Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The clock had barely advanced a minute after I crossed the line and I was holding my all time favoriate treat of a chocolate chip cookie. And by the time I walked away from the finish line, I am ashamed to say that three cookies lost their lives to my happy post race munching.
And as the day went on, I happily munched along - rewarding myself for all my hard earned 13 miles. There was a grilled chicken sandwich from Subway, a bag of chips, a couple Diet Cokes, a hot chocolate, a beer, a few pieces of pizza and oh yes, some frosted brownies. And in my normal tradition, I let myself eat whatever I wanted that day - it was my guiltfree reward. Well, almost guiltfree.
Many months ago, Topher had a great post shouting out the fact that you burn enough calories in a MARATHON to eat 11 donuts but not a full dozen. It was a really interesting point. Granted, not many people can or want to eat a full dozen donuts - but it is the principle of the fact that if you run a stinkin' marathon, in your head you translate it not into 2600 calories but instead to some infinite number of calories. The laws of physics and body digestion should be put on hold after a big race - let us indulge in peace for goodness sakes.
So, some amount of guilt crept into my head on Saturday. But then on Sunday, the real problem started. Because when I get started on a bad road with food, it is HARD to turn the car around. If I get a little junk, I want more junk. I make better excuses, I forget my small slips in an effort to allow others more guiltfree. I get crazy about being bad.
It's taken a few days, but I have finally wrestled my indulgent diet back down to the floor and I hope I can keep it at bay long enough to get back on track. I really need to because my next race is only a month away.
Quick knee update: Damn thing hurts with every step. Every walking step. Every stairs. And today at work, every push back in my chair - it would "go out". Very, very frustrating.
I did my strengthening exercises on Monday, Tuesday and tonight - so still on track. They are still hard - but I am being consistent and careful. Friday I go back to see Amber and talk more about what is next. I have decided to walk my miles duing the week in hopes of putting less stress on it versus running all of them.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I finished in 2:26:26 (clock time) - still don't know chip time - and had a great run between time zero and the end. I didn't walk, the hills didn't stop me, and the weather was a cool 45 and drizzle - which is great for long distance run. I actually had a faster time for this race than last fall's half marathon!
I am absolutely escatic about finishing under the time. It gives me confidence for the rest of the season!
I recorded an audio journal along the way for the few days leading up to the race and the day after. I did it as a way to share some of the thoughts that went through my head and hopefully reassure other runners that they aren't only the one who freak out right before their chosen race.
I will post it soon...
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I don't get it. I have been religious with my PT the last four weeks. I do feel a bit stronger - but my knee just doesn't feel right. It is beginning to feel like the muscles around my knee and hips ARE stronger but my knee itself just doesn't feel solid at all. If feels like it is hanging on by a string. Something has changed with it in the last few months.
But even with all the mental drama of my knee, there is still part of me that is in full swing of half marathon race preparation. I thought that maybe I could head off the more debilitating symptoms of a race if I didn't taper - but that doesn't seem to matter.
My mind continues to calculate and recalculate splits and finish times randomly throughout the day. I find myself thinking about hydration now and my plan for the week. I have already started worrying about hydration the day before. I checked that my favorite socks are right where they should be. My shuffle is set for tunes. I have confirmed my weekend plans with hubby more than a few times. And I have checked, rechecked, rechecked, rechecked, rechecked, and rechecked the weather. Still not ideal - if you were wondering at all.
It is amazing of the number of times I have run a half marathon, how these crazed runner symptoms come back time after time. You think that like a virus, if you get it once, they would pass you by the second and third times.... no luck. Still stuck thinking half marathon thoughts.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
But as I close in on my first half marathon of the season as part of the Drake Relays, I can't help but compare and contrast how different my runnning is compared to elite runners. It may be that every news story seems to be showing and talking about some of the great amateurs and elites that are in town that has caused this exercise - but whatever the reason - here is my list:
- Training Run Fuel. Elites have experiments out of the way and now have specific food while training and racing that maximizes their performance. Me, the mom runner, runs out of Gu and can't find time to get more and find me stealing packages of fruit chews (not the healthy ones either) out of my kids hands of scrummaging at the bottom of their Easter basket to try to find a handful of stale jelly beans to stash in my pocket for a long run. Ewww ... I know.
- Strengthening. Elites work with trainers to make sure muscles are balanced and the right strengthening exercises are done throughout training. I find myself begging my kids to play one legged catch with a squishy ball and trying to eeck out 20 reps before they get bored and move on. On batting away a lovable Golden and spoiled cat as I try to get in my floor exercises.
