Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What I've been up to since Louisville DFM

It’s been ten days since the Louisville marathon and I have been doing...wait for it...absolutely nothing--and enjoying every second of it!

(I promise I have a full re-cap of the Louisville Derby Festival Marathon coming soon, but—spoiler alert!—I totally killed it and qualified for Boston and can't wait to tell you about it!)

Normally I am not one to sit around—I always have to be doing something, be it working out or cleaning or cooking or helping the kids with their homework or peeling wallpaper or whatever, or else I feel unproductive and lazy. But this past week, you could not have prodded me with a hot poker to do any of those things (except help the kids with their homework. Mom duties are never off the hook!). I was tired. Not just my body but my brain. For 16 weeks I put everything I had—physically, mentally, emotionally—into obtaining my BQ, and I was exhausted. Quite truthfully, the idea of running has not been appealing at all. Memories of every part of my body being jarred and hurting are still a bit too fresh. The first day after the marathon, simply walking was a feat. Every time I moved my knee screamed at me, my quads felt like they were being ripped apart, and there was a terrible pain in my right arm (I have no idea why my arm hurt so much but it was actually worse than my legs!). The stairs, sitting down and standing up were particularly awful. It would be Wednesday before I was able to walk down the stairs like a normal person again, and it wasn’t until Thursday that I was entirely soreness-free when walking. I went to swim practice Thursday night and did an easy spin on the bike Saturday morning, in addition to some planking throughout the week (I’m participating in the Peanut Butter Runner Ultimate Plank Challenge—join me!).

Add "planking with Henna"
to the list of things I'm doing instead of running 

I went for my first post-marathon run on Sunday, eight days after the marathon. I did six really easy miles just to test the waters and see how I felt and honestly it really didn’t feel that good. My quads were sore, my knee started hurting a few miles in, I was really out of breath the whole time and kind of just wanted to be lounging on the couch instead of huffing and puffing and making such an effort. The idea that I had just run more than four times as far, at a far faster pace, seemed pretty incredulous. So I’ve decided to wait a few more days to run again and play swimming and spinning by ear.

Add "playing with puppies"
to the list of things I'm doing instead of running

When I qualified for Boston at Marine Corps in 2014, I wasn’t at all happy with my performance. For some silly reason that makes no sense to me now, I allowed the fact that I had an awful race to completely overwhelm the joy I should have felt at PR-ing by almost TWELVE MINUTES; the pride I should have felt at accomplishing a BQ even with running the last half of the race hunched over, in pain, clutching my side from the world’s worst and most relentless side stitch; the happiness I should have felt at finishing, in any amount of time, a race that less than 1% of the U.S. population will ever even attempt. Because I thought I should have run faster (all training data and long runs pointed at a sub-3:30:00 race but I ran 3:38:40), rather than celebrate my accomplishments, I criticized myself. And because I wanted to show myself that I could do better, rather than get some much-needed rest, I barely took any time off after Marine Corps in my quest to get stronger and faster for the next race, and in retrospect I fully see that not taking time to properly recover and allow my body to heal is how I ended up sidelined for nearly a year with ITBS. I will not make that mistake again. You live and you learn, and what I have learned is that no matter what happens you have to just leave it on the finish line and give your body the time it needs. Twenty-six miles is a long way to run, and it’s really hard on your body. So no matter if I think I could have or should have gone faster, I am now simply thankful that I am able to do it at all, and I'm giving my body the recovery it deserves and allowing myself to take the break I need.

Add "taking my kids to carnival and
watching them climb a wall" to the list
of things I'm doing instead of running

Which means I am currently enjoying a tremendous amount of down time during which I am snuggling with the kids, finally reading a book I’ve been wanting to read for months, antiques shopping, napping off and on, and eating ice cream and pizza and milkshakes without a single ounce of guilt. I must admit, I could get used to this (I may just need to lay off the ice cream a little, though)

 Add "doing absolutely nothing late on a Saturday morning
except drinking a cup of coffee in my nightgown"
to the list of things I'm doing instead of running.
I highly recommend :)

Here is some timely commentary on the importance of recovering both mentally and physically after a big race:
From elite runner Tina Muir
From Boston Marathon blogger Nat Runs Far

Fall race plans are in the works and I will share them soon!

Monday, April 25, 2016

IT'S RACE WEEK!!!! Louisville Derby Festival Marathon Training Week #14 and Week #15

IT'S RACE WEEK!!!!! I can't believe race day is almost here! I am a bundle of nerves, ya'll. Straight up basket case! It's taper week so you know what that means:

Everything on this list--check, check, check AND CHECK. What's worse about the taper this time around is that, due to sustaining injury IN WEEK ELEVEN, I've basically been tapering for going on five weeks now instead of just this final week so I am seriously about to lose. my. mind. I have butterflies in my stomach. I can't stop wiggling my foot. I fret over every piece of food I put in my mouth. Weather.com is like a magnet to which I am drawn every 30 seconds (BTW I'm expecting everyone to do a rain dance Saturday morning at 7:30, okay?). My race outfit has been changed a zillion times and will probably change at least a dozen more between now and Saturday morning. I'm paranoid I'm not actually registered for the race (even though I am getting runner emails and my name has shown up all 5000 times I've checked the registration confirmation page). The amount of angst that went into planning my final week of training would have been funny if it wasn't so stressful. I deviated from the training plan I'm following (it seemed a little more intense than what I was comfortable with) and here's what I've got left:

Monday: 30-min spin (easy)
Tuesday: 1 mi easy, 3 mi @ race pace, 1 mi easy
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 2-3 mi easy

Much easier said than done! I hope the week flies by because my nerves can't take it.

Here's how the past few weeks have gone:

Week # 15
This was last week, the week before race week. During this week I went back to my regular training schedule, with the exception of switching around the "long" run and the tempo run.

