2016 Racing and Training Updates

April 2016- GO! St. Louis Half-Marathon

This wasn’t exactly a race for me.  I started a group at my school to train high school students to run their first half-marathon.  The program is put on by GO! St. Louis and they have students from 17 area schools train for and complete a half marathon.  It’s a really fantastic program that I’m happy to be a part of.  This race day was all about them.  I ran the race with a few students.  They avoided porta potties by stopping at a McDonald’s along the race route, they didn’t push their pace any beyond what they do for a long run.  But it was their first half marathon!  Along the way I played paparazzi, taking pictures not just of those students I was with, but others that we would see during out and back sections.  After crossing the finish line with those students, I went back and ran/walked in with my remaining students.  At the end of the day, all 18 of my students crossed the finish line with huge smiles on their faces.  It was a fantastic day!

April 2016- Kentucky Derby Half-Marathon

Most of my long runs leading up to this race were done at a very easy pace with my students, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.  I had a really solid training base in, and my swim and bike training were going great at this point too, so I knew I was in the best shape I’d ever been for a half marathon.  Race morning was a little stressful and I got my bib from a friend about 2 minutes before the start!  My heart rate was probably through the roof before the race ever began.  I tucked in with a 1:50 pace group at the start and planned to stay with them until mile 10, then try to pick up the pace from there.  In the first few miles the pace was already challenging, which I knew wasn’t a good sign.  I just kept fighting through, being mindful of nutrition, trying not to overspend my energy, etc.

I definitely had to fight for it and it was harder than I expected, but in the end I was able to break 1:50 so I got a PR by about 4 minutes out of it!

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June 2016- Swim the Sun

This was a 2 mile open water swim, my tri coach was the RD and a number of people from the tri club were participating.  This was a good chance to get used to OWS with no wetsuit because the summer was ultimately too hot to wear a wetsuit for my goal race anyways.

 

July 2016- Muncie 70.3

This was my goal race for 2016!  Unfortunately my run training fell apart in mid-May so I had about 7 weeks leading up to the race that had very little running.

Swim- This was my roughest swim to date.  For whatever reason, I could never get loose from the crowd that you normally only experience at the beginning of the swim.  It just seemed to never thin out.  Lots of bumping into people, swimming around someone, etc.  The return to shore proved especially tough because we were going right into the sun so sighting anything in front of you was impossible.

Bike- The bike course at Muncie is fantastic.  Smooth country roads, a few climbs, but flat overall.  I was in my best bike shape yet and felt really comfortable here.  My watch went crazy and although it was fully charged the morning of the race, it was dead by mile 12 of the bike (this had never happened before and hasn’t happened since…go figure).  So the majority of my race was done by feel.  I focused on my cadence, took nutrition based on mile markers instead of time and just kept working my way through the course.  Ended the bike feeling pretty good, now wonder if I would have done more on the bike if I could have seen the numbers, but oh well.

Run– The run course at Muncie features rolling hills.  Not necessarily any one killer hill, but constant hills.  Immediately upon running I realized my foot was not right.  I convinced myself that the first mile running is always a mess in triathlon and I just needed to get through that and then my body would adjust and I’d be fine.  The hills sent pain through my foot that made me want to scream.  It was bad.  I knew my family was waiting for me on the run course so I decided to just get to them.  They were at about mile 2.  I stopped and talked to them, told them about my foot.  I was basically resigned to dropping out of the race at that point.  I’d had to walk a lot of those first two miles because of my foot pain.  My husband and parents were supportive of whatever I wanted to do but were definitely concerned about my foot.  My 10 year old son however, was not there to see me quit the race.  He just looked at me and said “Mom, you should finish it.”  Gotta love how straight to the point he is!  I sat down, took my shoe off and had my husband pull my foot towards him like my chiropractor does to pop my ankle.  This actually provided some relief.  I got my shoe back on and went out to the run course.

The remaining 11 miles were mostly running, some walking when a hill was really hurting my foot, but I was getting through it.  The finish line has you run down a slight hill on gravel and the downhill and uneven surface truly about did me in, but I couldn’t stop at that point.  End result, a PR by over 20 minutes!

