One week to go!

My oh my it has been a bumpy road. Twelve weeks ago I was still in the middle of my run-walk training to recover from a strained calf muscle. Now, I have one week to go before I drive up to Ogden and pick up my bib for marathon number two. To say that this hasn’t been ideal marathon training would be the understatement of the year. My mileage has peaked at 34 miles, although I did manage to sneak in one 18 miler and one confidence-building 20 miler. I’m pretty sure that I can finish but other than that I have no real idea of how bad (or good – think positive) it could get.

It’s also been an interesting couple of weeks. My runs out east didn’t come with the magic sea level bump in pace. However, as soon as I got back to Salt Lake I had one of my best running weeks in a long while.

4/27: Rest

4/28: 4. 4 miles at 8.15 min/mile pace (including one 7.56 min mile – my first sub-8 on a regular training run in a long time)

4/29: 8.1 miles at 8:14 min/mile pace (including four sub-8 miles in a row!)

4/30: Morning yoga class

5/1: 3.9 miles at 9.22 min/mile pace

5/2: 16.2ish min miles at sub-9 min/mile pace

5/3: Strength workout

I can’t believe how well this week went. My runs on Tuesday and Wednesday felt effortless. Paces that I have been struggling with for a while seemed easy. I was running without pain – anywhere. I even tried to slow down my easy run on Friday and came back feeling refreshed and finally understood the reasoning behind recovery runs (thanks to Allison). The only major fail was on Saturday. I asked my husband to drop me at work so that I could run some downhills to mimic the marathon course. In my rush to get ready so that he could get started on his day I managed to forget my Garmin. Sh*t. I had a couple of routes in my head and could make a rough estimate of distance. Plus I passed some clocks on the way around and could guess how far I’d gone. I was feeling a little tired at the end and hoped that I hadn’t underestimated the distance – I didn’t want to feel so tired after running 12 miles! I mapped my route on runkeeper and it popped out 16.2 miles which I finished in somewhere between 2.15-2.20, which put me around 8.40ish pace. But who knows! I was FINALLY feeling good and hoping that I might make it to the start line in one piece and even put in a decent performance. Now I just had to make it through a two week taper.

Recovery drinks and stretching on the porch. Taper time.

Recovery drinks and stretching on the porch. Taper time.

And then running decides to mess with you.

5/4: 4.5 mile run commute at 9.11 min/mile pace

5/5: Morning yoga. Bike commute to work.

5/6: 6.2 miles at 8.19 min/mile pace (8.44/8.48/8.16/7.54/7.52/8.16)

5/7: Rest

5/8: 3.9 miles at 9.40 min/mile pace

My Monday evening run home was actually pretty pleasant. I had to really talk myself into doing it and not just catching the bus home and postponing it until the next day. This is also a downhill route (642 ft drop in elevation) and I tried to keep as relaxed as possible. Yoga was all about the shoulders on Tuesday and my bike ride in felt surprisingly easy (going home is always fun -> 642 ft drop in elevation). On Wednesday I woke up with a slight ache in my foot. I ran and it seemed fine (although the run itself felt a lot tougher than the almost exact same workout last week), but later in the day it got more achey. And it was the same on Thursday. My initial reaction was stress fracture/response – mainly because I’ve been expecting a serious injury to pop up in this crammed marathon training schedule. However, I am 99% sure that it is a recurrence of plantar faciitis which I had last May (took two weeks off and it went away) and just a couple of weeks ago (randomly resolved itself after one week). So I have been stretching and rolling my calf (non-sprained side) for the last three days. I can feel a tender spot that seems a little knotty that I am trying to work out. I also popped a vitamin I last night and that has helped tremendously.

My plan for the next week is to take it easy. No more bike commuting. Four more scheduled runs. Lots of sleep. Short runs. Stretching. Foam rolling. The stick. As of this very instant I am still planning to run the marathon. But if I feel like my body isn’t up for it I will pull out at the last minute. I should know by the middle of next week what is happening and then I’ll come up with some race goals. I like the idea of tiered and non-time related goals as suggested by Jane Likes to Run who is running the Eugene Marathon this weekend.

