Marathons and Ragnar and Tri’s Oh My!

I went through a period of feeling like I would never run again, never race again.  I know that sounds melodramatic, but it’s where I was mentally.  The ankle pain was ridiculous for weeks and when you’re in that mode it gets difficult to imagine doing the things you love again.  But, now that my ankle is feeling stronger I’ve been more confident in registering for races and looking toward some pretty nifty new goals in 2016.

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My yellow brick road. 🙂

I had thought that once I had finished 2015 I would have completed my first marathon.  It didn’t happen and won’t at this point.  I’m okay with that.  However, I thought that I would have moved on to some other things.  I wanted to start looking at multiple marathons in one year, a 50K, Ragnar Relay and I’ve been interested in triathlons for a few years now.

The 50K is not going to happen, so let’s just scratch that right now.  Goals need to be realistic.  I think 2 marathons in one years is a pretty good start as far as endurance running is concerned.  I want to get those under my belt and then see how a longer distance feels after completing those.

Ready for Women Rock 2014!

My ruby slippers. 🙂

However, the rest of it seems… kinda feasible!  Multiple marathons should be a go as long as I’m diligent in my recovery, pay attention to my body, and avoid injury at all cost now that I know injury is an actual thing that actually does happen if you’re not careful.  My BRF is captaining a Ragnar Relay team that we’re organizing for August, and I’m looking into triathlons.  By “looking into” I should have said “learning how to swim”.  So stay tuned on that one.  Adventures in not drowning soon to come!

So that is what is going on this week.  Otherwise I’ve just been focusing on getting back into shape, losing a little weight and making sure I don’t forget to take care of this ankle and take it for granted.

 

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Why are you Hitting Yourself!?

I had a really interesting epiphany today.  And that is that if something hurts, you probably shouldn’t do it.  Seems logical enough right?  During this injury I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I hurt myself in the first place.  And I did do this to myself which makes it all the more frustrating.  There was no freak collision with a vehicle, no tripped in pothole, no rabid animal.  Just me, overusing my ankle, repetitively slamming through the pain for almost three and a half hours.  And so I’ve spent the last 6 weeks reliving that run trying to figure out why it happened and what I can do to prevent it.  I know I pushed too hard – but why would I do that?

I was at the gym today doing some lunges with dumbbells.  About halfway through the set I felt a really bad pain in my tailbone, almost like my spine was on the brink of shattering.  This was definitely not a “just push through and feel the burn” kind of pain.  It shouldn’t have been there and I had no business continuing.  But I didn’t stop.  I checked my form, decided that was fine and I should keep going.  The only thought I had was “It’s fine, I’m almost through the set and then it will stop hurting”.  And then it occurred to me.  That is exactly how this ankle issue happened.  And it’s exactly how the plantar fasciitis happened a few months ago, and it’s exactly how the exertion migraines happened with the weight lifting that landed me in the ER before that.  It’s that concept of – this is okay because eventually I’ll reach my goal of what I want to do, and the pain will stop.  What I’ve learned however, is sometimes the pain doesn’t stop.  Actual damage is a real and present danger.

At any rate.  Marathon training (even marathon training recovery) is still giving me powerful lessons.  I didn’t finish all of the sets and did eventually stop the stupid lunges.  When I started exercising a long time ago I had had trouble motivating and pushing myself and would phone in half my workouts.  Then I learned to love pushing myself and loved finding continual improvement.

I’ve learned another valuable lesson today though, and that is when to pull back.  When to check myself and realize I am human, and do have limits.  It’s humbling, but it’s real.

Weekly video update – not much but still doing what I can. 🙂

Race Recap: Women Rock – Starlet Challenge

Women Rock is the first 10K I ever ran.  I first ran this race in 2013 and it was the first event I ever trained for consistently.  In 2013 the 10k was the longest distance I had ever run.  It gave me the confidence to spontaneously register for and run a half marathon only a couple weeks later (didn’t train for it, but did survive and finish!).

Last year I ran the 10K again and beat my previous time.  This year I wanted a new challenge and registered for the Women Rock Super Starlet Challenge.  The challenge involved a night 2.5K race on Friday night, followed by a half marathon and a 5K on Saturday.  My hope when I registered for this in December was to PR my half on this race.  However, this time last week with my injury I was thinking I wouldn’t be running it at all.

