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.

 

Down to the Wire

 

What’s more fun within the last 60 days of marathon training to have a bit of an emergency pop up? Not much, I’ll tell you that.

Not quite a month ago one of my cats became sick. Over the last three weeks we have been to the vet 5 times – 4 of those trips were emergency visits and one included about a 36 hour stay. I lost count of the sleepless nights. Although I did start to use my Garmin to get an idea of how much I was actually sleeping vs awake and dealing with a sick kitty….it wasn’t pretty. (Most of my “light” sleeping was me trying to beg myself to fall asleep)

How I managed to hold on to my training is beyond me, but it certainly suffered. I missed a few workouts, cut some runs short and generally was not performing fully most of the time.

That first weekend I was scheduled for 18 miles. Surprisingly, it ended up being a great 18.5 mile run, but I have to guess that part of that was due to my last minute route change to a flat paved trail. Should I have done hills? Probably, but the mental motivation of a good run, was needed — plus the trail was close to my favorite sushi restaurant.

Things, however, went south for my kitty by the end of the next week and my sleeplessness reached a whole new level. Luckily it was a cut back week. I was not feeling well, at all. I attempted a late-afternoon run, which I struggled to get in 3 miles and ended up walking the majority of the 4.7 miles.I’d like to say I’m proud I got out there, but I think I would have been better off by skipping and seeing what I could do after fully recovering from the weekend.

When my cat woke me up sick again on Tuesday around 4am, my stress level really sky rocketed. I couldn’t keep skipping out on my training and make this marathon happen – but of course my pets are more important than my marathon, but still. I am so close! So instead of crawling back into bed, tossing and turning for another 2 hours before heading to work and possibly skipping any run that day, I bundled up (it was of course snowing and freezing) and charged my headlamp for a 5:15am run. I figured if I could do a quick 3 miles it’d be a lot better than nothing. I ended up running 4.35 – not great, but a lot better than Sunday miles. It made for a really long day, but I would not have gotten a run in otherwise, so I felt great.

Originally this past weekend called for a 19 miler, but since my 18.5 was so great, I figured I’d go for 20, then maybe I could do 21ish the next weekend. Needless to say the week wasn’t making this decision any easier, so I tacked on a reward. 20 McNuggest for 20 miles. I may have been eating more fast food recently, but I haven’t had a McNugget in probably 5 years, so I was pretty excited for this to happen. My route passed my house around 4.25 and again at 12.5 — and I had multiple places I could cut off a good chunk of miles, but I had a goal to reach…

When you look at the big picture, my 20 miler was impressive, but it was well off what I was hoping for, when you review the stats. It wasn’t even as hilly as the marathon course will be and I was 17 seconds above the average pace to reach my goal. It might not seem like much, but 17 x 26.2 is almost 7.5 whole minutes!

I don’t exactly believe in “excuses” but here’s what factored into this disappointing run:

  • Three weeks of poor sleep and not so great eating habits (nothing new there)
  • The previous week was filled with fast food drive-thrus (thanks to traveling for work)
  • WIND — holy heck it was windy!! A head wind no matter which direction I was running. I literally at one point thought about trying to run the opposite way just to get a break! — and bit colder than I was dressed for, my hands were like lobster red by the end of the run.
  • HILLY! Compared to the 18.5 miler with 105 ft of elevation gain, this run had 927
  • I tied my shoes, especially right shoe a bit too tight, by the last few miles the top of my foot was hurting — and it’s still hurting today!
  • Since I already had an ankle issue that was acting up a bit more than usual, I took ibprofen before the run — which was a bad bad idea, my heart rate was through the roof by the first 1.5 miles, and I think that was to blame and the biggest strike against the whole run.
  • I thought it was a wise idea to go for my first outdoor bike ride the day before — again against wind. Quads were not a fan, it was evident a few miles into the run.

What was good about this run, not only getting it done, but that strength wise I didn’t break down. Yeah, I had some IT band pain from time to time, my foot hurt those last few miles, my quads reminded me about my bike ride the day before, but I was still running strong by the end – I mean I was hitting sub 10 paces after mile 17!

So what do I need to do over the next 32 days?

  1. Eat right! I mean seriously, I have been harping on this the last 4 months and I best listen to my advice, better now than never!
  2. Continue strength training & hill work. On the less is more plan, but make those workouts count!
  3. SLEEP! This sounds like it will be easy, but I have major sleep problems.

The most important thing here is that I feel lucky to have another chance at this 20 miler. I’ve updated my route, both for a little scenery change and (I may regret this later) more hills.

I will also be making good use of my recover tools. Including my recovery pants, air compression boots, and a snuggly kitty who is doing a lot better!

 

 

 

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!