My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Enough

I read a running quote today:
"It is not the level of achievement or the numbers attached to a PR.  It is the size of our hearts.  It is what we do in those moments when all hope seems lost and we are confronted with a choice to give up or keep trying.  It is what we learn about ourselves through those dire circumstances that gives us the courage and strength to conquer the other challenges and hills in our lives."

It's been tough not running.  I want to throw in the towel, but I have people in my life that are going through greater challenges than I am right now and I am telling them to push through.  I am embarrassed that I've even sunk into this depression about not being able to run.  I feel like a wild horse that's been broke.  I'm in complete submission.  I don't feel that light or spirit anymore.  I used to wake up at 5:30am, lace up my shoes, and hit the pavement without question.  Now, I sleep in and lack the motivation to even care that I am not out there consuming miles.

I asked a good running buddy of mine "Why is this so hard?"  I've been through a handful of "hard" experiences in my life and through them I've learned patience and compassion.  Not running is hardly one of those hard experiences, but it is a part of me.  And it is currently MIA.  It's ironic that this same buddy posted today "Do you ever think that maybe, just maybe, we take training a little too seriously around here?"  Excellent point my friend.  I haven't taken this very gracefully and through it I've managed to tick some people off.  I've always believed that there is a reason for everything and with this I try to learn from it and gain new perspective AND stop taking this all so seriously.  It is all just a crazy journey anyway!

One day I hope to run without so much drama and struggle.  Man, that would be pretty cool.  For today, I will take 3.1 miles and call it good enough.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rock Bottom

Well, the plan was to immediately transition from running the Chicago Lakefront 50/50 to training for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012.  I had the training plan up on the refrigerator and ready to go!  I went into "therapeutic" mode this week to recover from Chicago.  My recovery was to be "active" and easy this week.

I went in to get my "orthotics of doom" looked at.  They were shaved down a bit and I decided to just walk a couple hours in them.  Sadly, everything flared up again and my knee started to hurt - something new.  I took them out and ended up with a limp for the next two days.  I really couldn't be more heart broken.  I have done everything right with my training, nutrition, and strength workouts.  It just doesn't make sense that I am so injured.  It took everything I had just to accept not being able to run the 50K, but now I am looking at not running Disney and this was to be run with my little brother.  This was my rock bottom.

I should have known better when I chose my theme song for Disney - "No Leaf Clover" by Metallica.  I was feeling a bit sarcastic at the time regarding the "soothing light turned freight train" lyrics.  It occurred to me that this song selection was a message to myself.  So, I called my brother this morning from a parking lot.  I told him I wasn't going to run Disney.  I'll be lucky if I can walk normal at this point.  I tried to get on the elliptical and it hurt my sprained ankle.  Then I tried a spin class and it freaked out my plantar faciitis.  I mean, come on!  I guess I can get on an erg and row for cardio, but it seems to me that I can't do anything.

After I got off the phone with my brother, I was having one of those awful parenting moments when your children are screaming in the car seats behind you and you can't get them to stop.  So, I did what any severely injured runner/mother of crazy toddlers would do.  I cried.  I can't say it helped.  So, I did what any runner would do...I went running shoe shopping.

I needed a pair of shoes that I trusted and that were not selected based on my injuries.  I looked at a pair that my mentor recommended - Saucony Kinvara.  I had considered them back in my minimalist days and I thought they had too much cushion.  Today, they had less cushion then what I've been running in.  I sat and stared at them while my boys screamed and tore up the store.  The sales guy sat down next to me and asked me what I was training for.  I said "I just gave up Disney."  He asked about my injuries - not to diagnose or anything, but to listen to me.  I told him there was no short version of my story.  He listened well and told me about his own injuries and about how his boys are the same age difference as mine.  We laughed as my boys slowly destroyed the place.  It felt good to talk to another runner.

