Sunday, February 24, 2013

22 Miles and NYC

I have been slacking on my training runs the last two weeks.  I am sure there are silly little reasons why I didn't get up and go out four days a week like I should have, but I don't remember what they were and why. All I know is that I looked at my recorded runs and thought, "My goodness woman, you are slacking!"  There's no point in trying to figure out why I didn't run as much as I should have, instead I need to get my head back in the game and go.  

After my 20 mile run two weeks ago, I felt wonderful physically, but mentally I was in a tough place.  I had worked myself up and got so nervous about the 20 mile run. It ultimately made the nervous feelings about Boston grow bigger.  I met with my friend Ed for a Mental Toughness session.  (Feel free to check out his web page for inspiring words and tips.) He's a motivational speaker and he helps people sort through the mental game.  He works mostly with athletes, but his words apply to anyone. Our discussion was about how thoughts, good and bad, come and go so frequently and we should allow them to flow from one to another without giving too much weight to them. Keeping that in mind helps us to move on from those bad moments when we think we can't do something to the next moment. He said it far more eloquently than that, of course, but I let the idea simmer in my head. I put his theory to the test during a week of terrible PMS and during my 22 mile run on Thursday. In those cranky, raging lunatic women moments I remind myself that these thoughts of slapping everyone will pass soon.  And I really don't need ice cream, chocolates, cake, pie, and cookies all in one bowl.  Well maybe. Okay, I really don't need them at all.   

The 22 mile run was pretty decent.  I am sure it could have been better, but my ego kind of got in the way. The night before, we were at a kids birthday party with pizza and cake.  I had one tiny slice of pizza because I was hungry, but dairy and I do NOT get along so I left it at that. I also did not drink as much water as I should have. The next morning, I mentally prepare myself for the run, keeping in mind Ed's words. The left calf was causing some trouble but it finally settles into the run at mile 10 (yeah, finally) and then guess what? The right calf feels left out so it cries like a little child too. I run along laughing because my calves remind me of my children. You finally get one calm and happy and think you can get some peace and quite when the other one acts up. Oh well, maybe I can run this one out as well. I start climbing a hill, which is difficult enough, when fierce wind starts blowing down on me. I tell myself the universe is preparing me for Boston. This is bound to happen along the way, right? Yeah, that's likely so, NO PROBLEM.  I've got this! I continue on my merry little way, eating buttered sandwiches as I go. That's right, I carry sandwiches with me. Actually, it's the first time. I knew I would be in trouble because of dinner so I thought I'd give it a try and it seems to work. After mile 16, I switch into walk/run mode. The back of my left knee is hurting and I figure interspersing some walking would help. I don't stop at the place I intend to for a water refill as I am not running low. I tell myself I will stop at a place in the next town. When I get there, I can tell I still have fluid and think I can push through. At mile 18 I realize that was a bad idea so I try to ration the rest. The problem with this is that I contemplate drinking anything that might be in the discarded bottles and fast food cups along the road, or possibly sipping the water running along the road. I know, I know. I didn't, but it was so tempting. Nature is on my side this day. Every time I slow down to walk, a big gust of wind comes up from behind and pushes me along, encouraging me to keep going. Finally at mile 20, I run into a bagel shop and grab a bottle of water. Only two miles left, but I NEED it. The last two miles are hell. I have many thoughts of giving up and "I can't do this," but I know this will pass eventually and so I keep moving forward and finally make it home.  22 miles complete.  I crawl upstairs and roll into an epsom salt bath.

Recovery hasn't gone as well as I'd like. The calves have been tight and there's pain behind the left knee. I got a great massage, but I woke up in the middle of the night because I had multiple trigger points firing in the legs and the lower body wouldn't move.  They felt like cement. I know that if I just move I'll be fine. I think.
Last night my husband and I spent the evening out in NYC. We walked for miles and I felt fine until after dinner when my left knee began hurting once again. It felt like someone took a bat to it. I have been wanting to run through Central Park, and we planned to do so but I wasn't sure if it was going to be possible. 

My view running around the reservoir in Central Park
This morning I woke up far later than I intended to. Ted said I didn't have to run, but HELLO! WE ARE IN NYC! I HAVE TO! This will be a nice easy recovery jog with Ted. He's just starting to run and wants to go for an easy 5k. I should be able to do that. And off we go. My knee hurts like hell but after a mile it goes away and I feel good.  New York has incredible non-stop energy.  When we get to Central Park, we take in the beauty and the energy of the other runners.  After two miles, Ted heads back and because I am feeling great, I keep going, and going, and going.  Wait, I didn't bring water or fuel, so maybe I should head back. I take a few pictures along the way and say "hello!" to everyone I pass. I think that throws them off. Four of the 20 something people I say "hello" or "good morning" to responds. Oh well, it's NYC and it's still fun and beautiful. 

I thought I kicked this knee pain, but as I write this, I am thinking 7 miles was a bit much after the 22 on Thursday. Listen to your body, Kathy.  LISTEN! 

Please help me with my Running for Research Fundraising with the Massage Therapy Foundation: .  Every bit counts.  THANK YOU! (In the mean time, I shall keep running.) 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Running with Friends

I last left you with a disappointing 18 mile run two weeks ago.  I chalked it up to not having dinner, lack of rest the night before, and possibly some over training.  So I decided to take that following week off.  The only exercise I did were the burpees required from my 100 day challenge.  The following Sunday I was scheduled for a half marathon distance (13.1 miles).  I got a couple of massages, one specific to my calves and the other a full body relaxation massage.  I did not realize other parts of my body were not functioning properly until Holly applied a little bit of pressure.  Shouldn't I have caught this?! Sunday’s run was EXCELLENT! I felt brand new every step of the way and achieved a personal best time of 2:15:19.  That is just under a 2 minute improvement of a previous best time.  I was ecstatic.

