Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shamrock Marathon 2013

I am usually much more on top of these race reports! Now that I have a backlog of two races, I need to get my butt in gear. After a few months of mediocre training (self-imposed), marathon weekend was suddenly here. Although the race wasn't until Sunday morning I decided to drive down Friday night. I wanted to hit the expo for a while, have some quality time by myself, and use Saturday to just chill with my feet up. The trip down took a little longer than expected, so I felt pretty rushed at the expo. On the upside, R had driven up from NC to race the marathon as well and we got some quality time together. We took a few laps around the expo, picking up some fun goodies, and then decided that we were in need of dinner. Cold beer and tacos at a hole in the wall 5 minutes from the expo center were the perfect end to my first day in VA Beach.

After sleeping in a bit at the hotel, I headed back to the expo for another trip through, more just to kill time and wait for my sister and brother-in-law to arrive. I spent money on a few things that I definitely didn't need but I was having a good time just being away from all the stress at home. Not ready to go back to the hotel, R and I went out to lunch and then grabbed some crucial pre-race fuel.
My family ran into a fair amount of traffic on the way to VA Beach and I was ready to put my feet up for the rest of the day, so R and I parted ways and I headed back to my hotel. Spent a few hours just relaxing, watching movies and messing around on the computer. Once my family arrived and got settled in to their hotel, I headed over for dinner. Between a grumpy baby and tired travelers, we decided to order food from the hotel restaurant and chill in their room. Food was okay, nothing special, but sufficient for what we needed.  Before long it was time for me to call it a night and head back to the hotel. I had a cold beer and more water, then climbed into bed. I slept better than I expected and was able to get out the door and on the hotel shuttle without incident.

Unfortunately, the shuttle got me to the start time really early, so I walked to my sister's hotel and napped on one of the beds while my brother-in-law got ready to go. Before long, it was time. As soon as we walked outside, it became apparent that the weather was not what we had been planning for.  The temperature was low, which isn't a big deal, but the wind was just brutal. I had a feeling that my throw-away jacket was not going anymore. My sister said her goodbyes and headed back to the hotel to get the baby back in the warmth. A and I huddled together with a few other runners against a building and then begrudgingly headed to our corral.
BRRRR. The race began with little fanfare and we were off. A and I separated fairly quickly, we had different race plans to execute. The first few miles passed pretty quickly and I didn't experience any of the usual issues that tend to creep up on my runs. There was not a lot of crowd support to be had, but I'd spent the majority of my long runs totally alone, so I was prepared. The course was flat, another reason why I signed up in the first place. The temperature didn't change but the wind backed off a bit around mile 8 or so, and I was tempted to lose the jacket. I opted to keep it on a little longer and it was a good thing I did. Once it was time to run back over the bridge on onto the main street again, the wind was in full force. The course diverted onto the boardwalk for a while but if anything that just made the wind worse. I couldn't look up from the ground, my hat was threatening to blow away, and I could only see the next step in front of me.

This was such a different experience from MCM. The crowds, the course, the weather, everything. I felt like I had to dig deeper and fight harder. It was much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I think my favorite part of the race was somewhere around mile 18. At this point the course was really quiet. There were a fair number of runners but we were strong out along the road. I was starting to feel a little lonely, and suddenly these road signs started to appear. Every few feet, for I don't know how long, these signs with riddles and jokes were planted on the side of the road. They were all St. Patricks Day/Irish-themed and so bad. I started to looking forward to each one, laughing to myself and pushing through. It took my mind off the race for a while and that was greatly appreciated.

Rumor had it that once we got through this particular stretch of course, running on Fort Story and through to the Lighthouse, that the wind would finally work in our favor. Being the sucker that I am, I believed. The rest of the course is a straight shot down Atlantic Avenue until you're shuttled on to the boardwalk once more for the final .2 miles. I was so tired, and experiencing a good amount of general pain and discomfort, so I wasn't sure I had anything left. I definitely didn't have a great kick in the end, but I finished strong and was immediately relieved. My sister was waiting for me, with my nephew, and it was great to see them. I staggered, best as I could, down a few stairs onto the beach and into the warmth of the post-race tent.