Monday - Cross-train

Swim practice (1 hour)
30 min. core

Tuesday - Speed work

5 x 1000 w/ 400 m RI with 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown
30 min. core

I had company at the track for this workout, which was fun. Jeremy and Morgan came out to do their own workouts, and Keith did mine with me. The training plan called for the 1000s to be done in 4:09 (6:40 pace). I had back-to-back mishaps with using my watch properly (I'll spare you the lengthy explanation for what happened with the watch and how/why we ended up not really using my watch anyway), so the numbers for this workout are really skewed, but here's how it seemed to go:

4:03 (From Keith's watch--mine wasn't working the first interval)
4:12 (From my watch but not in interval mode--it didn't work right)
4:07 (From my watch in interval mode, but not starting/stopping with my watch)
4:10 (From my watch in interval mode, but not starting/stopping with my watch)
4:05 (From my watch in interval mode, but not starting/stopping with my watch)

This workout went pretty well. I was nervous about it because my first speed workout after injury (see below) was a little sketchy. For this one, my calf felt tight for the first two repeats, but then it went away. (Maybe my strategy for the marathon should be to speed up--ha!) The repeats never felt unmanageable and I felt pretty good afterwards--a little tightness in my hip/quad area on my bad leg, but nothing that stuck around.

Wednesday - Cross-train

Spin (1 hour)
30 min. core)

Thursday - 10 miles @ 8:03

Normally I do tempo runs on Thursdays, but I was a little concerned about running 10 miles at race pace just one week out from race day. (As I mentioned previously, I have really liked the training plan I've followed, but the last two weeks of training I found to be a little more intense than I was comfortable with, and so I've strayed from it a bit here at the end. Of course, I had to stray from it anyway while I was injured, so why I would even fret over it at this point is a mystery even to myself. ) Keith ran this one with me and I was really glad for the company. This run went really well, which I was really glad about because the previous week's 13-miler (which you'll read about below) was awful and I needed the redemption for a mental pick-me-up. Our splits were 7:59, 8:03, 8:05, 8:16, 8:01, 8:14, 8:00, 7:44, 8:07, 8:03 for an average pace of 8:03. My calf felt tight during a few middle miles, but there was no pain and afterwards the tightness did not linger.

I love getting hugs from this girl when I get home from my runs!

Friday - Cross-train

Spin (1 hour)
30 min. core

Saturday - Tempo

2 mi easy, 2 @ tempo, 2 easy
30 min. core

The run was supposed to be a 3-mile tempo @ 7:23, but much to my dismay my legs were really tired and I just wasn't feeling it. The mile splits for the run were 9:02, 9:02, 7:11, 7:29, 8:32, 8:58 for 6 total miles at an 8:22 pace overall. At first I wanted to fight for the pace and pull it out--but then I wondered why in the world I would expend that energy one week before race day when there was really nothing to gain from it. At this point in the training, nothing I do will do anything to help me gain fitness--by now I'm either in goal shape or I'm not. In fact, I debated whether to even attempt the tempo miles, for that reason--but decided I'd give it a go and just see how it felt. When I realized it wasn't happening, I just let it go and forced myself not to fret over it. Sometimes you just have to shake it off and move on.

Sunday - Semi-rest day

5-mile hike
20 min. core

Sunday was my husband's birthday! We celebrated by going on a 5-mile hike with the kids at Shaker Village. It was a perfect day for a hike--clear blue skies, sunshine, not too hot, the bugs aren't out yet--and we had a great time. My husband usually runs on these trails--this is where he did the majority of his training for the Yamacraw 50K, and he's done several of the races in the (Un)Pleasant Hill Trail Run series--so he enjoyed slowing down and taking in more of the scenery.

We also enjoyed Adam's favorite cake--my first attempt at baking German chocolate:

Week # 14

During this week I decided to give some of the runs on the schedule a try to see how things felt. I wanted to get a better feel for whether my leg was actually feeling better or not--and, I was getting really antsy about not running and just wanted some time on the pavement. However, I ultimately decided to ease back into any kind of speed or tempo paces on the treadmill--that way, if something went wrong and I needed to stop running, I wouldn't be stuck still having to walk back home from miles away. I also opted to switch some of the runs around, so that instead of jumping right into a speed workout I could do a steady distance at tempo and see how that went, then take it from there.

Monday - Tempo

1 mi easy, 5 @ tempo (7:35), 1 easy
7 total miles

I really eased into this run, starting at a 9:00 pace. I took it up a few notches every 200-400 meters until I was at an 8:20 pace to end the warmup. Things felt fine so I went into the tempo portion of the run, but was still cautious.  The first tempo mile started at 8:00 for 400 meters, then 7:47 for 400 meters--testing the waters, so to speak--I wanted to make sure nothing crazy was going to happen at a faster pace before diving right in to the tempo pace--and finally settled in at 7:35. I kept waiting for something to start hurting, but everything felt fine. Since I was on the treadmill I stayed at 7:35 for the rest of the tempo--it was a bit of struggle the last mile or so, but I think that's because I was stuck on the treadmill and it seemed to be going so slow, not because the pace was hard. For the last mile I did a very easy 9:00-10:00 pace and actually walked the last .10 mile to be sure I was totally cooled down before getting off the treadmill. Then I spent about 10 minutes stretching. When I got home I did a 20-minute core workout. My calf was a little tight the next morning but no pain!

