Monday, December 31, 2012

The Final Tally

On January 1, 2012, I decided to meticulously log every mile and every workout.   The final results are in:  I ran 1245 miles in 2012.   I crosstrained..... wait for it......    128 miles.   Total mileage:  1373.  

Well-rounded, I wasn't. 

I ran one 50K, two marathons, four half-marathons, one 10K, two 5K's and two trail races--9 miles and 23K (14.2 miles or so with 11.6 on a trail in the middle). 

I spent more time on trails than ever before and fell. in. love.   I think the trails are meant to be my home.   Maybe I should log all my miles there in 2013?   The only problem is the safest trails in my town are 1.9 miles and .9 miles long.  It's kind of hard to do a long run there.   There are 40+ miles of technical, deserted trails (read "scary" and "dangerous" and "desolate") just four miles from my house.  But, it's just not a safe place to run on my own.  

I just realized that the only two races I've registered for in 2013 are not road races--one is trail and one is on a crushed-limestone track.   Do I detect a TREND at work?

I am having LOTS o' trouble with my ankle lately.  I had been running 2, 3, and 4 milers since my ankle sprain,  then I ran 7 for an awesome cause (the Angel race).  It didn't hurt much during, but it has hurt since.   I ran another 7 miler this past weekend (two Saturdays in a row with 7 milers) and both my ankles felt like someone was stabbing them afterwards.   In both cases, I was sore after just 7 miles in my hamstrings.  I don't know if I'm running differently or just am not adapted to 7 milers.

There may be two choices--- back off on the mileage to closer to 5 for my long run OR find a gentler way to run far without pounding pavement.   Maybe do it on the college track (soft and spongy) or a trail or the 3-mile gravel road (also desolate and scary) near my house.

I am registered for a trail marathon on March 9.  Hmm... getting from 7 miles to 26 in 10 weeks?  Might be possible, but probably not advisable.   Looks like I'll drop down to the 23K and then maybe look at a full further down the road---like in May.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Super-Duper-Year-End Review a.k.a. 2012 in a Nutshell

Looking back on 2012, I'll be honest, it was not my favorite.   I won't go into the personal details here, but it will suffice to say that I will say goodbye to 2012 with pleasure.  

Running-related, here's the good:

Favorite Races of 2012--Top Three

1.  My favorite race of 2012 was the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in April.  Around Thursday of that week, a friend decided she could not use her bib and wanted to sell it.   I had no plans to run this race, but I jumped on that opportunity.   (I know this is questionable ethically, but the bib was paid for and I made sure to write MY info on it in case of emergency and agreed that I would not sue the race directors even if harm came to me since I had not signed the waiver......)   It was a cool 35 degrees race morning and I went into it with no expectations.  I did, however, want to see if I could make it up Whiskey Hill without walking.  I ran slow and easy the first four miles, including up and over Whiskey Hill.  I began to speed up after the hill and ran my fastest 2nd half of a half-marathon of all time.   I felt WONDERFUL and ran every single step.  (It helped that the 2nd half is all downhill.)   I should run more half-marathons that way--- go in relaxed, no expectations, take it easy the first four miles, then speed up.   I "let the day come to me," so to speak.   I wish I felt that JOY AND HAPPINESS in all of my races.

2.  My second best race was the Kentucky Derby Marathon, also in April.   I ran easy the first half and hard the second half.   During the first 8 miles, I thought I was just having an ok day, but as time went on, I felt stronger and stronger.  My fastest mile of the day was mile 25.   What a GREAT day!  I had to work hard, but I PR'd by 9 minutes.  It was such a nice feeling to read the splits I'd written on my arm to make my 4:39 time goal and discover I was ahead of that time goal the whole way.  I finished in 4:36, three minutes faster than my A. goal.    

3.  Tie:  A very good race was the Land Between the Lakes Trail 23K in March.   I enjoyed this race and made a friend on the course.  I ran somewhat cautiously, and missed my time goal by about 3 minutes.  I felt strong on the trail (no trips or ankle rolls or falls!) and finished strong, however.   Another good race was the Bear Crawl 5K.   I got up the morning of the race and decided to drive to Mount Juliet, TN to run this race, not knowing a soul in Mount Juliet, and again--with no expectations.   I ran as fast as I could for the day and did my best.  I was 11 seconds off a PR and won 2nd in my age group.  It was worth the trip!

Not-So-Favorite Races of 2012--Top Three

1.  The Frostbite Half Marathon in February.   It was an ugly course with a windchill of 13 and ridiculously strong winds.  My body wouldn't go as fast as I wanted it to go.  Lots of negative self talk as I got left behind by my training buddy, who was having a great day.   Also lots of walking. There was a period where it snowed, and that made it somewhat lovely for about 90 seconds.  Then it was miserable again.   I felt like my face was going to fall off in the final stretch on an open highway with those winds. 

2. Run Under the Stars 10-hour Endurance Race.   The name says it all.  (ha ha)  Not really, the fact that it was a night race, an ultramarathon, and went on for 10 hours really did not influence this race being on the bad list.  What did affect it was simple:  MY SHOES.  Or, more specifically, my FEET.   I had bought a new pair of Brooks shoes the same size as my prior ones, but kept getting blisters in them.  I tried several different kinds of socks to no avail.   I assumed it was heat and humidity related.  For the ultra, I stupidly took those shoes and two other back up pairs.   I used tons of Body Glide and started the race.  I ran round and round a 1/2 mile track.  I was actually getting a little bored by mile 3.   I had talked and talked with my training buddy through our spring training and I think we were out of things to say.   There were 99 other folks there, but they weren't talking to me.  By mile 7, I had blisters.  By mile 13, I could no longer wear any of the three pairs of shoes I had brought.  My feet were covered with blisters and all my toenails felt bruised.  Every single step was painful.   My feet had swollen (since it was a night race, I carb loaded, and had a lot of sports drink with sodium so as not to DIE) and I had started in slightly-too-small shoes.   It wasn't until I put on my friend James's man shoes that I was able to run somewhat comfortably.  It was a long night.  I just circled the track mostly alone in the darkness.  I finished my first 50K with my knees and ankles holding up well.  My endurance even held up well, but my spirit was sort of broken.  I suffered (honestly, needlessly) and felt like I didn't get anywhere despite sixty-three laps around a track.   And I thought, "What does this even prove?"   It was months before I made peace with it and put my 50K sticker on my car. 

3.  Franklin Classic 10K on Labor Day.  I really enjoyed this race the year before, but this time, it was terrible.  When I opened the door at my friend Rhonda's house at about 6 that morning, you could cut the air with a knife, it was so humid.  It was supposed to rain, but the drops never came and the air just sat heavy all around us.  Breathing was a chore.  Running AND breathing at the same time were challenging.   Humidity really, really affects me.  I couldn't even get to goal pace in mile 1.  By mile 2, I gave up and called it a training run.   I tried to stay positive, but it was hard.  I finished about 3 minutes slower than the year before.  Three minutes!  In a 10K!

Most Epic Event of 2012--A Combination of Good, Bad, and Ugly

And finally, the most EPIC race experience of 2012 had to be the Flying Monkey Marathon.   I registered for the lottery on a whim and was shocked when I got in.  I was already burned out when I started training for this.  But this isn't a marathon you can just wing.  (ha ha, I made a pun--unintentionally)  You have to train.  On hills.  So, that's what I spent the fall doing.  I ran a lot of hills.  I ran a lot of long, slow runs.  I ran so many hills, my left knee and right ankle hurt almost constantly.   I got to the race start with butterflies in my stomach.  I tackled the hills as best I could.  Then, at mile 10.5, I FELL on a random downhill.   I'm pretty sure I stepped on the edge of some broken pavement or a pothole.   I rolled my left ankle (the good one) and landed hard on my right knee and wrist.  I got up bleeding in three places and kept going.  I tried to laugh it off.   I limped the first half mile, then tentatively began to run again.   My wrist was hurting more than the ankle.  I thought the wrist was broken.  It swelled immediately.  The ankle finally went somewhat numb, and I continued to run the relentless hills.    I finished that damn race, and the 2nd 13.1 was only 3 minutes slower than the first 13.1.  I was proud of my 5:03.  I feel like I had a sub-5 hour Monkey in me. 

The aftermath of the Monkey is what makes it less of a "win" and more of a "loss" though.   In the six weeks since the monkey, my wrist has healed.  Both ankle and wrist were sprained (I had many xrays).  However, the ankle has not healed.  In fact, not a day has passed without some pain--whether that is just walking across the floor, down stairs, or trying to run.  I've only run successfully a handful of times.  I feel like I have lost speed, endurance, motivation, and some heart.   I feel like I'm starting back at square one.  

This photo reminds me of my experiences at both RUTS and the Flying Monkey.  I perservered, but it was not exactly one of those "empowering moments."














So, that's 2012 in a nutshell.   I have already registered for the LBL Trail 23K again, RUTS in June again (I'm going to have FUN this time!), and I'm strangely considering both the Frostbite Half (new course this year!) and Flying Monkey again.   The Flying Monkey is more about redemption than anything. 

Hello, 2013!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

26.4.26

Yesterday, I participated in the most amazing event in Nashville, Tennessee.  26.4.26 was a memorial run/fundraiser for all the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.   As a mother of a 1st grader myself, I have been intensely affected by the deaths of those children.   I've never had any event in the news affect me quite so much.  I have given my children so many more hugs and kisses in the days since the tragedy, and my heart just aches for those parents who can no longer hug and kiss their own children. 

On Monday, a few Nashville area runners texted back and forth about maybe having 26 runners run 26 miles on Saturday in honor of the victims.  Then, a Facebook page was started.  More and more people shared the page and the run was born.  It ended up with over 1,012 runners (some in Nashville, some running other places) running 10,000 miles and pledging over $30,000.   I was honored to be a part of it.   I'm the one with the frizzy blonde ponytail in the light green shirt, white hat, and pink headband to the left of the angel sign.   

We were each given an angel to run in honor of.  Here is mine: 

I had studied the sweet faces of all the children.  I had read their biographies.  I had cried for each of them.   I knew immediately which child my angel was when I received it.  I could picture her little face.  I just spent the run praying for her parents and the parents and families of all the victims. 

I had not run more than four miles since my ankle sprain 5 weeks ago.   The race had a 6.5, 13, 19.5, or 26 mile option.  Three ladies and I decided to do the 6.5 option--together, we ran a mile for each of the 26 victims.   Each one of us was a mother of three and had a child close in age to the victims. 

I wasn't sure how my ankle would hold up, but it did just fine.  I was tired by the 6th mile from detraining, but overall, it went well.   It's strange.  I'm very sore today from a 10:10 paced run on a flat course.  I think I may have altered my gait and run extra softly (maybe finally midfoot striking!).  My calves and hamstrings and inner thighs are quite sore.   It was the same course as the Music City Half Marathon, my half marathon PR from October.  There was no way I could run 6.5 miles at the pace I maintained that day.  It's amazing how fast detraining occurs.

I've actually enjoyed my little 5-week break from running.  I ran a few miles here and there-- 2, 3, 4-- and cycled several times, but this was just the perfect cause to get back into my sport.  How could I not participate? 

I feel like my ankle is 85-90% well and my wrist is probably 95%.   I'm looking forward to many happy miles in 2013. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monkey Attack Update and a Different Kind of Runner

The Old:
I am a little over two weeks post-Flying Monkey Marathon.  The Monkey Attack that I suffered 10.7 miles in continues to plague me.  (See previous post.) 

Five days after the race, I spent Black Friday at the walk-in clinic.   Both my wrist and my ankle were still swollen and painful, and I was concerned that I might have a broken bone in my hand or wrist.  On Thanksgiving Day, I poured a glass of tea, and my wrist could barely support the tea pitcher.   A gallon of tea was painful to hold.   I also walked a mile (I'm doing a mile-a-day challenge through New Year's) and walking was surprisingly painful.  That's when I decided to go to the doctor the next day.   Three hours and many x-rays later, I knew both were just sprained, not broken.  I was given a wrist brace and an ankle brace, but both were painful to wear, so I only made it two days in them. 

So, now, 16 days post injury, the wrist is probably 90% well.  I was able to do 5 chin ups at the gym, so if it can support my body weight, it must be doing well.   I only did the hands facing me version, which is gentler on the wrist.   I will try a true pull up in the next few days. 

The ankle is STILL swollen and painful just in front of the ankle bone.  Also, a ligament or tendon near the top outside of my foot hurts when I point my toes or move my foot to the outside.   The ankle randomly hurts going down stairs, then I hear a click, and it's usually better.   I have run two miles twice with little pain, but the ankle immediately blew up a little bigger and hurt the rest of the day.

I've had so much conflicting advice from physical therapist friends, an orthopedic doc friend, and a trainer who knows her stuff well.   One says no ibuprofen, no icing--it inhibits the body's natural healing response.  The doc said alternate heat and cold, but didn't specify when.  Another says since it's still swollen, ice it.   The consensus was rest from the pounding of running for two weeks and compression, which I've been doing.   Keeping the range of motion is important, so I write the alphabet in the air with my foot.   They all agree I should  "let pain be my guide" when I start back running.

So, I've been walking 1-3 miles a day to recover while attempting to maintain some type of fitness.  I've cycled twice--10 miles with intervals (one minute hard pace with 3 minutes recovery X 3) and a 12 miler kind of up tempo.   Those were both a 50-60 minute workout, my "long run" equivalent of the week.   When I cycle, I try to keep the RPMs at 90+ to mimic the optimal running turnover (90 is the "perfect" cadence allegedly).   I enjoy the cycling.   Walking is ok, but I don't really break a sweat.  I'm not setting my treadmill for 14:30 miles or anything.   I'm walking about a 17 minute mile.   Walking fast makes my tendon ache.  I've been doing  40-50 squats most days, a few push ups, a few pull ups.

The first day I ran, I felt ok.  I ran about an 11 minute pace for the first mile and then sped up in the second mile finishing with a  9:30 pace for the last little bit, which is where I want to be.   I think my average was somewhere around 10:40.   I was pain free for .5 and then had mild pain for 1.5. 

Yesterday, I walked three miles, then attempted to run two.  I was pain free for .7 and then minor discomfort/pain for the rest.  But the problem was my energy level/breathing.   I would feel like I was running about a 9:45 pace and look down and it was an 11:45 pace.  When did THAT happen??   I still managed to average a 10:45 pace overall, but a few weeks ago, a 10:45 would have felt effortless.   This day, my breathing was labored like I was running a 10K or something.   I was working really, really hard to maintain pace.  The fastest pace I could get down to was about a 9:30.  I had a severe case of DLS--dead leg syndrome.   It was disheartening.   I thought maybe the two weeks of rest would leave my legs refreshed and recovered. 

Ok, looking back at all this, maybe I haven't been taking it easy enough?   I'm attempting a 3 mile run in the morning.  Today I only got in my one mile.   I walked .6 and jogged .4.    I had more than usual carbs last night.  Maybe I will see a difference. 

I knew the Monkey would take a lot out of me, but I didn't expect this much!    I did read on a website that an extremely hilly marathon takes a couple more weeks of recovery than a flat one or one with just a few hills.    And an ankle sprain can take 3-5 months to heal, so there's THAT.   This will be a great lesson in patience for me, if nothing else. 

The New: 
When my ankle is better, I'm going to start back with Crossfit!!!  I'm actually REALLY excited.  

2012 was about running, running, running.   I have faithfully recorded every mile I've run, and I'm well over 1000  miles for the year.  I ran two marathons and an ultra marathon and five half marathons.   I PR'd my marathon in April by 9 minutes and PR'd (by just 11 seconds) my half in October.     But I've come nowhere close to the times I was putting up for 5K's and 10K's when I was doing Crossfit.   You'd think all that running would translate to faster times, but it doesn't.     Maybe in 2013, I'll get back to the basics, get strong, and get my one-mile, 5K, and 10K times down some.

I know one thing I'm planning to do (I hope I can stick to it!):  I'm going to ditch my training log.  I need to let Daily Mile go.  I get too wrapped up in what other people are running---how fast, how far, how often.   I forget that this is a singular sport.   I get obsessed by my weekly and monthly mileage and feel disappointed in myself if it's not what I wanted it to be.   

I will run roads and trails, I will run for fun, I will do races.   Some I will take more seriously than others.  I will NOT record every mile, every pace, every split. 

I'm still a runner, but in 2013, I think I'm going to be a Different Kind of Runner.