Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Compare + contrast

June 2009 (pre Baystate training) 96.4 miles
December 2009 (pre-Boston marathon training): 99.3 miles
June 2010 (pre-Baystate training): 151.4 miles
December 2011: 82.9 miles and counting...guessing I'll end up around ~175, with November and October both hitting the mid 160s.

So Sunday marks the 16 weeks out point from Boston. There are not enough emoticons or adjectives in the world to describe my apprehension/excitement about this life development.  Especially because I may or may not (hint: not) have actually come up with anything remotely resembling a plan yet.  But I think I have the general framework and I think for the most part it is this: just run.  And apparently, I have the best base going into this training program that I ever have had...what the hell? This is unexpected. I have just been...running.  Just kind of doing whatever. So I have to say I'm happy that "doing whatever" has returned to along the lines of 40 miles a week, and not 25 like it was over the summer.

I was looking at my training for Baystate 2010, a race where I PR'd by 17 minutes.  With that sort of a drop in time, you would think that I did something drastically different in terms of training, right? More speedwork, long runs, something? Er...not so much.  In fact, looking back at my training for that race, I can't BELIEVE that I PR'd. I mean, the vast majority of my weeks were 50 miles or less (yet in my mind I really thought I was running a TON of miles.) Compare that to my Boston 2010 training, where I was doing a regimented program, diligently completing workouts as directed, gradually taking my mileage from 45 to 55 to 65....and I bombed the race.

So what does this mean for marathon training cycle number 4? Well, I think I'm going to need to hit a good balance between meaningful training and just getting the miles in.  In the past "just run miles" has worked as a strategy but I have the feeling that if I want to come close to a PR at Boston that there is going to have to be SOME higher level of effort being put in - I just don't think it has to be to the level of compulsiveness that I stuck to the last time I was training for this race. So in essence, here's my general plan for marathon training. It allows for quite a bit of freedom while I think staying true to the things that I know work for me.

1) GBTC practice. Ever. Single. Week
The times I have been in the best shape of my life have consistently coincided with being a part of a team and doing track workouts. I have an incredible opportunity to train with a whole lot of fast ladies that I have NOT taken advantage as much as I should have over the past couple of years, and I think now is as good of a time as any to start.

2) Long runs, preferably on the course, with at least a few GMP miles (only because I know I'll hammer the whole thing otherwise)
I think I've got my long run thing down pretty well...it's just something you DO on Sundays. However, one enormous problem that I run into when training alone is I run too fast. All the time. Case in point: my "easy, let's run 8:30s" 12 miler on Sunday quickly progressed into a 7:38 paced hammerfest that was completely out of my control.  I'm hoping that my request to Santa (a Garmin...I'm giving in...finally...) will help me with this.
There's also the fact that I live a half mile off the Boston course, so I really don't see any reason NOT to do my long runs there every Sunday. The only reason to change things up would be boredom, and quite frankly the Newton Hills has always been one of my favorite running routes especially during marathon season, so I don't really see that happening.

3) Keep the weekly mileage above 50, ideally peak around 70.
And I don't mean 70 in the completely cheater way that I ran 80 miles last year (2 20+ milers on a Monday and a Sunday because I skipped the first Sunday's long run due to being hungover, aka, I suck.) I would love to be a person who can run 70-80 miles every week, but realistically, I would have to sacrifice more than I'm willing to do so. Topping out at 70ish with several weeks in the 60s seems like a good step up without being crazy.

4) Don't do key workouts on the treadmill unless ABSOLUTELY necessary
I think this was a MASSIVE downfall of my 2010 Boston training that I never considered because I didn't get that running on a TM and running on a road are NOT the same.  I would do these great speed workouts on the TM which were certainly confidence boosting, but I get the feeling that the transfer wasn't there because I didn't do enough work on the roads.  With not one but two indoor tracks to choose from, I don't think this should be a problem even in the worst weather conditions.

5) Race.
I think doing 2 long distance (25K and 30K) races leading up to Baystate was a HUGE factor in improving my mental toughness.  I have a few possibilities on the schedule for this spring, including a half marathon (a PR that really, really needs to go down) so we will see how that goes.

6) Make running my priority.
Now obviously, school comes first, but if I'm being honest with myself? This semester, I have SUCKED at getting it done when I wasn't in the mood.  I think after the train wreck that was this summer, I was pretty much like...you know...I just want to have FUN this semester! And so when fun has come my way, I have accepted it, running/studying/relaxing be damned.  But if I want to train to run a PR marathon in April, that shit isn't going to fly.  Not to say that I won't be going out drinking on occasion...but running needs to trump going out.  Along those same lines, I need to get back to racing weight.  This being a running blog, not a healthy living blog, and me being blessed with a combination of an active lifestyle and a good metabolism, this is not something that I discuss much on here, if ever. But unfortunately when my thyroid decided to crap out on me over the summer, it brought with it about 12 pounds of unnecessary...extra baggage.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not fat, I know I'm not fat, and I know if any of my non-runner friends read this they would shoot me on sight.  But I know what I weighed the last time I PR'ed, I think that was a good racing weight for me, and I would like to get back there.  Which primarily involves not spending every Saturday for 3 months drinking heavily and eating fried food/cheese balls (aka, college football season).

I think it's hard to make the choice to commit yourself to this kind of true training when you don't have any friends who understand. But I have to ask myself the question - what do I want most? And truth be told, what I want most after the bullshit of 2011 is a big, fat, glorious marathon PR in 2012. Preferably with a half marathon PR being brought down along the way.

So there it is - that's what I want. Time to go get it.

Monday, November 07, 2011

So that I post more than once a month


I think I told myself that I was going to at LEAST try to post once a week, but let's face it, I post when I feel like it/have time and ONLY when I feel like it/have time...I don't understand how people have time to post 3 times a day or even once a day and I will just never be that person.  But I'm still around. Yup.

Running has been going satisfyingly well. I've been hitting solid 40+ weeks pretty consistently, aside from the one week where I fell off the bus because my PT friends and I decided to spend the weekends drinking like undergrads...which makes it difficult to run an adequate amount when you are NOT in fact an undergrad anymore and thus cannot recover like one. I remember powering through long runs after track club parties back in the day, but let me tell you those days are long gone.  Anyway, I've been pretty impressed with hanging around in the 40s despite talking 1 day off a week and not doing any long runs (unless you count 8-9 miles as long, which I do not).  Just consistently getting out there and putting in 6-9 miles every day.  I think this current scheme is pretty nice for just building a base, obviously things are going to change dramatically in 5 weeks when I start marathon training again (5. weeks. oh. god.)  But for now, it's nice.

Speaking of running, I ran a race over Halloween weekend...if you could call it a "race". It was a dinky thing put on by the 3rd years in my PT program, billed as a 5K but more like 2.9 miles in reality, no timing or anything, and I was basically planning on running it as a tempo and (ideally) winning, since I was assuming there wouldn't be a whole lot of competition. And then I saw the girl doing strides in XC spikes. CRAP DIGGITY.  Let's be serious, I was wearing a football jersey:

and was not exactly in racing mode.  I didn't warm up. I didn't do strides. Because I was planning on this just being an excuse for me to get my run in for the day and potentially win some swag.  Now I was going to actually have to attempt to race the thing? Sigh.

The bad news is that I didn't win. I was second woman, 3rd overall (the dude dressed as Prefontaine - complete with moustache, amazin g- was a legit runner). The girl in the flats beat me handily, I was about 20 seconds back from her almost instantly and never had anything to try to catch her with.  The good news is I ran 19:34 for the 2.9 miles, or 6:45 pace...in a football jersey, without a warmup, with exactly zero racing mindset (and people dodging/street crossings...this was not a closed course by any means).  And that? Is a good thing. I've gotta say, I was more than a little impressed with my ability to run the equivalent of a sub-21 5K on the amount of speedwork (read: none) that I've been doing lately.  Taking this in combination with the 20:39 I ran on a similarly low level of training earlier in the summer, I'm forced to the conclusion that I can be, and SHOULD be, able to race faster than I'm running right now.  Really, there is no reason that I should not be able to run sub-20 5Ks if I put in the work.  I just haven't.  You would think that consistently running times that aren't too far off from my PR would motivate me to work harder, but in reality I still get so excited when I see 20:xx on the clock that I hardly care.  Which is dumb. STOP SETTLING AUDREY.

Now granted the 5K isn't my focus right now, since there's this little thing called Boston that I have to start training for in...oh...6 weeks? (GAH.)  But really, the same thing applies there.  I have moments of doubt on runs when I'm like "god, 8 miles feels hard, how am I going to get back to 26.2? Let alone run a PR at 26.2?"  But I seriously can't sell myself short like that. Yeah, this year has sucked running-wise, my miles and racing schedule and speedwork haven't been what I feel like they "should" have been. But? I can still come within 30 seconds of my 5K road PR.  So why shouldn't I be able to run a faster marathon? Why am I acting like I lost sooooo much fitness when obviously that isn't true? I do NOT think Baystate was a fluke. I think I am stronger at the longer distances and that's where I have a chance to excel. I need to put in the work, trust it, and see what happens, and I think that the timing has worked out so I'm being able to build a sufficient base before the real training begins.