Tuesday - Cross-train

30 min. core

Wednesday - Pool run (2.25 hours)

This was a marathon pool session! This time I came armed with a swiMP3 player that had 1.5 hours of music loaded onto it--it really made a difference in how much more quickly the time passed! I had hoped to do 2.5-3 hours in the pool, to more closely mimic the time I would have spent on the 20-mile run I had missed, but it's hard to get that much time in a pool that matches your schedule. Wednesdays are the best days for me for pool running because I don't have to be to work until 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays--but the pool doesn't open to the public until 11:00, and I have to be done by 1:30 in order to have time to shower and eat before going in to to work. So 2.5 hours was as good as it was going to get. I got in the pool right at 11:00 with every intention of staying in until 1:30, but as you can see I didn't quite make it. The first 1.5 hours flew right by thanks to the swiMP3 (thank you, Christy!!), but then it got a little repetitive. Plus, around 2 hours my IT band started to bother me a bit, so I decided not to push my luck. I feel like I got a really good workout, though, despite cutting it a little short. I think I finally got my form down and I had a higher turnover on "steps." Every few minutes I would count steps per minute and it was always in the mid- to high-140s. I'm still not sure if that would be a comparable road pace, but it was pretty tiring! A few times I counted 150s and once even 160-something! By the end I was definitely red-faced and sweaty and when I got out my legs were jelly.

Unfortunately, I began to have calf pain about 2.5 hours after the run. I had brought my ice packs to work with me and spent the evening icing while I worked.

Thursday - Swim practice (1 hour)

I normally don't go to swim practice on Thursday mornings because usually I do my tempo runs on Thursdays--but since my calf had been bothering me after my pool run I decided to push back Thursday's run (which would actually be a speed workout this time since I'd done the tempo on Monday) to Friday and cross-train instead. It felt nice to stretch out in the pool! Plus, my awesome friend and swim coach, Crystal, got to swim that morning with me which was fun.

Friday - Speed workout

I was a little nervous going into this workout because I was afraid it might be too much--but still, I had to try. I went into with the mindset that if anything started bothering me even a little, I would pull the plug. (I kept reminding myself that getting to the starting line is still the goal right now, and I wouldn't be able to do that if I injured myself again during a training workout.) The training schedule called for 5 x 800 @ 6:38 w/ 90 sec RI. I had wanted to do this on the track, but there was a meet that day and the track was busy with coaches and athletes prepping for the meet so after warming up on the track I went into the gym to do the actual workout on the treadmill. On the treadmill it was either 6:35 or 6:41, so I went with the 6:35 pace. The first few went pretty well, but during the third one my calf started to feel a little tight again. I probably could have finished the workout just fine, but I panicked a little and didn't want to risk it. Instead of calling it quits, though, I decided to run a few more 400s unless there was pain, in which case I would stop. So I finished the workout with 4 x 400 @ 6:22 w/ 400 m RI and a 1 mi cooldown. My calf still felt off during the 400s but it was never out-and-out painful. I did a lot of stretching afterwards and, again, more ice. The funny thing is, even though it was my calf that had bothered me during the run, it was my knee and glute that were throbbing afterwards. Lots of ice this night!

Saturday - Rest day

Saturday was a bit of a rest day. I'd not planned to do any running or cross-training but I hated to go another day without core, so I did a quick 30-minute core workout first thing in the morning. My husband was working that day, so the kids and I went to the Lexington Kite Festival and had so much fun! We met my sister and her family there and the kids had a blast running through the park fields, flying kites, and watching all the other kites in flight. It was a pretty cool sight to see all those different colors and shapes up in the sky! It was an absolutely gorgeous day with blue skies and sunshine and a light breeze so it was the perfect backdrop. After the kite festival we grilled out and made s'mores! Good times!

Sunday - Long run

13 @ 8:30

This was one of the worst. training. runs. ever. It was so ridiculously hot! I shot myself in the foot by sleeping in Sunday morning when the temps were still in the 50s and instead running around 1:00 p.m. when it was 75 degrees. I hate running in heat anyway, but this was especially rough because I started training in January and have been used to training in snow and nothing over 40 degrees. The first few miles felt fine but when I started getting hot I lost all motivation. The run was supposed to be at race pace (8:12), but I fell off pace pretty quickly and honestly had no desire to try and maintain. I just wanted to get the miles done. Not a good attitude, I know, but that's where I was mentally, unfortunately. I stopped every few miles for water and had an entire bottle of Sword at around 6 miles (at which point I also dumped a whole cup of ice down the front of my bra), but I was just beat. The really frustrating thing was that neither my calf nor my knee bothered me at all during this run! I just couldn't seem to muster the will or the energy to pick up the pace. Mile splits were 8:25, 8:25, 8:09, 8:24, 7:56, 8:24, 8:14, 8:57, 8:56, 8:26, 8:33, 8:59, 8:44. Ugh. It's definitely not the run I wanted just two weeks out from race day. In addition to this being my first truly hot run of the season, it was also my first "long" run in two weeks after being injured--so I tried to cut myself some slack, but it was a pretty big mental blow.

 Two thumbs down for this run :(

Luckily, the next week of training went well and I gained back some confidence. And now, here we are in the final days leading up to the race! Wish me luck!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Louisville Derby Festival Marathon Training Week #13

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I have to brag on my running friends--they all ran Yamacraw this weekend! My husband, Keith, and four others did the 50K, five did the 20K, and two did the 10K. I was really proud of my hubby, who finished in just under 6.5 hours. It was his first time running that distance--with just one marathon under his belt--and he was awesome! He put in a lot of long runs on the trails while training for this race and I am super proud of him for doing the work, and so happy for him that it paid off. Way to go, Adam! Also, all the 50Kers who ran it last year knocked 1-2 hours off their times this year! I have missed running with these guys this training cycle and was super excited for them!!!

I also wanted to share this lovely video. The Red River Gorge is one of my most favorite places in the whole world, and we are so lucky here in Kentucky to have this treasure. My husband has run The Rugged Red half marathon trail race the past two years and has thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I haven't run it myself, based on my own love for the Gorge and my husband's race experiences there, I would highly recommend it to any trail runner looking for a challenge! If you're not a runner, you can still enjoy the unparalleled beauty of eastern Kentucky through the many hiking, climbing, and boating options offered.

