A Lark Became a Dream…

And the dream of running the 2014 NYC marathon died when my bone scan lit up like a Christmas tree.

It looked like I’d gone through an airport body scanner with round bags of drugs shoved into the heel of my shoe and the front of my tibia.  Such was the “uptake” of activity in those bones.

I knew the odds were not ever in my favor when the tech took the initial blood flow pictures (before the injection) and remarked, “Wow!  Look at that.  That’s a very intense area of blood flow going into your heel and tibia.”  She cautioned me that things were not looking promising, then sent me on my radioactive way for a few hours.

The bone pictures didn’t look any better.  Two big bright circles in my heel and at the base of my tibia.  She said it was up to the radiologist and my podiatrist to interpret, but I understood.  Me smart!

I still ran 8 miles that night (last Thursday), keeping to my training plan until I heard from my doctor’s nurse.

Then she called, and she said that the doctor didn’t get a full copy to look at, only the radiologist’s report, but that he/she reported “stress reaction changes” in both areas.  My doctor wanted to see me ASAP.

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Of course I asked what that meant and if I should keep to my plan of running 4 miles that afternoon, 8 on Sunday and 17 on Monday.  She said that it was my call, given that my doctor hadn’t seen the actual images herself, but that if I attempted it I would have to stop when I felt any pain.

Well, that meant not running at all.  So I shut things down, and met with my doctor yesterday with a disc copy of the scan.

And the fat lady is singing.

If not fractured, both the heel (calcaneus) and lower tibia are stressed to the point of fracture.  Since I came in relatively early with the pain, the bone scan is only showing early stages.  Later scans or x-rays would show the line of the break better as it heals.  Of course, that made me feel like maybe I would be a quitter to stop…like a better person/runner would keep going.

But I know that’s not true.  I am making a choice to stop, but that choice doesn’t categorize me as weak or uncommitted.  I know I could continue, and I could live with the pain.  I just don’t want to make that mistake.  The peak of my training is still ahead–it’s not like I’m even into the taper phase yet.

I don’t define myself by one race, and I will not run myself into the ground/a boot/a cast/no exercise for 3-4 months.  I risk fracturing both bones clear through by continuing, and if I do that, I will be sidelined from running far longer than if I rest now and let my body heal.

So I am done and out for this year’s NYC marathon, and I am resting my foot and leg for at least 4 weeks.  I guess there isn’t much more to say.  I will add another post in the next few days with some great links I’ve found and want to share along with more of a description of how this injury feels compared to plantar fasciitis–in other words, how I knew this injury was different.  Maybe the info could be helpful to other runners…

But for now, I’m sulking a bit.  This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of my life, and I am keeping it in perspective, but I am allowing myself a day or two to be pissy, because this SHOULD NOT have happened.

I have been a runner for over a decade.  I log regular weeks of 20+miles, and I build mileage properly.  I can’t help but wonder what caused this injury, because it shouldn’t have happened, and though I know random injuries do arise, I have my blaming eyes squarely set on the one thing I’ve done differently during this training cycle compared to previous race training (one marathon, and too many half marathons and other races to count)…

THE FUCKING DREADMILL.

Looks like I picked the…

wrongweek

Happy running, peeps!  Enjoy your ability to get out there today…now that I can’t run, all I do is see runners (isn’t that the way?)!  I will be here at home, gorging myself on Game of Thrones books and cross stitching (almost done with my niece’s birthday present…a Paris scene)!

LaurenParis

 

 

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Spitting the Bit: The Summer of My Discontent

It’s been so long…I’ve neglected to post and basically abandoned the blogosphere for months, including following the blogs of so many readers. I apologize and hope all has been well and that everyone is smashing PRs. I just needed a break.

Though writing is easy for me in general (if not quality assured), writing about running can at times be a bit tedious. There are only so many ways to describe a Wednesday morning run, right? Plus, by the time I write about my run and then read the blogs of thirty other people describing their morning run, then go out for another run myself, the world can end up looking pretty small.

What’s more, writing burnout has coincided with running burnout.  No surprise, huh?  I have been mentally and physically fried.

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I talk about how running is a gift, and though I’m snarky as hell, I hope that my overall message is a positive one.  I love to run.  I appreciate the gift of good health and am grateful for each day that I am able to lace up my bright Smurf shoes with the custom orthotics and head out the door to kick some ass.

Still, the summer running has done a number on my attitude and my running times, and so I haven’t wanted to write much because it would have been 90% bitching, and who wants to read that?  I’ll try to condense my whining in this post yet keep it real as I describe what I’ve been up to this summer (assuming anyone will still take the time to read…and if you do, bless you!)

I’ll start with the running and then move on to some personal summer bits and bobs in the next post for those of you who love all of this very special flower and not just my running petals.

NYC Marathon Training

(Quick summary:  FML.)

If you’ll recall, I got into the NYC Marathon on the lottery drawing.  I did not expect to make it, but when I did, I (like many others) freaked out with excitement.  If I can make it there, well, you know…I can make it anywhere!