In other news I finally got up the guts to do hill reps on Summit Ave, which is 0.4 miles of 9-11% graded HELL.  It makes Heartbreak look like nothing.  And I just have the feeling that since its located less than a mile from my house, it will be calling me to break myself upon it over and over again this winter.

And because this post has (again) taken a dive into philosophical territory (apologies, to the 3 of you still reading) here's a picture of my Halloween costume.  Which was AWESOME.

Andrew's mom MADE these for ~$12. I think my skirt was once a prom dress.  We were snooty British oil investor 1900s folk...let me tell you, speaking in an affected British accent and calling your boyfriend Reginald becomes even more amusing when there is jungle juice present.  Halloween: allowing 20-somethings to pretend they're undergrads since forever.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I believe

I'm on track this week for my 3rd 40+ mile week in a row. Know when the last time I ran 3 40+ mile weeks back to back was? February. As in 9 months ago February. Wow. The fact that I finally seem to be headed back in the right direction has gotten me thinking about what's transpired over the past year and what it's going to take to get past it.

I realized that this is truly the first time in my entire running career that I've ever encountered a serious roadblock to improving my fitness and being successful.  Ever since I started running, from high school track and onwards, it's been a constant stream of harder workouts, longer runs, longer races, constant improvement, constant PRs, constant upward motion. There's never been a point in time where I've felt like I went backwards.  Until now.  And it happened so subtly, without my ever realizing it until months into the process. I had deluded myself into thinking all summer that the 30-odd miles I was doing every week were adequate, that it didn't really matter anyway how many days off I took, and without races to give me feedback of what I had actually lost, I slipped.  Not without reason, clearly - a hip injury, ankle sprain, hypothyroidism, and major surgery over the course of 6 months will throw anyone's plans off track. But there was more I could have done in between these setbacks had I taken the long view and realized "damn, this is going to really suck when I actually want to be a competitive runner again".

And now here I am, back standing on the brink of trying to make a comeback, to once again be striving for upward motion. I have no delusions that the path is going to be easy.  There are days, lately, when I'll be out running 7 or 8 miles at what (in theory) I want to become my marathon pace, or even something slower, and I think to myself "how in the hell will I ever run a marathon this fast again? How DID I ever run a marathon this fast, for that matter? And what the heck happened to the me that did?"  It's a challenge to see my friends on DailyMile and teammates from home out there running PRs, killing it in races - I am of course thrilled for them, but I can't deny being a little jealous, and beat up on myself as a result. I can never completely silence the doubt in my mind. But I also know that the only way that I'm going to make it back is to find a way to put those doubts aside and believe.


Belief.  It's been such an overarching theme in my running life, from the charm tied into my XC spikes to the words sharpied on my hand during every marathon.  It's not that believing will make something happen, but if you don't believe, it never will.  Belief in your legs, your training, your mind, and your heart. Belief that conquers doubt and fear. It's going to take a LOT of work for me to get back into PR shape for Boston, but if I don't believe that that's even a possibility? Well then really, what's the point. So I try to silence the doubt and find a way to believe, and I get out there and see myself improve day by day, mile by mile.

And now, since I see that it's raining, I think I'll go get my run in :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

The last 2 weeks, September roundup, and some thoughts on training

Quick recap of the past 2 weeks of training, since I was too lazy to blog last weekend. The name of the game right now is building mileage, then adding in some speedwork, and above all, NOT GETTING INJURED.  I've actually run 100% of the time in my Kinvaras since the end of August, and am beyond in love with them. I am a midfoot striker so I never really needed the giant heels that tend to come with motion control shoes, however, I also have a foot that predisposes me to a variety of injuries, most commonly medial shin splints, without a touch of stability. So I'm buying a new pair of Kinvaras, along with a pair of Saucony Mirages, which are built on the same base but give a little bit of stability as well (without the mega-heel). Sounds PERFECT for my easier/longer days, and I'll bring out the Kinvaras when I really want to fly. :)

Mon 9/19 6.5 easy, Watertown Square
Tues 9/20 7.1 including 6 x ~300 m moderate on Heartbreak Hill, I was super proud of myself for doing something that vaguely resembled a workout!
Wed 9/21 4.7 AM short Dean Road, sucked.
Thurs 9/22 8.3 Public Garden. Really humid.
Fri 9/23 6.4 Chestnut Hill Res, 97% humidity (shoot me now), almost got run down by the Harvard XC team, wah wahhh.
Sat 9/24 off! But took an awesome ballet class.
Sun 9/25 4.5 tempo, short Res loop, humid.
Weekly Total: 37.5 miles, 1 ballet class

Mon 9/26 off
Tues 9/27 6.6 moderate Dean Road, still ridiculously humid. And hot. 4 x Brad Hudson hills.
Wed 9/28 8.6 fabulous easy run on the Charles between class and Wednesday Night Beer Club...pretty much the perfect combination to get over the hump of the week! Oh, still humid.
Thurs 9/29 5.5 easy Harvard Ave. Still humid.
Fri 9/30 6 moderate Jamaicaway. This run was absolutely awful for some reason, but I met a really cute kid, so that was fun.
Sat 10/1 6.6 easy Dean Road. Wait for it...still incredibly humid. 4 x BH hills.
Sun 10/2 6.5 moderate Res alt. Felt pretty good despite procrastinating all day and being vaguely hungover.
Weekly total: 40.3 miles. No cross training.

September totals: 130.2 miles, 10 days off (excessive.) Looking at my distance totals for the past 5 months is just depressing...but then again, I guess there have been somewhat decent reasons for the shittiness. The last couple of weeks have been pleasing though, and a good indicator that things are finally back on the up and up. At this exact moment I don't consider myself to be "training". I am building a base, ideally I would like my average weekly mileage to be in the high 40s-low 50s for at least a few weeks before I start officially marathon training again in January. I'm hoping to start filling my race calendar a little more this fall as well, mostly to remember what it feels like to push myself in a racing situation, which is something I can't really recreate on my own. Also on deck for October is attempting to stay on the wagon when it comes to strength training and doing Brad Hudson's short, fast hills at least twice a week for a little extra speed stimulus.

On a somewhat related note, apparently according to our guest lecturer in Sci Basis of Movement today I am pretty much doomed to a life of hip replacements and shin splints.  Because apparently "people who run 40 miles or more a week are more likely to get injured".  Mind blowing news folks (I kid.  Obviously the more you run, the more likely your personal biomechanical weirdness will come back to bite you in the ass, or you'll try to run through an emerging injury, or you'll just plain overload your body - it makes sense).  But the funny thing is, I know for a fact that there are people in my class who subscribe to a 'healthy living' mentality of sorts who were probably like "oh my god! Well I definitely shouldn't run more than 40 miles a week, ever, because I will get injured." Granted I am all for injury prevention, and there is obviously such a thing as overdoing it (or upping your mileage too fast, killing yourself in a speed workout you have no business doing, etc) but this mentality of "if you run more than a few days a week, you'll get injured?" I call bullshit.  I have the most biomechanically jacked up feet ever (no joke, my valgus forefoot is apparently described as "the destructive foot" because of its injury causing potential) and yet I manage to run 60-70 mile weeks during marathon training...and while I have dealt with my share of injuries (hip issues, ITBS, shin splints) I've taken the necessary steps to fix them, backed off until they healed, and then went back at it in an intelligent manner...6 days a week.

I'm not saying that people don't exist in this world who really, truly can't run more than 3 or 4 days a week without injury. I'm just saying that for most people that isn't really the case.  And I'm saying that in order to be a better runner, you have to do one thing: run. Run fast, run slow, run short, run long, run hills, run flats, run everything in between.  Anything else might help you prevent injury, it might make you feel good, it might be fun...but it's not going to make you a better runner. I don't take ballet every week because it's going to make me a better runner, I take it because I LOVE it. But at the end of the day when I look at myself and see that I'm not where I want to be as a runner, it sure as hell isn't because I didn't take enough yoga classes last month. It's because I didn't run enough, or hard enough.  And if you aren't the sort of person who wants to race faster and running for you is purely something you enjoy or something you do to stay in shape - I have no problem with that. More power to you. My problem is with the people who decide "oh, hee hee, it's so trendy to run a marathon right now!" and then max out at like 30 miles a week.

I really have no idea what the underlying point of this little rant is (just another reason why approximately 10 people read this blog haha). I guess I just don't understand the point of doing something if you're not going to go for it full throttle.

Annnd now that I think I have exhausted my supply of bitchiness for the day...I'm going for a run :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Training: Week of 9/12/11

I think I'm going to try to start doing this weekly training business, even though I have a log in 2 other places...more for accountability than anything else.  And to have something to write on the blog...because...ya know.

Monday: 6.4 easy, Charles River from BU.  Felt really slow and awful, it was pretty hot still which didn't help.  Lifted at FitRec which left me sore for 4 days. Time to get back on the strength training bandwagon.

