Friday, August 02, 2013
I've been a bit lazy on the workout front since my 10k/knee pain fiasco. A little elliptical here, some stretching and rolling there, but overall I was trying to give my knees a break. Recently I've been adding more miles, because marathon training for the Cape Cod Half officially begins on Monday.
I'm making it a goal this time around to do more strengthening than last time, especially for my hams and quads (and lots and lots of rolling). I haven't quite figured out how or why, but my right leg definitely has a different strike than my left leg. I suspect it's due to muscle weakness. I found an exercise in Runner's World that I am following, which claims that after 6 weeks patients have a very high recovery rate.
I am looking forward to training this time around, as I signed up for my last half so late in the game and was scrambling to get the training in. This experience will be a lot of fun, considering we are moving to Boston in the next few weeks and I will basically have the Charles in my backyard to train with. Not to mention the Cape is one of my favorite places on earth (especially for running) so I am really looking forward to running this.
A little over 12 weeks to go!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Up until now, I've been relatively pain-free and injury-free with my running. Aside from some sore muscles once in a while, I've never had to deal with common running problems like shin splints, blistering, muscle strain, etc. My husband couldn't believe how unfazed I seemed to be after the half marathon. We were surrounded by men bleeding through their shirts due to chafing, people sprawled on the Coney Island boardwalk while people stretched and massaged their locked up legs to get them working again, and lots of flush-faced finishers hobbling around every which way you looked. Yet there I was, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. My muscles were a bit stiff and stairs were pretty painful, but otherwise I felt great. That knee pain I experienced during mile ten seemed to have disappeared, too.
Flash forward to last weekend, and my 10k from hell.
This was my first 10k, and I was hoping to finish it in around 60 minutes. 58 minutes would have been ideal. I was off to a pretty good start, though the course was a bit tough - more hills than I was used to. In fact, I kept great pace until I hit mile five, and then my knee started to hurt. Nay, not "hurt." "Hurt" is what happened during the half marathon, but I was able to run through it after a bit of walking. My knee started to kill. I started walking and, much to my dismay, discovered that walking brought absolutely no relief. I had become one of those hobblers I'd seen after the half, but even worse, I was a hobbler during an actual race with a mile and change left to go. I thought "ok, maybe if I walk for two minutes, it'll get better, and maybe I can run through it." Two minutes in and I tried to slowly trot, but nope. It still killed.
Walking during a race is no fun, but walking the last mile of a race when people usually get that adrenaline rush and pick up speed, passing by while the crowd is cheering is even worse. Let me tell you, it feels pretty crummy to hear the crowd trying to encourage you by yelling "you're almost there! no time for walking! get going!" I was close to tears because I wanted to tell them "I'd like to run through it, but I can barely even walk right now." With probably .3 or .4 miles left, I forced myself to break into a bit of a run, and eventually I finished. It felt awful and I felt awful because I really didn't want to do slower than a 10 minute mile pace. I finished in 1:02:40, a 10:06 pace.
My time wasn't nearly as bad as my mind was building it up to be (I honestly thought I had crossed into 12 minute mile territory), but still, I was disappointed. Unfortunately, this week at work is the most stressful week I've ever had, and I'd been anticipating it for over a year and a half (long story short, my company's been preparing for a special evaluation that was scheduled to take place this week). I was looking forward to finishing the race and feeling a bit of stress release before the work week from hell begain. I was hoping to think "Yay! I did it! I'm ready for this week of work!" but I felt just the opposite. My feelings were more like "I hate everything and nothing is going to go right, this is a sign that we're all doomed." My knee felt terrible for the rest of the day. As a result, I did plenty of limping and plenty of RICE.
The next day, my knee wasn't so bad, and two days later the pain was pretty much gone. I've been too busy at work to even have time for light exercise, but I think that's for the best. Once the weekend comes I will be able to do some cross training and a light (very brief) jog. Next up, now that my stint of races are done (until my next half in October), I plan on easing myself in to trying barefoot/minimal shoe running. I'm aware that my pain probably comes from bad form, and I really need to shorten my strides. But I will do this eeeeever so slowly.
