Sunday, November 12, 2006

Crutches, MRIs, Icing, and Swimming

For a couple of weeks I've had nagging pain in my shin that I brushed off as shin splints. A little ice and a little extra stretching, and I figured it would pass. It didn't. My last run was on Thursday, November 2nd - 2.8 miles in 27 minutes - actually pretty fast for me. The problem was, with every footfall that pain in my shin was sending shockwaves through my leg and the throbbing continued for about 45 minutes after my run. The next day, I called the doctor and stopped running.

I actually swam that Friday night, alone. There's an intern at work who needs help with her swimming technique, so she and I have been meeting at the pool a couple days a week to practice. Just a little bit of cross-training for me. Something different, and a way to strengthen my shoulders again. Perfect. Now I guess it's my primary form of exercise.

The doctor did a battery of tests on Friday, x-rays and manual tests. Nothing showed up on the x-rays, but that is to be expected as stress fractures normally don't.
Apparently some of her other tests gave her reason to think it probably is a stress fracture, though. Also, she checked out both ankles and determined that I have some extenive ligament damage from all those sprains I've had, and it's likely that when I get back to running I'll have orthotics to correct each one - and the damage is different in each.

Sometime this week I'll be having an MRI to determine whether this is a stress fracture or just a stress reaction. Until we know, I'm on crutches for partial weight bearing. Once we know what's going on, I guess it'll be a boot or an aircast. Until then, I'm crutching, icing, and swimming...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ten miles today - First since May

Training for my half this time around has been spotty at best. I really lost motivation in the hot, humid North Carolina summer and then had a lot of trouble getting back into the swing of things.

The first real long run of my abbreviated training cycle was supposed to be 9 miles last weekend, but an ankle sprain at the beach kept me off the roads for a few days. Determined to make sure I got in my long run this weekend, I planned things to allow myself a few hours on Sunday. I vaguely remember waking up sometime this morning, realizing it was raining, swearing, and going back to sleep. Hours later I finally made it outside.

This being my first real cold run of the year, I really wasn’t sure what to wear. Add the rain to that and I was worried – so worried that I overdressed. It was 55 degrees out and raining. I wore a pair of Doug’s gore-tex pants, a long-sleeved wicking shirt, and a vest. About two miles in the pants were starting to stick to my sweaty legs and my sleeves had been yanked up.

Overall the run was pretty uneventful. I didn’t see anything exciting, didn’t solve the world’s problems, and didn’t even see anything funny. On a cold, rainy day, there just isn’t that much to see. It did occur to me with about a mile left that maybe 10 miles is a little far to go without water, as my hamstrings and calves started cramping up. The thing is I had endurolyte capsules with me – but no water! Oh well, lesson learned…even when it’s cold, it’s best to have water for that distance.

Oh! There is one thing. I wore Doug’s Garmin even though I had mapped out the route before leaving. The Garmin says I ran 385.2 miles in 1:36:08 – apparently I’m the World’s Fastest Woman….

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's been a while

Most of the summer I haven't had much to say on here. I haven't really been running, and I haven't really be motivated to even think much about running. Nevertheless I have committed myself to another half marathon. On December 3rd, I will run the Nittany Valley Half. And hopefully I won't finish last.

Until then, though, I have one minor hurdle to get over. Ok, many hurdles, but one immediately. Friday night, shortly after arriving at the beach house rented for the week by my Aunt and Grandmother, I twisted my ankle walking down the stairs to move my car. I hadn't changed out of my work clothes, was still wearing my heels, and thought I had reached the last step when in fact, I had not. My right ankle is definitely sprained, but not too badly. I missed Saturday's 4-miler and today's 9-miler, but hope to get that 9 in tomorrow after work.

I'll try to check in more often...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Carrboro Running

I just did a short run today, about 3 miles, because I haven't tried all these trails on my own yet and I'd rather explore the unknown ones with someone. So, I went on what I call the "burnt out car" trail. So...

