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."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Marathon #6: Rails to Trails

Pre-race, Saturday, 11/3/12
Eric and I left town with the boys around 1:30pm on Saturday, Nov. 3.  We headed out to Norwalk, WI for the packet pickup and the pasta feed!  The ride down was pretty long (and not because Eric took a 60 mile detour...seriously).  We arrived around 5:30pm and headed into the Norwalk Community Center for the packet pickup, which also happened to be the pasta feed (sweet)!  It is a very small town and the community center was hoppin'!  This is the smallest marathon that I have ever run, maybe even the smallest race :)  Just a side note that there was complimentary beer at all events associated with this race!  Packet pickup took about a minute, so we sat down to eat with the boys!  They took it all pretty well considering the long car ride. 

The guys eating pasta!

The course for this race was very confusing to figure out.  Many runners just stood in front of the map saying "I don't get it!"  I finally figured it out, but basically we were to run from Norwalk to Sparta and back.  It looked hard any way you looked at it.  The course maps can really freak a person out if they stare at it too long.  No need to inspect a long line connecting two cities and then realizing you have to run it twice!

Why do I do this?

We headed back to the hotel, which had a cool kiddie pool, and we unpacked and I watched the guys swim for the rest of the evening.  There were many runners and families at the hotel, so lots of kids for the kiddos to run around with.  The boys pretty much passed out as soon as their little heads hit the pillows!  Since it was daylight savings, Eric and I took advantage of the extra hour and got caught up on some episodes of Pawn Stars!

Having fun at the pool!

Race Day, Sunday, 11/4/12
It was a pretty easy going wake-up since we got an extra hour to sleep.  I had a lot of trouble deciding what to wear.  It was going to be 32 degrees at the start and it looked like sun, but that couldn't be counted on.  I dressed a little warm and ended up ditching clothes during the race, but I would have worn the same thing if I had to do it again!

The start of the race was in the Village Park in Norwalk.  I was expecting a small start line, but this park was pretty decked out with chip mats, a nice finish chute, and a heated chicken dinner dining hall for after the race (awesome!)  The kids played at the playground while I did my warmup.  It was pretty cold to start, so I didn't head over to the start line until a couple minutes before the gun.  Yet again, I had a high school xc runner ask me why I had so many gels...seriously.  I wanted to ask her if she planned to stay warm in her little shorts, but I held back :)  I did look around and saw MANY runners with 5+ gels strapped to them.  You could tell this was a different level of runner.  They knew what to do with the gels :)  Yes!!!

Let's get this started!

On my way!

The first 3 miles of the race was a loop out and then back to the start.  It was very crowded as we were all piled onto a 5 foot wide trail.  The pace was pretty fast, but I started back too far and got caught up a couple of times in a slow group.  I was happy to lengthen it out around mile 4.  I was expecting Eric and the boys around mile 7, so I took one mile at a time until I was finally able to settle in.  The first 8 to 10 miles of my marathons are always the hardest part for me.  It is where I struggle with my inner demons.  The ones telling me how badly "this sucks" and "I don't want to do this" and "this hurts too much".  So, knowing they were not far ahead was very good motivation for me. 

I had trouble pacing myself with the runners around me.  They were either too fast or too slow.  I couldn't find anyone my pace.  We eventually stretched out to about 15 feet apart, so I was able to find my stride!  At mile 6.5 there was an old railroad tunnel.  At the start of the tunnel, there was a bucket of flashlights to grab.  I grabbed mine and followed a guy in.  It was really weird inside.  There were lanterns along the way, but they only helped so much!  I took my headphones off so that I had all of my senses.  The guy in front of me kept looking like he was falling over and then catching himself.  It was weird to run and keep your balance in the dark!  The floor was rocky and the sides were ditches filled with running water.  It was cold in there and it was also very wet and rainy!  I kept seeing the end of the tunnel, but it took forever to get to it!  The tunnel was 3/4 miles long!  At the end, I tossed my flashlight in the bucket and saw the guys were standing just outside the tunnel exit, which ended up being around 7.5 miles.

Exiting the tunnel!

Ethan checking out the tunnel!

Ryan saying "I scared"!

Right after I saw Eric and the boys, there was a guy holding a sign that said "It is all down hill to Sparta"!  I asked him if it really was and he said "Yes" to which I replied "Thank God!"  Up until then, it had been all uphill.  So, I was really excited to run down hill for awhile.  The pace really picked up and I was able to catch up on some runners.  My foot hurt from pounding it in the tunnel, but it subsided after a mile or so.  I was dealing with some tightness in my hips too, but I put it out of my mind!

I looked down at my Garmin around mile 9 and noticed that it wasn't on.  I was having a lot of trouble with it up until this race, but I was hoping to get one more marathon out of it.  I waited until the half marathon split and turned it back on just to get the time of day.  It said 9:46am, and then died again.  I was pretty excited to have hit the half point in 1:46ish.  Since I was still on a down hill, I just ran a comfortable pace and tried to make up some time that I would need to power back up this hill on the way back!