So this past week of training was pretty low-key, due to me still being in recovery mode and trying to heal the overuse injuries in my right leg. Here's how it looked:

Monday - Cross-train

30-minute spin
15 min. core

This is the day I went to the doctor. Even though I had gotten the okay to run up to 10 miles and do speedwork, since I had run 6 mi the previous day and my leg was still sore, I decided to cross-train (which I would normally do after a run day, anyway--this training cycle I have never run two days in a row, I've always cross-trained or rested in between each run), even though I was behind on the running training schedule. I'd actually planned to go to swim practice that morning, but I overslept and missed it so I opted for the bike and some core work after work. My husband had a meeting at 6:00, the kids had soccer practice at 6:30, and I had a meeting at 7:00, so there wasn't a lot of time and I could only get in 30 minutes on the bike and I had to cut my core workout in half for just 15 minutes.

Tuesday - Cross-train

40-minute swim (10 min. kick, 20 min. swim, 10 min. kick)
30 min. core

If I was still sticking to my training schedule, I would have done a speed workout on the track consisting of 10 x 400 @ 6:26 w/ 400m rest intervals. Even though the doc had given the okay for speedwork, I felt this would have been a bad idea just now since my leg was still sore from Sunday's run. My goal right now is to get to the starting line on April 30, and I had a feeling that if I went ahead with this speed workout I would only push my recovery back and possibly sabotage making it to the starting line--so, as much as I hated to do it, I skipped this workout for the pool. (Seriously, I actually shed a few tears over it, you have no idea how much it hurt my heart to miss this workout. I don't mind missing the long runs so much because with 20 mi x 4, 18 mi x 2 and 17 mi x 1, I've got plenty of long runs under my belt and I know I've got endurance. But it is killing me to miss these key speed workouts and tempos, because these are the runs that build speed and teach my body to keep going when the pace gets tough. Knowing that I am missing key fitness workouts is a tough mental blow.)

This particular pool workout was listed as a cross-training workout for this particular week in the marathon training plan I had been following. (The plan lists various cross-training plans for swimming, cycling, and rowing that you can choose to do along with your marathon training. Since I was already swimming twice a week and spinning or ellipticalling once a week, I had chosen not to follow any of the cross-training plans--but it worked out that they are available!) I always feel the burn when I do kicks, and this was a good amount of kicking--so I came out of it feeling like my legs had gotten a good workout.

Wednesday - Tempo

1 mi warm-up, 8 mi tempo, 1 mi cooldown
10 total miles @ 8:17

30 min. core

I probably shouldn't have, but I just couldn't help myself. My leg seemed better on Wednesday, and even thought I'd had every intention of doing a pool run, I just wanted to be out on the road. So I decided at the last minute that I would attempt the tempo and just see how it went. I told myself that I would pull the plug at any time--even if I was only one mile in--if I felt ANY kind of pain or discomfort with my knee or calf. So I went out pretty tentatively, but everything felt fine. The workout had called for an 8:12 tempo pace, but I wasn't trying to hit the pace--I wanted to go at a pace that felt good for my leg. However, I found as I went along that my leg felt fine, and the pace was there, so I went with it. I kept expecting at any time for something to start hurting, in which case I would slow down or even walk if I had to; but nothing ever did. There was a moment where my calf felt a little tight, but it neither lasted long nor lingered, so I kept going. The tempo miles were 7:55, 8:07, 8:14, 7:59, 7:56, 8:34, 8:08, 8:09. I was very pleased to find that after a full week off (I'd run 2 x 1 mile intervals the previous week and 6 easy miles the previous Sunday--so I wasn't entirely off, but I had missed a ten-mile tempo and a 15-miler) the pace felt fairly easy, which gives me confidence that maybe I won't have lost as much fitness by race day as I've been fearing after all. Immediately after the run I spent about 15 minutes carefully and thoroughly stretching, and hopped into an ice bath for 20 minutes for good measure. My leg felt totally fine and I was feeling really excited that maybe things weren't that bad and I would be ready to resume my training schedule--but then a few hours later my calf and knee started to feel really tight. So I guess even though the run went fine, my leg still wasn't ready for the strain on the muscles. So I went back to the "back off" frame of mind and reconsidered what I could the rest of the week.

Thursday - Cross-train

45-minute swim (200 meter warmup, 4 x (50 meter kick easy, 100 meter kick fast/50 meter swim easy, 100 meter swim fast) w/ 2:00 rest interval, 100 meter cooldown

I pulled this workout from Active.com. It actually called for five intervals but I only had time for the four. (And the rest intervals were supposed to be just 20-30 seconds, but I decided to be cautious and take more time in between so as not to strain my IT band. I have found that sometimes vigorous swimming can aggravate my IT band and didn't want to risk it.) This was a great workout! Again, a good amount of kicking which gave my legs a good workout; and the "fast" swim intervals were good for me because lately I've been missing swim practice and doing leisurely long swims instead--I definitely felt that burn, too!

This is what I picked up at the store Thursday night!

Friday - Pool run (1.5 hours) & 30 min. core

I'm still trying to figure out this whole pool running thing. It seems I spent a good thirty minutes just trying to get the movements correct and find a rhythm, but by the end of it I think I'd found my stride. This time around I didn't have to try as hard to stay upright, thanks to a much better-fitting buoy belt (thanks, Keith!). I'm still not sure how to tell if I am "running" fast enough. Every few minutes I would count my steps, and it'd be between 128-139 steps per minute. I don't think that is very fast? I checked the cadence for my last run (last Wednesday's ten-miler, with 8 miles being at tempo pace), and the average cadence was 164 steps per minute. I have no idea how that would translate to the pool, since there is water resistance to consider...but it seems like I'll need to step up the pace a little if I really want to make these pool workouts count.