In light of the injury I down graded back to the 10K along with the other races which would fulfill the Rock Starlet Challenge (minus the “super”) and still earn me 4 beautiful medals.  My coach advised walking the 2.5k night race followed by walk run intervals on the 10K and 5k.  Not wanting to ruin my chances at running the upcoming marathon, that’s what I did.  And it worked!  I finished the races, had fun with my friends and the ankle still seems to be on the mend at this point.11947689_10207394826725719_3750133041126512164_n

No race video on this one.  I was really focusing on taking it easy and avoiding further damage.

I honestly thought at this point in the game I would be racking up the PRs and setting new records for distance.  As it stands, I still have yet to run a distance PR through any of my marathon training at all.  (My longest distance in training is the 16 miles I ran on August 16th which earned my injury.  My longest distance ever is 16.86 miles I ran for a trail race in April.)

This struggle in the road to 26.2 is not what I was expecting at all.  I was assuming I would work through scheduling issues with finding time for long runs and mentally pushing through exercising through long periods of time.  Instead I am babying this ankle and am an emotional wreck due to my disappointment in myself with these injuries.  I know this is causing major setbacks in my mileage in these remaining and very important final weeks.

But, it’s still an experience and I’m learning what to do and what not to do for next time, if there is one… we’ll see. 🙂

Get Out of MY Park!

View from today's 10+ mile run at about 6 am this morning.  That wood bridge is actually on some sort of pontoon system - challenging to run across (almost made me "seasick"!).

MY Bunker Hills Park in the early morning.

My new coach had a 13 mile run on my schedule yesterday.  While I have run plenty of half marathons, this was my longest training/unsupported run yet.  I left my house at about 7:00 am ready to start my run through the park that backs up to my neighborhood.

Let me take a moment to describe this park.

My park.

Bunker Hills Regional Park is filled with a maze of paved bike paths on undulating hills.  I know these twisting bike paths better than I know the lines on my own palms.  When I started running, I ran Bunker.  I’ve run two 5Ks through Bunker.  I’ve participated in running groups through Bunker.  However, I prefer to run alone.  And it is usually pretty quiet.  Only a few other people pushing strollers, jogging or walking.

Much to my dismay, yesterday the park was packed with people!  Lots of them!  Everywhere!  People riding bikes, people walking, people pushing strollers, people roller blading, people on skate boards, people sitting around, people running.  Lots of other people running.  I literally wanted to shout “GET OUT OF MY WAY!  GET OUT OF MY PARK!”

But as I was heading out of the park (frustrated and sweaty) and on to the next leg of my run I wondered what were they all doing in there today?

And a thought occurred to me.  I bet some of these people are just kids looking to have fun outside on their bikes, just like I was.  I bet some of these mothers pushing strollers are just looking for some time out of the house and an opportunity to work off that baby weight just like I was.  I bet some of these people are learning to run just like I did.  And… I bet at least some of these people are training for the same damn marathon I am.

I knew I needed to check my mental game at that point and I did.  There will not be a field of 1 starting this marathon, nor would I want there to be.  Everyone has their own fitness journey they are working through, and yes some of those journeys happened to be through my park yesterday.

This morning I ran through Bunker again as usual for my scheduled 3 mile run.  It was almost empty.  Which actually made me a little sad.  Come back everyone!  I will share next time.  I promise.  🙂

Race Recap: Blair’s Balloons for Hope 5K (w/video)

My kids have been asking me to take them to run a 5K for the past few months.  I ran this same 5K last year and when I got an email on Thursday about last minute registration for 2015’s race I realized it would be the perfect first 5K to run as a family.  I remembered the post race snacks were great, it didn’t start too early (that would appeal to the hubs), and there is a medal at the end which is pretty rare for a 5K.

Here’s the video of our race!

We got up bright and early, had some biscuits and jam and headed over to packet pickup before the race.  Packet pickup was perfectly smooth, no lines and very well organized.

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The race started right on time at 10:00 am and we were off!  My 7 year old took off sprinting and my husband jogged after him leaving my 9 year old and I to walk jog together.  We did an easy jog the first half mile and then started taking walk breaks.  We had some tough moments but got into a groove after a few minutes.  He agreed to run on the downhills and past any volunteers.  I can’t tell you how proud of him I was.  He was a real trooper and did a great job jogging when it counted.  Afterwards we had some post race snacks included bagels, cookies, coffee cake, bananas, and full size water bottles.

We had a great time and got some great pics!

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And before I forget – here’s a quick update on the marathon training.