- Cross Training. Elites find low impact or other complimentary training to offset their high mileage on their off or cross training days. I find that most days are cross training and seem to be at soccer practice for my son, baseball games for my daughter, or my favorite - carrying my workout bag to my car and then back but with no chance to work in my run during the day.
- Rest. Elites get a good night sleep and even rest during the day. Moms don't sleep. Ever.
- Gear. Elites get top of the line gear from sponsors and other cool places. Moms hope that they washed their gear and the stink actually came out and their husband or child didn't put away laundry - because they know they will never find their favorite running clothes again.
- Post Race Massage. Elites have trainers and other support to make sure they are hydrated, refueled, muscles cool down and reduce the risk of injury as well as speed recovery. Moms don't stop running and recover - they just run to their car and keep the family's day moving.
- Race time. Elites are intense and focused for their race - take time to mentally and physically prepare and go to the line ready. Moms go to the line ready for a well needed few hour break on the roads to sort through the events of the week as well as to figure out what is for dinner next week. That's not our splits we write on the back of our hands after the race - it is the grocery list.
But for as many things that are different, I have no doubt that the joy in running and finishing is the same. Maybe even greater for a running mom who didn't think that they could find time to do it, want to do it, should do it, followed through with it or could even do it.
Running is cool - no matter how you do it.
Good luck to all the very cool, very fast, very talented runners at Drake this weekend. I am prepared to be as inspired as always.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday is sunny with a high of 85 (what the heck?!?)
Saturday is low of 50, high of 74 AND a chance of thunderstorms. Groovy. Lovely.
Rain, wind and heat - my three run killers. Looks like I might get them all.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
So bad that I remember I "hated" running immediately after. Now I guess that I had a touch of post marathon blues - but I remember being so disappointed with my performance that I was too dishearted to run for any reason or any way.
But for some reason, I remember thinking - what the heck - so what if has been months since I ran - I should jump back in and do a 1/2 marathon. Oh, and look, here is one in Des Moines - great.
That week, I took an unplanned trip out of town all week and flew back in just in time to get my packet and jump in the race. I was (again) undertrained, underhydrated, poorly nutritioned, tired and horribly clueless what I was doing. Drake Relays on the Roads has a 8K and half marathon. When the gun went off, there was a good group of a few hundred runners. It is a really fast field and I found myself at the back of the pack by the one mile mark. At the 2 1/2 mile mark I was in the last 20 runners. And then when the 8K and half split off at the 2 1/2 mile mark, I found myself with just 2 other runners and I was the last one.
At 5 miles, I realized I was in trouble. I was already spent from running faster than I should. I was hungry, thirsty and was really just tired of running. And then when I thought I was at a low point, the sag wagon/officer informed me that I would need to hit the sidewalk because I was slower than the course control standard. So, there I was - the last runner in a race I shouldn't have been in with very little motivation to keep going AND that any water and fuel stops weren't going to be there because I was now officially too slow to be considered running this race. I slowed to a walk and then stopped. I thought about my options. What I wanted to do was to call someone and tell them to pick my up. But, in 1998 - I didn't carry my phone with me. And we were still new to Des Moines and I had no flipping clue where I was. I was lost.
At that point, I can still remember sitting down on the curb, putting my head in my hands and crying. I felt yet again like a big loser of a runner for the second time in a few months. But then, the rational side of my took control and realized that the steady rabbit of a runner was 2 blocks ahead of me and since I was lost, if I didn't get my butt up and start running I might be wandering around this town all day.
With that thought, I got up and started out again. Complete with the little sobs and snotty nose. I forced myself to start shuffling and think about anything else but all the while keeping a trained eye on this woman in front of me. She wasn't running fast and in fact, didn't run much faster than me but she was doing two things right - she was running and she was running a consistent, even pace.
For the next 7 miles, I did a cat/mouse. I ran to catch up to keep her in sight and then took a walk break. Her metronome pace never varied no matter the course, hills, wind - nothing. In mile 11, I caught up with her long enough to say a few words, but then fell back.
The last few miles felt like an eternity that would never end. But as I ran up to the finish line and crossed, I saw the magical numbers that showed I finished in 2:29:46 - just 14 seconds before cut off. I don't think I was ever more relieved and overjoyed than that moment.
And then I made a promise to myself to never, ever, under no circumstance - run this #@$@# course again. Ever. Never. No matter what.
So...I am running the Drake Half Marathon on Saturday. Nothing has changed about the course - it is still hilly and tough. Nothing has changed about the timing or weather - it promises to be unpredicatable but at least windy and too hot or too cold and certainly it will rain. And nothing has changed about me - I am still full of good intentions but never enough time to become properly trained. And in fact, I am older - 11 years older with a cranky knee to boot.
