Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dead Sprint 5K Recap

I've talked about it many times on the blog before, but one of my favorite running things is holiday-themed races. I'm on the fence about doing the Cleveland Turkey Trot because we're helping Michael's aunt with Thanksgiving this year, and I don't want to be cavorting downtown if I'm needed elsewhere. And since Halloween is on a Saturday this year, I decided I needed to work in a race for that holiday!

My goal and/or hope was to PR this race. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that didn't happen. I'll analyze the race a little further on in this post.

The race was held at a bar called West Park Station in Cleveland, though it is basically in the swankier West Side suburbs, rather than Cleveland proper. The race didn't start until 9 AM and was only a half hour away, so I was able to sleep in relatively late for a race day (about 7:30 AM).

We haven't been running our heat (to save money), so it felt really cold when I got up, and I grabbed my hat and gloves, but when I stepped out of the garage, it was actually very pleasant! It was 50 degrees, but it didn't have that "chilly" feeling. I ended up running in just shorts and a t-shirt and was very comfortable, though almost everyone else was layered up. It's been seasonally warm here, so I think we're all still in that stage with overdressing on accident.

I arrived at the race site around 8:30 AM and parked at the Walgreens next door (shh...) and waited about two minutes for my race packet. I got the last small shirt (score!!), but they were ordering more shirts for the sizes they had run out of, which I always appreciate. I was planning to wear the shirt to pass out candy, so I was really glad they had my size! They are long-sleeve cotton shirts, which I think are my favorite type of shirt to get from a race - so comfy and cozy!

For a unisex, it fits surprisingly well!
I took my stuff back to the car and got my bib pinned on. I then dipped back into the bar to use the indoor(!!) bathrooms. The bar was also hosting a discounted mimosa/bloody mary bar for runners after, but I didn't stick around for that (which it turns out I should have...more on that in a minute).

They sent us out to the start about five minutes before hand, and while it was a little cool waiting, and I was far from miserable. I ended up standing next to this guy who asked for the time, which I was happy to provide him, but then he kept craning his head to look at my watch about every 30 seconds, which I had pick up satellites, so the time wasn't even showing anymore. It was strange!

The race started without much fanfare. I'm very happy with where I placed myself, since I have a history of starting too far back. I only had to weave around a few people, then I was in a good spot. I wasn't sure of how fast I could run, so I hung on to a guy pacing about 8:50. He was going very sure and steady and seemed comfortable at that pace, so I two stepped behind him for the first mile and a half. The pace felt hard, but I was able to keep my breathing under control.

However, after about the halfway point, my legs were just done. I lost my rabbit but was surprised to see I was holding about the same pace - he must have sped up (because he had a better pacing strategy than hanging with a random stranger, ahem).

After the second mile, the wheels came off. I'm sure it's been the time off due to injury, but my legs could not turn over and my heart rate was sky high. I kept backing it off incrementally to see if I could catch my breath, and I ended up dropping to an almost 10 min/mile pace. There was a point where sitting on the curb and crying sounded good. It sounds so melodramatic now, but I just hurt at a pace that should've been comfortable.

With a half mile to go, we turned back to the main street, which would take us to the last .1 of the course. I felt like slowing had allowed me to recover fairly well, so I started to pick it back up. I imagined "changing gears" and picked it up in spurts, letting each increase settle in before going again. It was hard, but with my heart rate back under control, I felt better.

The last .1 was a straight shot and I focused on doing a controlled acceleration through the finish.

Time: 28:04

There was water, bananas, and granola bars easily accessible right across the line, and I helped myself and watched people finish for awhile. A lot of people dressed up, and it was really fun! But I felt really tired and nauseous. Now that I've had a chance to think over the race, I've started questioning whether it was really a physical issue that held me back, or if it was more mental. But, to me, wanting to puke is a good benchmark, so I feel like I did really give it my all.

I'm disappointed I didn't PR, and I just left the race afterwards, instead of staying for awards. I told myself I was cold, but I easily could've grabbed my coat from the car and gone back inside. The racing company posts results in real time, and I thought fleetingly I should check them, but I moped my way home instead.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I saw later I had placed third in my age group! I'm hoping I might be able to pick it up at one of the Fleet Feet stores, but we'll see.

I'm feeling a little down because I was hoping a big PR would prove I had gained a ton of fitness this training cycle. However, I realize I should have recognized that taking a few weeks off throughout to treat my leg, while being the smart decision, would affect my performance. I also need to keep in mind I've been training for a marathon, not a balls to the wall 5K, as it were.

I am taking heart in the fact that my last .1 was at a 7:20 pace, and it didn't feel like a wild out-of-control sprint. For reference, the last bit of the Jog into Spring 5K, where I got my current PR, was an 8:35 pace and felt like death. I think I have more speed than I showed today, I just didn't have the endurance to put it all together.

Hopefully I will be able to clean my running up the next two weeks for Chickamauga!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 13

I'm just going to get it out of the way and say this week wasn't quite perfect, but I'm happy with what I got done considering my injury. I made it through everything except my 20 miler. My leg was really hurting Saturday, and while it was really hard for me to give the run up, I knew I needed to focus on getting healthy. I think I've made really good progress this training cycle and want to be able to test myself on Halloween at my 5K, which I can't do if I'm hobbling along.

But the good news is I found a great chiropractor less than 10 minutes from work who was able to fit me in Friday morning. She gave me some physical therapy exercises to do on my own to strengthen my glutes, and then did ART on my quads, hip flexors (major ow!), and IT band. I felt tons of immediate relief afterwards, though I might have undone a lot of the good by doing my 10 mile tempo run after work. However, I am seeing her tomorrow and I'm committing to resting until I heal, even if it means I don't run again until my 5K.

My leg does feel significantly better today though. We did engagement photos today and did a lot of walking off-trail/climbing on rocks/sitting and standing up from the ground, and I had basically no pain the whole time. I also mowed the lawn this morning and was fairly comfortable. I have another ART torture session tomorrow after work, and I might get another one before the weekend if I need it. I'm bummed I once again won't have a full, real taper, but what can you do?

Sunday, October 18

Monday, October 19
5 mi easy (11:36 min/mile)

I thought I was going slower than normal because of my achy leg, but this run was super windy, so it might not have been just my body.

Tuesday, October 20
8 mi easy (11:26 min/mile)

My leg hurt pretty badly for the first four miles, but after that it loosened up and was actually alright.

Wednesday, October 21
4.8 mi hills

My IT band was really cranky during the WU, but after that, it was fine, I assume because I run hills more up on my toes. My legs felt so tired during this workout! I had to bargain with myself that if I finished, I would never have to run hills again. Obviously this is not true, but it worked at the time.

Thursday, October 22

Friday, October 23
1 mi WU, 8 mi @ 9:54 min/mile, 1 mi CD

I went to run on the Towpath after work (it's now seven minutes away from me!), and it was awesome! (Well, other than my leg hurting for the first five miles....) After about three miles, the path heads away from the road and into the woods, with the canal on one side and the Cuyahoga River on the other. It was spectacular with the fall colors, and I saw a lot of wildlife, including an otter, which I thought was super cool!

Saturday, October 24

I skipped my planned 20-miler because my leg was pretty bad. I tried to convince myself I was okay, but I was basically limping around the house, and Michael helped me see running 20 miles on that would not help the situation get any better.

Run Miles: 27.8 mi
Total Time: 5:02

Obviously I'm not thrilled my last week was not "perfect," but I'm at the point where I'm sick and tired of running injured. I wish I had known the injury would persist when it first started so I could've sought out a chiropractor sooner, but I'm glad I'm getting in now three weeks before my marathon, while I still have time to heal and get care. If I can get to a place of no to minimal pain by Saturday morning for my 5K, I will be ecstatic.

Speaking of the 5K, I am super nervous. I have definitely gained a lot of fitness since the start of my training cycle (and before I started, I got a 5K PR), so I know I should be in PR shape, but I'm so nervous for the race. I think part of it is knowing how much racing a 5K hurts, but I'm also putting a lot of pressure on myself to see a big improvement. I guess we'll see how much fitness I've gained!

But now it's taper time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Weeks 11 & 12

Hello, once again, from the long delayed world of the injury doldrums - round two. While resting for a week definitely helped heal my leg somewhat, the pain came back again and necessitated some more time off. My focus right now is to get through my last real week of training and make it to my taper. I'm bummed I might not really get to enjoy taper, but hopefully those three weeks will allow me to heal completely.

In other news, my new job is awesome! Learning a whole new industry (again...) is hard, but I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of things and can do some tasks on my own now like a real person. My team is great and really friendly. It's so refreshing to enjoy work again, and I'm amazed how much better I feel when I get home, especially since my commute is so short. (I worked more than eight hours today and still made it home before five. It's like magic!

Sunday, October 4

Monday, October 5
5 mi easy (10:59 min/mile)

This was my first run in my new shoes, and they felt awesome! Having fresh, thick cushioning underfoot made for a much gentler ride. I moved up from the Wave Rider 17s to the 18s. The bottom is exactly the same, but the upper changed enough I went from a 7.5 to an 8. They feel a bit like clown shoes.

Tuesday, October 6
8 mi easy (10:56 min/mile)

This was my last day at my old job, so I left early and got home early enough to do the whole run in the sunlight. It was beautiful.

Wednesday, October 7
4.8 mi hills

Once again, I had six sets of hills on the menu. I won't lie and say it wasn't hard, but I realized around the fifth set my breathing, while heavy, was actually pretty controlled, and my legs didn't feel really beat until the last set. This is a long way from when two sets wiped me out pretty hard! I don't want to get cocky, but I certainly feel very prepared for the hills at this race.

Thursday, October 8

Friday, October 9
1 mi WU, 8 mi @ 9:53 min/mile, 1 mi CD

My sleep patterns got really messed up on my days off (I wanted to stay up ALL THE HOURS, and then felt like all the crap during the day). I could really feel the lack of sleep eating at me on this run, but nothing was wrong, so I pushed through. I guess it was good mental training?

Saturday, October 10
20 mi long (11:21 min/mile)

I felt like I nailed my nutrition this run and never got in a bad mental place. The last five miles were a bit tricky since it was dark enough I had to do smaller laps in the neighborhood. The last two to three miles really taxed me mentally. I wanted to be done so badly because my legs were just so tired, but I knew that was the whole point, and nothing hurt, so I kept going. I was pretty done when I got home, but super proud of myself!

Run Miles: 47.8 mi
Total Time: 8:41

Sunday, October 11

Monday, October 12
5 mi easy (11:14 min/mile)

I didn't make any notes for this run, which means I think this is when my leg started hurting again, but I didn't want to admit it.

Tuesday, October 13

I got stuck at work a bit late training, and then I had to go across Cleveland to see the Hobbit Extended Edition in theaters. (Yes, yes, I know.) I didn't have enough time to run, and I certainly wasn't about to skip my movie to do it.

Wednesday, October 14
Yoga for Runners - A Stretch for the IT Band

I spent all day trying to hide a pronounced limp at work (rather successfully, I might add!), so I decided maybe running wasn't the best option for me.

Thursday, October 15

Friday, October 16
Yoga for the IT Band and Outer Hips
IT Band Healing Yoga
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Hips and Quads
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings

My leg was really painful, so I tried every IT band/hip yoga video I could find. I'm not sure how much any of them really helped.