Here’s the problem.  I am a complete lazy bitch princess when it comes to summer running.  I fucking hate it.  What’s more, it doesn’t like me one bit either.

I typically run spring races for longer distances and take most of the summer off to rest my body and just do maintenance running.  It gives me a mental and physical reset.  I have run one marathon (Spring 2013), and I chose it specifically for those winter training months (Viva la Winter Running!)

Unfortunately, the NYC Marathon doesn’t set its calendar based on my training whims, and so I’m stuck with summer training for the first time ever (I will run fall half marathons, but those are much easier to train for.)

Now, I’m all full of admiration for those of you who knock out the lengthy summer runs with nary a complaint, especially you Texas folk, as I lived in Houston for 12 years and still remember the weather.  Some of you get up at 4 or 5 am to power through long miles and then go to church, work, etc.–

but as for me on a Sunday morning?  I love my king-size bed and the chance to sleep in.  So does HH (Handsome Hubby for new readers), and I hate to wake him up.

I’ve been getting up far too late (no one to blame but myself) and heading out the door too late in the morning to escape the heat.  In fact, the one morning I did get up at 6am and get out the door, I came in dying around Mile 9 only to have HH ask me if I’d checked the forecast and noticed that cooler weather was going to blow in around noon that day.

Such has been my luck, and boy have I paid the price.

I now know my sweat patterns and can time their appearance down to the half mile (do you know yours?).  The first running river of sweat always trails off the inside of my right elbow starting at the end of Mile 1, followed by the river trailing down the front of my tank followed by buckets of sweat dripping into my eyes and burning my corneas from Mile 2.5 on.  I have tried bringing a towel (tucked into the band of my SpiBelt) to wipe or at least hopefully redirect the flow, but by Mile 6-7 the towel smells so bad I can’t bear to bring it to my face.

I read once that more experienced runners might in fact sweat more (source), and I think that’s true.  I didn’t used to be a heavy sweater, but in the decade-plus that I’ve been a runner, I have turned into a SWEAT MONSTER.  I don’t just glow with sweat, I open a faucet somewhere in my pores and MAKE IT RAIN!

Just don’t come near me.  It’s gross, and what’s more, I’m flicking beads of it off my ponytail.  Be warned if you are running behind me.

All this sweat distracts me and makes it hard to relax and just get into the zone–not that I could anyway because my heart rate is elevated and I feel like I’m running through a sweat-flavored milkshake.  Humidity and I are not friends, and it makes 10 miles seem like an ultra.  Suck it up, right?  I know…but I’m just being honest.

To complicate matters, my plantar fasciitis in my left foot is as bad as it’s ever been, to the point where I am hobbled after runs and can barely limp for most of the day after a run.  Given that I run 5 days a week, this means that I am walking around like an invalid the majority of the time, which means that if I am not running, I am gimped out.  Fun stuff!

I think this is mostly due to to the plan I am using this time around.  I am a Hal Higdon devotee, and for my first marathon I used his Novice 1 plan.  This time I decided to step it up to the Intermediate 2 plan.

That lasted a few weeks until I recognized that I was cutting too many corners for other obligations/laziness/time issues/injury and leaving off too many miles.  So I dropped down to Intermediate 1, which has the same basic problem as Intermediate 2–a required medium-length run the day before the long run.  Hal says the medium length run the day before will ensure that you are tired so that you run the long run at an appropriate pace.  I say that Hal, you are the damn devil, and why not just trust me?  To quote Tommy Boy,

“I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a butcher’s word for it!”

For example, on Sunday I ran 7 miles at goal pace, which ended up around 9:30/mile, followed by 14 yesterday (I’ve adjusted the schedule so that my long runs are on Monday, and I will adjust back a few weeks before the Sunday marathon.)  It was just too much for my foot (the total for the week was 36, which isn’t so bad.)  Usually my PF only hurts in the morning and after runs, never during, since running loosens up the fascia.  Right now, though, it’s intense pain through the whole run, plus I’ve got pain shooting up both sides of my ankle, which I think is tendon pain from not landing on the foot right and from limping around when not running trying not to put weight on it.  I am icing tons and applying my special compound cream, but the pain and inflammation is winning.  I made an appointment with my podiatrist for next week.  She loves seeing injured runners limp in and insist that backing off miles is not an option.

If it were any other marathon, I would bail right now, but I can’t.  It’s New York!

So I hang by a thread, bitch and moan a lot, rub my cream, ask my kids to fetch me stuff, and run with a bad attitude, because I am running with pain, mentally am not in my happy place and further have nothing to prove, which was a huge motivation for my when training for my first marathon.  I wanted to show myself that I could do it, I was raising money for my sister’s disease, and in a strange way I think I felt like I was running those miles as an apology..a penance for being healthy while she suffered.  I had mental motivation and strength out the wazoo.