I was expecting the guys again around mile 14, but somehow missed them.  I was getting pretty warm by this time, so I took off my jacket and wrapped it around my waist.  What I didn't know was that all of my gels fell off my fuel belt when I did this.  The turn around was at mile 15, so I caught the guys on the way back and was able to ditch my jacket, garmin, and hand held.  I went for a gel right after seeing them and noticed my entire belt was empty.  I tried not to panic and decided to fuel on powerade for the rest of the race.  Lucky for me, around mile 17 they had bowls of cookies and pretzels.  I grabbed a handful and put half in my mouth and half in the pocket of my belt (I didn't know if there would be more!)

Ditching the gear!

I kept plugging away a mile at a time, wishing that I knew what time it was and if I was doing well.  I ran by feel and hoped that the change in fuel would be good enough!  I realized at mile 21 that I had my phone on me for my music, so I could check the time.  It said 11:02am!  I was thrilled!  I thought if I could make it through the tunnel at a good pace, then I would try for a finish in the 3:40s!  This is why my theme song for this race is "Cinderalla Man", by Eminem.  Because, with my training, "technically, I'm not even supposed to be here right now"...

I approached the tunnel at mile 22 and headed in one last time.  I actually passed 4 people in there!  I was on a mission!  My glutes hurt like heck, but my legs still moved.  Once I got outside, I found the mile 23 marker and checked my phone and it said 11:20am.  I only had 3.2 miles to go and it was down hill again...awesome.  I cranked up the pace and couldn't believe how I was able to run without walking.  I passed the high school xc runner at mile 24.  She was done and walking it in.  I felt bad...she should have had more gels ;) 

I saw the town of Norwalk approaching and started to run even faster.  I knew if I stopped, then I would also be unable to start again.  I picked it up as I neared the finish line and passed through and looked at my phone and it said 11:46am.  I was in shock for a minute!  I subbed a 3:46 marathon!!!  I would have been teary eyed, but I was having trouble breathing again.  I was able to catch my breath after a few minutes and joined the guys over at the playground!

Me in the distance approaching the finish!

Final strides!
The bling!
It got cold fast!

After Eric grabbed my jacket, we headed over to the chicken dinner and found a table next to the outdoor heater!  We ate pretty fast since everyone was very tired...and Eric managed to partake in the free beer while they were waiting for me to come in :)  After we ate, I went down to check the posted results and found my official time of 3:45:19.  I'm very excited about this and am only 5 mins and 20 secs from my BQ.  I am hoping to nail it on a road with no tunnels next May!

Overall, it was a great day with beautiful weather and a well put on race!  After I changed clothes, we hit the road once again and headed home!

Event: Rails to Trails Marathon
Place: Norwalk, WI
Theme Song:  Cinderella Man - Eminem
Date: Sunday, November 42012
Time:  8:00am
Overall Place:  98 of 324
Gender Place: 21 of 107
F30-39 Place:  10 of 30
Final Time:  3:45:15 (8:36/mile)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Marathon #5: Women Rock!


Well now, this was unplanned.  It worked out pretty good though!  I wasn't thinking of running another Minnesota marathon, mostly because 50 states seems like enough to me.  This marathon had a purpose for me though, and that was to push me to see if I am prepared (i.e. endurance, injuries, and mental toughness) for the Fall 50 in seven weeks.  I'm not sure that I'm prepared for it, but we'll get to that later.

I had a group of clients (my "girls") running various distances for this event.  It was an all female race and it was the first all female race that I have run.  It was very different, but in a good way! I had to dig pretty deep to embrace my girly side.  I even wore pink!  It was my first time wearing pink in a race!

It started with the expo on Friday, August 31, which was actually called the "Expotique" (seriously...)  I was the only one in my group that wasn't dressed up for the packet pick up!  All along, we had been expecting our shirtless firemen and were finally greeted by one at the door!  Turns out he was just a model.  I would have preferred a real fireman :)  But we got over it!

My "girls"

I went to pick up my packet and gear check bag.  I was not prepared at all because I had just registered for this race on Sunday.  I didn't know what my bib number was and had to spend some time retrieving that info before getting my packet.  I hadn't really thought about the race until I was handed my packet.  I immediately texted Eric that "I'm freaking out here!"  It occurred to me at that moment that making my way through life thinking that I can do anything might actually backfire on me the following day :)

Packet in hand!

We received a cool windbreaker as race swag.  I also bought my usual marathon glass at the expo, only to remember afterward that we get a champagne flute at the end of the race!  We received our drink wristbands for the post-race champagne after being carded and then walked around the expo.  It wasn't super big, but it was a lot of fun to do something social with my clients.  I never get to just hang out with them!