Come on body – hold it together!

Advertisements

Boston bound

Just a quick post before I head to the airport and head to Boston for vacation. I hope I’ll see some of you guys out on the course! I am beyond excited to (1) spectate at arguably the world’s most favorite marathon and (2) spending one week traveling around New England. This Irish chick sure misses seeing the Atlantic. Follow me on Instagram to see what beer I’m drinking everyday.

And bonus: today I got a chance to run my first (and probably only) 20 miler of this marathon training schedule. And it went swimmingly (or should that be runningly?). I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off the full 20 and was ready to bail went it hurt -> my tight calves are giving me random achy-breaky heart feet. But if all felt pretty good (well as good as running 20 miles can feel). Average pace 9.13 min/miles with the last 5 miles at goal pace (9.03/8.48/9.05/8.52/8.44). You know your long run went well when your first mile (9.39) is your slowest and the last mile is your fastest. Beginning to think that this marathon may not be a complete disaster!

Mon: 4.2 trail miles at 10.06 pace + 559 ft elevation gain. My legs felt so sore from Saturday’s 18 miler. But it was in the 70s and I couldn’t resist.

Tues: Strength workout

Wed: 7 miles in the snow. Yes – we got our biggest snow storm of the whole season. I manage three “tempo” miles (8.29/8.15/8.16). A little disappointed with my times but my legs felt tired, it was freaking snowing and I just wasn’t feeling it. Giving myself a pass on this one.

Thurs: Yoga and bike commute.

Fri: 2.85 miles with my husband -> his last run before Boston. Bike commute.

Sat: 20 miles at 9.13 min/mile pace. Fast finish.

Sun: Boston!

See you in a week!

Crazy, stupid or both?

Things have been slowly returning to normal in my running life. Here’s how the last two weeks’ training has gone.

Purple is my jam right now!

Purple is my jam right now!

3/23          Rest. Day after the day after my half marathon and I needed some more recovery time.

3/24          3.55 miles. Still felt a little sore so this one was at an easy pace. 5 min walk to warm-up followed by 3 x 9 min intervals @ 8.49 min/mile pace with 1 min  walk break in between.

3/25          Bike commute. In March I started bike commuting to work and it is awesome. I think I’ll do a post about it next week. It can be a hard workout on the way (680 ft elevation gain in just under 4 miles) but free wheeling pretty much the whole way home.

3/26          4 miles. 5 min walk to warm up followed by 2 x 15 min intervals @ 9 min/mile pace with 1 min walk interval. Bike commute.

3/27          Strength workout.

3/28         15 mile long run at 9.15 min/mile pace.

3/29         Bike commute. Strength workout.

3/30         4 miles @ 8.36 min/mile (no more walk breaks!). Bike commute.

3/31          Bike commute.

4/1            4.65 miles @ 8.30 min/mile pace. First completely pain free run in forever.

4/2           3 miles @ 9.18 min/mile pace. First time running two days in a row since January!

4/3           Rest.

Somehow my total mileage for March ended up at 86.55 which is almost 4 times what I managed in February (23.4 miles) and a nice surprise when I did the math. The main things that I can take away from March are that I have managed to get my walk intervals down to zero, I had one (hopefully the first of many) pain-free run and I managed to run two days in a row without damaging myself. I think that I might be back to normal (fingers crossed!).

So what next for April? Well this is where things get a little shocking, and you can tell me whether you think that I am crazy, stupid or both.

