empty event zone trying to get warm at 1am...but it was soo good! Pretty stoked with my run. It was good enough for 62nd here and 2nd in my AG (60 something AG worldwide!).
I pulled up well that week and I’m now in peak training weeks for Gold Coast marathon next month. My shin which continued to be problematic is finally showing improvement after lots of massage, rolling, strength work and KT taping. Now I just have to decide whether to shave my other leg to match or just look odd when I get the short tights out again in 5 weeks haha.
This was it. The end to what I had hoped to be my epic comeback from hamstring hell.
Ha! Hamstrings heal in their own time.
To refresh everyone I had signed up for the Love Run (13.1) in March:
The Drake Relay 1/2 in April:
The Redding Road Race was a spur of the moment addition the 1st weekend in May. My friend C and I were supposed to run 3.1 & 13.1 but she had gotten hurt lifting so we cut it to 3.1 & 7. (Sorry only have pre-race pump up video from this race.)
And finally there was the Pocono Run for the Red this past weekend. I had signed my oldest and I up. I really wanted to run this race fast because I love, love, love the course.
As the race got closer I knew there was no way I was going to PR so I decided I wanted to run step for step with my son during his first half ever!
We woke up early on Sunday morning and managed to get to the race on time. My son loves mornings!! Lol
I needed to use the port-a-potty before the start. They blocked off the most direct route to the port-a-pots so I had my son traipsing through the tall wet grass. Yup, sopping wet feet before the race even started. Did I mention that it rained for the past 7 days??
Race morning was a swamp fest. It wasn't super hot but the air made you feel like you were breathing through a wet sopping sweater. All the pace groups were warned to back off of their paces.
We lined up behind the 10:52 pacer and before the 11:30 pacer. My son had trained some but nothing consistent.
The race is a little bit up and down for the first 6 miles, downhill for the next 3-4 and then rolls for the last 3-4.
We took off and I was hoping we'd be able to follow the 10:52 pacer, but between my son's labored breathing from humidity, elevation or nerves and the 10:52 pacer going out 30 seconds too fast we let him go.
I've had good results from running a mile and walking a minute and thankfully S was receptive to running this way. We had a guy we were passing back n forth who was using the craziest run/walk schedule ever. Run/sprint 30 seconds and then walk. Repeat infinite times. S and I decided we needed to beat him.
Somewhere in the downhill section we opened up a nice gap on him and never saw him again.
If you don't know and ever ask me to pace you in a race be warned I'm one of the most obnoxiously happy, hooting, hollering, dancing pacers you've ever met. I was thanking the policeman. Getting the fans to cheer. And getting the volunteers to break into mini dance parties.
Thankfully S put up with me and didn't shove me off the side of the road!
Around mile 10 the roads started some climbing and S was running out of gas. We took a few more walk breaks towards the end but I pushed him so we would finish under 2:30.
We cruised into the finish line both as happy as could be!!
He has said he *may* run another!! Yay!!
So Dave, that’s what I did this weekend.
KRG said "we need a bloop"! Alrighty then.....
Running is going well. Slow but well. I still can't accept I'll never be even slightly speedy. I'm mediocre middle to back of the pack. I had a great trail run last week though! The picture below is a grove of hemlock trees. I had to walk through here just to soak it all in. Truly breathtaking.
I did the loop and then turned around and doubled back. It was glorious. Low 50's, no bugs, no people, slight breeze. Best conditions possible. It's about 6 miles from my house and there's another 2 mile loop on the other side of the parking lot I can do to add miles as I like. There really is a heck of a hill in there - it's not a mistake on the elevation!
I'm working on ramping up long runs to train for a trail race in October. My colleague and running friend Trish and I are planning to get together next weekend for running and brunch! We've officially become "those people" who consider 6 miles to be a "short run". 😱 I'm the green bubbles... the fact she can do 12 miles on trails in 2 hours just cracks me up. I can't even do 12 miles in 2 hours on the flattest pavement there is! So I'm running for time and she's running for miles. Works for me! We have a ton of great looping trails between my house and hers so it won't be hard to train and go to brunch this summer.
In other non-running news:
Boyfriends back surgery: recovery is going very, very well. Slow but no road blocks and no set backs. He is having to move houses from one rental to another but same landlord and that has caused a huge level of stress and confusion. So much so that he has to live with me for 6 weeks or until the electric cooperative installs a new service pole at the other rental or live in his camper next to the current rental because the landlord came back from California and wanted his house back. And this is why you get a lease. 😠 Small town country folk and no lease so no ability to control the situation.