I had hoped to be in the pool for 2 hours or longer, but my IT band was bothering me just a little bit and I didn't want to over-do it. Plus, honestly, I was pretty bored after the first hour! I was really wishing I had a podcast to listen to. My sister graciously offered to let me borrow her swiMP3, but she lives 30 minutes away and I haven't been able to coordinate picking it up yet. I am planning a 2-2.5 hour pool run next weekend in place of the 20-miler I missed this past weekend, so hopefully I'll be able to get my hands on it soon.

My husband left Friday for the Yamacraw 50K he ran on Saturday (great job, honey!), so it was just the kids and I that nigh and we had some fun of our own:

Daddy was camping out for Yamacraw--BRRRR! temps were in the 20s 
Friday night!--so we had our own campout in the living room!

Saturday - 30 min. core

Saturday was a bit of a rest day. My husband was out of town, the kids had a soccer game that morning, and I had to work in the afternoon/evening--so there wasn't much opportunity for an attempted run or a cross-training session, but since I'd not had a chance to do any core work on Thursday I wanted to do some core on Saturday after work. For something different I tried a standing ab workout that was linked from a random blog I had looked at a few days prior (I can't recall the blog). Not sure I'll do it again. Although my obliques and back muscles--and even my arms from using the weight!--were sore a day later (sore in the good, like-you-got-a-good-workout kind of way), I didn't feel like I engaged my actual ab muscles as much as I would have liked. Maybe I didn't quite get all the exercises right? But, it took every bit of 30 minutes to do all the moves, and I worked up a sweat, so I'd still count it a successful workout for a rest day. After the ab workout I did about 30 minutes of stretching, "extra-cises" (that's what I call the clamshells, leg raises, donkey kicks, toe raises, etc. that I do a few times each day in an attempt to keep my IT band, glutes, and calves happy), and foam rolling.

Standing leg raise with side bend

Plank (not part of the "standing" workout, but I threw it in at the end

Wide side crunch

Sunday -30 min. core, 45-min. spin

I was very very close to going out for a run today...but I still feel the slightest twinge of pain in my calf, so I restrained myself and got on the bike instead. My butt was not happy at the 30-minute mark (well, let me be frank--it's not my butt that hurts when I'm on the bike, it's my crotch. TMI? Sorry, that's what runners do!), but instead of stopping I hopped off, grabbed a dish towel, folded it over a couple times, placed it on the seat, and hopped back on. It was nothing short of a miracle! I felt like I could ride for hours and was actually kind of sad when just 15 minutes later I had to stop spinning to get ready for church. Obviously I need to remedy the bike seat situation with either a gel seat or some padded shorts!


So at the end of this week I can honestly say that with a lot of modifications to my training routine, my leg is definitely feeling better. It's my hope that maybe this coming week I can get a few runs in on the road!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Louisville Derby Festival Marathon Training Week #12 and Injury Update

After incurring an injury during my 20-mile training run two Saturdays ago I had to sit out an important week of training last week, and most of this week as well. But, I got some positive(ish) news from the doctor on Monday. The good news is the injury is nothing major—just an ITB flare-up and general over-use. I had severe ITBS last year and had to stop running completely for almost two months and then start from scratch by walking on the treadmill and slowly adding minutes of running, which caused me to have to sit out both spring and fall marathon seasons because of the injury and the long recovery time. I was not about to let it get to that point this time; hence the low mileage last week and visit to the doc to find out what’s going on. I was very apprehensive going into the appointment. I was afraid that it was going to be like last time, with the doc saying “no running for x number of weeks and the marathon is out of the question.” I was surprised when the doc said that with a little bit of rest and less intense training over the next few weeks, I should still be able to manage the marathon on race day! I was certainly glad to hear it, but I’m still apprehensive. Maintaining the level of fitness I need to BQ without actually running at that level is going to be pretty hard. I am missing two good weeks of hard training right here at the end of the training cycle, essentially going into the marathon with a 4-5 week taper. Not ideal at all. So, truth be told, I am totally freaking out here. But, I am trying really hard to stay positive. The doctor is very confident that with my current level of fitness and training history, I can still hit race pace on marathon day as long as I keep up the cross-training and core work, don’t over-do the running, and pace myself during the race. So, if he is optimistic, I am trying to be optimistic also.

So, the remainder of the training plan I've been following is kind of being thrown out the window. I missed a ten-mile tempo and a long run last week—not the end of the world. But my workouts this week are up in the air, and I’ll also for sure have to miss my last 20-miler, as the doc recommended not running more than 10 miles at a time until race day. Since nothing hurts when I do speed work, the doc said it would be fine to try it—but stop if anything starts bothering me—but I haven’t decided yet if I want to take the risk. Distance is what seems to be the culprit in my case—not speed—but from here until April 30 I will be second-guessing and worrying about every single thing I do. Not a good place to be! So far this week I have stuck to non-impact (spin and swim and core) and may continue that through the rest of the week—I’ll just have to see how I feel.

FWIW, here is how last week went, post-injury:

Sunday – Rest

This was supposed to be a cross-training day since I had rested the Friday prior (Saturday was the Papa John’s Ten-Miler/20 mile training run during which I became injured), but because of the injury I opted to completely rest. After church, I spent several hours propped up on the couch with ice.

Monday – Cross-train

Elliptical (30 min.)
30 min. strength/core

I was wishy-washy, but decided to hop on the elliptical to see how things felt. I was on the elliptical for a very short period, but things felt fine. When I got home my husband and I did a Jillian Michaels DVD, and none of the strength moves bothered me. My calf, hamstring, and knee were very sore throughout the day/evening, though.

