Thursday, February 27, 2014


Exactly one year ago... the Thursday after I ran the RRCA Club Challenge... I set out for a short little tempo run.  I dropped Susanna off at school at 8am on the dot so I could get in four miles before I had to be at an 8:40 meeting.  I was feeling fatigued and hadn't done any speed work since the race, and felt no pain on this run (or any previous runs) but could not get my pace below an 8 minute mile.  Defeated, I went to my meeting.  When I stood up, I was limping.  And thus began my epic injury that consumed thousands of dollars in doctors appointments, PT, and of course, lost race fees.

I had planned on a 12 mile run before work this morning, but my calf has been cranky, my right achilles has been tight, and my neighbor Holly who usually does these way-too-early runs with me is skiing in Utah.  When my alarm went off at 5:07am, I checked the weather -- 17 degrees with a windchill of 5 -- and rolled over to go back to sleep.  Running alone in those conditions was just not appealing...

At noon, I started to get phantom pains in my left hip.  Could they be real?  Every time I sat down, I was sure that when I stood up I'd be limping.  I decided that maybe I should take a rest day, even though last week was a recovery week and this week I'm supposed to be at peak mileage. Aside from the calf that seems to be getting better every day, I didn't really have a reason to skip the run.  Except then I'd feel another twinge... my right ankle this time.  Or maybe it was my left hip.  Or maybe my right foot.  Come to think of it, my knees kind of hurt.  And maybe my shin?

At lunch I googled "warning signs of a stress fracture."  And basically it said they come on without warning.  That would be right -- there was NO warning for either of the fractures I've sustained. They came on suddenly, the first during a marathon (far left metatarsel on the left foot, and only an 8 week layoff from running, during a time I would have been recovering from a marathon, so really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things -- plus it got me hooked on swimming and biking and led me to my first tri season) and the second when I wasn't even running (that being the injury I never, ever, ever want to relive..)

I spent the majority of my lunch break reading Camille Herron's blog on stress fractures.  She advised serious runners to take it easy most of the time... she said she had the most stress fractures when she was doing all high intensity runs on lower mileage, and the least on high mileage (averaging 120-30 per week!) when she did about 80% of her runs about 2 minutes per mile slower than her 5K pace.  My 5K pace is probably a little under 7 minutes per mile, and I have no issues at all with running 9s or even closer to 10s.  So I decided I would go ahead and try to get my mileage in -- slowly -- today.  I did the middle six miles with the Lululemon Run Club, and got in almost 12 total.  Walked in, ate dinner with my family....  I wasn't limping after dinner.  So I've officially made it one year post injury without another stress fracture.

I'm still flipping out.  This whole "stress fractures come on without warning" thing is a little more than scary.  Poor Paula Radcliffe, the marathon record holder, can't even jog more than a few miles at a time due to a stress fracture on her foot that never healed.  I read a recent article where she said that she just wants to be able to run for pleasure at this point.  She said she can't even run after her two children.

I've spent so much time in the past 2 years trying to better myself as a runner.  I want to push myself to the breaking point.. but not break.  I guess all of us out there who are trying to set PRs and get the most out of our "running years" deal with this.  How far can we push our bodies before they cry "Uncle!"

I want to reach the start line of the Boston Marathon.  Unbroken.  But ready.  It's hard to know where that magic line is.

Monday, February 24, 2014

RRCA Ten Mile Club Challenge -- Take TWO! (Race Report)

I’m pretty sure the RRCA Club Challenge 10 Miler was the last straw in my overtraining last year… the straw that broke the camel’s back my pelvis.  Four days after that race, which I ran on untapered legs and finished up with not one but eight cool down miles for a total of 20, I began to limp.  All that marathon training went down the drain, as well as any hope of running for the next four and a half months.  A pubic rami stress fracture is not an injury I would wish upon anyone – but it healed, and that experience is far behind me.

So why did I sign up for this race again?  Because it’s a great training course for Boston full of challenging hills and a well-organized event with a super fast field consisting of the RRCA groups in MD and DC.  Oh, and it was on a Sunday (a must for races this season, since I coach on Saturdays) and, well, the entry was paid for by DC Road Runners.  I shuffled around my recovery weeks so that this time around I would not be hitting peak mileage the days preceding the event.  Course redemption here we come. 

Jamie fell on the ice about three weeks ago and cracked a rib, so his training hasn’t been stellar but he told me last week that he still wanted to do the race.  We had the babysitter coming overnight since we were leaving before 6am.  So Saturday night I say to Jamie “We need to set up the guest room since Hillary will be here at 8.”  Jamie says “For what?”  I say “For the race tomorrow?”  He says “WHAT RACE TOMORROW?  I thought that was next weekend!”   I say “Um, no, it’s tomorrow.  Did you run this morning?”  He says “Yes, and hard.”  Well, at least one of us looked at our training plan.  Hey, maybe I’d actually beat him in a race for the first time ever.

We got to the race and I was still unsure of what shirt to wear, long or short sleeved. We did our warm up mile in the long sleeves,  and then headed to the gymnasium until 10 minutes before the start.    It was 42 degrees … figured I’d ditch the long sleeves.   I threw it in the car and jogged to the start.

Jamie and I stood there chatting and then got in place for the race (he up a little closer to the timing mat.)  Wait… TIMING MAT!!!!  CRUD!!!!  My bib…. and my timing strip….  was still attached to my long sleeved shirt… IN THE CAR!  You have got to be kidding me.  No time to go back and get it.  I figured I would just time it for my own sake.  Oh, I was so mad at myself!

This race is all up or down.  There is no flat in Columbia, MD.  So I had no idea how to pace myself.  Last year I ran a 1:16 and this year I hoped to break 1:15.  My goal was to hit 7:20s, but the first mile had a lot of downhill and I felt like I was barely working when it clicked off at 6:58.  That scared me a little, but this course was impossible to keep an even pace.  My Garmin consistently read under 7 for the descents, and would click all the way up to 8 or even a bit higher for the climbs.  They were relentless.  Up, down, up, down, up, down.  I am not used to the terrain and could feel it in my calves (especially the right one) by the third mile.  By the 8th mile (which I think was my slowest mile at 7:40…  it was mostly up and I was ready to clobber whomever came up with this course) the right calf was really aching, and it hurt the rest of the race.  

My Garmin had been spot on with the mile markers and so exhausted as I was, knew after I hit 9 that I had just a few more minutes to go.  I concentrated hard to keep pace, and thought how nice it was that unlike a marathon, when you see the last mile marker, that really is it – one more mile.  No “point two” to mess with your head.  Except then my Garmin hit 10 and the finish line was still a good 100 yards away.  AURGH!  Darn you!  I did see the clock still was in the 1:14 realm so I sprinted hard.  Ended up with 10.08 by my Garmin, and 1:14:23.  The timing people were right there at the clock, so I immediately went up and asked them if they could record my time.  He said “Yeah, it’s okay, we had a guy come in a few minutes ago who also didn’t have his bib, but we saw when he crossed.  What’s your last name?”  I said “Lynch.”  He said “Interesting, so was that other guy’s.” 

Of course it was.  Of course my husband would be the only other person in the race to forget his bib. And of course, even with a broken rib, he still beat me.

It’s now  Monday, I tried to run 6 recovery miles at a snail’s pace, and I officially am sure I have a calf strain.  This race hates me.  Looks like I’ll be taking it easy for awhile…

TOTALLY Flattering Race Photography 

Jamie looks a little less pained.  And he's the one with the broken rib.

Finally smiling, because I don't have to think about that course until next February.