Later tonight I received a text from my friend Anja.  She asked when I was running the NYC marathon.  I told her I was slotted for 2014.  You get rejected for 3 years and then get in on the 4th when you register for NYC.  She said she is in!  Then we decided to line up my Vegas marathon sooner :-)  It made me feel better.  I might not be running now.  But I will be again.  And it's fun to see that my "people" are still very excited about my journey.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Marathon #3: Running with Scissors

Ironically, I invented my own quote that I repeatedly say to my runners:
"The question is never "Can you do it?", but instead the question is "How much is this going to hurt and how can we minimize that?""  That being begins another leg of the journey.

The fun all started at 4:30pm on Friday, October 28th.  I drove to my friend Anja's house to pick her up to start our road trip to Chicago.  Anja had agreed to be my co-pilot and race management crew for my first ultra marathon - the Chicago Lakefront 50/50.  This road trip is one that I've been looking forward to from the beginning since we rarely get time to spend together!  Five minutes into the trip, we already changed course and chose a shorter route, via Anja's iPhone, than what mapquest gave us.  Anja's iPhone saved us on multiple occasions.  We headed out toward LaCrosse and planned to stop there at the Olive Garden for some carbs for dinner.  We called ahead to get it "to go" and sat and ate it in the van once we got there.  We proceeded to drive through Wisconsin, which was the longest drive EVER, but we finally did make it to Illinois around 10:15pm.  We still had a long way to go, many tolls to pass through, and lots of single lane construction.  We arrived at the Ramada on the Lake Shore around midnight.

Race Manager Anja

Once we were parked and inside, we settled in quickly to get a few hours of sleep.  The room was "old", but clean.  It was rickety as well and the fan sounded like a motorcycle idling in the corner, but it provided enough white noise to get me to sleep.  However, the phone rang 3 times between midnight and 12:30am.  When we answered, no one was there.  Anja got up and unplugged the cord from the wall...and that settled that!

At 6am, I was up and ready to go!  I didn't know what was ahead of me, since I had a several injuries that I was dealing with.  They were bad enough to consider not showing up to this race at all, but I made the decision to come anyway and walk the whole thing if necessary.  I had kinesio tape on my left leg and back.  I also athletic taped my left ankle.  I have run in athletic tape before and I usually ended up cutting it off around 3 miles due to friction.  This time, I planned to run in it for 31 miles and this required one heck of a tape job!  I also decided to tape over the KT tape job, so that if I decided to cut the athletic tape off, then I had the KT as backup.  This required me to keep a pair of scissors in my fuel belt pocket and therefore made me violate the rule "never run with scissors!"

Pre-race taping!

We left the hotel at 7:30am and headed south to Jackson Park where the race began.  It was pretty cold - around 33 degrees - and I had multiple layers on.  I wasn't sure what I was going to run in, so I put everything on to keep warm while I checked in and warmed up.  It was a small event - somewhere around 200 people in the 50K.  There was also a 50 mile race which started 2 hours earlier.

Bib application
Pit stop!
Starting area

The start was at 8:30am.  It was very informal and basically everyone just walked over and the guy on the loud speaker said "go!"  There was no chip timing, so everyone had the same start time.  I started in the back, since I didn't know what the first few steps would feel like on my bad leg.  The mass of runners started incredibly slow.  I got a little ansy and tore out around everyone to settle in closer to the middle.  

Off and running!

The course was beautiful.  It was all asphalt and concrete, but most of the runners chose the soft path just to the right of the asphalt path.  It ran along the shores of Lake Michigan.  It started south of the downtown area so as we ran, we were heading toward downtown and had a great view of the skyline.  Very cool.  I took my jacket off around mile 3 as the sun peeked out.  I also had on 2 short sleeve tech tees - including my lucky race shirt, arm sleeves, and gloves.  It switched between warm and cold throughout most of the race as the sun went in and out behind clouds.  I was happy I chose the arm sleeves that day!