How was your weekend? 🙂

Running Long on the Treadmill without Losing your Sanity

My husband has been out of town this weekend for so I wasn’t able to get in my normal long run outside.  I was faced with the following choices:  skip the long run, move the long run, or get it in on the treadmill.  All of these sounded terrible so I considered the one that would help my training plan the most – the treadmill.

The cons of treadmill workouts are many:

  1. It’s boring.
  2. No fresh air.
  3. It’s boring.
  4. No sense of adventure.
  5. It’s boring.
  6. No natural hills.
  7. It’s boring.
  8. Nothing to look at… and it’s boring.

There are some pros though as well:

  1. Convenience to home amenities.
  2. You can “bring” more stuff than you could outside – food, fluids, band-aids, technology, etc.
  3. …. alright I just have those 2.

But sometimes you just *have* to do it!  Here is a short video I put together to sum up how I execute a long run on the treadmill when there aren’t other options.

I also filmed a short video recap of my week’s training. 🙂  Hope everyone is having a great week!  Have you ever had to run long on the treadmill?  How did it go?  Would you do it again?

 

Race Recap: Lebanon 10K Trail Race (with video)

The Lebanon 10K trail race is one of five races in the Endless Summer Trail Run Series (ESTRS) hosted by Twin Cities Running Company and Rocksteady Running.

Looking back and reviewing my thoughts on this race I realized that it gave me a lot of firsts for one little 10K run.

  1. This was my first race where it rained through the entire event.
  2. First race I’ve ever gone to completely solo.  Drove there myself.  Check in and packet pickup on my own.  Started running alone.  After party of one.  Drove home by myself.  There are pros and cons to this.  I had the freedom to do things on at my own pace and didn’t worry about where anyone else was or how to meet up or any of those coordination items.  That said, it was super lonely!  I don’t think I would go it alone again if I could avoid it.  The after party was especially lonely.  It was a great event with pizza and beer and I just didn’t have anyone to share it with and recount the race with.
  3. Not my first trail race but it was my first trail 10K!
  4. First 10K that was a 3 mile loop twice.
  5. First race on a Tuesday evening after work.
  6. First race while recording with a GoPro.

The night before was a Monday evening.  I packed everything I would need into my gym bag instead of laying it out as I would for other races simply because the race was after work and not my first item of the day.  I also knew it would probably be rainy so I brought my rain jacket, a plastic sandwich bag for my phone and a towel for after the race.

After work on Tuesday I drove over to Lebanon Hills Regional Park and parked in the overflow lot.  Check in was IMG_0376seamless.  I gave the volunteers my name and bib # and was good to go.  Race registration also included glassware from Solomon.  Since my car was at the overflow lot, it was raining, and I didn’t have anyone with me to hold my stuff I hid my glass by one of the picnic tables.  Felt very sneaky for doing this but it worked out fine and was waiting for me when I finished.

I have to give race directors a shout out for starting on time.  And I mean really on time.  Super punctual.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:30 and we started exactly at 6:30 pm.

The race started on asphalt and quickly progressed into the trail through the woods.  It had been raining for 4 days in the Minneapolis area prior to Tuesday.  The mud was out of control and it was very difficult to not slip and fall.  Great workout but made for some slow running.IMG_0386

The first 3 miles felt like they flew by.  I had turned off the voice notifications on my Map My Run app to avoid bothering anyone and I didn’t notice any mile markers.  If they were there, I didn’t see them.  The whole time I didn’t know how far I was which I think made the time seem to go by faster.  Aid station was great (back at the start/finish) with water, gels, and really supportive volunteers cheering.  The second loop felt like it went by more slowly.  I think this was because I knew I was repeating everything I had just run through, I was more tired, and more soaked by then.  (Disclaimer: It wasn’t pouring, just a heavy mist/drizzle.  If it had been an outright downpour I might not have stuck it out!)  The park trail was beautiful despite the weather.  Picture lots of green foliage with wood bridges throughout.

I finished in little under an hour and 17 minutes.  Not too shabby for me considering the muddy trail and rain!  It was a great workout and I am proud of my time.IMG_0385

Afterwards there was pizza and beer.  Pizza and lemonade for me since I was driving myself home.  I have to say though, it tasted like the best meal ever after running in the rain for an hour!  This was a very well organized race and I truly enjoyed myself.  The volunteers were so nice, helpful, and encouraging.  I would absolutely run another ESTRS race again.  Next time though, I’m bringing some friends! 🙂