Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Little Rock Half Marathon Take 5

On Sunday, March 1, I woke up and ran the Little Rock Half Marathon for the 5th time.

I'm beginning to think this race is completely cursed for me. The only time I've run it well was my first time. Since then, it's been injuries, torn plantar fascia, craptastic weather ... and this year it was seemingly all of the above. Even the finisher medals hadn't arrived! (Though, while we didn't get our real medals, the race directors made certain that we had a temporary medal after we crossed that line.)

So, here I was completely untrained coming off of a stress fracture. 100% chance of rain, cold rain at that. I had only been running again for 2 weeks. No speed work, longest distance was 8 miles (done the day before).

However, I was feeling pretty good overall. No foot pain. Just a lowered endurance level, to be expected after not running for 37 long days. I didn't really announce that I was going to run. I wasn't completely sure I would. But, when it came down to it, I felt I had to participate. Call me stubborn, call me determined, it's something I needed to do for me.

 

The temperature Sunday morning was around 34 degrees. It was drizzly, gray. I could have easily backed out. I had a great excuse right? But somehow that felt like, well, an excuse. An easy out. I'm not about easy outs. Let me preface this whole thing by saying that if I had thought for one instance that it would have put me in jeopardy for further injury, I would not have run.

The race course was changed up significantly this year. The start was a mile from my house, so I used that as an easy warm up (needed because of the cold especially). My plan was to run and walk when I needed it. I knew that I couldn't think about pace, about my time, about hitting any sort of goal other than to finish.

I was a little nervous about the new course. I had heard a few people complain about it, say it was more difficult. I actually really liked the new start. It was a total straight stretch so it was so much easier to settle into a consistent pace without zigzagging and making tight turns with the masses.

That, however, changed. My only real complaint about the course was the constant turns that eventually came on. We repeated the same stretches as well, and that can start to get to you mentally. But it was the turns, a sharp left, then a right, then a left. Runners all trying to get into that tight turn together, no one wanting to take the wide sweep. Lots of feet. Lots of almost tripping up moments. Lots of apologies to one another. Then trying to regain momentum again. And again. And again.

I did feel like there were more downhill stretches for the new route that helped offset the longer inclines and the blips of hills. Sort of a nice reward for all the turns too.

It's definitely a more spectator friendly course. However, the horrible weather meant there were far fewer spectators. The energy levels were sadly low this year. There were a few stretches of great crowd support, like the Couch Potato Mile where they had set out couches along the sidewalks and were handing out potato chips. It was amusing for sure. But other than that, not much support even through my 'hood where neighbors usually sit out and basically have a party.

My Garmin was about 2 tenths of a mile ahead, so I never really knew what my true pace was. I felt like I was plodding along, slowly, oh so slowly. I was a little disappointed with how hard my effort level felt. But when I looked around me and saw all the other runners pushing through, some beaming with pride, some in pain, knowing that for many this was their first of any of the distances ... I was proud of myself.

I only walked through the aid stations. And while my time was significantly slower than what my races have been recently, I still felt that amazing sense of pride, of accomplishment.


Half Marathon #11 is now in the books. I ended up with a time of 1:46:08 putting me 6th in my age group, however, 3 of them were grand master so that actually ended up making me 3rd in my age group. Somehow I find it a little amusing that my slower time got me an award. I'm digging the aging up thing right now.


Friday, February 20, 2015

10 Non-Fitness Things About Me

If you read my blog with any regularity, you know that I tend to write a lot about running, some about lifting, cycling/cross-training, as of late, a good deal about recovering from injuries, with a smattering of recipes and life along the way.

Yesterday, I read a fun post from Jess at The Blonde Ponytail - 10 Non-Fitness Things About Me. After reading it, I thought it'd be a fun post to do for Fun for Friday. I always enjoy reading posts that give more insight to the blogger behind the blog. I think it's fun, it's personal. Perfect for the end of the week.



1. I love to read. 
I typically read for an hour each night before bed. It helps me relax and fall asleep. I can go through 4-6 books in any given month.