The first water stop was around 3.5 miles out.  I didn't carry my water or cytomax for this race, so I had to stop a few times at water fountains to rehydrate prior to the water stop.  The water stops were very informal.  I'm used to people handing me water and these stops were more like a "help yourself" setup.  There were a few people handing it out though!  The second stop and 50K turn-around was little ways past the 5 mile marker.  I actually missed the turn-around since there was a large group of people and the sign and paint on the sidewalk were both covered.  I figured it out an 1/8th mile too far though when I looked back and everyone I had passed were now heading back in the other direction...oh well!  Nothing like making a 50K even longer.

50K turn-around and water stop

The first time I saw Anja was at mile 7.5.  I was happy to see her and hand off my first layer of clothing.  She took a few pictures and then texted my "people" for the day to give them an update on my race.  I told her to keep walking out to the turn-around, which would mean I would see her again around mile 15.5.  I had been maintaining a sub-nine minute pace and it felt easy and comfortable.  I was happy and took off again!  A few miles later I felt an extreme tightness in my right leg.  This surprised me since my left leg was what I was worried about.  My right IT band was locking up nice and tight.  I didn't have any trouble with this prior to this race, so I was not prepared for this situation.  I stopped to walk a few times to see if I could loosen it up.  I stretched all the affected muscle groups as well.  Nothing seemed to help.  Shortly after mile nine, I went into a walk/run mode.  I was able to run for a half mile at a time, but the run time decreased as the miles went on.

Since my left leg was feeling great during the race and I had become so used to accommodating it during my training runs, my right leg pretty much freaked out on me and resulted in this situation. I made it to the 10 mile turn-around which was back at the start and I headed back out.  I couldn't wait to get back to Anja and tape up my IT band and "stick it!"  The pain started to get more intense and it was getting harder to run at all.  I finally made it to the 50K turn-around for my second time and she was waiting with my race bag - complete with all kinds of tape, tennis balls, my stick - pretty much everything a trainer keeps on hand.  I took off my right shoe and took out my orthodic.  Anja put in my regular insert while I alcohol swabbed my right thigh to prep it for the kinesio tape.  My hands were completely numb from the cold, so Anja had to help open the kinesio tape packages for me.  I laid down on the ground and hiked my capris up as high as they would go and started taping.  I had to reach down my capris in the other direction to complete the tape job while a group of male onlookers drew in :-)  I also taped up my knee just in case that would help.  Then I took the stick to my IT and quads.  It hurt like a son of a gun.  I also dug the tennis ball into my TFL, but that had little effect.  The sticking did help me out for a few miles though.

After a good ten minute stop to try to fix my situation, I headed out again.  I took my cell phone with me this time so that I could call Anja to meet me if needed.  I got a mile down the path and all heck broke loose with my right IT.  I really did not want to walk to the end, so in desperation I called my chiropractor.  Yes, this was a first for me.  I have never carried my phone with me in a race, let alone call someone.  He gave me his suggestions and a group of guys ran by me and yelled at me to "Get off the phone. You are racing!"  I totally agreed with them, but at this point I was no longer racing and instead was staring at a flippin' long walk.  I stopped to try a few more stretches and then made a few more attempts at running.  I came to a full walk by mile 18.  I started to get cold and wished that I had more layers on.  I walked back to the turn-around at the start and really wanted to bail out, but I made the turn.  I grabbed a cup full of food to eat and some gatorade and went out for the final loop.  

As I went under the highway, I thought "this is really going to suck."  The only thing that motivated me at this point were the other walkers.  There were a lot of us :-)  I was not the only injured runner and actually met a few others that were injured and walking in the 50 miler.  I felt more sorry for them than myself!  I was keeping a pretty fast walking pace, but it did decline as I fatigued.  I was getting cold and saw Anja one last time at mile 22.5.  She was on her way back to the start.  She walked 10.5 miles that day!  I stopped to stick one more time and learned that my stick had become very popular with the other runners and had been used by a few.  A woman standing next to us started asking me what I was doing and why.  Normally during a race I wouldn't stop to chat, but here I was...chatting away.  I broke so many of my own rules during this event!