Best friend Kristin had her final round of chemo for breast cancer on Tuesday and is suffering pretty badly as I type this. It's a horrible feeling when you literally can do nothing but be there to send stupid/funny texts in an effort to distract her from the misery she's in. Her hair is all gone and the chemo slammed her into full menopause symptoms. Hot flashes, chemo, and no hair. She tried a wig but prefers her baseball caps except for people staring at her sideways all the time. She starts radiation therapy next month on June 10th I think. She said it'll be easy. None of this is easy but I'm supporting her and staying positive no matter what.
My house is awesome. I have projects, lots of projects, on the to-do list for summer. This weekend is "find what is leaking in the plumbing leading to the shower". This requires a ladder from the basement to the plumbing access area behind the shower. Removing insulation and drywall to get to the shower plumbing, etc. I called a plumber who said he'd be out this week. I've called back to follow up. Of course, no return calls. My measly shower issue is being trumped by big plumbing projects now that the building season is fully underway. Necessity is the mother of invention. I won't invent anything but I'm sure going to figure out what the heck is actually going on behind that wall because I sure won't wait around while it rots the wood even further that it's been dripping on all winter.
I loved those days.
Received an email this morning that the MRI on Louis the Left Knee was (FINALLY!) approved by Blue Cross. Ortho doc was able to squeeze me in early last Friday. He never even bothered to look at Louis. Why? Instead, we smirked to each other for five minutes about health insurance cost saving measures and peer reviews. He said one time he (remember - orthopedic surgeon) had to go through a dermatologist, a pediatrician, and an internist to get one of his procedures approved.
The good news is I'm scheduled for early in the AM tomorrow before work. Hopefully, we'll have some answers about what's making Louis so cranky and what can be done to fix him. This life without running is just crazy. I don't know how people do this day after day, year after year. I believe I've found the answer to what's wrong with this country.
So, the weekend. I know it's Thursday afternoon already, but I promise this is a story that couldn't really be told until now. There was just too much catching up to do. A few of my FB/IG friends know the big picture, but the details are more fun, as well as hard to share quickly on social media. The Loop is so much more personal and permanent.
First, let's go back to January, when I had my last annual physical. Some people hate doctors, but I'm OK. They're important. Humans get sick, even me. We do things to our bodies - both accidentally and on purpose - that require repairs. I saw Rambo fix a gash in his shoulder in the woods with no anesthetic, and while I'm not squeamish about blood or anything, I'm not up to that. Sometimes, you need a doctor. Anyway, my PCP happens to be a runner (as I'm sure I've mentioned before) and we talk about marathons and Boston and stuff when I drop in every year.
Education time: One of my regular tests, since I'm an old guy now, is a PSA level. It measures the amount of a certain hormone that's secreted by the prostate. They've discovered a correlation between men who have prostate cancer and higher levels of PSA. 80% of men with cancer have PSA between 4-10. Not that having a high PSA means there's cancer, but it makes it worth a look. Also, PSA levels normal rise as men age, so while I'm climbing toward the big 6 - 0, it's no surprise really that mine's been creeping up through the 1's and 2's. Except last year I cracked 3, up almost a full point from 2016. This is not a good thing. In January, I was at 3.99, right at the door of the dreaded 4.0. Runner doc says, "Hm. Maybe we should keep a closer eye on this from now on." And he ordered another test for April.
I stewed for a couple of days, but then as I researched I discovered that this was more an indication of risk than an actual signal of cancer's presence. So I went about my business and worried more about my blood sugar, which was also higher than either of us wanted. I cut out sugared sodas, cakes, pies (think of it - no pie! the horror!), candy bars. I dropped a couple of pounds. Since I wasn't running, that was my only option (so I figured) to rid my body of the extra sugar.
April arrived and I made a little trip to the local urgent care for a quick blood draw and waited a couple of days for the good news.
But there wasn't any. A1c, after all that sacrifice from January, was more or less the same as before. Not high enough to call myself diabetic, but very near the edge. My PSA had gone up again, this time to 4.58, more than half a point in three short months. A PSA of 4+ usually results in a referral to a urologist. Mine had retired a few years ago, so I called his partner and made an appointment.