I parked in the little dirt parking lot at the trailhead and made sure to leave the car in gear and pull on the e-brake as hard as I could so the car wouldn't roll out on the busy road! Locked my important stuff in the glove compartment, tied my key to my shorts, grabbed my camera, and headed out. We've had a lot of rain lately, and the entry trail is pretty over grown. Fortunately it's probably not even 1/10 of a mile before the first turn I needed to make. I turned off that little trail onto my first single track section. There's nothing too notable about this part, except for a curvy tree and one part where a BIG tree fell across the trail - I took pictures of both of those on the way back. This part of the trail is maybe 1/4 of a mile and ends with a steep rocky descent to Bolin Creek. I usually cross the creek right at the bottom of this hill, but a family was playing there so I went a little further. Across the creek and to my least favorite section of trail - the roots are so bad I walk that part, but it's very short. I quickly came upon my second stream crossing, and there was a group of 4 men there, moving the bridge! Ok.... I stood for a little while until they had the bridge totally out of the water, and then trudged right through the creek! Well...half a mile into my run my feet are already soaked. biggie. Stopped on the big rock to pet the one guy's Golden Retriever, and then set off on my way. This section is the big wide jeep trail, but again, we've had so much rain it's not as wide as it used to be. About 1/4 mile later, I found my next section of single track, and my destination - the burnt out car trail. Doug thinks the car is a Corvair - I have no idea.

Now, aside from some tips I've picked up from various race reports (i.e. - walk the big hills), Doug has taught me everything I know about trail running. His biggest lesson - go the same direction at every fork in the trail. It seems to me that this is a good way to run in circles, but he says it's a good way to not get lost, and I don't wanna get lost. So - left it was. Every time I came up on a new fork, I went left. It worked pretty well. This section of trail is really overgrown too, and I broke way too many spider webs with my face...but I trudged on. There's 2 (I think) stream crossings on this section. The first one was uneventful, and the stream was kinda low. Between the first and second crossing, so crazy mountain bikers have set up some absolutely insane ramps and obstacles. I think they're nuts - Doug wants to try them out. Coming up to the second stream crossing, though, there's this launch ramp they have set up to jump over the stream. This is, though, the bank on the opposite side is really steep - it would be extremely painful to fall short on that jump...

I kept making my left turns, and before long I was back at the burnt out car. And then back at the jeep trail. I went back across the stream where they took out the bridge (and got a picture this time), back across the mean roots, and back across the first stream crossing. This first/last crossing was gross - the water was kind of cloudy and green, I guess because it was held stagnant by rocks and logs, but it looked like pea soup and there was no way I was stepping in it. Got across that, charged up the really steep hill, and headed back to my car.

Here are the pictures - enjoy!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Just for Kicks

My heart rate graph from the Twisted Ankle Half marathon...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Raleigh Race for the Cure Race Report

Originally, I had planned to get to bed early last night since I was planning to be in Raleigh by 6:30 for the 7:30 start. That did not work out, however, and I made it into bed shortly before midnight – only to lie awake staring at the ceiling – in pain. The past couple days have been spotted with lower back pain – severe at times – that seems to be related to tight hamstrings and IT bands. Try as I might to stretch them out, pain in my hips and lower back was high as I tried to fall asleep. Drugged up, I finally dosed off. Seemingly 5 minutes later it was 5 AM and the alarm was going off. As usual I hit the snooze button once….twice…three times – oops, it’s 5:50. I was supposed to leave home by 6:00. Ok, out of bed – good thing I laid my clothes out and packed my bag last night. I was out the door by 6:05 – not bad at all – only to suffer from another aspect of poor planning….I was almost out of gas. I managed to get the fastest pump ever, and was back on the road by 6:15, making it to my Aunt Judy’s house at exactly 6:30.

Judy graciously let me park at her house and gave me a ride to the start – much appreciated. Her house is only about a mile from the start and the loop course actually passes her block twice (once on each end) so she stood at the corner and cheered for me at each end – it was really great to have someone out there pulling for me.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. My plan was actually based on my HR rather than mile splits and I think I was a bit conservative. The goal was to keep my HR below 190 for the first mile, below 200 for the second, and then just let it go for the final 1.1. I did quite well staying down for the first mile, my first split was just over 10 minutes. I did stop and walk up a deceptively large hill but ran the rest of the race, albeit slowly. Two streets were lined quite nicely with spectators. One street had a few yards with sprinklers set up, and even one spot where three kids were standing at the ready with Super Soakers, squirting anyone who indicated approval – that was excellent.