"Bring it" pink marathon!
Can't wait to use this :)
Took a pic of this very true!

After the expo, Jill, Lisa, Jen, and I went out for lunch at Jake's in Eagan.  We sat on the patio and enjoyed a beautiful day and even more social time with my "girls".  They were so much fun to hang out with!  It made the event to have some friends to run it with!  It didn't seem to matter that we were all running different distances!

That evening, I headed over to SSTAR (with two s's) and got taped up by Dr. Luke.  Then went home to have dinner with my guys.  Eric made me a pasta dinner and bought some strawberries and chocolate dip...oh so good!  Not sure if this was a good thing or not, but I figured I needed to store some sugar, so I embraced it!  This was the first marathon I didn't eat at Olive Garden the night before.  That turned out to be a good thing!

Saturday, September 1:  Race Day
My alarm went off at 4:30am (I have got to quit getting up this early!)  I hit snooze until 5am.  The girls picked me up at 5:45am.  We drove to the River Center parking ramp in St. Paul and headed down to the gear check.  I brought clean clothes to change into this time!  And flip flops!  Lisa ran the half marathon which had the same start location as the full marathon which required us to shuttle to it, so we said goodbye to our 10K friends and hopped on the bus!

While on the bus, Lisa commented about how far we had been driving and how she would have to run that back.  I tried to reassure her, but in my head I was thinking the same thing (except I would have to loop it 2 times.)  Shepard Road is just so long and boring.  And painful.  And hot.  We were dropped off at the Ford Plant and had just enough time to do a quick warmup and hit the porta-potties!

I lined up with the 3:50 pacer thinking that it would be a good pace to go out at.  That chick was on fire though and tore off pretty fast!  I held back and by the 5K, she realized she was going too fast and slowed way down.  She ended up too slow for me though, so I passed her and stayed ahead of her until mile 21.  So, basically my plan was to do some sort of run/walk since I had not trained for this.  I ended up running a pace that would have brought me across the finish line somewhere around 3:45 if my legs could have held on!

Some interesting things with an all women's race.  A lot of pony tail sweat flicking at me.  I had to close my mouth one time it was so bad..disgusting!  Then there was the "drunk runner chick".  I almost tripped her.  I've never been so ticked off at another runner.  First of all, she was a half marathoner and not to be mean, but if you get in my way during a marathon, you had better be running the full.  I was running a steady pace and she was not.  Every time I passed her, she would sprint back past me.  When she did this, she zig-zagged in front of me.  She did this for four miles.  I even stopped to use the porta-potty and hoped to lose her, but I caught her and it started all over again.  I finally ditched her at the full marathon turn around as she went straight for the half finish.  I wanted so badly to trip her.  I don't think she was trying specifically to aggravate me, but COME ON!  I was running her same pace and I had to go twice as far, show some respect!  Aside from that, I do have to say it was pretty cool to see so many women doing something like this.  I was proud to be among them and received a lot of cheers from them as well!

I got to see Lisa around miles 5 and 11.  The full and the half marathoners started together and shared the course until mile 9.5.  The course was a two-way so a lot of the half marathoners were cheering for full marathoners as we made the turn around!  That was awesome!  I even ran by some Team Challenge Napa runners that cheered me on!  It was so hard to turn at mile 9.5 and go back and do it all again.  My legs started to hurt by mile 12 - more of a lack of endurance type of hurt due to a lack of running and training.  I knew I would get to see Eric and the boys at miles 13 and 19, so I kicked it in and tried not to think about my body!  I had a twitchy knee, in a tight IT band kind of way.  I decided I shouldn't think about it and just take it one mile at a time.  I made the half marathon split at 1:52.  Right before the split I saw my guys and Ethan had brought me a water bottle, so I just had to stop and take a sip :)

Ethan waiting for mom!
Ryan waiting for mom!

I headed out down River Rd again and at mile 16 there was a chalk outline on the street.  I wanted to lie down on it!  I saw friends on the course - Juli and Jayne were pacers, Jan was volunteering at a street closure, Andrea was at a water stop, and then a few more running in the full - Corrie and Lisa!  We kept going by each other with such a loopy course!  It felt good to get some renewed energy from seeing them!

After I passed Eric and the boys at mile 19, all hell broke loose :)  I had passed the Ford Plant and was heading toward Shepard Road.  I was passed by the 3:50 pacer at mile 21.  It was on an uphill and after not stopping to walk at all up until then, my body just stopped and walked up that hill.  I didn't even care.  I picked a light pole in the distance and told myself that I would start running again when I reached it.  I tried running again... and felt like a ginormous noodle.  I could barely restart the legs.  I started talking to them (my legs)... I was able to get to mile 22 and then walked again.  I tried to walk for a minute at each mile, but it turned into walking a minute, then running 3 or 4 minutes.  I repeated this to mile 25.

