Tag Archives: marathon

G’bye Humid DC, Hello Hilly ‘burgh

It’s been a very busy few weeks, and I imagine it will only continue to become more hectic in my life. So I’ll do my best to update this blog, but it might be a bit sporadic.

Pete and I are moving to Pittsburgh in August. I think I’ve alluded to that here and there on this blog but now I’m finally allowed to come out and say it officially. I’m leaving my job that I enjoy, leaving the nation’s capital after more than 6 years (10 for Pete), and entering into years of debt. I sometimes think I’m crazy for doing this. But I’m also ready for this; ready to go back to school. Ready to change my career and probably change our lives quite a bit.

The day before my marathon in Pittsburgh we found a perfect house in Shadyside and signed a lease on the spot. The next step is to pack up our house here and find Pete a new job. I think Fox and Taz should pick up a part time job to help out, but they won’t hear any of it. The one thing that hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will in no time, is that I will be running hills. A lot. Yikes.

Speaking of running, I haven’t done much in the past month. Just 2 miles here and there. Last Friday some things happened and I found myself at 8:30pm filled with anger and rage and way too much energy. So I said, “fuck it, I’m going for a run.” And I did. And it helped. I needed a release, and truth be told this is one of the reasons I began running in the first place. I know I’m not supposed to run much right now, but I felt like I had no choice. I had to run.

So how are my legs? Um, it’s hard to say. I have a lot less pain in every day life. But I don’t feel like I’m really ready to begin running again. I would like to continue with my Graston sessions but I don’t know if that will be able to happen. Why it costs so much money to stab me in the shins with metal utensils makes no sense to me.

Sorta random, but I also wrote a book review for Jon Krakauer’s “Where Men Win Glory”. You can read it here on my mother’s website.

Lastly, I won my first contest (ever!) a few weeks ago. I’ve literally never won anything. Of course I was upstaged later that week by Kate won multiple things throughout the week, the sweetest being front row VIP seats to Bethesda’s Front Row runway show, plus tons of swag (including autographed books, and a gym membership I think). I was lucky to be her guest but I wouldn’t let her forget that I won a $25 gift certificate from Swanson Vitamins thanks to Lauren!

So what did I get with my $25 gift certificate? Quite a lot actually. Their prices were extremely reasonable, and their selection online was vast. I didn’t know where to begin. After much thought (I’m not being sarcastic, I really spent a lot of time strategizing about how to use my big prize), I settled on 3 bottles of vitamins (calcium for my bones; B-12, and D), foot cream, and an all natural bone for Fox.

My Swanson Vitamins Prize

The vitamins I needed. I used to take a multivitamin but I’ll be honest, I haven’t kept up with that habit. So it’s time to go back and help my body out.

The foot cream, well if you’ve seen my feet then you understand. I have two black toes, one worse than the other but both are pretty bad. And wheras some people get black tonenails that then fall off after a few days, mine have been known to stay on for months. Just to add to my grossness, the soles of my feet are cracked, and in some places there’s blood a bunch of layers down that just hasn’t left since a blister first brought it out. Lovely, I know. So I finally figured that maybe it’s time. And you know what? I think it’s working a little. Every night I’ve been scrubbing my feet and putting on the lotion. It smells pretty funky (peppermint-ish) but I’ve noticed a difference. The cracks are beginning to close. 

And the bone? Well, when Fox remembers he’s a dog and that dogs play with bones he loves his new one. But sometimes he just doesn’t know what to do with it. Silly dog. Overall, I’m very impressed with Swanson Vitamins and encourage you all to check them out.

http://www.swansonvitamins.com/

Twitter @SwansonVitamins

Fox and his new bone

3 Comments

Filed under running

Shoes. OMG. Shoes

Got my race photos back! I’m beet red in them, but for the most part I don’t think I look as bad as I know I felt. Pete took a video of me finishing, and even in that I look like I’m a little tired but nothing out of the norm for someone who’s just run 13.1 miles. Except that I know I was in complete agony. Maybe my body knew I was being videotaped/photographed and instinctively pulled it together. If I figure out how to get the video posted here I will. I might have to ask Pete, which is ironic considering he’s totally not a tech person but I know he’s done it before for his blog, AStonesThrow09

Around mile 7 I think


Finish Line

I bought new shoes this weekend. Brooks Ghost 2. I had about 400 miles on my Asics Gel Nimbus 11’s, which I loved, but I decided after my race that it was time. I probably can still get a few more miles out of them – and I probably will. But after carrying around that extra weight in my feet from all the rain and puddles the week before, all I’ve been thinking about is getting my feet into something lighter. So I went to my running store, Georgetown Running Company in Chevy Chase and picked up these:

