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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Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon 2011 Race Recap

If you didn’t see my post about the day prior to the marathon, you can read it here.

I’M A MARATHONER!

26.2 miles of sweat, tears, port-a-potty’s, Gu, energy chews, water, Cytomax, wishing, laughing,  praying, cursing, and having the time of my life.

The day started off with an early alarm at 4:30am. I was already awake from excitement and I laid there trying to decide if I should get up a couple minutes early, or give my legs another couple of minutes of rest in bed. I waited until 4:30 and hopped up to start one of the best days of my life.

I laid out my clothes the night before so I was sure to have everything I needed.

I had no problem finding my clothes in the semi-dark room since B was still asleep (who can still be sleeping on such an exciting day?!) Since I’ve confessed my love for running in neon, I would be easy to spot for friends and family on the sidelines and in pictures.

After I showered and dressed I had my pre-run ritual breakfast of 2 Ego waffles (not wheat – no fiber on long run days!) with peanut butter and a banana. I also had a half cup of coffee since we had 3 hours until the race started and I wanted to get things..moving.

Everyone was awake and ready to go by 5:20 so we (literally) ran to the 5:30am shuttle stop thinking we might miss it. We definitely didn’t miss it. We ended up getting there right on time with no bus in sight. We waited..

And waited..

And waited.

Did I mention it was 40 degrees with strong winds?

Finally, a little after 6:00am, one stinking shuttle showed up with hundreds of people from Tybee Island waiting to be taken to the start line. Poor planning on Rock ‘n’ Roll’s behalf, they knew how many shuttle tickets they sold.

After we finally got on the bus and what felt like we were trying to get off the sinking Titanic by the way everyone was shoving, we were on our way to the starting line.

Up until this point I was so stressed about the bus I forgot about being nervous about the race or anything of that nature. Now that we were finally on the bus, I was starting to get nervous and excited. It was about a 30 minute drive to the starting line so I had plenty of time to talk to family and get pumped with all the other runners.

We finally arrived and it was time for one last bathroom stop. We waited outside in the freezing cold for a port-a-potty for 20 minutes, then found refuge in a nice hotel lobby that had coffee, Gatorade, heat and it was amazing.

We stayed there until 7:20ish then made our way to the starting line!

We were in corral #12 so we walked from #25 all the way up. The race organizers were hyping up the crowd, the National Anthem was sung, there was rock and roll music blasting – it was so full of energy! I was bursting with excitement as we waited in our corral for the first corral to be released at 7:30am.

The gun when off and I knew we had about 10 minutes so I kept my warm clothes on until just before we were released. Brr was that a cold wait!

It was finally our turn and we were off. At 7:44am I crossed the starting line. See ya in a few hours.

(Source)

The first 2 miles were COLD. I wished I had gloves several times but I made it through just fine. A lot of runners had gloves and were ditching them on the course when they didn’t need them anymore. *Note to self*

The first few miles were through a poorer area of Savannah but it was pretty incredible. The residents were out on their porches, sitting in their vans, and standing on the sidewalks in their pajamas cheering us on and shouting encouraging words. So nice and very welcoming of us runners taking over their neighborhoods.

Where’s Waldo? We made it to the 5k (3.1 miles) mile marker!

After the first 3-4 miles we were entering some historic neighborhoods of Savannah which were nice. I followed the advice from Hal Higdon’s “Marathon” book that I read during training to walk through the water stations. This way I avoided getting drenched in water and sports drink while running that should otherwise be making it into my body.  This worked out really well throughout the entire race.

I should mention that around mile 5 I decided I had to pee. There were water or Cytomax stations every other mile and at every other station I would drink. More on that later..

At mile 5 Brandon had some foot pain, so he teared off and finished the rest of his half marathon by himself. I am so proud of him! It was so hard leaving him but he knew I had a goal to reach. The next race we run together we will stay together!