Coming into the last ¼ mile I had way too much energy left over and had a strong, smooth, fast kick into the end. As a comparison – my average HR for the TA was 199 with a max of 222, and for this race the average was 191 with a max of 212. Those numbers sound high – but they also tell me I could have pushed harder. Final watch time was 34:02…I’ve run one previous 5k in a time of 33:47, however a couple days later it was announced that my first race was actually only 2.9 miles – so I guess this is in fact a PR for the 5k distance.

With a little work on pushing my limits and dealing with discomfort, I know I can do better than this.

Twisted Ankle Race report

Looks like I forgot to post this way back when, so here it is...

I sat here trying to write a short version of this, and there just isn’t one so bear with me here.)

This was the second year of the Twisted Ankle Marathon and Half marathon – Last year I volunteered and somehow managed to forget between then and now all the reports of how hard that course is. I can assure you – that will never happen again. That race is unbelievably hard and I really wouldn’t recommend it as a first half marathon. There was absolutely no prayer of running a fast race – it was all about finishing.

The last race I registered for, I didn’t finish – that was not going to happen again. My training really didn’t go how I wanted it to, thanks to a lot of different factors and I knew I wasn’t ready for this thing. Once I found out I was going to have to do the whole toe surgery thing I reevaluated my goals and decided all I really needed to do was finish. In the weeks leading up to the race I was getting extremely nervous, and Randy, Amy, and Christina all agreed to run with me – they are wonderful people.

Race day was hot and humid, as Georgia typically is in late May I suppose. A little before 8:00 Pete and I headed out of our cabin and down to the race start – Pete didn’t want to walk all the way around on the road and convinced me to ramble through the woods on his own little shortcut – I was super nervous about that….and it turned out to be the easiest part of the day! We got down to the start and found almost all of the other people we knew and chatted for a while before the start. When we were all lined up at the start listening to Becky's opening speech I flipped my HRM display over to Chrono mode and checked out my heart rate – 154! Yeah…a little nervous. Sure enough, we started running and my heart rate actually went down!

I had a major case of nerves at the beginning and just couldn’t get over it and get into a groove. Amy and Christina went ahead of Randy and me at probably mile 2 or so and the two of us just kept plugging along. Not long after the girls went ahead, I started dry-heaving. A lot. Like every five steps.

I wasn’t really looking at my watch, because if I looked at the time I would also be looking at my heart rate, and at that point I just didn’t want to see it (but I did want the data, so I wore the monitor anyway - I’m such a nerd). There’s a hill right around mile 3 called Becky’s Bluff. First – that’s no bluff. Bluff sounds like a little grassy knoll in the middle of a meadow on a beautiful spring day. Everytime we came to a hill I’d say “Oh, this must be it”, then we would inevitably get to the top, I would realize it wasn’t, and Randy, in his cute southern accent, would say “I wasn’t gonna say anything.” And then all of a sudden, there was Becky’s Bluff. As I said – that’s no sweet little hill, it’s a dirt WALL. While climbing the bluff we met Ben – a guy from Raleigh who was having an even harder time than I was (very difficult, I can assure you). He walked with us for a while, but finally decided that his stomach just wasn’t up to the job and turned around to head back to the start. Randy and I were plugging along oh-so-slowly when I stopped, turned to him and said “You’re my new best friend – and Elizabeth at the top is Jesus”

We finally made it to the top of that thing and found Jesus and I felt instantly better. My legs were shot, but the mental block was lifted and it was much easier going from that point. Still slow – but easier. At about mile 5 or 6 we met Jackie who was run-walking the course and were more or less with her for the rest of the race. Somewhere between miles 4 and 7 we saw Jim, Margaret, Chuck and Rick, Amy and Christina, Mary and Lori who weren’t at their aid station, and finally made it to the half way point. On the way back out to the point where we would head back down the mountain we started seeing marathoners and I felt really guilty that Randy was still with me and probably apologized 50,000 times, but he stuck with me like the Southern gentleman he is. When we got to the final aid station at about mile 9 I stopped and put a blister block on the blister developing under my big toe – that didn’t do a damn thing. Also, somewhere in there I told Randy I was sure my left foot was bleeding as I forgot to trim my toenails (oops) – but my toes were numb so it didn’t matter.

