Monday Motivation

Oh my, the last few weeks have been crazy! I finished marathon #3 — and it was the best worst experience running a race of my life — and I hope to never repeat it again.

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It was the worst experience because it SUCKED. Well, the last half did. The first half was FANTASTIC. I thought I was going to CRUSH my sub-5 hour goal. But at the half-way point the tendinitis in my foot flared, the sun came out and the winds were fierce. My banked time was quickly used and by mile 22 or so I went into survival mode.

I thought about dropping out because I didn’t want to cause any serious/longer lasting damage — and I also had to get back to the hotel in time to check out – and not to mention survive a 4 hour drive home.

My run-walk became more walk than run and by mile 24 I gave up the notion of running at all. I walked mile 24, 25 and 26 — I kept it together until the aid station at 25.5 where I started to cry, more of frustration than anything. I did pull it together to run the last .1 or so to the finish line. But I did it. In the end, that is all that matters.

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There were a number of factors – not excuses – that resulted in my horrible finish.

  • Insufficient training
  • Not letting minor injuries recover enough
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of sleep/stress
  • Proper planning for weather
  • Proper planning for unexpected things — like the 25 min start delay

That is why, being the worst race I’ve had, it is also the best. It has FULLY motivated me to turn things around.  From the above list, the first three are really the most important things to work on.

I took the last week OFF, like 100% — I did some yoga and biked and yesterday (8 days post-race) I walked 2.34 miles. The walk definitely indicated that I am not ready – foot wise – to come back completely.

So, for the next week or two I will continue to focus on cycling, yoga and strength training — with some walking/hiking/stairs and using the elliptical if weather keeps me indoors. I do plan to try to run in another couple of days. Slow & short.

Oh and ya know, eating clean.

I have my eyes set on a fall redemption full marathon and intend to fully CRUSH that 5-hour mark.

 

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One Month Down

Well we have one full month behind us, just 11 more to “make it happen” Whatever that really means. I love goals and I suppose a goal can’t really be a goal without a deadline of sorts. I still struggle between that and simply “do better than yesterday” EVERYDAY.

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Training for my third marathon officially started in January, though I was building up to it in December, and really at this point in my running I’m always in training. I’ve been, or attempting to, follow heart rate training in November & December. It was a struggle, but I felt it was worth it. I was at least planning to do it for 3-4 months to give it a decent shot. I’m not caving on that, but I switched it up.

Initially, I was doing the less is more. Running SLOW. Like, actually walking huge chunks of my weekly mileage to keep my heart rate in the “easy effort” zone for the majority of my runs. This wasn’t really working for me. One major issue was TIME. I’d be doing a 45 minute run on the dreadmill and struggling to get 3.25 miles in, when I know that I could easily do 4, used to do 5 miles in that time frame. This was an issue because I do want to keep my mileage up. For starters I’m training for a marathon, so I need to be running and also I want to continue with going farther in my yearly goals.

Plan B. So it wasn’t working out for me to run/walk ALL the time and focus on the easy effort. Now, I am going with focusing on proper recovery time and not always pushing too hard, ie. maybe not “easy” effort, but mid-range effort. Instead of running 4-5 times a week, now I will run 3-4 times a week, with more time in between runs for recovery activities. My long runs are incorporating a run/walk program. This allows me to maintain a faster pace (and by faster I’m not really talking all that fast, 11ish) with a little break every so often to keep my heart rate in check. This allows me to spend a little less time on the feet and not feel completely wasted after my long runs. I mean, I have to actually stay awake through my afternoon Netflix binge.

The first two weeks of January were basic. I went out with a training partner for 10 that first weekend, it was brutally cold. Our route landed us back at the cars after just 15K (9.3) she was done, but instead of saying, well 9.3 is close enough, I turned out and wrapped up that last .7 and was super proud of myself for that. My second long run was the Rock ‘n Roll half in Arizona.

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Had I not been in Arizona I’m not quite sure how I would have knocked out a 13 mile training run, as an ice storm basically shut down the St. Louis. While the storm ended up not be as bad as predicted, my group still decided to cancel our hotels for the second half of the trip just in case we got stuck at home. Luckily we got outta dodge at the right time and to slightly warmer weather, at least no ice!