I went through a lot on the last loop.  I started to get really tired, more tired than if I were running.  I had to dig pretty deep for the mental toughness to keep going.  For the most part, I was walking alone.  The path didn't have many spectators.  I could count them on one hand.  The other racers were my company for the most part.  My right IT hurt pretty good and the right ankle started to feel the effects of it as well.  I stopped to loosen my shoe 10 times - no joke - to make it feel better.  I also started to feel the infamous left leg issues.  I had a great deal of tenderness.  I was cold, tired, and lonely...but I was doing what I love :-)  That kept me going!  

I made it to the 50K turn-around one last time and when I made the turn, I was shocked to see there were people behind me still.  I almost cried for joy!  I could hardly believe I was not in last place.  I actually beat more than 30 people!  And most of them were walking too, so I had no fear that they would all pass me in the end.  How sad is that?  I carried on and listened to my music.  My theme song for this race, "Till I Collapse" by Eminem, was playing and I was happy that I hadn't collapsed yet!  I got to mile 28.5 and attempted to do some math, which any marathoner will tell you is not possible at this point.  I wanted to know how far I had to go, so I tried to subtract 28.5 from 31 miles.  I could not arrive at the answer for the life of me.  I looked at street signs to figure it out.  I saw 57th St. and I knew the finish was at 63rd street.  Would you believe that every time I saw the next street sign it said "57th St?" I'm pretty sure only one of them was the real 57th St!  I was very dehydrated and starting to hallucinate apparently.  When you are running, the water stops are 20 - 30 minutes apart, but when you are walking, they become an hour apart.  That beat me up pretty good.  I did come up with an invention called the "Tape Monkey" though.  This is a small monkey well trained in KT and athletic taping techniques that can ride on your back and tape you up at any given time during your long runs.  

I FINALLY saw the 63rd St. sign and went down the path to go under the highway one last time.  I took my headphones off and walked to the finish line.  I made no attempt to run at this point as I had nothing left in me.  I gave the woman the tag from my bib, retrieved my medal, and found Anja.  She took some pictures of me with my medal which I am extremely proud of.  I trained like a champ for that baby.  The training is the hard part in my opinion and the race is just the icing on the cake.  I went into this race expecting to walk and I did.  I found this race to be much harder to get through with my injuries though than I thought and I still had to be strategic to get through.  And I MADE IT!  

I immediately cut the 500 yards of tape off of my foot, ankle, knee, IT bands, and back.  It took a few minutes...I then updated my people and called home.  I was relieved and happy.  I was also extremely hungry for being on the course for so long.  I was trained to run this race in 4:40 and I ended up with a 6:35.  A little longer than I had planned to be out there for and I did find myself a little unprepared for that time frame.  

Tom K. from dailymile stopped over to talk with us.  He ran the 50 mile and had a great race.  I was very happy for him and enjoyed meeting him face to face.  After talking with him, we immediately hit the road since our parking ticket was about to expire.  We headed to downtown for Lou Malnati's chicago style pizza.  I changed my clothes in the restroom and sat down for a beer with my best friend!  I had her take a picture of what I wrote on my hands for the race "It will hurt.  It will suck. And I will not give up."  I read my hands several times during the last loop.  

We hit the road back to Minnesota around 5:30 pm and Anja agreed to drive the first leg.  She succeeded in getting us flipped off several times as we made our way out of the city.  I told her I don't care what she does, just don't get us shot.  So, I put on my compression socks, wrapped ice packs to my legs, and took a nap.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this time with Anja and would have done it again in a heartbeat even if I had to walk the whole thing.  I got to train for an ultra and experience an ultra for my first time.  It was amazing.  I am now a 50K addict.  I can't wait for my next one...which I will be running by the way!