We started heading down the hill, running right along, only to come up on a Ranger who told us they had reports of a rattlesnake on the trail – ok, we’re walking. We made it to the bottom of the hill and hit asphalt – yeah – 2 miles to go!! We tried to run on the asphalt but quite honestly, asphalt sucks! It didn’t work. A few minutes later we were going through the campground and Randy said he thought we would make it without getting passed by a marathoner – not two minutes later the first marathoner passed us and we felt a breeze as he passed – he was flying!

By the time we got to the final mile I had full-blown goose bumps and chills and was trying not to cry. At one point I was stopped with my hands on my knees, hyperventilating and half-crying, and Randy practically picked me up and said we had come too far to stop- he was right, so we kept going.

The end of the course was a nice little run across a bridge and then about a 20 yard jaunt on the grass to the finish line. As we were approaching the bridge, Randy told me I had to go first because if I stopped he was going to push me. A little before halfway across the bridge, I hear Randy behind me yell “There’s a hill on this bridge!!” and it was all I could do not to die laughing. We finished (finally) together in about 3:50.

The tears hit again when we got across the line and apparently I was looking pretty bad because within a minute I had 3 medics asking me all kinds of questions. Rob and Christina got me some ice, powerade, and food – and Amy’s girls brought me a bottle of water (they are so sweet!).

Honestly, if Randy hadn’t been there I would have dropped out for sure. It was too hard and hurt way too bad for me to have finished it alone. So thanks, Randy, for being such a wonderful person and pulling my sorry ass through that race. I appreciate it more than you could ever understand…

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The legacy of the Timex Ironman 30-lap

A little background, first. I've had a long line of timex ironman 30-lap watches, and they all die in weird circumstances.

My first one, senior year of high school, met its untimely death in front of my house one day. My then-boyfriend and I were hitting a volleyball back and forth in the street, and I took my watch off and set it on the trunk of my mom's car. We went inside for a drink, mom headed out to run errands, and my watch flew off the car somewhere between the house and Giant :( We walked around the neighborhood checking gutters to no avail.

The second one was purchased the following fall so I would have a watch to wear to practice. That wonderfully trusty watch made it through 4 years of college and one year of grad school. It was the kind with the cloth band, so it didn't smell so great, but a weekly shot of febreeze kept it from getting too bad. By my second semester of grad school, the watch had been removed countless times and spent A LOT of time in the pool (the band was slowly being bleached). One time teaching a beginning swimming class, we were working on diving. I dove in to demonstrate, and as I hit the water the velcro on the watch came undone, but I somehow caught it in the same hand (aren't I cool? ;) ) and disaster was averted. Fast forward to that summer - My friend Logan and I are training for a triathlon. During one morning swim workout, I surfaced, hit the lap button, and everything went blank :_| Dead battery. Too much time in the pool, perhaps? I headed off to the store to replace said battery (just couldn't face life without my watch) and the dude said "Well, I can replace the battery, but you'll lose the water resistance. You could send it off to Timex and they can reseal it, but that'll cost $35-$40" Considering the watch probably cost $35, I said goodbye to my beloved watch.

That summer I had absolutely no money, and I couldn't replace my watch - so sad. When I started getting a paycheck again in September, I went straight for a new watch. Again - cloth band. It spent a lot of time in the pool, a lot of time running, a lot of time cycling (really, I had a permanent watch line). It also spent an entire summer working outside at Pottery Barn Kids - I was a stockroom peep (the muscle at the store, if you will). My watch and I unloaded many a truck together. My watch band got NASTY. I attempted to clean it, but I think it was beyond the point of no return. Really, to the point that I wound up with a spot of ringworm on my arm (ew ew ew!!!) from the band - after all, lord knows what I was exposed to unloading those trucks. So my watch was set aside, waiting for me to remember to take it for a new band. Time dragged on and on, because I was able to use my HRM watch in the meantime.