You might notice that I ran a 15 mile run last weekend. One of the local running stores was hosting a teaser run on a running trail about 20 minutes from my house. Basically, they set up water and gatorade stations along a stretch of the Jordan River Parkway. I’ve never run here before (some of the areas can be a little sketchy if you are running by yourself) so I thought it would be the perfect time to check it out. Bonus: it’s probably the flattest place to run in SLC -> 50 ft of elevation gain in 15 miles. The run went pretty well. It took a while to warm up but I settled in at a comfortable 9ish minute pace and decided that I would run for 2 hours. At the turnaround point I stopped to take a Gu and was glad to be returning with a tailwind. Miles 8-11 felt amazing. I even managed to dip under 9 minutes for these miles. My car was parked at mile 13 but I decided I’d hit up the north end of the trail for a mile out and back. The last mile was pretty tough because (how do I say this politely?) of a runner emergency. Luckily I spied a bathroom in time. As I was leaving the stall I noticed a tiny little stall that turned out to be……….a urinal. Yes, in my desperation I failed to notice that I was in the mens bathroom. Luckily, nobody noticed my mistake and I headed back to my car for some chocolate milk. By this time it was 68F and I was feeling pretty warm. My calf was bothering me a little and my right hip flexor was a little tight (story of my life). By late afternoon I was totally fine (yay for recovery!).

My mileage for the last two months has looked like this:

2/16-2/22      11.3 miles

2/23-3/1        14.6 miles

3/2-3/8          13.5 miles

3/9-3/15         18 miles

3/16-3/22      21.2 miles

3/23-3/29      22.5 miles

3/30-4/5        estimated 27 miles

A nice steady increase, right? So where is it all leading? Well, some of you might remember that I signed up for a full marathon on May 16th. Back in February I was pretty sure that this was impossible for me. 26.2 miles that is insane. But now…….I managed a half marathon on basically no training. My 15 miler went surprising well and only about 20s/mile slower than during the summer. I’m wavering. I’m actually thinking about running it. I think I can get my long run up to 18 miles and this should be enough to get me to the finish line. And that is all I’m interested in right now. Not worried about time or pace or BQs. The course is flat or downhill (900 ft drop over the whole race), it’s near my house and my husband is running it. His thinking is that if he can run a 32 mile trail race with a 15 mile long run then I should be able to finish a marathon. My cardio has been maintained during my injury spell. I’ve done the distance before so I know how hard it will be but also how to pace myself to finish. I’ll obviously pull out if my injury comes back (or something else happens) but I’m feeling great right now. I know it’s not ideal but is it totally crazy, stupid or both?

A slight change of plan

Or rather a giant change of plan. So I’ve been dealing with a calf strain for the last couple of weeks. One slight strain followed a week later by an even bigger calf strain. Not fun. Two weeks off running and then a tentative return to run-walk intervals. Last Friday I managed 4.9 miles and felt pretty good but this deteriorated over the weekend so much so that I had to bail after 2.5 miles on Sunday. Things were achy so I decided it was time to get some professional help. Mainly to get a recovery plan and to pay someone to make the decision about how much time I had to take off from running. I’ve lost some faith in my own ability to figure out how to get over this and I am a sucker for advice from a MD/DPT.

Luckily I was able to get a last minute appointment with my physiotherapist (who happens to be in charge of the running clinic at the local orthopedic center). So we had a chat about what happened since I last saw her back in August. Basically, I didn’t take enough time off after my marathon – 1 day per mile raced (not a total break but taking it easy) so about a month of very easy running before starting back up again. Note to future self.

Next she checked out my leg. It turns out that I have the tightest hips ever. She was literally amazed at the lack  of flexibility in my hip – it’s never good when your medical professional thinks you are some kind of freak of nature. It also turns out that tight hips can seriously affect your stride resulting it extra work for your calves. It was no surprise then that my super tight left hip was the probable cause of my calf strain. I guess it’s a reminder that having one piece of your gait out of stride (pun intended) can mess you up. The plan is to increase hip mobility. And two weeks rest. No running. Or jumping – so no more all day jump rope fests. All other cross training is OK.