Tuesday: 6.6 easy. Dean Road. Ridiculously sore so didn't bring a watch, otherwise I would have been obsessing about how slow I was running.

Wednesday: off. Because I have 7 hours of class and I'm lame.

Thursday: 6.25 easy, home from a doctor's appointment at BMC.  The doc pretty much thought I was a nutjob for running home and I was like...whatever dude. Also it was really hot at the beginning of the run, and then it randomly started pouring rain when I was about a mile from home...pretty much awesome. Also took a 90 min ballet class which was awesome.

Friday: Didn't run, but kayaked for an hour and a half on the Charles!
Yes, I live here. I know you are jealous.

Saturday: 6.5 easy, Dean Road.  I actually ran in the morning for the first time in forever, and was listening to my Badger gameday playlist and just loving my life. I was all cheerful and waving to all of the runners I passed...highly enjoyable.

Sunday: 10.2 long, Jamaicaway + the second half of Dean Road.  This. was. AMAZING!  I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the best run I've been on in months.  I feel like all summer I've had something going on where I never was able to really get into a groove when I was running...it was always just really effortful. In retrospect, this probably had a lot to do with the fact that my thyroid wasn't actually working the way it was supposed to, but whatever the reason yesterday I finally got to remember what it's like to just not care, not think, and just run. I felt so relaxed, smooth, and strong, and on top of all that I was actually running fast. So good, so good.

Total running miles: 35.9
Highest weekly mileage since the week of July 11. OH DEAR. It really doesn't get much rougher than the last 2 months...it was really good to have some confidence inducing runs this week that give me hope that I will be able to pull things together and be in decent shape come January, when I have to start training for real.

In other news, I got my Boston confirmation the other day..eeeek! It is moderately terrifying to contemplate running another marathon BUT at the same time I am sooo excited.  I've genuinely missed the madness. And I have a bunch of friends/training partners in the Boston area who are running this year, which is going to make the winter of training that much better...not to mention all of my non-runner friends are already talking about the t-shirts they're going to make with my picture on it...bahaha.

Also...GORGEOUS FALL WEATHER. Need I say more?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let's talk about training.

First of alll....who can guess what I will be doing at 10 am tomorrow?!?!
Well..I will be sitting in Diagnostics class, but that isn't the point.  I will have my laptop with me and I will be putting that sweet sweet info in to sign me up for BOSTON!

Now this is actually a somewhat scary thing to be doing, because as you may recall, the glorious marathon that allowed me to sign up in the 10+ minutes faster than your BQ category happened almost an entire year ago.  And the year of running that has followed has been, in a word, shit. I have had motivation issues, injury issues, health issues, the fun has been never ending, and I have lost a lot of fitness.  But there is no way I'm wasting my 3:22 when I could race in my own backyard with all of my friends cheering me on in 2013, no freaking way. And I am bound and determined to put all of my life junk behind me, get my butt in gear, and spend the next 8 months getting ready to kill it in April.

So the real question is - how am I planning on regaining my long lost fitness? I'm thinking that cardiovascular fitness is going to be the easy part, since it's not like I haven't been running at ALL...my guess is my issue is going to be my legs.  Which, really, has always been my issue. So you know what that means...what up, strength training.  Yesterday was day 1 of my grand master Boston plan, which consisted of going for a run AND doing a strength workout...quite possibly for the first time since high school.  The run was sucky, since Boston apparently decided that 84 degrees and humid in September is it's new thing, and then I headed to the gym to do strength. I did a pretty standard set of lower body exercises, 3 sets of 10 each. (Fun PT fact! The ideal number of sets/reps for strength building is 3 x 8-12. Anything higher than that and you're more looking at building endurance.) All of them were just body weight except for squats + lunges, where I really upped the game and added 2 5lb weights.  Here's the sad part...I am SO. SORE.  Clearly this is an indication of the sad state of my legs, but the soreness also tells me that if I keep doing this, I WILL get stronger. And that is definitely a good thing.

As far as actual running is concerned, the plan for right now is: do it.  4 days a week ain't gonna cut it anymore. I really don't feel like I need to be doing speedwork or any insane long runs until I build up a reasonable base to start, and the first step in doing that is getting my ass out the door and running 5-8 miles every. single. day. The end.

I was going to write about my new guilty pleasure, Dance Moms, but then it got late. And I need to go running. Sooo you'll have to wait for that...I know you're crushed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to win at having surgery

So I don't have a thyroid anymore, which is weird, but the entire experience was MUCH less horrible than I expected.  Aside from some extremely mild pain at the surgery site (seriously, I'm 4 days out and on exactly zero pain meds as of today) I don't feel any different. In fact - if this makes any sense - I feel BETTER. Maybe it's the  lack of the gigantic stress black cloud hovering over my head, or maybe it's the fact that my thyroid was an angry, inflamed, possibly cancerous POS, who knows.  And also, aside from being a giant wimp beforehand, I totally won at surgery.  Didn't think that was possible? Oh, don't worry, it is...here are some helpful hints if you ever need surgery and you don't just want to have surgery, you want to WIN surgery.

-Tell your pre-op nurse that you ran 14 miles the day before.  Word will spread quickly and people will look at you like you are batshit insane.

-Have one of the hottest men you have ever seen in your life be a dental resident scrubbing in on your surgery.  Make sure to point out that they are a dentist, so they have a reason to stay longer and explain to you why they are there (if you want to be an oral surgeon, you have to do an anesthesia/general surgery residency so you can put patients under...makes sense, right?)

-Be able to max out an incentive spirometer (little thing that you inhale through to try to make sure that you are taking deep enough breaths).  Nurses, med students, and doctors alike will be amazed at your skills. Actual pre-surgery conversation:
Nurse: Okay, this is an incentive spirometer...
Me: Oh, I know how to use this, we had to learn how to teach people to use them in school.  Do you really think I need one?
Nurse: Well, we give them to everyone who's going under anesthesia. Why don't you give it a try.
Me: *Maxes out the test. Gives slightly smug look.*
Nurse: Um, wow. Okay. I've actually never seen anyone do that before.
Me: Yup. That's how I roll.

-When you come out of anesthesia, keep turning around to look at your vitals on the monitor (tricky when you've had surgery on your neck).  Make sure to tell the nurse "I don't think I need this oxygen anymore, I keep taking it off and I am still satting 100%".  She will look at you funny, but realize that you are right, and voila! O2 free!

-Make sure to be just distressed enough that the lady who makes the room assignments takes pity on you and puts you in a single room with ridiculously awesome view of the city.

-Approximately 8 hours after surgery, make sure you are power walking laps around the floor while chugging water so that your nurse will disconnect your IV.  Make people think that you are a visitor by your appearance, energy, and general lack of looking like a sick person. Annoy the nurses when you are walking faster than them.

-Borrow/steal your boyfriend's smartphone and watch episodes of Grey's Anatomy when you finally decide your are bored of walking (appropriate, no?).

-Have said boyfriend bring you Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee in the morning, even though it means he has to wake up an hour and half earlier than usual.

-Beg your resident to finish up your discharge paperwork ASAP so you can leave, then walk laps around the floor again so he has to see you every minute and cannot possibly forget.

-And the final way to win at surgery? Do not leave the hospital in a wheelchair. Direct quote: "well, usually we call for a wheelchair, but if anyone can walk out of here it's you...so you can just go."

And that, friends, is how you win at surgery.  I'm technically still not supposed to run but I also don't think anyone expected me to be feeling quite as good as I am...I have been a good little patient so far mostly because I don't feel like ripping out any stitches, but I did walk 6 miles yesterday and am planning on going to the gym today.  Who does that 4 days post-op.  Me. That's who. :) I am a bit concerned that at some point I will have the crash that comes with not having a thyroid --> not having thyroid hormone --> metabolism sloooows down and feeling exhausted and sluggish...but my hope is that since I started on meds before surgery that things will be able to level out quickly and I will continue to rock out as my normal self. That's certainly how I feel at the moment.

Also...since this IS a running blog (and will continue to be so, this will likely be the last you hear of my health issues except as they relate to my running) Boston signup is in like 3 weeks?! Holy effing crap that came up quickly. Looks like I'll be in class at the time when my signup slot begins but I will definitely have my laptop with me. It's a little scary signing up now because I feel like I'm in the worst shape I've been in quite some time, and worlds away from the runner I was at Baystate last October (can't believe it's been almost a year...sad what a shitty year of running it's been) BUT with this thyroid shit behind me (aside from one minor thing that I may or may not need in the winter) I am ready to train my ass off for the next 8 months so I am ready to toe the line and run a great race come April.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things

Things that are super about my life right now:

  • I'm headed off on Wisconsin vacation #2 tomorrow where I will be fed free meals and delicious Wisconsin beer will rain down on me like...well...rain, I guess.
  • I started taking ballet class again and remembered why I freaking LOVE to dance and never want to leave it for a long period of time again.
  • My Kinvaras are the most ballerific running shoes I have ever worn, they are like little pillows of happy on my feet and I feel more fluid, faster, and generally better when I wear them.
  • The BF and I finally took the leap into the 20th century and got legit cable.  Which means doing things like watching a 4 hour marathon of Hoarders/Intervention, or what I like to call "the train wreck that you can't look away from special".
  • It is not 100 degrees outside.
  • I just finished "Unbroken" and it totally lived up to the hype.
Things that are not so super about my life right now:
  • I have to have surgery. 
  • See above.
So I actually debated for quite awhile over whether I was going to put anything about this up on the blog or not, but then my good friend Nicole made the very wise comment that "not telling people doesn't make it not real". And thus, I tell the abridged version, anyway.  See a couple of months ago, I started to have a weird sensation in my neck when I would run hard/when I was breathing hard.  Honestly anyone who isn't quite as big of a hypochondriac as me probably would have been like whatevs, but I felt around and found this little ball right in the middle of my neck. I didn't really have time to deal with it since I was on clinical but I mentioned at a routine doctor's appointment in July and soon enough I was being referred to an endocrinologist because it turns out it was on my thyroid (yes...I did take anatomy, why do you ask?)...which is where things really got fun.  I had an ultrasound, followed by an "I'm sure it's nothing, but we should biopsy it anyway"...followed by a phone call the next day of "well, it's suspicious, it might be thyroid cancer, you need surgery." BAM.  It was like being hit by a train. Oh, did I mention that this all went down as I'm walking through a semi-sketch neighborhood of Boston after a day of jury duty on which I got picked for the jury and then had to call the defendant not guilty? Well it did. Which obviously make the whole situation even better.

To me, who has been blessed to live a pretty carefree life, this was a huge blow.  I look in the mirror and I think - how could this person, who is a runner, a smart person, who eats well, avoids self destructive activities and almost anything that could be considered "bad for you" - even MAYBE have cancer? And I cried. I yelled. I played the 'why me' game - and after all, aren't all of my friends off enjoying their summers and scrubbing in to observe surgeries, not have them? I drank to excess a couple of times because it made me feel better.  And then, after about a week of wallowing, I stopped. Just like that. Because really, what good is it doing me to make myself completely miserable? I am not alone - the PT I worked with this summer actually went through this same deal, as did one of my friends on DailyMile.  And if I injured myself and had to have surgery for that, would I really be throwing this huge fit about it? No, because I would be like "well, I will have the surgery, and it will fix me!"  And essentially, this is the same thing, it's just harder because I don't FEEL like I need to be fixed.   But sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with it.

So the big girl pants are on, and as of August 25 I will be minus 1 thyroid.  Not entirely sure what this means for XC season yet (it can take awhile to titrate hormone levels to a point where you actually feel normal, although I keep telling myself that I'll be lucky and my body will just figure it out), but all I know is that when I PR at Boston, having gone through all this shit will make it all the more sweet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

[Fill In The Blank] Training, Week 1

I'll be honest, I don't know what I'm training FOR at this point.  I've been filing most of my running lately under "base for XC" but without a goal race for the fall I am floundering around a little bit. I had a really great week of training this past week that almost started looking more like a HM/marathon week, if you don't count the shorty of a long run.  I guess I'm just trying to remember what it feels like to say to myself "hey, you don't feel like running right now? TOO BAD, suck it up and get it done."  So far, it seems to be working, even though the high heat of summer is by far the most difficult time for me to motivate myself to get out there.  I seriously think I sweat more than anyone else I know - last night I went out for an easy run in what I would consider to be acceptable weather (79, dark) and I was still a disgusting mess by the time I finished.  But last week was a great week for getting the miles in - 47.3 miles, my highest in quite some time.

Monday - 6.25 easy.  Running on Monday is something I really need to get back into...lately I have been taking Monday off, and then being a slacker on the weekend because I want to do something fun, and so taking another day off.  But if I run on Monday...that's OK! Plus it sets a nice tone for the week.

Tuesday - GBTC workout, 2 x 4000m of 300 hard/100 easy. NOT an easy workout, especially since it was 90+ degrees and humid.  I'm proud of myself for going back to practice, but at the same time it was frustrating getting left in the dust on the warmup and doing most of the workout by myself.  My usual running partners are working Tuesday nights so it's kind of not so motivational to go to practice just to work out alone.  But I was satisfied with the effort, even though I was sick to my stomach for a couple of hours afterward. 9.25 miles total.

Wednesday - Double day! 2.75 miles in the AM, 5.25 in the PM, both very easy.  Doubling at least once a week is becoming a really nice part of my schedule - I like splitting up the day into shorter runs and of course tacking on the miles is nice. :)

Thursday - 7.6 tempo, felt great and was running ~7:05 pace for 5 miles, and then just died, haha. Good run though.

Friday - 10.6 long. Seriously, I went out for 4 miles and then I just could. not. stop! Did this one in the Kinvaras and just felt unstoppable.  I had "Edge of Glory" on repeat and the weather was nice...I think both of those things helped haha.

Saturday - OFF!

Sunday - 5.6 easy, wanted to do 8 to hit 50 for the week but it just wasn't in the cards.

All in all, I'm pretty darn happy with how this week went - it looks like a real person training week!  I'm headed to Wisconsin for a wedding + northwoods vacation for the next week and a half, so training most likely won't be quite as intense...but it also will likely be supplemented with mountain biking, hiking, swimming...etc.  So excited!

Friday, July 01, 2011

June Recap!

2 posts in 1 day? What is this madness?  Just had to finish out the week/month with my June stats analysis.  It was a good month, things are finally back on the upswing.

Miles run: 159.0
Rest days taken: 5 [+ 2 days when I ran/walked less than 3 miles with Andrew]
Differential from May: +55.2 miles
Highest mileage week: 40.5 [6/20-6/26]
Races: 1, an surprisingly solid 5K!

Current read: Song of the Silk Road - Mingmei Yip
Actually just finished this one, while I wasn't always a fan of the writing style (kind of awkward and overly descriptive at times) I got totally sucked into the story and ended up really enjoying it!

Current guilty pleasure:

Sigh. Lady Gaga, you scare me, but I am completely obsessed with this song.  Also, RIP Clarence Clemons.

Current excitement: Starting my last real-person-job free summer!
Oh, and the fact that my beloved training website, runningahead.com, just added a training plans feature. Because I am an epic nerd. :)

July Goals

First I will give myself a big pat on the back because...I am officially done with my first full time PT clinical! It went SO well and I feel like I learned an insane amount...I'll definitely miss my patients (especially adorable old men) but at the same time I am happy to say hellooooooo summer! Welcome back to my life, lazy days of reading for pleasure, staying up late for no reason, and running whenever I feel like it!  However with my new abundance of free time, I've decided I really need to set some goals for myself to keep from slacking.  Soo here are my goals for July!

1. Go back to GBTC practice.
2. Go back to GBTC practice.
3. GO BACK TO GBTC PRACTICE!

Enough is enough.  I need to put on my big girl pants and get back to track workouts...yes they are going to be hard, but with nothing else on my schedule I really don't have the excuse of "I don't have time to take the train over there" any more.

4. Go to yoga at least once a week, preferably more.
I can tell when I don't go to yoga...my legs (hammies especially) get mad.  Now that I'm free to go to any class that any studio offers time-wise, its' time to take advantage!

5. At least 20 minutes of strength training, 3x per week.
It's 20. damn. minutes.  I really have no excuse for slacking on this even when I'm busy.  Gotta put the goal out there to make myself do it though...

6. Race at least once.
Self explanatory. A 5 mile or 10K would be ideal.  In theory I could race an 8 miler in Stowe on the 17th...but...yeah...my preparedness for a hilly 8 miler is questionable at this point.  We'll see.

7. Higher mileage than June. No excuses.

Now that they're on paper, I have to do it, right? However, we'll put off the goals for one more day because I have some clinical completion celebration to do. If you'll excuse me....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Watermelon Beer Reviews

First things first...I was out the door and running at 5:41 am this morning....you may give me a standing ovation now. This probably explains why I'm drinking my second iced coffee of the day as we speak.  But this isn't about my awesome morning running skills, this is about beer.  Yes, beer.  I've decided that since I spend way too long not blogging because all I'm doing are lamesauce easy runs, that I need to find some other things to write about once in awhile.  One of these things might be PT related stuff.  The other is craft beer.  I'm well beyond the "OMG COLLEGGGGGE" drinking stage, but damn, do I enjoy a good craft beer. So today's topic: watermelon beer!

Watermelon beer is somewhat new to me, as I'm usually more of a stout/imperial IPA kind of girl...but in the summer, it's pretty hard to find one that's more refreshing.  Here are 3 different watermelon beers, each very different, that I've tried and would like to share with you!

#1 - 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat
beeradvocate.com
This is, hands down, my favorite of the 3. Pretty much it is the most refreshing beer I have ever tasted.  It's pretty amazing because it tastes like watermelon, but it isn't really sweet (kind of like...a real watermelon!).  The flavor is much subtler and it's really light and refreshing.  And it comes in a CAN!  Need a beer for a picnic, the beach, a backyard game of frisbee? This is about as good as it gets.  Also, I drank this beer while cheering both the Bruins and Packers to national championships this year, so I think we will call it the official beer of my sports teams winning things.