On we went. I specifically remember miles 7-8 well because of the outpouring support of spectators. There were SO many people on the sidelines of these miles. This was probably awesome for the half marathoners because they were already over half way there! It was so nice to see them cheering everyone on and I kept saying to Michael and Dawn, “What’s our pace? Don’t get excited and run too fast!” I was definitely taking it all in though and was pretty excited myself. 🙂

Around mile 8 was the first Gu station. I had my iFitness belt that I purchased 2 weeks ago full of Power Bar Energy Chews but I still wanted to get down some Gu. I grabbed a Vanilla Bean and got half of it down along with a cup of water and off I went.

Miles 9-11 were through more historic neighborhoods, very pretty and the neighbors were out supporting runners.

(Source)

There was one house with a fire pit, camping chairs, food, and mimosa’s as they were wrapped in blankets on the sidewalks cheering us on. I was kind of jealous, but then I got over it.

Mile 11 is when the half marathoners and the full marathons said their goodbyes. The marathoners went left and the half marathoners went right. Then we were in the middle of nowhere.

We started up the on ramp to a highway.

(Source)

I wish I were kidding.

There was no crowd support on this highway, there was no shade, there were no water stations, and it was SO. WINDY.  I felt like I was getting blown all over the road, my left ear was burning from the sun, and there was nothing exciting to look at.

Believe it or not, there was something positive that I saw on this stretch. As we were running mile 11 or 12, we saw the FIRST PLACE male running past mile 24 on the other side of the highway. Holy inspiration. I saw the motorcade approaching with the motorcycles and lights flashing in all their glory. As they turned the corner, there he was; I got so excited I screamed, “You’re going to win!!!” I was so happy I got to see that. Probably the closest I’ll ever come to first place in a race but it was seriously one of the most inspirational moments I’d seen in person.

After we crossed paths with Mr. First Place, we were approaching the exit ramp and we were back on a normal running surface. We soon crossed the 13.1 half marathon mile marker. Half Way There.

I remember running on a street with a waterway and a really nice boat. I remember running by some nice parks. Everything was still green so that was good to look at. Mostly though, I kept thinking of when I was going to pee, if I would make it to a port-a-potty, when I was going to take another Gu, and I was mentally preparing myself for miles 18+.

I honestly do not like taking Gu’s. I dreaded it for the next 3 miles of the race. Finally it was time. I got about 2 slurps out of it, threw it on the ground and reached for my chews. I knew that much Gu wasn’t going to be enough. While I was fighting with my fuel belt, I fell behind my running buddies, so I had to play catch up once I finished chomping and drinking. I got back to them a few paces in front of me and we were back on pace at mile 15.

Remember how I said I had to pee back at mile 5? Since then I’d been drinking sports drink, water, Gu, energy chews, pounding the ground, and at least 1.5 hours had passed. My stomach was starting to hurt from needing to pee. I kept looking for port-a-potty’s but there was nothing in sight. Until we turned a corner and there were 4 of them bunched up. I had my eye on the end one and thought how awesome it would be if that panel flipped to green and the door opened just as I was upon it. The racing gods heard me because that’s exactly what happened. 30 seconds later I was back on the course feeling 100% better.

Apparently during my 30 second pee, my running buddies sped up (not intentionally) and put me a good distance behind them. It took about 5 minutes for me to catch up to them since there was no way I was wasting my glycogen (energy) to catch up only to crash at the end. I know how this works..

I did catch up with them and then we were in mile 19. Legs were getting heavy now, but nothing I hadn’t experienced before in training, so I knew I was fine.

Mile 20. Michael had said he was having some kind of pain while I was catching up to them, so he had to slow his pace. Dawn and I were running together and we both put on our headphones and were in our own world.

I kept my pace because I knew I still had 6.2 uncharted miles to cover. I’d never run more than 20 miles, I had no idea what was going to happen but I was going to do it.

Dawn went ahead of me and we were all 3 alone now. What began as 3 ended up as everyone on their own. Running is the epitome of an individual sport. I was feeling tired and my hips/knees were hurting but overall I still felt great, I knew there was still something left in me, I knew I could do this.

Then I saw the on ramp. We were back at the blasted highway.

Here we are, Mile 21. Running farther than I’d ever run before.

I knew it was a good sign that we were back on the highway because that meant we were close to finishing. But since we were only on mile 21, I knew we had at least 3 miles on it since I saw the first place runner at mile 24.

