Recovery Week

I’ve spent most of this past week feeling really run down and tired from the combination of the half marathon and 3 hours in the car to visit mom and 3 hours back. By Saturday I was starting to wonder if I was sick or had some sort of a chronic illness. (I’m very dramatic apparently.)

I’ve skipped running, yoga, and weights trying to give my body some rest. This weekend I ended up doing lots of yard work so the backs of my legs are angry and my nails look like I’m a mole, but I’m looking forward to getting back at it. Heck, I’m anxious to get back at it.

I’ve been trying to follow the advice of pain free plus three because I like the rhymes. By that logic, I should probably have ran today. Instead I planted a few petunias and coleus in our side shade bed after we pulled all the ground cover. I sort of want to kidney punch whoever planted it after filling a lawn and leaf bag that was then so heavy I couldn’t move it.

I’m curious how I’ll juggle yard work plus running through the summer and fall since I tend to do both in the early morning or evening when the sun is not brutal. Especially since mom is now in a nursing home temporarily and I’m hoping to visit her frequently.

Feel free to drop your recovery tips and tricks or advice on how you juggle everything.

Capital City Half Marathon

I’ve signed up for the Cap City 3 times and came up with an excuse to not follow through twice. Actually, I made excuses the third time as well. As mentioned in a previous blog post, I came very close to switching to the 1/4 marathon- only sheer cheapness kept me from doing it.

I didn’t sleep well Friday night, but who ever does before a big event?

I got up early, ate some breakfast, drank some water, got dressed and hit the road. I immediately got stuck in traffic and decided the first available parking lot I saw was perfectly fine. It turned out to be a ten minute walk, so not bad at all.

I was really pleased with the number of porta potties and ease of gear check, and was quickly into the corral I’d been assigned to. The local news was covering it so they were trying to pump up the crowd and also hit specific timing cues, that was a bit awkward. Speaking of awkward- I realized I was about ten feet away from the coach who had called me out on needing a new sports bra in front of about two dozen people prompting me to drop out of the local running club three weeks into it even though I’d paid for a year.

The race kicked off on time, and my corral was released about 25 minutes later. (I’m always paranoid about whether course close time is based on first person or last person over the start line- it can make a huge difference in whether I’m swept and stuck on the sidewalk behind a street sweeper after roads are reopened on me.)

The first few miles were easy, I got a huge kick out of a guy in lederhosen singing you turn me right round. Miles 3-6 were fine. I saw a couple in matching unicorn onsies dancing and having the time of their life. Miles 6-9, I felt pretty warm and a bit light headed butI laughed about a guy with a sign saying “Run faster! There’s bears behind you!”

Mile 10, I started to feel waves in my inner calf muscles as they were twitching, and my Achilles tendons were aching. I’m trying to slow down, stretch, change my intervals, drink water, fuck, anything but they shift from rolling waves to full on Charlie horses.

My niece texts me to wish me luck and cheer me on which brightened my day.

I’m still trying to get my body to cooperate and try a sip of Gatorade from a water station. I immediately realize why they say nothing new on race day. My stomach is rolling along with my muscles. I’m so close to hurling I almost hope I do just to feel better.

I’m texting Nate telling him I’m struggling. He tells me I’ve got this and asking what I need. Every time I try to pick up the pace my calves full on cramp. I’m slogging up ANOTHER FUCKING HILL and am flat out walking. I am near tears because I really wanted to break 3 hours and it’s slipping away from me. At mile 11.2 I know I can turn right and walk 0.5 miles home and get an uber or I can gimp another 2 miles to the finish line. 10 minutes versus another 40.

I see Nate hustling across the intersection. He gives me a kiss, calls me a bad ass, and tells me I’ve got this. He jokes and says I’m still beating all the fools behind me.

So I keep lumping. At one point, I hunch over because I don’t think my leg is going to hold me. A couple stop and ask me if I’m okay. I promise them I am and keep slowly hustling. Every time I try to speed walk, my muscles cramp. I see the finish line in the distance and try to run. I can’t. So I try to not grimace as I cross the finish line at 3 hours 27 minutes.

The volunteer puts my medal over my head and congratulates me. I keep walking through the chute and another athlete gives me a high five.

This was my most challenging race ever. I had moments I would have went to a medic if I’d seen one, but I completed it. I have any number of things I’d like to improve on, but I have to say I am very fortunate. I have a very supportive family, and the running community is awesome. Random strangers checking to make sure I’m okay or giving me a high five made a really hard day a little bit better.

So thank you random strangers. 🙂

Family Stuff

I’m sort of thankful to not have a large group of followers on here because I can just get things off my chest without worrying about blowback.