#2 White River Watermelon Wheat
This is from a tiny brewery in Amesbury, MA, and I was able to try it at the American Craft Beer Festival, although I'm not sure if you can find it outside the Amesbury area.  From what I remember it was was similar to Hell or High Watermelon, with a lighter watermelon flavor. Very refreshing.  Also, they served it with a little chunk of watermelon in it at the festival...a nice touch. :)

#3 Thomas Hooker Watermelon Ale
beeradvocate.com
This one is completely different.  And honestly, I'm not 100% sold.  Andrew deemed it 'surprisingly ale-like' for a watermelon beer, but for me it was like being punched in the face with a watermelon Jolly Rancher.  The taste was a little too fake-watermeloney for me, but considering that Andrew hates sweet beers and enjoyed this one, maybe everyone tastes it differently.  Worth a shot if you're looking for a little sweeter watermelon beer, I can still imagine this one being good at a cookout.

Well that was fun!  I'm off to yoga because my hamstrings are angry at me for not going last week.  Hopefully a good yoga session will fix me right up :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Under the radar racing: Tuesday Nite Trot 5K race report!

Hi. I know. It's been a month + again.  I started my first full time PT clinical in the middle of May and blogging has been on the back burner a bit...but you know I'm around. I'm done in 2 weeks so should have more time for blog fun times then!

First things first...I actually have a RACE REPORT to share. Shocking, I know. It's June and here I am reporting only my 2nd race of 2011...sad.  But alas, I have been afflicted lately by something I'll call "race chickenoutosis". Symptoms include seeing races and being totally gung ho like 'oh, I am totally going to race that 5K!' and then not following through with it because you are too afraid that your 30-35 miles per week of easy running just isn't going to cut it when it comes to a 5K, and you're going to run a terrible race.  And really, my confidence at this point doesn't need another hit, what with the Nashua 6K being basically the worst race I've ever run and all.

But finally I put on my big girl running shorts and decided I was racing a damn 5K. I picked one specifically for the fact that I thought it was going to be small and low key - the Tuesday Nite Trot.  This was also good because I could go straight there from work, without having any time to go home and chicken out.  So I finally showed up at Artesani Park....with no watch.  I was running late for work in the morning and completely forgot it, so for the first time since freshman year of college, I would be running a race watchless.  As I had expected, things were very chill, which was exactly what I wanted.  Definitely a small race, tent with no frills t-shirts and numbers, a few people milling around.  I kept telling myself that it was just a tempo run, run by feel, no one cares what time you run today. It's not big deal if you run a 22 something. Whatever.  This is baseline...see what baseline is.  There were only a couple of other women who looked even moderately serious so I knew I would probably be close to the front regardless...perfect opportunity to just go run hard and see what happens.

Annnd we were off.  One of the fast looking girls and 3 or 4 guys shot off in a pack and I had no interest in going that direction since the more I looked at the girl the more she looked like the sub-20/sub-19 type.  I glued on to a guy in a BAA shirt and just ran by feel.  This was quite the interesting experiment - can I use what my body is telling me and figure out what I need to do here? I passed BAA guy, and was shortly passed by a college-age guy I had been chatting with before the race. Whatever.  Then I heard someone's Garmin beep and I knew we were at the mile (not that it mattered)...apparently there are no mile markers in this race either.  Another girl passed me and I wanted to go with her, but I was having the beginnings of a wicked side cramp and so decided to let her go.  It was getting into misery time but it was like...just keep the legs moving, strong strides, breathe through this stitch.  We finally crossed the bridge that signaled the turn towards the finish (running up the teensy 'hill' of the bridge and my legs were like whyyyy) and I was just desperate to be done.  I felt like I had slowed down immensely the second half and really wasn't expecting anything stellar...so imagine my surprise when I get close to the finish and the numbers are still in the 20s! Um, what?!  I crossed the line in 20:39 and it was like....WHAAAAT?!

So this...is really good.  First of all, because my confidence has been restored that I'm not a slow pile of blah and that I actually am still capable of running fast, even on limited training. Second, apparently my baseline is a lot higher than I thought, because I remember when I had to kill myself over 3 months of XC training to run a 20:42 on a similarly flat course. Needless to say I am pretty pleased to run my 2nd best non-track 5K on probably the shittiest month of training I've put together in the last 2 years.  Maybe there is something to this "run easy" business after all...but of course I also see the bright and shiny allure of sub-20 and the wheels start turning: If I can run 20:39 on no training, imagine what I could do with a couple months of 5K specific speedwork....

Oh, and I won a pint glass. Which is pretty much the best possible award, even though I have way too many at home already. :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Nashua 6K: At least I didn't DNF

Yesterday I ran the Nashua Medical Center 6K, part of the NE-Grand Prix series this year, and I have no reservations about saying that it was one of my worst racing performances of my life. However, it was also the first race of my life where I legitimately injured myself and had every reason to DNF...but didn't.  So...there's that.

I drove up to the race with Joy and Jen (both of whom just ran Boston, and Jen had just finished the Cape Relay like, the night before) and none of us were super jacked about the race. I clearly had gotten myself into a bad mental pattern because I know I'm not in racing shape, ESPECIALLY not short racing shape, but I knew I just needed to get out there and suck it up and get the first awful one over with so I could have some sort of motivation to go back to short distance training so the next one wasn't so bad.

We got to the race and Tom's reaction to seeing me was like...laughter. Seriously, lol.  I don't think he could believe I had actually come, because he knows I'm out of shape, and he knows I know I'm out of shape, so he was surprised that I signed myself up for basically, pain.  We met up with my old running buddy Kelly, who lives in Nashua, she wasn't racing but she came on the warmup with us on part of the course, and told us she didn't think the rest of the course was that hilly.

Next thing I knew, we were on the start line. And I did not want to be there. Going into a race unprepared is just...not a good feeling.  In the back of your mind you hope somehow you'll just gut it out and kill it, but for the most part you know it's going to suck. A lot. And it's your own fault, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Then we were off, and I was quickly feeling the "ahh what is this running fast BS?!" feeling...but I locked on the backs of Joy and Jen and was feeling pretty strong running behind them....and then I stepped in a pothole, rolled my ankle (pain! mayday! red alert!) and found myself flying through the air and thudding to the ground.  Honestly given how early it was in the race and how tight the pack was, I'm astounded no one tripped on my. I couldn't even process what was going on and my ankle was screaming, my first thought was "shit. you really should drop out." But I just. couldn't. So I got up and started hobbling along, in the meantime getting passed by about 50 people. After a few minutes I was finally able to regain some semblance of a normal stride but it still hurt like hell and obviously any momentum I had was gone.

I came through the mile at 6:58ish (which is shocking considering the amount of time I spend on the ground and limping), and the rest of the race was just a waste.  The second mile was entirely uphill, and I was hyperventilating from the pain and from the shock and frustration of what had just happened; any fight I'd had in me to try to run a decent race was completely gone.  I would occasionally try to pick it up and then my ankle would tell me to eff off, and so I would slow down. I got passed by a 9 year old girl wearing all pink.  I got passed by old women and chunky middle aged men.  It was demoralizing, it was frustrating, it was awful.  I knew that there was no point in exacerbating my already effed-up ankle by attempting to run faster, but still, seeing 7:40 as a split in a 6K? I wanted to curl up and die.

Finally got to the last uphill stretch towards the finish, I finally got past a girl I had been leapfrogging with all race (small consolation prize), crossed the stupid finish line, and then my ankle was like "YOU STUPID WOMAN WHY DID YOU FINISH?!" I explained to my teammates what happened which made me feel a little better (like, hey guys, I'm NOT actually this slow!) and they went off looking for some ice for me, which apparently they did not have.  Um...okay.  This race is at a medical center, and you don't have ANY ice?? Not even at the "first aid" tent? What do you have there, bandaids?

The only good things about the day were that I didn't run a personal worst (shockingly), the race gave out running hats which I actually kind of like, and the GBTC women won for the team competition, which gives us a big lead in the grand prix! Oh, and we went out to brunch afterwards.  Nothing can soothe the hurt of a bad race like a huge, cheesy omlette and home fries.

Today my ankle is swollen and painful, but I think it's probably just a grade I sprain and will be fine in a couple of days. I think more frustrating than the fact that I got hurt in the first place was that I felt like it gave me an excuse of sorts to bail out on myself in a race that I knew was going to suck.  And I know looking back that it would have been stupid to push and try to run harder through it, but still in the end to me it kind of feels like a cop out.  But then again, it would have felt like way more of a cop out if I didn't even finish the race...so I guess there's that.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Week of 4/25-5/1 + April Recap

4/25/11-5/1/11
Total miles: 50.1
Total runs: 7
Total strength/XT workouts: 2
Total workouts: 1.5
Longest run: 13.3 miles

I realized at the end of this week that this was my first 50 mile week since mid-March. I know April was a shitty month thanks to my hip issues, but damn did I fall off the boat hard.  It's actually funny because hitting 50 this week just kind of....happened...I think the plan was more like 44...but hey, when things are working, why not?

I went to yoga at Karma Yoga once, which left me sore for 4 days. I had a really crappy/aborted GBTC workout, but then totally made up for it with the world's most amazing tempo/fartlek on Saturday.  I FINALLY got in a semi-legit long run of 13.3 miles and felt fantastic. I only made 2/3 of my strength training mission, but 2 is definitely better than none - going to make that 3 x happen this week. :)  All in all, a pretty solid week of running, with VERY nice weather and some very enjoyable runs.

April Recap
Total miles: 139.6
Days off: 9
Workouts: 3
Longest run: 15.5 miles

April sucked balls. By far my lowest mileage month of the year so far, and given the fact that I spent a week and a half not running and another week running super tentatively, that's no surprise (in fact, I'm astounded that the numbers were this high).  I don't think I really went too far backwards in terms of fitness, but I sure as hell didn't go forward.  However, with the discovery of what's actually wrong with my hip and strategies to make it better, combined with the fact that school is winding down for the semester, I think May is going to be a hell of a lot better.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The mysteries of life...explained!

Well, the mysteries of MY life anyway. So I haven't really talked about it much on the blog, but I've been having some rather frustrating hip issues for pretty much the entire winter.  The problem was in my right hip early on, after I was starting to get back into maintenance (fact of the day: I can NEVER spell that word right) mode after Baystate, and then sort of sneakily moved into the left hip after a month or so of painfree running.  For the most part it was more of an annoyance than a major issue, and obviously my stubborn self kept running like nothing was the matter even when I was limping during the recovery periods during hard workouts. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I did a (way too) hard 9 miler, and the next day when I walked out my door to run I couldn't.  I was limping too badly to go with the illusion any longer..so I didn't run.  And I didn't run for a week and a half.  After that, I ran really slow for a few days, and have since been training pretty much normally, but the problem still exists, it's just much more under control.

Now right around the time when it flared up, my lab instructor had put out a call for people who actually had lower extremity issues to be 'patients' in our final lab so we could kind of put all the skills we've learned over the semester together into an actual exam.  Yes...being a PT student has its perks.  So I gladly signed up because while I was starting to get a decent idea of what was going on, I figured what essentially would be a free PT eval with the help of 10 of my friends couldn't possibly be a bad thing.  In the process I found out a LOT of interesting things about my effed up body, which explain pretty much every injury I've ever had in my life.  (Also...if you don't want to be super bored by a bunch of PT talk that I nerdily find really interesting...feel free to skip this part)

1) I have a forefoot varus. I'm not sure how to explain this but I will try because hey, that's kind of like studying, right? So basically, the bones of my forefoot (metatarsals & toes) sit at an angle compared to my heel.  So when my ankle is in neutral, my big toe and 1st met actually sit up off the ground.  So what does this mean for my life? Pretty much it means when I walk/run, I land really far in supination, on the way outside of my foot...but then, gravity wants to pull my foot down, so I fall into overpronation...no bueno.  And because I'm even more awesome, I also take off from the inside of my foot (mostly my big toe) instead of rolling back outside before I take off....this was MIND BLOWING to me.  I always assumed you were supposed to take off from your big toe! Nope. Apparently not. Those awesome calluses I have on the inside of my big toe? Normal people don't have those.  So anyway, this super awesome foot type puts stress on all kinds of structures, and can lead to things like....IT band issues (yup, had those), shin splints (check plus), and a lot of other common injuries.

The good news is I'm wearing the right type of shoes for this.  Mostly because I win at picking out running shoes...duhhh.

2) I have a really weak ass.  Pretty self explanatory really, but both my glute max and glute med are extremely weak, and this moreso that my weird feet are pretty much the cause of my current hip issue.  Interestingly, I NEVER had a running related injury until I stopped dancing....lo and behold, you use both sets of glutes a LOT in dance, and apparently they've gotten lazy in the past couple of years.  I almost guarantee this is why I had such bad hamstring issues at Boston last year, because I was only using my hamstrings to extend my hip instead of my hamstrings and glutes, which is pretty much a recipe for hamstring cramps and tendinopathies.
Thanks a bunch, glute med.
So it turns out that my "strength 3 times a week, no excuses" plan couldn't have come at a better time - because not only is it going to make me awesome, it's going to FIX me! What more could you want?

Also my IT band is tight. HUUUUUGE surprise there *sarcasm*

So in the end, my 'diagnosis' was iliopsoas tendinopathy with some kind of irritation in my hip joint too, probably caused by impingement of some sort. It was REALLY (in the most nerdy way possible) cool to think through the different tests that you would do and see how it actually played out.  Clearly I managed to pick the right profession!  Although, we'll see if I'm still saying that next week when I'm in the middle of finals studying hell...

I also ran 7.3 delightful miles today in the glorious 72 degree weather with no watch and no ipod.  Bliss, pretty sure I found you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston 2011: Thoughts as a spectator

So I had an absolute blast and a half spectating.  I loved screaming my guts out at everyone who passed - if you had your name on your shirt or some sort of interesting apparel, you were getting some ridiculous motivation from me - and watching the elite race (and explaining it to my non-runner friends) was really cool.

However....

I think spectating brought it home for me that drinking and screaming and watching are fun...but out there on the course? That's where I want to be.  I wasn't sad that I wasn't running this year since with my injury issues over the winter it would have been a train wreck anyway, it was just more of a yearning for the marathon and an epic explosion of excitement for Boston 2012.  Like, as soon as I got home from spectating, I wrote 4/16/2012 on a post it note and stuck it up on my desk.  Because THAT is the motivation for my next year of training. To be one of those people running through Brookline past a group of drunken screaming grad students at this time next year...and to be killing it. :) (Although after this year's 'once in a lifetime' weather, how much do you want to bet that next year its going to be 35 and pouring? Hmm?)

So we started out the morning at my apartment with a power hour to ensure that we were all sufficiently ready to cheer when it came time to go down to the course....5.5 beers in an hour will generally ensure that that happens. Hah! We were watching the race coverage on TV while we did this and everyone was commenting on Kim Smith taking it out like a crazy woman. "Why would you do that? I think I would want to stay in the pack" commented one of my friends, which honestly at the time I kind of agreed with, but she was looking so strong that I was interested to see what would happen by the time they were passing us (~mile 23)

We headed down to the course around 11 and staked out our spots - the crowd was pretty sparse at this point, but soon the elite women were coming through!  We were all confused looking around for Smith, at first I assumed that she had just dropped back but more and more runners kept coming at we never saw her...only later did we find out that she had a torn soleus and had to drop out.  Poor girl :( I was actually really rooting for her because I know she trains in Providence, so even though she isn't American she's kind of "local".

I took a lot of pictures of the elites...
Desiree Davila in the LEAD! I don't think I even processed while I was watching that this was an American woman.  I wish this picture was less blurry, because it is cool. 


Kara Goucher...none of my friends could believe that she had a baby 6 months ago.  I was so excited to watch her run!

Top 2 men - Mutai & Mosop - on their way to a course record/world best/whatever you want to call it with wind and asterisks and question marks...still a pretty epic time

Ryan Hall! Happy to see him having a solid day out there today.

The perils of marathon running.  Hey, I would be completely willing to poop myself if it meant I could run a 2:37 marathon (which this woman did)
My running buddy's husband Ryan, rocking the GBTC red!

After the elites my picture taking trailed off, because I was mostly focused on waving my sign and screaming at the top of my lungs.  I also realized yesterday that what Andrew said last year was completely correct, that it is almost impossible to pick out individual people out of the endless stream of runners unless a) they're wearing something really distinctive or b) they recognize YOU.  Out of all of the bloggers/DMers/teammates of mine running, I saw maybe 6 GBTCers and one DMer who runs for the BAA (although in retrospect, I think I noticed a couple others, I just didn't realize it at the time). 


All in all, a really fun day.  We all got quite sunburnt and were pretty much dead to the world by 7 pm...kind of like we would have been had we actually run the race...haha.

Yesterday I went for a delightful 7.75 miles, my longest in almost 2 weeks since trying to figure out this hip issue, and actually felt great.  I tried to keep the pace easy, ended up with 8 flat, which I suppose is acceptable, and I promise based on effort it truly did feel easy.  I'm hoping to get in a decent mileage week of easy running this week, and then see if I can head back to GBTC practice next week to at least complete part of the speed workout.  God knows if I'm going to be racing a 6K in a few weeks, I need to remember how to run fast...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Running slow to run fast

I had a mindblowing experience today.

So I was reading the May issue of Running Times (if you are not aware, a FAR superior publication to Runners World, catering much more to competitive runners/racers with lots of interesting articles on elites and training/racing type articles that go way beyond couch to 5K...I highly recommend.).  I had initially bought the mag at Whole Foods because my alma mater track club, the WTC, had a big old 2 page feature in it, which is pretty sweet.  But the main training article was on being "racing fit" all year round while still adding in periods of 'peaking' intensity for an A race.  The concept is nothing new to me and it's always something I've generally tried to subscribe to (not so much this winter, but let's not talk about that) so that wasn't the crazy part - the mindblower was when I looked at the paces that were suggested for the various types of workouts (easy/maintainance/long, tempo, aerobic threshold, and intervals)

Using 6:30 as my approximate 5K pace, here's what I got:
anaerobic threshold (ie, short tempo): 85-95% of 5K pace, for me, 6:50-7:38
aerobic threshold (steady state runs, long tempos, the later minutes of progression runs): 75-85% 5K, for me 7:38-8:40
intervals: 1500-5K pace, 5:45ish-6:30
easy/recovery/long: 65-75% of 5K pace, for me, 8:40-10:00

Now we all know I'm pretty much incapable of running easy. Ever.  But when I looked at these paces and realized that I'm running at the low end of aerobic threshold or faster every. single. day. it was like....whoa.  Might I be actually hurting myself rather than helping myself by running like an idiot day after day? The answer, I'm pretty sure, is yes...but actually seeing concrete paces kind of helped put things in perspective a bit.  Granted, my 5K probably should be faster than it is (although interestingly, according to McMillan, my 5K PR is actually quite a bit faster than my marathon would suggest, it's the 10K/half times that I 'should' be running that I haven't hit yet) and I think 10 minute miles are a little excessively slow, but even so, there are a fairly significant number of days in my week when I SHOULD be running 8+ minute pace.  Why is this so difficult for me to comprehend? I ran the best race of my life after training hard, but logging plenty of slower miles, you would think that would be enough to get it through my head.

This is especially interesting to me in light of the fact that a) I've felt stale as stale can be for...well...pretty much since Baystate. And I suppose, after 3 consecutive hard marathon training cycles, "overtrained" is a word that could possibly have been used to describe me, especially taking into account the 'I can't run easy' business.  And b) I've been riding the vague & nagging injury bus since November, with the latest exacerbation being a weird hip thingy that left me unable to run for the past week and a half.  Things finally seem to be resolving themselves after some time spend with the elliptical and the pool, and thank god because a fem neck stress fracture was on my differential diagnosis list for awhile, but it has gotten me thinking about whether I just go at it too damn hard day after day, and it's bringing me down both mentally and physically.  When running is hard every single day a lot of the fun goes out of it, and when you're injured a lot of the fun goes out of it.

SO...my new plan. I've pretty much realized that my A race for the next year is Boston 2012.  The marathon is what I care about, training for it is what I love, and quite frankly, while I think maybe I have a 19:30 5K in me, I think the longer distances are where I belong. Yes I'm planning on racing cross, and summer races (assuming I can get back into shape after this damn injury), but THE goal is a PR at Boston next year.  And to really be ready to go where I've never gone before in my peak training for that race, I need to be consistent in my miles and my workouts, but not get burnt out.  And...ta da...that's where running easy comes in.  It's going to be hard, but I feel like it's become clear to me that I need to change something in my training if I want to improve, and I think in my case it means running easy enough on the easy days to really be able to run the hard days hard..and to WANT to run the hard days hard.  I see people on DM who are FAST - sub-19 5K fast - who run like 8:45-9:00 on their easy runs...and I'm like, they're faster than me, why on earth am I running my easy runs so much harder than them? This makes no sense. It's going to be a challenge for my mind to tell my legs to slow the eff down, but damn, I'm going to try.

On that note, today I ran my longest run in a week and a half, 6.75 out on the Boston course.  My first mile I ran in 8:40...success!  Except then I ended up with an 8:00 average...which is still progress...come on people, I'm learning here.

Also...I would be lying if I said I was not just a *little* bit jealous of everyone running Boston on Monday.  You know how it goes.  HOWEVER...Marathon Monday marks my first every opportunity to spectate a road race. Ever. I'm always the one racing them, duh. And, it also just so happens that Marathon Monday involves starting to drink somewhere in the vicinity of 7 am, a la 11am Badger games in undergrad.  And you know what's better than a runner who knows what people want to hear at mile 23? A drunken runner who knows what people want to hear at mile 23 ;)   I'm sure I'll have an epic spectating report up sooon.

And to anyone reading this is racing on Monday - you are ready to kill it, DON'T STOP BELIEVIN! I'll be the crazy girl screaming at mile 23 :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

To those about to run, I salute you

Because you ran miles in the cold, in the sun, in the wind, in the snow, on sheets of ice and on treadmills, on days when the wind was at your back and days when you cursed the very fact that you were running at all.

Because you've been there, in all of your multicolored glory, through the months where there's nothing but white to be seen, as motorists honk and pedestrians gaze in confusion at these crazy fools out in the negative windchill. Or you've run like an animal, half naked in the summer sun, hoping to finish before the temps climbed above 90.  The weather didn't matter. You ran.

Because you've broken down muscles and sat with teeth clenched in a ice bath, because you've performed amateur foot surgery on yet another black toenail, because you've diligently done your PT exercises in the hope that maybe, just maybe, that nagging injury won't hurt on race day. Because you've persevered.

Because you've done tempos, hills, fartleks, intervals, and myriad other workouts that you can explain to a non-runner but that they'll never understand.  Because you gutted it out on that last 1000.  Because you didn't give up in the middle of that horrible tempo. Because you carried on.

Because some days you had an exam to study for, a kid to take care of, dishes piling up in the sink, a boss with too many projects to comprehend, hardly time to think...and still you ran. You ran when the alarm went off at 4 am, you ran in the dark of night at 8 pm, you ran at lunch.  Because you ignored the co-workers and friends who thought you were crazy.  Because maybe, a little bit, you are.

Because there were days when you doubted.  Dark days when you thought "why?".  Days when you wondered "is this worth it?" Days when you felt like you were going to collapse under the weight of your own expectations, days when the wind was in your face no matter which way you turned. Because you never let your doubts overcome your passion.

Because there were good days too.  Days when your feet seemed to sprout wings and carry you effortlessly along, runs with friends where the conversation made the miles fly by.  Tough workouts that you finished with aching legs but a full heart.  Long runs - maybe even your longest runs ever - to remember. Because you know what it's like to fly.

Because on Saturdays and Sundays, you were gone for 3 and 4 hours, leaving families, studying, work sleeping in their beds.  Because you know what flavor of Gu will get you through when your legs are aching at mile 15 of a 22 miler.  Because you know where the best public restrooms lie.

Because maybe you were told you couldn't.  Maybe it was you yourself who thought "I can't".  But somewhere deep inside, there was some tiny spark that said "you can".  And because you will.

Because on race day, you will cross two lines - a start and a finish.  Between those lines lies 26.2 miles of a race that you are ready to run. Because you're shooting for a PR, a BQ, a marathon finish.  Because you WILL finish.  Because no matter what awaits you out on the course on raceday, whatever Mother Nature can throw down from the skies, whatever your body dreams up, whatever the roads throw at you, you can trust in this: you belong here.  And you are ready.

Good luck to all of my Boston Marathon running friends...I salute you all and can't wait to cheer you on out there on the course!!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Worst blogger ever? Probably me.


Hmm...over a month since my last post...again...I'm pretty amazing at this whole blogging thing aren't I? I think it's because my training has been less than thrilling lately (especially given that I'm not actually..."training" for anything in particular per se) and who would have thought, being a PT student is actually sort of time consuming? Anyway, I hope you all don't hate me for abandoning you (for anyone who actually does/still reads this?) and I am really going to try to return to a more normal blogging schedule, even if it's just reposting elaborations on my dailymile workouts. I guess in a way that has become like a blog, since each workout presents the opportunity to ramble about it...and we know how much I love rambling!


Well, in the spirit of actually writing SOMETHING on this thing...today I ran 15.5 miles.  Actually, when I mapped it out I got 16, but since I ran ~4.5 on a trail that I'm sure is slightly shorter than my estimate (and I don't think I ran 7:30 pace for 16 miles) I rounded down. It was a gorgeous day and I actually had FUN on a long run thanks mainly to a new route + a newly discovered park with TRAILS which are pretty much my happy place.  There were also puppies, including a golden retriever who came bounding up to me with a stick and basically started begging me to pet him. Ummm yes...I will stop my watch and freaking snuggle with you, adorable dog. 
15.5 miles - 2:00:23 - 7:46 pace


My next supposed race is the James Joyce 10K on May 1. I have no idea what my level of preparedness for this race is but it's becoming quite clear to me that if I don't run a damn race soon I'm going to go nuts and lose all motivation to run. Probably at the same time.  There's also the possibility of a 5K at BC in a couple of weeks, but that will probably be a more spur of the moment thing.  Speaking of a couple of weeks...my main running related thought process lately has been to SPECTATING Boston!! And yes, I am wicked excited.  I know a lot of people running between dailymile friends, bloggers, and my club/other Boston people, so I plan on making like 18 different signs, yelling a lot, and generally being the most super spectator ever. (So for those of you running Boston...if you feel like letting me know what you'll be wearing so I can look for you and cheer for you I'd love it! :))


And now, because I really need to get back to studying neuro, I'm going to do this random bloggy thing that I found @Runner's Rambles. And I do enjoy random surveys!


