Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DONE

I did as well as I could have expected, making my realistic goal time of 5:45 (and 44 seconds).  It still hasn't entirely sunk in yet so more to come later!

On Haines Point.  Kathy, in the middle, didn't make it to the end, having to bail around mile 17 or so.  Hengameh and I split up around mile 15.


On the 14th Street Bridge, the least happy place on earth, shortly before mile 21.


 Just... one... more... step!

Monday, October 25, 2010

LAST TRAIL RUN! 10 miles 02:04

Last long run of the training program.  Woo hoo!

We met down at Ken-Gar, where it all began with a 7 mile run on Mother's Day.  The group has dwindled as some have completed their marathons and others have dropped out but we had a decent group of 12:30s.  It was nice to be back on an old familiar trail, one that I'd been sick of seeing months ago but was grateful to encounter yesterday since I knew it so well.

I started the day feeling pretty awful, I had a headache and a stomach problem that I just couldn't shake.  Around mile 2.5 I was feeling a little better, good enough to skip the bathroom stop and take off my jacket.  But the headache didn't subside and the constant beeping of one of the runner's Garmins was like a knife in my eardrum and I just couldn't take it.  I abandoned my dear friend to let her run with Beepy and I chugged along with a few other members of the group.

I often tend to lose some steam (mostly mental) after the turn-arounds, something about having to go back the same way always seems a little draining.  But not this time, in fact Eugene and I pushed the group to go faster than we had been running.  Not crazy fast, but a decent pace that we were able to maintain while chatting with Robin who ran his marathon in Chicago two weeks ago.  I think we only stopped for a brief walk break at intersections and for a few seconds at the turn around, it was a pretty solid run.

Around mile 8.5 I started to feel pretty awful again, I actually wasn't sure I'd make it back to a bathroom but figured my best chance was to speed up and get there as fast as I could.  I blew past everyone else in our group, especially in the last half mile, just to get it over with.  Despite feeling like crap I ran pretty well, certainly not my fastest 10 miles (that was 1:55 during the Philly half) but a good time for our last easy long run.  Less than a week to M Day!

Track Workout - 10/20/10 - 5.15 miles 57:18

As members of the group are running their races the number of participants at the track gets smaller and smaller.  It was always less popular than the long runs anyway but this particular night it was especially empty.  It was to be an easy workout, two warm-up and two cool-down laps, 3X1200s.  I ran the first two laps with Coach Carol who was the only other member of our pace group there before Eugene showed up.

And then we ran.  And ran, and just kept running.  Completely ignored the cool-down laps or the instructions to take it easy and run 30, definitely no more than 60, seconds faster than LSD pace.  When all was said and done we averaged about 11.07 miles, about thirty seconds faster than the fastest we should have been doing.  But it felt good and I wasn't in any pain or tired so I kept going, finishing the last lap at a 9:54 pace.

I was afraid of pushing and hurting myself but all seemed well after the run. My knee was a little sore so I iced but it recovered quickly.  Things are looking pretty good!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trail Run - 10/19/10 - 14 miles - 03:00

I am less than two weeks away from becoming a marathoner.  Holy crap.

Sunday was our dress rehearsal.  We got to meet an hour later than usual, at 8AM but luckily they didn't make us go out in waves (I have no idea what time I'll actually start the race).  We were to wear what we plan to wear marathon day and take any liquids and fuels we'd be using.  We were also supposed to get up early to best simulate race day but there was no way in hell I was getting up at 4AM when I didn't need to leave the house until after 7, I'd just fall back asleep.  So I got up at six.  I still should have left a little earlier since the Bethesda Arts Festival meant I had to drive around in circles to get to the usual parking lot at the beginning of the Capital Crescent Trail.

We had a group five strong, no coach since ours had just run a marathon the day before.  But it was an out and back on a course we'd run a dozen times so it was no problem.  We ran as a group down to Georgetown, taking brief walk breaks every two miles or so to get some fluids and a quick bathroom break at mile 5.  Somewhere around mile 8 my right knee started bugging me again, after last week's great run I thought this knee thing was behind me.  It didn't really slow me down any and was just a minor annoyance more than anything else but I can't imagine having to deal with it for an additional 12 miles.  I had it strapped but I think the patellar strap may have done more harm than good since the pressure point of the strap is especially sore now.

We ended up finishing in three separate groups, I finished in exactly three hours (including at least one of the stops where I forgot to turn off the Garmin, I think we actually ran about 2:57).  The idea was to start slow then gradually speed up for the second half of the run but I knew out of the gate that wasn't happening especially since the second half is all up hill.  Looking at the splits we kept a steady pace the entire run which works for me.  I struggled a bit more than on the previous week's 20 but overall it wasn't a bad run.  I have a few more things to figure out before race day, but there's plenty of time.  12 days, 16 hours and 8 minutes worth...

Track Workout - 9/13/10 - ?? ??

I had some Garmin issues during the track run, I have no idea how far or how fast or how long I ran.   I know it was at least 3 miles, I'm pretty sure it was about 5.  Oh well!

This was my first workout at the "new" track, we'd been running at the local community college but have moved to a high school for the remainder of the training (only two more track runs left).  Somehow it seems smaller even though it's certainly not and it's much softer and newer, the college track has some cracks and bumps and one section is right under oak trees which are dropping acorns like crazy.  This one doesn't have great lighting but it's much better.

So other than track conditions not much to report.  I ran mostly with Ameenah, she's thinking about dropping out or deferring.  I think she should just go for it, she's SO CLOSE, and really if I couldn't make it this year I doubt I'd ever do this training again and I think she feels the same way.  Neither of us love running at the moment, we're beat mentally and physically but I know I have enough left for the next two weeks.  She's not so sure but I'd be really bummed if she didn't make it to race day. 

I feel like I ran some pretty fast laps like we were supposed to, but I really have no idea.  Sometimes it's nice just to run by feel anyway, it's a much more enjoyable experience and one I hope to get back to after the race is over.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trail Run - 10/10/10 - 20 miles - 04:19:37

Last 20 miler before the race!  Last really long run before the race (next weekend is 14, then 10 - yay for the taper)!

We were to do the Bethesda loop again starting at Capital Crescent, the same route I did on my last 20 mile run.  I did not like this route at all, the first 8 miles were great, 8-12 were mediocre, 12-20 just all out sucked.  It's a lot of uphill and on the last run it was a lot of heat then a lot of rain.  So while I wasn't exactly excited about it I wanted to see if I could do better this time.

We had a decent sized 12:30 pace group, six of us including the coach.  Maybe a mile or two in the coach let us know that, since her marathon is this weekend (good luck!) she would only be running 10, meaning we'd be left to figure out how to complete the second half of the loop on our own.  Hengameh and I looked at each other with a clear sense of dread, we have NO sense of direction and from what I recall the route (through Rock Creek park, through the zoo, Beach Drive, Silver Spring) was not exactly easy to follow.  Amongst ourselves we all decided that we weren't going to chance it.  We had no idea if the 13s were behind us or how far ahead the other groups were.  Some of our group was only running 10 anyway so most decided to run 5 down the trail, then 5 back up, then maybe 5 north?  I felt like running back and forth would just kill my motivation so Hengameh and I decided to run 10 down to DC then back up, knowing the last 8 miles would be all uphill.  I think it was the right choice.

We split at 5 miles when everyone else turned around.  We stopped at the boathouse in Georgetown, then again at the 10 mile mark for some more fuel and a walk break.  Then again at the boathouse, then the other boathouse, then the water stop.  Pretty reasonable, it was a stop about every 2-3 miles.  Really breaks up the monotony of running that far.  I just have to get to Fletcher's, then I can take break, and I only have 5 miles left.  I just have to get to the water fountain, then I can take a break, and I only have three miles left.  Then, a little over 4 hours later (not including bathroom breaks but including walks) you're done.

It was a pretty relaxing run, I felt I definitely had more in tank at the end since we took it pretty easy.  I had wrapped my troublesome right knee nine ways from Sunday - I had on KT Tape, a patellar strap underneath and an IT strap above my kneecap.  And I had no trouble, it was a little sore but I wouldn't even put it in the minor annoyance category.  I was waiting for the agony afterward, it was stiff when I got out of the car but since then... nothing.  Again a little sore but not nearly as swollen as it has been.  I don't know what part of the treatment did the trick but you bet I'm going to keep doing all of it through October 31st. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Trail Run - 10/3/10 - 17.18 miles 03:43:37

This was my first run along the C&O Canal, starting at Riley's Lock in Darnestown.  It's really beautiful back there, trees for shade and the water on either side of the trail.  It is all gravel though and while that may not seem like a huge deal it's an uneven surface that can be tough on the ankles and knees.