Tuesday – Speed work

2 x 1600 (400 RI) w/ 1 mi warm-up and .5 mi cooldown

This was probably not my smartest move, but since neither the elliptical nor the strength workout had caused any additional problems, I decided to try my speed workout and see what happened. (Keep in mind that throughout the entire training cycle, even if I would have aches and pains during/after the long runs, I never hurt during or after the speed workouts or even the longer tempo runs (I mean, besides the usual “this is hard and it sucks” kind of pain)). I would do the warmup and see how things felt. If there was any pain in the knee or calf, then I wouldn’t do the workout. I went into it fully expecting something to start hurting, but during the warm up everything felt fine—it actually felt really good to be running. So I decided to attempt the 1600s (which were supposed to be at a 6:51 pace). I had to do them on the road, because the track team was using the track. I had hoped to do the repeats on the softer surface, but oh well. The first 1600 I took it kind of easy, because  I was afraid of what might happen if I went hard—it ended with a 7:xx pace (my watch wasn’t set up correctly for the splits and I ended up having to include the 400 RI in the split, which came out to a 7:40 overall pace). The second interval was a little long (I thought I had fixed my watch but it still wasn’t set correctly, and I accidentally ran .08 over) but came in at a 6:54 pace. I was feeling pretty good but I psyched myself out mentally—I kept expecting something to hurt, and I was afraid I was going to injure myself even more and completely sabotage the rest of my training. So I called it quits and did a .5 mi cooldown.

There is nothing worse than being injured. For me, the whole unknown aspect is what gets me. I always question whether I am actually injured, or if I’m just sore and need a longer recovery period. I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right with my leg—it should not have hurt like it did during the 20-miler—but I also wanted to talk myself out of believing I was injured so I could keep running. And then when you’re out there during speed intervals just a few days after feeling so much pain during a long run, and everything seems just fine—it only adds to the confusion and doubt of whether you are really injured. So I ended up being very frustrated with myself for cutting the workout short…even though later that evening my whole leg was throbbing from my heel to my butt, and when my husband attempted to massage my calf I almost bitch-slapped him. So I was mad at myself—or, maybe, just really mad at being injured, and taking it out on myself—but I also no longer had doubts that I was truly injured and should probably go to the doctor before it got worse. Yet, I still held off on calling the doctor.

Wednesday – Spin (30 min)

I had a lot of housework to catch up on and didn’t want my day to be chopped up with being at home in the morning, going to the pool at mid-day (open swim doesn’t start until 11:00 a.m.), then coming back home to get ready for work, so instead of swimming I hopped on the bike first thing and did a quick 30 minute spin. (I know I should go longer on the bike, but my butt can’t take it! I really need a gel seat.) I completed my housework and spent the rest of the afternoon until leaving for work propped up with ice.

Thursday  - ???

I can’t remember what I did this day. I may have done another 30-minute spin. I had been holding out hope that maybe things would feel better by Thursday and I could try my ten-mile tempo, but it was obvious that a) my leg did not feel better and b) it probably wasn’t going to get any better without some sort of action (or inaction, if the “action” was to be rest). So I finally called the doctor and set up an appointment for first thing Monday morning, which was the soonest I could get in.

In the meantime, I had to come up with a plan for how to go about compensating for the tempo run I was missing, and what to do about the 15-mile run I had on the schedule for the weekend. All of a sudden—and I have no idea how/why this popped into my head or why I hadn’t thought of it before—I remembered a blogger that I follow, The Hungry Runner Girl, talking about doing the majority of her training for one of her marathons in the pool while she was injured. Pool running! I did some research, and decided to try it the next day in place of my tempo. (If you HRG's post on pool running, just ignore the fact that she says she would never again attempt a marathon after five weeks of pool running. I'm thinking positive here!)

Friday  - Pool running (1 hour)

I plan to do a full post on pool running after I’ve had the opportunity to do it a few more times, but here’s a quick description of how my first attempt went.

I had to borrow a buoy belt from the pool, and it was way too big. Pulled as tight as it would go, I still could have pulled it at least an inch or more tighter to even begin to fit snugly. But I had to work with what was there, and I was just grateful there was one there to use until I could get to the store to get my own (or borrow Keith’s as it turned out). I felt bad about taking up an entire lane for this task, especially since I planned to be there so long, but oh well. I went to the last lane and took over the back corner in the deep end. I really had no idea what I was doing, so the first few minutes were awkward. I wasn’t quite sure if I should be moving my knees straight up and down, or trying to mimic more the actual motion of running; but I recalled reading that I should drive my knee up and my heel down, so I went with the straight up and down motion. Same thing with my arms—I wasn’t sure if I should pump them up-and-down or front-to-back like I do when I run. I opted to go for the more natural front-to-back motion and it seemed to work fine. I would move around a little bit, so I went back and forth or made little circles as I “ran.” I had to share a lane for a bit and it was hard to stay confined in such a small area, but it worked okay. I kept thinking that it didn’t seem like I was getting a very good workout, but about 45 minutes in I started to feel red in the face and noticed I was breathing harder. I think it took me that long to really get the movements down, find a rhythm, and pick up a quick cadence. I would have liked to have stayed in longer than one hour, but I was going out of town and didn’t have any more time to spare. When I got out of the pool my legs felt like jelly! So I'm hoping I got more of a workout than I realized.

I have done more research and found some actual workouts for pool running, and I plan to pool run a few times weekly over the next four weeks. I will report back how it goes!

Saturday – Rest

I was out of town this day at my niece’s birthday party and even if I had wanted to run or cross-train would not have had the opportunity, so it worked out that I wasn’t ready to run yet and had cross-trained five days in a row—I did not feel bad at all about taking a rest day. My kids and I had a great time with family and I got stocked up on lots of niece-and-nephew kisses!!

With the birthday girl!

Sunday – short run/spin

6 easy miles at an 8:30 pace
30 min. spin

I went back and forth over whether to run on Sunday or not. I really wanted to run, but without having talked to the doctor yet I wasn’t sure if I should or not. And if I did run, I wasn’t sure what type of run I should try. Try for the 15 miles at a really easy pace? Go for the ten-mile tempo I’d missed on Thursday? In the end, I was too nervous about further injury to do anything except go out for some easy miles and see how it felt. I had no expectations whatsoever and was prepared to pull the plug after just one mile if need be. During the first mile my heel was sore, but that got better. Nothing was necessarily painful during the run, but it still didn’t feel 100% right. I decided to cut the run short at just 6 miles because I could tell that if I stayed out much longer my knee or calf would probably start to hurt, and I just didn’t want to risk it.

