Monday, November 7, 2011

Been a long time

So sorry that I haven't been around to post. I apologize greatly. I was in a funk for a long time and feeling deeply uninspired by running, but I kept doing it - just chose not to write about it. I hope you'll stick around because I'll be back... soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let me start by saying this is a race I probably won't run again unless it's to qualify for half fanatics or used as a training run or something... I'm not very impressed with the route.

The first half mile was downhill, which in normal situations would be ok by me but it made it difficult for me to start out slowly, which is what I needed considering my pinched nerve issue. Then the next mile (yes, next MILE) was uphill. S.U.C.K.Y!! That really killed my motivation b/c as I was trying to "run" up the hill, I got passed by a walker... for reals. It was on this hill that I took the very last place in the race, another blow to my motivation. For the next 2 miles, I spent the whole time convincing myself that last was ok b/c I'm not running at full capacity because of my literal pain in the butt.

After finally getting over the "I'm last" blues, I changed my plan of attack from 5:1 intervals to whatever feels right:whatever feels right. lol After the 7 mile marker, I saw the girls who passed me during mile 2. I made it my goal to catch them. I caught them and then passed them. And then left them in my dust. I don't know what happened to them because they didn't show up on the results so I wonder if they quit?? That's too bad too b/c as I was leaving the area after the race, I saw one of the girls nearing the finish - she was less than a block away. Just after reaching mile marker 9, I passed the girl in front of them. We walked and talked for a short while before I told her I was going to keep going in hopes of getting under 3 hours. At that point, it was impossible for me to meet that goal (less than 12 min miles needed to reach 3 hours), but I ignored that fact and kept moving.

The suckiest part came during the last 2 miles. I got moved to the sidewalk b/c the police support was ending and we couldn't utilize the streets anymore. The sidewalks in this part of the city sucked BADLY!!! They were sloped worse than the surfaces on Arsenal Island!! The mind-numbing part came when I entered the track on my way to the finish. I hate rubberized track surfaces b/c I feel like they take away so much of my momentum (when I have some) and it was brutal on my mind b/c I still had to run around the track to get to the finish line. Laurie and Emily were there though and Laurie sent out some cheers. I'm not sure if Emily did or not, probably did, but I didn't hear them. I only heard Laurie.

I finished nearly 2 minutes faster than I did at Princess and that's encouraging considering I'm "injured". Makes me wonder just how well I could have done without the injury if I managed a PR with an "injury".

My assessment of the course is pretty negative. I think they chose a very poor course and might not do this race again simply because of that. I found the course to be anything but inspiring. The beginning had a pretty nice view with historical houses and buildings to look at, but that only lasted til mile marker 5. After that, it was industrial or slummy, as in houses with no residents and "no trespassing" signs in the windows... old factories with windows busted out, semi-truck storage yards, a water treatment plant with open lagoons that REEKED, and broken-down streets. I know Rock Island has WAY better places to run b/c I've been through the area a few times. What would have been so wrong about running through the District?? They've done a lot of major work in that area and it's beautiful now! Or why not take us deeper into Rock Island instead of the industrial outskirts? I think a lot of my lack of motivation came directly from not having anything to look at or to allow my mind to wander. Instead, I was constantly watching the road to avoid potholes and unlevel concrete. Not impressed to say the least. The loss of police support after 3 hours was kind of uncool too b/c then we had to utilize the crappy sidewalks and didn't have anyone to ensure we made it back ok or didn't get hurt during those last couple of miles.

So, the negative (and possible deal-breaker for future participation) was the course, but the positive was the PR despite not being able to run at my top ability. If there's a different race to run next year, I'll likely choose it over the QCDC, but will probably run the QCDC again if there's not another option. My next race will be better. Next time I'll be running in beautiful Des Moines in the Dam to Dam 20k in support of Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy research - provided I make my fundraising goal... (only 40 bucks in so far... with less than 3 weeks to raise the rest... boooooo).

So, there it is... HM #2 in the books.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's been a while, but I'm still around!

In recent weeks, I've been doing some soul searching. I had to change my 2011 goals because I thought I was injured again. It turns out I wasn't, but the concept of being injured yet again prompted me to put on the brakes. Do I really need to run 8 half marathons in one year?? No. Do I really need to earn Half Fanatics AND Marathon Maniacs status in one year?  No. Do I need to remain healthy and able to continue running? Yes. 

So, (I believe I might have posted this already) I took the 8 half marathons and 3 marathons down to 5 half marathons spread out over the year with the little 5k's, 10k's and 15k-20k's tossed in the mix just for fun. 

In addition to reducing my mileage to produce a better runner, I'm trying to become a STRONGER runner by implementing some strength training. My good friend Carolyn (from Fabulous Fitness - link to the right) explained to me that if all I do is run, I'll develop muscle imbalances that will just produce even more injuries. Certainly don't want any of THOSE, so introducing ST back into my fitness routine. Right now I'm only doing one ST workout a week - upper body.  I'm trying to figure out what lower body stuff I can do without taxing my muscles too much and making it even more difficult to run.

I'm also adopting a cleaner diet. Fitness is 90% diet according to The Eat Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno.  I'll believe it. Certainly just being diligent about my workouts isn't enough b/c I'm still way heavier than I want to be. And you can't convince me that eating a McDonald's burger will make me a stronger runner. So, cleaning up the eats.

This weekend I have 10 miles on the schedule. It's looking like Sunday afternoon will be the time to run. The temperature will be higher and the wind slower than Saturday. I'm hoping I can work out the logistics to FINALLY meet my friend Laurie Eash and finally run with an ultramarathoner who's 20 years my senior! How cool and inspiring!!

I hope everyone is doing well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

And I'm back...

I had an appointment with Dr. Lake on Friday and explained the way the pain in my heel felt and where it was located. Without doing anything at all, she told me it was nerve related. So, of course, hearing that I feared the worst and told her I was terrified to let her touch my heel. She said she could fix it without even touching my heel.  Awesome news.  She said that it is all directly related to the sciatic nerve which starts in the low back and travels down the back of the leg and into the heel.  She did her thing in the hip region and instantly the pain went away. Unfortunately, it didn't stay gone for long b/c everything is so inflamed everywhere, but I know with time it'll work itself out.  She has me doing this thing called Nerve Flossing. It doesn't feel like it's doing anything, but she said it's stretching out the nerve so that it glides among the muscles better. I'll buy it. She hasn't steered me wrong yet! She worked on me again yesterday (Monday) and moved further up into my back. Man, did that hurt! Holy moly! But, the pain was gone until this afternoon when I headed out for my run. 

I did 4 miles today. I pretty much ran a half mile, then walked a short bit, ran to the next half mile mark, walked a short bit, etc.  I started out front of my office building, ran across Government Bridge, and took a left down the bike path past the ball diamond and just into Centennial Park, and turned around there to complete the 4 miles. At the half mile mark, my heel (nerve) started acting up, and it kind of felt like my arch was tight.  I stopped real quick and did a fast calf stretch (even though Dr. Lake told me not to stretch...) and it seemed to help.  I did that once more before the bridge on the way out and felt pretty good the rest of the way. At about the 2 mile mark, my left hip flexor was talking. Not enough to convince me to stop, but definitely noticeable. More noticeable than the heel pain at that point. 

Because of my medication, I pay very close attention to my heart rate and tried to keep it at or about 170. I really need to figure out what a safe range is so that I can set my Garmin to monitor it for me instead of me watching it all the time. 

Despite the aches, the run felt very good. I got in 4 good miles and I feel great about it.  Strength training tomorrow, run again on Thursday, Dr. Lake again on Friday, full rest day on Saturday, then a long run on Sunday. Probably do 6 or so miles and build up to 13 before the half on the 8th. 

Well, I suppose that's all. Definitely glad to be feeling so good.  Now it's time to "floss".  Night all!

Monday, March 21, 2011

On the injured reserve, yet again...

So, after my 6.2 miler out at Wildcat Den, I've been having a problem with my right Achilles. So, I'm down for a bit. I don't want to have the same problem with the Achilles that I had with the posterior tibial tendon, so I'm resting like I should. I have an appointment with Dr. Lake set for Monday, but I'm thinking about seeing if she can get me in yet this week. If I skip this entire week of running, I'll miss out on 8 miles of easy running and whatever my long run is (probably 10 miles). I already missed my 9 miler last week and a easy 4. I never know what really needs a doctor's care and what will be fine if I just relax a bit...   

Monday, March 14, 2011

Running at Wildcat Den

Sunday afternoon, I headed out for an 8 mile run and decided I was going to do some trail running at Wildcat Den because I am insanely bored with running in Wilton. I don't know how I'm going to get through all this training if I can't find some new places to knock out the miles. Anyhow, as I was climbing the first hill, which seemed to be the height of Mt. Everest and about as steep as a wall in a house, I decided I was only going to do one loop (total of 6.2 miles) because I didn't want to overdo it and end up sore for too long.

As it turns out, I feel pretty good today. Some soreness in lower shins and ankles, but nothing that won't go away by the time I run next. I have decided, however, that when running 6.2 miles at Wildcat Den, it could easily be considered running 12.4 miles given the effort you have to put into it! It's insane how difficult it is to run out there!

But it's so wonderful out there too. The hills are insane, but the sounds and the sights and the peace that's out there is amazing and so conducive to running. It's amazing how much you notice when you're running in nature like that. For instance, I saw a cardinal while out there - that's unusual. Haven't seen one of them in a long time. I also noticed the sound of the water rippling over the rocks in the creek. Another thing that I noticed, that seems really out of place in that park, is the massive evergreen grove that's out there. They just seem so out of place in that one big clump when there's nothing but deciduous trees around as far as the eye can see.

The place also makes me think of the Blair Witch Project... especially when the trees are dormant and brown. Once spring hits and the trees turn green again, I won't have that BW feeling anymore. lol

I managed to complete the 6.2 miles in 1:37 and some change. Not a time to be proud of, but I swear my heart was going to pound out of my chest on a few occasions. It's scary how much a medication you've been prescribed to take can affect your heart rate and your ability to run like you could prior to the medication. I've noticed that my breathing is more of out control and my heart rate gets higher. So, today at my appointment I'm going to ask if it's safe to take this medication while training for long distance races and will be sure to mention that during an easy 3 mile run (11:30-12:30 mm) my heart rate measured as high as 187 and my breathing indicated that I was working harder than I've ever worked to go that distance at that pace. I'm probably going to have to wear my heart rate monitor on every run and have my Garmin warn me if it's getting too high.

Anyhow, after 6.2, I did a quick stretching routine for the hips and quads/calfs and then headed home. On the way home, I decided I would snatch up the dog and take him out with me for the last two miles. He did pretty well. He didn't go too fast and actually left some slack in the leash, but he still won't run next to me. And he did well with commands too. He'll get good at this running thing yet.

So, 8 miles in the books (8.2 to get technical). Today is a rest day, which is good because I'm wiped out! This time change has done me in!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My first Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend Recap

In August, 2010, I made the decision that I was going to run a half marathon... And I chose to do it with Team in Training.  This afforded me the opportunity to make my first half marathon a day to remember for a lifetime.  Team in Training made it possible for me to run my first half marathon, go to Walt Disney World for the very first time, and to meet Melanie and Crystal, my two very best friends, neither of whom I had ever met, except online.

Training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon was supposed to start October 23, 2010, but I had already committed to running a 10 mile fundraiser run for a family friend with a rare disease and very high medical expenses (on November 7), so my training started late.  At first, Coach Joe set me up with a training program that would help me reach a time goal for the Quad Cities Distance Classic scheduled for May. It was a bit too fast for me though, so I decided I wasn't going to do the pace work he was suggesting. I was having a really hard time taking my overall pace from an 11-12 minute mile to a 10:30 minute mile. It didn't matter anyway because on November 23, I would discover a terrible pain in the inside area of my right ankle. Ugh, it was bad.  I thought it might be a stress fracture and was very fearful that it could be, but it turns out it was just a tendinitis, that I'm still fighting now on March 13.  Dr. Lake at the Kaminski Pain and Performance Care Clinic is doing a great job of opening things up and breaking apart the adhesions that cause runners' injuries. 

So, December and January come and go. In January, I was finally able to run a whole 3 miles without any major pain, so Coach Joe created a new plan for me that would quickly move me up in mileage so I could complete the half.  

February 25th comes and marks the first time I've ever been away from my daughter overnight. I flew out of Moline to Chicago, spent 3 hours in Chicago and then finally took off for Orlando. I met Crystal first at the hotel. What a great experience.  Then shortly after that, Melanie arrived. We stayed up until 2 am that night walking around the Boardwalk, eating dinner, doing some window shopping, and just talking in our room. It was an awesome night meeting two girls I have known and loved for 7 years but had never seen face to face. It was hard for people to believe because we were so natural with each other like we'd been hanging out for years! 

Saturday morning, we got up and went to the TNT team breakfast.  The food was really good and the fun was plentiful. Bonni, the Virtual Team in Training coordinator for our team, gave a little speech and then we all just chatted and got to know each other. Bonni came around with prizes for everyone who showed up, and then we decorated our jerseys. 

We spent the rest of the day at the Expo (which was awesome but packed!), meeting the Spark Girls at Earl of Sandwich, and going to Magic Kingdom.  Saturday ended at midnight when we finally tried to go to sleep because Sunday morning at 2 am was going to come very very quickly!

And it did... Crystal says she didn't sleep at all that night, and I know I didn't sleep real well.  We got up at 2:30 am and got dressed and ready to go and met the rest of the team in the lobby of the Boardwalk Inn to board the buses and head to the race start. 

The race was super cool. We saw so many neat things along the way and I took a lot of cool pictures. (I'll have to add them later because it's getting too late to do it now). Crystal and I started out really strongly and almost wished we'd either started in a higher corral or started closer to the front of our corral because we were stuck behind so many people who were going slower than us that we couldn't get around because the course was so congested. 

We started at Epcot and headed out to the freeway toward Magic Kingdom.  We ran the first 3 miles without stopping, and then stopped to walk. That was a mistake. At that point, my legs decided they were tired and didn't want to do the whole distance anymore. We saw Melanie at Mile Marker 4 and she was cheering louder than anyone else!  Crystal had to pee at mile 5, and believe it or not, it took her 5 minutes to accomplish that mission... it turns out compression capris and sweaty hot legs do NOT get along very well!  lol 

At mile 6-7, we moved through Cinderella's Palace on our way through Magic Kingdom.  It was at about this time that our feet started to complain about the running after walking 15 miles the day before (according to Crystal's pedometer).  So during the last half of the race, we did a lot of walking.  The rest of the race, up until mile 12, was pretty much uneventful except seeing Melanie at mile marker 8 where she was able to keep up with us and take tons of pics because we were walking again.  

At mile 12, we found our second wind and started running again. We ran into Epcot and around this corner and that corner and around this bend and then another corner, hoping and praying the finish line was near. We finally saw the finish line, grabbed each other's hands and finished the race hand in hand.  We were so happy and excited for finishing our first half marathons together!!! Melanie was just as excited for us and kept snapping pictures as we headed to the water tables.  

After a little cooldown, we headed back to the hotel. Crystal showered and I slept! lol Melanie headed out to find us something to eat/drink. She came back with a Mt. Dew and chocolate milk for me, and I don't remember what for Crystal. lol I couldn't believe WDW didn't carry Mt. Dew! What a gyp! lol

At 1 pm we headed over to the TNT post party and had some lunch. Unfortunately, shortly after that our vacation ended because both Crystal and I had flights back home scheduled for Sunday evening. We were happy to be going home to our families, but sad to be leaving Melanie. 

Melanie and I will be doing TNT next year (me as a team mentor), but we're not sure about Crystal. Crystal will probably decide to just run the race with us and avoid the fundraising. She didn't have as good of luck as I did raising the funds requested of us. 

All in all, it was an amazing weekend and an overall amazing experience to train and raise money with/for Team in Training and I look forward to doing it again in the future. And I'm so excited about running another half that I've scheduled 7 more for the rest of the year as well as 3 marathons and two 25ks.  This will get me up and over the 1,000 mile mark for 2011.  If I can make 1102 miles in 2011, I'll be stoked, but my goal is to definitely get more than 1,000 miles.  

So, this is long and it's time for bed, so until next time... Good night.