Shepard Road stunk.  It was boring, with hardly any spectators.  The runners were so spread out.  I came in 38th out of 238 full marathoners, so I didn't have many people by me at my pace.  It was smokin' hot with a head wind.  No shade to hide in, and every sprinkler that I passed was pointing away from me at the time I went by.  There was a water stop where a girl handed me a freezing wet sponge with ice on it.  I almost cried as I squeezed it out over my head.  It was AWESOME!  The following water stop (mile 24ish) had high school boys fanning us as we went by and the workers handed us grapes.  They were refreshing to eat since I had eaten 5 gel packs and half a clif bar up until then! 

I finally made it to mile 25 and started to see people up ahead.  I'd swear to you that the finish line kept moving away from me as I approached it!  I spent the past hour knowing that I would sub 4 hours and wasn't too worried about my walking stints, but the final approach felt like forever and I questioned if I would hit a sub 4.  As I hit the finish line, Lisa, Jill, and Debra were cheering for me like crazy people :)  Lisa pointed to me and yelled "That's our running coach!"  That made me smile.  I am so proud of what they accomplished today and it felt good to have them be proud of me too :)

The final stretch!
Happy to be done!  Walking through the sprinkler!
SO tired, but SO happy!
Debra, me, Lisa, and Jill (my "girls")

After we took some pictures in the finish area, I chowed some free food and made it to the restrooms for a quick change of clothes.  We headed over to the post-race party (which was pretty lame) and had our complimentary glass of champagne!  We chatted with a couple of ladies from Chicago and took our pictures with them.  Everyone was sad that our glasses were empty, so I asked the volunteer to top us off again and she did :)  Then I headed over to meet Eric and the boys at the fountain and we took off for lunch at Cosetta's!  What a race!  I think next time I will train before I jump into a marathon :)  I also decided that I won't be running the Fall 50 in October.  No need to run 50 miles for now.  Maybe someday down the road.  I'll cap it at 50Ks for now :)

Post-Race Champagne
Ethan and Ryan playing in the fountain while I attended the post-race party!
The End!

Event: Women Rock Marathon
Place: St. Paul, MN
Theme Song: N/A
Date: Saturday, September 12012
Time: 7:30am
Official Splits:
19.3 Mile2:47:39
16 Mile2:18:15
3 Mile25:59
Average Pace 9:02 per mile
Age Graded Percentage 59 percent
Overall Place 38 out of 238
Sex Place 38 out of 238 Females
Division Place 11 out of 38 Females in the F3539 Age Group

Final Time:  3:56:21

Friday, June 29, 2012

Challenge Accepted!

It's been a month since I've been out of my boot.  I've enjoyed progressing up to a 7 miler this week on trails.  It was AWESOME!  My foot still has some issues to work out, but I am hoping it is form related and something that I can correct. 

I recently read a news article that concerned and frustrated me.  At first it just made me angry that the thing I love is now considered "unhealthy".  But now I just think it is a piece of information that will transform endurance athleticism and re-create a better and more powerful way to train.  I'm hoping the world of crossfit endurance is my calling, but we will see :)

Here's the most recent article I've read on the topic:

How Much Running Is Bad For Your Heart?

