Just Breathe

Seems so simple, right?

Remember last week when I mentioned I was just getting over an upper respiratory infection? Yeah, I completed the 5 day Z-pack last weekend, but sadly I still had a lot of chest tightness and trouble breathing.

It felt like I couldn’t take a deep enough breath so I just kept taking lots of shallow breaths all the while my chest feeling really tight/congested. I somehow stuck to my Tuesday/Thursday runs but at the end of them I was waaay more out of breath than I should’ve been. I felt like I ran really hard sprints after just a couple of miles.

When I set out to do my long run of 18 miles yesterday, I got no farther than a mile from home and was waiting at a traffic light to take me into the park, when I realized there was no way this was going to happen. I was out of breath after less than a mile.

I turned around and ran home, rinsed off and took my butt back to the doctor. After explaining my symptoms and rehashing the past month of terrible running, Brandon having pneumonia and a course of antibiotics not making me feel better, the doctor decided I should either have a breathing treatment or prescribe me an inhaler. Apparently, there has been a lot of respiratory stuff going around here recently and she said I presented as such. Asthma-like symptoms, etc. So I stayed and did a 10-15 minute breathing treatment where I breathed in albuterol to dilate my bronchial tubes.

It made me pretty jittery afterwards, a common side effect, but the doctor said she could hear a big difference in my lungs than before the treatment. She said the effect would peak about 15-30 minutes after the treatment and I should be back to normal.

It made a BIG difference! I felt like I could finally breathe again. She said not to attempt running again that day, so I took advantage of my free morning to run some errands.

Then, Brandon and I met up with our friends downtown for an O.A.R./Carbon Leaf concert!

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It was a blast – despite getting poured on for about 15 minutes!

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I woke up this morning ready to tackle my long run. Again, 18 miles on the schedule. It was a beautiful morning, in the 60s, sunny skies, light breeze.

I brought my headphones but didn’t end up using them for the whole 2.5 hours, I just wanted to see how I was going to handle running. I was off and found running to be A LOT easier than it had been for the past 3 weeks. I actually had hope that I’d be able to complete this run.

So, I did what any marathoner would do. I kept running. And running… And I wasn’t gasping for air. My body felt strong and I wanted to go faster, but I knew I’d never finish if I went my usual 8:30 pace as I was doing before all this began. So, I kept it around a 9:00min/mi and felt really good for the first 10ish miles of the run. I ate some PowerBar energy chews, got some water and was on my way.

Then the hills came. More hills on the second half of my run than the first and I think they were a little too aggressive for me just coming back from all this. My longest run since Labor Day was last weekend at 12.75 miles, so I knew the last few would probably not be as fun as the first.

I ended up running 16.5 miles and I’m really happy with that.

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18 just wasn’t in the cards today and I don’t want to stress my body more than it has been over the past month.

The doctor gave me an inhaler prescription to fill if I want to, which I haven’t yet. I’m thinking I may though because I want to be able to finish out strong for this marathon. At least getting all (or most of) my miles in.

After my run today, my chest is a little tight (understandably so), but I may take an appointment with the pulmonologist just to make sure everything is ok.

My hip has been doing exceedingly well throughout all of training this summer. I do PT exercises during the week to keep it strong and ice it occasionally when I feel a tinge of pain. I’m so thankful I don’t have that to deal with, too.

One thing that having an injury taught me (last winter) is that now, I train more conservatively. The goal isn’t to run 18 miles because my training schedule said so. The goal isn’t to even run this marathon in a month.

The goal is to be runner for life. Maybe not a marathoner, but a runner.

I don’t want to be over-zealous now and eff up my body for the rest of my life. It’s just not worth it to me. No time goal is worth that, no distance goal is worth that. Just being able to run.

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I’m a pretty simplistic person, really. I’m happy with the small things in life. So give me a few minutes of your time and go on a run with me; I’ll be a pretty happy camper.

I was really frustrated by this setback since I had really high hopes for September. My training over the summer was going really well and I was getting pretty fast. But again, while I may be disappointed about slowing down, I’m still running.

I leave for Naples, FL on Tuesday evening so I’ll be running my long run in FL on Saturday! I’m hoping the humidity won’t kill me since I’m just bouncing back, but I only have 10 to run, so at least I won’t be out there forever.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

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Marathon on the Horizon

I’ve written this post 1000 times in my head. I’m not sure which version is going to come out tonight, but getting it out there will be a big relief for me.

