Tag Archives: shin splints

Almost Time

So everything is moving pretty quickly. All the sudden things snuck up on me and I realized that it’s almost time to move! Because it’s my life and all, nothing has gone according to plan and some pretty sharp curveballs were sent out way the past couple of weeks. But I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make this move work. Including…going on vacation next week! Hopefully we’ll do some more packing this weekend (we’re actually doing a pretty good job so far) and then I’m off to my family home in Newport. I’ll get some relaxing time to myself, see some family, and pay tribute to my Uncle Phil who will finally the East Coast remembrance he deserves.

My exercise routine has been all over the place recently. Seeing that we live in a swamp, the weather has been tortuous (hot and humid to the 100th degree). Because of the stress in my life, I’ve been itching to run a lot. But even my nighttime runs outside at 9pm are still dreadfully hot (we’re talking in the 90’s). I’m getting ridiculously bored in the gym, to the point where I’m alternating between the bike and elliptical in the same hour because I can’t stand being on either (I do enjoy the bike but with my frame – well there’s not a whole lot of cushioning and after 30 min my butt gets real sore). But I’m trying to remind myself that in a few weeks I will no longer have a full gym, downstairs. I’ll have to take a bus to get to a gym. So I might as well make good use of it now.

On one of my recent night runs I decided to stop off at a middle school I pass and see if there was a track. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. There is in fact a track, a nice one too, and man, my feet were so happy to be off that hard concrete and on a rubber track. So the next night I got the “brilliant” idea to stop off there once more, run a mile, and then go barefoot. Which was pretty interesting. My feet turned black. And my toenail finally came off. But I really enjoyed myself. I’m only doing half a mile at time. I don’t want to push myself too much. But it’s interesting how much my form transforms. Mid-strike is perfect. Knees are better. Stride is shorter and much easier to contain. But most of all it was fun. And it makes me look forward to trying many more new things, fun things like exploring a new city on foot.

Below is a video Pete took of me running barefoot on the treadmill in our gym. I’m actually on the balls of my foot more than I usually am, but I think that’s because there’s a slight incline on the TM. Pete tried to coach me. I tried to resist his coaching, even though he *usually* knows what he’s talking about. So don’t mind the convo.

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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

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Healing My Legs Through Torture: The Graston Technique

So I’ve been reluctant to share what I’m going through lately, simply out of fear that it won’t work. I’m still reluctant, and I truly hope I don’t jinx anything. But I figured that it’s time to talk about this procedure.

If you’ve read my blog before you’re fully aware of my persistent battle with shin pain. Stress fractures last summer. And then the fact that I’ve been plagued by shin splints for the past year. You’re probably thinking, “shin splints for a year?” I usually get a few responses when I tell people this, even though they don’t say it aloud I can tell what they’re thinking. 1)Shin splints don’t last a year. At worst maybe like 3 weeks. 2)They’ve had shin splints and yes they’ve been annoying but c’mon, they’re just shin splints. They’re not THAT bad. People usually nod, or say “that sucks” and move on, and I know they’re probably thinking I just have a really low threshold to pain. It’s because of these reactions that I’ve chosen to try and ignore the pain. But lets face it, I’m only running twice a week and am in pain constantly, even sitting at my desk. There may have been a day or two here and there that I’ve felt totally fine, but for the past year I have had this nagging pain in my lower legs.

When I met my current doctor at a open consultation seminar at my running store he told me to come in and he’d break up whatever was in my leg. I put it off for a few weeks, but went in last week for my first session. During my consultation he had concluded that there was an immense amount of scar tissue built up on my bone and that this needed to be pulled away and broken up. He also warned me, multiple times, that this was going to hurt…a lot. I told him “ok, fine”. But I don’t think he pegged me as someone who could handle the pain. Like most people, I think he doubted, ever so slightly, the level of my condition. He told me he would be using Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) and the Graston Technique.

A.R.T. is a “state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.” http://www.activerelease.com/# I’m familiar with the technique. I’ve heard good things. And I’ve heard it hurts. But let me tell you, it has nothing on the Graston Technique. And lucky me, we’ve been primarily using the Graston Technique in all my sessions. This technique uses what I like to refer to as medieval torture instruments to break up the scar tissue.

During my first session, the doctor began working on my right leg first (my better side). He got about a minute into it and stopped and looked at me. “Wow. You’ve got a lot clumped in there. This must be really painful.” “Yes,” I replied. “And that’s my good leg.” When he began working the left one we started to hear a really weird noise. He once again stopped and looked at me, “you realize you have a lot of fluid in there? That’s not good. Can you hear it?” I said I had no idea it was there, and frankly didn’t understand why or how fluid could be there. He gave me a look, which I appreciate more than anything, that said, “I get it now. You really are in pain. This is real.” The danger with the fluid where it is, as most runners know, is compartment syndrome. I don’t want to get to that stage. And where on the right leg we’ll be able to make progress right away with ridding the scar tissue and fascia, I need to get this fluid out of my left leg.

Second session: When I get these procedures done I sit on the table, legs out in front, sitting up but leaning back on my wrists. And I’ll be honest: This Graston technique business hurts like hell. But I stay still. The doctor stops at one point and says, “you’re allowed to scream if you want. You can yell, scream, do whatever. I know this must hurt.” I said thanks but this actually works for me. We talked about it more today. I was telling him that I know it sounds weird but I actually need to meditate on the pain. I need to focus on it so strongly. That’s how I can get through it. Weird, I know. He said that that’s actually a response you see in a lot of endurance athletes. Which I guess makes sense. I’m actually proud of myself that I can hold it together like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I stub my toe I scream and yell and curse the corner that jumped out at me. But unbearable pain like this? I’m stoic. When I told my mother about this she said that she’s the same way. I think we’re wired to remain strong and concentrated under immense pain and pressure. In fact, it never occurred to me that I could scream until he brought it up.

So I guess you’re wondering how this all happened and what do we do now. That’s what I was wondering at least. Yes, shin splints were probably the root of the problem. But this was injury on top of injury on top of injury that contributed to this amount of scar tissue. And it has to get broken up if I ever want to run, or even be pain free. This isn’t stuff that just goes away with time. As I’ve discussed before, I fit none of the characteristics of someone who is chronically affected by shin splints. My pronation is fine, everything is neutral. My arches are normal. My strike is fine. So what on earth is wrong with me? Well this doctor offered a suggestion that I hadn’t ever considered before, but makes perfect sense: I’m running with my lower leg. My power is coming from my calf and knee. My inability to do a proper squat began to confirm this theory. On Monday we’ll be working on my stride and re-learning how to run. In the meantime I’ve been working on my squats at home, icing like it’s my job, taking soothing baths in epsom salt, and I just purchased some compression socks that will hopefully help work this fluid up towards my heart and away from my foot.

I’m reluctant to share all of this simply because I’m afraid it won’t work. This is not a cheap process, and I would like to just quickly say that our health care system is extremely flawed. I’m extremely grateful to my mother who is helping me with this, and I can only hope that this is worth it. I hope it is, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help ensure that this process works. This past Monday left me in excruciating pain. The bruises on my leg back this up. But today wasn’t so bad. It still hurt while he was jabbing metal utensils into my flesh and scraping my bone, but I’m doing pretty well a few hours later. He said I should begin to notice a difference next week. Check back later, and hopefully it’ll be true.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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Letting it go

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately.  I came down with a pretty nasty bug last week and I’m just starting to feel more like myself.  Still not 100% though.  I’ve been getting exercise here and there, but I’ve been really surprised how much energy and strength I lost from all this. But with the gorgeous weather last night I decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance to run and was determined to head out with my runners group.