2. I hoard hardback books. 
So, to go with the reading thing, I feel like I must own the hardback. I think it goes back to working at Waldendbooks through college. And if I'm reading that many books and own them, you can imagine the issues with that one. Jason has sort of forced me into the kindle world and I'm stilling kicking and screaming over it.

3. I'm an introvert.
Through and through this is me. Now, one-on-one I'm good, even very small groups of people I know. But anything more than that and it really puts me on edge. I can't wait to get home after work to decompress, alone, in silence. It's how I re-charge.

4. I hate doing my makeup.
This is funny for me because I used to be the girl who never walked out of the house without a shirt tucked in. Now I can't wait for the weekend and at least have one day of not messing around with makeup, even if I leave the house, I'm so dressed down that it's appropriate to go without make up.

5. I love shoes.
Seriously, most girls do right? I mean, you typically don't outgrow them in any capacity. They can absolutely make an outfit. There's just something about shoes that makes me happy. I have to stay far away from stores like DSW.

6. I love to shop.
I wish someone would just pay me to shop basically. And part of it is the bargain hunter in me. So it's not just going and buying, it's searching for a good deal too. Even if I come out empty-handed, I still have enjoyed the hunt.

7. I love pizza.
Seriously one of my favorite foods that I could eat every day of the week if I let myself. I try to justify it only after long runs and that it's usually loaded with veggies. But, I know, it's still a pizza! And, I'm absolutely ok with it too.

8. I'm a Food Network and HGTV addict.
If I have the tv on, it's one of those channels (or Cooking Channel or DIY since they're basically the same). I will watch the shows even if I've seen them 10 times, but I would never sit and re-watch a regular sitcom that way.

9. I am not a movie watcher.
I can't recall the last time I went to a movie theater. I am a little better renting because it's home and comfortable and I can easily get up and mill around. And I could watch half of a movie and basically get up and walk away and absolutely not care if I don't see the end.

10. I hate geese. 
We had one as a child (at my grandparents' house) that was flat out evil. It would chase me or my sister wings spread, head down, hissing and honking. And it didn't stop there. If you've never been bitten by one, count yourself lucky because it hurts and they don't want to let go.

What are some non-fitness related things about you?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Finally Running Again

After 37 days of not being able to run because of my stress fracture, I finally set out for a run on Valentine's Day with Jason. Seems like the ideal gift for a runner right?

The temperatures were in the low 70s, perfectly clear skies. I didn't even mind the gusting winds. I was just happy to be outside, running. It wasn't fast. It wasn't easy. But it felt amazing.

We did 3 miles of walk/run intervals. Jason made sure to keep my speed and distance well in check. And the best part was that there was no pain at all. That hard part was holding myself back. Every ounce of me just wanted to take off at full speed like a child might.


Sunday the temperatures were much colder, and there was actually ice in the forecast for Monday. So, I layered up and headed out for a solo walk/run. I ended up with 4 miles and didn't mind that my face was frozen. Funny how I was in shorts and a tank one day then layers and gloves the next.

I will say that it was much harder than I expected keeping my pace in check. It's hard not to do intervals as speed work. After the walking, I felt well-rested so I naturally was wanting to go faster than I needed. I kept having to really pay more attention to my Garmin than I would normally like to do. I know that I have to play this come back smartly so I don't end up sidelined again.

So, after 2 runs in a row, Monday was most definitely a non-run day. Good thing there was an inch of ice on the ground. And it might look like snow, but trust me, all ice. It's crazy that it can be 75 one day, then 2 days later iced over.





The funny part to me is that I actually told people that as soon as I was cleared to run, this is exactly what would happen with our weather. Sometimes I would prefer to be wrong.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Things I Like But Don't Like

Happy Friday (the 13th)! Anyone else feel like this has been the longest week ever?

I think part of it for me is that I am thisclose to being able to start attempting to run again. So close ... And oddly, even though every ounce of me wants to run, now I'm afraid to try. I can't wait to get out on the roads again, but now I'm fearful of another stress fracture. As much as I'm sick of the bike trainer and the full-body circuits I've been doing, they feel very safe to me now.