During mile 21 it was just me and the road, I finally got to reflect on everything I had done over the past 18 weeks. I thought about how 18 weeks was just for marathon training, but that in the months prior, I built the base upon which I would begin marathon training. I ran my first half marathon in April and I remembered how great that felt.

Then the beginning of the most powerful mental struggle I’ve had with myself began.

Mile 22 was when it got t-o-u-g-h. It was getting harder and harder to pick my legs up. My muscles and joints were really starting to yell at me. The winds were picking up and I later learned that we were running into a 15-25 mph headwind (wind at our face) for almost 30 minutes.

All I could think about was how much I was wishing it were over. I wanted to cross that finish line NOW and I wanted to see Brandon. I let a few tears drop but told myself this wasn’t the time or place to get weak. This is was my time to shine.

I had a little talk with myself, “This is what you trained for. You knew this would be tough. If marathons were easy everyone would do it. You’re stronger than this. One step at a time. Think about this mile, get through just this mile.” I thought inspirational thoughts. I said inspirational words, then I shook my head, picked my chin up, and carried on.

A couple minutes later, I saw a girl about my age that I had spotted from back in mile 2. I had told my running buddies then that we should stick with her because it looks like she’d done this a few times. (I don’t know if this is true but it sounded good.) We lost her throughout the race but there she was, trotting up next to me during this painful mile.

She started to pass me, but I wanted to stay with her remembering my initial thought, so I found the strength to lift my legs a little higher and a litter faster. We were hanging around each other and at some point our pace fell into line and we started running with each other. We never talked, we never decided to do this out loud, but for the next 2 miles we had an unspoken understanding that we were going to get through these miles together.

Once we passed mile marker 24 there was a water station which I got water at, ate an energy chew or two and kept on running. The girl was behind me and I never saw her again, but I’m glad she came when she did and we got to run those 2 miles together.

Back on my own, I saw the exit ramp and we were back on the streets of Savannah. We passed the 40k mile marker and I had no idea how long that was (there was no way I could have attempted mental math at this point!) I asked some guy next to me if that was mile marker 25 and he said he had no idea but that it was coming up soon if it wasn’t it.

I trudged on still keeping below a 10 minute mile pace. Finally, I saw more and more spectators starting to fill in. I passed mile 25 and made the decision to race the last 1.2 miles.

Magic happened.

Spectators were cheering.  Coaches were coming to meet their trainee’s to run the last mile with them. Runners became walkers. People were crying. I ran my heart out. I ran as fast as I could.

I was in my zone, focused on the tenths of miles ahead waiting for the finish line to come into view. I thought I was delirious because I heard someone screaming my name, “Go  Beth!!” Emily and Will came to mile 25/26 to cheer me on the last bit I had to run. I was so surprised I slowed down almost to a stop to say hi.. but then I remembered I was racing. I told them I’d talk to them later and sprinted off.

Thanks Emily!

I definitely don’t look as graceful as I feel in that picture..

Less than a half mile to go now. And then there was a hill.

Race organizers have a sick sense of humor to put a hill at mile 26. I cursed at it.

Thankfully I had plenty of hills during training, so I tackled it just like the ones I tackled before. I saw mile marker 26 and it was on.

I flipped the switch and if I thought I was sprinting before, I was flying now. Taking seconds off my time, I passed walkers, other runners, and screaming spectators.

I saw a photographer at the finish line and smiled for one of the proudest moments of my life.

I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.

I smashed my time goal of under 4 hours and 30 minutes with a final time of 4 hours 8 minutes 45 seconds. My average pace was 9 minutes 30 seconds per mile, for 26.2 miles.

I am a marathoner.

I saw Dawn waiting for me, just 17 seconds ahead of me. We smiled at each other and then the pain of what we just did started to set in. The adrenaline was wearing off, our blood was re-circulating from our leg muscles back to our other organs. It hurt.

We saw our husbands and they started to walk toward the end of the finisher’s chute to meet us. We saw other family and friends from our spectator group smiling and waving and congratulating us. They said we looked delirious walking around the “secure zone.” I pretty much felt delirious. It hurt, but it felt so good.