Training for a marathon the second time around is SO completely different from the first time.

There’s a lot of ways you can spin it. The ways going through my mind are:

#1: You’ve got one marathon under you belt with no time goal, let’s try to get faster and break 4 hours for the next one.

#2: You enjoy running, so just run with no time goal. Run for fun.

#3: Let fear of getting injured a second time around get in the way of running and defer your entry to next year.

I think I’ve got a mixture of all three going on now. At the beginning of marathon training, the goal was more similar to #1. I incorporated speed work, tempo runs, and I obsessively checked my pace on my Garmin.

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After about 4 weeks of that (the beginning of August, not even a third of the way finished with training) I could tell something was different. I blamed it on the heat and the humidity but honestly, I don’t know that I really like being a slave to my Garmin. Do I like having a goal to work toward? Yes. Do I love the feeling of a bust-your-ass workout?  Of course. But as the days turned into weeks, even though I saw improvement, I wasn’t in love with running this way.

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Some of the problem could be that I don’t really like my training plan this time. Another reason is that I can’t run on the treadmill. I know the treadmill has a bad rep, but it’s perfect for those days when it’s too dark or hot to get some miles in.

Mentally, I’m just not where I was last year. When it’s your first marathon, every week you’re reaching new PDR’s (personal distance records) and that’s exhilarating to see IF you can do it. Then when you do, you’re pretty freakin’ proud of yourself.

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I would say training for a second marathon is above and beyond harder than training for your first. That’s my experience at least. I’ve toyed with the idea of not running the marathon because I’m afraid I’ll injure myself again. But.. I think that’s just a cop-out. I’m big fan of finishing what you start, so quitting really isn’t an option.

I was burnt out after racing the NYC Half Marathon this past March. I took 6 weeks off of running. SIX. WEEKS.

In that time though, I really got into weight-bearing exercise like circuit training. I’ve been a runner for 9 years; I want to explore what else my body can do.

The icing on the cake though was Brandon getting pneumonia 3 weeks ago. I did everything I could to not catch it. I didn’t end up catching it, but I did have some pretty crummy feeling days. All I wanted to do was come home from work and sleep or drink hot tea. Turns out I have an upper respiratory infection and it’s been making it hard for me to breathe.

When you can’t breath normally and drive to work, it makes running such a silly thing to think about. I am on antibiotics now and am feeling better but it’s really taken a toll on me over the past 2 weeks. I ran tonight for the first time since last week and it felt good to get out there again.

So, as it stands now, my mind is somewhere between  #1 and #2. Instead of racing the marathon to beat my time, I’m thinking I may just take my time and run with my friend that is running her first marathon that day. (Yay!)

I’m entering the last 6 weeks of training and while I can’t say I feel as ready as I did last year, I can say that this training cycle has taught me a lot about myself as a runner and as an individual.

Do what makes you happy. If you don’t like something, change it.

This post wasn’t meant to be all woe-is-me, but getting it out there always makes me feel better. With my lack of posting this time around, you can begin to see why.

The marathon distance is a distance to be respected. It can make you feel on top of the world or suck the life right out of you. I fully intend to give it 110% on October 28th, but what my 110% will be that day has yet to be determined.

I’ve always said a half marathon is the perfect distance… I think 2013 may be the year of half marathons!

Another Kind of Workout

Monday morning I woke up for a great 5.4 mi run. It was a beautiful spring morning and all was right in the world.

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I even managed to pace myself pretty well throughout.

Moving on to Tuesday, I had a Living Social deal about to expire for a wine tasting for two, 2 wine glasses, 2 souvenir t-shirts, and $15 towards a wine purchase.

I knew Brandon and I wouldn’t make it before this weekend so I invited my friend, Tyna to join me.


(photos courtesy of Tyna)

We arrived about 30 minutes prior to closing, so we were the only customers there and got to taste a lot of wine! Not just any wine, but really good wine! You never know what you’re getting with those coupon deals, but I’m more delightfully surprised than not, yesterday was one of those days.

After Chardonnay, Riesling, “First In Flight,” “Carolina Blush,” Cabernet, 2 other reds, and a dessert port wine, I purchased 2 of my favorites and we ventured out to enjoy the patio area they had set up.

After-work pictures are always so flattering.

What a great spontaneous way to spend a Tuesday evening!