I was at the parking lot about 30 minutes early, plenty of time to use the restroom and sit in my car with the heat on 85 and the heated seat on high.  It was COLD, I dreaded getting out of the car at all.  With about 15 minutes to go a coworker and fellow runner knocked on the window so I got out, figuring it was time to get acclimated to the cold.  Even though I had on a light jacket and capris and did the trying-to-keep-warm-dance my teeth were still chattering.  Makes for great running weather, but not great standing-around weather.

I was nervous that my group wasn't showing up but a few minutes before 7 I saw a lot of familiar faces starting to congregate.  We had a pretty big 12-12:30 group, I think there were 9 or 10 of us.  We ended up splitting up a little as we ran, in the first few steps Ameenah (who I hadn't seen in weeks while she was on vacation and I was so happy to see her I almost cried) fell back because I already had gravel to pick out of my shoe.  But we caught up with the group and traveled on in a pack.  First bathroom break was around 3 miles in, still going strong.  Next bathroom was around mile six, at this point I was getting warm and took off my jacket to run in our team singlet.  Ameenah stopped at this point to turn around, I'm amazed that she made it that far after having been off for a while - she's awesome.

The run was relatively uneventful, I stayed with an absolutely lovely girl named Emily who I've run with on some track days.  She's fantastic, very upbeat and positive when all I want to do is complain.  With the exception of water refills and bathroom breaks we didn't stop or walk at all so there wasn't much to complain about other than my knee which started bugging me around mile 7.  By the time we stopped for water at the halfway mark it was doing that thing where it's really stiff after I stop and it takes me a while to work out the kink.  But the more I run the less it hurts and when I get warm again it's a non-issue (unless there's a decline or stairs).  I'm pretty sure it's an IT thing so I'm going to follow the KT Tape IT instructions tonight and I ordered a Pro Tec strap.  I'm also icing and stretching and trying some light strengthening exercises and will likely take it pretty easy from here on out.  I don't know what did it this time around since it hasn't bothered me lately, maybe it was the uneven surface and maybe it was the fact that the two runs I did before this one I did pretty hard, maybe it was that I had a nasty cold and my body just couldn't react to all the stress as well as usual (I hurt much worse than normal after the run in general.  I'd rather take it easy these next few weeks and actually be able to make the marathon than run hard now and be too injured on the 31st.  Only 25 days left!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Track workout - 9/30/10 6.93 miles 01:16

Woo!  What a workout.  I wasn't sure how it would go, I did a wee bit of strength training on Monday night and my legs were still sore, tired and heavy.  The weather was cool, though, and I'd just give it my best.  According to the coaches this is the time when a lot of us come down with various aches and pains and need to remember that getting the miles in without hurting yourself is the most important thing so if you can't quite handle the speedwork don't sweat it.  The workout we received was:
2 x 1600 [30-60 seconds faster than LSD pace] recovery lap between each 1600.
Break;
2 x 1600 [30-90 seconds faster than LSD pace]

With a warm-up and cool-down, or just all the laps at LSD pace.   Somehow we got ourselves all confused and ended up not doing any recovery laps, just breaking for water every mile.  I was running with Kathy and Eugene, they're usually a bit ahead of me but they were the only other members of the 12-12:30 group there so I'm glad they let me tag along.  They always look so much faster that I figured I'd never be able to keep up but I hung with them the entire time, by the end of each mile I definitely needed the break but without them I never would have pushed myself so hard.  I knew we were moving at a pretty good clip but I didn't expect to end up with an average pace of 11:00, including the warm-up and cool-down.  Because I am quite proud of this one I will even share the splits:
 
Summary 1:15:56 6.93
1 0:11:09 1
2 0:10:33 1
3 0:10:31 1
4 0:10:32 1
5 0:10:47 1
6 0:11:16 1
7 0:11:08 0.93

























































































































 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Trail Run - 9/26/10 - 10 miles 02:00

Best group run EVER.  Seriously, this was epic.  It was an all-morning event, starting with a group photo taken in front of the Department of the Interior at 19th and Constitution in DC.  From there we took off and ran I don't even know where, here's the map but I sure couldn't find the route again if I tried:

Much of this is part of the Marine Corps Marathon route so I'm really glad I got a chance to run it with the group.  I ran with Hengameh only, in between the 12:00 and 12:30 pace groups and we had a great run.  We felt good, we felt fast, we ran negative splits!  10 miles in exactly 2 hours for an average pace of exactly 12 minutes.  Nice!

Though we took off in our pace groups the plan was for everyone to meet around mile 7.5, we felt bad that folks from the 9 minute group had to hang around and wait for us but sure enough they were all there when we arrived, cheering us on as we ran to the meeting spot.  When everyone had gathered all of the coaches save for Andy and Lori took off ahead of us.  We stayed back and learned that we would be running, pretty much as one big group, the last .2 miles of the marathon course up to the Iwo Jima memorial (that's a tear-jerker in and of itself).  And we did.  As we ran up the little hill the coaches lined the path, cheered us on and gave us high-fives.  Remember this feeling, they said, because it'll be even more amazing on marathon day.

We then ran back to the Department of Interior where we enjoyed a brunch of veggies, bagels, cookies, peanut butter and orange juice (or mimosas for those boozehounds among us).  We munched while listening to Andy and Lori give us pre-, during- and post-race tips they've learned from years of racing.  I think they both got choked up at points, I know I did.  We're so close we're really starting to feel like we WILL do this.

Before we left we received our singlets.  Every year the group suggests different mottoes or phrases for the back and the coaches pick one:

I had the courage, now I just have to make sure I have the determination! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Track Workout - 9/22/10 - 2.75 miles 30:00

Good thing this weekend was nice and cool because it certainly wasn't last night!  Temperature was back up to 90 and it was terribly humid.  Not a whole lot to report as we got rained out less than halfway through our workout.  We're pretty tough, we'll run in showers and downpours but we won't run in thunderstorms.

I forgot to start my watch for the warmup lap so I'm guessing at total time here, I think it's pretty accurate though.  We didn't get a whole lot of mileage in but what we did do was pretty fast so at least they were quality miles!  I'll have to make up the mileage and turn tomorrow's planned 5 miler into a 10 or so.  It's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow but hopefully it won't be too bad in the morning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Philly ING Rock N Roll Half Marathon - 13.1 - 02:35:04

First official half, done! I'd run 13 miles, or more, several times before the race but this would be my husband's longest run (by about a mile) yet. Before I started training for the Marine Corps this was my goal race for the year but now I had to "run it, not race it." Not like I'm really competing anyway. We drove from Maryland to Philly (my hometown) on Saturday morning with our two Great Danes - for anyone else ever staying in Philly the Loews at 12th and Market is extremely pet friendly! All four of us crammed into a queen sized bed Saturday night so nobody got a whole lot of sleep. I was painfully nervous on Sunday morning, especially after a dog-walking outing on Saturday night left me with a really sore and stiff right ankle. But we suited up and walked the mile and a half (or more) to the starting line.

I had a few goals for the race, in order:
Don't die - Check.
Don't walk - Check.
Come in under 2:45 - Check.
Average somewhere between 11:30-12:00 miles - Check.
Don't hurt myself and compromise the rest of my training - Check.
More details and photos after the break!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Track Workout - 9/15/10 - 5.29 miles 01:09:51

I had a good feeling about the workout when I got up in the morning, I had a new pair of CW-X Performx tights to test out and the weather seemed pretty cool which usually bodes well for a good run.  I hit the bathroom at work to squeeze into my tights around 5:15, leaving plenty of room because it seriously takes forever to get those things on.  They made all kinds of squeaky noises as I wriggled and pulled and pushed and shoved but they fit well and are quite comfortable.  Perhaps a little overkill for someone as slow as I am but I'll take all the help I can get.

It was warmer than I expected at 6:30 but not humid, I don't think I sweated on my new tights at all (which get a big thumbs up, love 'em).  Because our group is so large and school is back in session they led the group on a warm up lap around the neighborhood instead of through the campus but I chose to just hang out on the track instead with a recovering runner and my dear friend Hengameh.  We've all got some kind of minor injury so we walked one lap then ran four for the warm-up at a reasonable warm-up pace (not the speedy mile we usually end up doing with the group, I much preferred this).  The on to the workout of 4x1200 40-60 seconds faster than LSD pace with a recovery lap in between each set.  We walked the recovery laps as I tend to do and we ran at a good clip for the 1200s.