Well, yesterday I went to Target to get my watch band replaced. Two employees spent what seemed like forever trying to replace the band. Finally it seemed to work, and the girl started ringing up my purchase. As she was doing that, I put my watch on..and the band popped off. After some careful examination by my now-favorite Target employee, she decided that the little holes where the pin goes were worn out from all the struggle - and I got a brand new watch - free!

And so begins the saga of another Timex Ironman 30-lap watch (this time, with an elasotmer band)...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Longest run to date

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning super nervous because today was my first scheduled 9 mile long run - my longest run EVER. Since I wasn't entirely sure I was prepared, I was jittery. I made it out there, 30 min later than planned (ha! I procrastinated, what a surpise!) walked, stretched, and went. The plan was to run 3 laps of the Duke XC course which would actually give me 9.3 for the day. I know this course, it's generally well populated, but mostly I just went because I know the distance, I didn't feel like measuring or estimating.

The first 3 miles: Just shuffling along, smiling at people I meet and watching the golfers through the trees. Every once in a while "oh my god, 9 MILES" would sneak into my mind, at which point I would say "hey, it's only 3 laps" and then my inner devil said "yeah, 3 3-mile laps." Somewhere about mile 2 I decided that while my IT band has been feeling much better, it's not ready to run up steep hills just yet. So I walked the big hills, shuffled down the steep downhills, and just ran the rest normally. Well...that strategy made me realize I really need to work on pacing! I'd run a 14-minute mile, followed by a 12-minute mile, followed by a 10-minute mile. That went on the entire time...

Second loop - Ok, this isn't so bad, 1/3 done. New golfers to watch, new people to smile at. Did a little silent cheer when I passed the 5 mile mark - over half way! At the end of this loop I stopped at the car to stretch, drink some water, and eat some m&m's (I know, probably not the best choice, but hey, it's what I had) and hit the trail again.

Third loop - Ok, I'm tired! My legs were definitely tired which of course I expected, by my arms were feeling sorta rubbery too. My left leg was getting really tight even with the couple minutes of stretching I did - and when I could see the mile marker at the end of mile 7, but hadn't quite gotten there, I got pretty mild cramps in both calves. I stopped to stretch thinking about my hydration and came to the conclusion that I was fairly well hydrated...and then I thought about my moving week diet. Ok, that could be the problem. Stretched out the cramps and off I went again. At this point there was no prayer of running up the steep hills because even if my IT band would do it, my calves would have knotted up like mad. I passed the 8 mile marker with a huge smile on my face. Only one more to go. By this time the trail was getting kind empty, even though it wasn't even 3:00 yet...but there was this one other girl who I met going the opposite direction every lap - it made me feel good to know someone else was out there as long as I was!

As I finished I was thinking about how I've changed in the last 3 years. Grad school was pretty rough, and really did make me a different person. Unfortunately, one part of that was that my fitness really suffered (imagine that, in an exericse physiology program) and today I felt like I was really getting back to my old self again, it felt great. Also, though...3 years ago, knowing what a challenge this run would have been, I don't think I would have done it. I think I would have been content to never run more than 5 miles....I'm definitely much stronger now than I was in August of 2003....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's been over a month

My IT band problem was diagnosed over a month ago. Progress is definitely slow - in fact, it's questionable whether I'm making any progress at all. Here's an overview of what has been going on for the past month:

*The pain in my left leg is such that I have to stop and stretch every .5 - .75 mile during my runs. Not unbearable, but really annoying.
*I've been missing a couple runs a week due to the pain - not cool.
*Reworked the training schedule - added another rest day and a XT/short easy run day in the hopes of alleviating some of this
*Resting HR has dropped a little bit, same for my weight and waist circumference - not much, but enough to tell I'm doing something

The race is just over 10 weeks away...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Not much to say, except...

The doctor says my meniscus is fine! Apparently the problem is my IT Band - definitely a sucky injury, but so much better than what I was expecting.

Back to running tomorrow.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Things aren't going well.

Attempting to write this without going into an uncontrolled rant, I'm going to try to just explain what is happening.

As I was running down that trail at Umstead on 1/14, and stepped on that root, I tried to keep my balance and not fall down - it's a reflex. Just after I felt/heard the pops in my ankle, I felt it in my left hip adductors, also. It's reasonable to strain a groin in that fashion so I expected to be sore for a few days afterwards. However, I didn't have even the slightest bit of soreness. The only body part that hurt was my ankle. Until this past Sunday...