  • By Kelly O'Mara
Ultra endurance runs can put a large amount of stress on the heart and cause scarring. Photo: Bryon Powell,
Moderation in endurance exercise, as with anything in life, is the key to staying healthy and minimizing risk. 
Anyone who’s finished a marathon or Ironman wouldn’t be shocked to find that the effort caused damage to their body and heart. Traditionally, though, that damage has been thought to be only temporary, subsiding after a few weeks.
But, a newly published report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that the damage endurance athletes do to their hearts actually adds up over time. Repeated extreme exercise or long-distance racing can cause a buildup of scar tissue on the heart, which can lead to the development of patchy myocardial fibrosis in up to 12% of marathon runners. The effects of “chronic exercise” can also include premature aging of the heart, stiffening of the heart muscles, and an increase in arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation.
“It’s a cumulative thing,” said Dr. James O’Keefe, of the Mid-Atlantic Heart Institute and one of the authors on the study.
“More [exercise] is certainly not better,” said Dr. Chip Lavie, another author on the study and a cardiologist at the Ochsner Medical Center.
In fact, in the release announcing the study, the recent death of ultra-marathoner Micah True–who frequently ran distances in the range of 50-100 miles–during a training run is called out as likely being connected to the long-term effects of excessive endurance exercise. An autopsy of his heart found it enlarged and scarred and suggested that he died of a lethal arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.
But, most of us run far less than Micah True did.
How much less is best is still a question that doctors are trying to figure out. O’Keefe suggests that aiming to run even three marathons every year is “not a great goal,” simply because that appears to be enough to cause long-term damage over the years. “I would advise against that based on what I know,” he said.
Lavie, who runs 35 to 40 miles a week, says the exactly when heart damage starts to accumulate is unknown and depends on the person. “We don’t know enough to draw a line,” he said. The needed studies are exceptionally challenging and expensive to do. And, Lavie joked, no one’s going to fund a study to tell people to exercise less.
Certainly, running 10 to 15 marathons a year, or even five marathons a year for 20 years, is too much, he said. But, that’s not to stop people from running a marathon or doing an Ironman even if they want to — just know that it isn’t really going to make you healthier.
The best health outcomes are actually found far below the exercise levels of even casual endurance athletes. A 15-year observational study of 52,000 adults found that the highest degree of survival and health was found from running less than 20 miles per week, in runs of 30 to 45 minutes over three or four days, at about an 8:30 to 10:00 pace. The benefits decrease at amounts greater than that.
“People who exercise moderate amounts do very, very well,” said Dr. Jonathan Myers, an exercise physiologist and cardiopulmonary researcher at Stanford.
Myers emphasizes that runners, even extreme endurance athletes, have better life expectancies on the whole than people who never exercise. People who exercise generally live longer – something much of the population still needs to learn.
“Certainly, the biggest problem in the country is not over-exercise,” said O’Keefe.
While the lack of exercise remains a national problem, the dangers of endurance races have been touted before.
In 2010, three high-profile fatalities in marathons sparked concern about sudden cardiac death. But, a study in the New England Journal found that the rate of deaths in marathons continues to be very low, between one in every 100,000 and one in every 200,000. With 500,000 people running at least one marathon in 2010, the number of total deaths were simply higher.
“The majority of people are able to do a marathon and don’t die,” said Lavie.
Finishing just one marathon, though, does cause temporary damage to a runner’s body.
Multiple studies have shown that immediately after a marathon, 30 to 50% of runners show increased levels of enzymes and biomarkers that are typically released during heart attacks and associated with heart failure. Originally, it appeared the race-related damage was less severe in people who trained over 45 miles per week, but O’Keefe says that doesn’t prove to always be true.
In fact, elite athletes often suffer from an enlarging of the heart and thickening of the heart muscle known as “athlete’s heart.”
Much of the damage seen immediately after the race goes away within the month. It is only when the heart is consistently and repeatedly damaged that the scarring builds up. If you’re going to continuously compete in long-distance running, cycling or triathlon events, there are a few precautions you could take, O’Keefe says.
Break up your exercise to give your heart a rest, recommends O’Keefe. Sitting at your desk, your heat pumps about five liters per minute, but during exercise it can pump up to 25 liters a minute. “That’s a lot of cardiac work to do for four hours at a time,” he said.
Vigorous activity, which O’Keefe defines as activity where it’s hard to carry on conversation, should be shorter than an hour at a time. In fact, much of the heart damage comes from the combination of intensity and duration found in a race, according to Lavie. He suspects that going 15 minutes slower in a marathon would drastically decrease the long-term health effects. But, that’s not something many runners want to try.
In order to find out if your heart has scarring or damage, athletes can get an MRI, CT scan or echocardiogram, but the problem is most insurance plans probably won’t cover it.
Most importantly, though, O’Keefe, Lavie and Myers all note that people do marathons or Ironmans or cycling races for plenty of reasons besides optimizing their health. O’Keefe compares running an ultramarathon to climbing Mt. Everest – a bucket-list item for many, but not one without its dangers.
“I don’t think anyone climbs Mt. Everest thinking it’ll be good for their health,” said O’Keefe.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

One for me...

I forward a lot of motivational quotes to my runners each week.  Secretly, this one is for me today.  After watching Eric run his first half with a lot of pride yesterday, I found it hard to be amongst so many runners and not be one of them.  I feel no improvement in my foot yet, but I am always hoping for the best :)

"God, grant me the serenity to accept when I cannot run; the courage to run when I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

- Josh Cox (US 50k record holder)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And So It Begins...

"Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for."
I had a second MRI on my ankle this past week.  I anxiously awaited the results hoping they would find something this time.  I received news yesterday via voice mail that they did find something.  I have a stress reaction (about to fracture) on my talus bone.  I am happy they found this, but I am nervous that this is not the golden answer to all my foot problems.  I want so badly to believe that if we rehab this, that it will all be better.  I've been in pain for so long that I don't know what it's like to not be in pain anymore.

I had a trainer friend say to me tonight "Erin, give me two months and I will get you running.  I just want you to run.  I'm tired of hearing that you aren't."  I'd love for him to have at me with all of his mobility voodoo.  I'm so tired though.  It's exhausting.  I don't even want to go to the doctor anymore.  I don't want to coach.  I don't want to run... 

I'm in a runner's depression.  It sucks.  It sucks to not be able to run with my runners.  It sucks to coach from a bike.  It sucks to watch your friends go and run really cool races while all you can do it plummet into the depths of zero aerobic capacity.  It just plain sucks to have an ability that you can't execute on.