The inside of my right ankle hurts like hell, worse when I stopped moving to take a drink of water so I suppose the solution is to never stop moving.  It's moderately sore and swollen now, a bit stiff, but not really painful when sitting or walking.  It didn't slow me down or affect my gait so I'm trying to just baby it and not worry about it too much until after Sunday's half marathon.  Just 44 days until Marine Corps, no way I'm stopping now!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trail Run - 9/11/10 - 11.95 miles 02:26

The group ran the Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 9/12 but since Bo and I are running the Philly half next week I decided to volunteer for that event instead and we ran our last long run on Saturday.  It was supposed to be about 10 miles so we found the perfect loop, Rockville's Millennium "Trail."  There is no actual trail involved, it's a 10.6 mile loop around the city on asphalt and concrete sidewalks.  It's marked, though, at half-mile increments with plaques embedded into the sidewalk so it's pretty easy to follow.  If you can find the starting point...

We figured the best place to start, and easiest to park at, would be Mile 0.  Got there, parked... got confused.  It was before 6AM so completely dark and we weren't entirely sure where the trail started.  We headed out one way, then wound through the neighborhood trying to stay on track.  About a mile and a half later we found Mile 0, so immediately out 10.6 mile run would turn out to be closer to 12.

The reviews said there were no hills of note, nothing too challenging.  I would like to take this time to publicly disagree with both of these statements as there were some climbs that left us huffing and puffing.  I guess it is mostly flat but there were enough hills for me, thanks.  On a downhill around mile 5 something horrible happened to my right knee that made steep declines absolute torture, we were so far in that turning around or continuing were about the same distance so we just kept going.  Running up, on flat road or on moderate downhill slopes was fine but I had to walk all of the stepper downhills and I'm pretty sure I cried at one point.  It's been fine since, stiff when I get up after sitting or wake up in the morning  but fine going up and down stairs and such.  I have a new pair of CW-X long tights coming today and am picking up some more KT Tape which I've been using for my ankle - hopefully either or both of those will help. 

Even with the walks downhill, which were the only walks we took, we averaged a 12:13 pace which isn't too shabby.  By the end I was just kind of miserable, something about heading out planning for 10.6 and reaching that mark and knowing you still had over a mile to go kind of messed and looking back I should have taken in more fuel.  I had one gel and not nearly as much Gatorade as I thought I drank.  We started fast, too fast, so out last miles were a bit slower but all things considered we had a really good run.  We're both in the 2:30 finishing wave for the Philly half, given Saturday's run I think I might actually be able to hit that (especially since there are no steep hills).  I'm sure Bo will crush it, he wants to leave it all out on the race course whereas I need to save some energy for the last six weeks of marathon training.  I still can't believe our first half is less than a week away, I'm so glad Bo will be doing it with me!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trail Run - 9/5/10 - 18.64 miles 04:00:15

After we moved four years ago, and before I changed jobs, I had a pretty miserable commute from Gaithersburg to Bethesda.  It was only about 20 miles but I had to leave around 6:30 if I had any hopes of making it in under 45 minutes and getting to work by 7:30.  And I had it pretty lucky, since it's a commute toward DC people come from much farther out than I did and spent much longer in their cars.  I used to complain about the hour-long commute when it only takes like 15 minutes on a weekend, this Sunday I ran that commute and it took me four hours.  Which was actually less painful than driving it.

Bo and I met the group at Shady Grove metro, Bo was going to run somewhere around 9 miles with us before he peeled off to hit another metro station while we would run another 9 down to Bethesda.  The route started at the station and wound through a neighborhood, down to Lake Needwood, south to Ken-Gar and at some point after the Mormon Temple we turned toward Bethesda.  Until that point I knew exactly where we were going but I couldn't find my way to Bethesda again if my life depended on it so I'm glad I had a group to stick with.

I was kind of surprised at how many people were out for a holiday weekend, we had a little 12:30 pace group of 6 (including Bo) and we stuck together pretty much until the very last mile when some of us got tired and others got a second wind.  I was in the exhausted category, around mile 15 my legs started to get really heavy but I did pass two members of the 12 minute group in the final half-mile.  The route was one we'd pretty much done before, relatively smooth except for the road into Needwood, The Silencer (which Bo owned, we've never seen anyone run up it faster than on flat road), and then three hills into Bethesda.  We ran the first of those and it just wore me out so we walked the other two.  With the exception of those hills we didn't stop other than for water and bathroom breaks (and popsicles at Ken-Gar!) when available so we had lots of good long stretches of several miles with no breaks. 

After Bo left I ran mostly with another girl whose name I never got, I've never really talked to her before because she usually ends up ahead of me but I was really glad for the company and she's really awesome.  She took off like a bat out of hell the last mile but I did catch up to her for the metro ride home.

About two miles from the end I really, really wanted to start taking walk breaks.  But I didn't.  I slowed down, probably by quite a bit, but I refused to let myself walk.  The last thing you do is run through a tunnel and as soon as I saw the light at the end I knew I was home free, I knew I was so close to finishing that I just "believed" myself forward. 

So it was a good run, a steady, decent pace on a lovely day.  Though I wouldn't want to commute to Bethesda on foot every day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ya gotta believe

Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and sometimes what you gotta do is believe.

Coach Andy is a Mets fan, through and through, and before one of his NYC marathons he spotted a Tug McGraw booth at the expo.  They were selling random little odds and ends benefiting his brain cancer foundation and Andy picked up a "Ya gotta believe" bracelet.  Apparently this was the rallying cry of the Mets back in the early 70s when they weren't doing so well, McGraw took up the slogan and ran with it, he believed and I guess everyone else started to believe as well and they made it to the World Series (where they lost in game seven to the As).  I would like to note, as a proud Philadelphian, that in the photo on the package Tug is wearing his Phillies uniform and that he was on the team that won the series for Philly in 1980. 

During that marathon Andy would glance down at the bracelet and believe, he believed himself into a Boston-qualifying finish.  Over the years he's given the bracelets to friends in need of a little push and program members who appeared to be struggling.  Every one of those people met their goals, whether it was to qualify for Boston or just finish their first marathon.

I have one of these bracelets now and have adopted this silly little slogan.  I'd had three rough long runs in a row (though Andy said that they really WERE three rough runs so that made me feel better) and was starting to have a lot of doubts.  More often than not lately I'd head out the door already feeling defeated.  I know that, toward, the end of a run, the biggest hurdle is usually mental and here I was starting out already having to overcome that roadblock.  The training is hard enough, no need to be harder on myself than necessary.

So no more whining (okay, maybe a little).  No matter how tired I am at 5AM on a Sunday or 6PM on a Wednesday I will head out the door with my head high and my legs strong and my thoughts positive.  I will believe that I can finish the scheduled run, I will believe that I can finish the marathon, I will believe that I will meet my fundraising goal for AICR.  I have no choice, I gotta believe.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Track Workout - 9/1/10 - 5ish miles, maybe?

Like Andy said last night, it shouldn't be 93 degrees at 6:30PM in September.  And yet it was.  But the air quality had gone down from a code red to a code orange so the track workout went ahead as planned. 

The workout was to be "the ladder," which I don't think I'd ever done successfully:
Warm-up around campus
1x400 (recovery lap)
1x800 (recovery lap)
1x1600 (recovery lap)
1x800 (recovery lap)
1x400 (recovery lap)
Cool down around campus (yeah, I skip this on hot days)
All but the recovery laps to be done 40-60 seconds faster than LSD pace.

It wasn't humid but it was pretty hot so we planned to take it relatively easy to begin with.  Ameenah and I ran our first two sets together, walking the recovery laps, before her asthma kicked in.  She could have gone home, but she didn't.  She hung around and walked laps because she's THAT bad ass.  I ran the rest with a new buddy, Emily.  All three of us had forgotten our Garmins and didn't even have watches so we didn't know how fast we were going but we knew it was uncomfortable and not something we could sustain for more than a mile so we figured that was pretty good!  I really felt like we were pushing it, and things always feel a little harder when it's hot out but I just know, physically and mentally, we kicked ass.  