I plan to write about traveling for races later on, but I will say the fly in – run – leave is not an ideal plan if you are looking for a good performance. Particularly if you are like me, and motion sickness is a common occurrence.  Not that I got really sick on the plane, but just enough to not feel great plus all the stress the day before about whether we should cancel or not.

The race was great, I was pretty bummed to not be in good shape because I think I could have had a really great race, perfect weather, great, mostly flat course. I did slightly better than expected, so overall it’s a win. [I thought I’d pace around 11:30 per mile, and I ended up averaging right at 11 and didn’t walk at all]

After the race I ended up walking 8 miles around Phoenix, in a crazy quest for cupcakes. The first 3-4 miles weren’t so bad, but by the last half, I was HURTING. My IT band was screaming, my feet where throbbing. And we were driving out the next morning for 2.5 days of hiking in Sedona. Oh boy!

In the three short days we hiked 20 long miles. The hikes weren’t all that bad. Devil’s Bridge was a little tricky on the way down. Hangover Trail got a little dicey and Cathedral Rock luckily had a few surrounding trails that weren’t so, well impossible. The glutes screamed, the quads burned, but I think overall the throbbing feet were the biggest problem. Though everything seemed to ease away from one day to the next….good so I thought.

I got home late Wednesday and went for my first run Thursday mid-morning. A rather slow 5 mile on a flat paved trail. It was to be expected that it was a struggle. I was REALLY worried about the weekend’s plan for a 14 miler. This was it. This was the LEGIT start of marathon training – the first run over 13.1 miles. The BEYOND.

The 14 miler wasn’t ALL that pretty. I decided on a run/walk plan, set my Garmin accordingly and followed it. The first 11 miles were pretty good. I didn’t start to fade until around 7-9, but those last 3 were really rough. More mentally tough over anything exactly physical, but it still hurt. Overall, after that 14 miler I felt that I could make this marathon thing actually happen.

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That feeling last about 10 days. I can’t say when the pain actually started because I know it hasn’t been just in the last 10 days and it probably stemmed from all the time on my feet on vacation. Without seeking medical advice at this time, I am certain that I have bursitis in my heel.

In the morning I nearly face plant with my first steps to the ground. My ankle is so tight, pain in my heel. But after a few steps it eases up and is okay. Not good, but okay. Same while running. It hurts the first half mile or so, but then isn’t a big issue. But it’s still an issue.

My run this past weekend was a cut-back week, which was a planned 10, but ended up being 11. I ran trails. Half was single track, soft slightly sticky muddy trails and half was a gravel. All flat. It was a good choice as my foot issue seemed just fine. Marathon possible.

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I know that I have to focus on my overall well-being and long-term affects from not addressing this injury. Achilles issues are no joke. I most likely should completely stop running until the pain is gone, particularly because the pain is there just sitting/doing nothing. However, I am pretty stubborn and I am going to give this marathon a little more time to possible still take place.

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Write up Plan C.

  • Recovery. Foam roll. Yoga. Stretch.
  • Strength training and cycling
  • Stay hydrated
  • Healthy eating
  • Run smarter – less often and shorter weekday runs.
  • Run/walk long runs

Really this plan isn’t that much different from prior plans. Reducing the running and adding more strength and cross training are the biggest changes. Also the other items that I tend to overlook – recovery/foam rolling/healthy eating are basically mandatory if I want any chance at making this marathon goal happen THIS April.

This weekend calls for a 15 miler, so we’ll see how that goes, going to try to make this work, but also try to remind myself it’s better to hold off on this goal than to risk major injury.

Note: I do not recommend self-diagnosing, self-treating or running through injury. This is a “do as I say, not as a do” kind of thing. Just whatever you do, don’t give up with any kind of set-back. Refocus and go after your goals!

 

 

October 2016 Race Re-Cap

It’s funny how life changes so drastically and so quickly. Six months ago my fall race line-up was one out-of-state half marathon. When my former best friend backed out of the race without telling me (I found out via Facebook post), my race calendar became blank. Clean slates and fresh starts are my forte, though.

At first I was set to go to the race solo if I couldn’t find anyone else to go with, but then realized the race would be overshadowed by the hurt of being betrayed by the people I had viewed as my closest friends. This was late-May.

By mid-June I was just coming back from being sick for about 6 weeks when I was looking at trying to make it to the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll race. Long story short a few friends I know connected me to new friends who needed to split costs for Chicago, so three strangers met via RnR Chi. It was awesome – I’ll have to write on that full experience later.