I received my medal, hung it around my neck, and started to get teary-eyed. The amount of accomplishment I felt far surpassed any amount of pain I was feeling. I was so happy and proud of myself for pushing through, for setting this goal, for finishing, and being able to walk through that chute.

We snapped our official finisher’s pictures and headed off for much needed food.

They had mini bagels, fruit cups, water, bananas, and Cytomax (like Gatorade). I grabbed the water, Cytomax, banana, and mini bagel then made my way out to meet Brandon. He gave me the best hug ever and congratulated me. He had run the half marathon so I was pretty proud of him myself. What a great day we had!

After that I saw Emily and Will ride up on their bikes. I was again, surprised to see them I almost started to cry all over again. They had flowers for me and we got to catch up a little bit. It was so nice to see them again!

We met up with the rest of our crew and found a nice grassy area in the sun. We talked about our races, ate, drank, and took it all in with a headliner band Rock and Roll put on in the background. It was the perfect ending to a perfect first race.

Marathoners!

The best team ever!

Congratulations if you’re still reading this; that takes dedication, too.

After we headed back to the condo and got cleaned up, we went back into downtown for a celebratory dinner complete with champagne..

…then limped our way back to the car.

CHEERS!

(I’ll follow up with recovery in another post; I figured that was enough reading for this one!)

Here We Come, Savannah!

Thursday was a whirlwind after I left work. Came straight home, finished packing, waiting on B to get home, dropped Owen off at boarding and we were off to Savannah!

Here was the bag with just our race day gear..

Then our completed packing pile..

 

Foam roller was a 100% MUST.

Don’t forget the snacks for the way down, plus breakfast!

 

It took us a little over 6 hours to get to Savannah and when we got there, we went straight to sleep.

Friday we got up and went over to the expo. I’m glad we went early because later on in the day, the bridge to get to the convention center looked like this..

(Source)

The expo was so much fun. We got Savannah Marathon shirts and souvenirs, got to check out 100+ vendors with all kinds of running gear, and I even ran into my friend Michelle who has been traveling to every Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the last half of this year for work! It was nice to catch up and get excited with the other runners.

Didn’t you know I can run in jeans and with a purse half my size?

After the expo we came back to the condo and got ready for our pasta dinner. My sister-in-law picked up fresh, homemade pasta from an Italian place in Charlotte. We all pitched in and had fun talking about the next day and how far we’d come in our training for both half and full marathons.

After a delicious meal, I mapped out my water station and Gu stops for the next day, obviously taking it very seriously.

What’s a great dinner without inspiring dessert?!

After dinner we went through our “swag bags” from the expo and got our racing gear together for the next morning.

We had an early bedtime of 10:00. My alarm would go off at 4:30 the next morning and I would run a marathon, at least I hoped so..

Part 2 is in the works!

Marathon Thoughts

Exactly one month from today. I will be toeing the starting line at 7:30am to run a marathon.

I have a lot of different feelings about this.

#1 I want to have fun. This is a no brainer for me. I was so excited before my first half marathon I had trouble sleeping the night before. Not from nerves, just excitement. It was probably the most excited I had felt since my wedding or when a I was a little girl at Christmas.

#2 Will I be able to fuel properly. This is a worry of mine mainly because I really don’t like gels that much. As much as I’ve used them and found one I can tolerate, I still have to gag it down. As long as I get it down 3-4 times throughout the race, I should be fine.

#3 Aid Stations They’re awkward. I really hate stopping at them. While I don’t actually stop, I hate slowing down to run in, grabbing a drink, gulping it down, and getting back to pace all while not getting tangled up in other runners legs. Just give me an IV.

#4 Peeing in my pants. How often are they going to have port-a-potty’s? Are the lines going to be atrocious?  To be determined..

#5 Always question if I’ve done enough. I’ve been traveling A LOT this fall. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t messed with my training plan. I’ve missed several weekday runs over the course of 18 weeks; I’ve had to run while not fully recovered. Despite all this I have made it a point to never skip a long run, so doing that will hopefully provide me the physical benefits and psychological strength to know I can do this.

#6 Mile 21-26.2 My longest training run is 20 miles on October 15. I will have no idea how my body will respond or feel for the next 6.2 miles. At that point, it’s going to be mind over matter and focusing on one foot in front of the other. As long as I’ve fueled properly, “hitting the wall” shouldn’t happen. (Which is known for happening around mile 20.)

