Warning Shot

Dear Running Gods,

I know I have no one but myself to blame for being where I am now.  I have forsaken the strength- and cross-training.  I run with bad form and have made no attempt to correct it.  But if you’ll PLEASE get me to the start line in 32 days, I’ll do better–I PROMISE!

Faithfully yours,

Pam

*************************************************************

I’m not down for the count yet.  I feel like this injury was my body firing a warning shot.  My chance to make things right before shit got REAL bad.

Let’s back up a few days, shall we?  When I last left you on Sunday, I was feeling pretty good about things.  I had just run one mile, and I told you it wasn’t painful.  Welllllllll, I spoke too soon.  Just like last Sunday after the half-marathon, the pain got worse as time went on.  I wasn’t quite back at square one, but I was definitely in more pain than I was before I ran.  It was back to where it hurt to walk again.  But I did as I said I would do.  I iced and rested Sunday night and Monday, so by yesterday it felt some better.

I knew had an appointment scheduled with the sports orthopedist (the one I saw almost exactly two years ago for my IT band when I was deep into marathon training) today, so last night I had a brilliant idea:  Run.  Make it hurt.  Make it easy for the doctor to pinpoint where the pain is coming from.  So I ran.  And I ran some more.  And the pain got better.  So I kept running.  And it got even better.  Still there, but better.  So I kept running.  Before I knew it, I had run five miles and I was in less pain than I had been in for over a week. I stepped off the treadmill expecting to feel that familiar stab when my feet touched the ground and… nothing.

Just for good measure, mostly because I know how much biking benefited me last week, I hopped on the spin bike and set it to high resistance and pedaled for 10 minutes.  When I got up, my legs felt like Jello, but there was no pain.  All evening long, no freaking pain.

I didn’t know what to do.  I was so confused.  I fell asleep last night wondering, “Do I keep my sports ortho appointment?  I KNOW it’s not a stress fracture now.  I hate to drive an hour and a half for someone to tell me I’ve strained a muscle.  I’ll cancel.  But then what if I cancel and it starts hurting when I run again tomorrow night?! ARGH!”  I made up my mind to decide in the morning.

Well morning came, and when I got up I felt a twinge.  Nothing anywhere near what I had been feeling though, so I decided to cancel the out-of-town sports appointment and call my local chiropractor.  He got me in this afternoon.  After talking with him about where the pain was, how it came on, etc., he decided I’d benefit from some myofascial release.

If I had known what he was about to do to me, I probably would have climbed out the window when he stepped out of the room while I changed into shorts.

O.

M.

G.

I didn’t know it was possible for a small piece of metal to inflict that much pain upon a person.  He said that’s how we knew it was working.  It’s like taking foam rolling to the next, more excruciating level.  Then he hooked me up to the electrical stimulation thing and was all, “That was fun!  Let’s do it again in a few days!”

I got the green light to continue training, instructions to foam roll the heck out of it, and an appointment for torture session round 2 on Monday morning at 0715.

St. Jude Marathon Training: Week 13

Planned                                           Actual

Monday:  Rest                                 Monday:  Rest
Tuesday:  5                                      Tuesday:  Rest
Wednesday:  5                                 Wednesday:  Core and upper body
Thursday:  5                                     Thursday:  20 min spin
Friday:  Rest                                     Friday:  30 min spin
Saturday:  19                                    Saturday:  30 min walk, core and upper body
Sunday:  Cross-train                        Sunday:  60 min spin, 1 mile run
Total:  34 miles                                 Total:  1 mile
Yep, you read that right.  It’s not a typo.  ONE MILE.  I’ve been doing this recovery shit by the book.  And, thank God, I think it’s paid off.  I didn’t make it to my acupuncture appointment on Friday.  I couldn’t get away from work, so I had to call and cancel.  And unless the pain comes back full-force when I run on Tuesday, then I’ll be cancelling my sports orthopedic appointment for Wednesday as well.  I may have jumped the gun on scheduling those.  It’s funny how runners’ minds work.  Instead of, “Hmmm… something feels off.  Maybe I need to take a few rest days,” we immediately jump to, “OMG, MY LEG IS GONNA FALL OFF!!!!  I WILL NEVER RUN AGAIN!!!!”

I got on the spin bike Thursday to see if biking would hurt it, and it didn’t.  I only went for 20 minutes that first time because, even though it didn’t hurt while I was doing it, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to hurt when I got up and tried to walk.  It didn’t.  If anything, it helped.  So I went a little longer and a little harder the next day, and then really kicked my own ass with the bike today.