Beer in hand, I met up with my brother-in-law and we exchanged quick race recaps. This was his first marathon and he really killed it. After the beer and some hot soup I was ready to retreat to the hotel. We limped (SWAGGER) back across the beach and into the hotel. So glad that they were staying pretty much at the finish line. One long hot shower later, I started to feel human again. My feet didn't fare quite so well. I'd been getting blisters throughout training and I thought I'd done a good job of bandaging the trouble spots before the race. Unfortunately, my feet blistered anyways, in all the bare space around the bandages. I was so annoyed. I had intentionally packed a pair of really comfortable flip flops in my race bag, so I was able to slip them on and get some relief. Little did I know I'd be spending the next week in them, as I couldn't wear normal shoes without pain. C'est la vie.

I think I was already looking ahead to the next race before I'd even ran this one. The training hadn't gone as planned and I'd had to adjust my expectations accordingly. There would be no PR and I was eventually ok with that. I came to VA Beach with a specific race plan and I executed it perfectly. At the end of the day, that is definitely a win. Now I need to buckle down hard, because the 50k is coming fast and I want to nail it. Stay with me, I've got another race report coming.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where did you go?

Time flies when you are overscheduled. I have taken on so much in the last month or so and it will continue to be a crazy ride until the end of the summer. Mixing in marathon training with two jobs, an internship, and a part time graduate course load has been an enormous challenge, one that I am not quite meeting. Shamrock is 4 weeks out now and I run twice a week. This, needless to say, is not ideal. I might make it to the finish line, but it will certainly be at a price. I get to the track on Wednesday nights for a workout and then I hit my long runs on Saturday mornings. At the very least, I need one more run thrown in there just to be logging time on my feet. My body gets a rude shock every Saturday morning when I suddenly ask it go go from sloth mode into "let's run 18 today" mode.

As mentioned in my last post, I had/have a couple races coming up before Shamrock. The Reston 10 miler is still looming but I did finish the Run Your Heart Out 5k on February 10th. I had run 18 the day before so I was well aware that I wouldn't be in any condition to "race" this. It was more about getting a few more miles in and having some fun. The course is a convoluted out and back on a paved trail, small rolling hills for most of the time and quite narrow. Passing was no small feat. I started towards the back of the pack because I knew what my pace would be and didn't want the demoralizing experience of been blown by had I started in my "racing" spot. It wasn't any less crowded back there but I was able to settle in and get progressively faster with each mile and pass a good chunk of people. I was moderately pleased with my time, it was faster then the New Years Day 5k but not as fast as some of last year's efforts. For having run long the previous morning, I'll take it. The best part of the race wasn't even the running, it was the race pictures that I saw afterward.I had a clear shot at the camera as I came up the final *evil* hill so I gave my best rockstar smile and hoped I didn't look like a serial killer. I think I did ok. Of course, the photo uploader isn't working so you'll have to click HERE instead. Sorry.

I didn't run again until Wednesday's soggy track workout. The weather could not decide whether it wanted to rain or show, so it did both. I was supposed to do 3 2000m repeats with 3 minutes recovery in between but that was not going to happen. When I packed my bag that morning I just threw in the closest running clothes I could find and failed to check the weather. That meant that I was grossly underdressed. After the second 2000 I was soaked, freezing, and spent. The end. I went home and took the hottest shower I could stand instead. After that workout, life intervened once again and I worked two 13 hr days on Thursday and Friday, so no more runs until this past Saturday when 12 was on the schedule. When it came time to get up on Saturday morning, I just couldn't do it. I'd stayed up too late on Friday night having an emotionally exhausting conversation with a friend and it was just easier to bag it and sleep a few more hours instead.

I had to work so I was up at a reasonable hour but I should have run. I had the option of joining some co-workers on Sunday morning at the store to act as a pacer for a local tri group's run and decided that might be a good way to make up the miles and get paid to do it. Again, I should have checked the weather. It was in the 20s with ridiculous wind gusts that burned your face and took your breath away. The 9 mile route I planned on suddenly seemed sadistic. Nothing on my body would warm up, rather the muscles in my legs got tighter and tighter as the run went on. I made it to Rosslyn, turned around, and headed up Custis back to the store. There was no ideal way to get back there without a significant hill or two, so Custis seemed as good as any. I finished up with 6.3 miles and I'll just have to live with it. It certainly wasn't the mileage I needed to get but that is my fault. Hopefully I won't pay for this coming weekend when it is time to knock out 22. I think this week's track workout involves something wicked, such as 3200s. I'll be there and I'll do it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it, right?