I also got some soft tissue massage and graston technique which was mildly uncomfortable. And then we got to the torture part of the visit. She asked me how I felt about needles. Well, does anyone really like needles? She was quick to point out that it wasn’t acupuncture but something close called dry needling. The theory (at least as I understood it) was to release trigger points in damaged muscles using small needles (don’t ask me how this differs from acupuncture – I think the trigger points might differ). I was willing to give it a try – anything to get better, right? But it was not pleasant at all. Initially, it felt like getting an injection – followed by significant pain and involuntary muscle spasms. It was pretty painful to me and the pain in my calf lingered for the rest of the day (which to her credit she warned me about). My calf was still pretty sore today but I think this was from the dry needling. I’m still on the fence about whether it has helped or not.

As for my race plans…….I have a 5K scheduled for this Saturday. Obviously, I will not be running this. I do plan on picking up my mug and $20 Brooks gift certificate. And I’ve decided that the glass is half full and I’m going to volunteer at this race. One of my favorite local running stores (where I just got a brand new pair of non-Brooks running shoes) is organizing it and I hope that the series becomes a regular event. I’ve also signed up to volunteer at an ultra race that my husband is running in Moab in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping to spread some good karma into the universe!

I have a half marathon on March 21st that is looking a little iffy right now. Luckily, they have a 5 miler on the same morning (new distance!) that I can switch to the day before. The marathon is a different story. Right now I’m 15ish weeks out and with two more weeks with no running that would leave 13 weeks to complete a marathon training program. Personally, I feel that this is not enough time for me to properly prepare to run 26.2 miles. This race doesn’t allow for deferrals or switching to the half marathon so it looks like I’ll have to eat this one. I’m a mixture of bummed out and relieved. Sad that I won’t be running my second marathon this spring. But relieved that I don’t have to put pressure on myself to get into marathon shape in a short period of time. My main focus now is to get healthy again.

I’m not going to lie I had a mini pity party – complete with junk food (thanks Superbowl) – but now I’m going to make the most of my doctor-recommended break. And my advice to you – go to your trusted medical professional ASAP. And in my personal opinion physiotherapists are the way to go. Also, if you have the PBS app on your streaming device – you need to check out the Great British Baking Show. It is seriously addictive.

And so it begins……..

stepstorunamarathon

……….with a whimper. Last week I did something to my already tight calves which meant lots of limping on Thursday and complete rest on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday morning I was feeling better and headed to my local yoga studio for a more chilled out flow class. It was great for stretching and relaxing – exactly what I needed. Sunday afternoon was a full body workout at the gym including one whole mile of running on the treadmill. This mile was pretty slow but I only felt a slight twinge in my calf. My plan was to take another full day of rest (and to deal with post-gym DOMS) on Monday and then try 3 miles on Tuesday. Because this week in WEEK ONE of marathon training! Woohoo! Well woohoo! in my mind. Mentally, I am totally ready to dive in to a full marathon training session (I spent Sunday evening drinking wine, watching Downton Abbey and putting together my marathon training plan). Unfortunately, my body is not quite on the same page.

I’ve decided to use a modified version of Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan but incorporating some of the things I learned from the Pfitzinger book – specifically adding in some tempo and fast finish long runs. The mileage should top out around 50 (which is a little more than last time) with one tempo-ish workout per week. I also have 4 (!) races scheduled between now and May 16th (M-Day) that I had to work into the schedule. Yay for racing! I think that if I had been in better (not injured) shape I would have totally committed to the Pfitzinger plan, but considering where my body is at right now I think that this would have been an injury in the making -> Day 1 is an 8 mile run with 4 miles at half marathon pace! So I’m pretty happy with my plan and excited to see where I can get to in 18 weeks. My current goal is to PR and in the later stages of training I’ll see where I am in terms of running a BQ. I’m torn between wanting to get more marathon race experience – and – just gunning for that sub 3.35 time. I feel like I’ll have a better idea of where I stand with some serious mileage behind me -> this time I’m planning on two 20 milers and one 22 miler.