I went in doing my best to feel positive about it, knowing that I'd do my best with the weather and no matter what happened I wouldn't feel upset or discouraged.  And I did SO MUCH better than expected, it wasn't exactly a repeat of last week's track run but it was as close as it was going to get given the circumstances.  Glad to be able to put another solid run on the books.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trail Run - 8/29/10 - 14 miles 03:05:53

There isn't much to say about this run, it was simple, easy, and awesome. 

We met at Lake Needwood this time, a relatively small group of runners since many in our program had chosen to run the Annapolis 10 mile race this morning.  I had little desire to get up early to run a race on a hot August morning so Lake Needwood it was.  The route was one I knew well, down to Ken-Gar and back, so even if no one else from my group made it I knew where I was going and had no worries about making the trip.

Turned out there were four of us that stuck together the entire run, the biggest 12:30 pace group we've had since... June?  It was definitely the best group run I've had in months, pretty sure I can say the same for the rest of the group too.  It was uneventful, we just hit the road together and ran.  We stopped for walking drink breaks every 2 miles, at a water fountain or two to fill up and at the bathroom at the mile 7 turn around. 

I knew the route and it's not a particularly easy one, it's a little hilly with two real monsters.  I decided on the way out that I was going to run those two hills if they killed me.  I did, and they didn't.  I charged up The Silencer and the hill back into Lake Needwood with no problems.  I guess they get easier each time you do them so I should probably subject myself to them more often.

So that's it, I guess there's not much to say about a good run!  I finished with Eugene right by my side, Ameenah right behind us and Hengameh not far behind her.  We cheered each other on, we high-fived, and we went home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Track Workout - 8/25/10 6.4 miles 01:18

How's that for some speed work?  Last night's workout was AWESOME.  The weather was decent, about 75 degrees and not humid, which I think was a huge help.  I was also really trying to have a deliberately positive attitude, more often than not I think it's my mental defeatist state that makes these workouts suck so much.

As usual Ameenah and I ran together, she really has been my rock throughout this program and I don't know what I'd do without her.  Our 12:30 group has really fallen apart, which is pretty sad.  Some people have been AWOL for a while now, possibly having dropped out altogether.  Some of the 12:30s decided they can run faster, some slower, Ameenah and I are pretty much right around 12:30/12:45 on a good long run day.

We did the warm-up lap around campus, about 1.25 miles, a little slower than usual but probably because we went the opposite way this time which is a little hillier.  I was worried that would ruin my performance for the remainder of the workout but it turns out I had nothing to worry about.  The workout was to be 4X1600 at 40-60 seconds faster than LSD pace with a recovery lap in between.  We're not too good with figuring out what that means so we did four miles with a walking recovery lap (most groups jog, we tend to walk) in between each mile.  I think knowing we had those recoveries coming was a huge mental boost, we OWNED those miles.  During the 20 miler Coach Carol said a steady run/walk program got her through her fastest marathon ever, maybe there is something to that after all. 

Overall pace, including 3/4 mile walking, was 12:12.  Because of those recovery laps I don't have a real good idea of how fast we did the actual running but Ameenah was smart and kept track, we were around, if not a bit under 11 minutes per mile.  That's pretty speedy!  And we didn't feel awful, we felt a little tired at the end of each mile but overall really good.  I did the last .4 miles at a 10:46, that's really good for me especially at the end of a tough workout.  We absolutely felt like rock stars at the end.  We haven't had a group run that encouraging since the last sixteen miler a few weeks ago.  REALLY needed that boost!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trail Run - 8/22/10 16 miles 03:53:51

I was both looking forward to and dreading this week's run.  The route was to be from Capital Crescent in Bethesda down to Union Station, we'd done it before though taking a shorter 12 mile route, and I knew it down to about Georgetown at which point I had no idea how to get to the metro.  Wouldn't be a big deal since we're traveling in packs but I knew coach Carol, who I can always count on to stick by me, wouldn't be there and I knew Hengameh was out of town.  I wasn't sure if Ameenah would be back since she was gone last weekend so I seriously doubted I'd have anyone to stay with that knew the way down there (I was right).  Despite that I was looking forward to a nice downhill 16 miles, I knew it would have to be a better run than last week (I was wrong). 

I left in the rain for CCT hoping that the rain would cool things off but it didn't, it was only 80 degrees but 90% humidity which is just really rough to run in .  I arrived shortly after Ameenah, I was SO GLAD to see her!  We chatted and fueled up before Andy gathered us all together, explained the route briefly and called for the coaches.  12 minute and 13 minute groups had coaches but there was no one for the 12:30s.  Andy attempted to give a group of six girls directions down to Georgetown, around Haines Point (whatever that is), across the mall and to Union Station.  It should be noted that Andy is pretty directionally challenged to begin with so I didn't have a good feeling about it.  Ameenah and I decided to just run together, she felt pretty confident that she could get us down there.

We made it to the first water fountain, about 3 miles in, right on our 12:30 pace.  Those miles really flew by, we were there before I knew it.  Another two miles and we were at the bathrooms at Fletcher's Boat House, no sweat.  We ran into the 12 minute and 11:40 pace groups there so we weren't too far behind.  Then Ameenah started dragging, like me the week before she'd been on vacation and hadn't run.  We started taking walk breaks, no way I was going to leave behind a struggling runner when we were each others only comfort.  She's stuck by me through rough days before, it really is a team sport and that support makes all the difference.

We made it down to 8 miles and by that point we'd completely lost track of the groups ahead of us and were pretty sure the group behind us had turned around.  Instead of risking getting lost running in circles in DC we decided to head back the way we'd come.  To this point I was feeling pretty good but Ameenah decided she'd run to the start of the trail and walk the last 7 or so back.  Once we hit the trail she insisted that I go ahead without her and as much as I hated to do it I took off.  Felt great for maybe the next 15 minutes, then it all just went to hell.

I never got into a rhythm, I tried to put myself on a scheduled run/walk system but failed.  I had spurts where I could run for 10 minutes without a break and times when all I had was three minutes to give.  I was hot and dizzy, despite being well hydrated and fueled, I'd drench myself with water from my bottle to keep myself going another few minutes.  Around mile 10 I got a weird pain in the back/side of my left knee, it happened around mile 18 last week too but hadn't happened since.  I don't know what it is, it's still sore and swollen today, it hurt like heck and made my calf cramp which didn't help.  I knew the last 4.5 miles would be uphill and that did nothing for my miserable mental state.  I did finish the last half mile running but it took me almost four hours including the water and bathroom breaks.  I saw the faster groups getting back off the metro on my ride out of Bethesda.

I'm still not sure what this weird leg pain is or what caused it.  The only common denominator between the two runs was my CW-X capris, maybe the compression around my left knee had something to do with it.  Last week I ran twice in one of my skirts, 7 and almost 6 miles, and had no pain (that 7 miler with Bo was awesome, tough, grassy, gravelly, hilly and we still averaged 11:46).  It's a little swollen today and gets stiff after sitting but hopefully it'll resolve itself soon.

So that was three tough long runs in a row, a little discouraging.  Though apparently I wasn't the only one, we did get a group email telling us not to get too disappointed and that the last three were really rough training runs.  We have plenty more before the marathon so I'm not giving up on them now! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trail Run - 8/15/10 20 miles 04:35:51

Well there it is, the big 2-0.  It doesn't get any bigger than that until marathon day.  We have two more 20 milers scheduled and I'll miss one since it's the Sunday of the Philly half marathon.  Oh darn.

I didn't have high hopes for this run (and I wasn't disappointed).  We'd been on vacation the week before and had only gotten in one 3 mile run which didn't go particularly well since we were extremely hot and not very well hydrated.  My right thigh was bothering me for most of the week though when we sprinted through the Houston airport Thursday night to make a flight that was delayed anyway I didn't notice any pain. 

We were doing what they call the Bethesda loop, starting at Capital Crescent and heading down to Georgetown before heading back up through the zoo and Beach Drive to the stables in Silver Spring then back to Bethesda.  The trip down to Georgetown was uneventful, I felt mentally tired but physically fine.  It helps that the trip out is all downhill for the first five miles.  (Bo ran out with us for the first 5ish before turning around making for his longest run ever, he rules.)  After a stop at Thompson's Boat House in Georgetown I just never really got back on track and after mile 12 or so I really started dragging.  At mile 12.3ish we were greeted by a member of the 11 minute pace group who, while rehabbing an injury, decided to support us by setting up a table with pretzels, jelly beans, ice, water and popsicles.  That was AWESOME.  We stopped for quite a few minutes to munch and recoup before continuing.