Event: Chicago Lakefront 50/50 Ultramarathon
Place: Chicago, IL
Theme Song: "Till I Collapse" - Eminem
Date: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Time: 8:30am
Overall Place:  151 of 184+
Final Time:  6:35:49 (12:46 avg. pace)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

26 Days...And Counting

Well, it's been an interesting ride this time. First I went from taking the summer off, to training for a 50K, all in the same thought process.  I guess I am not good at being idle.  It seems every time I am not running enough, I get on the internet and google for my next marathon!

I feel that I am finally in the right place with my running.  I found a new chiropractor that is helping me overcome my injuries, which is allowing me to finally achieve my goals.  He adjusts me, works on my sore legs, and rehabs the heck out of my hips.  My strength has improved tremendously and I feel great when I run.  I have new orthodics that seem to be giving me access to the strength that has always been there, but not tapped into.  I have a few issues to keep working, but I am really excited for Chicago right now.

I'm in my final week of heavy training.  I have some inflammation in my lower left leg that has me on rest for a few days.  I wish this would be happening during taper, but you can't have it all I guess.  I've been doing a hard rehab session - lower body strengthening - the day before my 20 milers.  I've done three weeks with the rehab, then 20 miler scenario.  I have one more to go.  I have never done more than one 20 miler before and to add hard rehab the day before was gutsy for me.  Going into a challenging run with completely shredded legs is not easy.  I feel that by the 3rd one, my body had finally started to adapt.  I am trying to teach my body to push through the hard part of the race, which will be miles 21 - 31.

I'm icing, resting, foam rolling, sticking, golf balling, tennis balling, lacrosse balling, and stretching...  I am starting to plan the trip as well.  I need to find an Olive Garden in WI!  I'm keeping this quote in mind as I finish my final heavy training week:

"Training is like fighting with a gorilla.
You don't stop when you're tired.
You stop when the gorilla is tired."

Apparently, my gorilla has an incredible amount of stamina...

Bring in on Chicago lakefront...

Ultra runner in training!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Change of Plans

Whoa.  I just decided to run my first ultra-marathon in 15 weeks.  I am not in any kind of training right now, so I need to start tomorrow.  The plan is 3 runs, 2 cross training, and 2 strength endurance workouts per week.  I hope I can manage it!  It will merge with my training for WDW 2012, so that will be convenient!  I am registering for the Chicago Lakefront 50K on 10/29.  I am still processing this decision, but I plan to register this week and hit the road!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Taking the Summer Off...Sort Of

It's been a hot one here the past few weeks and it has made me think about how nice it is to not have to be in marathon training during the heat of the summer!  I've been focusing on cleaning up some old PRs at some short fun runs.  Although I have been successful at my efforts, I must say that these short races are rather painful for me!  I cleaned up my 2 mile and 4 mile PRs this past week.  They hurt...I am not a sprinter :-)  But now I can take a few more years off from these and come back when I am feeling like my PRs are slow again.

I have a 5K and Ragnar coming up in August.  I am excited for both.  The 5K is with my dad.  He won an age group trophy last year and I have high hopes for him this year!  And Ragnar just sounds really fun.  This is my first year doing it and my team is awesome!  I might throw in a 10K in October and maybe a half.  Although I am enjoying not having the pressure of training right now, so I might just kick back and not race at all this Fall.

My little brother Paul and I are registered for the Disney World Marathon on January 8th, 2012!  Training begins in September.  I am happy to have a couple more months off, but I am always more "in sync" with myself when I am in training and I look forward to getting back into a routine and enjoying some long runs.  Right now a long run for me is between 7 and 10 miles.  That is almost funny to me.  That was my short run a couple of months ago.

My IT Band continues to tighten up on me.  I am trying to figure out what is weak and causing this problem at the root.  I have given up on my chiropractor at this point and I am trying to figure it out on my own.  I am able to treat the symptoms for now and keep on top of it enough to run without pain.  I have to foam roll EVERY night though.  I am happy to do so.  My plantar faciitis is still there.  It is not getting better, but it is not getting worse.  I am trying some calf stretching and strengthening now to see if that helps!  I am confident that it will not be an issue this Fall, but we will see.