Slow and steady wins the race, I suppose.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Now that I've more or less gotten comfortable with longer distances, my focus is now on becoming faster. I've got a string of races coming up with in the next month or two, in which I will 1) race various distances I haven't yet raced to get my first official times for these distances and 2) get faster.
Yesterday I had a 4 mile race, but the recent increase in heat and humidity had me very worried. The race organization was sending out heat advisories daily with tips to avoid heat exhaustion on race day, recommending people to start hydrating two days before. I wasn't so good about this, and was worried about having to go very slowly during the race.
When I arrived at the race and stood in my corral waiting for the start, I was already becoming sweaty. Not good. I tried to take it easy, but also was aware that I wanted to beat my 9:33 pace from my last 4 mile race. The race itself was congested, as people didn't exactly start in their proper corrals, making it quite difficult to weave through people. There were a few times I had to slow until I could find a gap in the crowd to pass through.
I passed the first water station at mile one, but stopped briefly for water at miles two and three. Around mile two I was beginning to feel the effects of the heat, but was having difficulty calculating my pace and was worried that the heat was making me run more slowly. Fortunately, after the extra hydration, I starting feeling a bit cooler, and I was very happy to see when I crossed the finish line with a 9:22 pace. Hooray!
Next up, a 10k this Saturday. This will be my first 10k race, but I'm hoping to continue with the 9:30 miles, as that's what I had averaged up to that point during my half marathon. We shall see how it goes!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
After a great first half-marathon, I went easy on the running for most of last week, opting to focus instead on cross training. Unfortunately, last week was pretty busy and I didn't get as much time in the gym as I had planned on.
For Memorial Day Weekend, my husband and I went to visit my husband's father and stepmom in sunny Florida. I was really excited to be able to enjoy the warm weather and explore Florida on foot (my favorite way to explore on vacation). Unfortunately my father-in-law lives in a fancy gated community, so the hassle of leaving the community and getting back in through the gate looked to be a bigger pain than it would be worth. I decided to go for a nice jog along the beach... ouch!
I knew running on sand was difficult, but I think I underestimated exactly how difficult it is. The sand on the beach wasn't packed all that well, so the ground constantly gave out under me. My normal 9:30 pace turned into 12 minutes plus, and I was by no means slacking off. Two miles out I turned around to make it a four mile run, and soon my knees got tired. I suddenly became aware of how much strain I was putting on my knees and ankles, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was getting nowhere fast. I went easy on my knee and alternated running/walking the rest of the way. Walking barely relieved my knees, as I'm sure you're all aware that walking on sand is still hard work.
Thus, my first run after my half was not so great.
The next morning, I decided instead to take advantage of the fitness facility in their condo complex for a run on the treadmill. Much better that time around.
In all, although I took it easy this week, I'm getting back into the swing of things. This Saturday I will do a 6ish mile run, and on Sunday I have a 4 mile race. Back on track!
Monday, May 20, 2013
13.1 miles. I survived the Brooklyn Half Marathon! I did it! And I GREATLY exceeded my expectations. So much so that now I am beating myself up just a little bit (in the smallest possible way) because I had no idea how well I was actually doing while I was doing it. And now I am halfway to that bucket list marathon. Here is the epic novel chronicling my half marathon adventure.
I've got to say, I think I did a pretty good job prepping myself, considering I didn't follow any of the traditional 12ish week half marathon training programs. I was feeling good after my 11 mile long run a couple of weekends ago, but I still wasn't trusting that everything would work out on the big day.
I spent my final week carb loading. Nightly dinners consisted of lots of white pasta and tomato sauce. And wine, of course. I had to get those carbs in ;) On Thursday night I had a pizza feast with my husband to celebrate the kickoff of our extended weekend (we had both taken Friday off so we could go to the opening day of the local music and food festival).
We started Friday morning by going to the pre-race party to pick up my bib. Since we were in the neighborhood we got married in, we stopped at our wedding venue for lunch. Smoked gouda mac and cheese, a cheesesteak sandwich, and a beer. I'm pretty sure this is how all of the pro's handle the day before their races...