Brooks Ghost 2


I did a six-miler in them yesterday at Great Falls (C&O). I like the shoe. It’s a little different but not too much. I’m still using my Superfeet inserts. But my shins hurt. Both of them. Adding to my frustration was the general consensus at my running store that I do indeed have a neutral foot – no over or under pronation, and my arch is just fine. Which means that whatever is wrong with my shins can’t be easily blamed on the biomechanics of my feet and therefore can’t be that easily corrected. Ugh. I’m sure that part of it is because I’m in a different shoe so my feet have to get used to them. But that’s not enough of an excuse for me so I’ve decided it’s time to take a stronger course of action. On Wednesday I’m going in for a consultation to have Active Release Technique (A.R.T) used on my legs (is A.R.T. a verb or a noun? Can’t figure out how to use it exactly). I’ve done my research. I’ve already met the doctor. He’s already informed me it’ll be painful. I’ve already said, “fine, whatever. Just make the long-term pain stop”. I feel like I’ve been putting this off because I feel like it’s really my last stop. I don’t know how else to deal with my shin pain. Everyone seems stumped as to why it’s so bad with me and why it’s constant. I’m just hoping it really is just a ton of scar tissue that can be moved around. I’m ready. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive. Hopefully it’s worth it.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Liam Kyle Sullivan’s video, Shoes, please do. It’s one of our favorites.

Leave a comment

Filed under running

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Report

Well, this was quite a race. It was a run that I didn’t prepare for. Not in the sense that I didn’t train enough. It was a mental race. I’m not quite sure if I won or lost it actually. And it was more physically demanding than I ever imagined. I finished the half marathon at 1:54:11. More than 14 minutes FASTER than my previous time a year before. But I collapsed seconds after crossing the finish line and was taken to the medical tents…but don’t worry, I still got a Smiley cookie.

Despite a grim forecast and higher temps than we all would’ve wanted, I was pumped Sunday morning. I was singing in the car and totally high and excited about the race. So much so that I couldn’t sit still in the car when we were stuck in traffic so I got out and walked the rest of the way to the convention center, leaving Pete to find parking. I was torn about what to do about pace groups. I wanted to run under 1:55 but I knew that was a pretty lofty goal. The only half marathon pace groups I saw online were 1:50 and 2:00 so I couldn’t figure out which to join. I know you’re supposed to start out slow, but I couldn’t resist the faster group. Afterall, I like to be pushed. In the end the starting line was so crowded that I had a hard time finding the right group. I settled next to the 8:35 min/mi marathon pace team.

Pre-Race at Dawn

The sky was overcast, and the air heavy, but when the starting gun went off I didn’t seem to pay much attention to the dark clouds above. I ran with the 8:35 group for a few miles, but I kept hearing people telling their leader that they were going too slow. But it was so crowded that it was difficult to meander in and out of people while keeping the group together. By mile 2 it began to pour. Shortly after that I left the group behind me. I had my Garmin on but I try really hard not to look at it too much. I don’t want to become obsessive about my pace. But maybe this time I should have. I think I was running too fast.

A few things that went wrong, physically: 1. I think I started too strong. I don’t think it was the downfall of me, but I definitly think it made an impact on my overall performance. 2. I didn’t expect the hills. Last years course wasn’t very hilly. At all. But I guess they changed the course and it is my own fault for not having looked at it closely enough. When I train on hills with my group we push hard up and recover down. It’s pretty standard. So I’m used to that. But here’s the thing, we do two maybe three hills over the course of six miles. All the sudden I’m pushing up a hill, recovering for a minute and then pushing up another, then recovering as I go around a turn and then going up another. One hill after the other. It began to wear down my legs. By the end of the course I would tell myself “Last hill…this is the last one.” I would put all my thoughts and hopes on that “last” hill. And then another came along. 3. Pete pointed this last one out to me today and I think he’s right. It was pouring out there and I ran through a bunch of puddles. That’s just what happens. My shoes became really heavy and carrying around and extra 2lbs in your feet did not help my legs recover from the bridges.

I began to encounter some problems around mile 7, but everything would change at mile 9. At that point I was beginning to shuffle. People started to pass me. When I saw the number “9” I saw “omg i still have 4 more miles” instead of, “one more, and then three more”. My mind began it’s slow battle.