So why am I doing this? Because this winter, as my 9 year old son struggled back from his second foot reconstructive surgery and then an unforseen 8 additional casts and months of PT - there was a moment as I coached him through his rehab work that I realized that I need to listen to myself as well as take on his spirit. It was watching him walking for 30 minutes on the treadmill each day while in double casts. And then it was helping him through 30 minutes of ab work which was difficult for him. And through that I heard myself telling him that he shouldn't avoid things that are tough. Because it is those things that make us stronger. I heard myself telling him that he shouldn't "not try" just because he thinks he won't be able to do it or do it like others or as easy as others.
It was somewhere in all those conversations as he kept a smile on his face and kept trying and then told me that he still wanted to take a 10K this year and wanted to keep trying because he wanted to run again that I realized how many new running goals I have put off because they are hard or because I might fail or I might be slow. Sure Drake is a tough course, too early in the year for my liking and with awful weather, and with a cutoff way to fast for a runner like me - but should that stop me from trying. No, it shouldn't. It should make me try more.
Because it is by trying that we learn the most. It is from trying that we expand the bounds of our strength and courage. It is by trying that we uncover another small clue of what we are made up - down deep inside of us. It is by stripping away all the easy stuff that we start to get a more clear picture of what we are truly capable of.
While I hope and care that I run this darn race in 2:30 or less, I care more that I tried and over the course of this experiment the last few weeks that I stand a bit taller because I know I have tried and haven't completely failed and along the way have been rewarded by opening yet another dusty door from within me.
Many panges and twinges with the right knee when I pivot and push off/back (when sitting in car, getting out of the car, etc).
It is tired and sore. It hurt like a bitch after the run. I was babying it right afterwards, but luckily our company for dinner had a 1 1/2 year old that loved to do stairs so I found myself going up and down the stairs about 100 times. And you know what - it seemed to help it.
It doesn't feel very lovely today - but it isn't screaming at me either.
I did 2 sets of 5 pikes. yeah. and then a ball tossing session with Sophie - which should count for 2 since it took much longer to do it with her than a big person. And also did band exercises with Jim. Let's hope all the little stuff counts and makes it stronger.
Friday at therapy was the first checkpoint of how things are coming. Overall, stronger and better, but still a ways to go. The most striking aha moments have been watching my leg and knee in the mirror as I do a partial single leg squat. I always knew I was weak - but that is so interesting. And then when I did the partial one leg wall squat and watched my knee go in. I could visibly see the weakness - but it wasn't until Amber reminded me that my knee does that with every stride of my run that I think I truly finally got it.
I have been thinking about what "self checks" a runner should do to check themselves against weaknesses that could cause future injury. One leg squats seem to be a key one.
Still hoping for a miracle by Saturday.
Every step of the run as hard. As much as I look forward to the long, quiet time of a long run - I could feel the hesitancy before this run. I wasn't into it. It had been a long, hard week at work and I was mentally tapped. I have learned long ago that my long runs sometimes take more mental determination that physical ability and when I am feeling mentally weak - my runs become a hell of a struggle.
I was also feeling very rushed. I had hoped to start running at 3:00 in order to be home by 6:00 for our company for dinner. Instead I started at 3:45, which left only 2 hours of run time. For "normal" runners - that would be lords a plenty - but for me - that is only enough for 10.
The weather was a beautiful 70 degrees which is great for a picnic - but not so good for a spring run when all other runs have been closer to 40 and 50 degrees. And then throw in a headwind and you have a mix of a really crappy run.
Funny thing is that I was prepared to be disappointed and found myself chanting over and over, "its just a bad run, you are not a bad runner", "good to get it out of the way now and next weekend", "this too shall pass", "it should be expected - its the first bad one of the season", "there are good and bad runs, you need both", "you learn from all bad runs". And then when I was more than half way through, I heard myself saying, "don't stop now - let's get it over with", "don't throw it away."
And funny thing was, miles 7, 8, 9 were 10 minute miles. The first 5 miles s.u.c.k.e.d. No other way to log it. Crappy, awful. ick. 6 was all sucking it up and keeping going. Mile 7-9 were lovely. Like I was a different runner. 10 was a long one - but necessary for the pure principle of it.
The missing 2 miles of the run are still haunting me - and I feel a great need to find a way to redeem myself tomorrow. I need to feel a strong, easy run before Saturday.