Monday? Tuesday? I don’t know. Earlier this week I got a Facebook message from my mom saying she thought she needed to go to the hospital because her back hurt so bad. This has been happening off and on for a few months, and I’ve encouraged her to talk to someone about it or have it looked at. Her home visiting nurse told her it was muscle related and she needed to stretch and exercise.

My mom is 72. She’s had at least one major heart attack, a few minor strokes, has MS, diabetes, etc. She gave up smoking and made changes to her diet but she will not exercise any more than she’s forced to. Telling her to stretch is like telling me to run a 9 minute mile. Sure it may be in the realm of possible, but it’s unlikely.

They did an xray, a Ct scan, and said it was likely an infection. One of the nurses fed her breakfast on Thursday, so they weren’t able to do testing until Friday. They scraped her spine and took a needle of spinal fluid to test. My mom has two kinds of curvature of the spine so it’s incredibly painful for her to lay on her back on a flat surface or on her stomach, and it’s hard for them to get the anesthesia correct. She was in a lot of pain from the test and couldn’t roll over or stand up without assistance.

They think it’s discitus which affects 1 of 100,000 people. Current plan is IV antibiotics 5 times a day for 39 days and blood tests every 3 days to make sure she’s responding okay. So she’s not going home any time soon and it breaks my heart.

Some Days Are Just Going To Suck

Last weekend I was slated to run 11 miles, but my training has been hit or miss the past month so I opted for a 10 mile run (longer than my most recent long run, but shorter than my plan called for.) I got dressed, threw on my cap, filled my water bottle and got at it. I was amazed at the number of people on the trail. It seemed like 60 degrees brought everyone and their brother and their dog out.

About two miles into my run, I felt really light headed and dizzy. I took off my cap because I thought it was holding in some of my body heat. I took a few moments to recover, drank some water and got back at it.

ROTC cadets were training on the trail too, doing lunges with sandbags or doing the fireman carry of another student. After about ten minutes, they’re behind me running with heavy packs and sandbags. I’m 80lbs overweight myself so I feel their pain to some degree.

I’m also not able to speed up to get away from them. We’re in accidental lockstep and there’s no place to go. Their squad leader is blasting rock music, so that’s a plus but I feel very in the way, and overheated. (It turns out the downside to training in 30-40 degree weather over the winter is 60 will kick your ass.) Eventually they get around me after I step off the trail to ‘look at my phone.’

I’m barely 4 miles from my house and I’m flat out of water and feel like death. I try the outbuilding at the park. No dice. I text Nate to give him a heads up that I’ll turn and do 4 miles home, and another 2 in the neighborhood once I grab water.

Long story short, I can’t make myself run after 6 or 7 miles. I text Nate and walk a shortcut home, incredibly frustrated. I whine to my friends, I tell myself I’m pathetic, and I start the process of dropping from the half marathon to the 10K because I’m such a giant loser. And I realize it’s another $30 on a very expensive race that I’ve deferred on twice already to change to the 10K.

Nate being the voice of reason suggests I not dwell on this for an entire week, not to let it stop me from running a race I’ve trained all winter for. That its just a bad run. I protest it’s a bad month of runs, that I’ve messed up my training. That I’m a loser and there’s no way I can do this half much less a full.

Sunday comes, I eat a quick breakfast, put extra money in my pack so I can buy more water if I need to, and I crush it. Seriously. My legs are tired, I’ve never run this much in two days, but I do it. I run my 10 miles the day after I conked out at 8.

My pace was pretty good (for me.) And this really lifted my spirits.

If I can run 18 miles in two days a half will be a piece of cake. I’m a bad ass and I shouldn’t change events.

Moral of the story, bad runs happen. Learn from them and move on.

Slump

I’m in a total running slump right now. I’ve been blaming it on cross training, but I’m honestly not sure that’s the case. I have a half marathon coming up very shortly, and a full marathon in October. I think it just seems like so much work between here and there.

I’m trying to get out there and enjoy the nicer weather, but I’m also frustrated because the bathrooms are all still locked for the winter at all the parks in my area so I need to be 100% I won’t need one while I’m running or I’ll be doing the squeeze and waddle home method. Not ideal.

I’m sitting at the dinner table pounding water trying to get rid of a headache and make sure I don’t need to poop once I get out there. (I blame a lot of this on hormones and am seriously considering going on a low dose birth control with no ‘reminder’ pills so I can stop having periods altogether.)

One of my best friends told me to just bribe myself with something fun. I think that’s a good idea and am debating what that thing might be. I had considered gel polish nails, but after tip my last ones were $48 and I’m cheap so that seems like a lot for 2 weeks with no chips in my nails. Hell, 2 manicures would buy a new pair of running shoes or 4 pairs of running tights.