That Friday afternoon I left work a little early and had a nice chat with him (also a runner, as it turns out). Then he pulled out a sheet with all my PSA results from the last 6-7 years. He didn't like the way my numbers had gone up so quickly in the last two years. Best to have a look, he said. It'll be fine, he said. It's done under local anesthesia. You'll feel some tugs as the instrument takes each samples, but that's it. Easy, he said. There's a small chance of infection, so you get two kinds of antibiotics before the procedure. Then you clean up and go home or work or wherever. I didn't even need Mrs. Dave along to drive. After a colonoscopy (which I also get now every 5 years) that's mandatory. This is no big deal, he said, and scheduled me for a trans-rectal prostate biopsy (dare you to google that) for the next Friday morning.
So, a week later, I was back in the office with my pants hanging on a hook, facing the wall while the ultrasound tech probed around to get a good picture and accurate measurements of this gland that gets so much attention lately (and rightly so - this is a serious deal - prostate cancer kills a lot of guys - if you're over 45, make sure you get checked every year). Then Dr. K came in and gave me one more bit of info. The sampling tool/instrument/extractor/whatever was spring loaded and would sound like a big staple gun. Not the little one that used to sit on your teacher's desk or in the office back in the day, but the kind they use in upholstery shops and in housing construction. BOING! BOING! He'd count down from three and then take the sample. TWELVE TIMES. Twelve samples from various locations in the prostate. This was, of course, after he'd given me two blasts of lidocaine directly into it. You know about lidocaine - that's the stuff your dentist uses to numb your mouth before drilling into your jaw. The stuff that comes out of the largest needle that's possible to use on a human body without leaving gaping holes. And there's only one access point for numbing the prostate. OMG.
"This may be a little uncomfortable," he said. You think?
Anyway, I'll skip the visuals, but let me just say that as hellish as were the shots, the actual biopsy procedure was pure, unadulterated, torture. I felt every single piece that was gouged out of my poor little gland, all the way through my entire body. All I could do was focus on the numbers and pray that I'd heard the number 12 correctly, and that he was speaking precisely (12 was 12, not "about 12" which could have been 13 or 14 or 15 or until he felt good about it), AND that I didn't lose count. OH! EM! FREAKING! GEE!
Whew. Glad that's over. Then I drove to work and finished out the day. That's the part that was just uncomfortable. Having certain part of your anatomy infringed upon by a large metal tool at the very least leaves some damage that takes time to heal. But by the evening, that was all better and I looked forward to having a quiet weekend with Mrs. Dave, getting up early (because old people), watching the royal wedding (anything apolitical now is an attractive alternative, amiright?), running a few errands, cutting the grass, watching the Tigers, maybe going to a movie.
Saturday I was up about 7:00, read a little. I haven't been eating breakfast as part of my diet - remember? I decided after a few weeks (this will come up again later, btw) that I might as well lose a few more pounds, so when I did finally get to run again, I'd already be a a decent training weight. Most days I'd skip lunch, too, but whatever, that's a minor point right now. Stay focused.
Since it was going to be 75+ that day, I dressed in a t-shirt (2009 Indianapolis Marathon) and shorts. Normal. Except by 8:30, when Mrs. Dave came downstairs, I decided it was too cold for shorts, however warm it was going to be later. I could always change if it was hot when I mowed the lawn, right? So I went back upstairs and put on some jeans. By the time I got back down, I thought, "It's so chilly in here. Maybe I'll put on a fleece pullover until it warms up." Fleece on. That's was comfortable for about five minutes. I grabbed my trusty Mr. Rogers sweater from the closet and put that on, too.
That's when I started shivering. I sat on the sofa, shaking. Mrs. Dave put the tower heater she uses year round because she's always cold in the house (no idea how - thermostat's at 70o all the time) in front of me and turned it on full blast. I wrapped my arms around it and still shivered. I couldn't stop, and I couldn't get warm. Of course as soon as she gave me the heater, she went upstairs for the thermometer. We have two and this was the old mercury-filled guy. It looked like I was at 101.0, but it was hard to tell for sure it's so old, and Mrs. Dave decided she didn't trust it anyway, but went back for the new digital one. 101.7.
The instructions in the post-procedure paperwork were to go immediately to the ER if my temp rose above 101. That was good enough for me, but not for the nurse. She said to call the doctor. Weekend. One of his partners was on call. I thought I should start driving (hospital is a good half hour from the house) and he could call on our way. Nope. Nurse said to wait. It took an hour and another call to the answering service to reach him. By then I'd topped 102, and was wrapped in a blanket in addition to my other three layers and the space heater, and still shaking like an old wino who's gone too long without. When doc two finally called, he said with no hesitation, "Get thee to an emergency room, dude." And we were (finally) off.