I did all the math for Saturday in my head during Friday's run. I need to hit between 1:06 and 1:08 for the first 10K and then 1:08 to 1:10 for the second 10K and then bring it home in an even 12 minute pace for the last 1.1 miles. I have run halfs in under 2:30 when there was no pressure - so the most important thing for me to remember is to not worry about it and just stay in the mile I am running. And also, who cares if I finish in 2:30 or not. Right?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But, I did get my PT exercises in on Sunday, Monday (at PT) and tonight. And Monday night, I conquered the dreaded pike on the ball AND my single leg bridges. If you aren't familar with this form of torture, the pike on the ball goes like this. You roll out on the ball until you are in a push up like form with your feet on the ball and arms in push up stance. And then you pull in the ball with your feet until you are in a pike position with your butt in the air. Let me say that the demonstration of this little move looked as easy as breathing when my PT did it. But it looked like a trainwreck with my first attempt last week.
But Monday night, I could hold it for 5 seconds and do 5 reps. Hot damn! And tonight at home, I pulled it off again. And then followed it with the @#$@#$@ single leg bridges - 10 seconds each leg, 3 reps. How such a simple exercise can make me quiver and shake like the bowl full of jello I am....I have no clue. But I can feel my lower back and hips and knee getting stronger and stronger.
The only bummer today is that my knee pain was back. From the moment I stepped out of bed in the morning until this moment - it hurt. I don't know if I overdid it at PT yesterday or it is the constant motion of the last few days - but it isn't feeling good. It hurts to walk on it, stairs, and sit. I am hoping tomorrow is better.
Only 11 days until Drake and I still have at least one big run to conquer.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I grabbed them out of the box, put in my insoles and hit the road for 9 miles. It was a wonderful ride! So, so smooth!
Damn I love these shoes!
I think I lost it somewhere between 65 hours of work, 600 miles of driving, 3 soccer practices, 2 baseball practices, dance, 3 therapy sessions, one first communion class, one first communion, Easter services, Easter bunny duties, and maybe a few hours of sleep.
Didn't get a drop of running in between last Friday and this Friday. And was dead tired by the time Friday rolled around. So instead of doing the 12 on my calendar, I opted for 9. When I started, I told myself and my running friend Mary that this would either kill me or rejuvinate me. I am happy to say it didn't kill me. And it helped me last through Friday night with the kids.
Overall, the running is coming easier - when I am able to get it in.
My knee pain is so much better! It isn't gone, but I can do slight bends without screaming - so there is something. I love my PT. She seems to come up with just the right mix of strength training that is making me stronger in the right places. I can't believe the difference 30 minutes of simple exercises 5 times a week can do.
I can know do back leg lifts (on my side) with 1 1/2 pound ankle weights without falling over. My single leg bridges (ack!) are stronger and I can hold them 10 seconds each without dying or collapsing. My balance still sucks as do my squats - but it is coming.
Just two weeks until Drake. I have resigned myself that I will be last and will probably miss the cutoff. But, since I am still running and my knees are holding up -it have renewed hope that I am going to be able to finish. It's all about perspective, no?
Now back to the frig to stare at the family calendar and figure out where my next three runs are going to fit in. If at all.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
And I can't help but thinking about that what I really need, in addition to all this stuff, is simply more time in the day.
Don't you wish you could saddle on up to the gift certificate kiosk in the store and pick up a free hour or 15 minutes of quiet thought or a free 30 minute run when the world stood still?
Now that would be precious.
But until then, I guess I will have to go back to staring at the calendar and trying to decide where the runs will fit in this week. I am traveling this week and working long days. It is going to take a miracle or discipline to fit in the runs. Not sure either will happen.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Earlier in the week, I threw out an invite to my friend Mary to join me in the run. She is getting ready for her first Dam to Dam 20K and was looking for a running partner to do her first 4 mile run in some time. Knowing that I would be more apt to do the run if someone was waiting on me - I made sure to give her a time.
Within an hour of run time on Friday, I realized that I had hours and hours of work to do before my trip Monday and I mentally, physically, and every other way wasn't prepared to run. Sure, I had brought the right clothes and shoes and an extra water bottle, but I hadn't psyched myself up or thought about it.
But with my commitment to Mary, I dumped everything else and made sure I was ready to run at the time we agreed. She was late, so I started without her but we connected a mile into the run. We don't have a chance to catch up much, so it was a nice chance to hear about family, kids, husband and job. And even better, she had told me that she had been struggling with her runs - and I was certain it was because she was going out too fast - and sure enough, if she ran at my pace, she could run farther much easier. At the four mile mark, instead of stopping dead, she yelled, I feel like I could keep running. That is a great feeling to hear that from a newer runner.
