Monday, October 26, 2015

Week in review Oct. 19-25: Let's call it a week of rest

Yep, that's it.
Nothing much to report for last week. I got on the bike once for an hour, and that's all I did outside of a few casual dog walks.

I was still stiff and sore Monday after the Freep marathon. My knee actually felt OK, but a few days afterward my OTHER knee started giving me trouble. I have no idea. So, I'm not doing anything until it feels better. The rest of the week was errands, food prep, and everything else that falls to the wayside during marathon week.

I really do want to get moving again sometime soon. My mental health and dress slacks both demand it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thoughts about marathon training: I’m not getting any younger

Just in case you missed it the first time. =)
I have a lot of feelings about finishing a 26.2 I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do – most of them happy, but a few frustrations in there as well. That’s mainly because although I busted my butt with 20-milers last year and barely ran at all for the month prior this year, I still finished this year within a minute of last year.

At first glance, I assume I wasted all that time running 20-milers last year. BUT, I ran almost identical training plans for last year and the year before, and I set my PR in 2013 WITH all those 20-milers.

So, I did the logical thing and pulled all my old Daily Mile data. To summarize:

Progression of miles to one 20-miler 10 weeks out (I had said 11 weeks, but I think I miscounted)
Consistent high mileage weeks and a record-mileage July
Threw out SI joint
Re-progression of miles to one 16-miler 5 weeks out
IT band inflammation
Very little running with longest run of 4 milers in the month previous
Very little cross-training two months prior; very little strength, core, yoga, etc. entire running season with increased core and yoga in the month previous
Completed marathon in 4:29:46

Progression of miles to two 20-milers and one 22-miler three weeks out
No injuries, but much slower paces
Very little cross training, strength, core, yoga, etc. two months prior
Completed marathon in 4:28:54

Progression of miles to three 20-milers and one 22-miler 16 days out (!)
No injuries, and much quicker paces
Very little cross training, strength, core, yoga, etc. two months prior
Consistent high mileage weeks and a then-record-mileage September
Ended nearly every long run with a fast finish (!)
Completed marathon in 4:10:06

I think the takeaway is: Long runs, but not too long; high mileage, but not too high; fast finishes, but not too fast; and seriously stop skimping on the strength, pre-hab and core work.

I completely skipped the fast finishes the last two years (I had a hard time in the heat last year), and ran 20 minutes slower – probably significant.

I’ve done a combination of 20 and 22-milers, with varied results – probably not significant.

My PR came after my shortest taper – probably not significant considering the rest of that season’s training.

Cross-training falls off every year at the end of triathlon season, with varied results – probably not significant.

I had joint and soft tissue problems after ramping up my mileage to the most I’ve ever run – probably significant, especially as I get older.

Consistently skimped on strength and core work – probably significant, especially as I get older.

With four marathons just under 4:30, I feel that’s my sweet spot. I can have an OK season of training and be close that that. Is it good enough? You know, maybe it will be eventually, but right now, I know I am capable of faster. I’ve proven it twice with a 4:10 and a 4:11.

I know I have a 3:59 in me somewhere. It’s just coming up with the formula – and keeping myself healthy and uninjured – that will get me there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Detroit Free Press Marathon 2015 race report

This race.

After months of SI joint pain and then IT band pain, I almost didn’t start. My last 20-miler was 11 weeks beforehand. I had done a 16-miler 5 weeks beforehand. I quit my next two scheduled long runs early and then didn’t run for two whole weeks. My longest run the month beforehand had been a whopping 4 miles; that was one of only six runs that entire month.

But after two weeks completely off running I went for two test runs of 2 miles each, at an easy pace on the treadmill, and had no pain. So I was hopeful. I’m nothing if not practical, so I figured I’d give it a try to, if nothing else, not waste my hard-earned money. My goals were A. a PR, B. faster than last year, C. not set a personal worst, and D. finish upright.

I had a work event all day Saturday so I hit the expo about an hour before it closed on Friday. I picked up my packet, stocked up on Gu, and bought another t-shirt, commemorating the world’s only underwater mile. You hit mile 8 while running under the Detroit River, crossing from Canada back into the U.S., so I thought to myself, “I have to make it to at least mile 8 to be able to wear this shirt.”

By that time it was already getting late, so my husband and I decided to hit up one of the local casino’s buffets for dinner. I had a craving for sushi but also had the usual buffet fare of cheese, peel-and-eat shrimp, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. Not the healthiest but it sure tasted yummy and there were plenty of carbs on my plate. =)

I was up early Saturday to hit the farmer’s market and make breakfast before my work event, which wrapped up late in the afternoon. I spent the next couple of hours updating my iPod, figuring out what I was going to wear, and gathering all my Gu, chapstick, earbuds, etc. I had a simple dinner of a hamburger and some fries ordered in from the local BBQ joint, and tried to go to bed early. I was tired enough from the day that I got a decent night’s sleep.

The race starts at 7 a.m. but I live about a mile and a half away, so I slept in until about 5:15 a.m., made coffee and microwaved a sweet potato, used the bathroom, etc. I ended up eating about half the potato and a banana with some sunflower seed butter, and started working on a bottle of watered-down Gatorade after I finished my coffee. I also took 600 milligrams of ibuprofen.

The weather was low 30s with decent wind gusts. Because I am a cold weather wuss, and because I knew I would be generating less body heat if I was forced to walk, I decided to err on the side of bundling up: I layered on running socks under wool socks; thin tights under thermal tights; a long short-sleeved tech tee, a long-sleeved tech tee, and a running jacket with a collar I could flip up; and thick gloves and hat. I figured if I really got too hot, I could just unzip my jacket and take off the hat. I had my bib attached to a race belt and a Running Buddy magnetic pocket to carry my passport (just in case), phone (again, just in case) and extra Gu and Sport Beans.

Side note: I deliberately picked the long-sleeved tech tee from the 2013 Freep marathon, when I set my PR. I figured I could use some of the luck that shirt brought me. =)

My husband dropped me off at about 6:40 a.m. and that turned out to be a bit too late. I had trouble finding a break in the gate to sneak into the corral, and people behind me were trying to cut in line. I was borderline rude in telling a lady behind me, “I’m actually trying to get through as well” when she tried to push through, but once the first waves went off the crowd thinned a bit and we all found our appropriate place eventually. I had registered to be in the four-hour corral, but jumped in around where the 4:25 pacer had lined up, and it was fine.

I still had about half the bottle of watered-down Gatorade and another banana, which I ate while waiting for my wave to kick off. Hilariously, I tried to throw the banana peel into a trash can outside the corral, totally missed, and almost hit a lady walking by. I apologized and luckily she thought it was funny. I’m sure she didn’t expect to almost be hit by a flying banana peel while waiting to cheer on her runner. Also, I lost a glove while waiting to start. I was ticked off because it was one of my favorite REI gloves; plus, what was I going to do if my hands get cold? Switch the one glove from hand to hand? Very luckily for me, I found it on the ground shortly afterward, only a few people over. Also, it randomly SNOWED on us for about two minutes as we were waiting to go. I was very happy for my extra layers.

Two countries, one race.
Banana eaten, gloves secured, iPod ready to go, I crossed the start line about 16 minutes after the first gun. Right from the start, I tried to hug the right side, just in case I needed to start walking. I clicked off the first two miles at about a 10:30 pace and slowed down a bit more with the congestion on the ramp for the Ambassador Bridge to Canada. But I was OK with that, because I knew I would need all the available gas in the tank, and to aggravate my IT band as little as possible. After that I shot for 10:00-ish.

I still had about a quarter of my Gatorade bottle so I skipped the first couple of aid stations. We ran over the bridge but unfortunately the cloud cover prevented us from watching the sunrise. We ran the few miles through downtown Windsor, and it was here I saw my favorite sign of the race: “Only one more country to go!” The crowd support is always great in Windsor – one lady was giving out “international high fives” after we got off the bridge. I took my first Gu at about mile 4 and washed it down with the last of my Gatorade, and pitched the bottle at the next aid station. So far, so good, and my knee was feeling fine.

We ran about a mile and a half along the waterfront and made the turn to head toward the tunnel. It’s always hot and stuffy in there, so I took off my hat and unzipped my jacket to prepare. It’s weird to realize you are running UNDER a river. I drifted toward the middle as I got closer to the actual border, since people always step off to the side to get pics of the Canadian and American flags on the wall. That first whiff of fresh air is always nice and the crowd support when you exit the tunnel is also great. I thought, “OK, now I can wear my underwater mile shirt!” We headed into the neighborhoods just west of downtown and I started feeling a twinge in my knee at about mile 10. “Well, this is it,” I thought. I took another 600 milligrams of ibuprofen I had brought just in case when I hit the next water station. I slowed down a bit and concentrated on good form and landing softly. Eventually the twinge went away. “Maybe I can make it to the halfway point without having to walk,” I thought.

A group was passing out shots of bourbon at about mile 12 – no thank you! The crowd is thick from miles 12-13 as people cheer for the half-marathoners. The turn to do another 13.1 was on the opposite side from what I remembered and I bumped into a guy doing the half crossing in front of me – he obviously remembered the same thing! Luckily no harm was done and we ran our separate ways. After the half runners peeled off I knew that even if I had to walk the rest I could still finish. “That wasn’t so bad,” I thought. “Time to do it again.”

Splits for miles 1-13. Mile 8 is messed up because of the tunnel; 10 because I hit a hard lap at the next mile marker.
The next few miles are a boring straightaway taking us east of downtown. I just tried to zone out and concentrate on good form. I was taking a Gu every 4-ish miles and walking through most of the aid stations for Gatorade. I knew my husband would be hanging out at a friend’s house near the 18-mile point, and I was looking forward to giving him my Running Buddy, which was now pressing painfully into the small of my back, and trading my real glasses for sunglasses. Finally I spotted him cheering for me and taking pics. In fact, I was yelling at him, “Take this! Take this!” handing him my Running Buddy, but he was cheering and not paying attention. Ha! We did the handoff and I gave him a quick kiss and thank you, told him I loved him, and headed on.

This was the point of the race last year where I fell apart and had to walk for a few miles. I was determined to not start walking this year as long as my knee held up. Once you make it over the bridge to the city’s island park, the winds come off the river and cool you down significantly. I always see lots of people stretching out cramps here. I was prepared with my hat, gloves and collared jacket. The sun was out in full force by then and I was thrilled to have my sunglasses! We passed miles 20, 21 and 22 on the island and I realized I had now run more than I had in training. I was trying to keep a pace of 10:00-ish minute miles and feeling OK. My feet were starting to hurt and my legs were feeling heavy, but I knew as long as my knee held out, I could put my head down and do it.

The last few miles seemed like they took SOOOOOOO LOOOOOONG. I told myself that if I kept running 10:00-minute miles, I only had 40 minutes left! Then 30! Then 20! I tried counting backward from 600, then from 200 every three steps, then from 300 – anything to distract myself. We headed up a big hill heading away from the river at about mile 25.5. “Do not start walking now!” I told myself. “Power up the hill! It will be over sooner that way!” I knew it was mostly one straightaway and two quick turns to the finish. I dodged Lions fans. I turned off my music so I could soak in the cheering. Finally – the finish line was up ahead! I broke into a huge smile. I had done it! I almost didn’t start, and I had done it! I ran through the arch, got my medal and grabbed a water. I may have dry-cried a bit, I was so happy. As soon as I started walking, my knee locked up. At that point I didn’t care if my leg fell off – it had held up for 26.2 and that was all that mattered to me right then.

Miles 14-26.2. The slowdown at 18 was to give my husband a kiss. =)
I found my husband, who greeted me with a fierce hug and told me he was proud of me. We took a few obligatory pictures and headed home to a much-needed shower and brunch. He told me my finish time: 4:29:46. It wasn’t faster than last year, but it was within a minute and still sub-4:30 – good enough for me! After refilling my tummy, I derped around online for a bit and tried to take a nap, but someone had to watch V for Vendetta at top volume, so I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. I finished the night with pizza and cookies and putting my feet up.

Two days later, I’m in pretty good shape. I have some mild chafing from my tights and bra, for the first time in my life have blisters between my toes – WTF??? – and the usual tight hips, hamstrings and quads. Yesterday, I was quite the amusement at the office as I hobbled around. I was so disappointed when I got up to talk to someone and they weren’t even at their desk. I got out of my chair for nothing! I didn’t feel any more hungry than usual but did try to drink a bit more water. (Unfortunately, most of that water was filtered through ground coffee beans.) I am probably going to lose my fourth toenail on my right foot, the same toenail I have lost twice before, once each running in a different brand of shoe. So I’m pretty sure it’s just that’s toe that’s deformed!