#7 Clothes Still working on putting that outfit together. Normal temps in Savannah for that time of year is a high of 70. However, this will be at 7:30 am and I will probably be up at 4:30am to get to the starting line in time. I don’t want to freeze before the gun goes off, but I also don’t want to be too hot running. I may bring some old clothes I don’t care about and ditch them once the race starts.

#8 People There are 23,000 participants in this race! Between the half marathon and the full marathon, this event has sold out. That makes for a lot of traffic before, during, and after the race. I’ll be practicing a lot of patience that day.

#9 Success I’m a pretty confident person. In who I am and my abilities. I can’t wait to check this off my list!

Can you tell my Type A personality is taking over here?

I listed #1 as having fun for a reason. While there are definitely logistics that go into running a marathon beyond the 18 weeks of training prior; my main goal is to have fun doing what I love to do. RUNNING!

This particular marathon is part of the Rock ‘N Roll Series which is the #1 race series in America. They have a live band playing at each mile and a headliner band at the end. I think having fun will be inevitable that day. 🙂

I have the rest of this week and next week left of full-on training, then a 3 week taper. I can’t believe we’re already here!

Uncharted Territory

Marathon season is here. I ran 17 miles Saturday. Holy Moly.

I have had so much going on recently I don’t even know where to begin.

#1 I’ve been a crazy busy girl but I’ve still fit in my runs.

After a week’s hiatus from running I’ve come back alive and motivated. I’ve found a couple of times where I’ve been kicking myself for missing that week/altering my training plan so much because of traveling but like any situation in life, negative self-talk doesn’t take you far. Especially when you’re trying to cross a marathon’s finish line.

So instead, I lace up my worn out, need new shoes SO badly running shoes and run baby run.

PDR= Personal Distance Record

I’ve had 3 in the past month and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. First was the 14 miler before Vegas, then 15 miles last week, and finally 17 miles this past Saturday.

Let’s Recap.

15 Miles:

Done after work because we were going out-of-town for the weekend.

Did not hydrate/fuel properly throughout the day.

Experimented with Hammer Gel Espresso.

Took 2 slurps of it and it almost came back up. Sorry for the visual. That one was not a winner. So in addition to not properly fueling BEFORE the run, I had no fuel DURING the run.

That was probably the hardest run ever. Talk about hitting the wall. For the first time ever, I walked during a long run. Albeit for only 0.5 miles but still. At that point I felt like I was walking faster than I could run.

Just when I thought I couldn’t go any longer, at mile 14 the heavens opened up and it POURED RAIN. It was amazing and I made it the full 15 miles. Never again without proper fuel/hydration though. Lesson learned.

On a positive note, I did find a new route to run. It connects the entire Greenway together and it’s safe and not terribly hilly so it’s perfect for this particular marathon.

17 Miles: On a MUCH happier note, the 17 miles went very smooth compared to the 15 miler.

It was a normal Saturday morning, I got to sleep in a little bit, had some breakfast, a gel in hand and out the door I went.

I found the most amazing gel and this is what I will use during the marathon.

It’s light, it’s fruity, it feels better than Gu. I ate the whole packet without feeling queasy. Two thumbs up from this runner! 🙂

I took it at 6.5 miles and felt pretty good until mile 14. It looks like I’ll take 3 during the marathon. Mile 6, mile 13, and mile 20. I’ll be experimenting more with that as the weeks approach.

I ran the new route again and went a little further on it, actually reaching the end of it. Weird to run until there is no road left…

So here I am, 7 weeks out from my first marathon. 18 miles is up next for this week! Here We Go!

Suckety Suck Run

For some reason I get these days where I want to challenge myself.  Is training for a marathon enough? Nah. Let’s run outside for the first time in this heat with no hydration belt or backpack when the heat index is 99 degrees and we have a heat advisory. I didn’t really think about all of this until I began to run. For 5 miles.