Let me preface this next part with, over the past 3 weeks, we’ve been letting Owen, our 1.5 year old dog, spend his days relaxing on our bed and staring out the window instead of chilling in his kennel. All has gone well up to this point.

I walked in the door last night however, and all I could say was, “Oh. My. Gosh.”

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He helped himself to some leisurely reading while we were at work (thankfully Brandon already read those books and we both have Kindle’s now!) and dug into an empty shoe box.

Today he’s in his kennel.

After dinner last night (the main reason for this post) I subbed for a teammate on Brandon’s kickball team!

Unfortunately, I was unable to document this with pictures because I was too busy running to kick the ball before it reached home plate (re-do), playing third base and outfield, and never actually making it on base. I WAS the most valuable “runs batted in” player though.

Gotta focus on the positive, right?

We ended up winning (I don’t remember the score) but I wish I could play on the team as a regular instead of just that once. It’s a coed team and the other players were really nice! I hope it’s something Brandon and I continue to do even after this league is over.

So that’s my random mid-week update. Hopefully getting to Body Pump tonight for some weights!

Happy Hump Day!

Do you have any funny animal stories when you come home and see what they’ve been up to all day?

Running These Days

I’ve made my return from being MIA over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been so busy I’ve definitely slacked in this area so here’s a catch-up. Sorry in advance for such length.

New Years Goals:

I’ve stayed true to the new goals I set for 2012 and experimented in the kitchen by cooking tofu a couple weeks ago! I followed this tutorial and it turned out pretty good. It didn’t take too terribly long to make and the husband approved. I served it with onions, mushrooms and asparagus over whole grain pasta. Yum!

Running

Still working on that hip. Here’s what has been going down.

I’ve completed 6 physical therapy sessions with 5 left to go. I love going to those appointments. My therapist is also a runner, so we always have something to talk about while I’m in therapy. He’s got me doing a series of different exercises while I’m with him in addition to the exercises I’m doing at home.

He’s definitely (and so have I) noticed that I’m getting stronger which is encouraging. I seriously leave my appointments with my hip muscles totally fatigued. He has me doing more challenging exercises which I love because I love being challenged and continuously improving.

I had my first run of more than 20 minutes about 1.5 weeks ago. I ran outside for 2.9 miles and felt pretty freakin’ amazing. I had been so reluctant and a little fearful to run more than 20 minutes because I thought I’d end up hurting myself further. When I didn’t, I was elated!

That was Saturday. On Monday I ran 3.1 miles pain-free, finally ran that 5k I was supposed to run back in December. Then on Wednesday I ran 3.6 miles…on the treadmill. After the run (the next day) I had a lot of pain. I went to PT on Friday and we did exercises but a lot of soft tissue work. Feels like a massage, I love it.

In the mean time, Thursday before that PT appointment I went back to my sports medicine doctor who noticed I was looking brighter and a lot happier since the last time I’d seen him. I told him about my progress and he was happy, but told me I definitely qualified for an MRI because of the chronicity of the pain. I asked him how it would change our treatment plan and he was honest and said it probably wouldn’t change anything unless he saw something that surprised him since we already ruled out a stress fracture and I have great range of motion in my hip. So I opted out again.

While I was there, I asked him what he thought my chances of running a marathon this year was. Thankfully he told me he thought I would definitely be ready for one towards the end of the year and I was pretty pumped. I’ve been feverishly searching and contemplating which one I want to register for, but I don’t think I’ll do it until I’m further healed. I would hate to sign up and then be unable to run – especially when marathons can be upwards of $100 a pop. To be determined..

Yesterday I was back at physical therapy and I told Justin about my PT sessions and running from the previous week (he was gone on vacation and I had other therapists). He said he heard and said as soon as he knew I ran on the treadmill that pretty much gave it away.

He explained that I should run outside because the treadmill drags your foot backwards instead of your body doing the work, creating a constant resistance that your hip flexors (i.e. my problem area) has to compensate for. I was happy to hear it was something that simple. I thought it was the distance that was giving me the problem but he assured me the distance was fine.

After a warm-up we did all soft-tissue work. He taught me a few different stretches and a dynamic warm-up to perform before I run. I left there feeling like a whole new person. That’s why every time I get down on myself for still having pain, I get hope again because I leave there a-ok.

I’m feeling good today, as I started the day off with a 3 mile morning run. It was awesome to start the day with an outside run; I wish I could do it more often. I go back to therapy tomorrow, so yay for that.