Every step from mile 10 on was steadily, slowly, up hill.  Some steep hills but mostly just a gradual climb to the end.  And it started pouring rain around mile 14 or so and while I don't mind getting wet I really hate having water in my shoes.  The little blisters and hot spots were made much worse by the sloshing and I really started struggling with about 5 miles left.  My chest hurt (nothing serious, just some costochondritis flares) making it tough to get a deep breath so I kept having to stop just to breathe in.  We stopped at the stables for another break and I got a bit of a second wind but it didn't last too long.  I wanted to make the last two miles a steady run but it didn't happen, I did have some energy left but the chest pain was just too much to struggle through consistently.  I took three walk breaks during the last two miles but finished feeling okay.  My Garmin read 20.06 miles but a lot of other people said they showed 20.76 for the same route (including the mile 18 "shortcut" up some of the most ridiculous hills I have ever seen). 

The group leaders said this is the toughest run in the program, tougher than the marathon even.  I didn't have a good run but all things considered an average pace of 12:51 for 20 some miles isn't too shabby.  I feel okay today, a little sore but not as bad as I would have thought (though sore enough to have ordered The Stick from runningwarehouse).  I guess if I can do this I really can finish this marathon.  I just wish it would hurry up and get here, I can't believe it's still two months away!

Trail Run - 8/7/10 18.13 miles 04:07:41

This was a tough, tough run.  Running 18 miles is no joke to begin with but doing it all on your own (in silence because you forgot your iPod) borders on insanity. 

I wasn't sure where to go for a 9 mile out-and-back route so I went down to Ken-Gar since I'm familiar with that.  The initial plan was to go north for a bit before turning around and finishing up on the south side.  North is a much tougher, hillier route and I didn't think I wanted to do 9 in that direction but once I started going I decided it was a nice change of scenery (we do south A LOT) and just kept trucking.  I was pretty much waddling from the beginning, doing 13 minute miles even though I felt like I was going faster.  No need to stress or speed, I wasn't out there to kill myself just to get the miles in.  7 miles north I hit Lake Needwood which is perilously close to my house, almost close enough to call Bo and say "hey, come get me."  But instead I trudged up one nasty hill to the parking lot, took a break at the portapotty and headed back south.

Around mile 10 I started hurting, my right thigh was tight and sore and the top of my left foot was achy in all kinds of new and exciting ways.  I ignored it the best and two miles later I hit The Silencer.  And I owned it.  I may have waddled, or trudged, or crawled but I sure didn't walk those .14 miles or sheer hell.  I kept running until I hit the little park on the other side and stopped for water.  I had to decide then whether to keep heading south, running past the car, or to wander another trail north for a few miles to get in the extra four I needed.  Since I was hurting and struggling so much I decided, perhaps unwisely, to hit the Henson trail north.  I figured if I got to the car I'd probably get in it and maybe I should have stopped anyway but darn it I was finishing these miles!

So north again.  More hills.  More pain.  Bo called around mile 14.75 and asked if I wanted him to come pick me up.  Tempting, but no thanks, I can make it from here.  It's only a little over three miles, right?  So on I went, taking some walk breaks.  When I got back to the little park I realised I'd overshot and it would be more like 18.5 miles when I got back to the car.  Oops.

At 16.88 miles I was waiting for a light with a guy on a bike.  He asked how far I was going and I told him, he said "Man, that's nuts.  I'm supposed to do 10 tomorrow but 18 is just crazy, that's a long, long way."  I agreed and dragged my sorry butt across the street, each wishing each other good luck. 

I stopped at 18.13 miles and walked another .35 or so back to the car, I just had nothing left at that point.  With the exception of my calves everything hurt by that point, even my arms were sore and I had a bruise on my hip from one of my water bottles.  I barely had enough energy for 10 minutes of stretching before I got back in the car.  I wasn't really mentally or physically prepared for that run but I made it.  Running alone is tough, all you've got is your own pain and misery and no one to share it with or to encourage you.  I didn't feel quite as accomplished as after the 16 miler but I'm proud that I did it on my own.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Track Workout - 8/4/10 5.29 miles 01:05

And... there's August.  It was HOT last night, hotter than any of our previous runs and you know how much I complained about them!  Heat index of at least 100 degrees, today there's a heat warning so running would have been cancelled.  One of the guys who's been doing this for over 10 years said it was by far the hottest he'd run in with the group.

Very few people showed up last night, likely because of the heat.  It wasn't until a little after 6:30 that anyone near my pace arrived, I was worried that I'd have to bring up the rear all by myself.  But coach Carol arrived and saved the day, she's been the one coach who will always stick by me no matter how hard a time I'm having.  She's been on vacation for a few weeks so I was really glad to see her again!

The workout changed from something like 4x1600s to 6x800s to "whatever" due to the weather.  I did the warm-up around campus then 5 of the 6 sets before I headed home.  I really wanted to get home a little early, ice down, and get more of my cleaning done before vacation on Sunday.  I did get home and ice but that was about it.  I was also given an early birthday present of customized chocolate (my favorite is the sea salt, pop rocks and vegetarian bacon Bo made) which totally made my night.

We did our 800s under a 12 minute pace, took it easy on the recovery laps and stopped to drench ourselves with the hose once or twice.  I was starting to feel a little unusually sore by the last lap, since I'm running the long run on Saturday this week I wanted to save a little more energy so I ditched the last .75 miles.  I don't feel too bad about it, I kicked some pretty good butt for the 5.29 miles I was out there anyway. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trail Run - 8/1/10 - 16 miles 3:30ish

What a HUGE difference 15 degrees make!  Sunday morning was cool (relatively, it was 67 when I got to the parking lot) though still a little humid.  Maybe I'm giving the weather a little too much credit but this run was awesome.

We had no coach, neither did the 12:30 group, but we all knew where we were going and luckily someone had marked the way in chalk when it became confusing. We started out as a little group of four intending to do a 13 minute pace.   After the first mile or so we became two groups of two with Ameenah and I taking off a bit faster.  We didn't really mean to but we just both felt too damn good to slow down.  Not that we were speed demons but we kept a good pace around 12:15-12:30.  We passed the 12:30 group at a water stop when they waited for one of their runners to use the portapotty and it was quite a while before they caught up.  We stopped around mile four for a Gu and a water refill, then at the stables at mile six for a brief walk and at the turn around to gingerly tip-toe down a steep curved hill with live traffic and around mile 10 to shake gravel out of my shoe..  We were happy, energetic, and feeling strong.  I kept saying "I shouldn't feel this good at mile 8, this doesn't make any sense!"

Of course it didn't last the entire run and the last six miles we slowed a little.  I stopped more than I needed to so I could wait for Ameenah who wanted to talk more walk breaks.  I would run ahead and wait at a stop sign or water fountain, then we would run together until she felt like walking, I would run ahead and wait.  Eventually she told me to just go and I finished the last 3 miles or so on my own, walking only across an intersection and up one small hill because I was getting a blister on the bottom of my foot and it was bugging me.  I passed the 12:30 groups while they were waiting at the bathroom again, they caught up to me about .5 miles from the end and we all finished together.  When we came into view of the parking lot one of my running buddy coworkers came over and ran the last bit with me, I thought she was nuts for wanting to take another step after 16 miles.  But then I sat and waited with her and when our other coworker came in, about 25-30 minutes after I did, we both got up and ran the last bit with her too (and I discovered it felt pretty good, got rid of some of the stiffness from sitting).  I never felt bad, my legs were a little tired but I was never mentally exhausted and cranky.  I certainly didn't feel, physically, that I'd just gone 16 miles.  I lost about .75 miles when I must have stopped my Garmin (which I don't actually remember doing) but some fancy math shows total running time of about 3:30.

Definitely the most encouraging run I've had in... forever.  Nothing went wrong, the weather cooperated, I ate and drank well and felt healthy.  I hope the rest of the training goes as smoothly.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Track Workout - 7/28/10 5.15 miles 01:07

I don't have Garmin data for this one, looks like I must have stopped my watch at some point and forgotten to start it so I'm just going off of what my buddy's Garmin said.  We also did another .5 miles of cool down (walking) laps that we didn't count.