The weather was ideal, and my legs were feeling good (yay!) but my stomach just wasn’t quite there yet.  I decided early on that I wasn’t going to be able to run the full 6 (partly because of my stomach but also because I’m just beginning to run normally again.  No reason to go ahead and aggrevate my legs by racking up the miles).  The first quarter mile of our run is downhill…a very nice way to ease into things.  But right out of the gate I wasn’t feeling fantastic and couldn’t quite keep up, which was really frustrating.  I rejoined the group when we got stopped at an intersection, and followed in with them closely for the next half mile or so.  Conversing was out of the question for me.  But I was hoping to draft the group (not sure that’s the correct usage of the verb but just go along with it) and tuck myself in at the tail end and just kind of flow.  But it soon became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen and I slowly let the group drift away from me (I had my own headlamp, reflectors, and knew that there were two runners still behind me somewhere).  I’ll tell you, it was a little difficult to watch them run away from me in the dark.  I’m competitive by nature, and while I’m not competing with any one of them (I wouldn’t stand a chance) there was this little voice in my head yelling at me to keep up and prove myself.  It was just like in the old cartoons where you have an angel and devil on your shoulders.  One side was yelling at me.  But then the other jumped in and reminded me that it’d be stupid to run faster or farther.  I’m just starting to come back from running, and while I’m in great shape, I haven’t run in awhile and my fitness level is not quite there yet.  You can cycle and swim all you want, but it’s just not comparable to what your body feels when you’re running.  So at 2.06 miles, at an average of 8:29 min/mile, I turned around and headed back.  But right before I did, a biker came up behind me and passed.  His bright, fluorescent headlamp revealed my pack that I thought had left me in the dust.  Turns out they really weren’t much further ahead than me.

I slowed up my pace for the next two miles back to the shop and finished 4.21 miles in 37:23.  Not bad.  In fact, I probably should have run slower.  My point of all this: I’m really glad I did the run, upset tummy and all.  And I’m really glad I let the pack go.  I’m carrying so much on my shoulders these days, everyone’s problems plus my own feelings about it all.  Letting my group run away from me was my own way of letting things go and just living completely in the moment, even if it was only for an hour.  Just another one of those interesting things running can do for you.

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Martinis, Great Sage and New Soles

Well, this was quite the eventful weekend…in a good way.  After the past few weeks it was really great to some fun things.  Friday night Kate brought me to one of her event/industry parties at Blackfinn in Bethesda, minutes from my office. Martinis and Makeovers featured $5 martinis (too bad I don’t drink), lots of tables feature everything from jewelery to breast implants, and giveaways every 20 min.  I was only one number off from winning botox, but alas my losing streak still hasn’t been broken.  But the night was hardly a bust because I bought a beautiful necklace and received this free, funky bracelet made from all recycled materials.

Artsy Fartsy by Susie D.

On Saturday I journeyd north into Maryland to meet up with a bunch of other bloggers. I met up with Lauren (who invited me – thanks!), Anne, AshleyKat, Sana, Matt, and Jacquie. We went to Great Sage in Clarksville and I had arguably one of the best salads ever!  All the other girls (and one guy!) had their cameras and took pictures of their food, but I guess I’m just not that with it because it never dawned on me to bring mine.  A BIG THANK YOU to Jacquie for taking a picture of my Mediterranean salad for me. Delicious.  It was great to meet everyone and to hear how successful they have been with their blogs.  It was a little inspiring me and I’m going to try to improve upon mine and make a better effort to keep it up.

Today I took yet another step to fixing my legs.  I feel like I’ve done absolutely everything correct in order to get rid of all these little problems so that I can run again.  I think that the doctor I went to on Thursday was in a bad mood.  He really wasn’t very helpful (told me that I was getting on the cusp of being too old to be a serious athlete – I’m 24!!!!!) So today I ventured down to my running shop, Georgetown Running Company in Chevy Chase, to get some inserts and re-evaluate my pronation diagnosis.  I’ve been told multiple times that I’m pretty much neutral and balanced.  Which I’ve always thought was weird because I’m hardly balanced (except on a horse) and I have shin issues that are usually associated with people who over pronate.  So when the doctor told me the other day that I over pronate I thought that might be my breakthrough and thats why I wasn’t getting better.  But after videotaping myself at the shop and watching my feet me, Pete and the salesman (who I run with in my group) all agreed that I don’t really over pronate at all and I am actually neutral.  Which I guess is good because I don’t need to get new shoes afterall.  Instead I got some inserts, which hopefully will work because they were pretty pricey. All in all, it was a very nice weekend and hopefully I’ll continue to do more fun things like it in the future.

Superfeet

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