I used to be a runner.  But not only that, I was a fast runner.  I could head out for a run and get it all out of my system.  I have no outlet now.  UGH!

So, starting Monday, I will find out what my treatment plan is and I will most likely wear a boot for 6 weeks.  I'm not sure what that will leave me with.  I know the important thing is to remember that I am not the only injured runner out there.  I hope there will be a day when I can enjoy a run without any pain.  I hope I can run my next race.

Well, I guess we will see what happens now...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Therapy Session

This blog has seemingly become my new version of therapy.  I went to the new foot doctor yesterday.  He has no idea what is wrong with my foot, but I'm sure he is capable of figuring it out over the course of time.  He didn't say to stop running.  I really wanted him to.  I don't want to run anymore.  It hurts.

I had my first moment of fatigue in 3 years last weekend as I ran with my Team Challenge group.  I got winded on a 4 miler.  I haven't been winded on a 4 miler in a very long time.  My endurance is gone.  It's been hard.  I tried for a 5K last night with the new metpads that the doc gave me.  It didn't feel that great.  Maybe it will get better.  I don't know.

I read a quote today that somewhat upset me:
"The Marathon is not about the race, it's about commitment... It's not about instant gratification, it's about endurance. It's not about the thrill, it's about passion. To run a marathon, you need to not only commit to the sport, you need to commit to yourself. In short, to run a marathon, you need to be a runner."

I miss being a runner.  I miss my long run therapy.  I miss my marathons.  Anything less just isn't me.  This feels like it will never end...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Self Preservation

So, everything lately has been a complete FAIL.  The workouts, the runs, the plans....  I have sunk to a new low with this flipping injury.  I can hardly walk anymore and it is now affecting my job as a running coach.  So, recently I was hired as a half marathon training coach for a race in California.  It is a really cool job.  I love everything about it.  I was working with a podiatrist and chiro to figure out how to get through the training so that I can continue with the job.  But, it is not looking good and I am now considering not being able to coach for this event.  I am pretty beat up over this.  But, I have to heal and apparently now is the time.

I have found a new podiatrist and will see him on Tuesday.  He is extremely involved in the running community.  He is a marathoner himself.  He has been a speaker at the Boston Marathon expo - seriously cool.  He does gait analysis of his patients.  Speaking of which, my gait sucks.  I have a problem that I can't seem to fix and I fix people's gait for my job.  Sadly, no other doctor has ever asked to see me run.  Not only that, but I have video of me running and could bring it to them and take two seconds to review.  I believe this to be a huge part of my problem, yet no one seems to care.  I will demand this guy care.  I'm bringing the video on Tuesday.  Along with my two pairs of orthodics, my current running shoes, and the shoes I wish I was running in.

I will also have my first DNS (did not start) of my life at Brookings in May.  In the running world, a DNS is worse than a DNF.  All in the name of self-preservation though, right?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Soul Searching

"Things so rarely goes as planned but Life should always continue to be a set of dreams crashing defiantly against both odds and circumstance."

I have found myself in an interesting place over the past two months.  I have transitioned into a non-aerobic athlete, which one would call an anaerobic athlete - but I don't know how to be one of those, so I won't call myself one yet!  I went from all running to not running at all.  In the midst of my "not running-ness", I found that I wouldn't workout at all, because I simply didn't know what to do.  I continued with a couple of strength workouts each week.  They started as 1 hr and 15 min long endurance strength sessions and have somehow morphed into 10 min cross fit sessions.  I fought it at first.  Not because I don't believe it is helpful to me, actually I think this stuff is flippin' awesome!  But, it was so hard to let go of the time that I spent on my workouts.  I counted on the countless hours of running or strength training as a means to establish my inner peace. 

So, where does that leave me?  I've found myself in a state of injury still.  My ankle is messed up.  It's been reduced to a "clicking" feeling and is most likely an overstretched ligament that needs to get put back into original shape.  Since not running didn't seem to help it at all, then I thought I could try something new with a "reduced" mileage plan.  I've been researching the heck out of crossfit endurance which is based primarily on anaerobic training methods to establish a better running economy of the endurance athlete.

I started this new plan yesterday.  I did a 10 min crossfit workout and then 3 hours later, I ran 8 x 200m intervals.  My ankle hurt of course, but most importantly, my heart/lungs/arms/legs/etc. hurt!  It was exciting to get my butt kicked in only the distance of a mile.  I love the idea of this training, because a good distance runner understands the importance of their anaerobic threshold in their training.  Rarely does a distance runner complete an actual threshold workout.  Using these shorter and more intense workouts to push out your threshold is a key factor in how long and how efficient you can run.

I am excited to see where this ends up.  I am registered for Brookings Marathon in 10 weeks.  I'm not sure if I will be able to run with this injury.  Either way, I plan to attempt the training and hope for the best.  If I had to guess today, then I would say I will not be able to run.  I hope that things get better though.  In the end, I will still have a rock star training plan for future races.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Marathon #4: WDW - The Race That Almost Wasn't

It was interesting to say the least.  I would have to say that it all started on Friday when I went in to get my ankle kinesio taped for the race.  My ankle injury is a sprain from last February and is almost a year old injury that isn't healing.  I'm beginning to think that it is something other than a sprain since it is only getting worse as time goes on.  As I was packing Friday night, the ankle got painful.  We woke up really early on Saturday morning to catch our 7:30am flight and my ankle hurt enough to rip the KT off.  I was starting to limp and that was not a good sign pre-race.

Our flight was comfortable and we watched "Moneyball" for the in-flight movie.  It was a great movie and was very motivating!  We landed in Orlando just before noon and headed out to lunch with Paul and Ieva!  After lunch, we headed to the marathon expo at the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex!  We picked up our packets and learned that Paul and I had been split into different corrals.  Paul just made the cut-off into corral A and I just missed it and ended up in corral B.  There were 8 corrals, so I was just proud that we made it up to the front.  My competitive streak was pretty ticked that I missed the cutoff time :-)  I was incredibly proud of Paul though.  Ieva was put into corral G as a first timer which was a great placement for her!  

Posing with our bibs (Erin, Ieva, and Paul)!

We walked around the expo, and by this time, my ankle was causing me to limp again.  I pretty much saw any chances of completing the marathon "running" diminish at this point.  I knew what was going to happen and started to tell Eric that it was over, but I have to admit that I hoped that for just this once I would have a break in all of this and get to do what I love...RUN.  We left the expo and headed to our super cheap hotel.  There was some kind of weird goth-like card playing tournament there and we were overwhelmed by teenage boys!

Scenes from our hotel

We were able to find an Olive Garden and headed out for our carbo load!  It was an awesome meal.  After that we headed to the nearest Target to buy some breakfast foods and ankle tape (just in case I decided that athletic tape on an ankle for 26.2 miles was a good idea).  Then we headed back to the hotel and actually went to bed at 8pm!

It was hard to sleep that night.  I think mostly because we went to bed so flippin' early!  But, we managed a few hours of sleep and woke up at 2:15am and hit the showers.  Yes, I shower before a marathon!  We headed out at 3:15am and somehow managed to pick up a hitch hiker in the parking lot.  She was from London and made for an interesting ride to the race.  We figured it was too early for weird attacker people to be up!  We made it to the race in record time and headed in to drop our bags and start the 20 minute walk to the starting corrals.  It was the best run event I have ever been to.  They are obviously very good at managing large crowds of people.  The event was flawless and the only complaint I have is the 45 minute wait in my starting corral.  

Pre-race Porta-Potty photo!
Race Management Crew for the day (Eric)!

It was really cold that morning.  We had to wait behind the bag drop tents for 45 mins before they let us start the walk to the corrals.  There were thousands of porta-pottys lined up on the roads.  I've never seen so many.  I never waited in a line!  Ieva's corral came up first, so we said our goodbyes to her.  Then Paul and I walked up to the front.  It took a few minutes to get up there and I took the chance to do a little warm-up.  Once we hit corral B, we wished each other luck and off we went.  I got up to the front row and sat there with a few others that just missed the cut off.  We got to know each other as we waited for the start.  I was surround by ultra runners with 3:53ish marathon PRs.  It was some pretty sweet company :-) 

After another 45 minutes, Corral A moved up to the start and they started to move B up behind them.  Fireworks went off for each corral.  That was really cool!  This is the largest race that I've run to date and I wasn't sure how it would go.  They moved us to the start line and we waited a few more minutes for the countdown.  I was in the front row which was AWESOME!  I had the start of my life.  I started out a little reserved since I was in the front, but I felt so awesome that I just kept speeding up every few miles to the half split.  I walked the water stops so that I wouldn't end up with my usual choking on water routine.  I also stopped at the port-potty around mile 6 - which I blame on the incredible wait in the starting corral.  I've decided that race directors should start to put port-pottys in the starting corrals.  That would be a good thing.  

Most of the race was run on the back roads of the parks, very little of it was in the actual parks.  There was plenty of entertainment on the course though!  You knew you were approaching a park when you would hear "Runners, speed bumps ahead" over the loud speaker!  I flew through the Magic Kingdom.  It was lined with fans cheering.  It was pretty cool.  On my way out of the park is when the tug behind my knee started.  It got painful really fast, but wasn't slowing me down, so I pushed through it.  I knew I only had a short time left before I was disabled, so I fought through to the half split.  Those chip mats did not come fast enough.  I made it to them with my new marathon half split record of 1:50:09.  I was very pleased.  This is exactly where I will need to be to BQ when my time comes.  Right after I crossed the mat, I went to a walk and tried to find some relief in the pain.  I stopped to stretch, but nothing seemed to help.  I tried a few more times to run/walk, but nothing worked.  So, I started walking (once again...)

