A Difficult Decision

After a short yet very painful run on Monday I realized this isn’t my marathon year.  Letting go of something I’ve worked so hard for for 11 months is not easy.  This injury has hurt in more ways than one.  I spent a lot of time negotiating with myself and trying to find a way to just run it anyway without the training build up.  After a lot of research and consulting with my coach I just don’t believe that is a healthy option for me at this point.

Once I realized that I was really out of the race, I had a week of what I will just call an adult (okay maybe not even that grown up) hissy fit.  I wanted to run this marathon so badly.  I had honestly been looking forward to this last month of difficult long runs more than the race itself and I never even got to run my longest distance in training.  It sucks.  Am I over it?  Nope.  But I’m definitely  getting there.  Here is a video recap of that decision, and a new (and probably smarter) plan for 2016.

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Marathon Training is Hard

News flash!  Marathon training is hard!  This week has been especially difficult because I haven’t done anything.  One might think that a week off of running would feel good after so much running.  Far from it.  I have been loving the increase in mileage and miss it very much.  I’ve had to take the week off due to an ankle injury.  Specifically peroneal tendonitis.  My friend Scott explains it well here:

In talking with my orthopedic surgeon, this happened from the combination of increasing my mileage and also changing my form.  I had been a solid mid foot runner until late last November when I did some research, read some books and figured fore foot running was the new awesomesauce and so I need to do it.  I completely changed my form and specifically my foot fall.  This was okay for the first few months but now that I’m running higher mileage it’s impacting me in a negative way.  So the new focus is now rehabbing this ankle injury, getting back into shoes that I know work (hello Asics!) and getting comfortable with my comfort zone which is the mid foot running again.

I honestly thought marathon training was going to be difficult due to just the sheer volume of extra miles and time on the road.  I was not anticipating any injury (I’m lucky to be a pretty healthy person).  I was also not anticipating the need to find this special combination of things that work.  And there is a LOT of experimentation that goes in to this.  Nutrition, shoes, hydration, socks, speed, form, the list goes on.

And, Summer is almost over.  I decided I wanted to run this marathon last October.  I’ve been working on and dreaming of this for a year.  I still need to get this ankle functioning again, find the perfect combination of everything, and finish building up my mileage.

6 weeks.  I can do this.  Right?

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.  🙂

Regroup, Reevaluate, & Rally

Last week’s half marathon damaged me in more ways than one.  My foot ached so bad by the end I spent the rest of that day and the next two days limping.  I earned a nice pink sunburn and some exquisite chafing in some areas I will not enumerate.  I would not have physically been able to finish, had last weekend been marathon day.  In addition the the physical damage, the race was one of two half marathons in a span of three weeks where my performance was much slower than I had anticipated.

All in all it left me with…

Damaged feet.

Damaged skin.

And (probably worst of all), a damaged ego.

When this happens you just have one choice.  Quit.  Just give up.  Throw in the towel.  Who needs it anyway?  Lots of people live perfectly healthy happy lives without running a marathon!  That was my exact outlook four days ago.  I cried at my kitchen table and told my husband I was out.  I was done.  I didn’t need this.

He wouldn’t accept it.  He told me the truth – I was being stupid.  He knows me well enough to explain what the ultimate future of this decision would mean.  With nothing to train for and look forward to, I would stop running.  Running has been my go to stress relief for the past two years and I would lose out on this happiness.

He pointed out the positives: I had an adventure with my longtime BRF and made a new running friend this past weekend.  I achieved Half Fanatics status.  I tried new foods and new things.  I had a fun weekend in a new city.  Things I wouldn’t have done without the race.

After lots of tears (and snot – it wasn’t pretty), I realized he was right.  To give up on training would mean giving up on running, racing and all that comes with it.

So I spent last week regrouping, reevaluating and rallying.

I saw the doctor on Thursday.  Diagnosis = plantar fasciitis (not a stress fracture!).

Over the weekend I found a great coach and am starting a new running plan tomorrow.  The plan I was using was great for building speed but I need to turn my focus to true endurance to get ready for this marathon.

It was a rough week but I am back.  I will continue to run.  I run to race.

Happy National Running Day!

What a cool day.  I’ve loved watching my twitter feed blow up with running stuff all day. 🙂  I got in 2.3 miles myself this evening.  We’ve had crazy thunder storms in my area of Minnesota all day today but I finished my 7 max pace sprints on the treadmill followed by some strength training.  I am pooped!  I’ve somehow been able to get through all of my planned workouts this week, even with the recovery issue.  IMG_0439

Happy National Running Day!IMG_0438

Recover or Risk It?

If there’s one thing I hate to hear it’s “you can’t”.  But what if the “you can’t” is coming from your doctor?  I had some oral surgery yesterday and was really dismayed when the doctor told me to suspend working out for 5 days.  This might not seem like a big deal but so far I have a perfect streak going and have not missed a single workout in the past 10 weeks!  I was super psyched about that.  I’m also afraid if I miss one, I open myself up to skipping more.  I don’t want to open that door of “well, I did it that other time, so I can skip this one too”.

I just feel like a little kid and want to stomp my foot and yell “it’s not fair!”.  Taking 5 days off was not mentioned at all in the pre-op meeting.  If it were I could have snuck in a few workouts before, a few after and still been generally fine.  Now I feel like I need to either skip workouts or risk “pain and bleeding” (neither of which sound like fun).

Advice?  What would you do?

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! 🙂