Training the Revolving Door

Training for a race can be daunting.  Especially those with any distance to them.   You come up with a race day plan, draw up a calendar with training distances, speeds, hills, etc.  Then out of the blue without any warning, BAM!  You have to change your plan.

This may be due to injury, work, anything that interferes with the ability to mark through that days square.  Maybe a few weeks later the interference goes away and again you pick back up the first calendar.

This door can swing either direction and many times around.  There is never any certainty that you will keep to the same training schedule.  This revolving door has become my life with distance races.

I am currently training for the Shamrock half marathon followed six weeks later by the Flying Pirate Challenge.  My plan was to run my first half without including any walking at all.  I’ve trained for a marathon so I know I can run that distance plus a few more miles tacked on without stopping but for some reason I have yet to participate in a race and get it done.

There is always some reason, all of them so far injury based.  I guess this may be why I am not so upset that yet again I have run into a hill I cannot sprint up.

My first and only marathon to date was in January 2012, the Disney Marathon.  The day before getting on the plane I discovered after rushed bone scans and MRIs that I had stress fractures in both knees.  Very disappointing.

Now two years later after an icy 11 miler this past Sunday it seems it has reared it’s ugly head again.  There is no ache, it is full blown all out pain in the knee bones on the left side.  It is always the left side.

So while I was walking the last two miles in pain I decided to just do a run/walk in March.  No biggie I guess as actually my half PR came in 2012 still healing from the stress fractures doing a run/walk without any time goal.  I also walked every water station and took my time.  So I figure I can do the same thing but not lallygag around the water stations.  My goal was to hit a 2:15.  This may still be possible as I did a 2:30 without trying.

Hopefully by taking this door I will live to do the same six weeks later during the Pirate Challenge then try to figure out why it reoccurred in time to train for the full in November.  In the meantime I already know my left hip is very tight and inflexible which may have a little to do with why I keep hurting my left knee whether stress fracture or IT Band Syndrome.  So I have begun to incorporate daily yoga into my training.  And not really to my training, just my daily routine.

I have cried a weeks worth of hydration away

Chapter 110

Guess a years long journey toward a Disney first marathon has been stolen. At least that is how I feel. I went to the doctor yesterday to see options for me to be able to complete the race even if pain occurs. He decided to call an Ortho. From there I went directly to the hospital and had x-rays done on both knees. This came out normal. A little hope returns.

Today they scheduled me for a bone scan. This was an ordeal. Luckily there was a very very nice Ortho in this area. He agreed to see me today even though his office was closed. After the bone scan, they called him to see when he could see me. It was 4:30 PM by this time. They told me the scans looked normal so I was very hopeful. A little more hope returns.

I get to the office and he asks me to explain where the pain is exactly. I show him both spots on the outside of both knees. He pushed on them and they were very tender. He did other tests which caused no pain. Then he looked at me and told me that he is aware that the x-ray tech told me my bone scan was normal and that he did not agree. My heart sank.

He walked me to his office and showed me the scans. He noted the white spots exactly where I showed him I had pain. Then he gave me horrible news. I have two stress fractures in both knees.  We could also see white streaks down my shins from fractures.

At least that explains why even with all of the rolling and yoga and ice the pain has been progressively getting worse over the past couple of weeks instead of better. We talked about what could happen if I attempted the race anyway and how long it would take to heal as it is right now. By this time the tears were streaming down my face and I was apologizing profusely for being such a baby.

I asked about a run/walk plan and if he felt I’d be okay. He mentioned that runners will run through extreme pain because it is in our nature and that he knows I’ll probably give it a try anyway. I did say I would take off a full six weeks after the race but I did want to give it a try doing a run/walk. If the pain hits like it did this past weekend, I would sit my red puffy face on the side walk and cheer on everyone else as they passed me by.

As I was checking out, it took everything I had not to just burst out from the pain I was feeling and not the knee pain but emotional.  A years worth of training and high hopes are now gone. I barely made it out of the office door before I lost it. Unfortunately the poor lady at the desk shared some of my pain watching my extreme disappointment.  I thought she was going to cry right along with me.

I can not begin to explain the pain I am feeling. I feel like my dreams have been crushed. And I do fully understand that by doing the right thing and not pushing it during the race I will heal to race another day, but a year!!!!!  Training and excitement for a full year.  All of the sacrifices by me and my family so I could train.  I feel like it was such a waste of time.  The closer I got home the further I spiraled.  And unfortunately we had a house full of people when I crawled into the door.

First marathon, you only get one… DISNEY!!!

Originally posted on The Loop January 5, 2012

BA or SA You Decide

Chapter 99

So I would say I may be more SA (stupid arse) than bad arse today. I have bronchitis. I get it every year around this time and keep it for about three months. ‘Pneumonia’ term is thrown my way around New Years by the docs. So this year when everyone I knew either at work or at home was sick, I injested vitamin C in any fashion I could get my hands on. This worked for a while until last week and the total and complete freak out is on!

So this morn, I had my first 20 mile run on the schedule. I only have one more long before my taper. Ok, so not only may I be slightly freaking from my “diagnosis” but I received the final race instructions email last night. You know it is getting close now….. Off topic, sorry.

After the storm we had last night, I was really hoping the predicted rain for this AM had past, but this left us in 46* temps and very windy weather. The 46* is actually good. I like it around that, but add in that wind and it did not feel anywhere near that.

I layered up and brought other clothes that I could change into to stay dry if necessary as I was looking at four hours out there and headed to the trail. I found it really hard to stay around 10:30 pace. I honestly thought this would be the toughest part of my run today. Especially since I have not done anything since Sunday’s 6. Man was I wrong……

I completed the first trail loop, which is 6 miles, then headed out to the street to do the 3 mile bike lane loop. Going out was fine, my lungs did not hurt, my knee was only slightly achey, I was confident. I was actually still keeping that 10:30 pace. As soon as I turned around the running gods laughed at me.

The head wind was pushing. I went immediately from a 10:30 to a 12:30 even giving all I had. I began having difficulty breathing. I mean I do have bronchitis and probably should not be attempting this to begin with, but stubborn is my middle name. Wait, no, determined…

Anyway, I had 1.50 miles of this wind blowing into me so hard my hair was flying, shirt flapping and I’m sure I looked like one of those slow motion cartoon characters running. I could see the beginning of the trail approaching, way too slowly. “If I can just keep going a little further the trees will block some of this wind.” This became my moto. It took everything I could muster to stay around 13:30 half a mile to go. I must admit with only .10 to left to reach trail I had to stop and walk. Determination can only get you so far with the summation of all the conditions I had. (thus the SA)

So by now I had been pumping my arms so hard, even while walking, just to move a little, that my shoulders were killing me and my knee – oh my knee…… I stopped by the car, took a few moments to catch my breath and do some light stretching. Everything was tight from head to toe. I could barely move even my toes, or was that because they were wet and frozen, hmmmm.

Once I could finally breath without wheezing again, I began down the trail for round two. I got a mile into this loop and I could no longer handle the pain in my knee. It became the sharp, sticking pins in it kind of pain. I knew this meant I was done. I turned around and walked the mile plus back to my car with thoughts that I would rest for a little while and head back out the door around my neighborhood for the remaining 7.50. Unfortunately the second run never happened. My knee became so stiff even though I had been stretching and rolling the whole time that walking seems impossible.

The real bad news is I actually felt ok (odd right?). I was keeping the pace slow, after the wind blow out it stayed around 12mm. I could go no faster, but I could go. I thoroughly believe if it hadn’t been for my knee I could have definitely handled the 20 even being sick. Instead I ended up with 12.50 in 2:20:00. Ekk.

So my plan is instead of taking a rest day tomorrow, if the knee is feeling better, to get in 8. This will get me 20 for the weekend and give me two weeks to heal up everything more before my 22 mile, “last chance” run.

Originally posted on The Loop December 10, 2011

Two Knees and Counting

Chapter 95

37 days to go. Nervous? Think I’ve passed nervous and gone to frightened. Especially after yesterday. But let me back up a little.

Wednesday I was told to work from home. Oh darn. No 1 1/2 drive there and then back again. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to head back out to the spin class. So Thursday morn I rolled out of bed at 6:30AM to get the turkey started. We were having lunch instead of dinner for Thanksgiving. Once the turkey was roasting, I headed out the door. I was going to hit 6, but for some reason was just having one of those ‘dang I’m tired’ days. So I putted along and only did 3 in 27 min. Wow, I can remember when this was not even a possibility and now that was an easy run. Whoot Whoot! Anyway……..

Lunchinner was over and everyone left by 5PM. I should have taken a nap but sat on the couch watching TV. My sister and I started our annual Black Friday shopping spree at 10PM that night. Oh yeah, I said 10PM. But we were not done for ……. 13 hours! Our last stop was Olive Garden for lunch around 11:30 on Friday. Was I tired? Not sure tired can truly express my exhaustion level. So once I got back home I layed down for two hours. That was it. I knew we had another holiday tradition to partake and I did not want to disappoint the kids.

So I rolled out of bed again, actually refreshed and ready to go for at least another hour…… Baked the cookies, turned on the christmas movies and started the tree. Only the tree decided it was exhausted and refused to light. I love prelit trees but try checking 1200 lights to see where a bad one is. This meant unfortunately that it was time for a new tree. I knew I would not be able to replace this one. It was huge, but the new one is very pretty. As a matter of fact, I still have not decorated it yet. I finally crashed around 9PM and was O-U-T!

Saturday I got up with 18 miles on the schedule. LOL! Yeah, not gonna happen…. I was so sore for being on my feet for 13 hours and awake for almost 48 hours I decided to push it to Sunday.

So Sunday I got up and headed to the trail with 18 on the brain. Round one (6 miles) went well. I stayed around a 10 to 10:30 with 10:30 being the goal. No pain. Round two (6 miles) by the end could always tell when I dipped slower than 11 as my knee would hurt. Finished only a little annoyance, no pain. Round 3 (6 miles) OMG! Where did the pain from the hips down come from? Ok, not so much paaiinnn as severe achyness. But I continued but decided to throw in some walking for safe measure.  So it turned out to be walk 1/4, jog 1/4. Hardest 6 miles ever! But I got in the 18 and now my right knee is killilng me.  The pain is in the lower outside of it so pretty sure ITBS now rules both legs.

I’ve been asking everyone if running your first marathon is like giving birth. Once the miles really get up there as you come close to the end, you look forward to the race but are hating all the aches and pains along the way and swear you’ll never do it again…. only to forget it all months later and the thought of a second slowly creeps in.

Originally posted on The Loop November 28, 2011

My Feet are Starting to Burn

Chapter 93

Not in a bad way. I had a 60 min tempo on schedule today for which I usually just do 6 miles. I felt really good today so strapped on the Kinvaras and headed out the door. I planned on sticking to 9:15 for 6 miles but the feet turn over just felt ‘right’ going a little faster so I let them.

I hit 3 miles in 25:41!!!! A PB by far. I took a quick jump up and down break and took back off to finish out the 6 at a much slower pace. The wind had picked up just a little so I just let my legs do what they wanted again. Seemed to be sticking between 10:30 and 11. I completed the 6 in 57:02. Still a good time for me and seems weird with the last three miles being so relaxed.

Taking a step back, my Sunday long run on only 8 miles went great. I finished it in 1:17. I felt I could do more, but i’m sticking to the mileage on schedule.

Originally posted on The Loop November 21, 2011

Gotta Rearrange the Plan

Chapter 90

I came to an end of the line conclusion yesterday. I sat down on the floor in severe pain and erased my whole Nov, Dec up to the Marathon calendar. Saturday running buddy and I drove up to VA to take the spin class. Ok, I’ve said a couple of times that it was the best class ever. So this guy topped them all again! There was absolutely no break. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought there was a such thing as a boot camp spin class. If you didn’t take a quick, and I mean quick, drink of water with your legs still kicking in full speed, he yelled. I LOVED HIM! However with my long run being the next day I knew I was in for some trouble.

Sunday I woke to 50* temps. It was beautiful. Could not ask for a better day to do a long run. I drove to the trail and set off. Did well through 10 miles, then my knee started hurting and just went down hill from there. I had 18 on the schedule. I completed 13 and called it quits. I tried to go further but felt it just wasn’t worth it. So this was the first time I plopped my butt on the floor to re-evaluate my training plan. 30 minutes later, running buddy called me and said a few of them were meeting at the trail to do 3 miles, running quarters. I got up, walked around and decided to give it a try. Worst thing would be I’d turn around and leave. So headed out.

I felt a slight twinge in the knee but it allowed me to successfully run/walk with them. On the way back to the start I asked if anyone would be willing to take me two more miles to get in my 18. Running buddy agreed to help me. I thought that was so sweet of her. She was tired but was willing to give it a try to help me out. Unfortunately we talked so much we talked right through a marker and ended up walking 1/2 mile. This must have been just enough time to stiffen my knee because on the last quarter run it hurt like the dickens. I called it quits for the last two. So I ended up with 16. Not too shabby when I thought I’d only get in 13.

But like I said in the beginning, I erased it all and started over. I hate doing that this close to the end but taking the chance on having such a hard spin class the day before these long runs does not agree with my ITBand. And the roller has been my bestie for weeks now which is why I feel I could probably do the miles I did yesterday.

Does it worry me making such a drastic change only 50 days to go? Oh heck yeah! Do I think it will pay off? I’m about 75% sure this will be for the best.

Originally posted on The Loop November 14, 2011

Do You Remember When

Chapter 86

You ran that first 9 minute mile? How about 8:45? 8:30? Even if you’ve been doing that for years now, do you remember when you finally did it and it was not a struggle how you felt?

Yea, I know I owe you all a Wicked RR, its coming. I have to get the pic

I had a tempo on the schedule for yesterday, so after work I laced up hoping beyond all belief that the sun would stay up long enough for me to complete this run outside. Once I arrived at the hateful trail, I waited (impatiently i might add) for Xena to find a dern satelite, then took off from my self appointed starting line. Once I hit one mile, I glanced down curious and it said 8:30!!!!!

No heavy breathing, no struggle, this was an easy mile. Ok so I slowed once I looked at the watch but not by choice. It’s almost like I could have kept that up if I just resisted that one small glance down. But since I had to look and now I knew it was all over. Oh well. I finished my 5.5 mile run in 51 minutes. I was very happy. Especially since Sundays run was a bust.

So for anyone who had bets on whether (a) she’ll get in that 16 miler after the 10K (b) she’ll try it and stick it out but her IT Band will kick her butt (c) she’ll try it and her IT Band will force her beyond all belief to quit or (d) she just will not try. The final result was C. It was ALLLLL my fault though. The race was great and I cannot wait to give you guys a RR. But I got so caught up in the downpoor of rain, the 40mph winds, trying to get the food, etc that I did not stretch. All day!

And then that night my sister and I took my oldest to the Rocky Horror Picture Show since we promised her once she was 18 we would, so did not get home until 3am. Still no stretching. UG! You’d think I’d know better. It only crossed my mind as I was crossing the street at 2am back to the car and my legs felt like Frankenfurter took that chainsaw to me instead of Eddie.

I really believe I would have been alright if I would have just stretched out. But instead, I got 2.40 miles in to my 16 and there was just no way. It was one of those feelings that you know you have to stop. It’s not a “well if you slow down (or speed up) it will ease off like normal”. No it was you WILL STOP NOW. So I did.

Originally posted on The Loop November 3, 2011

The Wickedly Good Count Down

Chapter 84

So the Wicked 10K is this Saturday. I love this race. It is just 6 miles of fun. I was going to dress up like Sara Pezzini (Witchblade) this year. Found a red dress, a knights sword, but couldn’t quite get a glove that would have worked. So what did I decide on?

I showed up at home with a bag from Halloween Express containing a lime green tutu and green striped socks and paired it with my hot pink running shirt and youngest DD’s colorful bows. My youngest daughter asked me what I was going to be, I told her ‘bright’.  Well she thought it was cute.

That does put a twist in my training plans for this weekend however. After the 10K on Saturday, I have 16 on the schedule for Sunday. Hmmmmm, we’ll see how that goes. After work tonight I have spin. Looking forward to it as Monday rest days always make my restless.

Originally posted on The Loop October 25, 2011

A Non Race PR and 15 to Boot

Chapter 83

So yesterday I had spin and weights on the normal Saturday schedule. My running buddy who usually goes with me to the Y on Saturdays was gone for the weekend. I saw this as an opportunity to sleep in and figured I’d go to the gym later for some weights. It ended up being a rest day. But after last Sunday’s failed long run do to my over zealousness, I just shrugged it off.

So I get up today and it is 45 degrees. Sweet! I still dress lightly as I know I will heat up fast, load up my fuel belt with two bottles and two gels and head to the trail. I have 15 on the schedule. And wouldn’t you know it, my knee starts to hurt before I get there. Hmmmm, it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. I did NOTHING yesterday.

I start off down the trail and seem to be keeping around a 10:30 pace. A little faster than my intended marathon pace but it felt really easy so I stayed with it. Since the trail is only a 6 mile loop I decided to go down the opposite street to see how far it was as it has a bike lane out and back.  3 miles, cool. Here comes the math:

one trail loop + one road out and back + a second trail loop = 15

Everything was still going well so far. I hit 7.50 miles and had to turn around, end of the street’s bike lane. I had to actually stop and wait for a car. Oh this was going to be the end, the knee was going to call it quits.  I just knew it.  I started back in the direction of the trail and just that little stop did me in as expected. My knee began its thing. I’m telling you, it hates to stop. I slowed down and tried again. Still had to stop every couple of steps and stretch. I did this a few times and just stopped for five minutes to give it a good stretch and rub down. Once I took off again swearing how unfair this is that I can run in the 9s for 6 miles and never feel a thing but I take it easy and can’t get past 8. Hmmmm, ok i’ll just give it a try and go until I can go no more if it works.  If what works you might ask?

I dropped a gear and just let me legs go whatever pace they wanted.  Forget the forced slowed pace.  Needless to say they took it down to 10 (this is now from an 11:30). After a few steps the pain completely went away. I was already refuleing on the run to avoid any stops what so ever and now I needed to plan a faster pace evidently to keep the leg happy. As long as I can run, my legs, your wish is my command…

This continued to mile 14 where some pain returned but I’m thinking more of a new distance pain and not a ITBS specific pain. I crossed the 15 marker with a smile. Walked about another 1/4 mile and stopped to stretch everything out.

So even though I speed up after mile 7 my pace did eventually slow on its own, but I think the difference was I was using the same form, meaning i let my legs decide what they wanted to do instead of me forcing any pace on them.

All in all not too bad. I crossed 13.1 in 2:24 (non race PR from 2.31) and finished over all in 2 hours 45 mins.

Originally posted on The Loop October 23, 2011

A Double Gripping Morning

Chapter 81

I just did not hear the alarm go off this morning. Usually I wake up a couple of minutes before it chimes its music, but not this morning. So I walked into our building at 7:45 with a coffee mug in each hand. Why? Hubby made coffee for me so there is 1, then I decided to stop at 7-11 and get a bisquit and could not resist getting a pumpkin.

Last night after work I attended the second of three spin classes I take per week. I swear we saw Zeus. The whole class was an uphill climb. We never experienced the ‘rolling’ hills. So I can now say I’ve climbed Mt Olympus on my stationary charriot of fire.

But dumb me finally arrived home around 8ish, showered, ate and instead of going to bed plopped on the couch to watch a dvr’d horror flick followed by Grey’s. I love my DVR! I barely remember getting into bed and evidently was not there long enough.

I have two choices for today’s run. Either an interval or 45 min tempo. Guess I’ll decide as 5pm comes closer.

Original posted on The Loop October 21, 2011