So no wonder this run sucked. Even on my wonderfully shaded path in the park, it sucked. In fact, for the first 2.5 miles I run on a narrow path and it was so shaded with trees, I felt like I was suffocating. After that I went straight back to my car and chugged half a bottle of water. I definitely would have finished it..but I knew I would need it on the other side of 2.5 more miles. I even thought about getting back into my car and driving to the gym for the second half.

Alas, back on the path I went. At one point I think I was at an 11:00 min. mile pace. Contemplating walking. Sweat pouring off of me. I felt like I wasn’t even lifting my legs, but somehow I was still moving. I know the warning signs of a heat stroke and I wasn’t experiencing any of those symptoms.. it was just SO HOT!

But I did it. I finished all 5 miles. That doesn’t make me tough. I hate it when people run outside in this heat and think they are tough, most of the time it just makes them stupid. Today, I just didn’t want to run inside again and against my better judgment, ran outside.

More water, please?

The CDC states the warning signs of a heat stroke include:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If you want to run outside do it in the morning or after 8pm when it has cooled down! Time to eat; with some salt to make up for all that sweat!

 

My Inner Nerd and Recovery

This is how much of a nerd I am.

It can be used to confirm your threshold pace and what your proper pace should be during a race. Lactic acid in blood means not enough oxygen is delivered to muscles, therefore you could be overtraining.

Not that I’m actually going to buy this, but this is the type of stuff I got to play with for my second degree at Purdue; Nutrition, Fitness, and Health (Exercise Physiology based). *sigh* I need to go back to school to fulfill my inner-nerd. I get too excited about this stuff.

I’ve been reading more about compression socks (because I’ve been fascinated with them since I first read about them in February) and am trying to decide if they are worth the dough. They have been used for years in the medical field for preventing blood clots and improving circulation and are now becoming popular in the athletic world. There are several brands out there but one that always gets the best reviews are Zoot’s. I’ve read peer-reviewed research articles about their benefits and there does seem to be scientific evidence of helping speed up recovery from endurance events. Hello, marathon training?

 (Not Me)

CEP Compression Socks

In the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) researchers in Sydney, Australia concluded: “The data suggests that wearing compression garments in the recovery from eccentric exercise may alter the inflammatory response to damage and accelerate the repair processes inside of the muscle. However, further studies are warranted to confirm any alteration in muscle repair/recovery consequent to wearing of compression garments.”

This guy did a full scientific review on a pair of Sigvaris compression socks. If you don’t want read all about it there, I’ll hit the main points.

He goes into 2 theories:

  1. Increased blow flow return (to the heart) when wearing compression socks. This happens because the compression prevents blood from pooling in your lower legs due to gravity. This would help increase stroke volume (more blood pumped from heart each time the heart beats, therefore making oxygen delivery more efficient) and increase clearance of by-products from exercise to prevent buildup and decrease soreness in the recovery phase. This is what I’m so interested in.
  2. Muscle vibration. Stating that the vibration from your foot striking the ground causes delayed muscle soreness and the compression socks could help decrease the soreness by improving our efficiency.

Some research conducted on compression socks also has to do with blood lactate levels. They have been seen to reduce the amount of blood lactate levels, not muscle lactate levels. Maybe the increase in blood flow increases the efficiency oxygen is delivered to our working muscles and therefore decreasing the amount of lactic acid that is produced. This would be a marker to know that we still have “some go” left in us.

Lactic acid is produced during exercise when our oxygen demand is greater than the oxygen we have available to fuel our muscles and metabolic functions. When this oxygen deficit occurs, lactic acid is produced. It’s what causes the burning sensation in our muscles during intense exercise because lets face it, its lactic acid.

Here’s the part people miss – lactic acid is completely washed out of your muscles within 30-60 minutes of finishing your exercise1. Since the soreness you experience from that exercise doesn’t show up until 1-3 days after you’ve finished.. how can we blame lactic acid?

It seems a more logical excuse for muscles soreness is actually muscle damage. This is the theory the scientific world has been embracing over the past decade or so. When you overdue your exercise you cause “microtrauma” to the muscle fibers. Over the next 24 hours the damaged muscle becomes swollen and sore. Chemical irritants are released from these damaged muscles and irritate the pain receptors1 and all of sudden, “ouch, I can’t even walk to get water!”