About mile 3 in the run, we ran into a past coworker and friend, Claudia. Claudia is also new to running and does it for the pure joy. She is a natural born runner, even though she wouldn't admit it. She has a perfect stride, a bunch of speed and it makes it look so easy. She said she was out for a quick 4. And after we dropped off Mary at her mile 4 we kept moving forward. When we reached her 4 and my 6, I asked her if she would keep coming with me and she said yes. I don't think she knew what she was agreeing to - but I was so happy to have the company. We put in another two in the midst of a lot of conversation and I still didn't see her slowing down. She pretty much finished a 10K without blinking and had never finished more than 4 miles before. As I dropped her off for her 6 and my 8 - she was escatic. It was like a gift from God to have her appear while running and an even bigger gift for her to agree to stay with me that long. Running with friends makes the miles go by sooooo much faster.
But after dropping her off, I still had the task of getting in another 4 miles. We had been on most of the trails on Grays Lake, so I headed over to waterworks and so new scenery. With my tunes and thoughts, the other 4 miles went by ok. At mile 9, I finally felt the first 8 miles catching up. At mile 10, I was tired and ready to walk. And did for a bit. But then, I felt my second wind and the excitement of finishing the last leg and running home. And did. My best guess it was about 12 minute miles. Which won't be good enough for Drake Relays.
But in context of the week and my unpreparedness, I am so pleased that I could do it and finish. My knee held up without a great deal of pain. I could get out of bed this morning and walk up and down the stairs without grimacing. It feels ok - no worse for the experience. Maybe, just maybe, it is getting better.
In this 12 mile run, I was reminded of a few key principles of my long runs:
- No matter how many times I do a 12 mile run - it never gets shorter. 12 miles is still a long friggin way.
- No matter how many times I experience the fatigue and tired feet, it doesn't make it feel any better or any less achey the next time.
- The longer I run, the more I enjoy the sassy music selections.
- The longer I run, the more acceptable I believe it is to sing more loudly and dance more in public.
- I really stink after a long run. And I wear it proudly.
- The only time I like ice water is during a long run. It was delicious.
- There are substitutes for Gu, like stealing my kids fruit chews or starburst jelly beans, but I don't really like them at all. Too sticky in my teeth.
- Even when I don't think I have the time or I think I should be doing something else, there is something deeply fulfilling about a long run. In all that I did this week, the long run is something I can say I accomplished that is worthy of talking about.
- I know there is a mind-body connection in running, but I am amazed everytime how a seemingly physical task can tear you down mentally and physically, but leave me feeling so mentally rejuvinated after a run.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
...Because after 500 miles I still smile when I put you on because you feel so darn good.
...Because you still look almost as good as new even though you lived through a very wet fall and winter.
...Because you help make my size 10 1/2 ginormous feet look like a normal size for a girl.
...Because you are so unassuming, yet powerful as ...a Hurricane.
...Because you are made by a company that understands runners better than anyone.
Oh, my Saucony Hurricanes....How Do I Love Thee!
(OMG...And I just found a new pair of you on Amazon.com for $80 and free shipping. I must have died and went to heaven!)
And their constant campaign of getting running shoes and other stuff into the hands of runners is not only commendable - it's really something they should get more accolades for doing. Runners don't buy stuff because they are sweet talked into it from fancy ads, catchy phrases or buff looking models. Runners buy stuff because they are convinced that it can help their running. Runners need to feel it, touch it, use it or at least hear other runners talking about it. That is what makes Pearl cool - they get it about runners. They like getting their stuff out there.
And for a runner, outside of a well earned race Tshirt is there any greater gift than coming home from a long day and finding a shiny new pair of FREE and COOL shoes waiting to be opened? I am not ashamed to tell you that I had everyone in my family smell them. Yep, had them look at them in their box, touch them, sniff them - it was quite the family affair to take in the whole experience.
I couldn't fit in a run for a couple days, but I still laced them up and walked everywhere in them. What I quickly determined was that my toes loved the roomy toebox - very comfortable. My heals loved the stable cushioning in the rearfoot. My arches....well they weren't as quite as in love with the way the arch support fit my foot.
So then I had the chance to take in a few runs with them. Overall, good shoe to run in. Because I have trouble with rubbing and chafing around the toes and sides - I liked this shoe because it didn't cause those issues. I wasn't quite as comfortable with the push off for my forefoot and my arches aren't designed to fit the support perfectly. I am accustomed to much more cushioning and support and didn't enjoy "the ride" as much.
After a few more runs, I have found a place for the Pearl's in my line up and love them for walking and short run distances. They look great and my toes enjoy the ride overall.