I expected Monday’s recovery run to be painful, but shortly into my run, my calves relaxed and it was smooth sailing.  Thursday I worked on hill training and Friday was the “storm” run.  You know, “Nemo.” I did not work that day and went out later than usual.  During my 32 minutes, I ran through rain, sleet, hail, and snow.  I decided to cut the run short due to the hail pelting my face.  That really stings.  The important thing was that I got a run in. 

Me, Dale, Caroline, Gail
Me, Dale, Kim, Gail
A friend from a local running group asked me to join them on their run today.  Two of the women are also running this year’s Boston Marathon and 16 miles is on their training schedule.  Two others would join us a few miles in.  The ladies are Dale, Kim, Caroline, and Gail.  They would be running on some SERIOUS hills.  I want to run with them, but I am so intimidated.  These ladies have been running for years.  They are REAL runners, not some naive newbie.  They've all run marathons before, multiple ones.  One has even done an Iron Man.  There’s no way I can keep up with their pace. But I decide to just suck it up and give it a try. I did not sleep well and could not eat much of my breakfast because I was so nervous.  I park at a church a couple of miles out from Dale’s house.  Since my plan is 20 miles, I figure I could run to her house, meet up with them, and run back to get those additional 4 miles.  I step out of the car and my toes go numb.  How cold is it? It has to be in the teens.  It’s at least 5 degrees colder there than where I live.  It’s a beautifully wooded area so I whip out my camera and start snapping pictures along the run.  Yes, I took pictures.  Why not? I am thinking of taking pictures along the Boston course, so I better start practicing, right? My goal is to finish under 6 hours and HAVE FUN! It IS my first marathon after all, and it’s BOSTON! I want to remember every part of it. 

I don’t know the altitude, but it’s more than what I am use to.  It takes about a mile for my lungs to fully adjust.  (BTW, the highest altitude we were at was 626 ft. SWEET!) The hills are grueling.  More difficult than the hills I run by my house.  Kim charges up those hills like it’s no different than the flats.  The woman is crazy (and by that I mean impressive), but her doing this forces me to try to keep up.  The pace is a little faster than I like on the hills, but this is going to improve my performance, right? So I try my best to keep up.  We pick up Caroline and Gail along the way and I think, “Oh thank goodness, I can slow down now.”  We did, a little, but not by much.  That is okay though, I am adjusting to the speed… I think.  I go to take a sip of my water and guess what? The water is frozen.  Dear CamelBak, Your “Thermal Control Kit for extreme winter and summer conditions” must not mean anything under 20 degrees F. Thank you.  I tuck the hose into my jacket hoping to thaw it out.  Apparently, I do not generate enough heat while running to thaw out frozen water.  So Caroline gives me some of her water and Dale puts the hose in her shirt for a while, which works.  Even my Gu is hardening.  My lips feel dry so I try to apply lip balm.  Have you tried to scrape frozen beeswax on your lips? It’s supposed to be soothing.  Today it split my bottom lip. 

This is only the second time I have run in a group.  It’s nice to chat with the ladies along the way.  I learn which underwear is the best to run in, ways to hydrate, and post-run fuel.  I get t a lot of useful advice on running a marathon.  In our conversations, I discover the age of these ladies.  WHAT?!  I am WAY off. Could it be that running stops aging appearance at the age you start running? I am totally okay with that!  Seriously, I bet none of you could guess their ages.  (Don’t worry ladies, I won’t tell.)

After Caroline and Gail depart, I tell Dale and Kim to go on ahead with their pace, as I would be slowing down.  I run alone for the next few miles.  I analyze my body for aches and pains and then my mind wanders as usual.  Then that one hill that I already climbed to get to Dales house appears.  STEEP.  I did not like you the first time! Have I told you I don’t like hills? I start to doubt myself and question why I am doing this.  (BTW, this is also when my stomach starts growling angrily.  Hunger = cranky and negative thoughts.)  I work on changing my perception.  I think about all the reasons why I am running.  For me, yes, but also to set an example for my family.  For the American Massage Therapy Association, whom I am representing.  For the Massage Therapy Foundation, whom I am raising funds for.  The MTF; Paul pops into my head.  He is coordinating the MTF Boston Team and one of our contacts.  I joke around and call him a slacker because he isn't doing a training run.  (You know, just to see what it’s like).  I imagine him just waking up now, eating some bacon and eggs with his feet up on the table, while watching some silly Sunday movie like the Notebook.  I picture him looking at the time and letting out an evil laugh and he thinks of the MTF team members out there logging long training miles.  A puppet master.  It irks me enough to push my way up that hill.  At the top I yell, “Take that puppeteer! Now give me BACON!”  No bacon, so I down another Gu.  I have no idea what time Paul wakes up, or even if he eats eggs and bacon.  I doubt that he sees us the way I described, but these are just the crazy thoughts that run through my head that give me the edge I need to work through those moments of doubt.  Another mile later, Dale and Kim are heading in my direction.  Yeah! They show me Dales house and head in while I continue for two more miles.  My legs are now rebelling.  My thighs feel like tree trunks and my calves and beginning to seize. I alternate between running and walking.  On the way back to Dale’s house, I glance at my time.  I am 10 minutes from hitting the 4 hour mark.  Could I really get a personal best for my 20 mile run? I sprint as best I can until I my phone announces 20 miles.  I DID IT! 3:51:50! I beat my previous best time by 8 minutes and 59 seconds!

Thank you ladies for inviting and welcoming me on your Sunday run.  I feel incredible and you contribute to that.

Please help me with my fundraising goal of $5,000 for the Massage Therapy Foundation: