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

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Taking Chances

In early December via my Twitter feed, I saw someone “tweet” that the NYC Half Marathon application period was about to open. I thought it’d be pretty sweet to run through the heart of NYC in an organized race, and in one of the top national races at that!

So, thinking I had absolutely no chance in the universe to be accepted, I created a profile. Logical, right? Nothing like keeping your confidence boosted while you have no chance and currently can not run. Regardless, I filled out the application, paid them a measly $5, hit submit, and waited. Not patiently though.

The drawing took place on December 29, 2011. The day came and went and I was anxious all day re-loading my profile page every 30 minutes via my phone.

Seriously.

The page kept giving me a message about “the drawing is in progress, please come back later.” If you think I’m a patient person, I am in some things, but not this. My husband was really sick of me saying, “ughhhh still nothing! This is torture!”

By about 9:30pm I still hadn’t heard yay or nay. I got curious and started checking Twitter and there were a lot of tweets about people who had been accepted. I just figured I hadn’t and I moped for about 15 minutes (ok more like an hour) but then I was over it… I didn’t really think I would be chosen anyway, right? Plus, if you enter the race 3 years in a row and get denied, you will get a guaranteed entry into the race on the 4th year. All I had to do was wait 3 more years..

December 30 (Friday) morning I woke up at my in-laws house, still visiting from the holidays, and decided to check just to make sure. Surely they would have processed everything in 24 hours and it’d be posted.

As I reloaded the page, this is what I saw:

nyc half marathon screen acceptance

DO YOU SEE THAT?!

Status: ACCEPTED

I am really sick of looking at that guy, whoever he is.

I’m in! I’m so in!

The race takes place on Sunday, March 18, 2012. Here’s the course map. We start in Central park, run through Times Square, then along the west side highway, and finish at the South Street Seaport.

Now you know why it’s so urgent that I get my hip under control. I start physical therapy tomorrow and I can’t wait to get there.

Like a good student, I started foam rolling the crap out of my legs this past Sunday and have found a pretty good amount of knots. I’ve been keeping that up daily, along with hip-opening yoga poses and calisthenics.

Even though the injury journey isn’t completely finished yet, another journey is about to begin. Whatever, I’m good with multi-tasking.

13.1 miles in NYC. Let’s go!

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                        (Taking the stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris!)

I’m stoked.

 

I’ve Been Benched

Well, I tried. I set a goal and was determined to finish it out. One minor issue.. that hip/foot pain I was telling you about never really went away.

After I tried running on it last Tuesday for a mere 2.5 miles I had to quit. My goal was to get in 4 or 5 miles that day but there was no way that was happening because of my hip pain. I promised myself if I had any intense pain during that run I’d go straight to the doctor.

I found a sports medicine doctor through a friend of mine and was there at 9:30am the next day. He had me do a few tests, moving my foot in different directions, which didn’t bother it.

He moved my leg in a few different directions with me putting resistance against him and that didn’t hurt. He had me jump 10 times on my right foot then 10 times on my left foot and that didn’t bother me at all. We discussed my training plan leading up to the marathon and I told him I did everything I could to come to the starting line injury-free, which I did.

He told me on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being perfectly healthy and 10 being a stress fracture, I was at about a 3. He said that people with stress fractures can’t even do 3 of those hops on their affected leg. I caught it early and I was smart for coming in. His words, not mine, promise!

“So you know that half marathon you were talking about? I wouldn’t recommend that you run it.”

While I could probably run the half marathon, I could end up hurting myself a lot worse and end up more towards an 8 or worse, a 10 on the “stress fracture number scale.” I was actually very relieved to hear this coming from him because, being who I am, I felt like I needed to buck up so I could finish this goal I had set.

“If it’s really important to you, you could do it, but if you feel pain you should stop.”

“No, it’s not important at all, just a fun run I thought would be cool to do.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear that. Give yourself a 3 week break from running and you should be good as new. If not, come back to see me.”

I asked him about cross-training (spin, elliptical, yoga, etc.) and he said he didn’t have a problem with me doing that since I told him earlier that I didn’t have any pain when I did those exercises.

He offered to do an MRI but wasn’t pushy about it. It would most likely tell us what we already knew. I had “made my hip angry” and it needs some time to cool off. It wouldn’t change the road to recovery.

He asked me about a prescription strength dosage of ibuprofen but he said if I wasn’t going to use it there was no sense in filling it. It’s true, I wouldn’t have used it. The pain isn’t constant, only when I run.

He asked me about my diet and calcium but he already knew I am a registered dietitian so he didn’t spend much time on that subject. (and I always get 3 servings of dairy or other form of calcium+ vitamin D each day.. you should too!!)

Overall, I really liked this MD. He’s a straight shooter who is used to dealing with sports injuries and runners, he wasn’t pushy for unnecessary scans, and he didn’t try to force drugs on me. A+, Dr. Kendall, A+.

So, what now?

LOTS!! Over the past week I’ve been attending spin classes, group power classes, yoga, getting some time back on the elliptical, and focusing more on what my fitness goals should be over the winter outside of running. I’ve discovered that doing all this running has left me extremely weak in my upper body so that is definitely something I’ll be working on, along with flexibility and overall strength.

On the flip side, I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t miss running.

Today was the first day that running starting to consume my thoughts. I missed coming into work this morning without a long run behind me from the weekend.

I went to the gym today after work to do elliptical and accidentally (by habit) walked to the row of treadmills instead. I sighed and literally had to pull against the desire to start flying on that thing. I got to my elliptical and did my interval workout and felt a lot better once I started sweating and working hard.

By the time my workout was over I felt good, just not as good as after a run. A run completely takes it out of you. When I was working out today I know I got some of that energy that had built up over the weekend out, but it wasn’t like a run. I feel like I have so much pent-up energy, still.

Alas! In order to run injury-free in the future, I’ve got to do this now. I honestly don’t mind the change-up from only running to other forms physical activity. I just wish I could run a couple of miles a week to “cure the itch.”

So what about that half marathon? Well, that’s not happening, but there is a 5k (3.1 miles) option I may do if I’m feeling good a couple of days before then. If not,  I’ll wait it out and continue to let my body heal itself. It’s the least I can do after a year of demanding so much from it!

Keep On Keepin’ On

Declaration: Mistletoe Half Marathon

Ok that’s it. I’m rested. I’m ready to run.

Clear the road people, Beth needs to stretch her legs!

I was probably ready yesterday but I gave myself 2 extra days. Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will officially be back into running since the marathon.

My foot pain is gone (we’ll see if it returns when I start to run, in which case I’m going straight to the doctor to get it looked at) my hip pain is relatively gone. I just need some yoga in my life and I think the hip pain will go away. Yoga is on the list for a workout sometime this week, I just need to check the class schedule at my gym.

I’m thinking about trying an actual Yoga Studio to get the full experience. I just have a hard time paying for both a gym membership and a yoga studio, especially when my gym offers yoga a few times each week. We’ll see how that goes..

As I was driving  riding back from Savannah last weekend, I was setting my sights on which race to run next. I had been talking with my friend, Tyna, and we decided to do a 5k together. I got to looking at the race organization’s website a little closer and found out there was a half marathon option!

So..as of last week I committed myself to a half marathon not even a full month out from the full marathon.

I’m not going for speed records at this race though, it’s simply for fun. I even bought a few fun surprises for race day!

The race is the Mistletoe Half Marathon in Winston-Salem and it benefits the awareness and support of programs that are committed to stop childhood obesity. It’s on December 3rd and I’m so excited to just have fun and run for a great cause!

Are you signed up for any Turkey Trots or Holiday fun runs in your city?

It’s Race Week!

Is it really here?

I’m down to the week I thought was SOO far away all this time. I’m running a marathon in 5 days!

Tapering has went pretty well…considering.

Week 1 of Tapering

This was just after I completed my last long training run of 20 miles. I got sick the very next day and it took 4-5 days for me to finally get rid of it. I normally kick a cold in 1-2 days. My immune system was definitely beat up because of all my training.

I made sure and took it easy that week, trying not to push myself too hard. I ran 2.5 out of 4 miles on Wednesday, (I completely missed my 5 mile run on Tuesday), and on Thursday I ran 3.5 out of 5 miles. I felt pretty good about it considering all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and drink tea…which I did a lot of afterwards. I made sure I got at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I think one night I even got 10. I drank lots of great tea and ate A. TON. of fruits and veggies. Filled up on Naked Juice, ate minimally processed foods, and I was back in the game for my 12 mile run on Sunday.