This was also the first race that I feel like I absolutely nailed my nutrition on, which I’m thrilled about!  Thanks Hammer Nutrition for your continued support and amazing products!

Not quite the race I had hoped for, but considering the circumstances of the run, a result I was very happy with!

Post-Muncie

The days after Muncie had me very worried about my foot.  Even a blanket on my foot when I was sleeping was too much pressure on it.  I took the next 5 weeks completely off of all training.

I’ve had a slew of dr. appointments, tests, treatments done on my foot that I chronicled in another post.

Even if I couldn’t run, I could swim and bike.  Honestly though, I didn’t do much of either of those.  I’ve been crabby about being injured and having no answers and so I’ve just allowed myself to have the time off to recharge.  I’ve gotten to spend extra time with my family.  The fall has been a busy season for my kiddos with cross country and soccer so I’ve just been enjoying mom-duty.

November 2016

After a cortisone shot and starting Physical Therapy, I’m on the road to recovery.  I’m getting back in the swing of things and looking forward to 2017.  I’m waiting to get through PT before I put any races on the calendar but I finally feel like things are looking up!

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Overdue Injury Explanation Post

I’ve neglected blogging in 2016…big time.  I’m working on a few update posts, but will start with this.

In May 2016 I began to have pain on the top of my foot, above the arch.  I noticed it for a week or so, mostly during a run workout.  During a track workout I noticed that the pain was becoming significant enough to change my form and so I quit the workout immediately.  My foot felt better after a couple days rest and I went for a 6 mile run on a Saturday.  No big deal at all at that point in training.  It was an out and back route and for probably the last 4 miles, I felt my foot every step of the way.  When I got home that morning and told my husband about it, he could see looking at my feet that one was really swollen.

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Swelling after a run in June

Long story short, from that point until now I’ve had 2 MRIs, 2 sets of X-Rays, 1 Diagnostic ultrasound and have seen 7 different doctors.  Here’s the part that drives me absolutely insane:

  1. I don’t actually know what caused the injury.  If anything my run training was down at that point, I’d been doing double digit long runs for a year and a half and for the month of May was more in the 6-8 mile long run area.  Shoes- I was on my third model of that exact shoe, mileage was pretty low on the pair of shoes I was on, etc.
  2. I don’t actually know what the injury was.  None of the 7 doctors really had an answer.  It’s an unusual spot and not one they see often.  My answers ranged from stress reaction (pre stress fracture), to lisfranc injury (later ruled out by other doctors and diagnostic tools), calcification on the tendon between the first and second metatarsal, arthritis, arthralgia.

In the 6 months since the injury I’ve had times where I’ve taken over a month off of all training, didn’t really see any improvement.  I’ve had times where I’ve run 4 times in a week (2-3 miles at a time) and not seen any worsening or improving.

In October I saw a new podiatrist who ordered the 2nd set of MRI images, where a stress fracture was again ruled out.  She suggested a cortisone shot to get rid of the inflammation.  Initially I was very against the idea, having heard cortisone shots are bad and should always be avoided.  After doing some research on my own and essentially feeling like I had no other options, I gave it a shot (see what I did there!).

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An image from my most recent MRI, the white areas show where I have swelling going on. 
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Some discoloration from the shot.

I’m now 2.5 weeks post shot and can say that it has definitely helped (although I still have discoloration, luckily sandal season is over!).  I no longer feel the pain walking around that I have for 6 months.  I no longer have one spot on my foot that I can press that makes me jump.  I have had a couple of pain free runs.

But.  I’ve had a couple times where I step on uneven ground and still get a shooting pain that feels like something is very wrong.  And I understand that a cortisone shot is really a band-aid, not addressing why it happened in the first place.

So, I’ve started physical therapy and have just finished week 1.  Twice a week for 90 minutes I am doing all sorts of stuff at my appointments.  Some times I think my PT is crazy when he is explaining the exercise and feel it is far too easy, then by the time I am through the 15 reps my muscles are shaking because it is so challenging.

Overall I’m encouraged and feel like I’m on the right track to getting back to doing what I love.

Streaking- what I’ve learned and why you should try it

we-are-going-streakingRunner’s World has challenges a few times a year that involve a running streak.  I fall for it every time- I’ve started the challenge a few times in the past but not completed it.  The most recent challenge was to run at least a mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.  Since I was already doing a Thanksgiving race, I decided on Thanksgiving that I’d go for it.  The days where I wouldn’t normally run were simply filled in with a short, easy run.    Here’s what I learned through the process:

  1. It isn’t as hard as you think it will be.  I expected days where going for a run would be the last thing I wanted to do and really didn’t experience that.  I enjoyed each and every run.
  2. You aren’t guaranteed to get hurt.  I have never been someone who runs every day.  I’m a pretty low mileage runner and have always felt best running 3-4 days/week.  I thought my body would rebel when I was running every day.  It didn’t.  Actually prior to Thanksgiving I took 4 days off exercising completely due to a hip issue I was experiencing.  During the first week of the Run Streak, my hip continued to be pretty tight.  I began doing some strengthening exercises at home and it has been a non-issue since then.  If anything, the daily running has kept aches and pains at bay.
  3. Involve other people, even if they aren’t “streaking”.  Since I was doing the Thanksgiving run with my family, I told them all about the challenge and asked if anyone wanted to do it.  The kids both said no, my husband James said yes.  He ended up missing some runs in the first, but still ran more than he may have otherwise.  Even though no one was doing the streak with me, I had plenty of company on my runs.  My daughter and I are training for a half-marathon in January so we had lots of runs together.  My husband and I snuck in a few runs together.  My son joined me for a number of my “mile days” and we would run through our small town and look at Christmas lights.

    In addition to runs with my family, I also had runs with my friends at Runwell, where I run most Wednesdays and Saturdays with a group. 12341306_10208175313240357_7882559166185000876_n I also got in a number of runs with my high school students as they train for a half-marathon in April.

  4. Every run doesn’t have to be easy effort.  Again, I worried about how my body would handle running every day and assumed I would have to do every run at easy effort.  I was still able to do a number of long runs, tempo efforts and interval/track workouts.  I didn’t feel any more tired from running daily than running 4 days/week.
  5. Recovery is important though.  I can’t imagine and definitely would not recommend doing every run at high intensity.  The easy “mile days” were just that.  I didn’t care what my pace was, I concentrated on my breathing to make sure that I was keeping those runs at an easy effort.  I also took advantage of a few of my favorite Hammer products: Tissue Rejuvenator and Recoverite after hard workouts to keep me fresh for the next day.  And don’t forget a foam roller!
  6. Miles add up.  Unfortunately my old training log is no longer available on the site I used for years.  However, I’m pretty sure that December 2015 was the first month I broke 100 miles.  For many runners this is no big deal and they do it frequently, but again as a low mileage runner, it was pretty exciting for me!20151231_100431
  7. You are likely going to get stronger and faster.  I was in pretty decent running shape at the start of the challenge, but I feel even stronger at the end of it.  I don’t feel like I have to put in as much effort to hit a given pace on a run.
  8. Don’t give up.  There was a night in the second week of the challenge where I had waited until after 9PM to get a run in.  It was so tempting to just stay on the couch and watch TV after a long day.  But realistically, a mile takes less than 10 minutes of my time.  I would have been really upset with myself the next morning so I just got the run in.  It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be fast, just get the run in.
  9. You won’t look forward to the end.  I really figured by the end of December I would be so excited for January to come where I wouldn’t “have” to run each day.  I would be counting down how many days were left because I would be so ready for a break.  That  didn’t happen either.  The one late night run was the most challenging to get out the door.  For the most part, I’ve looked forward to the run each day.
  10. You’ll want to keep going.  I totally get it now.  I thought the people who would do this for years at a time were crazy.  Now that I’ve started, I don’t want to stop and then have to start over.  I have no idea how long I’ll continue, but as long as I’m enjoying it, I think I’ll continue streaking!  1724096_735989944099_6983034499623242682_n