Feel free to drop suggestions of bribes or ways you get back into the game when you’re not feeling it.

Cross Training

About a month ago I decided to add cross training into my routine to balance out weaknesses.

First it was yoga. My first class I found myself staring at my horribly unkempt feet thinking I really need to trim my nails and stop wearing black socks. The lint makes it look like I have gangrene.

Next it was a tabata based spin class. One of my coworkers, J, who refused for years to work out in front of other people he works with joined me to help his weight loss. I found myself being annoyed with all the 20 year olds being perky and bouncy on the spin bike with their hair in a bun leaving to go next door for more HIIT.

The third week I added in a strong and lean class (basic body weight exercises like lunges and squats or planks along with weights.) My hand eye coordination and understanding of what people are saying can get off some days. I tweaked my knee on a lunge with weights off of a riser because of an added kick. I’m still not sure what the point of that all was.

I put the question of how much cross training is too much cross training out there to the universe. The responses varied but amounted to keep at least 1 rest day, chill out if it’s affecting your running/daily life, otherwise have at it- there is no such thing as too much cross training.

This week, on Friday, I started personal training with another good friend, M. The trainer is very outgoing and upbeat and pushes us. He walks us through a routine over 30 minutes- lots of variations of squats with weights, and also goblet presses and a few other upper body items for a full body workout.

Yesterday I could barely walk up and down the stairs. My thighs were on fire and my legs felt like they weighed 100lbs a piece. I headed out for a 9 mile run and felt like I was running through wet concrete. After 0.6 miles, I knew it wasn’t happening. I texted N that I’d be doing a shorter run. I managed to get 3.1 miles in- at 16.5 min/mile. (My usual pace averages out to under 15, my long runs a bit slower.)

I’m a bit frustrated with myself for punting on a long run, it’ll be my first time in this 16 week training period. But, as one of my favorite running gurus says, no one run is do or die.

It turns out, there may not be such a thing as too much cross training, but if you’re really going to push yourself, you might need to plan better. Going forward, I’ll be having a rest day after personal training, not a long run.

In The Beginning

A few months ago there was a big snow storm coming, they were predicting six to 9 inches of snow and ice on it’s way to Columbus, Ohio by 9am.  I opted to not run with the local running group, MIT, and get the miles in early- our group starts at 8 and driving home in a major snow storm is no fun.  I pile on the layers- two pairs of pants, a sports bra, a long sleeve shirt, a outer layer, slip on my shoes and super sexy waist belt, my muffler, my headband, and my gloves – dressing for cold weather is serious business!
My plan was to run 6 miles through my neighborhood.  Our neighborhood is surrounded by major roadways with no sidewalks so I’m fairly limited in the streets I can run on.  I decide to run up the main drag for a mile and a half, back the same mile and a half, then to start looping through my neighborhood. 

(On a side note- but I always love to see what people’s turn around point is in their runs.  It’s funny.  Unless you have a perfectly circular route, there’s always that house that you pivot in front of.)
It’s cold and I refuse to do warm ups because I hate my body apparently, so I start out slow.  Hell, I’m ALWAYS slow, but I start out at a nice slow pace anyways.  I veeeeeeeeery carefully inch around the giant piles of ice in the gutters as I cross the street, doing the old lady shuffle.  I lose myself in my thoughts and am feeling pretty good.  I see some black ice and run around it passing by the local chicken joint.  I realize I’ve nearly reached my old apartment and glance at my watch.  1.4 miles, awesome.  It’s not snowing yet, I keep my eye on the sky as I’m going.  I hit mile 1.5 and pivot. 
It’s early.   Not much traffic.  I run by an old lady walking her dog who is friendly and stops to say “That must feel good.” 
It does, it’s great.  I’m trucking along (at my slow pace.) Once I get home I’ll be at mile 3 and then I just go down to my usual route and get my other three.  I’ll be home before Nate has the coffee on. 

And then I slip on the aforementioned black ice, fall hard, and completely piss my double layered running tights.  Not a little oops I laughed too hard sort of pee, but straight up didn’t-realize-I-needed-to-pee-much-less-pee-THAT-much. So I’m lying there like a wet turtle trying to get my wits about me.  I eventually get up, text Nate that I fell down and pissed myself.  I send a second text to say I’m not seriously injured. 
And I realize I can’t be the only person this terrible at running.  There must be someone else who is comically bad at running. When I get home I am cranky and take a hot bath.  He brings me some coffee.  I search around a little bit on Google and don’t see any stories like mine.  And this blog was born.