This time I feel like I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else but plenty of things I ‘d rather be doing other than spending quite so many painful hours on the hot asphalt, and I am struggling to find the desire to run the training miles, which is is the REAL marathon as most of us would agree–not the race itself with the support of family, friends and strangers and the medal and perhaps the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter bragfest, but the lonely miles, 20-40-60+ each week, known only to you and spent in your own way, one minute, one mile and one sweat drop/river at a time.

I am not giving up, just searching for some healing in my foot and some mental motivation.  It’s been a fantastic summer, just not where running is concerned.

What I’m running to: I’m Not the Only One by Sam Smith, Pusher Love Girl by Justin Timberlake

Coming in my next post…what I’ve been up to this summer and a description of Penis Thumb!

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Old Injuries, New Shoes and a Quest for Fun

The first half marathon of the Heartland 39.3 Challenge is four days away, and I am wondering why I thought it would be fun to run three half marathons in five weeks.  I fee like I might be whistling Zip-a-Dee-do-Dah out of my you-know-what by the time I’m done with this quest.

Thanks to all who gave suggestions for my long run last weekend.  I appreciate it!  I ended up running a very comfortable 10 miles at around a 9:20, then shut it down with plenty of gas left in the tank, as I was running a bit late to take the boys to see War Horse (overall “meh” rating, but amazing puppetry!)  So it all worked out well…

The race is just four days away, so I drove the course yesterday.  I know most of it, but hadn’t been down by the start in quite awhile.  I sort of wish I hadn’t made the drive, because now I am nervous.  The overall course is fantastic and relatively flat, but the first three miles are all uphill…a steady, unyielding ascent up pain mountain.

Yuck.  I hate uphill starts.  I really was hoping to start slow and easy, but it looks like the first three miles will be a fight to contain my speed and desire to hurry up the hill and get it the hell over with.  I don’t want to pay for a mistake later on.  Hell hath no fury like lactic acid (or technically hydrogen ion) buildup.

HH is sick of running and just ready to get this over with.  Neither of us can remember what we listed as our projected finish time, so I am hoping we will be put in different corrals.  I just don’t want to see him during the race, because I have a feeling it would be highly DEmotivating for me.

And now for a lesson on shoes…lesson being that you should not go to your favorite running store and ask about new shoes on a busy weekend.  My plantar fasciitis has been kicking up big time in recent weeks, including my right foot, which is a new and frankly alarming development, as being hobbled on both feet is infinitely more difficult than limping around on one good foot.

My first thought was that my shoes needed replacement, as I knew they were close to the mark.  I went to Garry Gribbles (a major chain of stores here in KC) a few weekends ago and got a young kid in a full store.  He examined the soles and told me I was fine for quite awhile yet.  Well, three weeks later, and the little plantar fasciitis elf is still stabbing me in both heels with his tiny sharp sword.  I went back a few days ago, got an older dude, and was promptly told that the shoes should have been replaced quite some time ago and that the midsole had totally broken down.

Perhaps I should make a voodoo doll of the young worthless lad out of the frozen water bottle that I am constantly icing my feet with these past few weeks.  Ahole.  Wishing you an abundance of hydrogen ions on your next race, young man!

My new shoes are my same model (Asics GT-2000), but in a horrendous new bright aqua and orange orgasm of color.  I feel like a circus clown in these things.

Shine bright like a diamond!

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My feet are feeling foolish but much happier, which is great considering that they have to take me through this weekend’s half marathon and two more before May 11th.

My race prediction? I am going to go lasso a 1:38:03 like Early to Rise Runner…no, I jest, but please go check out her AWESOME recap where she “chicked” some guys (my new favorite term) at the finish and spurred herself to a PR by five minutes.

I think she’s one of “those” people I’ve complained about in my post Ten Types of People Who Annoy Me During Races…you know, the real fit bitch.

I say that with love, Alyssa! 🙂

As for me, I could end up anywhere from a 1:52-1:56, I am guessing.  I will be happy with anything under 1:55, and I will drown myself in wine with anything over that number (who am I kidding?  It will be a wine fest either way!)

If I don’t do well, I will blame my running coach…

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He’s always interrupting our training runs so he can defecate in a yard…

 

 

Allow Myself to Introduce…Myself

Any Austin Powers fans out there?

I’ve been gone for so long…and I’m sorry.  Not that anyone’s been unable to go on without reading my special blend of running encouragement mixed with a healthy dose of swearing and negativity, but still…I apologize.

I’ve missed writing.  I’ve missed reading about my fellow runners/bloggers and their lives.  I’ve missed it all.  I just can’t quit you!

I mulled over several possible post titles in my head this morning, all of which happened to be song titles and have me singing–

Please forgive me cues Bryan Adams…

I know not what I do

Please forgive me

I can’t stop loving you (yuck!)

Baby I’m Back cues Akon…

Now I’m back in the flesh

Feeling so blessed

Back in your corner, suga suga don’t stress

Forget about the rest

Let’s go inside

I’m back in your zone, baby

Back in your vibe

Alive and Kicking cues Simple Minds…

You turn me on

You lift me up

Like the sweetest cup I’d share with you

You lift me up, don’t you ever stop, I’m here with you

And basically this kind of shit is the reason I can’t get anything done lately.

I’m all over the place.  I might have seasonal ADD, if there is such a thing.

December came and went in a flash.  We had the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tapdanced with Danny Fucking Kaye…complete as always with a family viewing of White Christmas.

My family White Elephant gift exchange was a big hit.  Gifts included a horse mask, cold hard cash, a picture of an astronaut sloth, a singing toilet snowman, a handpainted coffee mug, and my husband entering the room in a parody of Dick in a Box (no one wanted his gift but me!)  My gift was a cross stitch…I am horrifically UNcrafty, so my gift was truly a labor of love.  It read, “Your Awesome.”  HH battled it out with my sister and came up the proud winner.

I also spent many hours stitching a (still unfinished) gift for my sister…Jocking the Bitches and Slapping the Hos (any Boyz-N-The-Hood fans?)

I had another birthday…41!  It’s not the years, it’s the mileage, right?  Right.

We had a frozen water line…damn you Polar Vortex!

Our fridge went out and we spent over a month heading out to the one in the FREEZING garage while a very strange repair guy kept coming out trying to fix the old one (and engaging me in strange conversations about his dancing Border Collie and other random thoughts.)  After six weeks, we gave up and bought a balls-to-the-wall kickass new one, but not before said repair guy dropped one final gem.  He told me that he had discovered a pill that makes bugs explode but comes in a food grade that kills parasites in dogs.  He and his wife occasionally take it for more energy, and they recently gave it to their 4-year old daughter and later found clumps of worms in her diaper.

Yep, I’ve been busy living the dream, folks!

As for running?  Well, I pushed it aside for the holidays and only managed 1-2 runs/week, so any posts during that time would have been titled, “Run, Says the Sloth!”  I tried to run just enough to not lose my fitness.  After a few weeks of few running endorphins, but lots of peanut butter balls, cookies, and holiday vino, I headed out with my running coach Oscar (my dog) and had an exhilarating, mind-clearing, sanity-restoring 4-miler on my birthday…so fun that I posted on facebook my goal for a 1:50 half marathon sometime in 2014….

then I woke up the next morning with bursitis in my hip.

At first I thought it might be my IT band, just really high.  The pain was on my side, lower hip, not my glute but not far enough around to be my quad.  I applied my tried-and-true adaptation of the R.I.C.E.(W!) regimen…sitting on the couch with my ass and saddlebag hanging out on a pack of ice while nursing a medicinal glass of wine postdinner.   I tried to run again with Oscar two days later.  Same problem, and pain with every step throughout the day, especially on stairs.

So I rolled it.  Big mistake.  I made it angry.  Finally, I consulted Dr. Internet and realized that it was the start of bursitis, and instead of rolling out sore muscle tissue, I applied a significant (ahem!) amount of body weight on the bursa sac in my hip.

Oops!  My bad!

trochanteric hip bursitis

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Disclaimer:  My ass is not this ridiculously tight

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Bursitis scares me.  It makes me think OLD, for some reason, maybe because it makes me think of bunions, which I know are totally unrelated.  Still, it just seems like an old person injury.

“Boys!  Bring me an icepack…my bursitis is killing me!”  See?

It also scares me because I know it’s one of those injuries that can quickly become chronic, and between you, me and the entire internet, I’ve got enough chronic pain with my plantar fasciitis (“Boys!  Bring me my frozen water bottle…my plantar fasciitis is killing me!”)

So I took a few more days off and tried to figure out what went wrong.  I knew that I’d pushed it with my lack of running, but please—after ten years of running, I know my running base and my injury inclinations, and my hips don’t get injured (they don’t lie either…wink!).

FINALLY I figured it out.  The problem was the waist leash I wear with Oscar!  I was wearing it too low across my hips…like an airplane seatbelt or this year’s Christmas cookies.  It was a trauma injury from where the belt smacked my side.

Adjustment made…now I wear it at belly level, where this year’s Christmas cookies also reside, but where there are no fluid-filled sacs.  Problem solved.  I also spent some extra time at the gym working on isolated hip strengthening exercises.

If you have bursitis or are trying to figure out hip issues and pain, here are a few great articles that I found helpful, including some exercises…and I found the single knee bend exercise to be very helpful and informative.

http://www.active.com/running/articles/5-common-hip-injuries-you-can-fix

http://www.rehab4runners.co.uk/running-injuries/hip-groin-pain/trochanteric-hip-bursitis/

http://getrunning.net/when-hip-bursitis-isnt-really-hip-bursitis

http://getrunning.net/this-simple-test-can-improve-your-running

http://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/1662/recovering-from-trochanteric-hip-bursitis

Now I’m 100% and one week into my training for my next racing goal–the Heartland 39.3 Challenge.  It’s three half marathons in five weeks.  The first race is Rock the Parkway on April 12th.

I’m on the fence between Hal Higdon’s Intermediate and Advanced Half Marathon programs.  I want to run the most that I can in order to feel prepared, but the Advanced program calls for 6 days/week of running, and the first long run was 90 minutes with the last 1/4 at goal race pace, and my buddy Hal said you should finish feeling refreshed, not fatigued.  Um, right.  I decided to run 6 miles slow and 2 at close to goal pace, which ended up being around 9:25 for the slow part and 8:45 for the last two miles (my legs were getting tired and I was running into hurricane-force winds.)  I ended up stopping at 1:16 and figure that’s good enough for Week One.  I also took the next day off because my legs felt like they needed it.  I’ll try to do the full 6-day program next week.

If you’ve stuck with this long post, thanks for reading and not giving up on this post or on me!  I am so glad to be back writing, and I’ve missed you!

What I’m running to:  Psylla by Glass Animals, Shake Your Body Down to the Ground by the Jacksons

Getting Injured: Mild Soreness/Pain

What I’m about to talk about is more of a beginning runner topic, so I’m sorry if it’s boring to my experienced runners, but I hope you’ll read and chime in with your thoughts/advice…

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s interpretative dance clamshell packaging running injuries.  I’ve been reading lately about a lot of blogging/non-internet friends getting injured.  Knees, piriformis muscles (a real pain in the ass), IT bands, blah, blah, blah.

The fact of the mattter is that running hurts sometimes.  We push our runs, push our speed (push it real good!)  We ignore soreness and twinges.  We try to run through pain, because if we stopped every time that something hurt a little, we fear we would never run.  Also, experienced runners tend to have awareness of typical runner problems and the problems that they personally tend to get and manage those effectively.  So they keep running (often to their detriment, but I’m not one to lecture since I do the same thing!)

But what if you’re a beginner runner?  First, remember that I’m not an expert.  If my advice helps, praise me…if it doesn’t, keep it on the down low and tell yourself that my advice was free and entertaining.

See?  Here’s a free and entertaining pic of me and Alex at Communist Memento Park outside of Budapest, Hungary in 2011.  Basically, instead of destroying Communist statues, the city saved them and dumped them in a dusty “park” outside of town.  We had a ball that day!  Viva la Capitalism!

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Ok, so you’re running, and something hurts.  Well, some signals are more dangerous than others.  A bit of soreness that seems to loosen up after you get a mile or so in?  I ignore it, enjoy my run, and then R.I.C.E. the shit out of it (heavy on the R and I, light on the C and E, and usually with a glass of wine if it’s nighttime).  If it keeps popping up, I increase my wine intake (that’s just smart, folks) and work on stretching.

This should be the part where I then extol the virtues of foam rolling.  I occasionally use my foam roller, but I go back and forth on whether I drink the Kook-Aid.  I used it like rosary beads in the last two weeks leading up to my marathon last spring and had adhesions so bad in my thigh, but I don’t know if it made a difference or not.  The sports massages I invested in were much more helpful (albeit more expensive).  Here’s an interesting article bagging on ye old foam roller that you might want to check out…I like this guy’s writing.

Best part of the article (besides the pic below)…

Let’s be honest, the act of foam rolling feels awful.

The most obvious issue here is we’re trying to get people out of pain and the act of foam rolling puts them in pain. You’ll often see people masochistically rolling something like their IT band with gruesome facial expressions. “Knee hurts? Let me destroy my IT band! Eat this shit IT band! Screw the foam! Where is my PVC pipe?!?! ROAR!!!”

This is a big reason runners carry foam rollers around like it’s their favorite dildo bible. They love self-inflicted pain (hence all the running to nowhere). 

foam-roller-it-band-exercise

I like this guy.  Roar!

So, if I’m working on stretching and icing and maybe taking a day or two off when something flares up, I’m usually good (with the exception of plantar fasciitis…a daily issue for me.)  

Other tweaks you can consider?  Run on the other side of the street…seriously.  Think about the fact that streets are graded for drainage.  Make sure you’re not running too far over where there might be a steep grade that’s creating an imbalance.  If you run on sidewalks, hit the street instead…it’s softer.  Make sure you’re in the right shoes.  Running shoes are a very worthy investment, and I advise everyone to go to a running store and get your foot and stride analyzed.  Change your pace.  Slow it down.  Stop and stretch during a run (lightly!) and see if that helps.  Drink wine before your run (okay, that’s a joke.)  There are lots of things you can try.

What if your attempts don’t stop the pain?  Well, at this point it will usually increase in intensity, stop getting better after the run gets going, or get better but then come back during the run itself.

If that happens, shit just got real.  Get yourself on the internet, do some more research on stretching, and prepare yourself for some time off (like a week or more.)  Or go to your doctor.  Or a sports massage therapist.  Or the liquor store.

Most mild injuries come from the ol’ too much, too soon mentality.  Let me use the wise example of a certain gal (yes, me) who decided to start running waaaaayy back in the day.  It’s a simple story…short and sweet.

She started running on the treadmill, and set running a mile as her first goal.  She worked on this 3-4x/week until she achieved the one-mile mark.  She liked it.  She felt stronger, more powerful.  She became addicted.  She said, “I just can’t quit you!”  

So she started running at 5K pace, because she didn’t really realize that any other pace existed since it was all so painful, and resolved to run 4-5 minutes more EACH TIME she ran.  She killed herself, got up to 45 minutes within a matter of weeks, and then had to stop running for a month because her IT band got completely jacked up.

She was very sad (but she didn’t give up!)

The most common beginner running/overuse injuries?  Runner’s Knee, IT band injuries (ITBS), Hamstring pulls, Shinsplints, Plantar Fasciitis, and painful side stitches.  Here’s link to a good article describing them, along with treatments, stretches, etc.  It’s a great starting point for a beginner runner.

What if you have more sudden pain during a run?  Pain that’s sharp or shooting rather than pain that you would describe as tightness, stiffness, dull, throbbing, sore, etc. is a much bigger danger sign.  When I get pain like that, I give it only a few minutes to go away (in case it’s just some random thing that resolves quickly).  If it doesn’t, I walk home and see how I feel later after the R.I.C.E.W. (I added Wine!) regimen.  If I feel it the next morning, or if I feel it at the start of my next run, I shut the show down for a few days.

Let the type and intensity of the pain be your guide.  Here’s another great article describing specific types of pain and what to do.

And finally, here’s a great article on piriformis pain (that common pain DEEP in the ass), again written with great flair by The Salty Runner…A Friendly Guide to the Running Butt.

Fellow runners, please feel free to add any comments!  Happy running, and happy weekend!

I Ran the Dumbest Race of my Life and Picked up a Medal: True Story

Have I ever mentioned how I hate 5ks?  Though I’ve been a runner for 10 years, I’ve only run one 5k in my life.  The distance is just ugly to me.  I’m not a fast runner, I hate speedwork, and I run for peace and desire to reach that perfect long-distance nirvana only found past Mile 4.  I’d rather eat glass than sprint for 3.1 miles.

The one time I did run a 5k, it was the Escalade race through the streets of Old Town in Geneva…typical Old Europe…hilly, windy cobblestone streets.  Ankle breakers.  I actually enjoyed the feeling of cutting loose, and my time was respectable (24-25 minutes if I remember right), but I didn’t have any strong desire to run another one.  It’s just not my strength.  I am a tenacious monkey, but not a speedy one.

As part of my half marathon training, good ol’ Hal Higdon suggested running a 5k last weekend, and luckily enough, there was one downtown that fit the bill:  The 4th Rivalry Run, pitting Missouri supporters against Kansas pukes.

If you aren’t familiar with the area, Kansas City, Missouri is right on the border of Kansas, with the University of Missouri and that pathetic excuse for a school known as the University of Kansas both within a short distance.  These two schools hate each other with a passion dating back to the Civil War.  Though the race is billed as state vs. state, it’s mostly MU vs. KU.

As a proud MU grad, I was glad to participate, though again, I hate 5ks.

I’ve run exactly two speedwork sessions in the past eighteen months, both coming within the last three weeks.  In fact, I cut last week’s session short, running only 3 repeats instead of 6, because I’ve been having a lot of plantar fasciitis and hip flexor trouble (in opposing legs, which makes for high comedy as I gimp down the street the first half-mile of runs favoring one leg until my hip flexor loosens up, followed by a herky-jerky stride for the remaining distance because that f’er in my opposite foot hurts), and I think that speedwork causes me to lose form and hit the ground hard, exacerbating any injury issues.  I kind of look like a flailing chicken when I do intervals.  It’s hot stuff.

Anyhoo, I showed up ready to do my best and loving the fact that it was a gorgeous morning.  I spent a significant amount of time running up and down the side street to get my leg and foot loose, and I noticed that of the crowd of 650 or so, there were only about 30-40 people warming up.  Is this typical?  How do these people expect to start off running fast?  I assumed that it must not be a popular race with dedicated runners.  There was a lot of standing around going on.  I decided to make sure I was toward the front of the corral.

Those of us who had been running warmups let out a collective groan just before the starting time, when they announced a 15-minute delay.  Really?  Now we all had to wait a few minutes before running additional warmup laps.  More energy expended…and I could smell bacon, which was very distracting.

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 I took a moment to review my “whatever you do, don’t…” goals for the race…

Don’t die.  This was a big one.

Don’t start off too fast.  My speedwork sessions (all two of them) have been at an estimated 8:00/mile 5k pace.  I hoped to run the first mile around 8:00-8:15, saving a bit of energy for the big hill between Miles 1-2, and then to see how I felt for the last 1.1 miles…if I ran the second mile around 8:30 and felt good, then maybe I could run the last around an 8:00 and finish around the 24:45 mark.  I decided that I would be quite happy with anything under 25 but not shoot myself if I ended up closer to 25:30.  I wanted a fairly steady race.