Before I left work for the track last night I seriously considered not going.  Not because I didn't want to run 5 or 6 miles but because I didn't want to do it there.  I guess every week, despite putting it in writing, I forget how much it sucked the week before.  Since I'm not really doing the speedwork as scheduled I thought maybe I should just skip these track workouts and go run on a trail myself.  By yesterday evening I figured I likely wouldn't get back off my butt if I went home instead so I dragged myself to the track.  If nothing else at least there are plenty of cheerleaders and buddies there to keep me moving.

Despite being one of the cooler days in recent history it was still over 90 degrees at 6:30 last night.  I felt... okay.  I was tired, as usual, and slow but really all in all I felt fine.  My legs were a bit heavy as always in the evening and for a brief time I had a hard time catching a good, full, deep breath but that's par for the course on a hot, humid evening.  We received the speedwork instructions followed by "and if you don't want to do that just do 16 laps however you feel like doing them."  Sign me up for that!  If I had some good data I'd probably find that we actually did most of the laps at a pretty good clip, I know I did two on my own around an 11-11:15 pace.  The total time includes walking two or three recovery laps. 

I guess I'm glad I went, and I'm sure I'll have the same conversation with myself every Wednesday for the next few months  And I'm sure I'll keep going to the track.

Trail Run - 7/25/10 8 miles 01:35:48

We had the option of running Riley's Rumble half-marathon on the 25th, or not.  A lot of us chose not to after lots of emails from the group coaches suggesting we skip it.  It's a hilly, hard, miserable race and the 95 degree heat was going to make it even less pleasant.  By Saturday afternoon I'd talked myself out of doing it so Bo and I agreed to meet some running buddies down at the Capital Crescent Trail at 6AM on Sunday.  He planned for 5, I was hoping for 12.

We met up as planned and Bo decided that he could probably swing six miles so we headed south three miles to the first water fountain.  At this point we had two options - Hengameh and I could keep going another three or turn around and go back to the parking lot with Bo then head north.   After a brief discussion and excessive use of puppy-dog eyes we headed back with Bo.  We stopped at the benches by the parking lot for some water and a brief rest since neither of my partners were particularly keen to keep going any direction.  Our 12 miles turned into a compromised 8, just one more mile north.  It made for Bo's longest run ever and he kicked its ass.  Close to the end, approaching the tunnel, I had a sudden burst of energy and just took off.  I don't know how fast I was going or how far but I felt awesome.  One of those increasingly rare "YES, THIS IS WHY I RUN!" moments.  I felt light, and fast, and surprised that despite my speed I wasn't really huffing and puffing or struggling.  Of course I don't know how long I could have kept it up but I felt damn good for that short period of time.  So good that I feel like I wussed out by not doing 12 or 13, I definitely had the energy for another 5 miles at that point.  But maybe those extra miles would have ruined that energy and it's a good thing I stopped on a positive mental note instead of hating life. 

Maybe that's the runner's high I've heard so much about.  I need more of that!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Track Workout - 7/21/10 - 5.38 miles 01:14:13

The speed workout that wasn't, obviously.  I just can't seem to do speedwork right now no matter how hard I try.  I did the first mile in 11:27 and the second in 11:18 and it just went downhill from there.  Though looking back those are some pretty decent miles, the fastest I've run in quite some time!

The Tuesday before the track run I went down to RnJ Sports in Rockville to check out some new shoe suggestions.  I'd been to both of the other running stores in the area so I figured why not make the rounds and hit this one up as well, it's the one most of the running club suggests.  I walked in with a pair of 9.5 Mizuno Inspires and walked out with a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS10 in size 10, extra wide.  The guys said that the Inspires were probably a good shoe to correct my pronation but in the wrong size which led to the arch pain.  And the shoes were so cheap there ($80) that I grabbed a Nike running skirt (for half off) as well.  Wednesday's track workout was the first time I wore them.  They felt good, definitely no problem with the ankle and they clearly don't irritate my arch as much though it's still cranky from the Inspires.

The goal for the workout was 3 laps at a fast pace, then one recovery.  I tried the first lap with the 12-12:30 group but they were just going way too fast so I dropped back and again found myself with my one running buddy.  We ran three laps and walked the recovery laps so our mile splits look pretty sad.  While we did the 1.3 mile warm-up around campus we skipped the cool-down again in lieu of walking a lap with our group.  As usual for a track run I did not feel good.  My legs were tired, I was hot, I just wanted to go home.  I really thought I couldn't make it more than a mile around the track, I was just dragging physically and mentally.  Without my running buddy I would have called it quits, good thing she was there to keep me going!

One of our group members often takes photos during runs, I saw him snapping away every time we ran by (not this workout but the week before) and thought maybe he'd finally gotten a good picture of me to prove that I'm even out there.  Nope, just a picture of my butt (I'm not entirely sure why Sarah next to me looks so darn happy):

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trail Run - 7/18/10 - 10 miles 02:09:17

I couldn't make the group run but I did run on a trail early on a Sunday morning so I say it counts!  Saturday was a long day - Bo and I got up early and did 4 miles together at Lake Needwood, then spent the rest of the day with my parents.  One baseball game and slice of cheesecake later we didn't get back home until midnight.  And yet we still managed to get up at 5:15 on Sunday morning to get our long runs in.

We started by going out 2.5 miles from Ken-Gar, Bo's run was going to be 5 miles total.  Still taking it easy I did the first 5 miles in 1:05:23, Bo finished before me but by how much I don't know.  We usually stay together until there are hills at which point I slow down but he just blasts over them like they're not even there.  Ridiculous!

We got back to the parking lot where I had another Gu, refilled my water bottles, put an arch support in my right shoe and headed north.  North is a bit hillier so while I didn't hit any of the real killers on the 2 miles I went out my miles were a bit slower.  I also got stung or bitten on the butt about .6 miles in so I ran the rest of the way with an itchy, owwy butt. I stopped at each water fountain, not wanting to miss a chance to fill up, and for a red light or two but other than that I didn't take any walk breaks.  I only went out two miles so I ran around the parking lot area a few times to get that last mile in when I got back.  I saw a little trail offshoot that said ".2 miles to Plyers Mill Road" so I figured I'd take that to get a little more distance in.  That stupid path went STRAIGHT UP for those .2 miles.  I actually walked up it and jogged back down but it was so steep that coming down was pretty unnerving.  Another lap around the parking lot area and there I was at the end of my first double-digit run in two weeks. 

I thought my ankle would hurt, it didn't.  At all.  My legs are fine too, not nearly as stiff as they were after my 4 miler last weekend.  My right arch, though, has been sore since Sunday.  Maybe if I'd used the arch support from the beginning I would have been okay, I usually only run with one on the left foot since I've hard arch problems there before.    I need to find a pair or shoes, or shoes with inserts, that will fix both the tendon and arch problems.  I think I'll take my shoes and myself to another running store tonight for more expert advice before our track workout tomorrow.  So, except for that minor glitch, I'm back and in good shape!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Track Workout - 7/14/10 5.33 miles 01:10

I'm back!  Glad to make my first group run in over two weeks, unfortunately I'll miss this weekend's long run since they moved it to Saturday and my parents are visiting that day.  Perhaps for the better since I don't know if my legs could (or should) handle the entire 16 miles.  Bo and I will run Sunday.

This was my second run since seeing the doctor and so far, so good.  Sunday I ran with Bo, just four miles, and was surprised at how little pain I had (and at what a beast he is, he just took off and left me in the dust on the way back).  I wore my Mizuno Inspires and a cheap compression wrap and while the ankle was a little sore afterward 20 minutes of ice and elevation did the trick.  Ankle was fine but my legs were sore for two days, the trail really is all uphill on the way back!

Since I'm supposed to stay away from big hills and uneven surfaces I figured the track was a great place to be so I went with the group last night.  I have some running buddies there who like to keep a nice slow pace so with them to keep me in check we took it very easy, total time includes a .5 mile walking cool-down at the end (instead of a lap around the college campus over cracked sidewalks).  Average running pace was closer to 13 minutes which I'm good with for now since the last thing I want to do is aggravate this tendon any more.  I think we've formed our own 2-person pace group, 12:30 is a bit too fast right now and the 13 group usually runs closer to 14s or 15s.

Running in the Mizunos is going well but I think I need a wider pair since my toenails were pretty sore last night.  Probably not urgent quite yet so I'm debating whether to just order the same in a wider size or get fitted and see if there's an even better pair out there.  I guess I'll wait until after Sunday's long run to decide, if I lose any toenails I'll buy a new pair right away.