I am pretty lucky to have a husband that fully supports me in my journey.  He understands that running is a part of me.  I understand that it does not take priority over my family.  So, DW2012 will be only 3 runs per week...4 if I am lucky.  I ran Fargo on much less, and it was my best race yet!  I am excited to see what this training will bring!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marathon #2: Fargo Marathon Post-Race Report

Our crew left for Fargo on Friday, May 20th at 2pm.  We finally got out of the cities around 3:30pm.  Eric was driving us all in our minivan.  We brought along my stepson Justin and his fiance Kathryn.  We also had my brother Luke and his fiance Lizzie with.  All four of them were planning to run the half marathon.  I was planning to run the full marathon.  I was a little worried going into this race since I was unable to complete my training plan due to injury, motivation, and the Minnesota winter.  I decided that this race would have only one goal: to finish with a smile on my face!  We arrived at the expo rather late and then headed out for a carbo-load at the Olive Garden around 8:30pm

The weather was a little concerning to me since it was forecasted to be 69 degrees with thunderstorms for race day.  It was 62 degrees when we showed up at the Fargo Dome at 6:45am.  The race was scheduled to begin at 7:30am.  I had a great night of sleep at the hotel and really did not want to get up and run for 4 hours.  But, we made our way to the dome and after a few pictures, I headed out to the start line.  I did some quick warm-ups and set out to find the 3:50 pacer.  I positioned myself with her group and then saw my husband Eric and his best friend Bill (his family joined us for the weekend and Bill took some great photos for us!)  I ran after them and caught my leg on a fence and cut myself.  I was starting to think it was going to be a long morning.  After I talked with them, I tried to find the pace group again but couldn't.  I think the pacer had her sign down.  I ended up lining up with the 3:40 pacer and thought "what the heck".

A pre-race photo of our crew.

The start was pretty successful.  Few people went out very fast and it was not crowded at all.  It was perfect I would say.  I settled in behind the pace group and decided to try to stay with them for a couple miles and get a good head start on my race.  I waited patiently for the first water stop at mile 3 and ended up with Powerade instead of water...ugh.  I had to wait until mile 5 to get my first water.

The crowd support was awesome and there were bands all over the place. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of distractions on the course.  I saw a guy in a curly red wig, a much too small brown sweater with his belly sticking out, and huge sunglasses banging on a cowbell.  He was hilarious.  He appeared another 6 times along the course.  He was my favorite fan.  I also enjoyed the "Go Mom" signs, even though they were not mine - but one day!

By mile 8, I was losing sight of the 3:40 pace group.  I settled in and waited for the 3:50 pace group to catch up to me (not with intention of course).  I saw Eric and Bill at mile 9 and they took some pictures of me at the water stop.  I walked through all of the water stops to recover and keep the muscles loose.

Although I'm sure that walking the water stops helped, I was starting to feel tired by now and the tightness in my glutes was really growing strong.  This was an area that started to bother me 2 weeks before race day and I was worried it might stop me during the race.  My IT Band was holding out, so I decided to wait for a longer walking break until after I got my half split.  The run to the 13.1 marker was long.  It was through neighborhoods that were mostly packed with runners and it was hot, humid, and muddy.  The rain was holding off, but it was seriously humid.

I made it to the half split at 1:54:04.  I was not expecting to make it this fast considering my training, but since I was there at this time I went to plan B which included a "possible" sub-4 hour time goal.  After I crossed the chip mat, I started walking for 2 minutes (the deserved long walk I was waiting for!).  It felt so good.  I didn't want to run again, but the 3:50 pacer was on my tail, so I picked it up!