Don’t get caught up in other runners.  I was racing against myself and no one else, and this race wasn’t even my goal, just part of my overall training program.  No need to be miserable.

Don’t run stupid…kind of summing up everything.

Right.  I lined up toward the front and set my music.  I’d debated against even having music and didn’t really want it but decided to play it to drown out the sound of my breathing.

And we were off…and I was running to that new Katy Perry “Roar” song that I just downloaded.  I decided to buy it and listen to it on my runs before I hear it 10,000 times on the radio and begin to despise it.

The lyrics were awesome and upbeat, the sun was shining on a glorious morning, and we were running fast.  It felt great…we headed toward the hill, and as we settled in I knew I was running under an 8:00 mile.

But it felt so good, and I was comfortable.  I felt like it was a little too fast to sustain for the whole race, but I knew I would be slowing down soon for the hill, so decided to go with it.  It’s such a short race…how bad could it get, even if I’d overshot my initial goal pace by a little?  

And then my Runtastic app told me that I’d run the first half mile at a 6:40 clip.

Shit.

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It was the Geneva half marathon all over again, where I ran a few sub 7:00 miles at the start and then suffered torture the last few miles, the likes of which I never wanted to experience again, even if I PR’ed with a 1:52.

How could I be so stupid and off on my sense of pace?  Damn you Katy Perry and your cheesy-ass lyrics!  Curse you young female runners for running just slow enough that I could keep up but just fast enough that I couldn’t hang!  Now I was going to hurt, and hurt bad.  I honestly wouldn’t have guessed that my feet could even run a 6:40, coordination wise.

I was aggravated that I had no sense of my own pace.  I tried to slow down to what felt like an 8:00 pace, and I did, finishing the first mile in 7:19.  I tried to be positive–I really did.  I told myself that I had banked a little time and should be happy about it, and the pain that I was soon going to feel wouldn’t last long, since it was a 5k.

Mile 2 was a ginormous suckfest, and that hill was killer.  We climbed 100 feet in less than half a mile, and I spent most of that time castigating myself.  I think the phrase “you dumbass” circled in my mind at least 30 times during that short 4-minute period, along with other thoughts that I won’t repeat here in case my kids read this.

I finished the second mile with an 8:13 split, so things were still okay, I told myself.  Right the ship, I said.  One mile left, I said.  Don’t fall apart now, I said.  Bacon at the finish line, I said.

I fell apart.  I tried to speed back up to salvage my time and make the most of that stupid 7:19 first mile.  Then the full-on agony hit, and I had to slow back down.  What was really frustrating was that I couldn’t seem to bring myself to slow down beyond a certain speed, even though I could have run much slower.  I still don’t understand it.

At about the 2.4 mile mark, I did something that I’ve NEVER done in a race, and maybe have only done five times ever in my life on a run, period.

I stopped to walk.  I stopped to walk when I could have just slowed down but kept running.

I STOPPED!

I STOPPED FIVE TIMES!  EACH TIME FOR ABOUT 10-15 SECONDS!

JC/FML/WTF/HS I STOPPED TO WALK!

It was a complete mental breakdown, not just a physical one, and knowing that made me want to scream.  I have never run so stupid or collapsed mentally like that.  It was a completely foreign feeling to this runner, and if it happens again some bystander is likely to die.

I crossed that finish line and had to resist the urge to climb up the side pole, tear down that finish banner and wipe it off the face of this earth.  I went to sit on the curb and steam.  After drinking a bottle of water and deciding not to go completely apeshit, I checked my splits and saw that I’d still managed an 8:38 pace for the final mile.  How was that possible with stopping to walk five times?  How fast was I running between those walking breaks?  Who was I, and where was my sense of self?  Who was cooking all that infernal bacon and where could I get a slab?

Tough questions and few answers.  I ended up with a 25:48 time.  I was so pissed.

I saw the first sheet of results go up and decided to go see how bad I stacked up against the other runners.  I wanted to see a bunch of women ahead of me in my division to punish myself (Stupid Women Ages 40-44 Who Ran the Race with Pillow Marks on Both Sides of Their Face.)

I finished 2nd in my division.  I got a medal.

Seriously?  I’ll take the medal, because Lord knows I’ll never get another one in my life, but we all know that a 25:48 is not typically a medal-worthy time.  I’m not bagging on it, but it’s the truth and I know it.  I’ve only run 2 5ks, and it’s not even my best time.  I had to laugh.  It was so funny that I took a break from hating myself and decided to enjoy the next few minutes until the ceremony.

I took a picture with KC Wolf…

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And I proudly walked up for my medal…the only one I’ll ever likely get, and one that will remind me of my dumbest race ever!

 

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Happy (smart) running!