Post-race...I made it

I’ve heard people talk about mind games and exhaustion and cramping before. Hell, I’ve had some really tough runs over the years. But now I get what people are talking about. It was brutal. I couldn’t get control and I couldn’t focus. I’m well aware that these races are like 70% mental. And I tried to keep telling myself that but it didn’t work. I couldn’t grab hold of a mantra. I couldn’t really grab hold of any thoughts. All time goals went out the window. I just wanted to finish. And I didn’t want to walk. That was the only thing that seemed to stick. Don’t walk. I would pick up the pace a bit and then slow back down. I was already huffing and puffing. Now I began grunting. And talking aloud. “Don’t walk” I kept saying aloud. I knew that if I didn’t walk, and I finished, that I would be proud of myself. But if I walked I would have nothing to show for myself. So I kept shuffling. Barely. The 8:35 pace team that I had left in the dust an hour earlier came up and passed me. I was moving so slowly that they were out of my sight line real quickly. My eyes were now closed quite a bit. The rain stung and I couldn’t bare to look ahead at how many miles I had left. I was begining to feel defeated. How did I go from being on top of the world a few hours earlier to this.

If I could have produced tears I probably would have. At mile 11 a guy ran up beside me. “Are you ok?” he asked. “No, I’m really tired,” I mustered. “Do you need help?” he said, referring to medics. “No, I’m tired.” I didn’t want intervention. Or I did, but not yet. “Are you a runner?” he asked. “Yes,” I said, nodding my head. “Ok. Runners run through pain. You can do this. Good luck.” And with that he kept running. So did I. His words helped a bit, but I found myself slowing back down. I had started to recognize the course from last year but then it changed. And there was no one along the streets cheering. I know now that was because there was a bomb scare at the finish line, and the course was moved and the finished line moved as well. Which meant less people cheering at the spot I needed them the most.

Right before mile 12 a girl in a black tank top came up to me. I think she first asked how much longer. I had the watch so I told her we were almost at 12. I owe everything to this girl. She was the one who got me to the finish line. I wish I could repay her somehow. She talked to me. I told her I was going to stick next to her if she didn’t mind. And that I didn’t want to walk. She said that’s ok. I grunted…a lot. I started saying “just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes,” aloud. At one point I almost stopped, and fell back a few feet behind her. When I looked up I saw her hand motioning for me to rejoin her. So I did. When the finish line came in sight I said “go” and she sped up a bit in front of me. I wanted to so badly to walk, but I didn’t.

I ran right over the finish line, stopped, and then got really dizzy. I reached out in front of me and grabbed the girl-in-the-black-tank-top’s shoulder and then fell to my knees. Thank you to all the volunteers that morning. Really, they were just wonderful. A woman caught me and grabbed me up and told me to keep moving; I wasn’t allowed to stop. She was taking me to the medical tent. An officer quickly came and grabbed my right arm as she grabbed my left, and they led me through the crowds. When I got to the tent they asked me if I knew where I was. I said, yes. I finished! They put a cold towel around my shoulders and took care of me. I was dizzy and crampy, but within a few minutes my heart rate came down to 85 and I started to feel much better. They stretched me out, and were so helpful and kind and really, I couldn’t have been placed into better hands.

I’m still reflecting and I think there’s a lot to learn from this race. I don’t want to be fearful of running. I don’t want to be afraid of doing another race and having an experience like this again. Just like in riding, I need to get back on the horse. So I will. I’m thrilled about my time. I still have no idea how that happend. But I’m more happy that I didn’t walk. Simply that I finished…And got my smiley cookie of course.

Smiley Cookies!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tapering and Cheescake

It’s taper week! which means less exercise and a huge appetite. ugh. This is supposed to be the week of recovery for you body. A chance for your body to catch it’s breath before the race. Tapering is always frustrating for runners, especially when you’ve just spent all this effort training and building up. Well it’s been a little extra frustrating for me because for some reason, this week of ease has somehow resulted in the pain returning to my shins. The worst was Wednesday night. It’s gone down a bit, but it’s still bothersome. I just have to suck it up.

I’ve also been eating like crazy. Which is fine when you’re burning a gazillion calories a day. But this week I haven’t been working out as much so it doesn’t quite feel like anything is cancelling each other out. Even a coworker commented on my eating habits as I was piling chicken onto my plate at a baby shower the other night. When I told her I had a race Sunday she looked relieved. Only one pregnant woman was in the room, and it wasn’t me.