Hey, just because I can’t run, that doesn’t mean I can’t get a good sweat on!

I have to admit something.  A part of me has enjoyed the week off from running.  Yes, I’m ready to get back at it, but rather than fretting over the missed training this week, I’ve savored the extra leisure time.  I came home from work and didn’t have to get in a hurry for anything else all evening.  It’s been kinda nice.  I’ve even had time to start reading a book, for Pete’s sake!

But it’s back at it tomorrow.  I did one slow test mile on the treadmill just to see how it felt after I finished spinning today.  I was still aware of it, but it wasn’t truly painful, ya know?  I hope that means it’s almost there.  I’ll rest it the remainder of today and continue with the intermittent icing, then Monday starts off the new week with another rest day, so hopefully those two additional days will have me ready to roll on Tuesday.  Fingers crossed for pain-free running this week!

A Plague on My House

If you count the four-legged members, which I do, there are five members of this household.  Of those five members, 60% of us are ailing in some way.  (Coincidentally, all the females.  Hmmmm…)

First, there’s me and my leg.

Second, there’s C.C.  Once a few months ago, she went through this stage where she was licking around her nipples a lot.  It only lasted a few days, so I chalked it up to allergies.  Well, a couple of weeks ago, she started licking her belly again but this time a lot worse.  She licked herself raw!

I took her to the vet on Monday and they gave her a shot of antibiotics and said if it didn’t get better to come back.  It was time for her blood work and overall well-kitty checkup anyway, so while they were doing her physical they noticed that she’s developed some pretty significant arthritis in her back hips and lower back.  I felt bad for not knowing that my poor kitty had been uncomfortable, but the vet assured me that cats are notorious for hiding pain.  She’s still pretty active and still able to jump on and off the furniture with no problem, but apparently she’s been uncomfortable doing so.  With only five days of the anti-inflammatories in her, I already see a difference in her posture and gait.  So we’re looking good on that front, but her belly hasn’t gotten any better, so we went back in for a follow-up this morning.  They just gave me a topical steroid spray to use and said to give if two weeks.

Bella also came along for the ride this morning because she’s been shaking her head a lot lately, and Harley has been licking her left ear.  Last time that happened, she had a yeast infection in her ear.  Besides that, she’s been kind of favoring her left back leg off and on for a couple of weeks.  Now with two bullies who like to wrestle… like ALL the TIME… strains are nothing new in our house.  But with this one hanging around for more than the usual couple of days, I wanted to have it seen about.  Turns out she does have another yeast infection in that ear.  When he checked out her leg, he noticed that her knee is pretty swollen, and she would wince when he would extend that leg.  So it’s ear drops and anti-inflammatories for her too!  And no strenuous exercise.  THAT’s gonna be fun… He said I can walk her, but no running.  That much, I can control.  But keeping these two yahoos from their wrestling matches, or from playing chase-and-tackle in the back yard, or from running full-speed up and down the deck stairs… that’s gonna be more of a challenge.  And on top of it all, he heard a heart murmur today that he’s never heard before.  He told me not to lose sleep over it because it was very mild, but he wants to listen to it again in 3 months and do chest x-rays and an echocardiogram if it’s worse.

Anyone got any tips on training an animal to do laundry or clean the house?  These critters gotta start pulling their weight around here!

Runner Down

It’s confession time.  I haven’t run a step since Sunday.  I can’t even walk a pain-free step.  I did something to my right thigh during RnR St. Louis.  I don’t know what or when, but I first mentioned it at brunch a couple of hours after the race.  I just remember mentioning, “Man, I think I strained my quad.”  Well, it only got worse as the day went on.  I’ve been RICEing like a good little runner, but yesterday, three days post race, it was at its worst.  I’ve been trying to do things to figure out if it’s muscular or skeletal, and I really think it’s muscular, but hell I’m no doctor.  I’m being smart, though, and resting.  I’m not trying to run through any pain.  But really, it’s not like I COULD run through that kind of pain.

I have an appointment with my sports doc next Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve decided I want to try a more nontraditional approach as well.  I have an appointment for a consult with an acupuncturist tomorrow with a treatment to immediately follow if she feels it’s something she can help me with.  I’ve never been to an acupuncturist before, but I’ve heard amazing success stories.  I hope I can be one of them.  I have this little marathon thing coming up in…. oooooohhhhh…. 36 days.