Diagnosed!

Last week I finally got in to see Dr. Spector, one of the podiatrists recommended by the running club. He's also an active member and a marathoner so I felt going in that he would be reasonable, sympathetic and understanding. And he was awesome. Very friendly, chatty, personable and professional. He also recommended reading Born to Run, which I've heard great things about, and we discussed the Tarahumara and barefoot running (he said Vibrams have brought him a TON of business in foot and muscle injuries though he's for them in moderation). A+, would see again.

Just like I thought I do indeed have peroneal tendonitis. He diagrammed all the bones, ligaments and tendons on my ankle with a pen and explained all the anatomy. I heard the words peroneal tendonitis and my heart sank a bit, I'd read enough horror stories to think that was officially the end of my training. Luckily the diagnoses was immediately followed by "but you can run with this." Rock the hell on.

He hated my Nikes and said my Mizunos are much better, especially at this point I want to go a little overboard on stability so that those tendons don't have to work so hard. I also need new shoes for every day after I was admonished for wearing my adorable, cheap, completely unsupportive Payless flats. My mother-in-law gave me an oh-so-stylish pair of navy blue Naturalizers and the difference was immediate and astonishing.  If I'd know all it would take was some old lady shoes to essentially resolve the problem I would have bought them a week ago.

I'm also doing PT for a month, he said it's not entirely necessary but he's a big fan of it and if I want it to heal fast that's the way to go.  It's going to cost me a fortune even with insurance but I feel like I'm too far into training to let anything hold me back or keep me down so it'll be worth it.  I had my first appointment yesterday and it went well, I'm having so little pain these days that the treatment didn't hurt too much but I could definitely tell I need to build some strength in that ankle. 

So here's to being back on my feet, healthy and happy.  As much as running sucks sometimes NOT running sucked a whole lot more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sidelined!

As much as it pains me to write this, I have been forced to take a (hopefully) temporary break from training.  I had a great time during last week's monumental run to Union Station, but about three hours later I could no longer bend my left ankle.  It was fine during the run, during the metro ride back home, during the 5 walk block back to the car, during the ride back to my house... It appears to be some soft tissue problem on the outside and underneath the ankle.  I don't think it's a sprain though it does seem weird for an overuse injury to come on so suddenly with no prior symptoms.  I figured it was just sore and would go away with a day or two of rest but it hasn't.  It's better, certainly, but not good enough.

I saw my doctor last Friday, she's nice but not particularly helpful.  She poked and prodded, when I indicated the most painful area and asked her what was even in there to be injured since it's a weird spot she actually said "I don't know."  Gee, thanks.  Prescription was for more rest, ice, occasional compression and stay off it for another week.  I'm pretty sure I could physically run through the pain but mentally I know that's just a really bad idea so I'm following orders and staying off it as much as possible.  I can walk, albeit slowly and pathetically, as long as I don't bend my ankle and put all the weight on my heel.  This is of course causing both of my feet, as well as my back, to hurt as well, and the more I walk the more everything hurts.  I've been avoiding walks to the office cafeteria to get water (because it's too far and because I want to avoid walking to the bathroom) and for lunch (because I want to avoid people asking about it).  I've Googled like mad and haven't been able to diagnose it myself (though I feel like I have found some likely culprits) so I have an appointment with a podiatrist for this Friday.  Hopefully he'll have not only the solution to the problem but a plan for keeping it from coming back.  I will be at the starting line on October 31st, hopefully better and stronger than before.  This isn't discouraging me from completing my training, don't let it discourage you from donating to AICR!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eighth Trail Run - 6/27/10 - 11.56 miles 02:31:31

This run was almost epic.  Almost.  But it was so close that I won't complain (too much).

This was our first point-to-point run, beginning at the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda and ending at Union Station in DC.  12 sweaty miles, then a metro ride back to our cars.  It's a little unnerving knowing you're running straight out, for some reason it's much more comforting to know you're hitting a halfway point and turning around to go back the way you came.  We were also warned that once you hit DC both water and shade are hard to come by.  I carried a ton of stuff with me: 
Amphipod belt with Nuun in the 20 ounce bottle and with two additional 10.5 ounce bottles, one of water and one of Gatorade (runningwarehouse.com is THE BEST place to order all this stuff)
Three Gus - two in the belt pocket and one in an additional pouch
Car key, additional sunblock, a small first aid kit with antiseptic wipes, band-aids and aspirin, Alka-Seltzer, phone, ID, ATM and SmarTrip cards

All that stuff felt awfully heavy around my waist when we started out but I soon got used to or ignored it.  With the exception of the 10.5 ounce bottles moving around when empty it was all pretty comfortable.  I also tried out my new CW-X Expert 3/4 tights on this run.  They have some fancy pants webbing around the thighs and knees, I was hoping they'd reduce the knee soreness I'd been feeling after the longer runs.  And they did!  They're a bit of a hassle to get in to but once on they're quite comfortable, I didn't feel too hot at all and I think they really did support my knees.  Thumbs up, especially since I found them on sale for 30 bucks.

Anyway, on to the run!  It was relatively uneventful, I started out with the 12:30 group as usual but got separated when I stopped to wait for a friend.  I got vague directions from the pace leader and almost got lost when I came upon a closed street in Georgetown and wasn't sure which way to go, luckily Andy saved the day and came back to rescue the stragglers. By this time the group was a bit ahead of me and instead of busting my butt to catch up I plodded along behind, as long as I could see someone I was okay since I had absolutely no idea where I was going.  I got picked up by a slower group as we converged on a street corner, our group had apparently taken a "short cut" so I have no idea what scenery I missed.  There are amazing photos and videos posted from some other groups of a whole lot of stuff I didn't see.  I think a lot of groups ran across the mall, we ended up going up Constitution Avenue which was a bit shadier but also, I imagine, a bit more boring.  I didn't see the Kennedy Center, we only saw the Capitol in the distance.  We did stop at the Lincoln Monument and saw the White House across the street.  So my only beef with this run was that I missed out on seeing some cool stuff along the way, and that it was slow going in downtown DC waiting for a bunch of traffic lights.  Once I got picked up by the slower group around mile 8 I went from 12-12:45 minute miles to around a 14 minute pace.  Slow going but I had good friends and coaches to keep me company.

This is what Union Station looks like around 9AM on a Sunday morning after you've run almost 12 miles to get to it:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seventh Track Workout - 6/23/10 - 6.63 miles 1:25ish?

Another estimated time - I had my Garmin this time but neglected to time the cool down lap.  The weather was nasty beyond nasty, worse by far than anything we'd suffered through yet.  By the time I got to the track at 6:30PM it was still 94 degrees outside.  Summer is only three days old and I'm sick of it already!

The original plan was for 16 laps with some speedwork, due to the heat this quickly became "16 laps, just get 'em done."  We keep getting emails about taking it easy, staying hydrated, and listening to your body and those were all excellent points to keep in mind last night.  Some people don't seem the least bit bothered by the heat, though come to think of it those tend to be the people in the 9-10 minute pace groups (and that's their easy mile) who are in stupidly good shape to begin with.  Some of us normal folk struggle a bit more though even coach Andy walked a few laps.  Even though he was walking it was a bit of a boost to run past him three times.

I really, really considered giving up.  I lost track of the laps somewhere after 7 since I wasn't running with a group .  I just remember thinking "oh crap, I'm not even HALF WAY THROUGH this stupid ass workout" and I think I kind of zoned out after that.  It was probably more a mental hurdle than anything even though I wasn't feeling all that great physically either.  I tried to stick with my usual running buddy, if not for her I probably would have given up and gone home after lap 8.  We don't talk much but it's just nice to have someone next to you to keep you accountable.  Halfway through the last lap the 12 minute group picked us up and we hauled ass through to the end.  Then it was time for the cool down...

Which we really, really didn't want to do.  We stood out on the sidewalk debating and bargaining with each other when Andy came over and congratulated us on finishing (if you count "you made it" as congratulatory which I do) and let us know the cool down was optional last night.  Problem solved, right?  Nah.  I told Andy that I was debating how much I'd beat myself up if I skipped it and he told me that meant I should definitely do it.  So we did.  And he's right, I felt much better in every after a leisurely run around the campus.  I guess it was character building, I felt pretty proud of myself for not giving up when it would have been so easy to just step off the track and go back to the car.  When I got home Bo told me he was proud of me too, that means the world to me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seventh Trail Run - 6/20/10 - 12 miles - 2:45ish?