Saturday, October 17

But don't worry - I got my heart rate up with the best play ever in college football. Seriously, if you did not see the ending of the Michigan-Michigan State game, go watch it. I highly recommend the version with the MSU radio broadcast cut on top, since our color commentator completely loses his mind (as well he should). I think Michael and I laid on the floor after the game for fifteen minutes, unable to comprehend what had just happened.

Run Miles: 5 mi
Yoga Time: 1:47
Total Time: 2:43

Looking back, I had forgotten how good my leg was two weeks ago. I was feeling a little disheartened that it flared up again, but writing this post made me feel better. I'm glad at least since it's my IT band, that I won't be able to do any permanent damage. I'm also thinking I should find if someone in the area will do ART - I have a feeling a good chiropractor could probably clear out a lot of the problem.

It's hard to believe the marathon is less than four weeks away!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 10

I dove back into training this week after taking some time off due to my achy quad. The injury isn't completely gone, but my treatment for it has helped a lot. I've been doing my fire hydrants and rolling the IT band and hip with a tennis ball every night. I still feel some discomfort when I walk and run, but it usually goes away within a minute or two. I'm confident I have it under control now, and that my taper will give it time to heal.

Speaking of taper, I only have two more hard weeks of training left! (With a step-back week in between, so taper is a little further away than I'd like to think.) While I love running, and I've loved doing a full training cycle again, I'm excited to get my two 20-milers in the books and rest up. I felt really good this week, and hopefully that will continue for the last bit.

Sunday, September 27
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Hip Flexors and Quads
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Hips
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders

After Michael's parents left, I spent some quality time with my yoga mat to try and work out my quad.

Monday, September 28
5 mi easy (11:16 min/mile)

My quad felt a bit achy on the run, but I really noticed how tight my Achilles were. It was after the run that I noticed the pain was actually radiating from my IT band. I did some fire hydrants and was 100% in the morning.

Tuesday, September 29
5 mi easy (11:23 min/mile)

My legs felt like lead, but that is very normal for my second run back after a lay-off, so I wasn't worried. My breathing felt pretty heavy, but the humidity was over 90%, so again I assumed it was no big deal. There had been a lot of rain, so there were tons of frogs out. Lots of them were really small, so I felt like I was playing some sort of reverse frogger, especially as it got darker and I couldn't tell easily what was a leaf and was a frog. My shoes were clean when I got home, so I think I did okay not squashing any!

Wednesday, September 30
4.8 mi hills

I upped my hill sets from four to six. I was really nervous I wouldn't be able to finish, so I promised myself I could stop at four or five if I needed to. I thought my legs were going to fall off during the fifth, but I made it through!

When I recover at a 0% incline during the sets, I still leave the pace at my goal pace. I think this has done a really great job teaching my body to recover and lower my HR at that pace - hopefully this will pay off big on race day.

Thursday, October 1

Friday, October 2
1 mi WU, 7 mi @ 9:53 min/mile, 1 mi CD - 9 mi total

I ended up taking the day off work (I had a PTO day left), but I still waited until the evening to run because it was so windy all day. There were a few times during the tempo section my HR got really high (when I had to go uphill into the wind), but otherwise I felt really comfortable at that pace. That was a huge confidence booster!

Saturday, October 3
19 mi long (11:22 min/mile)

It rained almost the whole run (and had been raining all the previous night and during the day), but I felt really good. I thought I might be having a slight bonk around mile 12, but after about a half mile, my salt tablet kicked in and I felt fine. I noticed I wanted my fuel every mile but never felt desperate for it - I think I might have my race day nutrition nailed down! I think the key is for me to eat a lot in the day or two before. Luckily I am very good at that.

Run Miles: 42.8 mi
Yoga Time: 59:57
Total Time: 8:51

This week will be a bit interesting because Tuesday is my last day at my current job, and then I will have five days off before I start my new one a week from tomorrow. I'm really excited for that time off, but it will be interesting to not have as much structure to my days. I plan to catch up on some stuff (like actually cleaning my house), but also having a little bit of relaxation. I only get five days of PTO my first year at my new job, which is fine, but I will need to save them all for my honeymoon, so I need to enjoy some extended time off while I can.