I am still riding high from my accomplishment. Mostly, I can’t believe I almost didn’t start. It wasn’t my best race, but it was the best race I had in me that day. I was thrilled to cross the finish line.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week in review Oct. 12-18: Rest, recharge and RACE!!!

It's amazing what 26.2 will do to your pie chart.
Here’s a quick week in review for Monday, but since the meat of my week was running all 26.2 miles of the Detroit Free Press Marathon Sunday, I’ll save most of that for the official race report, coming soon. I know you’re dying of anticipation.

Other than the marathon, I ran a couple miles here and there, pedaled a bit, and stretched and strengthened a bit. I wanted to take it easy to reduce the risk of any inflammation, and Friday and Saturday I was busy with work and other stuff anyway.

Bike: One easy pedal on the trainer for 30 minutes.

Pre-hab: Two sessions of about 50 minutes total, during which I split up hip- and glute-strengthening moves.

Yoga: One self-guided 30-minute session.

RUN: Two test runs of 2 miles each on the treadmill for 20 minutes each. Then the Freep Marathon Sunday, where I covered 26.2 in 4:29:46. That makes the weekly total 30.2 miles in about 5 hours, 10 minutes.

Total: Seven sessions in almost exactly 7 hours.

This was actually a pretty typical pre-marathon week for me: A few easy runs, a few easy other things, nothing too stressful, and getting as much rest as possible. Followed by the big dance on Sunday, of course.

I’m actually looking forward to getting back into some higher-volume weeks. I have a giant stack of magazines to catch up on while I’m soft pedaling, and I need to get back into a weights routine. I’m getting a bit softer around the middle, and I’d like to work on getting ahead of that before the holidays. I’m not as excited about getting back in the pool, but I’m sure even that will come with time.

First thing’s first: An easy week to rest and recover.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Detroit Free Press Marathon -- DONE!!!

Holy &$@*.
You guys. I did it.

I decided I wanted to try. If I failed, fine. But I wanted to know that I gave it my best shot. I lined up not knowing if I'd be able to run even 1 mile. But they ticked off, one by one, and I kept running all the way through the finish line.

And within a minute of last year's time!!!

I am thrilled. And so, so happy I at least gave it a shot.

Race report coming soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I've decided that for my race Sunday...

Two runs in the last few days!
... I'm going to give it a try.

I've only run 7 times in the last month, my last LONG long run of 16 miles was a few days before that even, and didn't run one step all last week or the week before, but ... I feel like I should give it a shot.

I ran 2 miles Monday at an easy pace with zero pain. I was going to do 3 today at the same easy pace,  but I got the ever-so-slight beginnings of a twinge at, like, mile 1.99, so I decided to call today's at 2 as well. Will I hold up longer on Sunday? I don't know. But I'm going to find out.

I've worked too hard all summer to not even try. Plus... I already paid a nice chunk of money. I should at least get some use out of my race shirt. (It's a cool design this year.)

I have a huge work event all day tomorrow and Saturday so I won't have any time to stress or even think about Sunday. Until then it's stretch, rest and hope for the best.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week in review Oct. 5-11: Some gentle movement but still no running

Not a lot happened last week besides getting in some pre-hab/rehab and doing an easy spin on the bike a couple of times. It did feel good to work up a slight sweat once again.

We celebrated my husband’s college homecoming on Saturday. After a few hours of walking all over the city, my IT band was hurting to the point I was limping. It was still sore Sunday morning, so I skipped what was going to be my test run before my marathon this Sunday, and started having the DNS conversation with myself.

By later in the day Sunday, it wasn’t hurting anymore, and I even went for a nice long dog walk with my mom and our combined three mutts. It felt fine later and still feels fine today (Monday). Now, I can’t help having the “Well, maybe it will be OK!” conversation with myself.

Sigh. I don’t know what to think or do at this point. I am likely going to rest it except for one or two easy test runs this week, and make a game-time decision.

Last week by the numbers:

Bike: Two easy spins on the trainer for a half-hour each time, for 1 hour total.