This whole injury thing is so complex. I have a physical injury but mentally, it’s been so much harder.

I asked my PT about doing the NYC Half Marathon and he said he doesn’t see a problem with me doing it so long as I know to take walk breaks throughout. I told him my attitude about it which is:

I have no expectations of setting a PR and beating my last half marathon time. I’m going out there just to run, have fun, and enjoy a big city race. I realize I’ll probably have to stop and walk a lot but I’m fine with that. I definitely wouldn’t be doing the race had I not already paid for it and a planned a trip, but I’ll do what I can and what my body allows me to do when that day comes.

He said I have a really good outlook about it so I’m glad I am where I need to be mentally, even if I’m not there physically. My health is more important to me than any race will ever be and I keep reminding myself of that.

Am I frustrated that I can’t run long distances? Of course. I miss doing what I love.

 But I can still run.

There are a lot of sayings out there that mention things like, “you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.” I can honestly say that I did know what I had and I still realize it. I was thankful every single day of marathon training that I could lace up my shoes and run. I didn’t care that it was 98 degrees, that I was tired, or that I missed out on after-work drinks with friends.

I remember thanking God during the majority of my runs for allowing my body to be able to do this. I still thank Him, because my injury is nothing compared to what some people are going through.

I think ultimately this injury has made me grow into a better runner. I’ve been able to focus more on myself as a runner, what my body can do, and how to listen to it. I am still ever grateful for every mile I run, even if that tops at 3 right now.

I’ve still got some progress to make and I do get frustrated, probably every day. But I know I’m better for it and I can’t wait to see how I come out on the other side.

No excuses

Hiking in January

Howdy Ho! How’s your weekend going? If you’re in the south you’ve probably been enjoying our *almost* 70 degree weather here, like we did.

We got up this morning and packed a backpack to go hiking at Hanging Rock State Park! It’s only an hour away, so we took advantage of the weather and got to explore an area we’ve been meaning to visit for a while now.

It was pretty obvious when we started getting closer to the park, winding roads and our ears needed to pop. It was a pretty drive though and couldn’t wait to get on the mountain!

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Since we’d never been to this state park before, we stopped at the visitor’s center for a map. Someone was ready to go!

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But we made him wait in the car while we planned our route.

Then it was time to start hiking!

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We followed the Moore’s Wall Loop.

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It was so fun! We stopped and let Owen drink and play in the streams along the way and we posed for some pictures ourselves.

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We kept meandering along until we spotted a monkey..

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Apparently they’re not all that common in North Carolina. Who knew?

After more hiking and picture taking, we were almost to the top!

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Owen enjoyed being off the leash and able to run ahead of us until we caught up. Just making sure the path was clear!  Pack leader for sure.

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He even found a stick as wide as the trail, which he ended up clearing us both out of the way in order to get by with it!

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After about 1.5 hours, we made it to the top!

What a sight it was…

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We stopped and had some trail mix that I made this morning before running out the door and Owen had some doggie treats and water while we took in the view.

So peaceful and amazing that a view like this is only an hour away from everyday life!

Can you believe that while we were up there, we met a guy that is from the same town we grew up in from Indiana?! Small world.

There was a nice couple also enjoying the view that offered to take a picture for us. Too bad my devil horns are showing. Can you find Owen?

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Then, of course, I had to proclaim my love for North Carolina.

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I love you THIIIIIIIS MUCH! (and then some)

Finally, we made our way back down the mountain, still with plenty of beautiful nature scenes to take in.

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Balancing Rocks

Another stream for Owen to play in.

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We weren’t far from the bottom after that, but man was that descent tough! My quads are going to be screamin’ tomorrow!

Once we made it back to the car and started the drive home, we had a pretty tired pup on our hands.

Awkward sleeping position..

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Just checking to see if we’re there by chance?

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In that case, I’m out.

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The whole hike took about 2.5 hours, not including our time at the top of the mountain where we rested and ate. Brandon brought along his Garmin watch to track our hike. Here’s what it looked like..

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It felt good to be working hard again. We definitely worked up a sweat going up that mountain! Can’t wait to get back in the gym tomorrow and this week; doctor said I can still do elliptical and other exercise as long as nothing hurts.

Now it’s time for a night of relaxation with wine, a movie, and my boys!

Owen’s asleep on his bone as we speak..

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How did you enjoy this beautiful Saturday?