Pete is so supportive, which is why he brought me home this lovely dessert last night from his restaurant. I’ve never been a big cheesecake fan until I tried theirs. Mmmmnn. And he brought fresh fruit. AND he added some sour patch kids on the side. My favorite :-)

We’re heading to Pittsburgh for the marathon first thing in the morning. Stopping at his parents first to drop the Fox off and then heading to the expo where I plan to get my shins taped up (KTTape Booth). Pete’s family is so wonderful and supportive of me as well. I was thrilled to get an email from his mom this morning asking if I thought chicken tetrazzini, pasta, salad and my choice of dessert would be an ok dinner Saturday. Sounds perfect to me. As for marathon morning, well they’re calling for rain, possible T-storms, and higher temps. I’m trying not to worry or think about it too much. Wish me luck!

Wine, cheesecake, fresh fruit, and sour patch

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning the Ropes of Taping

So it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of KT Tape.  My PT taped me many times, and I was taped up before the Marine Corps Marathon at the KT Tape booth (the guy there taped me 100 times better than my PT ever did).  Well ever since then I’ve been wanting to learn how to do it myself, but the truth is that I really have no faith in myself to do this properly.  It’s my sandwich theory (or Pete’s salad theory): a sandwich tastes so much better when someone makes it for you.  And that’s not just a cop-out to get someone else to make me a sandwich.  But no matter how hard I try nothing I make will be better than what Pete makes.  The same goes for taping my shin splints, I feared.  I needed a professional.  Well I’ve got two races coming up, and I know that KT Tape will be at the Pittsburgh Marathon (I hope this is still true).  I’m not sure if they’ll be at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but it doesn’t really matter because we’re not even sure we’ll be able to get to the expo on time. So…

I went ahead and bought some tape last week.  I’m looking at it as training tape.  And so Friday night, after I got the package in the mail, I sat down and watched the video online about how to tape your shins.  And then I tried it myself.

My first attempt

Not bad.  But not great.  It didn’t seem to really do anything.  So I decided that Pete needed to learn, and that in addition to being my boyfriend/nurse/doctor/math tutor/running coach ect., we can now add “Personal Taper” to the list.  We had a really fun time last night.  I made him watch the video, then after he said he got it I kept correcting him and telling him he was doing it wrong but I couldn’t explain how to do it right. I’m lucky he’s so patient with me. There were definitely a few strips of tape that were wasted.  It’s frustrating because I’m the one who knows where my pain is and knows how the pressure of the tape feels, but I have to trust his hands because they’re a whole lot more steady than mine and he’s in a good position to apply it.  So in the end we made some progress.  It’s not completely right, but we’ve got two weeks to figure it out.  In the meantime we’ll practice some more (anybody know of any other videos online?) and I think I’ll go ahead and buy another roll of tape (this time I’ll get the real KT Tape.  I bought the knock-off kind by accident, which is fine since half of it is already in the trash). 

Pete's attempt - better than mine

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Difference a Year Makes

I find that swimming is a good place to think, and so Thursday night, while doing my weekly laps in the pool, I thought to myself “wow, I’m such a better runner now than I was last year when I ran my first half”.  That thought surprised me though.  Big time.  Because for the last few weeks I’ve quietly doubted how I’m going to be able to run not one, but two big races within three weeks of each other, when I’ve hardly trained.  The cold hard truth is that I’ve never actually fully recovered from my injury last June.  Just when I was on the brink of getting back into the groove of things, I got hurt again.  For years I ran three miles a day, everyday.  Not fast.  Not particularly well.  But consistently and with no problems whatsoever.  I even ran in the same shoes for years.  When I decided to step up and take running a little more seriously, I was running 5-6 days a week, and a lot more miles.  You mull over what the cause of my demise was, but really it doesn’t matter.  I’ve changed my habits.  A lot.  So what is causing these conflicting thoughts on my abilities?
 
While training for my half last year I was all over my training plan; intervals, hills, long runs, tempos.  You name it.  I did it.  You had to force me to take a rest day.  And now?  For the past few weeks I’m running maybe twice a week.  Three times is a lot.  Four is in the distant future.  And anything above five seems impossible.  How I used to run every day is beyond me.  Days in between runs are literally Recovery Days.  My legs need time to heal.  So what makes me think that I can run a 10mile race and then quickly follow it up with a half?  And really, what made me think in the pool that I was actually a better runner than last year?
 