Once I got home, I hopped on the bike and did a 30-minute spin to get more cardio in.

Trying to maintain fitness while simultaneously trying to heal an injury and not sustain any other injury is a fine line to walk. I am really nervous about how it's going to go, and worried that I will make the wrong choices. All I can do at this point is keep trying, and hope for the best on race day. Positive thoughts and healing vibes sent my way will be most appreciated!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Louisville Derby Festival Marathon Training Week #11, Papa John's Ten Miler and a Major Curveball

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter! We enjoyed the beautiful sunny day with a lovely Easter brunch, church service, egg hunt, and dinner with friends.

Training went well last week...until it didn't. At this moment I am very apprehensive and nervous. Due to some kind of injury sustained during my long run on Saturday, my calf is painful to the touch and my IT band is very sore. Not good at all. I’m doing a lot of stretching and foam rolling to try and keep the problem from getting worse, but I've got to give some serious consideration to the next few weeks of training and how this injury is going to affect my ability to compete on race day. Right now I'm thinking positive that I can take it easy over the next few weeks and still be ready for race day. So cross your fingers for me and send some positive healing vibes!

Monday – Cross train

30 min. strength/core

I was really tired Sunday and going to bed decided that I would sleep in to catch up on rest instead of getting up early for swim practice. I hated to miss swim practice, but there had been a significant amount of germs going around and I worried that perhaps I might be coming down with something rather than just being tired; and so decided to err on the side of caution. Instead of swimming I did a 30-min. spin after work and 30 minutes of strength/core.

Tuesday – Speed work

1 mi warmup
1000 in 4:15 (6:33/mile pace)
2000 in 8:35 (
1000 in 4:16 (6:34/mile pace)
1000 in 4:07 (6:28/mile pace)
.75 mi cool down

30 min. strength/core

I was very wary of the track this week after last week’s not-so-successful attempt, but it went pretty well. Once again, it was extremely windy—I know, I know, believe me when I say I KNOW.

I am way more tired of running in the wind than anyone else could possibly be of hearing about it all the time. But, it must be said. It was so windy that during my warm-up I was actually pushed back a few times. Not fun for maintaining speed! The workout called for the 1000s to be done in 4:09 (6:40/mile pace) and the 2000 to be done in 8:37 (6:56/mile pace). If you go by time, I didn’t make it; but if you go by pace, I did. That’s because the splits were a tad long. My watch is set to miles, not meters, and I forgot to change it; if the distance is the equivalent to full laps around the track it’s easy to see where to stop and start, but I’m not experienced enough on the track to ever be 100% sure where the 200 meter mark is, so I generally over-shoot it by a few hundredths of a mile, which definitely impacts time but pace not so much. So, the pace was there and I think if I had stopped at exactly 1000 meters the time would have been there. I was relieved to find that this workout did not feel as difficult as last week’s, though it was a fight for sure to maintain the pace with that wind.

Wednesday – Cross-train


This week was the college’s spring break, so I did not have to work at night like I usually do on Wednesdays. Thus, I was not able to go to the pool during the day, so I did a 35 minute spin instead. I watched an episode of Fixer Upper while I was on the bike, then did 30 minutes of strength/core.

Thursday – Tempo

1 mi easy, 5 mi tempo (7:51, 7:45, 7:44, 8:06, 7:39), 1 mi easy

Keith ran this one with me. We warmed up on the track, did the tempo through the park, and cooled down on the track. It was raining for the first few miles but then cleared out. The wind got us on the way out of the park (the 4th tempo mile, which was the slowest but at 8:06 was still 6 seconds faster than what the workout called for)—there’s about a quarter-mile incline on the roadway out of the park and it’s always a bit of a wind tunnel, but it was especially brutal that day and really all we could do was just put our heads down and make a good effort without worrying about the pace. This run felt pretty good. The overall pace (7:50) was ahead of the 8:12 plan but it didn’t feel hard or forced.

Friday – Rest

Normally I would have cross-trainined, but as this would be my second-to-last 20-miler I wanted to simulate pre-race day and race-day as closely as possible so I made this a rest day (the day before race day will also be a rest day, and I wanted to have fresh legs for the 20-miler just like I will for the marathon). I spent a little more time on my feet during the day than I would have liked—the kids were off from school and we went to the Community Arts Center, the Great American Dollhouse Museum, and shopping for Easter clothes, so I was on my feet pretty much all day, whereas the day before a marathon I generally try to stay seated as much as possible. I ate a big helping of pasta for dinner, got all my clothing and accessories ready for the morning, and went to bed early for an early wake-up.

Saturday – Long run

20 miles @ 8:17

Keith and I made a last-minute decision to run the Papa John’s Ten Miler on Louisville Saturday morning as training runs. I ran the course twice for 20 miles, and Keith ran it at a steady, easier-effort pace for a taper run (he’s doing the Yamacraw 50K in a few weeks, along with my husband and others in our running group). It was a 1.5 hour drive to get there, so we left at 6:00 a.m. That morning, I got up at 5:00 and ate some oatmeal around 5:30. I would sip on SWORD throughout the drive there, and eat a bagel with coconut oil when we got there, about 30 minutes before the start. However, for some reason once we got close to Louisville I started feeling really nervous and was unable to eat but one bite of my bagel. (Hopefully on race day I will be able to get the bagel down, because I will need the fuel! My stomach started growling just a few miles into the run!). The weather was at that in-between point where I find it difficult to decide what to wear. Temps were in the mid-30s when we started, but according to the weather forecast it would warm up to the low 50s by the time I would be finished running, and it was sunny. Initially I wore my knee-length leggings but right before leaving the house decided to wear my full-length tights and then see how it felt when we got there. I was wearing a tank top, arm warmers, gloves, and a hat, and it still felt pretty cold when we got there so I opted to leave on the full-length tights—which turned out to be fine. I never felt overheated and even kept my arm warmers up the whole time (though I did ditch my gloves).