I was really not feeling up to this run which makes me even more proud for having sweated through it.  Saturday we spent a day out and hit the bar, apparently I had more than my share of giant margaritas  (only 2).  I wasn't feeling bad on Saturday but Sunday morning I woke up tired, dehydrated, and with a stomach that was none too happy with me.  I contemplated bailing on the run but knew there was no way I'd do it myself later in the day so I dragged myself out of bed.

I got to the park 15 minutes early as usual but it was unusually crowded already so I had to park farther away.  Seems a silly thing to complain about having to walk farther to the car when you're about to run 12 miles I guess.  It also meant that the line for the porta potty was about 9 deep by the time I got to it.  I queued up and realized I'd left my Garmin in the car.  I had to choose between waiting for the bathroom and going back for it but really there was no choice to be made.  Bathroom it was! 

I'm not sure what time we eventually hit the trail, we usually head out between 7:05 and 7:10.  I know that I got back at 9:56 and that included a break at Meadowbrook Stables for some fresh ice water and another break to eat popsicles that someone had graciously supplied about 3 miles from the end.  We also had brief water breaks so I estimate about 2:45 worth of actual running time.  I feel like I should be able to do better than that, but given that I started out dehydrated and ran the last 2.5 miles or so all by myself since the group had broken up and it was the longest and hottest run yet I'm just glad that I finished.  And I felt pretty good at the end, a little tired and dizzy but my legs felt pretty good.  Today my legs are sore, which they've never been after any run, maybe a result of the dehydration yesterday?  Good thing today is a rest day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sixth Track Workout - 6/16/10 - 6 miles? - 1:10?

According to the email we received we were scheduled for:
warmup around campus
4X800 with 400 recovery. 3 miles
Start with easy lap finish with an easy lap for additional .5 mile
cool down around campus Total Mileage 6.

Is that what we did?  With the exception of the warm-up and cool-down I really have no idea.  I'd left my Garmin at the office (luckily it was here when I got in this morning) and I stopped counting laps after the first five.  The explanation of the workout itself was confusing since most of us aren't all that familiar with track lingo.  I believe it was 2 laps at a pace 15 seconds faster than usual followed by a recovery lap of marathon pace (repeated four times). 

I ran with the group, with two other girls, with one other girl, on my own, then with the group again.  It was, as is the case these days, another hot sticky day so I just did what I felt I could do.  Probably didn't help that I'd been sick on Tuesday and  hasn't eaten more than a bowl of oatmeal and some crackers.  I finished my laps in between the 12 and 12:30 pace groups so I suppose I did the entire workout as prescribed.  According to my watch, which I couldn't quite figure out how to use properly, total time was around 1:10.

At one point coach Andy came up behind me and told me that I had a good run on Sunday, that I finished strong and looked good at the end.  He doesn't give compliments easily so that was a little bit of a boost and helped me get through the rest of the miserable workout last night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sixth Trail Run - 6/13/10 - 11 miles 02:23:50

Change of pace today, running the Capital Crescent Trail.  As I drove down to Bethesda I was tired and grumpy but glad that I no longer had to suffer through that commute 5 days a week.  As usual I was early enough to get a good spot and enjoy a drink and a gel but I know this trail and I knew there would be no portapotty at the starting line.  I could only hope that there would be some along the way, I'd not been down farther than maybe a mile so I wasn't entirely sure.  I considered using the restroom at the Dunkin Donuts but since I had no money to buy anything I felt bad about it.

With the exception of the different scenery this run started pretty much like last week's.  Very hot, very sticky, but very strong.  Coach Carol took the lead and we were dead on pace for most of the run.  All of the groups were running a bit on the slow side just so we didn't kill ourselves in the heat, we all took breaks at the water fountains and restroom (apparently there are real, honest to goodness bathrooms but they were under constructions).  The run took us from Maryland down into DC and it's a beautiful and extraordinarily popular trail.  There were a few overpasses, one of which bounced terribly as we all stormed across it, and one which was some kind of old railroad bridge.  I should mention that I am deathly afraid of suspension bridges or any kind of bridge with stuff on the top of it.  I made it across but there was some hyperventilating and a few tears.  On the way back I just asked the guy next to me to tell me if I was going to run into anything and closed my eyes.

This time I made it to about 10.27 because I started dragging, just a little.  By this time I was hanging solely with Coach Carol who was in worse shape than I was and we slowed considerably.  I felt I had a little more left than I was giving but figured there was no point in killing myself getting there faster.  Within distance of the finishing point I turned on just a little speed to finish strong.  I fueled better this time, taking a gel at the turn-around but I probably could have used a second around mile 8. I hadn't realized, until I just looked at the Garmin map, that the first 4.4 miles were steadily downhill.  It flattened out for the next mile before we turned around and headed back up.  That makes me feel better about the second half of the run being slower than the first.  Another drippy double-digit run in the books.

Fifth Track Workout - 6/9/10 - 6.31 miles 01:16:36

The plan for this workout was alternating laps - one at LSD (long slow distance or marathon pace) and one 15 or so seconds faster.  After the customary speedy warm-up lap we met up with 12:30 pace leader Steve.  And Steve took OFF.  I know we tend to go a little fast but even I knew it was completely ridiculous as he flew past several other faster groups.  How does that make any sense?  Even on our faster laps he shouldn't have passed anyone.  I had to decide whether to bust my ass keeping up or say screw it and run the pace I was supposed to be running.  Had two of my good buddies not been there I probably would have tried to go with the group, instead we formed our own little actual 12:30 team.

We stuck with each other the entire time, one of the girls usually runs 14 minute miles so the 12:30 is a stretch for her but she's a trooper and kept with us as we cheered her own.  We kept the right pace, maybe a little faster, and it was the best track workout yet.  I didn't feel tired or discouraged, I felt strong and happy at the end.  Go team!  We learned from another runner that our leader had done the first few laps at 10:10, good thing we hung back because that's nuts.

In the parking lot Coach Angy caught up with me and asked me if I was going to quit on him, he said he'd overheard me telling someone "this sucks and I want to quit."  I'm sure I said that and asked him if he ever felt that way to which he replied "every day."  Well then.  We talked about my solo runs and he chastised me for going too fast on my own (only time that'll happen I'm sure), the next day the entire group got an email about slowing down.  Busted!  He said we'd never get in trouble for running too slow and confirmed what we'd been telling him which was that the 12:30 group had been running faster than 12:30s.  I felt much better hearing him admit it and knowing those of us who were struggling aren't nuts.  I left sweaty and wet (thanks to a brief drizzle) but most of all very happy.

Fifth Trail Run - 6/5/10 - 10 miles 02:04:35

First double-digit run, ever!  Being at the park at 7AM means being up around 5:30 to have time to grab breakfast and let it settle before the run, I'm lucky I make it to the park awake let alone with enough energy for a run.  I try to get there early enough to down a gel in the car, wash it down with some water and hit the portapotty before we set out.  Soon we're switching to 6:30AM runs when it'll be a little cooler, this was another morning where I wished we'd been out at 5AM, tired or not, because it was ridiculously hot and humid by 7.

Regardless of the crappy weather and complete lack of desire to be on the road I hit the trail strong.  None of my usual running buddies were there so I eavesdropped on other conversations to keep myself occupied.  Coach Carol picked me up around mile 4 or so and hung with me throughout the rest of the run.  I'm not much of a talker so she chatted the entire time while I smiled, nod, listened and learned about nutrition and meditation.  And it's a good thing she stuck with me, around mile 8.2 I started getting tired.  I had Nuun tablets in my water but had neglected to bring any extra calories (I thought I had an extra vanilla bean Gu in the car but I didn't) which I think was a mistake.  We'd been separated from the pack by now, not because we were especially slow but because we'd been caught at a few lights that the others made.  It was just Carol and I, around mile 9.35 I really started dragging.  My thighs hurt, which has never happened, and I was just beat.  I knew we were so close and we took a few walk breaks of 5-10 steps so we could finish relatively strong.  Even still our average pace was dead on target.

We hit the mile marker that signaled the end and a dear coworker greeted us with cups of orange juice.  Yay calories!  I immediately felt hot and dizzy, my vision was blurry and things were spinning.  I wandered to the car and sat in the air conditioning for a few minutes while chugging juice and water and I felt better pretty quickly.  I made a note to fuel better on the next run and patted myself on the back for running 10 freakin' miles.