Experience.  I’ve spent these last few months in recovery learning about my body, and learning about the best ways of conditioning.  It’s not just about running.  My running partner the other night said to me, “I think being a runner makes you a better swimmer, but swimming doesn’t really make you a better runner.”  I nodded, and wanted to respond, but I was getting a little bit tired and couldn’t garner the energy to talk.  So I’ll respond now: I think I disagree.  I see where he was coming from, but I think the endurance aspect of swimming has an important impact on my running.  And of course it’s easy on my legs, which always helps my running ;-)
 
Cycling, not to brag or anything, has done absolute wonders to my thighs. My legs haven’t been this defined and toned since my competitive riding days.  In fact, they might be even more toned now.  The best part about the stationary cycling that I do is that I get to concentrate on the muscle above my knee, which in turns protects my knees from the heavy impact and beatings they receive from my running.
 
And pilates.  Aside from strengthening my core, I’ve increased my flexibility (key for runners who are known for not being so flexible) and learned a lot of new stretches that will hopefully help prevent me from future injuries.  Yes I subscribe to that belief.  I know many who do not, but I do.
 
And the truth is that the numbers show I’m actually a much stronger runner.  I hate going by numbers, and I really don’t want to jinx myself here.  But Tuesday night I ran 6.2 miles at an average of 8:19 min/mile pace.  Yes, I know, I probably ran too fast for a nice evening jog, but the conversation was good and I wanted to keep up.  Point is, the run ended, I was tired, but I was fine.  Last year, probably around this time I ran my first 6 miles.  In a little over an hour.  And I thought it was the end of the world.   

I may not be running as much as I was, but I’m stronger; physically and mentally.  I play the head games.  I work through the pain.  I know my rhythm and my feet.  I have so much more under my belt, and I have so much more in my heart this time around, that I’m hoping it will count for something.  My race in Pittsburgh has taken on and entirely different meaning in the past few weeks.  It’s really no longer just a race.  So hopefully my legs will feel ok for Cherry Blossom and the Pittsburgh Marathon.  They don’t need to feel perfect.  Just as long as they can take me through the miles.  If there was no pain?  Well there’s no doubt I’d hit my PR and come very easily under 2:00:00.  But who knows.  It doesn’t mater too much anymore.  As long as I can run. 

Snowy...forever loved, our beloved Little Prince <3

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In a Rocker State of Mind

I’ve got some pretty big decisions to make in the next couple of weeks. I’d prefer to be vague here for now, but I think that it will suffice to say that no matter what I choose it will be a life changing decision, but in very different ways. These past six days have taken me to a very similar state of mind that I was in leading up to my days at Simon’s Rock. Have I mentioned the Rock here before? Simon’s Rock College of Bard (now Bard College at Simon’s Rock) is a liberal arts college in the country that takes students after 10th or 11th grade, and was probably the most influential place I’ve ever been. I chose to leave high school after my junior year and go to college when I was 16. It’s definitely not a choice for everyone, and please spare the whole “omg, didn’t you miss not going to your prom?” Nope. Didn’t miss it at all. Didn’t even think about it in fact. I truly believe that going to the Rock was the best decision for me, but I know that I did not make the best decisions while there and that it has taken me all these years to truly appreciate and value the education and experience I got. There really was no possible way for me to predict what I would go through at the Rock when I was sitting in a parking lot with people I shouldn’t have been in a parking lot with, dreaming of my escape. The prospect of a school, full of people like me, was too intoxicating. I brushed off all criticisms, concerns and doubts and refused to take any of it into consideration; I was intent only on going. Here I am again, in a similar state because of the excitement I feel. I know that there is really no way for me to fully anticipate what is about to come my way. But this time I’m really intent on not fully giving in to my excitement. Intent on bringing a little skepticism in the picture, and trying – with all my might – to listen to the concerns this time around. I always wish I could go back to the Rock and do it all over again. I know exactly what I’d do differently, and what I’d do all over again. But I’m not in one of those movies where I get to go back in time so instead I get to do it all over again in a different way. (like a sideways world – sorry, had to make the Lost reference).

And on a very different note, had an awesome group run last night. Ran 10k at a great pace and my legs are feeling quite good today. These runs are really instrumental to my sanity. It’s a time to clear my head, push out my anger, and to think – and not think – all at the same time. So onto Cherry Blossom and the Pittsburgh Marathon.

The Arch at Simon's Rock

Bash Bish - a true gem of W. Mass

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized