Saturday, September 21, 2013

Race Report - Chseapeakeman Endurance Festival - Skipjack "75.2 more like close to 77.5"

All in all, I was very impressed with the race.  This was my first  with TriColumbia, and they put on a great event.  The race director was fantastic when I emailed her back in April about being unsure if I'd be cleared to run in time to train for this, and was willing to let me choose to either Aquabike or do a tri distance the week of the event (which I finally decided on for sure, oh, last Tuesday.... )  Everything was very well organized, the volunteers were outstanding, the expo was easy, the on course support was great, wonderful post race food... and they even had showers at the finish!  Score -- got to go home clean!  

The ONLY complaint I have was that the course was long. It was advertised as a 64 mile bike, and at the pre-race meeting some guy pipes up and says "Is the bike course the same as it has been the past two years?"  The race director says "Yes it is."  Some Guy:  "So it's really 66 miles."  RD:  "What?"  Some Guy:  "66 miles.  As verified on my GPS the past two years."  I didn't really believe him, until my GPS registered over 66 miles.  So... yeah.

THE SWIM was in the brackish water where the Choptank River feeds into the Chesapeake.  AND that means... jellyfish.  Little sea nettles.  Apparently this was a light year.  If this was a light year, I'd hate to see a bad year.  I had on a full wet suit, and was wearing Sea Safe Jellyfish lotion all over my face, neck, hands, and feet, but I think it had mostly worn off about 30 minutes into the swim because I then got stung on my nose, lips, neck, and wrist.  The first half of the swim went pretty well, but the second half we turned towards the sun and I had lots of trouble spotting so my form got all screwy. My final time was 43:23 which was ten seconds slower than last year.  As I was getting out of the water, I remember thinking that I was so glad I didn't do the Aquavelo, because that would have involved another loop in the water, and there was no freaking way I was doing that.

T1: Went in the changing tent and ripped off my wet suit, put on my helmet, socks and shoes, and biked out.  Somehow it was three minutes, which seriously, again, why I am so slow?  

THE BIKE was mostly pancake flat with an out and back on a highway and then a loop that went through some nice marsh land.  I felt fairly comfortable holding a 19-21 mph pace until we got slammed with headwinds.  I couldn't get much above 17-18 mph at that point, but I felt pretty good overall. Parts of the ride were beautiful, in a wildlife refuge with lovely marsh views.  The last 15 miles or so were completely out of the wind, and I was able to make up some time with a solid 22-23mph pace.  My GPS hit 64 miles and T2 was no where in site. Guess the guy was right.  It hit 66 and we STILL weren't there.  I GMapped the coursemap and this is what it says:
Yes, that would be 66.2 miles.  So although the race results claim I biked an 18.4 mile per hour pace, it was in fact 19, like my trusty Garmin reported.  (They also had the wrong distance on The Bugeye Classic  -- the 25 mile bike, according to GMAP, was 22.5 miles.  So I guess if you take away our two and a half miles and add them to the Bugeye, you'd have the correct distance for both?)

T2:  1:40.  That is definitely a record for me.  Go me.  And go my awesome volunteer who handed me the run bag in 2 seconds flat.

THE RUN... oh the run.  I took off too fast, and realized a half a mile in that I was running a 7:40 pace... okay, I probably am not going to be able to hold close to my PR 10 mile pace after swimming 1.2 and biking 66.  I slowed it down and the first mile came in at 8:15.  The second and third mile went pretty well, but then it all started to fall apart.  My legs just weren't having it.  My pace slowed to about 8:40 for miles 4 and 5, and then I got passed by a girl in my age group. I was pretty sure I had been winning my age group up until that point, since I hadn't seen anyone else pass me the other way on the out and back course, and I think once she flew on by at an 8 minute pace that I had no hope of holding, I just mentally gave up.  Well, I tried to catch her for awhile during mile 6, but gave up halfway through (that clocked in at 8:35), and then I was really hating life from basically mile 7-9.8.  7 was 8:57, then I stopped and walked for a minute, poured about three cups of water on my head (it was 80 degrees with no shade, which isn't terrible, but I still felt pretty hot), and started counting to 100 over and over.  Mentally I just couldn't think of anything else to do.  Each tenth of a mile felt like eternity.  I couldn't see anyone ahead of me or behind me.  Finally Mile 8 clicked off at 9:15, and I then I got a side stitch. "YOU LOVE RUNNING!"  I told mysezlf. "YOU DIDN'T RUN FOR ALMOST 5 MONTHS AND YOU HATED EVERYTHING BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T RUN.  YOU ARE RUNNING NOW, AND YOUR BODY FEELS AWESOME (sides stitch excluded)! "  Then my dark side said "This is ridiculous.  Why do you do these races?  They feel awful.  This is torture.  You are an idiot."  Mile 9 clicked off at 8:55 and some lady heading out on mile 1 told me I was almost done as we passed each other.  Yeah, I guess I was. So I tried to convince myself I was just doing mile repeats, and this was my last one.... tried to get some kick. Finally I saw the finish.  I turned in and made my way to the track.  I thought I just had to go over the timing mat, but oh no!  The volunteer told me I had to run around that track.  I happen to know that they are 400 meters and I really didn't want to run 400 more meters.  I was the only person on the track.  As I made my way to the straight away, I heard "GO GRETCHEN!"  What?  Oh, it was Brittany (who, by the way, did the Bugeye won her age group in her first ever triathlon!)  And Stephanie!  People actually were cheering me on!  Mile 10 was 8:35.  So overall, the run wasn't too bad, even though it felt awful.  Overall pace was about 8:40, which is probably about right for where my run fitness is right now.  Last summer, when I could hold a 7:40 pace for a standalone 10 miles, my Half Iron run pace was 8:27.  I have no idea how fast I could run ten miles (without the whole swim/ bike thing) right now, but I am sure it wouldn't be anywhere near 7:40s.

Great weekend and race, gorgeous weather, and now... I think my triathlon season has come to a close.  As much as I love the it, the double workout thing just doesn't work for me during the school year.  And so, Dora the Explorer will go back on the basement bike rack (but may emerge for some fall group rides) and the goggles and swim cap will probably not get much use until late spring.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Race? WHAT?

I haven't raced since February.  That was the race where I broke my hip.  After 2012 gave me PR after PR, and I've dealt with a major injury, I've been afraid to race again.  Afraid of another injury.  Afraid of a time that will kill my confidence, with paces far slower than where they were in the past.  Afraid of disappointing myself, because really, who else cares?

So.... I've got a triathlon on the calendar.  Next Saturday.  It's basically a Half Iron, except I"ll be biking 65 miles and running 10.  It seemed like a good distance because I've been biking more than running.

Some random thoughts on my training:

1.  I haven't really followed a plan.  The swimming started soon after the injury.  The biking was the best way for me to get cardio when I couldn't run.  Since I"ve started running again, I've slacked a bit on the long rides.

2.  I did do a century three weeks ago, and an impromtu 100 mile ride the week before we left for the beach.

3. I think I have done one brick, and I only ran two miles afterwards.

4.  I haven't done any tune up races.  In fact, I haven't done a triathlon since the Ironman.

5.  I have done one open water swim in total since 2012.

6.  I haven't used my wet suit in over a year, since none of my races were wet suit legal last year.

7.  Despite marked improvement in swimming this winter, I seem to have forgotten how to swim.  This seems to have happened when we went on vacation to North Carolina.

8.  My taper kind of started 6 weeks ago, when we were in North Carolina.

9.  I did run 20 miles in one day a few weeks ago.  Not all at the same time.

10.   I ran a half marathon for fun yesterday (did not race it, and kept the pace completely conversational for all but the last two miles) and still finished in 1:55, and that included stopping to call 911 for a fallen runner and waiting with her for awhile.  I'm guessing my overall pace was 8:30, which surprised me.

11.  I pulled my hamstring ten days ago, in what was supposed to be "peak week."  I didn't run for 3 days.  It seems to feel okay now, just a little achey.

12.  I finally bought an aero helmet.  I still have a ridiculously entry level bike without race tires.

13.  In consideration of my husband, I abandoned the double long ride/ long runs weekends.  I usually did one or the other.  Because, really, training for a triathlon properly when you work full time and have two children is recipe for a divorce... no one should be stuck with the kids that long.

So.  We will see how this goes!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Reston Century Ride

Reston was my first century ride, back in 2010, and I was excited to do this one again with a little more training under my belt.  I didn't have a blog back then, but my friend Katie wrote a very detailed report of this adventure where I think she nearly killed me for convincing her to ride 105 miles on this notoriously hilly course (in my defense, I didn't really know it was that hilly.)  3 years later I have incorporated sections of the course into many weekend long rides, and was ready to try the entire thing as my last big training ride before Skipjack (the one and only triathlon I have on my calendar this season.)

I had purchased new racing tires for my bike to use at Skipjack and thought I'd break them in during the century.  So while watching TV with my kids, I took off my old (incredibly worn after thousands of miles) original tires and tried to put the new ones on.  And tried.  And tried some more.  I could not for the life of me to get them on the rim.  We had a birthday party to attend, so I put them aside until we got back.  So it's 10 p.m. and my wheels still don't have tires on them.  Jamie and I tried together to get them on.  For an hour.  I tried to get it on with a tire lever and punctured the tube.  Jamie did the same thing.  Two tubes down.  I had four tubes left. An hour later, we had puntured two more and still didn't have the tires on.  It was midnight.  I hadn't put on my handlebar tape.  I gave up and we put the old tires back on the bike with the two remaining tubes. I didn't have the wheels back on the bike.  I still didn't have any handlebar tape on the right side.  I didn't know where my wallet or waterbottle was, for crying out loud.  I texted the girls I said I would start with that they would likely need to start with out me, I texted Tuan (who yesterday decided, spur of the moment, to do the Reston Century with me despite the fact that he did Ironman Sweden a week ago) that I was having a bike disaster and would likely need his help in the morning, and I headed to bed - three hours of sleep is better than none.

(Sidenote:  At 4:30 a.m., an hour and a half after I got to bed, I woke up to loud music.  I peered out my window and there was some guy parked in front of my townhouse with his windows down, pumping music, and reading a magazine.  Seriously.  I turned on my light and stuck my head out the window and he looked up at me and then drove away.  What the?!?!?  So I didn't even get three hours of sleep.)

At 6am Tuan showed up and helped me put my bike back together.  We arrived to the start around 7:15 and took off.  I was feeling great, and the weather was gorgeous.  We were almost to the first rest stop when we ran over some pebbles, and I promptly flatted.  That's right.  Mile 9 of 103.5 and I have a flat front tire and no tire tubes.  But never fear - we were only about 400 yards from the bike mechanic tent!  I picked up Dora (the Explorer, my bike) and asked if I could buy a 650c tube for my tire.  Um... no 650c tubes.  This promptly brought flashbacks of my first triathlon after Jack's birth when at the expo, no one sold 650c tire tubes, and having flatted on a practice ride, I called 7 bicycle shops in Indianapolis and ended driving an hour -- yes, an hour -- to the only shop in this so-called metropolis that carried tubes in my size.  I now really hated these 650c wheels.  The bike mechanic called every other pit stop on the course, but no one had my size.  It was not even 8 in the morning, and every bike store did not open until 10.  So Tuan and I discussed the options.  He could ride back to his car and pick me up, and we could call it a day, or we could wait until the stores opened at 10 and continue the ride, or we could risk using a 700c tube.  We finally asked the mechanic if he could try that, and fold the tube over.  Yup, it would make a little bump every time the wheel revolved, require more energy, make hills a little dangerous, and very possibly result in a flat somewhere along, say, mile 75 in the middle of nowhere.  The mechanic pumped up the 700c tube, gave me another tube to put in my saddle bag, and wished me the very, VERY best of luck.  We head off on the very hilly route, knowing full well that we weren't going to be able to hammer down hills at 40mph in the aero position because I knew if I hit anything I was very likely to end up flying off my bike with a new flat.

So yeah, the ride is a little hilly.  Here is the course elevation:

There are three very steep hills, the worst being from Taylorstown to Stumptown.  We passed the 7-11 in Lovettsville around the halfway point, and I was pretty sure I was going to need a pina colada slurpee to get through that mother of a hill, so we stopped and I bought one.

So that evil hill in Taylorstown.  I did it once last summer, and I never wanted to do it again.  It is one of those hills that goes on forever, is straight up - a 600 foot climb - and if you stop to rest you'll never be able to start riding again and you'll just have to walk your bike up (which would probably have been faster.)  I got in my granny gear, did a lot of standing, and somehow made it to the top.  That hill was OPTIONAL the last time I did this ride.  OPTIONAL!  Sheesh. Even Tuan said it was hard, and he never admits such things.  We got to fly down the hill, except I was holding on to my breaks for dear life and praying my front tire wouldn't give out on me, and then we had yet another mother of a hill at mile 73.

We ran into our friend Ed at the next rest stop, and he took this lovely photo around mile 79.   I am smiling because I think those mother hills are over.  I forgot about the one at mile 82.  Ed says to me "You don't have any handlebar tape on your right side."  I just glared at him.

Ed, Tuan and I rode for the next 15ish miles together.  Really, I just sucked on Ed's wheels. 

Tuan and I skipped the final rest stop (we only hit two on the course, plus the 7-11), but I waved to the mechanic who had changed my flat and yelled "Great job!  Still going strong!"  Then we hammered a bit for the last 9 miles.  (Well I hammered.  My hammering is Tuan's easy pace.)  I was really hungry.  Finally at about 2:55 we pulled up to the Reston Town Center.   I was very excited to see the ice cream truck.

So all in all, a great day.  Great weather, great views, and great company.  I think I will try to do a couple more organized rides this fall.  With my new tires, installed by a professional (I am not a professional, apparently.)  And some spare tubes.  And handlebar tape.  (Don't even ask about the blisters all over my right hand. )  And a few more hours of sleep. :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rave Run

I've been on vacation in North Carolina, and so my runs and rides have all been either with the jogging stroller/ bike trailer or by myself.  At home, where most of my long runs are done with a group or buddy, I don't really care where we run since we're chatting away.  I'm pretty particular about scenery on my rides, but since I'm always in a rush to get back home I rarely and take it all in.  Vacation is another story.

My long run on Sunday morning was the longest distance I've gone since my injury -- a whopping 14.8 miles.  That didn't even constitute as a long run for me during marathon training last fall.  This run, if you just look at my pace, was nothing to be excited about.  It was over 90 degrees and humid, I ran out of water at the end and couldn't find a store, and my legs were still recovering at my first attempts at speed work on Tuesday and Thursday (a whopping 7:05 pace was the best I could do for any amount of time, and the four minute intervals were barely below an 8 pace... coming back is going to take a long, long time.)  

But it was a run to remember.

Tonight, I was able to run with my husband for a glorious 8 miles, something we rarely get to do since having our children.  It was drizzling when we left, so we left our phones at the house.   We didn't have watches.  We just ran, and talked.  Something about running brings out the best conversations.  The sixth mile was right along the beach, and as we turned onto the sand, it started to pour.  We looked out onto the endless sea, at the deserted shoreline, at the glassy water and the gentle waves, and ran in silence for that mile.

There is something spiritual about running, and when I run in wilderness (even if I'm steps away from civilization), I feel a sense of grateful that I can't explain.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Iron-On? Nope, Iron Off.

When I got hurt almost five months ago, I was forced to spend all my time swimming and cycling in order to do ANY exercise outdoors, and I had this idea that I could sort of train for an Ironman, and do the Aquabike if the running part didn't work out.

Thankfully, the running injury seems to be on its way out.  Yeah, my running legs are out of shape, but the cross training kept me fit enough that I don't think it will take me TOO long to get back in the swing of things.  So far my running has looked like this:

July 7 - Two miles easy -- first run in over two months.
July 9 - Five miles at a 10:00 pace (walked one minute per mile)
July 10 - Two miles, 9:18 pace
July 11 - 6 miles, 9:36 pace
July 13 - 10 miles, Dead Garmin, started out with Brittany and did 8:50 and 8:30 and realized there was no way I could hold that up for the planned 8 miles, ran with Jamal who apparently hadn't run since 2012, was convinced by him to go for 10, but we spent a lot of time at the water stop and even more time walking in the last two miles.  We finished a little under 2 hours from when we started, whatever that means.  Rode long the next day, and kept Monday as a rest day.
July 15 - 2.25 miles, under an 8 pace.  Guess my legs were pretty well rested from the two day break.
July 16 - 6.25 miles with Jack in the jogging stroller, overall pace was 9:10 but I know the first mile was pretty slow.  I was happy with that, especially on the hottest and most humid day of the summer so far (real feel 104!)
July 18 - 6 miles solo easy run.  First four miles were between 8:30-8:40 but the last two were over 9 and felt hard.  Endurance is obviously going to take some time.
Today I'm planning to do 3 easy untimed miles, and then tomorrow a long run of 10-12 at an easy pace.  I won't attempt any speedwork til we leave for the beach -- I was advised to get in four solid weeks of just building mileage.  But in general, I am very thankful for how well things are going.  Sub-7 minute mile repeats aren't going to happen for awhile, but I am confident they will come back.

I went back to working full time for three weeks, and then we head to the beach for two weeks.  There is absolutely no way I can do the full peak season Ironman training while working full time.  Last summer I didn't work at all, and was only in the "Build" phase during May and June, which isn't all that time consuming.  But the last eight weeks of an IM program are tough -- most of the rides are 85-110 miles long, some followed by running, and almost every day has two workouts.  I just can't do it.  When I wasn't working, I'd get up at 5:30am to swim or ride, then I'd do the second workout at the gym with the kids in childcare later on in the day (usually around noon) and be done in time to make dinner and spend time with my family.

This week I thought I'd see if I could get it all in.  I left my house before 6 and got in an 85 mile ride -- solo -- and finished in time to meet my family for lunch at the Whole Foods on the bike trail.  I gave Jamie a break and took the kids folk dancing at Glen Echo park, came home and made dinner, and was feeling pretty good.  Monday of course was a rest day.

Except teaching 7 classes at a summer program for the arts isn't really a rest day.  I was exhausted when I got home at 5 p.m., but I did manage to make dinner.

Tuesday - Friday were ridiculous.  Up at 5:15am to swim, teach 7 classes, home for workout #2, somehow manage to make dinner, and by the time I was ready for the next day it was 11 p.m.  Last night I hit a breaking point.  I had the kids all evening while Jamie went to a Nats game, and I was awoken when he arrived home after midnight.  I didn't end up getting back to sleep until 2 a.m.,  and we had a long talk about why I was still contemplating doing this race.  I skipped my planned long ride today and instead am spending the day with the children I didn't see all week.

I don't want to feel the pressure to ride 100 miles on a Saturday, because if I don't, I might not finish.  I don't want to do a 4-6 hour ride during the three weekends in August that we are in North Carolina at the beach.  I don't want to do double workouts every day we are down there.

So.... Iron Off.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to do ONE of the distances that weekend!  I'm thinking I will do the Skipjack instead, which seems about right for the amount of training that I can put in.  It's a 1.2 mile swim, 64 mile bike, and 10 mile run.  Reasons why this is a much better idea:

1.  I really don't want to do two loops in the swim.  I just don't like swimming that much.
2.  The Skipjack is half the distance AND half the price!  I really have a hard time justifying a $412 race fee when we can barely afford childcare.
3.  64 miles on the bike might not make me completely hate Dora afterwards and put her away for the fall. Really, I missed out on some lovely 2012 rides because I was just so burnt out on the bike.  She sat in my guest room storage closet until AFTER I broke my hip.  That's 8 months of sitting.
4.  I want to concentrate on running once I am back into the groove, and doing an Ironman isn't going to help me in that department.
5.  Most importantly, my life needs to be in balance.  I don't think it is possible to work full time, train for an Ironman, and have a balanced family life.  I really don't.  It doesn't matter how early you get up.  It's still energy spent.

Once triathlon training becomes more stress producing than stress relieving, it's time to rethink your goals.   So my new goals for summer training are:
1.  Set a new PR for the Reston Century on August 25.  Since this was my first century ride and I averaged less than 15 miles per hour the last time I did it, I don't think this will be too difficult.
2.  Skipjack 75.2.  Setting a PR will also not be too difficult, since I have never done that distance before!

And really.... I am just so thankful to be running without pain.  Thankful, thankful, thankful.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Returning to Running...

Slowly but surely, we're getting there.

Here's a photo of what I've been doing:

I'm up to 70% body weight, 3 minutes of running at a time, at a 3% incline.  Not bad.  Next week, we start getting rid of the walking breaks.  Hopefully I'll be up to 20-30 minutes of continuous running by the end of the week.

X-rays the following week.  On my birthday.  My fingers are crossed that my present will be visible bone union and the clearance to run on actual land.

Now, confession time.  Our local Road Runner Sports running store sponsors a monthly Adventure Run.  Starting at 6:30pm, they reveal a map that has a bunch of checkpoints in the city of Falls Church.  You have 60 minutes to run to as many of these as you can, and the number of tickets you receive are based on the distance and difficulty to get there.  It concludes with a Sierra Nevada beer garden and raffle, where they give away a ridiculous number of awesome prizes (like new running shoes and local restaurant gift certificates.)  I figured that Jamie could run and I would walk Susanna and Jack in the jogging stroller.

Except Susanna wanted to register for the race, too.  And she is one competitive chica.  We checked the map and I noticed one was in the pub below my friend Victoria's condo, so I figured we walk there, say hello, and walk back to "participate."  But no.  Susanna took off and ran.  Fast.  Like I had to run to keep up with her.  And this was not some little track.  This was Route 7, the main road running from Alexandria to Tysons Corner, and it was rush hour.  So I took off too, screaming "STOP!" every time she reached the end of a sidewalk.  "HURRY MOMMY!  WE NEED TO GET TICKETS!  WE NEED TO GET MORE THAN DADDY!"

We met Victoria at the Mad Fox Brewery, and Susanna stopped to pat her dog while I ran in and got our tickets.  "MOMMY!  We need to get more tickets!"  So we were off to Vantage Fitness, where we each had to do 15 push-ups.  Then, on to Famous Dave's.  To get there, I had to run right pass my physical therapy office.  I was pushing Jack in the BOB and chasing after Susanna, and praying my PT wasn't in the parking lot.

It was 7:05 -- time to turn around.  I figured we could hit Mike's Ice Cream on the way back (down a MUCH quieter street, thank goodness.)  Susanna, who had already run about a mile and a half, finally decided she was tired and hopped in the stroller.  Yay, I got to walk.

Except then I realized that I still had to go a mile and a half, stop and get tickets, and get back to home base in about 20 minutes.  So it became a jog/ walk.   We got to the ice cream shop at 7:22, and had the tickets in hand by 7:25.  About a quarter mile to go.  Yeah, time to run.  Susanna wanted to run, too.  So we held hands, and ran to the finish.  We reached it at 7:28.  Phew.

I should point out that at my last doctor's appointment, he said that any exercise was okay if I didn't feel pain, and that short spurts of running would be okay to try.  I didn't feel pain.

Nevertheless, I don't think  my PT was very pleased with my impromptu run.  I know she means the best for me, and wants me to heal without any setbacks.  I did explain to her that I have really been on my best behavior for her compared to, well, anyone else...  I mean, obviously I didn't take the "no exercise for 6 weeks after childbirth" thing very seriously if I did a triathlon 8 and a half weeks after Jack was born....

Jamie scored a ton of tickets, but between the three of us, we didn't win anything.  Well, Susanna won a tube of lip gloss at one of the booths that had a prize spin wheel (and has been carrying it around like it's an Olympic medal, telling everyone she "won it at her race.")  But it was the most fun I've had in awhile.  I miss running.  I miss running in groups.  I miss races, and fun runs, and chatting with my friends as we trot along on Saturday mornings.

My fingers are crossed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I May Or May Not Be Training For an Ironman

I know I said I wasn't going to do an Ironman this year.  My plan was to really focus on running shorter distances and get some PRs on the 5K - Half Marathon.  AND... since that isn't going to happen, I guess I'm kind of sort of training for an Ironman.  Or an Aquabike.  I mean, yeah, I could do some centuries, but they aren't really races.  And I'm doing all this swimming. So I might as well.

No, I'm not paying for anything yet.  I'm not going to register til the last minute.  So obviously that leaves out "Ironman" branded races, and whatever on that.  I'm looking at races that I can Aquabike if (probably) necessary.  I'm pretty sure it's going to be Chesapeakeman -- perfect timing, since the taper will begin right when school starts back up, and it's cheap (less than $300, $400 if I run!), flat, and about 2 hours away, on the eastern shore of Maryland.

So I'm loosely following a training plan, adding extra bike miles or pool running in the place of the runs for now.  If I'm cleared to run by July 8, it might be possible to do the whole thing by the end of September (because we all know it will be more of a jog/ walk marathon.)

If my doctor doesn't give me his blessing to run, however, Aquabike it will be.  My placing will be humbling, since I will be racing my two weaker sports only.  Every single tri I have done, my placing has improved with each section of the race.  I'm always in the last ten percent at the end of the swim, somewhere in the middle on the bike, and towards the top third after the run.  (Louisville was another story -- finished right smack bang in the middle, but even then the run is what got me out of the second 50%.)

So.... I had a fantastic weekend!  I have really missed my running buddies, and was a little depressed that the running club (DSG, the close knit group marathon training group I've been with since it's inception 6 seasons ago) had its first Marine Corps Marathon training run Saturday morning.

Instead, I met up with a member Mom's Run This Town who also got injured in February.  She also still is unable to run.  She also qualified for Boston in the fall, also did her first 50K this winter, and also was training for Shamrock.  (I would love to say she ALSO runs the same pace as me, but in all humbleness, she is a lot faster than me and her marathon time smoked mine by 20 minutes.)   It was GREAT to chat to someone going through the same thing.  We walked the 5 mile Burke Lake Trail Loop and I had Jack in the jogger, and I actually worked up quite a sweat.

Then today I woke up at the crack of dawn to get in a long ride with a girl from my riding group.  It was great to meet a new riding partner, and get out on the roads in Loudoun wine county, where I did most of my Ironman training last summer.  I loved those rides.  Bales of hay, mountain views, horses, and vineyards... a little piece of heaven, just a few miles from busy DC.  We got in 60 miles, and we were done before 11.  Here's a picture from the 7-11 in Lovettsville, our halfway point:

Beautiful mountain views, and a Pina Colada Slurpee!

I had parked near the pool in Ashburn, and met Jamie and Jack there for lunch and some outdoor pool time.   Then I took him shopping and to the park so Jamie could get in a long run, and also to get the ingredients for whatever-meal-his-heart-desires-for-Father's-Day (turned out well, will put on the food blog.)

I am so, so thankful I can get outside for most of my exercise now.  Take THAT, stress fracture!  You will not keep me down!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pity Party

Last post I was feeling pretty positive, right?  The past two weeks has been a bit of a roller coaster both physically and emotionally.  Trying to keep it positive -- really, really trying.

Since the doctor gave the okay to swim, bike and pool run, I did all three the first second week of May.  Great swimming Monday and Wednesday mornings, interval pool running on Tuesday morning, and a nice 18 mile ride outside on Wednesday night.  Thursday I wore ballet flats (ie no support) to work, and by the end of the day I was limping again.  I did some pool running on Friday morning, and by Friday afternoon I had pain just from walking.  I called my doctor, and his PA said that something I did aggravated the injury.  Her advice?  Stop everything until my leg felt good again.  Maybe that would take ten days.  She suggested trying yoga or pilates since most of my cardio options were now off limits.

And the pity party began.  It was Mother's Day weekend and I had planned to do 80 miles on the bike Saturday morning, then take my daughter folk dancing Sunday afternoon.  My body had other plans, and I was not happy with them.

However, I have to admit that it felt nice to sleep in on Saturday morning and cuddle with my kids, who both climbed in the bed with me.  Susanna started watching "The Doc Is In" on the iPad while I drifted in and out of sleep.  I overheard Doc McStuffins sing "Slow down just a little longer. Kick back and rest. You'll see, the more you rest the stronger you'll be."  Susanna looked at me and said "Mom!  It's just like your leg!"  Wow, here i am learning lessons from a Disney cartoon.  "So Susanna, do you think Doc McStuffins can fix me up?"  "No, Mom, of course not.  You're not a toy.  Now go back to sleep so your leg can get better."  

We had a great day, packed with swimming lessons and trip to the Children's Museum and the National Harbor.  My body showed true exhaustion that evening when I collapsed with my kids at 8:30 p.m.  I slept all the way until 8 a.m. the following morning, waking up just in time to get the kids to Sunday School (late, as usual.)  When we returned, I fell asleep AGAIN... I napped two more hours.  Really, I don't think I've slept that much in years.  I decided to go ahead and take Susanna folk dancing at Glen Echo Park (PERFECT way to spend Mother's Day!), though I didn't do any of the sachays or jumps.  I fell asleep at 9:30 pm.  

Since I wasn't limping, I decided to go ahead and try some exercise after resting up for the weekend.  My leg was still incredibly tight, but I didn't have any pain walking.  So Monday I did masters swimming in the morning, Tuesday I did intervals on the stationary bike, and Wednesday I did a swimming stroke clinic and some core/ upper body strength.  Thursday I cycled, and then had a massage to break up scar tissue and muscle adhesions (very painful, but it really seemed to help.)  Friday I swam and was thrilled to see my fastest split times to date -- I managed to hit under 1:40 on the 100 yard repeats.  (Note:  I need to go back to stoke workshop, because I swam again today and my pace was nowhere near that.)  Saturday I spent the day power walking around an amusement park chaperoning a school trip (honestly, that seemed to cause more pain than anything else I did this week) and today I did some upper body/ core strength and swam for 50 minutes.  My leg is still tight, but feels a lot better than it did ten days ago.  So we'll see if I can add outdoor cycling and maybe pool running to the mix this week.  I've been wearing supportive shoes to work, and that seems to make a huge difference.

As far as the pity party, I've had to distance myself from things like Daily Mile and Facebook feeds.  While I should be overjoyed to see my friend's posts about how much they love running, or how they achieved a PR at a certain distance, I find myself getting insanely jealous that I'm not out there too.  Last year I logged everything I did on Daily Mile, and met my goal of running over 2000 miles.  I had a goal this year to run 3000, and I was logging everything religiously.  276 miles in January, 262 in February, 15 (all on the fractured pelvis) in March, 3 (again, on the fracture) in April, 0 (injury diagnosed) in May.  I am done keeping track for awhile.  This week, I didn't log miles.  Aside from Friday's swim, I have no idea how far I biked in place, or how many laps I did.  

And maybe that's a good thing.  Maybe my body and mind need a break from regimented training.  

And maybe I need to remember that the last time I got a stress fracture, I discovered swimming and cycling and became a triathlete.  Maybe I need to remember that when I stopped having a pity party and focused on what I could do, I ended up fitter than when I'd started.  

Pity party concluded.  Let's move on.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pelvis Repair Time!

I had my first doctor's appointment with Dr. Parker this Monday.  He's an orthopedic surgeon with specialties in sports medicine and one of the few people trained (and with stellar reviews) in FAI and labral tear surgery, which is the main reason I sought this referral.  Luckily, I do not need the surgery.  Nevertheless, I'm happy I am under his care. He knows his stuff, and he seems to truly care about my recovery and understand my need to get back out there on the road.

Since then, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I know what the injury is, I know what the timeline is for recovery, and I know I'm on track with this recovery.

So this is my pelvis.  Apparently the white is where the bone marrow is swelling.  My doctor said they were some pretty impressive fractures.  Of course they are.  Would you expect any less of me?

Dr. Parker gave me a chart showing the different stages of healing for stress fractures in in different parts of the body.  One month post-injury in 2010, my metatarsel was almost halfway healed.  One month post injury, a pelvic stress fracture is 0% healed.  Well, no wonder that marathon hurt and I had to quit after 2 and a half miles.  At 2 months, the foot is pretty much healed, while the pelvis is only 29%.  At three months, the pelvis is still not even 70% healed.  It's a long recovery.

There are three stages to healing, and I think I'm nearing the second.  In the first stage, you have pain while sitting, standing on the injured side, and walking.  You may walk with a limp.  I did limp around for a few days, and I remember when I went to my conference in CT just three and a half weeks out from the initial injury, I couldn't sit through sessions because it was so painful.  Walking hurt.  In stage 1, swimming, pool running and cycling are encouraged to improve blood flow.  As long as you aren't limping, crutches aren't recommended because studies have shown this actually prolongs the healing time.  You graduate to stage 2 when you can walk for 10 minutes without any pain.

So really, I think I'm closer to stage 2, but my doctor is not letting me "graduate" until our appointment on June 3.  In stage 2, you begin the transition to running.  I will start physical therapy again, and use the AlterG treadmill to acclimate my body to running on a percentage of body weight.  I also will work with Heather on running form to prevent muscle imbalances and foot strike issues that probably led to this fracture in the first place.  To graduate from stage 2 (approximately 1 month) I need to be able to run 3 minutes without any payback pain.

Stage 3 is pretty much the "Couch to 5K" program.  It's a 4 week program to get to 30 minutes of pain free running.  At this point, the pelvis isn't completely healed, but it's getting there (it may take an entire year til the fracture no longer shows up on MRI) and can handle the transition to land running.  So hopefully this will happen in July.

Then the literature says very clearly "Any runner with severe hip and groin pain should immediately be put on crutches until an MRI or Xrays can rule out a pelvic or femoral neck stress fracture.  Femoral neck fractures especially can cause long term damage and need to be treated seriously."

Hmmmph.  I told both my PCP and my first ortho that I had severe hip and groin pain.  Hmmphh again.

This is definitely the biggest running setback I've ever had.  But it could have been worse.  FAI or labral tear would have put me back to square one and required an even longer recovery time and more PT.  Really, even though this totally stinks, since getting the diagnosis I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

So my May looks like a lot of swimming, pool running, strength and cycling.  Not too shabby.  I'll get through this, and I'm going to use the time to work on some of my tri weaknesses.

Life is good.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And the verdict is....


Yes, you read that right.  There's an "s" at the end.  Plural.  That photo over there?  That's what my pelvis looks like, except the fractures are on my right side.

In retrospect, the February streak was probably not the best idea.  I decided that I was going to run every day that month without a break.  I ran every single day in February.  And on February 28, following my 4 mile run, I was limping.    Guess I got a break.  Or two.

Apparently this is a very low-risk injury, and accounts for less than 1% of stress fractures in athletes.  Both my PT and my sports injury chiropractor have never treated anyone for fractures in the pubis ramus bone.  I am delighted to give them that experience of not just one, but multiple pubis ramus fractures.  According to my best friend GOOGLE, here are the risk factors:

Pelvic stress fractures seem to predominately affect females.   BOOYAH!

Bennell et al8 found pelvic stress fractures only in female track and field athletes, mostly mid-distance and long-distance runners.   BOOYAH!

Participants in this study had an average BMI of 21.  I'm 5'5'' and weigh 125.  BMI - exactly 21.  Hmmm....

and were running 40 to 53 km/wk (25-33 miles/wk).   I was running 70.  I guess  that might up that risk factor.

In both collegiate and military studies, a history of amenorrhea has been found to be a risk factor for stress fractures in general.   This is a big ????.  TMI perhaps, but for you ladies, DOLMP was 9/9/2010.  Yeah, that was pre-Jack.  But, I'm also taking preventative measures to stop at two children, AKA Mirena. So again, a big ???.

This may be due to direct effect of decreased estrogen on bone and subsequently low bone mineral density.  Last stress fracture, incurred in 2010 during winter marathon training -- diagnosed on March 18, so pretty much exactly the same time -- revealed osteopenia, AKA very low bone density.

A history of previous stress fractures may also be a risk factor in the development of recurrent episodes.  Did I mention I had a stress fracture in 2010?

I had a long talk with my PT today.  We concluded that perhaps 5 weeks where I barely got four hours of sleep in order to make sure I got in my 70 miles a week, while completely giving up strength training, was probably not the best plan.  I trained smart in the fall.  I trained stupid in the winter.

In the fall, I followed the Pfitz 12 week/ 70 miles per week plan to a T. Yes, there were 70 miles a week involved, but I also had a rest day in there, two strength sessions a week, and only one day of speedwork.  Most of the runs were done at an easy pace.  I ran my fastest races ever last fall, and qualified for Boston.  The Pfitz plan has my utmost respect.

In the winter, I got this crazy idea that I could do two speed sessions a week, run every single day (my idea was that not taking a day off would allow me to do less miles on a given day, as long as it all added up to 70), throw in a ten mile "tune up" race after I'd already run 60 miles that week, and totally give up strength training....

Lesson learned.  Self:  Do not think you know how to train better than someone who wrote the book on how to train.  You don't.

I meet with my new ortho, who is a hip specialist, on Monday so we'll see what he has to say.  Treatment could be some time on crutches, perhaps some time of complete rest, perhaps I've healed enough that I can continue to walk around and swim and bike...

For now, I'm popping vitamin D and calcium citrate like it's candy, drinking my milk, and trying to get more sleep.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Still no better, still no answers.

It has been over eight weeks since this initial injury.  I have run a sum total of 5 times, and never over 2 and a half miles.  I've been getting ART massage.  I've been going to physical therapy three times a week.  I do my strength homework every day, at least twice a day.

And I don't seem to be getting any better.  In fact, it seems to be getting worse.  In the beginning, I couldn't sit for long periods of time without radiating pain down my right leg, and this eventually spread to my left leg. Then standing began to cause pain.  Last night I couldn't sleep because my right side hurt so much.

The spinal MRI was "not remarkable."  There wasn't anything revealing a source of pain.

When I first visited my chiropractor, she mentioned possibilities including impingement, a labral tear, stress fractures, and strained muscles.  I didn't think much of what she said, but after six weeks of treatment and the same symptoms, I spent quite a bit of time researching them.  Here's what I have come up with.

-Strained muscles?  Possibly but eight weeks would provide significant healing time.  They aren't healed.  At all.

-Pelvic stress fracture?  Possibly.  But again, there would be SOME healing that would have taken place in the past eight weeks, and I actually feel pain now in the very first few minutes of running as opposed to after a mile or two.  Pelvic stress fractures take a long time to heal, but they don't require surgery.

- Impingement.  My chiropractor performed manual tests for this at my first visit and it was a possibility.  I had to do a lot of research on this one, and it seems to match my symptoms pretty closely. Here they are (and I have all of these), stolen from an Irish website:

  • FAI often presents as hip and groin pain with restricted range of hip movements.
  • Symptom onset can be acute, following injury, or insidious after prolonged exertion. It is generally not disabling, except in sporting activity. 
  • ‘Payback pain’ after participating in sporting activity is common
  • Pain is primarily felt deep in the groin at the front of the hip, more rarely it can be on the side of the hip or the buttock.
  • Movements can be restricted particularly high flexing and trying to cross the legs.
  • Pain is often provoked by these manoeuvres, by exercise, or by attempted return to sport and relieved by rest and inactivity.
  • FAI may occasionally present as groin pain after prolonged sitting. There is no rest or night pain.

- Labral Tear.  Initially my visit with the chiropractor presented this as a possibility but subsequent manual tests have been negative.  This really is the worst case scenario.  The symptoms are basically the same as FAI except for an addition:
  • Groin pain
  • Clicking and snapping sensations in the hip
  • Limited motion of the hip joint
My hip clicks and snaps, and pops.  Only on the right side.  Right at the hip joint.  The first doctor I saw on March 7 diagnosed me as having "snapping hip syndrome", which is a symptom of an underlying problem. Possibly this.

I never thought I'd be wishing for a stress fracture or muscle tear.... but bones and muscles heal.  Joints don't.  They get worse.  You ignore FAI or labral tears (or quite possibly, both) and you can end up with a hip replacement down the road.

Recovery time for just the FAI procedure without a labral tear?  Optimistically looking at a couple weeks on crutches, then slowly returning to swimming, biking and finally running by 3-4 months post op.  If it is the worst case scenario (well, the worst case I'll even allow myself to imagine at this point) -- FAI and a significant labral tear -- it could be 6-8 months before I can return to "normal" activities.  If I'm one of the lucky 95% of patients who can return to "normal."

The good news is that although the FAI or FAI with labral tear surgical procedure is relatively new, the DC area has some very skilled doctors with this specialized training.  I've spent hours researching them, reading their online reviews, and asking around the PT, Chiropractic, and triathlete community.  

So what's next?  On Monday I have an MRI with IV-contrast.  This will hopefully get to the root of the pain.   At this point, I want it to show SOMETHING.  For the past 8 weeks I've had no idea what is wrong with me.  Whatever it is, let's just figure it out and get on with it.   If I need surgery, let's just do it.  Let's get the bed rest part over with, start the aqua therapy, get back on the bike, and be running by late fall.

I was reading forums of other triathletes who have been through the surgery, and one of them mentioned the handicapped hang tag for your car.

Wow.  From a 3:31 marathon, to a few months in the handicapped car space.  

And how does a mother of two little people with a job that demands playing classroom instruments, folk dancing, and sitting on the floor with kindergartners find the "right" time for hip surgery?

Maybe the MRI will show something completely different.  Maybe it will be something that they didn't see, but has a much easier fix.

Realistically, though, I know where my symptoms are pointing.

I have an appointment scheduled with one of those top hip surgeons a week from Monday.  My MRI results will be back in a few days.  Until then, my mind is swimming. 

Friday, April 19, 2013


It's MRI time. Six weeks with no improvement... Let's hope this at least gives me some answers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Injury

It's unbelievable how one week your biggest exercise consideration is how you are going to manage to fit in 70 miles despite your busy schedule of working full time and caring for your family, and then four days later you wonder if you'll ever be able to run even one mile without pain.  But let's back up.

Tuesday February 18, messing around on the floor with my family, my right leg gets bent in a funny position.  I was a little concerned, at first, but then no worries, the next day my slow easy run went just fine.

Sunday February 24, I ran a 10 mile race in hilly Columbia MD on very tired, already-ran-52-miles-that-week legs, set a PR (which I wasn't that thrilled with, as my goal was a couple minutes faster), then ran a slow 8 miles to finish off the day.  My legs felt pretty dead from the race the next morning, but I felt okay.  Sore Tuesday, so I skipped my speedwork and did an easy run instead.  I had a deep tissue massage that night, and my therapist noted that my right leg had really, really tight muscles, which he worked on for quite a bit.  After his intense session, I decided to keep the run easy on Wednesday morning.

And then came Thursday February 28.   I had a tempo run on the schedule, but my legs were still feeling pretty dead, so I decided to try a few intervals ladders instead.  When I got to my four minute ladder and saw I couldn't get my pace under an 8 minute mile for that length of time, I decided to scrap it and jog back to work.  I went to the restroom to change clothes and freshen up, then went to a meeting at 8:40.  When I stood up 50 minutes later, I couldn't walk.

Throughout that day, I had a visible limp in my right leg.  I couldn't figure it out.  I had felt okay during the run, though my legs were obviously not recovered from the race.  I was in terrible pain, even after three Advil.  I declared Friday a rest day, and did a long soak in an Epsom salt bath instead.

Saturday I felt fine, so I figured I'd start my long run by doing a 1.5 mile out and back, and if I was still feeling pain free, start the 14 mile loop with the DC Road Runners group.  3 miles, no pain, so we headed out.  At 4 I started to feel some discomfort.  At 5 it was pain.  I decided to turn around, but I still have two miles to go.  By 6 it was radiating further down my leg, and when I reached my car I had excruciating pain in my inner adductor.  This was not good.

Sunday in church I was hobbling.  Not just limping.  Hobbling.  People made comment after comment.  I was sure I'd broken something.

Monday I made an appointment with my GP.  She diagnosed it as IT Band Syndrome and told me to stop running.   Seriously?  First of all, I had IT Band Syndrome when I was 27, and it did not stop me from running.  It was a pain, but I could run through it.  Whatever I had now, there was no running through it.  And the pain was in completely different places.  Shooting pain in my hip, glute, and adductor.  Not my outer knee.

Tuesday I sought a second opinion with a Sports Injury Orthopedist.  He took x-rays and said he couldn't see any fractures, and he diagnosed it as Snapping Hip Syndrome and Piriformis Syndrome.  He said I could try to run and just cut my mileage down, and prescribed Physical Therapy.

I tried to get an appointment with the PTs at the office where I met this doctor, but they had nothing available for a month.  Really?  A month?

In the meantime, I made an appointment with a Sport Chiropractor who does Active Release Therapy, which I had heard good things about.  But I couldn't get in to see her until after the marathon, either.

I mentioned this previously, but on the Friday before the race, I attempted 3 miles.  And it hurt.  I went home and started googling stuff on recovering from running injuries, and read about this thing called the AlterG (antigravity) treadmill.  It allows you to run on a percentage of your body weight, resulting in much less impact.  I found out that two PT clinics in my area offer this, and one of them accepted my insurance.  I sent them an email, and got a response the next day that they have a fabulous therapist who is a runner, Ironman, and specializes in running injuries, AND she happened to have an appointment on Monday.

The day after the marathon DNF, I sadly walked into the PT office, where I met my therapist, Heather.  She spent about ten minutes poking and prodding my legs, and told me she was like a body detective and her job was to figure out what the root of the injury was. She agreed that I had "piriformis syndrome" and "snapping hip syndrome", but they were probably symptoms of the real problem.

And then she discovered that my SI joint was out of rotation.  She didn't seem surprised.  She said "Now I'm going to put it back into place."  She bent my knee, pushed a certain way, and I immediately felt some relief.  No more snapping hip.

That was almost a month ago.  In that time, I have seen Heather twice a week.  She begins our sessions with something called "Dry Needling", similar to accupuncture, where she sticks needles in my muscles and faschia.  I can't say it is comfortable, but it does seem to relax my angry muscles.  On Monday, after three weeks of absolute rest from running, I was allowed to try the AlterG Treadmill.  I didn't feel any pain during the actual 14 glorious minutes I was allowed to run, but the following day I could feel my SI joint and hips flare up.  Big time.  I had more knots on my right side then I'd ever known possible.  She spent a good 30 minutes doing the most painful dry needling session I'd had thus far, but it worked.  I could feel the trigger points release, and today (Thursday) the swelling is completely gone.  I was put on another week of running rest, and hopefully will be allowed to try the AlterG again on Monday.

I also feel I'm in good hands with the Sports Chiropractor team.  They have a certified athletic trainer who works with me on strengthening exercises, and the ART massage and adjustments seem to help.  Two weeks ago, I couldn't sit for more than 20 minutes without excruciating pain in my back or sciatic nerve.  Now, the only time I have pain is when I run.

Of course, all I really want to do is run.  It's hard for me to believe how much I was running six weeks ago, because right now even a half mile isn't possible.  I haven't signed up for any triathlons this summer because I am not convinced I'll be able to do the final leg.  I am swimming or cycling 6 days a week, and trying to stay positive.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Race Report - Shamrock Marathon - DNF, but BOSTON BOSTON BOSTON!

It's interesting how a week after I blogged about being addicted to exercise, everything came to a crashing halt.

I haven't written anything in awhile because I've been too frustrated, but here is a recap from where I left off.

Following my visit to the sports injury doctor, I tried to get a PT or ART chiro appointment but couldn't get anything scheduled until after the marathon date.  So I just took complete rest and hoped that I could heal and get through the race.  I was hoping for a miracle, I guess.  On the Wednesday, I ran a half a mile.  It felt okay. On Friday, I attempted two miles.  By 1.5, I was hurting a bit.  26.2 would be a long shot.

Brittany, Jamie and I arrived to Virginia Beach and I pretended like I was still going to race.  I went to the expo, picked up my packet, carbo loaded with them, and got into my awesome race attire.

There wasn't a 3:30 pacer, and I couldn't find my Garmin, so I was depending on Brittany -- I'd just have to stick with her.  The gun went off, and I was feeling pleasantly strong for the first two miles.  Then, just as we passed our hotel for the first time, I started to feel that niggling annoyance in my hip that I knew would probably turn to excruciating pain within another few miles.  We were heading away from the beach, and we wouldn't pass my hotel again until mile 13.  As soon as I stepped off the causeway bridge at mile 3, I felt a shooting pain up my thigh.  "I'm done, Brittany.  I'll see you at the finish." 

My first DNF.  Ever.

It was 41 degrees, and I was wearing next to no clothing (thank goodness I had the leg warmers!) so I ducked in the first hotel I saw and registered for text messages updating me on Brittany and Jamie's progress.  Then I walked back to our hotel and was thrilled to find they were still serving their amazing brunch until 10 a.m.  I sat down and had fresh waffles, coffee, and eggs, and started chatting to some of the other folks in the hotel.  I met a woman on crutches who was waiting for her husband to finish.  She also had trained for the marathon, and couldn't run.  She had torn her plantar faschia in January. Yikes.  

The first text came in and Jamie was running at a 7:24 pace.  He needed a 7:26 to qualify for Boston, so that was a good sign.  I finished breakfast and went to the lobby.  

There I met a man who had done the half marathon earlier that morning as a tune-up race for Boston.  He said he'd qualified for Boston three times, and still hadn't run, because he'd never made it to the start without an injury.  

Text #2 -- Jamie crossed the halfway mark at a 7:22 pace.  Looking good.

I sat down in front of the fireplace and started talking to a woman who was tracking her husband as well, and also had registered to run the race.  She had a pelvic stress fracture.  Sheesh.  My hotel was like injury central for running spouses.  

Text #3 -- Jamie crossed the 18 mile mark at a 7:21 pace.  Time to head to the 26th mile and wait.  

The finish clock read 3:08 when I passed it.  I walked a little further, and waited for Jamie.  I saw a couple people from his running team, and then was a little surprised to see him, all by himself on the boardwalk, at the 26 mile marker just around the time the finish clock hit 3:10.  I wasn't sure if I could keep up with him, but I'd try.  

And there you have it.  3:11:29.  Average pace of 7:19, negative splitter, my husband, new Boston Qualifier.  How did we ever qualify in the same year?  Well, as much as I hated to be injured, and as stupid as it probably was to run the last .2 miles with him at under a 7 minute pace (he did the last mile at 6:45!), that moment was priceless.  Had I run, I wouldn't have gotten to see him cross the finish line.  

This was my third Shamrock marathon, and I don't even remember the post race party at the first one, I was so out of it from the run, and in 2010 I broke my foot somewhere along the 17th mile (my only other significant running injury to date... apparently Shamrocks do not bring me much luck...) and skipped the festivities altogether.  This time, I figured I paid $110 for the Irish Stew and beverages, and I was going to enjoy it.

So that was two and a half weeks ago.  I saw my PT the following day, and found out my hip was out of rotation.  Probably a good thing I stopped at 3 miles.  I haven't run since.  More on the injury later, but for now, I just wanted to share that BOSTON 2014, WATCH OUT!  THE LYNCHES ARE COMING!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Pain in the Bum

It's been a week since my injury.  Well, ten days since the onset, but a week since I really started feeling pain after running seven miles.  I tried to run for 15 minutes last night.  It hurt.  I couldn't keep running.

The sports injury doctor's diagnosis - Piriformis Syndrome.  AKA A Pain in the Bum.  Basically my piriformis muscle is swelling and compressing my sciatic nerves and causing all sorts of issues.

I don't really have much else to say.  Looks like both the marathon and the 50 miler are both out, despite all the training I put in through the winter.  If I can't run a mile now without pain, I don't think I'm going to be able to do 26.2 in seven days.

This stinks.

Monday, March 4, 2013

You've got to be kidding me.

10 weeks of training, down.  5 weeks at 70 miles.  I'm finally at my "racing weight", so to speak.  I ordered my green glitter sparkle skirt and shamrock leggings.  I. am. ready.

And then, during the taper week -- yes, my first week of REDUCED MILEAGE -- race disaster strikes.

I finished up my final high mileage week with a 10 mile race, done on a hilly course and untapered legs, and set a little PR (by less than a minute.)  The course took a lot out of me though, and so I did very very easy runs Monday and Tuesday.  I had a sports massage Tuesday evening, and ran for the next time on Wednesday night.  On Thursday morning I decided to try some tempo intervals, but I couldn't get my pace where I wanted to, so figuring I was still recovering, I finished up nice and easy.  I felt fine.  I changed my clothes and headed to a meeting.  When I stood up from the meeting, I couldn't walk.

Seriously.  Pain in my right hip, glute, and groin.  I was visibly limping all day.  I iced, took a long bath, and started to worry.  But the next day I only felt a little tightness, and no pain, so I took the day off from running and figured I could run an easy 3 miles before deciding to do my long run on Saturday.

I felt fine after 3 miles at about an 8:20-30 pace, so we headed off for another 14.  By 5 miles into the run, I could feel the pain return.  I made the decision to turn around.  When I finally quit at 7, I was hobbling.

Sunday I was stopped at church by two people who asked what was wrong and why I was limping.  Today (Monday) I am still walking with a bit of a hobble, though better than yesterday.  I had an appointment with the chiropractor today and he used the stem machine on the sore spots -- all connected to my left hip.  No exercise -- no swimming, biking or elliptical even -- until this weekend.  If I can do some cross training without pain, we can try some easy running miles.  Maybe.

And I'm supposed to run a marathon in 13 days.

I'm a little mad at the universe right now.

However... I must say that this would be a whole different story had I not gotten a BQ back in December.  Though I've trained hard for this race, and I might go a little crazy if I have to take significant time off of running, I still have Boston in April 2014 to look forward to.  If I have to wear my green sparkle skirt as a spectator cheering on my husband, it is what it is.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

You might have an endurance running problem, Gretchen.

It's President's Day weekend and, as for the past three years, my husband is in New York City with his middle school choir for their annual trip.  We were supposed to go along with him this year, but Jack got sick so we are home. I crammed most of my miles into M-F so that we could go away this weekend, and I had 71 accumulated by yesterday at 11 a.m.  I don't need to run today.  And between church and a birthday party, there was no way I could make it to the gym while the childcare was open, and it is way too cold for the baby jogger... so I really can't run today. But yet... I want to.

Gretchen, you have a running problem.  Really.  You do.

I know a lot of people who have running addictions, or triathlon addictions, but most of them don't have two kids and a full time job.  Most of them are single, or DINKs (Double-Income-No-Kids.)  So what is my deal?  I have been a "runner" since 2005 or so, when I discovered that it cured my winter blues, gave me an outlet for all my stress at work, had this great side effect of eliminating excess body fat, and made me a generally happier person.  I made some of my best friends out on the roads and trails.  I wasn't fast.  But I ran consistently and completed 7 marathons before Jack was born.

And then, after Jack's birth, I discovered how to train properly, and I started to get faster.  Not elite.  But I discovered I had some potential.  And thus, the addiction was born.  I'm 34.  These are going to be my running years.  This is when I'm going to see my best race times.

You know you might have an endurance running problem if:

-  You choose your daughter's ballet classes based on it's proximity to jogging stroller friendly terrain and think "Okay, 45 minutes will give me 4-5 miles depending on if I have my son with me or not.  That means I only have to run 9 miles in the morning, so I can sleep in until 5:15."

- You take off work to be home with your miserably sick 20 month old son, and rather than having him nap in the crib and using that time to, say, do laundry, you stick in him the jogging stroller and run for three hours straight.  (In my defense, he wanted to be outside.  It was 60 degrees.  He loves sunshine.  He was not having it in the crib.  And he slept the entire three hours.)

- Speaking of laundry, you haven't put it away for two weeks because you go to bed at the same time as your kids instead of getting some peaceful housework done after 9 p.m., possibly because you got up at 4:45am to run 15 miles before work on Tuesday.

-Speaking of clothes, you might own more race shirts than work shirts. A lot more.

-  You use doggy potty breaks and grocery store excursions as an excuse to get in 3-4 miles in the evenings because "The dogs need to pee!" and "We need granola bars!"

- You are in the fourth week of five at peak mileage, training for a marathon, and tell people "I don't think I'm going to do a fall marathon - this is too much training."  And then you start contemplating a fall Ironman instead.

- And then the next day you sign up for a 50 mile trail ultra.

My name is Gretchen, and I am a Runaholic.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Race Report - Langley "Not-An-8K"

Another tune up race for Jamie and me.  So no taper -- I did a 15 mile midweek long run on Tuesday, speed training on Wednesday, and already had 47 miles in my legs this week before stepping up to the start.  I guess that is why it's called a "tune up" race.

We arrived at the start and it was COLD.... my iPhone said 14 degrees at 9:30am.   We did a 10 minute warm up, and I finished with a few strides on the track, threw our gear in the car, and arrived at the timing mat right at 10.  And we were off.

The first mile wasn't bad.  Pretty flat in fact. I glanced down at my Garmin and it clicked off at 6:55.  Then I saw a MONSTER hill. And it was pretty much like that the rest of the course.  Up up up, down down down.  Lots and lots of hills with pretty steep grades.  I should have known with much of the course being on "Balls Hill Road."

I hit 3 miles at just over 22 minutes and thought to myself "Hey, I don't feel too bad and there are only two miles to go!"  I saw Jamie heading the other direction and he looked like he was doing pretty well.  4 miles clicked off, and I started to push it, even on the uphills.

At 4.5 miles my phone rang.  I looked at the number -- it was our babysitter, Poliana.  It was a little after 10:30, so I knew that she should have just arrived to Susanna's swim class.  Aurgh!  I had less than a half mile to go -- I figured less than 4 minutes, and Jamie was probably done already.  If it was a big issue I'm sure she could call him.  I ignored it and kept running.

4.9 miles came and I was pretty sure I was nowhere near Langley High School.  I hadn't even gotten back on Georgetown Pike, and I was sure we'd ran quite a distance on that road before turning into the smaller neighborhoods.  5 miles came.... then 5.3.... what was going on?  I had paced this thing for 5 miles and I was running out of energy.  I finally turned onto the main road and saw the school -- pretty far off in the distance. Had I read the race entry wrong?  Was this a 10K?   I pushed it as best I could and finally turned into the school's front lot.  There were runners going in two different directions - some behind the school and some in front.  I asked the guy behind me which way we were supposed to go and he threw up his hands in obvious frustration.  Well, since my GPS already said 5.8 miles I decided to just go the shortest route.  And then someone said to the photographer at the timing mat "That woman is going to cross the wrong direction."  Which I did.  Because there was no way I was turning around and running the other way.  The guy behind me did the same thing.

I stopped my watch. 5.86 is not 4.97.  Everyone around me was getting about 5.92 (so even though I went long, I still cut the course by going in front rather than behind the school.)  Then this man (maybe the race director?  I am not sure....) says to me "Why didn't you go around the school?  You were supposed to come back the way you went out."  I looked at him and I said "There were no volunteers telling us where to go.  I couldn't remember which way I ran at the beginning.  And I thought this was an 8K, but I did almost 6 miles."  I'm not sure what was going on with him -- maybe a bunch of runners had already complained?  He retorts "If you went the wrong way, you didn't know the course.  You are supposed to know the course before you run it."  Seriously?  I was just following people.

So apparently what happened was that the first (fastest) runners made the correct turn and actually ran an 8K, and then the guy in fourth place went left instead of right around the 5K and EVERYONE followed.  Was this man really telling me that I should have "known the course" and gone the opposite direction of every other runner?  And really, it's not like I often run a race with a map in my hand.  So I did an extra .9 miles -- fine -- I'm okay with that. Just don't get annoyed with me like I did something wrong.

6th place Overall Female, 3rd in the 30-40 Age Group.  All the girls went the wrong way.

I called Poliana back and found out Susanna was refusing to get in the water at the pool. Phew.  No emergency.  It's always hard to know what to do when you get a phone call from your babysitter during a race...

And for the record I hit 5 miles at 36:40.  Which still is a little over the pace I was hoping for, but considering the hills, not too bad.  And considering a little over a year ago my 5 mile Turkey Trot was 40:53, well hey, that's progress.  Except the race results are going to say that I did it in 43:16.  I might have to block this one from Athlinks....