Around mile 14 my gluteal issue was causing sciatic nerve compression and it felt like I was getting tasered in my backside.  I had to stop a couple times since it about knocked me off my feet.  I started praying that this would not be the issue to take me out of the race.  The 3:50 pace group caught me at mile 15.  I ran with them to mile 16 - they were SMOKIN'!!!  I was not.  We ran through a water stop at an 8:11 pace and I decided it was not my day to run with them.  I kept them in my sight for a couple miles and ran with some guys around me for awhile.  It was fun chatting with those around me.  It kept the mood up and I always seemed to be among a large pack of runners!

Mile 16 - tired, but happy!

I enjoyed running through all of the relay exchanges every 10K.  It was great to get a fresh set of runners to help re-motivate the full marathoners.  The first relay exchange was on the Concordia campus.  It was beautiful and the bells were ringing for us.  As I approached the final relay exchange at mile 20, I remembered that I was relay runner #4 last year at this race and I was the one waiting here for the hand-off!  I knew exactly what was ahead of me from here to the finish.  I looked down at my watch and I was under 3 hours.  I became really excited and knew that I could run a 10K in less than and hour and the sub-4 hour became a reality.  I started to smile and held that smile for the next 6.2 miles :-)

I looked at my pace (for the first time today) and knew that I now needed to keep it going to get there in time.  I was not expecting to run well today and was very pleased that my race was going so well.  I was also having a great time and enjoying the experience.  I was talking with other runners, cheering with the crowd, and soaking it all in.  I was also passing an incredible amount of people walking (mostly half marathoners).  It was almost too many people.  I was starting to wonder what was going on.  I had to shift over to the elite lane just to get past them all.

I kept the pace going and started to feel a weird cramping in my toes.  They started to curl under in both feet.  I figured it was from this race being the longest distance I have ever run with a forefoot strike.  I switched to more of a midfoot strike and tried to keep going.  It slowed me down for a little bit, but it passed and I was able to move on.  I also was having trouble breathing.  It felt like like my airways were narrowing, like asthma.  It concerned me enough to say to myself "monitor this".  I steadied my pace and it never got worse, so I pushed on.  My IT Band finally caught up with me at mile 24.  I didn't care by then.  I just kept running.  I felt like the energizer bunny.  I did walk through water stops during the last 10K to keep myself fueled.  I kept waiting for the wall and the 4:00 hour pacer and thankfully neither one caught up with me!

I saw Lizzie at mile 25!  I told her I was going for a sub-4 and she cheered me on.  I ran through the final water stop and had trouble picking my feet up high enough to clear the cups on the ground!  I almost cried when I saw the dome.  Too bad I had to run around it to the other side!  It was fun as the crowds were lined on both sides.  I kicked it in for the final 200m and finished with a new PR of 3:56:24 (9:01 pace) and a new memory of marathoning.  It was exciting to run into the dome and see people in the stands cheering.  After the finish line, I instantly had trouble breathing and almost went to find a medical person.  I bent over and tried to stay calm as I was having some sort of asthma attack.  It passed after several minutes and I was able to retrieve my medal which I proudly wore :-)

It was a good day.  I am very happy and I am excited about running this distance again!  I am also very excited that I now understand my injuries and look forward to loosening up the tight muscles and getting back to running without injury.  I am a bit concerned about my breathing issue.  I've had some trouble at home with it, so I now plan to go get checked out.  I very happily achieved my goal today of finishing with a smile on my face.  It gave me a new perspective that even though I am capable of running this distance at a faster pace than I did today, it was certainly far more fun to run it at a pace that made it more of an enjoyable experience.  It is not all about Boston.  This will certainly change how I train and race in the future!

Our happy crew!

Event: Fargo Marathon
Place: Fargo, ND
Theme Song: "Lose Yourself" - Eminem
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Time: 7:30am
Overall Place:  631 of 2209
Gender Place:  150 of 920 
Division Place (F3539):  30 of 161
10K Split:  53:01
Half Split:  1:54:04
20 Mile Split:  2:58:02
Final Time:  3:56:24 (9:01 avg. pace)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Marathon #2: Pre-Race Thoughts

Pre-Race Thoughts
The training for this marathon pretty much fell apart at the halfway point.  My knee injury re-appeared in full force after the Get Lucky Half Marathon in March.  I ended up not running at all and swimming laps in the pool.  I am not a swimmer, nor do I pretend to be.  It finally occurred to me that I may have been mis-diagnosed with patellar tendinopathy and possibly that is why it wasn't healing.