In order to end on a high note and let you know a little something about my life beyond running, I have awesome news to share. I became an Aunt last week! His name is Ryan Andrew and he is the most perfect baby ever. I only got to spend about 36 hours with him and my sister but it was so worth it. I can't wait until Shamrock weekend because that is when I'll get to see him again. I'd love to share a photo with you but the damn uploader just won't cooperate. Trust me, he's adorable. Whenever I get stressed out about how crazy things are right now, I think of him and it calms me down; reminds me of what is really important. I'm sure pictures will find their way onto here, so keep an eye out for some baby cuteness.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

9 weeks and counting!

Another blank span where running should have occurred. Oops. Life is a funny thing. After the New Years double, I hit the track workout on Wednesday, took off Thursday, and ran to work Friday. In hindsight that last run was a mistake. I'd spent the entire week in the Pure Cadence and my body is only used to doing one race in them at a time. At 4mm it is a departure from the other 12mm offset shoes that my body is used to. I paid quite the price on Friday and Saturday. The run to work on Friday dragged on as I quickly became overcome with calf pain. I knew it was the shoes but there was nothing I could do so I ran/walked the rest of the way to the store. Come Saturday morning I eased out of bed, hoping for relief. I felt mildly sore as I headed out but it wasn't until the long run group took off that I realized it was a no-go. 12 miles was the goal, 4 miles was the end result. Valuable lesson learned but another long run in the toilet.

Due to factors somewhat beyond my control (funerals suck) I ran a grand total of three miles last week. *high fives all around* One run to work. That's it. And the 14 miles that was supposed to happen that Saturday? Yeah...no. I bumped it to Monday morning and was going to have pleasant company but the weather and E's nagging ankle killed that one. Tuesday? Nada. Today? 7. No, really. Despite the rain, E and her friend J and I met at E's house and hit the streets. E graciously kept the pace slow and steady which allowed me to hang on for the entire run. It wasn't pretty, but it was done. I'd like to run to work at least once this week but logistics for that are not working out. C'est la vie. I just might have to put on my big girl panties and run before work instead.

However, in the midst of all the hoopla I had a nice surprise. My friend and Ragnar captain, C, and I have been meaning to get together for some time now. His lovely fiance needed new running shoes from the store and C said he had something for me. I hadn't the slightest idea what that could be but I quickly found out on Sunday afternoon. BOOM.

Yeah, that just happened. As a team we knew we had performed really well but I didn't expect any official acknowledgment from Ragnar. In case you can't read the print, it says that my team (heretofore including me) is officially badass. We took second place in the submasters division and for that effort received the lovely certificate and a special commemorative relay baton. Pretty neat, right? I was content with the bitchin' medal, but this is good too. Rumors of a 2013 team abound and once I know something, so will you.

Shamrock is a mere 9 weeks way and I am too embarrassed to tell you what my longest run has been. I am really feeling the pressure and it is all self-imposed. Despite training with a group I have just not pulled my own weight and that will become very evident on race day. No PR for this chicky. It sucks but it is my fault and I have 9 weeks to suck it up and come up with a plan B for race day. In the short term that plan involves attempting the 16-18 mile long run scheduled for Saturday morning. There are no foreseeable obstacles to physically getting to the run, just the usual surprise of not knowing what the run will be like until it actually starts. I plan on finding that precious balance between stupid and stubborn in terms of getting every mile done.

I've added a few more races to the 2013 docket, each either a tune-up for a bigger race or a quick recovery run. Up first is Run Your Heart Out 5k in Reston on February 10th. I don't know what my long run mileage will be the day before, but if my legs will permit it I plan to use this as a tempo run. The next race is the Reston 10 Miler on March 3rd. I should be in taper-town by then and hope to run the race as such. Once those two guys are under my belt, I tackle Shamrock. And before the bib comes off, training for the 50k begins. Right now the only race I'm considering between Shamrock in March and the 50k in June is part of the Backyard Burn series. May 5 in Fairfax Station, 5 miles on Fountainhead. My 50k training plan has me doing 26 miles the day before and calls for an hour long medium effort run on what happens to be race day. I think 5 miles on a trail fits the bill.

As you can see, I don't plan on loading up on races for the sake of racing. Each one I've picked out is serving a purpose for a larger goal. As long as I can keep my ego in check and run according to plan, I'll be golden. I don't have anything in April yet (probably going to pass on the Cherry Blossom bib exchange) and am open to suggestion. No, I don't want to race the GW Parkway, I've heard too many reports that have ended with the word "injured." The store has plenty up their sleeve (and I can race for free), but they are mostly 5ks and I'm not sure how that will fit in with the 50k timeline.

At any rate, that is the latest and greatest from me. Non-running life is a swirling top but I've found that is the way I like it. I start what I hope is a killer internship next week, so wish me luck! And yes, I'll be holding down two jobs and two grad classes at the same time while I pretend to train for this marathon. I know, I know. My mom already pointed out that I might be taking too much on. Moms are like that. But you don't know until you try, right? Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sending off 2012, Welcoming 2013

Overall, the plan to run back to back races was a success!  It didn't hurt that the weather was extremely cooperative. The Fairfax Four Miler was first up, at 6 pm on the 31st. I've run this race twice before and been very pleased with my times. I knew it was going to be different, however, because I am undertrained. I also needed to save something for tomorrow morning. Not that I'm good at that. I love racing and I've never been able to take it easy on race day. My ego just doesn't like it. That being said, you can probably guess what happened.

D and I raced. We agreed on a mile split before we started but once we settled in on the course, we were nearly two minutes ahead of that time. Oops. I've gone out too fast before and paid for it, but this time I tried to hang on. D lets me set the pace and so far I haven't run him into the ground. Mile two was faster than the first, the third was slower, and then the fourth was light speed. It didn't hurt that the remaining 800 meters or so was downhill....

The time definitely didn't seem to reflect the amount of effort expended but we were both happy. I like this race and I plan on doing it again next year. My hip held up pretty well during the race but I was experiencing some pain for hours afterwards. It definitely made me concerned for the 5k to come. We stopped for dinner on the way home, showered, and hit the sack. Neither of us are big on the "holiday" so it was nice to just crash and prepare for the following morning.

Next up, the Reston New Years Day 5k. At the outset, I was tempted to bail. I wasn't tired but my hip was hurting pretty badly. It hurts worse to walk than run, so I was hoping that once we got started that it would be ok. And I reminded myself that it was just a 5k, we did our racing last night, and this was supposed to be fun. We ran into a few friends at the start line and they were planning to run for fun too.  Once the race started, there was no going back.

At no point did I settle into a comfortable pace, although this time we stuck to the goal we'd set for the morning. I couldn't have gone faster if I wanted to. My hip did loosen up as expected but my legs were just TIRED. Two races in less than 24 hours is definitely a challenge. I look back to the double I did earlier this year and I am amazed that I pulled it off. I was leaps and bounds ahead of where I am now, so there really is no point in comparing.

We finished and I flashed a big smile for the race photographer at the end. One bagel and a bottle of water later, it was time to go home. Goal achieved. My hip feels really good today and I haven't the slightest idea why. I'm not going to question it, though. We spent the rest of yesterday being lazy bums and today has been no different. I have a track workout tonight at 6:30, so I'm giving these legs as much rest as I can before then.

I didn't meet all the goals I'd set for myself in 2012. I need to learn to expect the unexpected and that was one of the lessons I learned the hard way. I did have some amazing experiences throughout the year and I do not want to take away from them in any way. Ragnar Relay might be at the top of that list. I have a few races scheduled for 2013 but I think I'm going to be a little more cautious and a bit more open to surprise this year. Between the Shamrock Marathon in March and the Endurance Challenge 50k in June, the spring is spoken for.

I can enjoy a nice recovery during the sweltering summer when I'd normally be  training for the fall. And come fall? Who knows. There are so many things I want to try for the first time and so many races I want to face again with a vengeance. 2013 has started on the right foot and I will continue to build on that. I've recruited some new supporters that are going to help me iron out issues off the road that impact my performance on the road. It is all a little scary but exciting.

School starts up again in just about two weeks and I'm actually looking forward to it. My internship is also about to begin and I can't begin to express my excitement about that. Between school, interning, working, and running I will once again be carrying a heavy load. But I'm confident in my ability to handle it all, if not with grace then with a little style. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are ready to take on the new year, come what may!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 wrap up

Another long hiatus from posting. Juggling grad school and two jobs got the best of me there for a while, but the semester is over so I finally have time to breathe and post. Since my last post I have run three races and have one more on the docket before 2012 comes to a close.

In early November I ran the Richmond 8k, dropping down from the marathon due to lack of training and my bum hip. It was nowhere near an ideal race and I'm pretty sure the time was a personal worst. The silver lining of that weekend was finally meeting up with R in person for a long overdue dinner. She's such an amazing person and a huge support in my life. She was in town to race the half, and did a killer job.

Later in the month D and I raced the Arlington Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day. I still hadn't been running much and my hip was still giving me trouble but we were both hoping to beat our previous 5k time from the September race. It was a brisk morning and neither of us were fully awake when the race started. It was hillier than we expected but were able to duck under the September time with a few seconds to spare. I ended up running the last half mile with my shoe untied but there was no way I was going to stop. Glad I didn't trip and fall on my face...

About ten days later a group of employees from PR got together and raced the Jingle All The Way 8k. In costume. This was my third 8k of the year. For some strange reason it was a regular fixture in my racing season. Dressed up in various holiday garb, we hit the streets and tried our best to place strongly in the team competition. It was another weak showing for me and just added to the anxiety I had about marathon training. My time, slowest of all, didn't go towards the group total. Thank goodness. The rest of my team did great and we placed ninth out of fifty teams. Consensus was that had we raced sans costumes we would have gotten sixth place. A lesson for next year I guess.

Once I got home I pulled up my previous 8k times out of curiosity. Until this year I hadn't run once since 2007 and it was my fastest of the lot. As this year went on I got slower and slower. Strangely enough the fastest of this year was in the heat of July on the day I'd run 12 miles earlier in the morning. I guess I was just in better overall shape. Either way, I am not eager to run this distance again any time soon. Similar to the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I feel like this might be one that requires redemption.

Next up is the Fairfax Four Miler on New Years Eve. This will be my third time running this race but it will also probably be my slowest. I had a great PR last year but I am nowhere near the same condition. I've also registered to run the New Years Day 5k at 10 am the following morning, so I need to be smart with my racing strategy. It might be a little crazy but I'm looking forward to it. I don't particularly like New Years but this gives me something fun to do and a great excuse to go to bed early.

Santa brought me an awesome race bib holder that I'd had my eye on for a while now. I loaded it up with all the bibs I could find, going as far back as 2005. I am definitely missing a few but I pretty much filled the dang thing up already. If my counting is correct, by the end of the year I will have raced 14 times in 2012. Not all were planned and not all that were planned came to pass. Either way, I'm happy with that number.
As 2012 comes to a close, I'm in the midst of marathon training for the Shamrock Marathon in March 2013. Between my hip and a complete lack of motivation I am way behind where I should be. I do not have a base built up yet so my long runs are falling short of the schedule. I did go out last week for my first track workout in months and it was a pretty positive experience. I like 800 repeats, even though I was struggling to get through the required amount. I had planned on attending last night's track workout in the inclimate weather but the drive home from NY took 9.5 hours instead of 5 and I was still an hour away when the workout started.

Grr. I'm also missing the group long run on Saturday morning so that I can drive to West Virginia for my sister's baby shower. The goal was to get in three runs this week and build from there, but at this rate it is not going to happen. I ran Monday with my Dad while I was home and that was it. Tuesday was Christmas Day and yesterday was the epic drive. I don't have a good reason for not running today, aside from the 50 mph wind gusts. If I can get a ride home from work tonight, I could run there. I plan on attempting my long run tomorrow so that I don't fall farther behind. The hope is to do 10 miles but each run has been unpredictable lately so who knows what it will turn out to be.

I'm going to scale back expectations for 2013, compared to what I had laid out for 2012. I only have 2 solid races on my calendar and I'm leaving it at that. The first being Shamrock in March, the second being the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in June. Not exactly small potatoes, eh? I love signing up for races and I love racing. I have, however, discovered that I hate training. It just isn't fun. But nothing worth something is easy, so I'll keep on pushing through. The 50k is both terrifying and exciting. I can't spend too much time thinking about it yet, as my full attention needs to be on Shamrock. I convinced R to race the full, my brother in law to race the full, and for D to race the half. We've already got hotel reservations squared away and it looks to be a great weekend.

I think I've covered the last two months pretty thoroughly. Thanks for staying with me this far. I'll be back in a few days with a recap of my New Years double. I hope everyone is staying warm!  Happy Holidays, and thank you for getting me through the intensity that was 2012.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MCM 10k and a diagnosis

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I hope you have a day full of treats. If you're anything like me, you never get trick or treaters at your apartment but still buy three bags of candy "just in case." Don't judge me.

As promised, here is a recap of the MCM 10k. The weather, despite all the doomsday predictions, was fine. A little chilly at the start, but perfect for running.  I got to the starting area about 45 minutes early, so I had the pleasure of watching the sun rise over the Capital building. I was with A and we had planned to warm up, but she was adamant that she hit up the porta-potty before the race started, despite how long the lines were. We waited up until and after the race started, much to my annoyance. When A was finally ready to go, the last group of runners were edging their way over the start line.

This meant that we'd be dodging slower walkers and runners for at least the first mile, if not more, trying to make up ground and get to the pack we should have started with. I was definitely not happy. A and I spent the first 2 miles together but split shortly after, which was fine with me. We had difference races to run. I spent all 6.2 miles passing people. On one hand it was a nice ego boost, but on the other I never caught up with anyone that would challenge me to run faster. I had to get all my motivation internally, which isn't exactly my strong suit.

The 14th street bridge was just as long as I'd remembered. Ugh. The entirety of the course was familiar to me, thanks to training runs and last year's marathon. I just needed to pay attention to my hip and adjust accordingly. My longest run in the past month had been 3 miles, so I wasn't entirely prepared. The loop through Crystal City was fine, which left the stretch of 110 to Iwo Jima. I knew going into this that a PR was not possible, similar to the 5k from the week before. It was a disappointment but I'm learning to let things like that go.

I picked up the pace for the last mile, as best I could, and stormed the hill leading up to the finish line. For once I got a race photo that wasn't showing me shuffling or grimacing. If it didn't cost an arm and a leg, I'd buy it. I really like the determination on my face and the fact that I'm mid-stride.

I finished in 1:05 and change, which is about 7 minutes off my PR. I was relieved to be done and glad that I can muscle out a distance over 3 when the occasion calls for it.  Richmond is 10 days away and I'm feeling better about the 8k now that the 10k is done. I haven't run since Sunday, thanks in part to the weather, but will be running to work tomorrow for certain. I set a running goal for November and I'm looking forward to taking it on. Here's one last picture, courtesy of a Ragnar buddy I ran into at the finish line.
Now, my hip. I saw my favorite chiropractor on Monday morning and after a quick discussion of symptoms and some manipulation of the area, he pronounced it a case of bursitis. The bursa, I've learned, is a small jelly-like sac that acts as a cushion between bones and soft tissue and helps reduce friction between gliding muscles and bone. There are a number of causes, but in my case it appears to be from overuse. I started experiencing symptoms after Ragnar, which makes perfect sense.

Treatment is non-surgical and pretty straightforward. Option 1 involves avoiding activities that exacerbate the condition. Hmm. Yeah. Running is the least painful activity, surprisingly. Walking, using stairs, and moving from a sitting to standing position are what hurts the most. Slightly harder to avoid. Option 2 involves taking anti-inflammatories, which I was already doing. Right now 4 ibuprofen gelcaps take the edge off, but I need to start taking less because of the possibility of liver damage.

What Mr. Chiro suggested, in the short term (pre-Richmond), is two more appointments with him for adjustment and manipulation. In addition, I need to be using the foam roller at home for a few minutes a day, targeting the hip flexor, hip joint, and periformis on the afflicted leg. I can continue to take pain meds but need to cut it down to 2-3 at a time. I'm not sure how long it will take for this to heal but sooner would be better.

As far as prevention goes it appears that I need to avoid repetitive activity that puts stress on the hips, lose weight (gee, thanks), and maintain/build the strength and flexibility of the hip area. I'm the first to admit that I am terrible at doing exercises/stretches/etc. When I was rehabbing my hamstring, I didn't do the PT exercises as directed and it took twice as long to heal. Dummy. So, what I'm trying to say is that I'd love advice from anyone who has experienced this. I can do the foam roller business, no problem. Beyond that, I'm not sure. All suggestions are welcome, and I can probably get D to nag me to death until I do the requisite exercises. I do want to feel better and come out stronger.

Well, that's that. I have four more short races planned between now and December 31st. I have not looked at 2013 yet; I'm waiting for details on a few races slated for early 2013 before committing to anything. One thing I've learned from my ambitious 2012 plan is that you cannot control what happens. You can register for races until the cows come home but the body will do what it wants to do and you just need to roll with it. This year was nothing like what I'd planned. I don't have regrets but I do have "what ifs" kicking around. I'm guessing most of us do.