I took it easy for the rest of the day. I enjoyed the concert at the local festival, but left at 7:30 sharp to get home for a dinner of pasta, a salad, and beets (my secret for super energy). I was sound asleep by nine and slept right through the night, which is a major triumph. One of the things I was very worried about was getting a good night's sleep, but it ended up being a non-issue.
5am rolled around and the next obstacle to tackle was (TMI alert) the bathroom issue. I wanted to ensure I got up early enough to take care of business (har har). I planned for enough time to have a leisurely cup of coffee while surfing the internet to get things moving. All was well and good, and I proceeded to eat my breakfast of an egg and half a banana, and more beets. One small beet ended up being the perfect amount - I think it added to my fuel, and it didn't end up being too much fiber. I did end up taking a dose of Imodium, just to be safe.
My loving husband also got up with me and we made our way to my corral (the start was in my neighborhood, so it took all of two minutes to walk there). While we were waiting, I started to get chilly. The cold feeling, plus the water I'd been sipping all morning, started to play into the most excruciating 5 minutes of self-doubt ever: I starting to feel like I had to go to the bathroom... I didn't THINK I really had to go to the bathroom, but what IF I did? I didn't want to stop for it during my run. Was I making a mistake not wanting to bother with the port a potties and the long line in my corral? Then we started shuffling closer to the starting line and it was too late to make a decision - I was off!
The first 3 minutes of my run consisted of the following repeated thoughts:
"Oh crap. What did I get myself into?"
"Can I really do this?"
"I think I have to go to the bathroom. Is my body just playing tricks on me because I know it's an inconvenient time?"
"Why did I drink water this morning?"
About a mile in, I passed the first set of port a potties. Once my body saw them, I'm pretty sure it told me, "Fooled you! I only thought I had to go to the bathroom because I wasn't sure they'd be accessible with the new security restrictions." From there on in, I was golden and never thought of bathroom needs again. Tricky body.
At miles 2 and 3, running around Grand Army Plaza, I really got caught up in the Brooklyn spirit of things. Running past the local cheerleaders (both boys and girls) and the crowds rooting for everyone put a huge smile on my face. I wish they had reappeared at mile 8 when I really needed them.
The race continued to be great, especially once I got past the dreaded half mile uphill in Prospect Park (which was just about mile 5.5). As an added treat, my husband was waiting to surprise me and cheer for me right at the halfway point. We had decided he should go straight to the finish line to beat the crowd after he left me at the starting line, so getting a high five from him halfway through was amazing.
Out of the park and I was more than halfway there. That's where things got tough. Though it's pretty flat, Ocean Parkway is a straight, non-eventful shot to Coney Island. It made me annoyingly aware of every little mile I passed. I'm the kind of runner who loves to wander and get lost in thought, only to discover a little while later that a couple of miles have passed by. This is impossible for a race on a straight road such as Ocean Parkway. It's basically the Kansas of Brooklyn. By mile 8 I got tired and took a second (unplanned) energy gel, which helped immensely. Then at mile 10 my knee started to hurt. Since I hadn't yet walked, I decided to rest it a bit and walk it out. I commenced running, but a little while later it started hurting again. I walked a bit more at mile 11. I really wanted to avoid having my knee give out on me and having to hobble to the finish line, so I figured better safe than sorry.
When mile 12 came around I thought "Knee be damned, I really want to get around a 10 minute pace!" So I ran again. I ran and ran and ran, through the pain until it was gone, up the boardwalk, along the ocean, and past the finish line with a big smile across my face. I figured I might not have gotten a 10 minute pace, but I was doing much better than I had realistically expected.
It was after I crossed the finish line that I saw the tracking my mom had been posting for me on facebook. Turns out my pace was 9:45! Not only that, but until mile 9, I had been consistently holding a 9:30 pace.
I had a 2:07:33 finish time! This is SO MUCH better than what I was hoping for. I would have been happy with anything under 2:30, but was hoping for 2:15. 2:07 blew me away, and I am so so proud of my first half marathon experience.
I got my medal and met my husband for a big ol' hug. Celebratory SixPoint Sweet Action and pizza followed (the true Brooklyn way to do things).
Next up: 10k in June, another half in October, and that bucket list marathon in 2014. I'm ready!
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