Ironically, I had a fast enough first half that it took walking all the way until mile 19 until it was no longer possible for a sub-4 hour finish time.  I walked through the Animal Kingdom, which would have been pretty cool if it didn't hurt so much.  It was getting pretty cold walking and by mile 20 I could hardly walk anymore.  I pulled off to the medical tent and took some tylenol, rubbed myself with bio-freeze, and headed down with the guy to catch a ride back to the finish.  The walk was painful and it turned out the van had just left.  So, we went back to the medical tent and I underwent an extensive massage by a PT student.  She did a great job, but I still hurt too bad.  I borrowed a cell phone and called Eric to tell him I was done.  Then, I ended up in some pretty funny conversations with people on the lawn chairs.  One lady was dressed as Cinderella and we compared plantar faciitis stories.  She told me never to end up walking in the NYC marathon...the fans get really mean :-) I asked another woman what her injury was and she told me "I just had surgery two weeks ago and told my doctor I wouldn't run a marathon, so I thought I would stop at 20."  Seriously.  

After sitting there for well over an hour, some friends of ours walked by on the course.  I cheered for them and they waved.  They made the turn-around and on their way back, they stopped and made me get back on the course.  It wasn't a hard decision since it turned out there was no van coming for me.  I walked with them for a mile and then they took off running.  I had to walk through the remaining parks (Universal Studios and Epcot).  It was a really hard walk.  I was hurting too much to be walking, but didn't really know what else to do.  People were giving me the pity cheer...which I really can't stand to hear anymore.  One lady cheered "Come on Erin, make your magic today!"  Gotta love Disney.  These people are way too happy :-)  

I finally made it to the finish and walked once again across the mat.  I decided this was it.  No more of these walking finishes.  I don't register for marathons to finish them - I do it to run as fast as I can to the finish line.  Immediately after the finish line, Eric found me and reached through the fence to hand me a rose.  That was pretty great :-)  It turned out that he had no money to buy it and had to beg the woman to give it to him for free.  She told him to "Have a magical day!"  It helped me get through the long walk to my medal and through the food tents and out the back of the finish area.  I got ice wrapped to my knee and hobbled to the bag check.  
A little bummed, but man am I glad that's over!

I found everyone and learned that Paul had finished with a stellar 3:47 and Ieva had come in 20 seconds behind me.  They were both so happy and I was incredibly proud of them both!  

Red carpet!

Now I need a new plan :-)  We'll see what happens.  I'm pretty worn out and spent the rest of the vacation limping around.  I'm just tired of the same ending to this story.  Fargo was great and I know I can repeat it faster.  I just need things to work.  This is not a great start to my 50 state journey, but I have been having fun and learning from it, so time has not been wasted :-)  Four states down...46 to go!  
Event: Walt Disney World Marathon
Place: Orlando, FL
Theme Song: "Still Waiting" - Sum 41
Date: Sunday, January 82012
Time: 5:39am
Official Splits:
5 Mile Split0:41:37
10 Mile Split1:23:51
Half Split1:50:09
20 Mile Split3:19:13
Final Time:  6:08:27

Friday, January 6, 2012

Marathon #4: Pre-race Thoughts

January 6, 2012:  Pre-race Thoughts
So obviously I am running Disney this weekend!  I did not think I would heal in time to make this a worthy event, but here I am feeling "good enough" to run a marathon.  I still have some injuries, but nothing that is big enough to stop me.  I do sometimes wonder what exactly it will take to stop me :-)

I haven't exactly trained for this race.  I did not follow a training plan or get concerned if I missed a workout.  I only ran a handful of LSDs - 12/15/18/12 - and spent most of my time on my new bike in the basement.  Maybe less training is the key!

I've attempted to wrap my head around this one.  I'm trying to get mentally prepared for this race while at the same time trying not to think about it.  So, this is the "race who must not be named".  Which is appropriate since I'll be running by the Harry Potter theme park.  I want to run my best this race, but I am not sure if my injuries will allow it.  They might stop me completely in my tracks.  I have absolutely no idea how this will unfold.  It's kind of exciting that way I guess!  

My plane leaves early tomorrow morning and the kids are going to Nana's I'm going to put on my compression socks, kick back, and enjoy some peace!  I am also looking forward to starting the race with my brother Paul.  Our last marathon together resulted in us not even seeing each other that day.  This Sunday, I'm on him like glue.  He has a sub 3:50 goal in mind and barring any injuries and any overly confident runners that shouldn't have lined up in front of us, that should not be a problem.  My goal is only to finish with a smile on my face and save my speed for Brookings.  

My theme song chosen for this race is "Still Waiting" by Sum 41.  I am "still waiting" for the marathon in which all the stars are aligned, I am completely healthy, and I am able to perform at my full potential.  I look forward to that race....I just don't know when it will be :-)