At this point, there was no question I was a sick man. Somehow, the prophylactic doses of antibiotics hadn't done their work and I fell into the 1% of patients who have problems with the biopsy procedure. Getting to the hospital was fine. The freeway at 11:00 on a Saturday morning in May wasn't too busy (glad I don't live in Atlanta) and the ER was fortunately almost deserted, except for the lady ahead of us at the check in desk, who'd decided that her knees hurt and what better use of an emergency room than looking at her arthritis? But she was out of the way soon and it was less than a minute after that we were going into a triage room where I got a hospital blanket. I should also mention here that I'd asked for something for my 500o fever from Mrs. Dave, who refused because it's important to be really sick if you're going to the ER. Makes them feel needed. Not like our new friend with the sore knees.
The hospital thermometer had me at 103.2. Good enough for treatment, thank you. I swallowed the pills they gave me without looking at them. They could have been arsenic for all I cared. Another blanket, please. It took about a half hour for me to stop shaking, and then the med student who was there tried to start an IV for some fluids. This is sort of like getting orthotics from a podiatrist or a monthly spinal adjustment from a chiropractor - it's just part of the program. Took him three tries and both arms. They all hurt. But, we have to get new doctors somewhere, so I painfully contributed to the future benefit of some patients somewhere in the country. You're welcome. Actually, doctors don't give shots or draw blood anyway, so I don't know what the point is, really, now that I think about it.
But, with the fever falling and the saline flowing in (and more antibiotic on board as well), I felt like I'd been through the ringer, and began dozing off. They took us out of the room to a separate waiting area while the lab worked on the samples they'd taken. While there, we watched the USA Diving championships and a Shark vacuum infomercial. Then there was a loud THUD! when a guy in the next row fell and hit his head. Someone was going to have a bunch of paperwork to do. They got him up and he seemed OK. At that point, I started to cool off again. They had a cabinet full of warm blankets and Mrs. Dave grabbed one for me. Then we got moved back to our other room for about one minute while they looked for a room for me upstairs. That's right, my weekend was officially over. I was going to spend it in the hospital with a big plastic tube in my arm.
The rest of that night, Sunday, and most of Monday I was in and out of it, every time the effects of the Tylenol (that's all they could use because I was a bleeding risk from the biopsy) wore off, my fever would spike again. I never got over 103 again, but had several 102+'s before they finally started to ease. Techs and nurses came in the first night every hour to check my temp and other vitals. Sunday and Monday night it was every two hours. BP was OK, and so was the temp when I was medicated, but my heart rate would drop below 100. As a runner I was embarrassed. And I had my 2015 St. Louis GO! HalfMarathon shirt (a gift from thekidfromthelou, an old Loopster) on with my PJ's, so they all knew.
My hospital doc was great. She sat down and asked me about my eating habits. I mentioned how lousy they'd been because of this A1c thing and tying to stay slim for when I start running again. Apparently, that was a bad strategy on my part. One meal a day is frowned on in the healthcare industry. Besides incurring her wrath, I'd also created extremely low levels of some key elements in my system. No clue if this had anything to do with getting the infection the antibiotics were supposed to stop. But since I was there and I wasn't right and I wasn't going anywhere with the ever-returning fever, she ordered some big doses of magnesium and phosphorous. They dripped into my IV all day Sunday and Monday.
Monday morning the urologist came in, sat down and said, "Great to see you again, but not in here." Funny guy. He also has no idea why I got sick. If any of you ever thought you wanted to be one of the 1%, let me tell you it's not all it's cracked up to be.
When I got home Tuesday afternoon about 5:00, the grass was about 3 feet high. I was going to mow that evening but a half hour after we walked in the door I was ready for bed again. It's half done after last night, which is another story having to do with small engine repair and a lawn mower cutting blade I don't want to go into.
Now, about that biopsy. Negative. This is good news, like negative splits. Eleven of the twelve samples had zero cancer. The twelfth had what's called PIN (three big Latin words I can't even), abnormal, but again, not cancer. So, I'm clean. I get another PSA test in November, but he doesn't see any issues from here.
Now, I'd like to run. Sometimes over the weekend I thought about just running a bunch so as much as possible would show up on the MRI, but then realized I might cause enough damage that it would be a harder repair and a longer layoff than it already is. Nope.
So, how was your weekend?
My alarm was set for 3 am, but I was awake and out of bed by 2:45. Plenty of time for coffee, oatmeal and a little bit of wardrobe indecision before heading out the door at 3:45. The drive to Fort Collins would take about an hour and the last bus to the start was departing at 5. Though normal people were still fast asleep, I was happy to be on my way—driving through the dark, 80s hair-band music on the radio, ready to run my 10thmarathon.