Pre-hab: Three sessions of hip- and glute-strengthening moves at about 45 minutes each, for about 2:15 total.

Yoga: Only one session this week for about 30 minutes.

Total: Six sessions in 3:45.

Not counting a few long walks, with and without dogs.

I’m hopeful but realistic about the rest of the week. It will probably be some gentle movement, stretching, strengthening, and little to no running. I may or may not end it with 26.2. But one way or another, I will live to race another day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I got back on the bike today

And it felt great.
I got home at a decent hour today and did a half hour easy spin on the trainer today. It felt good to get my legs moving again. I didn't have any IT band pain, so that's a good sign, but it had never bothered me on the bike, anyway.

Yes, that's the May/June issue of Tennis Magazine. I am WAY behind on my leisure reading.

I'm still strengthening my hips and glutes like a fiend and resting. My waistline is starting to show evidence of that, unfortunately. If I ever do get my leg back in shape, I plan to making working that off my No. 1 priority. I don't need an extra 10 pounds BEFORE the holidays.

Less than 11 days until race day.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week in review Sept. 28-Oct. 4: Stretch, strengthen, and sit on my butt

Stretch, strengthen, repeat.
There’s not much to report this week, since I took the entire seven days off running to try to let my IT band heal.

I did do my pre-hab (although should I be calling it rehab now?) hip-strengthening moves three times, and did some yoga and stretching three times. I was only partially a lazy bum.

I also got a sports-specific massage Saturday, during which the therapist annihilated my calves and hamstrings in addition to working on my IT band. Seriously, I was laying on the table yelling “Ow! Ow! Ow!” and he just told me to pipe down, that he was barely touching me, and to breathe through it. That’s why I pay him the big bucks, I guess!

I want to try doing SOME movement this week – maybe a few bike trainer rides – but am a little hesitant to try running again quite yet. From what I can tell via Dr. Google, an IT band strain may take weeks or months to settle down. Ugh.

This past week by the numbers:

Pre-hab: Hip-strengthening exercises three times, for about a half hour each, for 1:30 total. This includes resistance band moves, clam shells, foam rolling, etc. I want to work in more glute exercises this coming week.

Yoga: Three sessions of self-guided poses for 1:05 total. I focused on hips and hamstrings.

Total: Six sessions for 2:35.

I’m pretty bummed to be dealing with this less than two weeks from what was supposed to be my A marathon. But I’m not sure what else I can do at this point besides strengthen, rest, and hope that the high mileage I put in earlier this summer is still in my legs, somewhere.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September in review: My running went completely to you-know-what

It started off so well.
I didn't even want to do this review because I am so angry, sad and frustrated with how the month shook out. Worst of all, I didn't hit 100 running miles for the month, for the first time in almost a year. My goal of 1,500 miles in '15 is pretty much out the window as well.
After I threw out my SI joint in August, I was coming back in September much more diligent about stretching, with a new pair of shoes on my feet, and feeling a million times better. I'm not sure if I had altered my stride too much, or if I just jumped back into it too quickly, but after a great speed run and a reassuring 16-miler, my IT band suddenly stopped cooperating.

I cut short a 12-miler, took most of a week off, ran an uneventful 3-miler, and had to cut short what was to be my last LONG long run. Not surprisingly, all of that skipped running led to my lowest-mileage month in nearly a year.

September by the numbers:

Run: 79.75 miles over 12 runs, in just less than 13 hours. I had a good first half of the month and everything just kind of fell apart by the end.

Yoga: Lots of yoga to re-align my SI joint, about 4.5 hours. It is feeling MUCH better. I need to make this a non-negotiable part of the pre-hab rotation.

Weights: I actually lifted weights twice this month, once with a video and once on my own, for just longer than 2 hours total.

Pre-hab: Finally, I am trying to get into a pre-hab routine. I spent about 2 hours over 5 sessions doing strengthening exercises, foam rolling, etc.

Now the plan is to stretch/pre-hab/rest, and hope for the best. (I'm so funny.) I still have no idea what will happen on marathon day in 2.5 weeks. I have massage therapy scheduled for Saturday, so I'm hopeful that will help, too. I just want to get back into my running shoes as quickly as possible.