As for the calf? Well it was feeling a ton better by Monday. And on Tuesday I got to try out my new gym after work. The weights area was crazy packed but surprisingly I had my choice of treadmills. I started out just fine but after a while my calf decided to let me know that it was not happy! It isn’t a bad pain – just uncomfortable-ness (word?). This is a hard choice for me. When I went to my physiotherapist last year I was surprised that she never told me just to stop running. Even though I had knee pain that required about 6 months of exercises to cure I was given the go-ahead to run through it all. The caveat was that the pain should never be higher than 3 on a pain scale of 10. If I had been doctoring myself I would have wimped out and stopped completely. My current thinking is that a little bit of constant pain (i.e. it doesn’t get more painful as the run progresses and never gets higher than a 2-3) is OK.

I decided to see how outdoor running felt this morning (clean air!!!!!) -> it’s awesome! Again a slight uncomfortable-ness in my left calf but low on the pain scale and it didn’t seem to be affecting my gait. I have been rolling with my stick all day (+ compression calf sleeves) and it is feeling so much better – and completely different to the pain of last Wednesday. The plan for the immediate future is to keep running unless the pain starts to get worse, but to keep everything at a pretty easy pace. The marathon is a long way away and part of me feels a little foolish for even running at all. So I’m trying to find a balance between being a little braver and trying not to be too foolish. At times like this I wish I could trade my PhD for an MD……….

 

 

It’s the weekend!

Friday! Woohoo! I get to leave work a little early today so J and I can head down south. One of our very good friends is getting married this weekend. And being a super-awesome bride – she has chosen to get married at Zion National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Here’s some pictures of our visit there in fall 2010.

CIMG1417

CIMG1433

CIMG1435

CIMG1439

CIMG1444

Again – I’m reminded how lucky I am to live in Utah where I can drive 4 hours and be in this place! Plus what’s better than a weekend of camping and partying with your best friends!

This week has been run-free and totally great. My foot (which wasn’t that sore to begin with) hasn’t been bothering me but I’m still determined to take another week off before my slowly returning to running. I also have been sleeping in til 7 AM every morning. I think I’ll wait until Daylight Savings ends before going back to my 6 AM workouts.

But I have been staying active. I’ve biked into work three days this week. I was meant to do it again today but had major chain issues -> bike fail. It’s only a little over 3.5 miles but it is literally uphill the whole way and takes about 35 mins. But coming home is totally free-wheeling and a ton of fun. I’ve also hit the pool twice. The U has a pool that’s open for lane swimming every weeknight from 6-10 PM and it’s pretty quiet. My short term goal (I’m following a 6 week program) is to be able to swim 1 whole mile without stopping. I also did a quick strength workout (no yoga until my foot is back to normal) including my longest plank ever – 3 1/2 minutes – this was made a little easier because Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off kept me company. Damn – that is one catchy song!

Finally, I’m happy to announce that I’ve managed to complete one of my goals for the year! At some point during my marathon I managed to tick off 1000 miles for the year. I’m hoping in a week I can get back out there and add a couple more!

Happy weekend!

It’s official – October is just not my month

I had hoped to post about my first experience running with a local running group after finally having the time (and inclination) to meet up for one of their Saturday group runs……………but life had other plans. So let’s rewind to the start of the week.

Monday: Strength workout

Tuesday: 4 mile easy run around 9 min/mile pace. This was mentally a struggle but got it done.

Wednesday: I finally figured out how the lap function on my Garmin works so I decided I’d try to do a couple of mile repeats – and I mean literally a couple as in two. One mile warm-up. One mile at 7.14 min/mile pace. Half mile recovery. One mile at 7.10 min/mile pace. Half mile recovery and then an easy run home. It felt hard but in a good way and I was excited to move fast again.

Thursday: Slept in and skipped an early morning run. PM strength workout.

Friday: 15.1 miles on the stationary bike.

On Thursday I woke up with an annoying pain in my foot that got worse as the day progressed. I made a call pretty early in the day to take a rest day from running. But by the evening (and after my gym session) I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot and I was freaking out. A quick google search only increased my freak-out levels. My pain had a sudden onset and was in the exact place where you get a stress fracture.