I hope everyone who raced this past weekend did well, and I am super proud of all my friends and co-workers that raced a strong Marine Corps Marathon. You're an inspiration to me and I can't wait to get out on the road with you all again soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Since you've been gone...

It is a pretty safe assumption that if I am not posting here, I am not running. Post-Ragnar I started to experience significant pain in my left hip. It was painful to walk, so running just seemed like a bad idea. Normally, I'd just run on it, but I'm trying to be more responsible. Sort of. Because of my current work/school situation, I am unable to afford the cost of an evaluation at my doctor. That being said, I've been playing doctor myself and trying to assess and treat it accordingly.

The no-running plan didn't seem to be helping at all and the MCM 10k was approaching very quickly. I hate losing money on registration fees, not to mention kicking myself for being unable to partake of the race experience. Giving up my bib to someone else was just not an option. I've already had to shelve the marathon this year because of injury, I'm not about to miss more. So...I decided to run on it. And surprisingly, it hurts less then when I walk or sit. I'll call that a win. I've been getting out a couple of times a week for 2-3 miles at a time.

It hasn't been pretty, as my fitness level is almost back to square one. But I'm trying. Twice a week I run to work, since it is exactly 3 miles from the apartment and a very safe route. I get in another run around the neighborhood, and that is my week. I'm not pushing the distance and just focusing on being comfortable on my feet. As long as the pain doesn't get worse, I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing.

In fact, to keep myself motivated and reward D for his hard work, we signed up for a small (read: 80 people) 5k in Alexandria last weekend. It was D's first race and he was pretty excited.  I just hoped I could hang in there and make it a good experience for him.  He put me in charge of setting the pace and I had doubts that I could handle it. I wasn't feeling strong at all but it wasn't about my race experience this time. At the gun we headed out and I tried to settle into a pace that I hoped was sub-10.

When we got to the first mile marker, I was on track. We were in the 9 range. I tried to maintain that pace for the second mile and it seemed to be working. Once we passed that marker I decided to see if I could push it at all. It felt harder but I honestly wasn't sure if I was running faster or if I was just getting tired. My watch said we'd probably make it in under 30 minutes, which was my hope. I know that isn't a particularly grand accomplishment, but it meant something to us.

As we round the corner of the course that led onto a high school track, we had 300 meters to go and it was time to see what we had left. D told me earlier in the race not to push it at the end because I was experiencing some pain but I didn't want my discomfort to effect his race so I pushed. We crossed the line in 28:35, 4 minutes off my PR but a victory for both of us. The overall pace was 9:13, and I'm pleased with that. Most of my runs this month have hovered between 10 and 11, aka slug pace.

Due to the size of the event I was able to get 5th in my age group. I won't tell you how many were in that age group, (more than 5) but I was pleased. The age group winner ran close to my PR time, so if I'd been in better condition I could have challenged her. There will always be another race, so I'm not going to sweat it. In fact, I have two more races in the next 2 weeks and 2 more in the month after. Nothing longer than a 10k and enough to keep me on my feet into December.

I am going to run the MCM 10k on Sunday morning. I'm going to cross that finish line and I don't particularly care how I get there, (run, walk, crawl). I know my time is probably going to be a PW, but I did set a 10k PR already this year so I can't be greedy. I'm in very different shape, so I need to adjust my race plan accordingly. I've been reminded by a trusted running friend that I just need to have fun and enjoy the experience. I generally have a hard time doing that, but I'll give it a shot.

I won't be able to run with my usual training partner because of our difference in ability right now, but we're heading in together and we'll meet at the end. I also have the pleasure of meeting up with K at the start, whom I haven't seen in several months. I'm ignoring the weather forecast for the moment. Aside from impacting my wardrobe choices, it isn't going to change anything for me. I'm still racing. I'm not a fair weather runner. Hurricane, schmurricane.

For those of you that are curious, post-MCM racing will be the Richmond 8k (boo), the Arlington Turkey Trot 5k, and the YCF Jingle Bell Jog 5k. That puts me into December and I'm hesitant to plan beyond that. I like doing the Fairfax Four Miler on NYE, but I need to wait and see.

So...that's where I've been and what I've been up to. Before you just to scold me re: the hip, I'll tell you that because of someone's generosity, I will be having an assessment at the chiropractor on Monday morning. I won't be able to pursue an in-office course of treatment at this time, but I will get some answers and some advice. A 10k race report and the results of that visit will be my next post, so fear not. I know you missed me. All 2 of you still reading.