I went to see my mentor and former PT advisor and told him I thought it was a flexibility issue.  He did some movement screens and immediately agreed and said my IT Band was the issue (plus some other weaknesses).  I started going to my chiro 3 times per week to get the IT Band massaged.  It was very painful.  But it started to work!

I was able to get in a 16 miler after a few weeks of massage.  I was very behind in my training plan and my mental attitude started to get to me.  I threw in the towel on an 18 miler and never ended up with a long run.  I also was only running 3 days a week and the shorter runs were too short as well.

I was closing in on race day with no long runs, a tight IT Band, plantar faciitis in my right foot, and a sprained right ankle.  Things were getting me down and I was dreading a repeat of marathon #1.  But, I decided to take away all time goals that I had for this race and run it for fun and with no expectations.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hanging In There

Well, I've ramped up to my 14 miler this past week and my injuries have been hanging in there.  If my chiropractor wasn't an endurance athlete, then I'm pretty sure she'd be shaking her head at me and all my running.  But instead, she just asks me about my runs and races.  She did ask me to consider half marathons instead of marathons though - grrr.

So far the knee isn't all I've been dealing with.  I've had my share of MN winter related injuries.  A month ago, I stepped on a chunk of ice while running my 11 miler around Calhoun.  The head of my fibula in my left leg swelled up for almost two weeks.  I backed off running during that time and it healed very quickly. Then during my 12 miler, I twisted my ankle on an icy sidewalk.  I proceeded to run a hard week with my first speed workout and a 14 miler.  I have been icing it daily and my chiro pulled on it today and we heard something pop back into place.  Guess I should have backed off on that one too, but I have a half marathon this weekend and I just couldn't not run.

Now, I am hoping that I get through my half with a respectable sub 2 hour, but not a PR.  I also am hoping the ankle fully heals in the next week or so and I can get back to just having a knee injury to heal.  Good grief!  Snow, it is time to melt and stop freezing on the sidewalks...and City of Eagan, it is time to plow these babies.

I've also decided that I am running Fargo no matter what.  I've been holding back on doing speed workouts and have accepted that there are no PRs to be had this spring.  I'm learning to enjoy my running for the love of it and not the competition, for now anyway :-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let the Training Begin!

Well, the last few months of rehab and recovery have been a welcomed break for me.  I switched into cross training mode, with a primary focus on strength training.  I found a new chiropractor that began using laser therapy on my knee and it seems to be feeling better.  Although, it is still there.  She explained to me that it takes up to a year for this type of injury to heel.  I also lined up a sports massage therapist that will do lower extremity massage to help keep my quads loose to prevent from them pulling up on the bad tendon.

I begin my training journey for marathon number 2 in one week - Fargo 2011.  I am excited!  Although, I begin this journey with the very real thought that I may never make it to the actual race on May 21 if my knee doesn't allow it.  I plan to do more cross training and fewer runs.  I also plan a slower intensity progression this time.  I changed my form from heel-striking to forefoot running.  It has taken 3 months, but it is now feeling natural.  I also changed from high-cushioned shoes to minimalist racing flats!  I thoroughly enjoy running in these shoes, although I find I don't have the foot endurance to combat the sandpaper feeling I get after a few miles.

I decided to compete in fewer races prior to this marathon as well.  The only other race on my agenda is a half marathon in March.  I am a little anxious about this race as I don't think I will have much time to prepare for it intensity-wise.  I don't want to push my pace too fast and end up hurting the knee again.  I am pretty competitive with myself though, and I will certainly want to beat my PR.  We will see what happens.

So, let the training for Fargo begin!  And let the journey be as exciting the second time as it was the first!