The 12-miler went well considering I was coming off a week of sickness. I did have to stop to blow my nose in the bathroom at the park though (TMI?). I was fine after that!

Week 2 of Tapering

After I’d gotten over the physical stress of being sick and I could re-focus myself on being well, I began to freak out. In every way possible.

At the top of my list was my recent realization that I would probably not be using gels during the marathon. During my 19 mile run in FL I somehow got an aversion to them and I am lucky to get more than a quarter of the packet now.

No big deal, right? They make lots of other nutritional supplements for runners. However.. this was TWO WEEKS before the marathon, no long runs left, and no time to experiment with chews.

The only experience I’ve had with chews was during the half marathon in April. I used the Clif Block Shots but they are so sticky and get stuck in my teeth. Attractive.

So my cousin recommended Power Bar energy blast chews. They actually taste delicious (strawberry banana flavor) and don’t stick to my teeth. Problem solved. Except I have no idea what the timing should be for eating the chews.

Since then I think I’ve figured out a plan, but I’ve not tested it so *curse.*

While all of this mental agony is bearing down on me, instead of being able to run to release stress, I had to run less. That is the point of tapering, after all. You can see how quickly I lost my sanity..

All in all, last week was a huge mental game. I started to doubt if I did enough (classic). Remember how I missed weekday runs because I had to run my long runs during the week because of all the traveling?

Again, I freaked out about nutrition and fueling during the race. Oh and just when I decided I was ok with using the chews, I realized I had nothing to carry them with. Therefore, I ended up priority shipping this baby to my house on Tuesday last week.

I also made a trip to Goodwill and got some sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a long-sleeve shirt so I can wear it to the starting line at 5:30am and then toss it at 7:30 when the race actually begins. Those clothes get donated back to Goodwill so it’s all good.

As far as actual running, I ran 4 miles Tuesday, 3 miles Wednesday, 4 miles Thursday, and 8 miles Saturday. Easy peasy.

Week 3 Tapering

So far, this week has been a complete turn around of last week.

I’m mellowing out (despite running even less), I’m getting confident, and I’m starting to realize that this will still be a great triumph, even if I do end up hitting “the wall” or I don’t finish in my time goal, as long as I finish.

Realistically, since it is my first marathon my goal should just be to finish. But anyone that knows me, knows that I’m too competitive with myself to accept ordinary. This I why I freaked out about the fueling aspect.

Beth’s mental talk, “If I don’t get it perfect, I’ll hit the wall.” “If I hit the wall, I’ll have to slow significantly or walk, losing minutes, losing reach of my time goal.”

If, if, if.

This is actually pretty hard for me to admit. I’m normally a really positive person. I work to block out negative talk from others because I believe if you’re surrounded by negative people, you’ll become a negative person, or at least develop those thoughts. And how happy is a life like that?

So.. I’ve been working on that and as I mentioned, this week is going much better and much more positively than last week!

I’m not quite sure where or when I began imagining that I could run like Kara Goucher or some ridiculously fast time. Probably because I read too many articles about running..from experts. Olympic experts. Duh – I am not an olympian. I mean, I know I’m small and mighty, but not that mighty. My 8:30-9:00 minute miles are still fast… just not that fast.

The running schedule for this week looks like this:

3 miles Tuesday

2 mile walk Wednesday

2 mile easy run Friday

I think I can handle that. 🙂

We leave for Savannah on Thursday after work. It’s 6 hours from our house, so we’ll get in at a reasonable time that night. Friday is the expo and I’m really excited for that!

We’ve organized who is bringing what for our homemade pasta dinner that night – yum! Carb loading begins on Wednesday!!

Saturday is going to be a super early morning. I will probably set my alarm for 4:45 or 5:00. Our shuttle leaves Tybee Island at either 5:30 or 6:00 (our choice) and takes a half hour to get to the starting line for a last minute stop to the port-a-potty. Eeee!!

I still need safety pins. Dang.

I can’t wait to share how the race goes!!

Thank you for all of the supportive comments I’ve got over the course of training, via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, on the blog, in person, etc.

While I do love to run, there have been times where it’s been a struggle to get out the door. All of your positive words have made a difference in my attitude, so thank you again. I’ll be thinking of you as I pass each mile marker. All 26.2 of them!