Half marathon number 6!

……..is in two days!

I’ve delayed writing this post mainly because I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the starting line but (fingers crossed) I think it might actually be happening.

So a little rewind. I ran my first double digit run since April on October 2nd and it felt pretty good. A lot of it was on the half marathon course and I was starting to get excited about doing my first race in forever. The next day I woke up to calf pain. The usual suspect: left leg and I immediately knew that I had overdone it. I’m still working to strengthen and increase the mobility of this leg and when I do too much it comes out as muscle pain. This time: super tight calves. I took it easy on my runs afterwards and was feeling fine by Friday so I attempted my longest tempo run in a while -> 7 miles. This was honestly one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time. Most of it was on the half marathon course which follows a pretty steady decline. It felt easy and natural and I was on a total runner’s high.

Monday October 3rd: Rest

Tuesday October 4th: 4 miles easy @ 9.22 pace. Average HR 141 bpm.

Wednesday October 5th: 5.1 miles @ 9.05 pace. Average HR 150 bpm.

Thursday October 6th: Rest.

Friday October 7th: 7 mile tempo. 1 mile @ 8.25; 5 miles @ 7.41; 1 mile @ 8.56. Average HR 162 bpm.

Saturday October 8th: Rest.

Sunday October 9th: 11.7 miles @ 8.45 pace. Average HR 150 bpm.

I knew just a couple of miles into this run that my calf was not going to be happy. I took it pretty easy (did I mention that it’s almost completely downhill). My first mile at 9 minutes flat and everything else between 8.41-8.47. But my body was rebelling. Too much too soon. The worst/best part was that I had a PT session scheduled for the following Tuesday where I would have to tell her I was an idiot and then get my calf poked by some needles.

Monday October 10th: Rest.

Tuesday October 11th: 4 miles @ 9.13 pace. Average HR 148 bpm.

I wanted to test out my legs before my appointment and it was ok. Not a strain but still working those muscles too hard. At my appointment I straight up told her that I overloaded my calf and hurt myself. We laughed. And then the needles came out. Basically, my muscles were too tight and needed to relax. The answer to this is to stick a needle in the biggest knot we could find and then send electrical pulses into the muscle to help it relax. I would describe dry needling as a little unpleasant – not super painful – and a little weird because your muscle will contract involuntary and this feels different for every needle placement. The first time I had it done I didn’t think it helped but this time I felt a little better almost straightaway and a week or so later am feeling just fine.

Honestly, I thought my PT was going to tell me to drop out of the race but she said I could still do it. I should just shorten my scheduled long run and stop if I needed to. I then got to graduate PT. No more appointments. Just keep working on stretching that hip and strengthening those external rotating muscles.

Wednesday October 12th: 5 mile progression -> 9.42, 8.59, 8.48, 8.32, 8.11. Average HR 153 bpm.

Thursday October 13th: Work trip to Zion National Park. Yes – there are some perks to living in Utah. We got to do a quick hike in Bryce National Park on the way to our accommodation.

Friday October 14th: 3 miles @ 10.04 pace. Average HR 152 bpm.

So many hills – about 400 f t worth and at 6500 ft above sea level. But that was just a warm-up to sprinting around at paintball.

Saturday October 15th: Hike in Zion National Park. Observer Point.

Sunday October 16th: 7.1 miles tempo. 2 miles @ 8.55 pace. 3 miles @ 7.59 pace. 2 miles at 9.08 pace. Average HR 163 bpm.

This run was no bueno. Between traveling, long days and almost no sleepĀ  I was so incredibly tired. I was working hard for no so stellar times. I guess it was obligatory bad training run.

Monday October 17th: Rest

Tuesday October 18th: 4 miles @ 9.13 pace. Average HR 141 bpm.

When I finished this run I figured it was an unremarkable run, but on my way to the bus to get to work my feet suddenly started hurting like a mofo. What the hell happened? I still don’t quite know. It was some acute onset plantar fascitis pain and I started to freak out that this race was not going to happen. I rolled my feet, iced and stretched my calves, and decided to switch my last run to Thursday. And then prayed for a miracle.

Wednesday October 19th: Rest.

Thursday October 20th: 3 miles @ 9.07 pace. Average HR 141 bpm.

And amazingly it pretty much resolved itself over the last couple of days. I guess it was a case of the tapers taking it out on me.

Friday October 21st: Rest.

Saturday October 22nd: Race day!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling with injury for a large portion of the year and my training has been nowhere near what I wanted. It’s hard to know what to expect from this race. My last half was back in April and I think I was in similar shape (although I had to rest for the complete week before my race due to a sore leg) and ran a tougher course in 1.43. So maybe close to that? Honestly, I have no idea. All I know is that I’m really looking forward to racing and eating some pizza at the end.

Wish me luck!

 

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Belgium

After visiting family and friends in Ireland we wanted to spend a week in Europe to fully relax and unwind. For this trip we decided to base ourselves in Ghent, Belgium. My husband is a huge beer fan and I wanted to check out some of the cities and eat moules-frites and waffles. Here are some of our highlights.

Bruges: F*cking Bruges! A beautifully preserved city where we had the most amazing mussels. Super busy in August but worth the trip – it’s a 25 minute train ride from Ghent.

Brussels: We had visited Brussels before when we lived in Scotland but my husband’s favorite brewery was there (Cantillon) so we had to go back. We visited the Grand Place which is always amazing and includes the Belgian Brewers Guild (just for the die-hards). Comics are really big in Belgium and there was a ton of really cool street art.

Ghent: We stayed in an Airbnb right in the historic center of Ghent. It was easy to walk around the tourist area – to bars, a random music festival, restaurants and the sights. We got a city pass that included bike rental and we made like the locals and headed out along the canals into the countryside. I can’t emphasize enough how absolutely everyone uses a bike to get around. It was so cool to see.

Originally, Belgium wasn’t my first choice but I am so glad we went. The towns were so pretty, the beer was amazing, we had some great food and were able to completely relax after the craziness of visiting our families.

Almost.

First of all, it’s our one year adopt-iversary of this girl. She is now a whopping 50 lbs and full of personality.

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The recovery is continuing. My left leg is feeling great and I think my right Achilles is following. It’s still stiff in the morning but slowly improving. A little uncomfortable when running but totally manageable. I even managed to get up to 79 miles for the month which is my second third highest for the year. I think in a few weeks I might – GASP – be injury free! What a miracle that would be.

Monday: Rest.

We had tickets to Sigur Ros. Last time we saw them in a giant stadium in Denver. This time it was a small theater and they played from 8.30 to 11.00 with a short intermission. It was amazing – so uplifting, ethereal and soul-lifting. Amazing! So glad I managed to stay up past my bedtime.

Tuesday: 3.6 miles @9.32 pace. Average HR 147 bpm. Bile commute to work 11 miles roundtrip.

Easy run with the pup. But man, is it dark in the mornings these days. Headlamps for the whole run, and sunrise is 7.15 am or later. Fall is here.

Wednesday: 4.75 miles @ 8.37 pace. Average HR 160 bpm.

You can tell from my heart rate that this was a tough one. I just couldn’t get my legs moving and it just felt so hard. Oh well, I just chalked it up to a bad day and tried to forget about it.

Thursday: Gym day.

Arms and legs. I’m trying to get to the gym twice a week to work on strength. Luckily, I an walk over at lunchtime and get some time in during my break. And thank God, the DOMS is not so bad this week. It’s also a good dose of inspiration when I see those kick-ass ladies killing it in their workouts.

Friday: Tempo. 1 mile w/up, 4 @ 7.42 pace (7.44/7.46/7.39/7.39) 1 mile c/down. Average HR 163 bpm.

My second tempo with 3.5 miles on my half marathon course and all of it with elevation loss. It felt tough but manageable – I guess how a tempo should feel? I am still trying to gauge my fitness after all my injury setbacks. I feel like I’m getting back in shape. My resting heart rate is going down, my VO2 max reading on my Garmin is tracking up, I feel like I’m getting leaner. All good things! But my endurance – well I’m still working on that.

Saturday: Gym day.

Arms, legs and core. Friday we had some beers with friends. That did not translate into a productive Saturday. I did make it to the gym later in the afternoon but it was touch and go for a while.

Sunday: 10.45 miles @ 8.42 pace. Average HR 154 bpm.

I had my husband drop my up Emigration Canyon so that I could 10 miles home – 7 miles of those on the half marathon course. My legs were feeling a little heavy from a combination of my tempo run and gym workout but I felt strong on my first double digit run since April. This course is super fast and made to set a PR – although not for me this year but maybe next time.

The run was beautiful – the fall colors are spectacular right now. Although hearing the howls of coyotes did freak me out, as did seeing a dead snake on the side of the road (it took me a second to realize that it was dead). I’m getting really excited about this race – and not just about the pizza at the end. I guess I’m excited that I’ll actually get to run it.

Weekly total: 24.8 miles