Those chemical irritants are some of the by-products that *may* be cleared faster when using compression socks. I don’t know but it’s a theory.

How do you get rid of soreness? Start. Moving. Don’t sit on the couch all day. By walking, swimming, or doing some other event other than the exercise that made you sore to begin with, you begin to restore your muscles to their normal state. This is why Sunday is my cross-training day! Continuing to stretch and time in hot baths or saunas can help, too.

 

You can’t always prevent yourself from getting sore, but by continuing to be active will increase your strength and endurance and increase the tolerance your muscles can handle.

Compression socks could also help with this swelling and recovery due to the compression alleviating that swelling and inflammation. Think of when you smash your finger, you want to apply pressure to help with the pain.

The compression socks can be used in 2 ways, during the endurance event or during the recovery phase. The research for use during the event isn’t as reliable. It won’t make you faster, but it could help with the vibration aspect.

Most of the research that proves beneficial is in the recovery phase. That’s when I would use them and on long rides before races, aka Savannah. I’m not sure how cool I would look running in socks up to my knees (or in my case, my thighs because my legs are so short) in 90 degree weather, anyway.

I still haven’t decided if I’m going to buy them, but I guess I just want to, to see if they will work to speed up recovery between my runs. Be my own science experiment – sounds good in theory anyway!

How do you recover from long runs?

 

Reference:

1. Edmund Burke, Ph.D. Accessed July 19, 2011

Week 1 is a Success!

There is a lot that goes into training. “Studying,” mental, emotional, and physical aspects. Since my first half marathon April 16, 2011 I have been in maintenance mode trying to keep my fitness and improve it by strength training and yoga. I did strength training 2-3x/week and yoga only once a week. Granted, it was p90x yoga, not just a casual 30 minute session. The yoga tapered off after about a month because I found an hour and a half to be too much after work. I continued strength training and now after finishing week 1 of marathon training, I can say that it has definitely paid off.

My knee pain is gone, even after an 8 mile long run. I knew I needed to strengthen my quads, hips and supporting muscles, so going to Group Power (aka Body Pump) a couple of times a week helped me achieve this. I also improved my balance/core/hips by balancing on the Bosu Ball.  

My physical therapist/RD friend who is SUPER knowledgeable told me about it and also cautioned me not to overdo it. When I started, I could literally balance for only 5 seconds. No Joke. That is not a typo. I can now balance on it for an easy 1 and a half minutes. I can feel all my hip muscles working to support myself and that too has been a big help with relieving hip pain and running hills.

Also during this time I was trying to decide on a training plan. After reading tons of runner’s forums and doing my own research online, I decided on one of Hal Higdon’s 18 week marathon plans. It is designed to get you to the starting line injury-free and successfully complete your marathon. I am all for both of those things, so that’s how I decided to go with it. I could also still do long runs on Saturdays, incorporate cross-training on Sunday, with Monday and Friday and complete rest days. Since it’s my first marathon, there’s really no time goal. Sure, I would love to make it in less than 4 hours but I’m betting it’s not going to happen, at least not for this marathon. Not because I’m pessimistic or don’t believe in myself, but because that’s not a reasonable goal for a first marathon despite my half marathon time being 1:56:49.

My training route for the half marathon looks completely different now that it is summer! I was primarily running in Feb-March where all the trees were dead but now it is full of leaves and life. It really helps that it is mostly shaded, even completely shaded in parts, so even though it was 74 degrees and 93% humidity this morning, it was bearable.

I’m hoping to do either yoga or cycling tomorrow for my cross-training day. I didn’t do strength training this past week but I think it could be doable now that I have one week under my belt and can see how the days are laid out.

One thing I don’t have, but need, is a way to stay hydrated during my long runs in the heat and humidity. My next running purchase is going to be a fuel belt. I have been debating a fuel belt vs. a hydration backpack but again, from reading reviews and forums it seems the belt will work best for me. I’ll keep you posted on that though! So, this marks the end of week 1 of marathon training. I had strong runs during the week and a GREAT 8 mile run today. Now I’m off to make black bean brownies!

Does anyone have experience or preference with hydration belts or backpacks during long runs?