We got there right on time, had no trouble parking at the stadium, and were maybe a quarter-mile from the starting line when I realized I had totally forgotten to put my bib on! So we dashed back to the car, I hastily put on my bib, and we dashed back to the start. It was 8:04 and the race started at 8:00, so most everyone had gone through the starting chute by then. Since it was a chip-timed race, and we weren’t actually racing it anyway, it didn’t really matter that we were late, but there was a significant amount of weaving around the first few miles to get out of the walkers and slower-paced runners and establish a rhythm. The run felt really good and I had to keep reminding myself not to get caught up in the race and go too fast—I had 20 miles to get through, not just 10. The main reason I chose to pay for this race even though I was running it as a training run is because the 10 miles are on the marathon course and it goes through Iroquois Park, which is hilly. I wanted to get some experience on the hills and come up with a strategy for getting through them on race day. The PJ10 goes through the park in the opposite direction of the marathon course, though—so on my second circuit through the park I'd run in the opposite direction of the Papa John’s runners to go through it in the same direction as I’d be running it on race day.

The first pass through the hills was not too bad—we even had a sub-8:00 mile!—but, the first pass was just 2-3 miles into the run, so we had fresh legs. I also thought I remembered the hills being slightly more difficult from when I ran the Louisville Derby Festival Marathon in 2014, so I was curious to see how it would go my second time through. The Papa John’s course was an out-and back, so once we looped through the park we went back the same way we'd come in, finishing in the stadium. Once I ran through the finish chute, I grabbed my medal, passed my gloves to Keith, downed a Gatorade, hit up a portapotty, and got back out on the course. Splits for the first ten miles were 9:18, 8:17, 8:17, 8:33, 8:10, 8:00, 7:58, 8:10, 8:22, 8:13.

I still felt really good after the first ten miles and, once again, had to remind myself to stay steady and not go too fast, remembering that my overall goal was to complete the miles at a fairly easy pace (the plan called for an 8:40 overall pace). I hit the park for my second pass at the hills right around mile 14, which was great because on the marathon course the park comes a little after mile 12—so I’d be hitting the hills on this training run at about the same time as I’d be hitting them on race day—and, thus, feeling about the same way. The hills were definitely tougher the second time around, but nothing unmanageable. There are a little over three miles of hills. The climb in is probably the longest, so my pace fell almost immediately upon entering the park—but I just let it go, because I knew I couldn’t kill myself keeping pace on the hills if—during the marathon—I wanted to stay on pace for 13 more miles. I wanted to test my plan of maintaining effort, but not worrying about pace, throughout the park. The uphills I would lose some time but I could gain some back on the downhills, so I figured it would all probably come out pretty even once it was said and done. First mile in the park was 8:14 (which is 2 seconds slower than race goal pace)—but my best pace during that mile was 7:56, which no doubt occurred on the downhill. Second mile in the park was 8:17, with the fastest pace during that mile being 7:34. Third mile in the park was 8:14, with the fastest pace being 7:39. The fourth and final mile in the park was 8:29, with 7:40 being the fastest pace. That last mile in the park was a beast. I don’t know if it was longer than the climb in, but it felt like it went on forever; and it was switchback, so just when you thought it was over it was time to climb some more. My pace fell to the 9:30s and 9:40s during that one, but again, I just let it go. There was significant downhill on the way out, which was good for both my legs AND my pace.

I got a little turned around coming out of the park and had to stop for a minute to get directions. Once I got out of the park, I noticed my knee kind of bothering me a little bit. This has happened before off and on during long runs and usually it goes away, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But this time it persisted, and actually began to feel quite painful. The pain was wrapped around the side of my knee, and also extended downward through my calf. I did a quick assessment of where I was and how far I had to go, and decided to run to 20 miles, slowing down if I needed to, and then walking the rest of way in (I would be about 1.5 miles from the finish line once I hit 20 miles). I slowed down to over a nine-minute pace at one point and it helped a little, but if I picked it back up too much it would hurt again. At times it wouldn’t hurt and I’d pick up the pace, but then it would hurt again and I’d back off. That’s how the last 2-3 miles went, until I hit 20 and decided to walk the rest of the way in. Last ten miles of the run were 8:05, 8:18, 8:18, 8:14, 8:17, 8:14, 8:29, 8:07, 8:13, 8:09.

Once I got back to the stadium I grabbed a slice of pizza and some Gatorade and went to the medical tent to get some bags of ice for my calf and my knee and Keith and I hit the road for the 1.5 hour drive back home. Once home, I took a shower, drank a protein shake, then settled in on the couch with bags of ice. I felt good about the run—I felt strong and the pace felt more than manageable, so I feel I will be able to step it up a bit on race day and still be fine—but I was very concerned about my knee pain. If that had been marathon day, I’d still have had over 6 miles to go with pain. I’m honestly not sure if I would have been able to run much longer with that pain, or have run at the needed pace even if I was able to complete the distance. Very unsettling this close to race day, when I still have two weeks of hard training before the taper and can’t really afford to lose any fitness.

Sunday – Rest

I had planned to cross-train on Sunday—either the bike or hitting the gym for the elliptical, plus strength training—but decided to take another rest day because of the problem with my knee/calf. It was still sore when I got up Sunday morning and was a little painful when bending the knee.  I spent about an hour after church icing the various areas of my leg that had bothered me the previous day during the run, and areas that felt tight/sore. I wanted to be sure I gave my leg plenty of time to recover and heal before starting the week's workouts.