By the end of last week the swelling in my ankle had gone down to the point that the left ankle was just barely bigger than the right. I wasn't feeling any pain unless I put my foot in a strange position - sitting on my left leg, which I absolutely love to do, wasn't possible. I contemplated running on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but each day decided to hold off. Sunday night, however, Doug and I went by Fleet Feet so I could try out some new road running shoes. I tried two completely new (to me) models of shoes because I'm wondering if my recurring shin splints might be caused by the wrong shoes. Running on the treadmill at the store felt great, no problems or pain at all. In fact, the girl analyzing my mechanics said my left foot/leg looked more solid than my right. A couple of hours later I noticed a strange feeling in my left knee - sort of like it needed to crack, but wouldn't. I chalked it up to a little bit of stiffness from running on the 'mill and let it go.

Monday I had planned to do a 4-miler after work, on the treadmill, but my knee actually felt a bit worse. After a bit of thought over the past few weeks, I decided to change my training schedule to make Monday a rest day, rather than Sunday. Therefore, the 4-miler planned for Monday got pushed to Tuesday. When I got up on Tuesday morning, my knee was stiff - but it's easy to blow that off when you've had another injury, just blame it on being immobile for a few days. Lunch time rolled around and I went out for my run. To be sure that I wouldn't be too far from the office if my ankle just wasn't ready to run, I did a 2-mile loop and planned to just do it twice. My entire left leg was just not stable and not ready, and I stopped after the first lap. That afternoon my knee still hurt, but not any worse than that morning. I honestly don't know if it hurt while I was running - I don't remember any pain, but....

Yesterday (Wednesday) it was feeling a bit worse, and the nagging worry that had been in the back of my mind pushed itself right up front and unpacked its bags. All day long I couldn't stop thinking about the pain in my knee. I poked around a little bit and discovered that when I push just above and anterior to the top of my fibula it HURTS, and I feel the pain inside the joint, not at the point where I'm actually pushing - which pretty effectively rules out ITBS. Not knowing what to make of that, and only really knowing that it was really painful, I did a search online of my symptoms - and it didn't look good. Everything pointed to a cartilage or meniscus problem. At about 2:00 I went next door to the fitness center and had a Physical Therapist check it out - she's pretty sure it's a problem with my lateral meniscus - which is exactly what I was afraid of. The PT prescribed a week of icing and strengthening my quad....But in all reality, a week just isn't going to make the difference. So today, I called the Duke Sports Med clinic and have an appointment with a Dr. there tomorrow (a knee specialist, in fact).

What does this mean?
*I can't run - I tried. Way too painful. That means I can't train for the Twisted Ankle. I had a somewhat successful ride on the stationary bike this afternoon but oh my god is that boring.
*I don't know what is wrong with my knee. I don't know what the doctor will say tomorrow. I don't know how I'm going to stay in shape, or reach the goals I wanted to reach this year.
*I'm trying not to get too down about this before I actually know what's going on.

Guess I'm just going to have to wait.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

My inexperience with trails is showing through....

My original training plan has my long runs slated for Saturdays. The line-up is going to be changed, but that's not really the point of this post. The last two Saturdays I have gone to Umstead Park in Raleigh for my LSD (long slow distance). Last weekend I was running along, 4 miles into my run (and half a mile from the car) when my foot met a tree root and my body met the trail. It hurt, and it bruised my body and ego a bit, but nothing major happened.

A week later, my scrapes and bruises healing nicely, I headed out today for my second LSD. This one was supposed to be 4 miles - not very long, but I can assure you, it was slow. Doug went along with me today, partly because he had the afternoon off, and a little because I was afraid I would hurt myself. Maybe he shouldn't go with me....
A mile into the run I was feeling great and felt like I could go on all day. I walk across the bridges in the park because the steps are steep and I'm just not a fan of running across them. Ten feet from the brige, I put my foot down unevenly on a root, twisted my ankle, heard four pops, and wound up on the ground. I also think I may have pulled a groin because I felt something pop in that region as I tried to hold my balance, but no pain there at the moment.

Looks like I'm down and out for a few days...