Introducing…

You have all heard me talk about my BFF Michele, right?  The one that lives in Virginia?  The one I blame credit for getting me interested in running?  The one a couple of you met with me when she ran Richmond last year?

Well, she now has a blog!  I brought her to the dark side.  I told her we have Oreos here, and she’ll do anything for an Oreo.  Hence the title of her new blog!  She’s running the Marine Corps Marathon for the second time on Sunday and maaaaaaaay be suffering from a touch of taper madness, so click here and go say hi!

Race Recap: Rock N Roll St. Louis Half Marathon

I’ll just get right down to it.  I blew my own mind this weekend.  I ran faster and stronger than I ever expected, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself right now.

Let’s see… where to begin… I made it to St. Louis around 3:00 Saturday afternoon.  For the most part the drive up was uneventful, but about halfway there my phone’s car charger quit working.  Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a big deal, but since I was using the GPS feature, the battery was draining FAST.  Then when I got into downtown St. Louis, there was a lot of road construction and I got all turned around.  By the time I found my way to the hotel, my battery was in the red zone.  Again, this wouldn’t have been a big deal either… IF I had brought my wall charger.  But I didn’t.  So to preserve the battery I had to keep my phone off most of the time, thus explaining the very few photos from my weekend!

Anyway, after I got checked in, I did the expo thing, grabbed a to-go plate of spaghetti from a little pizza dive near the hotel, ate, and was in the bed by 8:00.  I was up late the night before and had to get up early to work half a day that morning, so I was pretty worn out.

Up at 5:00, Clif bar for breakfast, dressed and ready to head to my corral by 6:00!

The outfit.  And photographic evidence of why I always wear my hair covering my ears.

It was still dark and a little on the chilly side just standing around.  There was a beautiful view from the corrals though.  The sun rising behind the arch was so pretty!  

I took this one right after I got there.  It got prettier as the sun rose, but I didn’t want to turn my phone back on and waste any more juice.
By the time we got moving, the sun was well on its way up.  It didn’t take long at all to get warm.  Within just a couple of miles I had a good sweat going on, but I never got uncomfortably hot.  Sure I would have preferred it to be a little cooler (It was like 55.), but otherwise I can’t complain at all.  It was a beautiful day for running!

As of the time I crossed the start line, I still hadn’t fully made up my mind how I was gonna run the race.  I figured I would know within the first couple of miles whether I was going to race it or just run it.  Well when I felt how naturally the 9:30s were coming, I decided to just hold onto that as long as I could and see where it took me.  Little did I know I’d be riding that pace all the way to the finish line.  A few things of note…
  • The course started and ended downtown with some parks and residential areas in the middle.  It was really pretty nice!  The spectatorship was great.  There were aid stations aplenty, and they were all super well organized.
  • I passed several people on every hill.
  • I hit the 10k mark in PR time.  When my watch read 6.2, the time on it was 59:09.  When I crossed the 10k timing mat, my watch said 59:45.  So either way I got my sub-1:00 10k.
  • My watch showed a distance of 13.2 at the end.  I did a decent job of running the tangents, but there were a few times that I chose to run around the pack rather than slow down and run with it on the tangent line.
  • I hit a rough patch around mile 8.5.  It was right after I had stopped for a few seconds at an aid station.  I had walked through a couple of them prior to that so that I didn’t drown myself trying to take a drink, but I actually pulled off to the side and stopped at this one to dig the compression shorts under my skirt out of my crotch and launch a couple of snot rockets.  I know.  I’m such a lady.  For a few minutes I was afraid that by stopping I had lost my groove, but I just keep pushing and eventually came through it and found my stride again. 
  • The mile that included the aid station stop was my one and only mile over a 10 min/mile pace.
  • I had three Clif Shot Bloks at mile 4ish, three more at mile 8ish, and about half of a vanilla bean GU that I had grabbed from one of the earlier aid stations at mile 11ish to get me through those last couple miles.
  • I hit the lap button when my watch read 13.1 at a time of 2:06:30.
  • I crossed the finish line feeling positively triumphant.  My goal was to average less than a 10 min/mile, and I crushed that.

For now I’ll have to use my Garmin stats because, for some reason, according to the official results I wasn’t even there yesterday.  Faulty timing D tag?  I dunno, but from the looks of the event’s Facebook page, that happened to a lot of us. I’ve turned in an error correction request, but I don’t know how long that will take; if it will have my 5k, 10k, and 10M splits; or even how accurate any of it will be.

After collecting my bling and some snacks, I headed back to the hotel to clean up because I had plans to meet THIS GIRL for brunch!  What better way is there to celebrate a PR than with good company, food, and booze?!  Valuable lesson learned:  I am a CHEAP DRUNK immediately after running.


So half marathon #9 was one for the record books (well, MY record book anyway) and has left me looking forward to December 1st more than ever! 

One more for the ever-growing collection.  My precious…

St. Jude Marathon Training: Week 12

Planned                                           Actual
Monday:  Rest                                 Monday:  Rest
Tuesday:  5                                      Tuesday:  5 miles (1.8 naked with dogs, 3.2 on the treadmill)
Wednesday:  8                                 Wednesday:  5 miles @ 11:27 (treadmill)
Thursday:  5                                     Thursday:  8 miles @ 11:00
Friday:  Rest                                     Friday:  Rest
Saturday:  13                                    Saturday:  Rest
Sunday:  Cross-train                        Sunday:  13.2 miles @ 9:39
Total:  31 miles                                 Total:  31.2

Man, I really felt last week’s mileage catch up to me early on this week.  I was so sore on Monday following Saturday’s 5K followed by Sunday’s 18.  I was still kind of stiff on Tuesday, but not to the extent that it was gonna keep me from running.  It was pretty late when I was finally able to get started, so I just clipped leashes to both dogs and ran them until we ran out of daylight, which was only a couple of miles.  I was hoping to be able to make that 1.8-mile loop twice with them, but such is autumn.  Why can’t we have cool temps AND long days???  The best of both worlds… It’s a shame to have such beautiful weather and no daylight to enjoy it in!  I finished up the 5 on The Machine.
Wednesday called for 8, but that didn’t happen.  As soon as I got in from work I turned on the game (Cards/Giants playoffs), which was already in the 5th inning.  I watched just a little bit before the rain delay.  I ended up just running 5 on The Machine during the break.  I feel like I’m really getting my money’s worth out of that thing already.

Thursday I was hellbent on running outside.  I drove into town as soon as I got off work and got started.  I felt okay.  For a mile or two.  And then I didn’t feel so okay anymore.  I kept a nice steady pace right where I wanted it (I was very intentionally keeping all my runs easy this week, for recovery purposes as well as saving my legs for RnR St. Louis.), but I felt like I was running through quicksand.  With ankle weights on.  And a weighted vest.  I started doing math while I was running… Saturday 5.1.  Sunday 18.  Tuesday 5.  Wednesday 5.  Thursday 8.  No fuckin’ wonder my legs were tired!  That’s 41.1 miles in 6 days!  I know that’s nothing to some of you guys, but for me that’s A LOT.  Too bad my training weeks are calculated from Monday to Monday rather than Saturday to Saturday.  I don’t even get to claim that as a PDR!

And then Sunday was the Rock n Roll St. Louis Half, which gets a post of its own!

Tuesday Tidbits

  • I am absolutely exhausted lately, but for the first time in a long time it’s because my days are chock-full of doing the things I love.  These days I’m losing sleep because I’m up late at night watching the baseball playoffs, not because I’m tossing and turning with worry all night long.  I wouldn’t change a thing!  I’ll drink some coffee and go on with my day. 
  • I bought my first Christmas present on Sunday.  Ready or not, here it comes!
  • A few months ago, the Runner’s World Smart Coach told me I should be able to run a 4:19 marathon.  I sincerely questioned his intelligence.  This weekend I punched my new 5K PR time into the McMillan pace calculator.  He says I should be able to run a 2:04 HM in St. Louis this weekend and … a 4:20 full.  So either they’re BOTH smoking crack, or I’m sorely underestimating myself.  I’m pretty sure it’s the crack thing.
  • I’m getting pretty pumped about RnR St. Louis this weekend!  

PEAK WEEK! St. Jude Marathon Training: Week 11

Planned                                           Actual
Monday:  Rest                                 Monday:  Rest
Tuesday:  5                                      Tuesday:  5.1 @ 9:32 + 10 min moderate spin
Wednesday:  8                                 Wednesday:  8 miles @ 11:35
Thursday:  5                                     Thursday:  Rest
Friday:  Rest                                     Friday:  Rest
Saturday:  18                                    Saturday:  5k @ 8:37 + 2 @ 11:21
Sunday:  Cross-train                        Sunday:  18 @ 11:38
Total:  36 miles                                 Total:  36.2 miles

Monday was a federal holiday, so I was off work.  I guess TECHNICALLY it was a rest day since I did no deliberate exercise of any sort, but the day was anything but restful. I’ve been so behind here at home and have neglected the domestic duties for entirely too long.  I worked on this house all. damn. day.  Well, until approximately 3:30, when I decided it was time to start drinking beer and watching baseball.  Of note, my legs felt fantastic following my 17 miles the previous day.  A little tired, hammies just a tad tight, but very, very little actual soreness, all of which was completely gone by the next morning.

Tuesday was one beast of a day at work.  It always is on the day after a federal holiday.  I was on my feet all day, so I really didn’t expect to have much pep in my step by the time I got around to running.  I kind of surprised myself by running a 9:29 average for 5 miles (followed by a super slow jog the remaining 0.1 mile back to my driveway, bringing the average down to 9:32).  The most exciting part about this is that I didn’t feel like I was out there killing myself.  It was just a good, solid tempo run.  The fastest I’ve ever run 5 miles was at a 9:26 pace, and that was back in March, after training all winter long.  I find it pretty exciting that I’m going into this winter, having done NO SPEEDWORK WHATSOEVER since the spring, already as fast as I came out of last winter.  Maybe there really is something to this running slow and not taking the summer off stuff.

And speaking of running slow… that’s exactly what I did on Wednesday.  I mean sloooooooooow.  Intentionally.  My legs were pretty tired.  They were more tired after Tuesday’s faster 5 than Sunday’s slow 17.  Or maybe it was a combination of the two.  So I took it painfully slow on Wednesday.  I kept it at a pace where I was able to sing with my iPod.  I felt like it took forever, but at least I entertained myself.  And probably everyone else within earshot.

I took Thursday and Friday off (despite the fact that my legs were telling me they really wanted to run Friday afternoon) in preparation for Saturday’s 5K, which you can read about here.  Afterwards I could feel everything tightening up a little bit, so I hopped on the treadmill for another slow, easy 2 to try to loosen up.  I needed those 2 anyway to fully make up the skipped 5-miler from Thursday.

I knew ahead of time that Sunday’s 18 was going to be tricky.  First of all, I had to be sure I got up and got started super early.  Like before daybreak early.  It was my Mom’s birthday, and we had made a lunch date in a city about halfway between us.  So in order for me to get in 18, get cleaned up, and make it to our lunch date, I had to start out on the treadmill.  Second, I figured I would be sore from the 5K.  And third, they were predicting thunderstorms.  I knew as soon as I woke up that it was gonna be ugly.  My calves, quads, and hamstrings were all sore, but I put on my compression socks and hoped for the best.  I started at 6:00 and planned to do 6 on the mill and then take it outside.  The first 6 were okay.  I put The Machine on 5.3 (11:19 pace) and found Home Improvement on TBS.  Good enough.  First 6 were fairly uneventful (aside from being painful) and went by fairly quickly.  I peeked out the window and, yeah, it was daylight, but I could see dark clouds.  I checked the radar before heading out and knew there was no way I could get 12 in before the red stuff got to us.  Rather I decided to shoot for 6 but decided I’d better do it in two 1.5-mile out-and-backs so I was never too far from home, just in case.  Good move.  I was just finishing up the first one, about 100 yards from the house, when the bottom fell out.  Back to the mill I went.  The storm seemed to be moving pretty fast, though, so I was hoping it would blow on over and I could still do the majority of what was left outside.  Psht.  Wishful thinking.  Finally after another 6 miles, it looked like it was trying to let up a little bit.  I decided to wait it out.  I just couldn’t stand the thought of getting back on that treadmill for another second.  I had never run more than 5 miles on one before.  Today’s 12 nearly did me in mentally.  After a few minutes, I decided it was as good as it was gonna get and I couldn’t wait anymore.  My legs were already screaming at me, and the longer I waited the more stiff they got, so I headed outside.  The first 1.5 were great!  And then I turned around.  The 25 MPH winds that had been at my back were now kicking me square in the teeth.  That was just the icing on today’s shit cake.  So, as bad as the treadmill sucks, it was a total savior today.  There’s no way I would have ever got my miles in today without it!

As I sit here about 12 hours after finishing the run, I’m clad with a fresh pair of compression socks and reeking of Biofreeze.  Overall I feel pretty good.  No injury-type pain, but my quads are incredibly sore.  I’m happy to have my peak week behind me (the midweek mileage drops the weeks of my 19- and 20-milers!), and am now looking forward to RnR St. Louis next weekend!  Moving right along!