This got me to thinking (uh oh right) ...

Do you ever feel like you're completely bi-polar, or have dueling personalities? No? Just me then? I thought it'd be fun to share some of my idiosyncrasies, those weird things that I both like and dislike.

  • I love to do home decor, redecorating projects, yet I'm really bad about always following through to the end. So things get started with great intention, but then I may not finish the fine details. Example, I refinished a chair and only put in half the finishing brads, about 8 years ago.
Now this was one project I did complete at least
  • I like order, but am often messy. For example, my clothes are organized by color, yet my shoes? Strewn about the closet floor.
  • I can't stand cucumbers (not even the smell) but I love pickles. To me, they are two completely different things.
  • I don't really enjoy racing, yet I keep signing up for races. I'm 5 weeks sideline with this stress fracture, yet I signed up for the RussVegas Half in April and am looking at two 10Ks as well. Save me from myself please.
  • I don't like the cold and am almost always cold, except when it comes to running. Then I like the cold and am missing running in winter weather. Who am I again?
  • I enjoy running solo for the me time, but at the same time, I like running with friends too. 


  • I don't enjoy getting up early to workout or run, but at the same time I kind of do because a) it's done for the day and b) you get to see some amazing sights some days. 



What are some of your like but dislike moments?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Weekend Recap - Is it Spring?

It's Tuesday, and I meant to post this yesterday. But Monday was a Monday all the way around down to having to walk back to work from home because my car battery died (again). At least it was sunny and warm and I didn't have to trudge the 9 blocks in "the boot." Upside right?

Since I was officially out of the boot, I took full advantage of the spring-like temperatures we had over the weekend. Saturday started off with a girls only lunch with my sister, mom and niece. It was to celebrate our mom's birthday in January.

We of course did a little bit of shopping after eating, and then when they left town, I decided to go for a much-needed walk. It was only 2 miles, and not anything close to running, but it did my mind and body good.


Saturday night, Jason and I decided to have fun in the kitchen and made some veggie pot stickers and crispy tofu. Of course we dug in using chopsticks. That's a must right? Other than the giant mess we made in the kitchen, it was a low-key evening. We sat on the couch, watched a movie and munched on some popcorn. No complaints.



Sunday morning I got up and headed to my work gym. They have an arc trainer that I wanted to test out. I'm quite sick of sitting on the bike trainer at this point and the podiatrist did suggest I might give the elliptical a shot. I thought the arc trainer would actually be better, and it was, other than the boringness factor.

Around noon, Amy met up with me for a walk. We ended up right at 4.5 miles (farther than I had expected). It was nice traversing my usual running routes I must say. I've missed all the sights around my 'hood lately. I will say, my shins ended up being crazy sore from the walking. I was very surprised, and not in a great way. Guess I need to work on re-strengthening everything below my knees.

How was your weekend? Anyone else getting to enjoy unusually warmer temps? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Things I Missed and Injury Update

Injury Update

I decided to go see a podiatrist. Not because I didn't fully believe or trust my doctor, but I really wanted to get a full understanding from someone who only deals with feet and ankle injuries. I'm exactly 4 weeks out on this stress fracture and was (key word) in the boot for 3 weeks.

The podiatrist said that a full break takes 8-12 weeks to heal and a stress fracture about half of that time. That means at 4 weeks, I'm totally on the mends. He gave me the OK to do non-impact workouts like cycling and even said to try the elliptical. I admitted I'd been doing the bike and he said that was perfectly fine as long as there had been no pain. Phew! Oh, and the biggest news was that I could ditch the boot! That in and of itself was like angels from heaven.

I'm still not cleared to run, but at least there's an end in sight to the injury. He said to wait 2 more weeks then start going out for test runs. The biggest thing is that I have to realize that I can't just jump back in where my brain thinks I should be. I have to be very very cognizant of what my body tells me. My first run may only even be a quarter of a mile he said. But honestly, I'll take even that.

My plan is to follow a walk/run schedule to get back into it. Slow and easy. It's absolutely something I would give a new running client, so I'll just have to follow my own advice here.


Things I Missed While Wearing "The Boot"

Since I'm not bound to the boot now, I thought I'd share what I have missed the most since wearing that hideous contraption.

I have missed ...

Driving. Now, I've driven, but I have to take the boot off, put on a normal shoe to drive then put the boot back on when I get to my destination. This means I have not looked forward to leaving for lunch breaks because of the whole boot on/off ordeal.

Walking Normally. The boot is a good 2.5-3 inches high. This means it completely throws off my gait when walking unless I have the exact right heel height for the other foot. Let's just say the left side of my low back is all kinds of messed up now.

Normal Shoes. I'm a shoe girl. I love shoes: heels, wedges, flats, boots, peep toes ... shoes. Apparently I only have a select few pair of shoes that match (or sort of match) the height of the boot. I've worn the same outfits over and over so that I could wear those specific shoes.

A gift from my boss

Being Undetected. I never realized how nosy people can be. Wearing the boot made me very obvious to others apparently. People stared down, the went out of their way to step around me or hold doors or let me pass first, even better, complete strangers wanted to strike up conversations asking me what I had done to earn the boot. Oh, not to mention the boot was squeaky.

Taking the Stairs. I live in a 2-story home. I work in a building that often requires heading up one flight of stairs for a conference. I'm one who readily takes up to 5 or 6 flights of stairs rather than use an elevator. So, to have to use the elevator for a single flight or to have to really calculate the true need of having to go upstairs in my own home? Very frustrating.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How Running Has Changed Me

In all honesty, I wasn't planning a post today. I feel like I'm losing my momentum with blogging. A lot of it has to do with not being able to run right now. You'd think I'd turn back to blogging as an outlet. But, I feel like such a Debbie Downer that I don't really want to use this space for that. Runners all get injured. Been there, done that. No one wants to read about how down and out someone is. I mean, you've been there too as a runner. You get it, but guess what, you're not the only one who's been through it.

But, after reading Katie at Moms Little Running Buddies post The Running Effect: How Has Running Changed You? I was inspired to write.

Maybe not running means I can reflect on exactly why this injury has me so down. It's not just not being able to run and burn off some calories. Not at all. It's about not being able to do the one thing that brings me so much peace and joy and release. Running has changed me in many ways over the years, especially when I actually accepted the fact that I was, indeed, a runner.

Confidence

I think this has been one of the biggest changes for me. I tend to be a cheerleader for everyone around me. I always put so much faith into others and their abilities, but I don't always believe in my own.

Running has given me a sense of confidence in myself. A chance to believe in myself even. Without that sense of confidence, I never would have completed a full marathon. But, I finally believed enough in myself.



Perseverance

As a runner, how can you not learn more about perseverance? Running is not always sunshine and rainbows. Any runner will tell you that. So why go back time and time again? Why go farther or faster for apparently no reason? And how do you force yourself to keep going when every fiber of your being wants to simply stop?

You know the rewards for persevering. You know that feeling of complete accomplishment, the pride. I'm definitely a stubborn person by nature, so maybe that's partially why I like the challenge of running. So maybe running didn't change me in this respect all that much just because of who I am by nature. But then again, it gave me focus.

Strength

As a former dance, I knew I was physically strong. As I began to lift weights, I knew I was growing even stronger of course, developing and re-shaping my muscles. But running has changed my idea of strength as well. It's not just being physically strong, it's also being mentally strong. Perhaps strength goes along with perseverance and confidence in this case?

Beauty

Running made me truly appreciate the beauty of nature, the absolute wonder of a sunrise, even the appreciation of a gray day because that makes a clear day that much crisper. It's also change my idea of myself and beauty. I am not a particularly pretty runner in that I sweat, a lot. I have a weird thing I do with my left hand. During a race I look like I'm grimacing usually even if I swear I'm smiling (note to self, don't attempt to smile for a camera). But when I'm running, that's when I feel the most beautiful.