All the pre-race stuff was over in a flash–parking, bus ride, portapotty, start line, announcements, national anthem, sweatshirt toss, then boom—let’s run. The sun hadn’t made its way over the canyon walls yet, so we took off in semi-darkness. Daylight came quickly though, revealing a spectacular course. High jagged cliffs. The Poudre River, roiling with spring snow melt. Budding trees, huge evergreens, a few hardy wildflowers. No spectators were allowed on the first 18 miles of the course, so it was just me, nature and about 800 runners cruising down a gentle grade.
I’m pretty sure I died and went to heaven for a couple of hours. The miles ticked off so quickly. My endorphins were rushing, the gratitude cup was overflowing. I was So – Damn – Happy to be out there.
Until I wasn’t.
Somewhere around mile 17, I just got sick of it. I don’t know why. It was a bit too hot for me, but not brutal. I hadn’t gone out too fast. I hadn’t beaten myself up on the downhill. I had no pain. No cramps. No serious fatigue. I just didn’t feel like running anymore. So I started taking walk breaks. Not the uplifting kind like Galloway suggests, the defeated ones (you know the difference).
I knew my family would be at mile 18, so I figured I’d get back in the game then. But the little pick-me-up I got from seeing them fizzled out in about half a mile and the walking recommenced. My daughter, who was visiting from Seattle, was planning to jump in at mile 21 since the course ended on a public bike path. So for the next three miles I tried to hunt down my inner Desi. Surely she could convince me to keep showing up.
Show up for my brother who’s recovering from a series of strokes. And my dad who’s rehabbing another broken hip. Show up for L who just got a breast cancer diagnosis. Or K whose kid is battling addiction. Show up for all those Loopsters with their flaming fascia, their ripped hammies, their ruptured Achilles. Just show the eff up.
I wish I could say I rallied, but that would be a lie. I ended up walking and running all the way to the end, despite the great company my daughter provided. It wasn’t a death march though–and I never went to a super negative mental place. I just gave up somewhere along the way and meandered to the finish line. Friends and family met me there with big hugs and cold beer.
The upside of all that walking was a fast recovery. Within a couple of days, I felt completely back to normal, and by the following weekend, I did a Mother’s Day 5K with my nephew’s wife. She’s a 3:15 marathoner, but since she’s 7 months pregnant and was pushing a stroller, I managed to keep up.
So that’s my spring racing update. I’m still not exactly sure where my mind went on marathon morning, but in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. I got to train for and complete 26.2 – without injury – in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. How can I be anything but grateful for that?
So, one more post about Saturday's race because I had time to chew on it and analyze some data.
Last year when I set my old PR on this same course, I had spent the entire spring training for it. I was a beast and singularly focused. (Remember PITW?) And I ran the race that way. By the end, I was just trying my absolute best to hang on and cling to my pace. This year, my training was spotty, at best. And I ran the race easy and relaxed.
Last year, my lower abs were so sore after the race. (I started a group on FB to whip them into shape.) This year, thanks largely to the group, I've been doing weighted high knees for months and that area is becoming the strongest part of my body.
I finally had a chance to look over my splits in more detail and realized that the second 10K in the race was only 3 seconds slower than my 10K PR (set last year). I also ran it about three minutes faster than the first 10K. I still can't get over how good my body felt.
So on one hand, I am really excited to see how training goes for fall. On the other hand, I may need to take some time off.
I woke up on Saturday with just the slightest touch of pain in my heel. I think I may have had some sensation that wasn't quite pain before that. It was familiar. I remember this. It is the beginning of PF. Before it stops you. I missed this last time around because it is so subtle.
I shut it down after the race. I *think* I caught it early enough to keep it from getting full blown but it's still bothering me. I'm supposed to be PF proof after the rupture so I'm feeling a little bitter. BUT there were some things that may have provoked it. My orthotics are old, my running shoes were starting to get near the end of their running life span, I was wearing keds a lot (with my orthos but still) I was only stretching in the most half hearted way.
I see the Wonderful Dr Langone tomorrow to order new orthos and get her take. I think I may be able to train through this if I correct what caused it because it's soso early. Baby PF. In the meantime, I'm taping, hand stretching, using the half moon, ice rolling, golf balling, night splinting, running shoe wearing, Voltarening and as soon as I get a new foam roller, doing the stretch that cures everything. (I only have a plastic core roller and PVC pipe these days and it hurts too much to do the pose correctly.)
Wish me luck.