Anywho, the reason I mention Chicago is because it was a package deal for me. Rock ‘n Roll caters to my inner 5 year old, enticing me with shiny bling. Run both RnR Chicago and RnR St. Louis (where I live) you get a super cool extra medal. And I just HAD to have it. So there was fall race #1

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I mean, seriously, how cool is this medal?! I could watch it spin all day long. And I can, because I have it!

Shortly after running Chicago a friend forwarded me an email about becoming a pacer for the Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis, I had started pacing in December and really enjoyed it, so even though I was already registered I applied.

Then one day I kind of stumbled onto the pacer list for another local race and dug around until I got some contact info and emailed them to ask to pace that race. Which was two weeks before RnR STL. They added me to their pacer list and I now had two fall races.

I hadn’t heard about pacing RnR so I proceeded to train for pacing MO Cowbell, which was a much slower pace than I normally run, so I worked on making that my typical pace. Of course as soon as I succeeded I got word that I was on the pacer list for RnR — just a mere 3 weeks in advance. Time to ramp it up with some dual training!

On top of that, the MO Cowbell pacer organization reached out asking for pacers for the Halloween Half marathon, the week after RnR. Of course I said signed up.

That was how I ended up running three half marathons in four weeks. Here’s how they went:

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Well….

First up, MO Cowbell. It was my first time running this. It was supposedly mostly flat with one hill at mile 10. Let’s just say there was more than 1 hill, they weren’t bad, but let’s be honest when discussing elevation, please! I went out of my way to train on flat routes! It was also 97% humidity and they made pacers wear a pseudo-performance T-shirt (I typically wear sleeveless into December). I overheated about half a mile into the race. I may have also had some nutrition and sleep issues and I bombed the race. I came in 5.5 minutes late. Nothing in my training indicated I wouldn’t reach my goal. I was running faster pace in probably more difficult conditions, but I am only human and this happened. Nothing I can do about it, but try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Boy was I nervous about RnR. Not only was I pacing, but I was signed up to the be the 2:15 pacer, which was 15 minutes faster than I finished MO Cowbell. I was doing well with training and running well under pace, but my confidence was pretty broken. I decided to bail from pacing. I was already registered, so I could still run.  Well, in chatting with the folks at Fleet Feet, I agreed to pace the 2:30 half & they refunded my registration fee, which made the stress of pacing worthwhile.

I was really glad that I went with the slower pace, it ended up being another warm October day in STL plus, I ended up having the great honor of helping two-first time half marathoners reach their goal. It was probably one of my favorite race experiences.

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Pretty spot-on! 

The Monday after RnR was kind of rough. I was hurting. It’s funny how running slower than your normal pace hurts SO MUCH! I was slightly worried about pacing ANOTHER half in 6 days. I rested, used my foam roller & air compression boots, went to every yoga class I could and kept running to a minimum. It worked and I was feeling back to normal come the end of the week. Which was good, because I couldn’t fail two pacing duties with the same organization in a row — and my first two at that. Could. Not. Fail. Period.

So Halloween is by far my favorite holiday and I LOOOVE to dress up and I love to run in costume, but I’ve obviously never paced in costume and we have pacer shirts to wear, so I opted for knee-high Halloween socks, but then was worried about the socks, whether cushioning would be enough (blisters mid race are NOT good), would they be too hot with my compression sleeves underneath? Probably I gamble I should not have taken under the circumstances.

 

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Results!

HUGE sigh of relief! It was a very weird day. The race was delayed 15 min & the 5K before the half was re-routed. The news later reported that a suspicious package was being investigated at the start of the race. Mile markers were off, a car was driving down the race course and at the end a runner passed out and I went sprinting to the finish to get medics to the scene. Also, I didn’t really have any followers from start to finish. There was one who stuck with me through 15K and was very appreciative of my support, but she decided to take a walk-break. Which, as I know, sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t.

That’s what I love about running. A runner is a runner and we are all the same, regardless of our pace. Some days we have good runs, some days they aren’t so good, but the thing about runners is that we continue to lace up and do our best.

While October isn’t completely over, my racing/pacing is for a while. I’m looking forward to a little rest & recovery and getting started working on my next set of goals.