Outside my window … it's dark, but there are lots of cars going by.
I am hearing … Chopin radio on Pandora (classical music is my study aid of choice)
I am thinking … about neuro. Sort of. Or about how much fun I had last night!
I am thankful … for my spectacular boyfriend and for my PT crew, I would not be surviving this program without them!
I am reading … Neuroanatomy through Clinical Cases, I know you are deeply jealous.
I am hoping and praying … that I did well on the 2 exams I took last week, and that I do well on the one coming up this week!
I am wearing … Adrenaline dance sweatpants and my WTC sweatshirt...scrubbin' it hard lol.
I am creating … the most beautiful set of neuro notes ever. Seriously, I love highlighters.
From the kitchen … I made some amazing chili on Friday!
Around the house … messiness everywhereee...and lots of laundry that needs to be done.
Plans for the rest of the week … peds form tomorrow night, neuro studying the next few days, hopefully making it to a yoga class since I bought a Groupon for them!
A Picture to share …this is from earlier this winter, when I went running in 12+ inches of snow. SO happy I don't have to see this anymore until next winter! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm going running after this. Promise.

I found/stole this delightful survey [I feel the need to note that I just typed 'surgery' which apparently represents where my brain is right now....7 am lecture on knee replacements = waaaaaah] from lindsey @ chasing the kenyans, and since I have 15 minutes until my self imposed time when I must be out the door and running, I'm doing it.  More substantial content to come at some point in the future.


A) Age: 23
(B) Bed Size: queen, and I don't know how I ever slept on a twin.
(C) Chore You Hate: laundry
(D) Dogs? LOVE. 3 years working with all shapes and sizes, and can't wait to have one of my own.
(E) Essential Start Your Day Item: coffee
(F) Favorite Color: orange
(G) Gold or Silver? well...gold if it's a medal. Silver in general life.
(H) Height: 5'6''
(I) Instruments You Play: secret time! I've dabbled in piano, tenor sax, and drum set, and I played oboe/English horn from 5th grade through high school.  Alas, the one thing I've ever been naturally good at, I really never was super interested in...haven't played since senior year of HS.
(J) Job Title: PT student.  Please, let me pay YOU so I can work!
(K) Kids: eventually, 1 or 2.
(L) Live: Boston
(M) Mom's Name: Barbara
(N) Nicknames: Audge, Audgers
(O) Overnight Hospital Stays? an ER visit or 2, that's it
(P) Pet Peeve: People (or things...ie buses/trains) that are late
(Q) Quote from a Movie: "We're doing this thing called jogging...or maybe it's yogging, it might be a soft j. Anyway it's this thing where you just RUN for an extended period of time, it's supposed to be wild!"
(R) Right or Left Handed? right
(S) Siblings: 1 sister
(T) Time You Wake Up? an hour and 15 before class starts
(U) Underwear: currently - pink with strawberries
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: raw green pepper
(W) What Makes You Run Late: Not being able to find anything, ever. Keys, wallet, phone, at least one of these things is missing on any given morning
(X) X-Rays You've Had Done: Couple of wrist x-rays for my fractures at age 4 and 11
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: one time I made stuffed shells, and they were really good.  Not much of a cook and definitely not a baker, I hate to say.
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: aside from dogs, goats, llamas, otters...I like animals that are cute in a bizarre way...like, goats are really weird. But I find them adorable.



8 minutes to spare! It's run time. Woo hoo!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Adventures at the indoor track

I'm on track to run 40+ miles AGAIN this week! 2 weeks in a row! That hasn't happened in...er...awhile. Like since Baystate awhile.  No wonder I'm so out of shape...I have been sucking. it. up. when it comes to actually running acceptable mileage [for me.] Granted my rash of injuries over the past couple months hasn't been any help with that.  But I THINK [fingers so majorly crossed] that I may have finally snapped out of the funk and am on my way back to...something.

My body is perplexed right now. It wants to be marathon training.   I did a great 30 min/slightly more than 4 miles tempo on Wednesday where I just locked in and cruised for half an hour...best part was I was going into the workout thinking of doing 3 x 10 minute tempos with breaks in between, and I sucked it up and did the whole half hour - this is the mental toughness I need to start finding again.  But my legs are like "tempo? psh I can handle tempo!"  Actual legit speedwork? Not quite so much.  Anything below about 6:30 pace isn't sitting so well, and while tempos have their place in track training they're not going to get me to a fast 5K on the track in the spring. I know, the time will come. I'm proud of myself for FINALLY getting back to GBTC workouts (well, not this week, since Reggie was closed due to snowpocolypse part #593) even though I'm getting my ass kicked by everyone at the moment. But besides being a major slice of humble pie, working out with the club is motivation to get back, because I know who I should be running with and the fact that they're killing me in a 600s workout is about all the motivation I need to snap out of my wintry blahs and get my ass out there and run.

So musings aside, I've seen a bunch of glimpses of my crazy competitive self over the past couple of weeks.  Due to the ridiculous weather and the fact that I'd prefer not to roll my ankle again and/or die in slushy wetness, I've been spending a decent amount of time running circles on the upstairs track at BU.  It's 7 laps to a mile, so basically like running on any other indoor track out there, but what makes it really entertaining is the people.  Oh, the people. OK - so at risk of sounding like a mean/terrible person, I do a lot of people watching/judging when I'm running on the track.  Don't get me wrong, I'm totally supportive of everyone who is getting out there and running and trying...but sometimes when I'm running in circles for an hour I amuse myself by judging the people around me. [I know, I knowww...who am I to be miss high and mighty, blah blah blah.  I in no way think that I am the best or the coolest or the fastest or even anywhere close to any of those things. But musing over other people's behavior distracts me from the fact that I am running in circles. So shoot me.]

My personal favorite occurrence has happened twice in the past week, and that's people [ESPECIALLY boys] who take it really personally that I'm faster than them, and thus, passed them on the track.  It's the same situation every time, I'm running easily, cruising along, and I happen to pass someone.  Whatever, there are like 30 people on the track, some running faster than others. People get passed. Duh. But these people take it as some sort of personal affront/challenge/there is no way a girl is running faster than me sort of deal, and decide that I need to be taught a lesson. But here's a hint, boy in the gray shirt.  When a girl runs past you, and she's not really breathing hard, or looking like she's putting a whole ton of effort in, there's a chance she's got several more gears.  And so, when you try to pick up the pace and shoot past, her, she will pick up right with you and calmly cruise at your side while you give her dirty looks (no joke) and attempt to surge over and over again to no avail. And for 2 whole miles, you'll try to get rid of her and pass her, and every time you try she will be right there at your side...because she senses how irritated you're getting and wants to mess with you (what can I say?).  And then, finally, when she's done with her run, she'll decide YOU are the one who needs to be taught a lesson...and so, she'll drop down to 5K pace the last lap and leave you in her dust.  Newsflash, gray shirt guy: girls are occasionally faster than boys.  It happens. Deal with it.  (True story. And I enjoyed every minute of it...plus, it turned my easy run into a great progression and kept me entertained too!)

We also have your usual cast of characters who enjoy such things as walking in a huge pack in lane 1, even though there are signs all over the place that say "runners to lane 1, walkers to lane 4", and people who enjoy sprinting for ~15 seconds and then stopping short right in front of you, also (obviously) in lane 1.  On Thursday I saw a girl who was walk/jogging while holding a water bottle (despite the fact that there's a water fountain right next to the track) and then stopping to stand (right next to the water fountain) and drinking it. We have the usual lane drifters, people who just can't make up their mind, girls who look like they spent about an hour getting prettified to come run a mile on the track, etc. All provide excellent amusement to me while I'm counting down the laps to 7 or 8 miles (except of course when they're in my way, which happens often, though I guess that's sort of a stimulus in it's own way).  Anyway, a salute to you, BU track users, for making my workouts infinitely more amusing and occasionally more challenging when I have to pick it up to teach one of you a lesson. :)

That's about all I can think of at the moment.  In an absolutely crazy move for me, I responsibly did my long run yesterday because I knew it was going to snow today and/or tomorrow. Thumbs up, self! Have a great weekend, enjoy the Superbowl...GO PACK GO!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

No, nature. Just no.

This satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed the storm covering the United States on Tuesday.
Oh, hi, massive snowstorm covering half the US.  Because I mean, we don't already have like 2 feet of snow on the ground in Boston, most of which seems to have been left on the sidewalks and roads for me to potentially fall in while attempting to "run" outdoors.  6-18 inches more? For sure. Just what I needed.  Thanks a bunch, NATURE.

In other news, I ran 43 miles last week and actually did a workout that nearly destroyed all of my self esteem and/or soul on Tuesday.  Word on the street: I'm out of shape.  The snow explosion isn't helping my motivation.  Dear lord, am I glad I'm not training for Boston right now.

I'll think of more entertaining things to write later...enjoy your snow days if you have them. Something tells me BU will suck at life and make us go to class, but I'm drinking a Rogue Mocha Porter to spite them and keeping my fingers crossed.  Because quite frankly, I wouldn't mind missing out on wound care lab tomorrow...although after tonight's extremely messy run through the slop, if the gym is closed tomorrow I may be in trouble...