I'm hoping to be able to drive to a few new places to run - we have so many beautiful Metroparks here that I really need to take advantage of!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thinking Out Loud 1 - 10/1/15

Happy October, everyone!

As my job change grows ever closer, I'm getting more and more back to my old self. You know, the one that's actually interested in doing things! I had such high hopes for blogging this year and have fallen short, which is not surprising in hindsight, given moving, buying a house, moving to the house, and now switching jobs for the second time in six months. Since my energy is coming back, my goal is to get back on track for the last quarter of the year!

What better way than to try something new and do my first Thinking Out Loud post.

I know the original meme is a dog, but obviously I have to use a cat.
-I absolutely love my allergist! It took me several months and three tries to find one, but it was 100% worth the wait. Besides the shots, the best thing he did was give me a prescription of Prednisone to use on an as-needed basis. Let me tell you, that stuff is powerful, but nothing has ever made me feel so much better when my allergies are really bad. Seriously, I will feel totally normal after I take one. It's sad, but I'm way more excited for fall now that it doesn't make my head feel like it will explode.

-Apparently fall is very rainy in the CLE. I had some coworkers stop by for a chat this morning, and I asked if it was still raining. They were basically like, duh, it is Cleveland in the fall. I love the rain, especially for running, so I'm really excited about this. While it's not like mid-Michigan was a desert, storms had so long to break up as they crossed the state, that we didn't get very many big ones. (Or maybe it was the giant chemical cloud we joked about covering our city.)

-Our lawn is back to looking nice. Over my birthday weekend, we discovered a giant hornet nest (and I mean giant as in the size of a soccer ball) in one of our trees. I held off mowing and weed-whacking the backyard until we could get an exterminator out. I'm sad neither of us were home when they came because I have no idea how they safely removed that thing.

-I'm really looking forward to next week! My last day at my current job is Tuesday, so I have five days to rest and recharge. That will also happen to be one of my two heaviest training weeks, which is a nice coincidence. (Especially because my first week at my new job will be a very welcome step-back week!) I think I will get a massage some time during that time - I just can't decide: relaxing massage or sports massage?

-Once again, I'm way behind on shoe models. My Wave Rider 17s are almost at 400 miles, so I went to buy a new pair online. Only I couldn't find any because the latest model is the 19s. Whoops. I'm excited to check out a new-to-me running store this weekend and try them on. I'm 99% sure I will love them and will fit perfectly in a 7.5, but I always get nervous.

-Michigan State is (still) ranked #2 in football. It's the first time in my lifetime. Because it hasn't happened since 1966. Womp womp.

-I figured out my quad issue, and I'm pissed at myself for not realizing it sooner. Even after a week off, it bothered me Monday, but when I stopped, I realized the pain was originating from my IT band. You know, an issue I've had multiple times before. Luckily, I'm an expert at dealing with it now, so I did a few fire hydrants and woke up 100% Tuesday. Obviously I'm glad I know what's wrong and can treat it, but I'm annoyed I lost a week of training for basically nothing.

-I signed up for a Halloween race - the Dead Sprint 5K! Like I've said previously, I love holiday races, and I'm excited to see how much my marathon training has improved my fitness. I'm pretty nervous I will run a worse time than I did in May (even though all my marathon training was based off that 5K time, and I doubt I've regressed). I'm considering turning my Garmin to just show clock time so that I run based off effort and don't get in my own head.

I really enjoyed doing this brain dump of a post - I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. Sometimes I feel like I don't have very much from my day-to-day non-running life to talk about, but this was a good way to catch up!

Which type of massage would you pick?
Do you have any fun holiday races on the schedule?