On Friday, I called to get a same day appointment at a local clinic (yay for fall break and working on a university campus!). The doctor checked me out and was convinced that I didn’t have a fracture…………YET……….but all my symptoms suggested that if I didn’t take a break from running it would only be a matter of time…………Her advice: two weeks with no running. Then try some short distances but stop if there is any pain. Still good to bike, swim, ellipticise. No yoga, climbing or single leg exercises.

Bummer! I’ll have to pull out of the Snow Canyon half marathon due to injury for the second year in a row. In October 2013 I ran exactly ZERO miles. This year I’ve done a little better (about 50 miles) but that is me done for the month. It seems like my body just gives out after 10 months of solid training. Stupid overuse injuries.

On the plus side I have lots of options for getting cardio in. The weather was so beautiful in SLC this weekend – blue skies in the 70s – that I biked to work (and the pool) on Saturday, and then to the gym on Sunday. The distances are pretty short but man, everything is uphill! But it makes coming home a lot easier.

I don’t feel much pain. The doctor was able to move my foot around with no problems so she’s pretty confident that I’m in the earliest possible stages which means faster recovery and I have the OK to take ibuprofen if I need to.

I’m actually a little relieved. Ssssh don’t tell anyone! I guess I was a little more burned out from the marathon than I realized, and knowing that I had a potential half marathon coming up I couldn’t truly relax. No that the race is off the table and I’m under doctor’s orders to NOT run – well I can do that.

Most importantly – I’m so glad that this happened AFTER the marathon. I can’t even think about how bummed I’d be if I had trained for 18 weeks and had to pull out of my goal race for a stress fracture (which I don’t actually have – a stress response is what she called it).

So as much as it sucks to be injured – it has happened at the best possible time and as far as injuries go – it’s one of the milder ones.

Plus my trail running buddy is also on the injury list so we can be comeback buddies in a couple of weeks.

So I spent the weekend biking around town – just because it is so beautiful outside right now and in a couple of weeks I know that winter will hit hard. I found a Couch-to-1 mile swimming program that I can do at the pool right by my work – that at least gives me some idea of what I should be doing in the pool. Day one was 4×100 yds, 4×50 yds and 4×25 yds. A nice warm up to the pool. I started this last year when I was injured but never got as far as a full mile so that is my goal this time around. Sunday was 6.2 mile on the elliptical followed by a bunch of core stuff – including a 3 minute plank which is probably the longest I’ve ever done.

And in case you were worried the health center were on top of things and asked if I had recently traveled to West Africa. I got the all clear from Ebola but made sure to get my flu shot.

This weekend was mostly a solo one for me – which means lots of delicious eats. For some reason, when I’m cooking for myself it always involves fries – sweet or regular oven fries. And I’m a little obsessed with brussel sprouts right now. I also got to catch up with some new shows – How to get away with Murder – so awesome.

New wok!

New wok!

Crockpot chicken drumsticks.

Crockpot chicken drumsticks.

Chicken tenders with sweet potato fries - plus all the toppings.

Chicken tenders with sweet potato fries – plus all the toppings.

Homemade fries, roasted brussel sprouts and homemade fishsticks.

Homemade fries, roasted brussel sprouts and homemade fishsticks.

Breakfast sandwich: Baby spinach, tomato, avocado and fried egg. I think I'd eat this everyday if I could.

Breakfast sandwich: Baby spinach, tomato, avocado and fried egg. I think I’d eat this everyday if I could.

And last night I persuaded J to come and see Gone Girl with me. I loved it – although I think a lot of people were not happy with the ending. In return, we visited a local beer bar before the movie.

Delicious!

Delicious!

And did I mention that the movie theater is a bar…………I’m not sure why this isn’t the general rule for all of them?

Anyone had a stress fracture before?

Do you have special food you cook when you’re flying solo?

Anyone else seen Gone Girl? Opinions?