 

My Dog Is Fat and My Quad Is Toast

I took our new puppy Stella to the vet yesterday, since I’d never brought her back to have her stitches trimmed from her “lady” surgery.  The tech and vet said she’s fat.  Too fat for 7 months old.  It can strain the back, they said.

No more stealing food from Oscar’s bowl for her.  I have to take her down to 3/4 cup per day of dry food and (mon dieu!) cut back on her treats.  Poor chubby Stella!

Now on to the pressing issue.  I’ll try to joke about it, but really I’m near tears.  My quad is in all kinds of anguish right now, and I officially have to accept that I am injured.

It hurt last week, but I chalked it up to normal lingering soreness and pressed on, though cutting a little off my mileage.  Now it hurts to walk stairs and sometimes to put direct pressure on my leg.  It hurt with every step during my run Monday.  People, did I mention it hurts?  It’s certainly not gut-wrenching pain, but it’s “something’s wrong” pain, and there’s no mistaking it for anything else.

I thought at first based on the Facebook recommendation of a friend that it might be quad or patellar tendonitis, but after another run and a day or so, I really feel that it’s a quad muscle strain.  This is not good timing, since the marathon is only 10 days away.  Sure, it’s nothing like what my sister faces, and that fact is helping me keep things in perspective, but it is devastating on an ego/competitive/personal level.  Here’s what I’m doing for it:

I’m spending a lot of time on the couch.  I’m sprawled out a lot with a pillow under my leg a good portion of the day, book in hand and children on call to fetch me things.

I’m icing like a madwoman (again, with children on call to trade out my football- and baseball-shaped lunchbox icepacks.)  They like to yell, “Apply!” and then push the ice down on my skin to torture me.  Little do they know that every time they do that, I mentally knock off a few hundred dollars off the price of the car they will drive when they turn sixteen.  Max in particular will be lucky if we buy him a go-cart.

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I’m drinking.  It’s for resveratrol/antioxidant/medicinal purposes.

I’m slathering my prescription compound foot cream for my plantar fasciitis all over my thigh a few times a day.  It’s got NSAIDs and a medication in it that increases blood flow to the region.  Bring in the red blood cells!  Get to work, please, little globules of healing!  Mama ain’t got time for dat!

I’m rolling on my foam roller CONSTANTLY.  It’s practically earned a place in my bed next to my Kindle, my iPhone and my copy of Volume Two of Les Misérables that puts me into a near-coma every night when I try to read it.

I went to the running store and checked on my shoes.  They said the wear pattern was okay but that they were near the end of their cycle (I’ve put over 400 miles on them.)  While I’ve heard never to switch your shoes right before a race, I bought a new pair (same style) and may try them out if I can get running again.

I bought some KT tape (my PA friend recommended it, and I have some CrossFit friends who have used it for injuries.)  At $20 for 20 strips, I half expect a miracle to happen when I strap it on.  If I break five pieces of it, will it fix the injuries of five thousand?  Is this shit some sort of transdermal ‘roid application?

BTW, the dude says not to buy the cotton type…get the pro style.  It sticks better.  Just passin’ it on.  I probably wouldn’t have realized there were two types and bought the wrong one if not for the sweet, helpful and enthusiastic 20-year old who regularly runs 40-45mpw and thinks I must have done something specific to hurt myself because if everybody trains right like I have then this shouldn’t happen because we all can run that distance.

See ya at 40, dude.  If you’re still singing that same song, I’ll buy you a bottle of your favorite wine.

I’m skipping runs.  I bailed on yesterday and today’s runs, and I just don’t know what to do about Friday.  It’s my last long run (8 miles.)  Do I skip it entirely and try to maybe run a few miles on Sunday (which would mean almost a week off?)  Does that even makes sense with needing to run 26.2 next Saturday?  Do I try to run it on Friday but cut back my miles? I am seriously at a loss.  I don’t want to stop running entirely and start to lose my readiness, but I don’t want to keep trying to run and just retweaking it and not give it a chance to heal.  The running store guy says to skip it because it’s better to go in 10% undertrained but with a better healed muscle than to go in with a highly agitated tear and one more 8-miler under my belt.

I would welcome any advice!!!  At the worst, I can’t run the race, which will be so upsetting, but the second worst scenario is running it super slow just to finish but injuring myself even worse.  Then I’m unhappy with my effort and time and yet also unable to keep running.  It’s just sad to think about after all the work of the last few months and after as careful as I’ve been.  Compared to many marathon training programs, these have been bare-bones miles, and I made sure I was more than ready with my base mileage before even starting.  The thought of not running is awful, and so is the thought of gimping my way to the starting line and not being able to give it my best effort.

Holy shit, where’s the Tylenol?

Sorry to complain so much, but that is what’s on this maybemarathoner’s mind.  I will try to be more positive and just hope that things turn around lightning quick.  If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know, as I am truly floundering here!

And in the meantime, today’s Work It Out Wednesday song is “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake.  What a love song.  What a running beat, especially at the end when it just repeats…

Off to get up close and personal with a rigid foam roller.