Saturday, December 29, 2012

Boston Training Week 3

Step back week? Hmmm. Seems early for one of those.

Sunday - 3.3 miles. In Lisbon.

Monday - Rest. Unless lots of walking around the Lisbon airport is exercise. I think it counts.

Tuesday - 4.5 miles. Somewhere in the Atlantic. On Christmas morning.

Wednesday - 3.5 miles.

Thursday - Upper body strength training and squats. Glad I brought a resistance band. Also walked about 2 miles.

Friday - 6K race. Normally I could run in the low 7s no problem. I didn't really have a time goal, other than to try to run around an 8 minute pace. Check.

Saturday - Rest. Maybe walking. My non-injured foot was hurting a bit.

Total Miles: I am on vacation. No math involved.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Boston Training Week 2

Another week, another recap.

Sunday - Yoga podcast for an hour.

Monday - 3.2 mile run on the treadmill. Also did core work, pushups, and foam rolling in the evening.

Tuesday - 3.2 mile run outside. In the dark. Busted out more reflective gear than I have needed in a long time. Pace was about 30 seconds per mile slower than usual, but whatever. I didn't have a planned pace and ran at whatever pace was comfortable, plus I had to keep starting and stopping to cross streets.

Wednesday - Rest. Ankle was not too happy, plus I was super tired.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike. Ankle felt better, so that was good.

Friday - 7 miles total. 4.5 miles running, the rest walking.

Saturday - No idea. Maybe running. Most likely nothing.

Total miles: 13.4 as of Friday.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 in Review

2012 was not a terribly good running year. A mid-year injury that is tricky to treat will do that to you. I'm going to close out the year with around 850 miles. Most of those miles were in the first half of 2012.

2012 was pretty stellar in just about every other way.

1. Ran a BQ. Two, actually. Within 4 weeks of each other.

2. Moved to Washington, DC. I am not completely sold on DC, but I don't hate it. Clearly, if you read ahead to #6.

3. Finally live in the same place as my husband. Isn't that what married people are supposed to do? ;-)

4. Got a job. I really really really like it. It is one of those jobs where when I tell people what I do, everyone says that is a perfect job for you.

5. Got a promotion. And yes, I really really like my job not only because of the promotion.

6. In the process of buying a house (!?!). Welcome to being an adult.

7. I am going to have an amazing Christmas vacation.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Holy Grail of Marathons

I am registered for the 2013 Boston Marathon.

I had to wait until registration was open to all runners who qualified and hope that being 4 minutes under the qualifying time was enough to get in. It was. I never really worried about this, based on the time margin in last year's registration and the tougher standards this year, plus a warm spring and a warmer-than-usual 2012 Boston Marathon where fewer runners requalified.

I was really on the fence about Boston. On the one hand, I took a calculated risk in assuming I'd be able to build a base back up and train properly. But on the other hand, I registered because I am not sure I will ever qualify again. Most runners have to work really hard for a BQ. I am just not sure I want to or will be able to commit to that kind of training again. You train for the opportunity to attempt a BQ. There is no guarantee that you will get a BQ because anything can happen on race day.

I have a long way to go. I am back on the treadmill and back on the road. That's a step in the right direction. I have to be *really* careful about running outside, specifically about running on hills. The area where I live is hilly. Hills contributed to my tendonitis issue. For now, I am mostly on the treadmill. Yet the Boston Marathon is hilly. Hello, Catch-22.

I will tell you one thing. I am finally excited about Boston.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Marathon Training Week 1

Oh hai. I am supposed to start training for the Boston Marathon this week. I should probably lay out a training plan.

I used some version of Hal Higdon's marathon training plans for all of my marathons. Novice 1 got me though my first 2 marathons. Intermediate 1 got me through my third, and then got me 2 BQs in my fourth and fifth by training slightly faster and farther.

I really like the intermediate plans and don't think the novice plans have enough miles, but I am just not ready for 5 days a week of running. There is a lot that is going to be different this time around. I am coming back from an injury. I have no running base worth speaking of.  I can't just jump into a training plan like I usually do. I need to do more cross-training. At this point, I don't know if my body can handle 3 days in a row of running. I don't *need* to run a fast marathon, and quite honestly I am not sure that I want to.

So I think I am going to use Novice 1 with some modifications. Novice 1 has 2 rest days and 1 cross-training day. I am going to replace one of the rest days with yoga. Seems like a good mix of mileage I can handle (hopefully), cross-training, and rest. Surprisingly, I looked up the plan on Friday and found I was on track mileage-wise. Huh. Funny how that worked out.

My general plan for the week is this:

Sunday - yoga, Monday - easy run, Tuesday - sorta long run, Wednesday - cross-train and strength training, Thursday - rest, Friday - easy run or maybe a pace run every few weeks, Saturday - long run. Plus shorter strength training sessions throughout the week wherever they fit best.

Here's what I did this week:

Sunday - Yoga podcast for an hour. That one sequence of poses is still kicking my butt. Less so than usual, though, so that's good.

Monday - 3.5 miles total. 2.5 miles running at 6.7 mph/9:00 minute pace, the rest walking at 4.3 mph/14:00 minute pace. It was the first run in a long time where not only did my ankle not hurt at all (not even in the beginning) but it actually felt good. Maybe this Boston Marathon business isn't so crazy after all.

Tuesday - 35 minutes on the bike. Shifted cross-training and running days because I ran late on Monday and would have to run early on Tuesday. Didn't want to run too many miles in a 24-hour span.

Wednesday - 3.5 miles total on the treadmill. 3 running, .5 walking.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 3.5 miles total on the treadmill. 3 running, .5 walking. Also did upper body strength training, clamshell planks, and foam rolling.

Saturday - About 7.2 miles in Rock Creek Park. Ran 3.5 miles, then fast walked/ran 2.7 miles, then took of my Garmin and walked about another mile to cool down. 

Total miles: 12 running, 17.7 total

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Working It

This was my last week before I "officially" start training for the Boston Marathon. Or rather, this is 18 weeks out from the Boston Marathon and I should start training. Hmmm. I am nowhere near ready to jump into a marathon training plan. But we'll see where this goes over the next few weeks.

Sunday - Yoga podcast for an hour. Same one as I have been doing on and off for the last few weeks. It is still kicking my butt with one sequence of poses.

Monday - Upper body strength training, clamshells, planks, and core work.

Tuesday - About 3 miles total, including 1.7 miles running. Outside. In a running skirt and tank top. In December. Note to self: lunchtime workouts where you need to take a shower afterwards are no bueno. Oh, but it was worth it to run outside in beautiful weather.

Wednesday - Rest.

Thursday - 2.8 miles on the treadmill, including 2 miles running. It's been taking about a mile for things to loosen up, but after that it's been pretty good.

Friday - Upper body strength training, pushups, clamshells, and squats.

Saturday - 4.5 miles in Rock Creek Park. Half running, half walking. Pace was on the high end of my pre-injury normal pace (although it still felt hard ... waaaay out of running shape) but faster than what I have been doing. Progress. Patience, self. Slow progress is good. I have missed long runs in Rock Creek Park so very very much. I never get over how quiet and peaceful it is along the creek. I love the sound of running water.

Total miles: 5.95

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November Mileage Summary

I have not done one of these in a long time.

Mileage Total: 4.5
Average Distance: .9 mile
Average Speed: 9:05/6.6 mph

Yep, you read that right. I ran a grand total of 4.5 miles in November. 2 miles total in about a week (.5, .5 and 1 mile), then 2.5 miles the following week. I was going to try .5 mile a few times, then increase by .25 mile if everything felt OK. Well, I accidentally jumped from .5 to 1 mile and everything felt OK.

I have lost a lot of endurance. That first time I ran .5 mile at a 9:00 pace was hard. Sure, I tried to keep my cardio up by biking. And then I got discouraged, tried to see if total rest would help, and did more strength training. I am essentially starting from a base of zero (nowhere close to my usual 20-25 miles a week), but I haven't lost my running knowledge. I am going to need it if I am going to make it to the finish line in Boston.

Working It

Base building is here. Base for what?

The Boston Marathon.

Yep, I'm in. I signed up back in September because I wasn't sure I was ever going to qualify again and I still had enough time to get my ankle better.  

I have never gone into marathon training without a base. My training plans were either a step down or pretty what I would run normally (at least in the early weeks). To be honest, I am probably going to go into Boston undertrained. But now is the time to take it slow. The last thing I want to do is injure myself again.

On the plus side, I stopped doing all of the stretches, exercises, and other things that I thought were helping my ankle. Nothing happened when I stopped. So that is a good sign. I need be very careful and see what happens over the next few weeks.

Sunday - Rest. Traveling got in the way of exercise. That usually doesn't happen.

Monday - Core work and clamshell planks in the AM. 3.1 miles on the treadmill in the PM. That included 1.25 
miles running (9 minute pace/6.7 mph) and the rest walking fast (just under 14 minute pace/4.3 mph).

Tuesday - Upper body strength training, planks, clamshell planks, and balance  exercises.

Wednesday - 3.1 miles on the treadmill with 1.25 miles running. Same speeds as Monday.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 30 minutes on the stationary bike.

Saturday - 3.4 miles on the treadmill with 1.5 miles running. Same speeds as Monday and Wednesday. Also did pushups and squats.

Total miles: 4

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Working It

Sunday - 1 hour yoga podcast, plus clamshell planks, calf raises, and PT stretches, and foam rolling. Still no ankle pain. Good sign.

Monday - 33 minutes / 2.4 miles, including .5 mile running. Same running pace as last time but increased the speed a bit on the walking part. Ankle hurt a little bit immediately afterwards but didn't hurt during or later in the day. I'll take it. Shins felt weird, but maybe that is just from not running regularly for, oh, over 4 months.

Tuesday - Upper body strength training, planks, squats at lunch. Also did clamshell planks in the AM.

Wednesday - Rest. And traveling.

Thursday - Upper body strength training with the resistance band, core work, clamshell planks, pushups.

Friday - 1 mile run (ankle still OK), plus walking to Black Friday shopping.

Saturday - Rest. Or maybe some exercise later, but I am not feeling overly ambitious.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Working It

Of course I post that I think I am finally turning a corner and I have another setback. After having minimal to no pain for more that a week, things were not so good again. But I think that was because of a bad foot cramp while I was doing planks last week.  Maybe? Setback aside, I started having days totally pain-free. I couldn't tell you the last time that happened. This is good, I think.

Sunday - Rest. Oops. Wanted to do yoga but ran out of time.

Monday - Day off for a holiday. 40 minutes on the bike, plus clamshell planks and foam rolling. Also walked about a mile total to run some errands. It was almost 70 degrees. In November.

Tuesday - upper body strength training with the resistance band, pushups, squats, clamshell planks, balance exercises, PT stretches, and foam rolling.

Wednesday - Rest.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike, clamshell planks, PT stretches, foam rolling.

Friday - Upper body strength training, planks, twisting crunches with a medicine ball, clamshell planks, and foam rolling at lunch. Can I mention one more time that I am super grateful that I work in a place that encourages employees to use their lunch breaks to exercise? 'Cause I love that.

Saturday - 33 minutes/2.3 miles walking (mostly) on the treadmill. That included .5 mile of running. Also did core work, clamshell planks, PT stretches, and foam rolling. Ankle felt fine and then felt OK for the rest of the day. Still felt fine the next day!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Working It

I know I have said this before, but I finally think my ankle is healing. It has not hurt at all in over a week. And it has felt pleasantly itchy. Healing? I think so. I still am not running and am not sure when I will be back out there. But hopefully soon. Slowly and carefully. Very slowly and very carefully. I am optimistic that these are promising signs.

Sunday - PT stretches, foam rolling, clamshell planks, and 20 minutes of yoga.

Monday - 30 minutes on the bike, clamshell planks, foam rolling.

Tuesday - upper body strength training with the resistance band, pushups, squats, clamshell planks, foam rolling, PT stretches.

Wednesday - Rest, unless stretching and foam rolling count as exercise.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the elliptical. Ankle did not hurt at all during or afterwards. PT stretches, clamshell planks, and foam rolling.

Friday - Upper body lifting, clamshell planks, pushups, regular planks, and balance exercises at lunch. PT stretches, core work, and squats in the evening.

Saturday - 45 minutes on the bike. PT stretches and these lunge-like things. And some time with the good old foam roller.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Turning the Corner?

The good news. I made it through a week with the walking boot, then a half-and-half week.

The upside to being stuck in a walking boot was wearing yoga pants and sneakers (well, one sneaker) to work. I could have worn skirts or regular pants. But I felt pretty self-conscious. By the end, I didn't care, but in the beginning I did. Then I had problems with shoes. The boot has a decent heel to it. Flat shoes were out. I needed a shoe with a little height so that I wasn't walking lopsided. I went to a shopping mall and a grocery store where I got some funny looks. Whatever, people. Most people didn't say anything. Actually, several people didn't even notice for days. Only one person asked me what happened (we decided bar fight sounded better than tendonitis), and only one person offered to open a door. I always found a seat on the Metro.

The bad news. The boot started hurting my foot, and I still wasn't better by the end of 2 weeks. So. very. frustrating. There is a good deal of trial and error with this particular injury, but come on. Really, tendon? Why were you still unhappy? Unhappy tendon made me unhappy. Literally. My mental health took a downward turn over the last several weeks. I was cranky, frustrated, and just not my usual self.

But then there was better news. I started getting through days without pain unassisted by the walking boot or anti-inflammatory meds. You know when you get a cut and it starts to itch when it heals? That's kinda how my ankle felt. Now I gotta start doing my PT exercises again. I kept working on my hips and foam rolling, but I stopped doing anything involving my ankle a few weeks ago. I'm done with actually going to PT. Everything I was doing, I can pretty much do on my own.

So now I wait and see. Again. Very cautiously.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Working It

It was another week with mostly strength training. I think I need to be diligent about foam rolling my calves. Like do it every day diligent.

Maybe ... maybe ... maybe I am back on track and my ankle is finally getting better. Maybe. I've been here before. Things seem to get better and then I have a setback. 

Sunday - Spectating at the Marine Corps Marathon. Walked about 3 miles total. Rang a cow bell for hours. My vocal chords got lots of exercise ;-)

Monday - No work because pretty much everything in DC shut down for Hurricane Sandy. Upper body strength training with a resistance band, pushups, body weight squats, core work, and clamshell planks. And foam rolling.

Tuesday - Another day with no work. Clamshell planks, core work, balance exercises, foam rolling.

Wednesday - Rest.

Thursday - Clamshell planks, pushups, upper body strength training with the resistance band, core work, foam rolling.

Friday - Rest.

Saturday - 30 minutes on the stationary bike. First time doing cardio in I don't remember how long. The good news is that, despite a long time without cardio, it wasn't awful. The even better news is my ankle didn't hurt. Cross your fingers that this keeps up.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Race Spectating @ MCM

Despite having to pull out because of an injury, I went out to the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer on the runners. Big city marathons are fun events. Four friends from Rhode Island came down to run it.  How could I not go out and watch them??

All week, the forecast looked bad. Hurricane Sandy looked like she was going to seriously impact the race. On race morning, the weather forecast during the race said showers or rain. Well, there was no rain at all!  It was windy but otherwise near perfect running weather. Not sunny and cool.

Marine Corps is a pretty easy marathon to spectate at. I planned 3 spots. Took the Metro to Foggy Bottom, walked to mile 10 (along Rock Creek Parkway and the Potomac River), then walked to the Lincoln Memorial and The Mall, watched at mile 17, then Metroed over to the Pentagon at mile 24.

I made 2 double-sided posters. Only one came along with me because I thought it was going to rain. I had a plastic sleeve to protect the poster from rain. One of my brilliant ideas was to tape a wide ribbon to the poster so that I could hang the poster around my neck. It kept the poster from blowing away (and even then I had to hold it with at least 1 hand). When I wasn't holding the poster, I rang a cow bell like mad.

Side 1 said, "WHERE ARE Y'ALL GOING?" This poster was so much fun. It was a great way to interact with runners. I got all sorts of answers, including:
I don't know
This way
To the finish line
Come with us
Away from the hurricane

When I got to mile 24, I flipped the poster to Side 2. This poster said, "REACH DEEP. Yes, You Can!" Especially in the later miles of a marathon, you need a short phrase or a positive message that motivates you to keep going. I got a lot of positive responses from runners.

Tips for Posters
1. Write big. Keep the message on your poster as short as possible. Less is more.
2. Write in ALL CAPS.
3. Use a wide-tipped marker and make your words stand out.
4. Use mantras. Some of my favorites are Right here right now, Finish strong, Reach Deep, and Don't stop. Anything positive and motivational that is short enough for me to repeat over and over again
5. Tailor the message to where you will be on the course. Runners in the later miles are tired and fighting a mental and physical battle. I intentionally used the Where are y'all going poster earlier and saved Reach Deep for the end. I think this worked well.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Working It

Did I do one of these weekly recaps last week? I do not even remember.

Well, it's kinda boring. I did no cardio at all because I was stuck in a walking boot til the middle of the week. So I will not do a day-by-day recap. But I will tell you about the things I did.

Upper body strength training - once with weights and twice with a resistance band
Squats - against a wall with an exercise ball, no weights except for me
Core work
Clamshell planks - one of my PT exercises. Get into a side plank position with your elbow and knee on the floor, keep your feet together, and open your top knee up like a clamshell. Repeat on the other side. Good for hips and glutes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not Working It

I haven't posted a weekly recap for the last few weeks because it would be pretty boring. There has been a whole lot of not working out over the last few weeks.  I did some walking, yoga, strength training, core work, PT exercises, biking on the stationary bike, and yoga. A lot of rest. No cardio at all for the last week because I am extremely limited in what I can do. I am not one to skip out on working out, but I really can't.

It probably wasn't a good idea to go for a walk on the Mall about a week ago. I had some time to kill after work before I needed to be somewhere else. Runners everywhere. Perfect weather. 

Maybe ... maybe ... maybe I'll be back out there soon.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Here We Go Again

My sports doc recommended a cortisone shot or a walking boot. And prescription anti-inflammatory meds.

I was very leery of a cortisone shot immediately. There are a number of risks. Tendon rupture is one. Cortisone shots stop the pain, but they don't really treat it. Also, did you hear about the recent series of meningitis cases from bad steroids? No thank you.

So I opted for the boot. One week on, then every other day for another week. Be very jealous. I am not looking forward to people treating me like the walking wounded, but I am looking forward to running a social psychology experiment on altruistic behavior on the Metro. I'm actually not kidding about that last part.

Posterior tibial tendonitis seems to be one of those tricky things to treat. There is a lot of trial and error to figure out what works. Rest alone (meaning, no exercise) is not enough to get the tendon to calm down. Even walking can continue to irritate the tendon. For most people, walking is not optional. Enter the walking boot which immobilizes the angry tendon.

Cross your fingers that this works. I am patiently not running, but I am quickly running out of patience with not running. I don't know what I am going to do for exercise since cardio and yoga are off-limits. Body weight exercise that don't involve my feet/legs? Core work?

Hey, angry tendon, please cut this out. Pretty please?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Injury Emotion Cycle

You go through many emotions when you are injured.

For example:

I am sad that the weather is finally cooler and I can't go outside and run.

I am discouraged that I am still in pain. Four weeks of PT left me at pretty much the same place I started. I go back to see the sports doctor tomorrow because I ran out of PT appointments.

I am disappointed that I am missing my favorite half marathon for the first time in its existence. Goodbye, Amica Newport Half Marathon legacy.

I am frustrated that I can't go running in Rock Creek Park or on the Mall.

I am scared that I will get injured again.

It was bittersweet seeing people run their last 20 milers before Marine Corps last weekend.

I don't like looking at my calendar with no races lined up.

I am trying really really really hard to stay positive. It is getting harder and harder to be optimistic.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I played tourist (sorta) in DC this weekend.

Good morning, Washington Monument.

The Reflecting Pool recently re-opened after being closed for renovations since 2010. It needed it badly. The pool collected gunk, plus it leaked a tremendous amount of water. The grass needed re-sodding. It was a national embarrassment. Now, the pool has been redesigned, resurfaced, and refilled. A system was put in place to pump water in from the Tidal Basin and Potomac River and re-circulate the water. Except ... the pool is filled with algae. There is so much algae in one end that you can't even see the bottom of the pool, and there is a layer of algae on the bottom of the entire pool. I guess it is better. I could do without the greenish tinge to the water, though.

Looking at the Lincoln Memorial

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking toward the Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol

PT Part II - The Beautiful Letdown

Bonus points if you get the song allusion in the song title. The band is coming to my area this week!!

I'm going to post this because the last time I complained about the pesky ankle and angry tendon, things felt better. Go figure.

I went through 4 weeks of PT. Ran out of appointments. The angry tendon, or something else, is still angry. Isn't this where I started?

The angry tendon felt better, and then it didn't. It felt better again, and then it didn't again. Yet, I couldn't replicate what is causing the pain in PT. Movement doesn't hurt. Doing nothing (sitting around, lying in bed) hurts. It's more like an itchy, irritated, aggravated feeling than actual pain, but it is near constant. Or at least daily.

I think what happened is that I had a physical therapist (not the one I usually see) dig into the angry tendon and not surprisingly aggravate it. The angry tendon was tender to the touch for nearly 2 weeks. Today was the first day in a while where I couldn't feel the angry tendon when I woke up. That's good, I guess. Maybe I just need some time to rest. And not see that physical therapist anymore.

Now I wait and see for a week or two and go back to the sports doctor. I don't know if there is something seriously wrong or I just need more PT. It would be fantastic to know what's really going on.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Working It

Another week, another workout post. What else is new?

Sunday - one hour yoga podcast. Same one as last week. Got the pose guide out. It was hard!

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike. And PT. Another 1 mile on the anti-gravity treadmill.

Tuesday - 40 minutes on the bike, plus about 1.5  miles walking at lunch. It was nice out!

Wednesday -  Rest, mostly. PT is not quite really rest, right?

Thursday - 40 minutes on the bike, upper body strength training, core work, pushups, and squats.

Friday - Rest. Mostly. Walked about 2 miles total.

Saturday - Rest. Work got in the way. Eh. It's the first and only time this has happened, and it is not likely to happen again anytime soon. I did walk about 3.5 miles while on a break. It was a beautiful day to get out and walk around DC.

Total miles: about 1.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Down the Injury Spiral

It's been a while since I first realized I was injured. Early July.

There was some bad behavior for a few weeks. I was cranky. And still eating like I was training for a marathon. And not exercising as much. And not sleeping as well. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It became painfully obvious that I could not run Marine Corps. Even if I got better quickly, I wasn't going to have enough time to train properly.

Not gonna lie. It was really hard to back out of a race. I have never backed out of a race. Knowing it was the right decision didn't make it any easier.

In some ways, I was relieved. I didn't have a training schedule I have to stick to. I like sleeping in on Saturday morning and having all of Saturday to do things. I didn't have to go running in the hot humid summer. I had a decent amount of traveling recently, and I hadn't adjusted my schedule to accommodate being on the road.

But in some ways, I was worried. Running is one of my mental health strategies. I know I am crankier without running. Yes, I am still exercising, but it is different than running. Other activities don't produce the same endorphins. I was not sleeping as well. I couldn't keep eating like I was training for a marathon when I was not, in fact, training for a marathon. I added some extra fluff (still within my normal weight range, and I probably had a few pounds to add back from my spring training cycle). However, it took me from early July to now to get my my eating in check and to stop the scale from slowly creeping up.

Part of the mental health thing is exactly that. Mental. Your attitude has a lot to do with how you feel. No, you cannot always be in complete control of your attitude. But you can be aware of it and try to change it. In some ways, it is very much like a skill that you practice in long-distance running. Tell the negative thoughts to shut up and focus on the positive (say, for example, mile 18 of the Chicago Marathon) where I realized I wasn't going to reach my A day goal and decided to focus on going after a PR and getting more bang for my buck by being out on the course longer). OK, so I'm not getting my running endorphins. Moping about it won't make things better. Yes, it is OK to miss running. Especially now that we are getting hints of fall. I know it is in my long-term best interest to not run at the moment. Now, I am OK with that. Really.

I cannot control being able to run or not. I can control how I feel about that.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Working It

So of course I post about ankle pain and poof. It seemed better the next day. And then it wasn't. Again. I had a really tender to the touch area near the angry tendon after PT on Monday (where, coincidentally, I saw a different physical therapist). I am not sure whether it was always like that and I never noticed, or PT did something to make it unhappy. It is Saturday and while it is less tender than earlier in the week, it is still tender to the touch. Stupid angry tendon.

Anywho. Here's the workout roundup.

Sunday - one hour yoga podcast.I usually string together 2 or 3 20-minute podcasts, but I had one whole podcast that was just over an hour. I am out of yoga shape. And I need to find the pose guide the next time I do this one. There were some poses that weren't well explained.

Monday - 40 minutes on the bike, and PT. Ran about 1.5 pain-free miles on the anti-gravity treadmill.

Tuesday - Overslept on a day when I wasn't planning on getting up early anyway. I guess I was tired. Did upper body strength training at lunch, then core work, squats, and pushups later on.

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the elliptical. Haven't done the elliptical in a while (last time was in a hotel gym in Florida, and before that ... I couldn't tell you), but the only working bike in my apartment complex gym was taken and the elliptical didn't bother me. Also had PT. Ran again on the anti-gravity treadmill. A little over a mile. Not too bad.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Friday - Rest.

Saturday - 60 minutes on the bike, plus lunges and this hard-to-describe PT exercise that I didn't do at my session on Wednesday.

Total miles: about 2.5

Sunday, September 16, 2012

PT Update

I am 2 weeks into at least 4 weeks of physical therapy.

My eval appointment and first week went well. No one tells you that PT hurts. Oh boy, does it hurt. But then you feel better. The near constant pain went away. Immediately. I could run across a street with no pain. No, not actual running. Just enough to make the light. That hadn't happened in a while. I got a list of stretching exercises to do on my own. I bought a hot-cold pack so that I could get some heat on my ankle. I put Superfeet inserts in my running shoes.

Second week. Eh. Not as good. I started getting pains in the beginning again. But only when I was doing nothing. Not exactly sure why, but I think I spent too much time walking around barefoot and jumping up and down a chair to put stuff away in a closet. Dumb move, self. Don't do that again. I did get run briefly on an anti-gravity treadmill. Very weird. I have lost a lot of endurance. It was good to run, though, even if it was partly assisted by a pressurized bubble.

New week, less pain. If I were writing this yesterday, it was a different story. Today is better. Ahh. I was diligent about wearing my running shoes all the time (at work, at home) and more mindful about what I do with my feet while I am sitting. My ankle is still hurting. But it's a different kind of hurt. It's achy but feels stronger, if that makes sense. I guess that's good?

Apparently, I have some mechanical problems. A problem with the structure of my right tibia (it's supposed to turn more than it does). An imbalance in my hips. The main issue is that my right foot does not stay straight when I run. I land with my toes pointing outward and then flick my toes outward when I pick up my foot. This puts a strain on that tendon on the inside of my ankle. My left foot stays straight. Huh. That makes sense. I can see this in the wear patterns on my shoes. But only on the shoes that I started wearing in April. After I moved to Washington, DC. Mad hillz yo are not good for my ankle.

My physical therapist told me I am not built to be a runner. Haha. Really? That is a stupid statement. I'm pretty sure the rest of my body is built to be a runner. Unless I was just lucky that I have made it this far ...

What I think happened is that switching to running in Rhode Island (where I was mostly running flats) to running in DC (where I was not mostly running flats) exacerbated whatever was going on. You know how you aren't supposed to change anything too abruptly in running? That includes switching from running 20-30 miles a week on flats to running 20-30 miles a week on mostly hills. Not a smart idea. You need to transition gradually. My other theory is that my ankle was gradually getting worse and I compensated by doing other other things. Runners are stubborn, so it takes a while for us to realize we are injured, something is wrong, and we need to stop running. Enter the month of June.

Where I go from here, I am still not sure. I still not cleared to run and don't know when that will happen. Maybe soon? I might get to run on a treadmill this week. Correct whatever imbalance is causing the problems, figure out how to get my right foot straighter, stretch more, and don't run on hills.

That's more difficult than it sounds.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Working It

I skipped a weekly recap post last week because ... I didn't really work out.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Travel and house hunting (!?!) and PT appointments and PT exercises took up a lot of my time, plus I had a cold with a nasty sinus headache and just wasn't feeling it. Normally, colds don't upset my workout schedule. But since I didn't have a set schedule, I just went with whatever I felt like doing. That meant resting, mostly.

This week, it looks more like a regular old week. Minus running.

Sunday - Rest. Wanted to do yoga but had a jam-packed day.

Monday - Yoga and pushups. Haven't done yoga in several weeks because it had been hurting my ankle. But most of my PT exercises involve stretching my calf and soleus (the little muscle above the ankle and below the calf). Yoga does much the same thing.

Tuesday - Rest, unless PT counts as exercise. Too tired to get up early to exercise and had to go to PT in the evening.

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Thursday - 40 minutes on the bike, plus PT. Got to run on an anti-gravity treadmill. Maybe about half mile. Weird!

Friday - 35 minutes on the bike in the AM, then upper body strength training at lunch.

Saturday - 60 minutes on the bike, plus core work, pushups, planks, lunges, and squats. Haven't done a 2ish hour workout session in a long time.

Total miles: .5. No, that is not a typo.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to School

Or not. No back to school for me. This is the first time since I was 3 years old that I am not enrolled in school, teaching a class, or working in an educational setting. Of course, the place where I work is in some ways like a university. It was relatively quiet over the summer. Things are already picking up.

Am I sad to see the unofficial end of summer? Not really. We got another blast of summer this week. I can't wait for the cool crispness of fall. Not sure when that will happen in DC, but it will happen eventually.

Am I sad that I will not have a fall racing season this year? Again, not really. Yeah, it was tough to bail on Marine Corps. But it is one of the few races where you can bail and transfer your bib to someone else. Road races aren't going anywhere. I am hopeful that I will be back out there soon. PT is helping. I am not cleared to run yet, but I get to try running on an anti-gravity contraption this week (yay!). And I still have my eyes on Boston for 2013.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Working It

Same old same old. Still trying to exercise by doing what I can. Taking some extra rest.

Sunday - a little bit of walking, plus core work and pushups.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Tuesday - 40 minutes on the bike.

Wednesday - Rest, and my first physical therapy appointment.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike in the AM. Upper body lifting and squats at lunch.

Friday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus some swimming later in the day. Well, more like playing in a pool.

Saturday - Rest.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Off the Rhode

As of last week, I have a diagnosis of posterior tibial tendonitis and some Achilles tendonitis as well.

Could be better. Could be worse, I suppose.

Where is the posterior tibial tendon? It stretches from your calf, wraps around your ankle near that bone that sticks out (which is the area where I am having the most pain), and attaches to the sole of your foot. That explains some of the plantar fasiitis-like pain on my sole. Add in the Achilles tendon and that explains the sporadic pain on the sides of my ankle and back of my heel. It all fits together.

This started to get worse when I moved to DC. One of the things that can aggravate this injury is running on hilly surfaces. Hmmm.

Yesterday, someone I just met picked me out as a runner and correctly identified my right side as the injured one. Before I said anything. I didn't realize it was that obvious.

Today, I went to my first physical therapy session. Um, ouch. But good ouch. I felt better than I have in a long time. I have at least a few weeks of PT, some exercises to do on my own, some high doses of ibuprofen for the rest of the week, Superfeet insoles, and one of those packs that you can heat up in the microwave. Yeah, I'm getting old.

I have no idea yet about a prognosis, but it seems promising. Plus I have an excuse to buy new shoes and wear my running shoes to work.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Working It

So I didn't get in much exercise last week. And that was a good thing. I think it helped my ankle, which was finally starting to feel better. Kind of.

I finally went to a doc to see what's going on with this pesky ankle. Posterior tibial tendonitis and some Achilles tendonitis thrown in for good measure. Good news and bad news. There will definitely be more about that later.

Sunday - Rest. Travel. No more travel for a long time. Scratch that. I'll be on another roadtrip to New England again. And then it'll be no more travel for a long time?

Monday - Core work, pushups, and lunges.

Tuesday - 35 minutes on the bike. Too bad I am still stuck inside. It was seasonally cool in the morning.

Wednesday - Rest.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Friday - 40 minutes on the bike and planks in the AM. Upper body lifting and squats with a 30 lb. kettlebell at lunch.

Saturday - 60 minutes on the bike.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Fall

Running in the fall is the sweet reward for training through the summer. The temperatures are cooler. The humidity is gone. The air is clear. It is a joy to be outside on days like that.

It isn't quite fall yet, but the last few days have brought hope for fall. Part of that was being in New England. But it's not too bad in DC at the moment either. Cooler, not too humid. Cloudy and gray, but who cares. It sure beats oppressive heat.

One of my favorite runs of all-time was in October in Vermont a couple of years ago. The leaves had already changed colors and fallen. It was still beautiful. Clear. Crisp. Quiet. Blue skies. A relatively flat mountain road. First long run ever without my iPod. It was such a good run.

Here's to hoping I will be back out there soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Working It

Vacation plus no running plus no gym access meant less exercise.

And I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sunday - Rest.

Monday - 10.3 mile hike up my first high peak (anything over 4000 feet). I've come close to a high peak before but the peak fell short by 50 feet. 6 hours of hike time, plus about an hour break total for snacks, lunch, and wandering around the top of the peak.

Tuesday - Upper body exercises with a resistance band, plus core work and pushups. No legwork because my legs were toast. Good thing I had my Stick.

Wednesday - Legs were still pretty much toast. So I went for a 45-minute walk and did some planks.

Thursday - Got lost in a corn maze for a little more than an hour. Counts as exercise, yes?

Friday - Upper body lifting with the resistance band, core work, lunges, and pushups on the exercise ball.

Saturday - Rest.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Working It

In case you missed it last week, I was traveling. Usually, I don't let traveling get in the way of exercising. On a 5-night trip, I went to the hotel gym 3 times, swam twice, and walked more miles than I could count. I slept like a rock.

Now I am traveling again. I will exercise when I can, but I am not going to come close to my usual exercise routine. Sure, I brought my yoga gear, my exercise ball, and a resistance band. I'm planning on doing some outdoors activities. Hiking and kayaking anyone? With no gym and no running, though, my options are limited.

Sunday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus upper body lifting and core work. I was going to have one last dip in the pool, but then I realized the women's Olympic marathon was on live. Awesome hotel gym it was.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Tuesday - Rest.

Wednesday - Planks, pushups, lunges, and core work in the AM. Upper body lifting and squats with weights at lunch. I meant to go to the gym to do some cardio in the AM but ran out of time. Strength training instead it was.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Friday - Rest.

Saturday - Rest.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Working It

Yep, I am officially out of Marine Corps. Bib has been  transferred. I resigned to the fact that it is in my best interest to not run. Still sucks, though.

Sunday - Upper body lifting, core work, and squats.

Monday - Rest.

Tuesday - 40 minutes on the bike. Traveling.

Wednesday - 30 minutes on an elliptical. I haven't been on an elliptical in I can't tell you how long. Also did pushups. And walked a lot. And swam for about 20 minutes after dinner.

Thursday - Upper body lifting, core work, and walking lunges with weights (space! plenty of equipment!) And lots more walking.

Friday - Rest. Sorta. You guessed it. More walking.

Saturday - 30 minutes of swimming (badly) and pool running. Who knew you need shoes to run in a pool? Maybe something else later in the day, but probably not.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Not Marathon Training Week 5

It's all but official. I am not running Marine Corps.

I ran this week for the first time in 3 weeks. It was a perfectly fine run for not having ran in 3 weeks. But it was painfully clear (literally) that I will not be ready for a marathon in 13 weeks.

Frustrating? Yes.

Smart? Yes.

Sunday - 2 yoga podcasts.

Monday - 3.5 mile run. Snuck in at just under a 9 minute overall pace, but it was clear that I can't run Marine Corps.

Tuesday - Rest.

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the bike in the AM, plus upper body lifting and squats at lunch. Quads did not like doing squats with weights for the first time since, oh, March?

Thursday - Rest, unless you count walking about a mile total to get lunch.

Friday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Saturday - 45 minutes on the bike, plus planks and pushups.

Total Miles - 3.5

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Marathon Training Week 4

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 6, and 4 miles, rest, 6 mile pace run, and 12 mile long run, plus strength training where it fit.

Hahahahahaha. That's funny. I am so far off the plan. Now I am 14 weeks out with 3 weeks of no running. 14 weeks sounds like a lot of time. And yet it isn't.

The pesky ankle is not getting worse, but it's not really getting better either. I need to see a sports doc/orthopedist and will get on that this upcoming week. I need some answers and I need to figure out what I can and can't do. I need to figure how to not let this happen again.

Sunday - 3 yoga podcasts for about an hour total.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Tuesday - 50 minutes on the bike.

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus upper body lifting.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - Planks, pushups, and core work. No cardio because extra sleep won out over exercise.

Saturday - 80 minutes on the bike. Two bikes because I actually had to move. But I successfully entertained myself without music. Victory. Did some upper body lifting and squats with weights because I was already at the gym.

Total Miles- Scheduled: 32 Actual: 0

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Marathon Training Week 3

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 7 mile long run, plus strength training where it fit.

Uh huh again. Didn't happen. There was no running. I subbed in time on the bike and took a little extra rest this week.

I am very much on the fence about whether I should pull out of Marine Corps. With this much time to go, it wouldn't be consideration with any other marathon. I'd adjust my training and keep going. But Marine Corps is different. I can get all of my entry fee back if I transfer my bib. I would gain a lot of free time to do other things, especially on weekends. I will be traveling in August and September during the peak of training. We just got through a spell of oppressively hot weather. I could train for shorter races in the fall instead. I could do more strength training or try different activities. I live in DC now. MCM isn't going anywhere.

The good news is that while the pesky ankle is still being pesky, I can tell it is getting better. Slowly. The question becomes can I rest some more, ease back into running, and still have enough time to train properly? Can I do that in the remaining 15 weeks before MCM?

Not gonna lie, though. I am glad I didn't attempt to run through last weekend's oppressive heat. I like sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

I have until August 31 to defer or transfer my bib.

Sunday - 2 yoga podcasts, plus core work.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus pushups.

Tuesday - Rest. Because I felt like it.

Wednesday - Rest, mostly. Did planks, pushups, and core work in the evening.

Thursday - 30 minutes on the bike, plus upper body lifting.

Friday - 40 minutes on the bike at a harder than normal effort level.

Saturday - 60 minutes on the bike. Infomercials are so boring.

Total Miles- Scheduled: 25 Actual: 0

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Marathon Training Week 2

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 10 mile long run, plus strength training where it fit.

Right. Didn't happen. Add me to the disabled list. Truth be told, I've had sporadic pain in my ankle for over a year. I figured out how to prevent it or keep it at bay. And I know exactly what caused the original injury. Most of the time, it was barely noticeable or non-existent. Except this time it is acting up badly and it is not getting better (yet) with rest. I don't know what happened. Bah. This is not pain I can manage or run through. I ran once this week and quickly realized I needed to stop running. Now.

I am early enough in my training plan that I can afford to stop running. Even though I wasn't officially training, I had a couple weeks in June that could be considered marathon training. For now, Marine Corps is still on. But that could very well change. Worst case, I have several backup plans. Downgrade my goals and my training plan. Plan to run with friends. Back out of Marine Corps and transfer my bib to someone else or defer til next year (thank you MCM for having an official policies that allow both of these option). Best case, I could be 100% better. It's too early to tell.

I need to take the long-term view. My long-term goals are to keep running and run the Boston Marathon next year. I don't gain anything by trying to push through Marine Corps this year. Plus the heat in DC? It is majorly impacting getting outside. Nothing but high 90s and low 100s. Poor air quality, too, even for healthy people.

Sunday - rest. Was planning on doing some yoga but ran out of time.

Monday - 4.5 mile run, plus planks, pushups, and core work.

Tuesday - 45 minutes on the stationary bike.

Wednesday - 2 yoga podcasts, upper body strength training, and squats.

Thursday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Friday - 40 minutes on the bike. At least I get to catch up with my magazine reading.

Saturday - 1 hour 20 minutes on the bike.

Total Miles- Scheduled: 28 Actual: 4.5

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June Mileage Summary

Total Miles: 92.3 miles
Total Runs: 16
Average Distance per run: 5.77 miles
Average Speed/Pace: 6.9 mph/ 8:42 pace
Races: none
Highlights: took a short running break, survived a nasty cold, ran some base miles, and started training for Marine Corps
Up for next month: surviving the DC summer

First month under 100 miles in a loooong time. That's OK. It'll be a while before that happens again.

2012 halfway update: 828 miles. I am pretty sure that is a record.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Marathon Training Week 1

Here we go again. Time to kick off another marathon training cycle.

This will be my 4th standalone marathon training cycle in preparation for my 6th marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28. I am sticking with Hal Higdon's Intermediate I as my training plan. Sorta. I followed Intermediate I for Chicago. It mostly worked. I followed Intermediate I for Shamrock, but with slight increases in mileage and a lowered marathon goal pace. I ran about a half mile longer on most runs and a mile longer on most long runs. Y'all know about the good things that happened at Shamrock. So I think I will bump up the mileage again, even slightly above what I did for Shamrock, and lower my marathon goal pace again. To what, though? 7:30? That just seems crazy fast.

Goals? I am not completely sure. Once you have a marathon or two (or five) under your belt, it is helpful to pin down your goal before you lace up your shoes for your first training run. What you do from Day 1 onward sets you up for the rest of your training. Last time around, I knew I wanted to come closer to 50 miles per week than I had in the past. I set myself up for extra mileage from the very beginning. I am going to train to run 3:30 or 3:35 but don't have to reach either of those times (unless Boston registration goes completely haywire and I need a faster qualifier. I doubt this will happen but you never know. Even then Marine Corps will be too late to get me into Boston for 2013.).

The summer in DC is one of my biggest fears. I ran fast, and sometimes very fast, in the winter in preparation for Shamrock. I can't improve or even replicate that speed in heat and humidity. Then there's the actual marathon. I might run as a pacer. Who knows. I will have a better sense of goals later on in my training. Plus, although I go into marathon training with a general goal, I never decide on a firm time goal until a day or two before a race. You need to take weather into account. And your training. And how you feel. And 834 other factors.

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 9 mile long run, plus strength training where it fit. No, not exactly Intermediate I. I made some adjustment where I saw fit. But lookit that. A pace run. Haven't done one of those in a while.

Sunday - about an hour of yoga podcasts, plus lunges.

Monday - 4.5 mile run plus one-legged squats in the AM. Humid but not too hot yet. Ran on the fast end of my usual pace for no particular reason. Did core and pushups in the PM.

Tuesday - 5.3 mile run. Cool and dry. Almost cool enough for a T-shirt. Fast again. I think something clicks once I am training. Running is more focused. That is fine, as long as I don't do it on every run.

Wednesday - 4.8 mile run, plus upper body strength training and calf raises. Still nice and cool.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile pace run. I usually start off each new training cycle with a pace run on the treadmill, but not this time. 7:44 overall pace. The first 2 miles were exactly 15 minutes (7:30), and then things slowed down. It was a combo of hills and the weather. I still do not know how to pace myself appropriately on hills. It wasn't super hot and humid when I ran, but the weather enough to make an impact. Good thing I ran with Gatorade and water in my Fuelbelt. I could feel the poor air quality in my chest by the end. Temps got up to over 100 later in the day.

Saturday - 9.2 mile long run. Got going early because it was another day with forecast temps over 100. Bah. Maybe it is going to be a long summer. For long runs, I tend to see where my overall pace falls in the first mile or two and then stick with that pace. It was in the 8:30s and so I went with that. My pace crept up into the 8:40s in the middle, but I got it back down to the 8:30s by the end. Did I mention the strong storm overnight that knocked out trees, branches, power lines, and power to 1.5 million people in the DC area? They were fun. My car windshield got badly damaged, my power was out for 16 hours, and my run was an obstacle course. First world problems, right? The windshield can be easily replaced, the power could have been out for days, and there are worse things than jumping over tree limbs and leaves.

Total Miles- Scheduled: 27 Actual:29

1 week down, 17 weeks to go!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Run Back-to-Back Marathons

Now that I've had some time to reflect on my spring racing season (which included the Shamrock Marathon, Gansett Marathon, and a 5K), this is my Top 5 list on how to survive back-to-back marathons.

1. Be smart. Yes, you need to get back out there quickly, but you also need to give yourself enough recovery time. Don't push it too hard.

2. Listen to your body. If you feel OK, keep training. But if it doesn't feel right, stop. Immediately. Don't wait until things get worse. If you need extra rest, take it. If you need to modify your plan, do it.

3. Learn from previous racing experience. You should know how quickly you recover both physically and mentally, how you like to train, etc.

4. Try it with shorter distances first. Race on successive weekends, or schedule half marathons a couple of weeks apart.

5. Plan in advance. Ideally, you want one race to be your target and the other to be practice or just for fun.

Did my back-to-back plan work? I'd say yes. I danced with the devil and came out OK on the other side. I got back-to-back PRs in both marathons (although part of this was sheer luck in getting perfect weather both times). I did not get injured in 22 weeks of training. I recovered quickly from both marathons.

I essentially ran the same time in both marathons, although I ran two very different marathons. My current PR is from Gansett, the second unplanned marathon. Although Gansett was slightly faster, Shamrock is the marathon I will remember as "better." I ran more evenly at Shamrock and had a physically and mentally better race. Plus Shamrock is my first BQ marathon. At Gansett, I had issues with my Garmin and knew I went out much too fast. But where better to test yourself than at a race like Gansett? You don't know unless you try. Sometimes you don't get it right. I do not regret going for it. Shamrock may have been the "better" marathon, but Gansett earned the bragging rights. I ordered a custom race necklace for Gansett, in part because it is Gansett and in part because it is my current marathon PR.

For the record, I do not advocate running back-to-back marathons. Definitely not for a first marathon. Yes, I have done it twice (2 in 10 weeks last year and then 2 in 4 weeks this year). Yes, I survived. Yes, I got 2 PRs out of it. But yes, what I did was admittedly foolish and risky. Very very risky. You really have to know what you are doing. I cannot stress that enough. You need enough running experience to understand your mind, body, and motivation. You have to cross your fingers and hope you don't get injured or burned out. I didn't have the luxury of planning in advance because I didn't know that I'd be running a second marathon until I finished the first one. I had Gansett on my radar, though. Once I had a qualifier in hand, I knew I needed to recover quickly and push only when it was appropriate.

Of course, I was highly motivated to qualify for and run Gansett. That made a difference. And it wasn't the first time I had done back-to-back marathons. The first time, I was not as good or as smart a runner as I am now. That first set wasn't pretty, but I learned from it. That made a difference, too.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Working It, Last No Plan Week

In between finishing Gansett on April 14 and now, I ran about 230 miles. Good job, self. That includes a 5K race where I set a PR (and won a prize!). My long runs were about 7-11 miles. I took a short hiatus of a little more than a week. I did a brief experiment with minimalist running and decided I'd have to start from scratch if I ever wanted to get beyond one mile. I slowed down a bit, but this was not a time to push it. There will be plenty of time for that over the next 18 weeks.

Sunday - about 45 minutes of yoga, plus calf raises

Monday - 4.3 mile run. In rain showers. Relatively cool. First run without water in over a week. Was going to do some exercises in the evening, but I hurt my wing somehow (sore shoulder ... no idea why ... think I slept funny).

Tuesday - 5.3 mile run. The wing was still hurting a bit but felt better later in the day. Did planks, one-legged squats, lower back, lunges, and core.

Wednesday - 6.3 mile run. Already hot and humid first thing in the morning. First run of the summer where my tank top did not make it to the end of the run. Did upper body strength training in the nice cool gym.

Thursday - Rest. Good day to rest. It was the hottest day so far.

Friday - 4.2 mile hot and humid run, plus pushups. Maybe this is going to be a long summer.

Saturday - about 7.8 mile run. Either I paused my Garmin at some point or it paused for no reason, so I lost about a mile. Oops. Hot and humid. Took a walk break in the middle to take a phone call.

Total Miles: about 28

And with that, I officially kick off training for the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow. Bring it, marathon training!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Working It. Yes, Again.

Thanks to my good friend the nasty cold, I ended up getting extra unplanned rest. Good, because my ankle was feeling a lot better when I got back to my normal mileage again.

Sunday - Rest. Literal stay-in-bed rest. Nasty cold was still kicking my butt. I had a low-grade fever starting on Saturday that I think was masked by taking ibuprofen. As much as fevers are bad, I kinda needed it to make the germs go away. I started to turn the corner in the afternoon.

Monday - 3.5 mile run. Slow and hot. Well, relatively hot. Ran in the evening for the first time in a long time. I am not used to the heat yet, plus I was just getting back out there after the nasty cold. I was underhydrated and underfueled from not eating much over the weekend. So I decided to run whatever distance I could cover in about 30 minutes. It was one of those runs to just do it, not to worry about speed or distance. Also did core work, lunges, and one-legged squats.

Tuesday - Upper body strength training, calf raises, and a wee bit of yoga.

Wednesday - 6 mile run, plus planks and pushups. Humid but not too hot yet. Actually managed to get all of my planned strength training in this week. Yay.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile run. Slower than usual but pleasant.

Saturday - 10.4 mile run in Rock Creek Park. Nice weather. Not too hot or humid. Finally back to my usual running pace. Even managed to run negative splits in the last few miles. Ahhhh.

Total Miles: 25.1

I have enjoyed this time without a plan, but now I am looking forward to training again. One week until Marine Corps Marathon training begins. Oorah!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to Run When You Are Sick

I just got over a nasty cold. This one was a real winner. It was so bad at times I thought I had the flu. I haven't felt that miserable in a long time. Sore throat, congestion, sinus headaches, weakness, aches, chills, cold sweats, low appetite at times, a low-grade fever. After a weekend spent in bed and some ibuprofen and Alka Seltzer, I am on the mend again.

For the record, summertime colds are no fun. Colds in general are no fun, but especially not in the summer when you want to go outside.

There are some times when it is OK to run when you are sick and other times when it is not OK to run when you are sick. Ultimately, you need to weight the risks and benefits and decide which ones are greater. Running can be a good decongestant, for example. That's good. But running when you are weak could further run you down. That's bad.

The general rule is OK to run if it's above the neck and not OK to run if it's below the neck. However, there are exceptions to every rule. Go by how you feel. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. If you are sick enough to stay home from work/school/other commitments, you are sick enough to skip running. If you aren't eating much and/or aren't properly hydrated, you probably shouldn't run.

If you choose to run:
Run outside. Skip the gym. Your gym buddies will appreciate you not sharing your germs.
Stay hydrated. Bring water with you, even if you usually don't.
Suck on a cough drop or hard candy to sooth your throat.
Don't push it or overdo it. Pushing it when you shouldn't push it could set you backwards more than resting.
Slow down. There is no award for running fast while you are sick.

If you choose to not run:
Don't beat yourself up for missing a workout. You can't always prevent getting sick.
Enjoy some extra rest. Sometimes rest is best.

The good news is I've noticed that since I've been consistently running (and mostly consistently running outside), I haven't gotten sick very much. I had one cold all last winter. One. And that was in November, coincidentally during a relatively low-mileage time. One theory is that running boosts your immune system. Another theory is that temporarily raising your internal temperature kills off germs before they make you sick. Either theory seems plausible.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Working It, One More Week

This week is all about cross training and strength training. Woo!

Well, not woo. I get cranky when I don't run. Eh. It's just par for the course. A few days with no running will not kill me. A few days with no exercising at all might, but not a short running break. I need to do more cross-training anyway. And maybe it was my body's way of telling me, "Slow down, crazy woman."

I picked an inopportune week to take a running break. The weather was beautiful. Nice temperatures. Low humidity. Breezy and sometimes cloudy but dry. It was a treat after the heat and humidity of Memorial Day weekend. Too bad I didn't do a long run last weekend and spent most of this week inside at the gym.

And then I got the nastiest cold I've had in a long time. See, this is what happens when I don't run. I get sick. Every. Time. Or maybe it was the unseasonably pleasant weather and change in temperature. I had a slight sore throat when I woke up on Wednesday and progressively felt worse as the day went on. Came home from work and pretty much did nothing. Almost considered staying home on Thursday, but felt OK enough after breakfast and a shower. Still had the cold on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday - lunges, core work, squats, and 3 yoga podcasts. Pesky ankle was feeling better, but I could tell I needed more rest.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike.

Tuesday - 40 minutes on the bike.

Wednesday - 6.1 mile run. Humid but cool. It was very pleasant. Ankle felt OK, too. Not completely fine but much much better. Happy National Running Day! Also did upper body strength training and calf raises in the morning. The nasty cold started getting to me in the afternoon. Bah.

Thursday - Rest. I plan on resting on Thursdays anyway, but the cold got in the way too.

Friday - Rest again. Still had the horrible cold. I would have attempted to run in the evening, but I forgot I had plans.

Saturday - 4.2 mile run. Slow and painful because I was still sick. Took a walk break every mile. It was not a time to push it. My ankle felt fine. That is good. Extra rest was not necessarily a bad thing.

Total Miles: 10.3. Double digits. Woo.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How did I know I was ready for a marathon?

By the time I committed to run my first marathon, I had been thinking about running a marathon for a while. Well over a year. Something always got in the way, though. I wasn't sure I had the time. I didn't like running outside in the cold. I didn't have the desire or motivation to train for and run a marathon.

Then I completed my first 20-mile run. There was no reason why I ran that 20-mile run. I was training for a fall half marathon. I didn't need to run that far. I went along with friends who were training for marathons. And yet it wasn't awful. I figured I'd run 15 miles and then stop, but at 15 miles, I said, "Eh. What's another 5 miles?" Yes, it was hard at the end. Yes, I was sore the next day. Yes, I had a boost in my confidence. It was time for a marathon.

That confidence boost was probably the biggest reason why I plunked down and committed to a marathon. I believed I could do it.

I briefly considered switching from a half to full marathon that fall, but one great 20-mile run does not mean you are ready for a marathon. It was a smart move. I wasn't physically ready for a marathon, but more importantly I wasn't mentally ready for a marathon. Well, I PRed at the half marathon after PRing at another half marathon two weeks earlier (and one week after the 20 miler). I was pleased with my half marathon performances. It was definitely time.

I decided to pick one of the Rock N Roll marathons. I had another Rock N Roll race already lined up, and I wanted a Heavy Medal. I had a cancelled airline ticket that I had to use up soon. So I picked Rock N Roll Mardi Gras in New Orleans. There were 16 weeks before the race (I started at week 3 of my 18-week plan instead of week 1, and even that was a step back from my half marathon training), it was flat, and there were reasonable reviews on Marathon Guide. I plotted a training plan. I ran all winter. Off I went to New Orleans. Good things happened. I'm not sure I'd recommend Rock N Roll New Orleans as a first marathon (due to changes in the second half of the course that make it very isolated), but it was a good first marathon choice the year I ran. The weather, my race strategy, and the flat course got me to the finish line a full 4 minutes 30 seconds under my perfect day goal.

I was hooked. Yes, I liked marathons. In some ways, the marathon itself was the icing on the cake. It was more about the journey. I learned more from training for marathons that I ever imagined, and definitely more than from marathons themselves. In little more than a year, I now have 5 marathons on the books, 2 BQ marathons, 1 more planned for this year, and at least 1 planned for next spring. Big ones, small ones, and everything in between. Not perfect races, perfect races, and everything in between yet again.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Working It

I decided on Wednesday that I need to take a running break. Hopefully just a short one. My ankle has been bugging me to the point where I know I need to rest. It never hurt when I ran, but it hurt a lot of the rest of the time. Too many hills? Wearing unsupportive flats too much? Walking more? New running shoes? I do not know. I probably should have taken a running break a few weeks ago, but better now than never. I still have 3 weeks til I am scheduled to start training for Marine Corps. This is my last chance for a rest.

Sunday - some walking, lunges, calf raises, squats, and core work.

Monday - 5.2 mile run on a mostly new route, plus upper body strength training, about .8 mile total running in minimalist shoes (untimed, unmeasured), plus two 20-minute yoga podcasts, plus maybe about 1.5 mile walking later in the day. Some people sleep in when they have a day off. I exercise more. 

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run, including 1 mile in my miminalist shoes (ran the first part, then stopped at home to change shoes). Warmer and humid. Easy pace. Even still, wasn't super pleasant.

Wednesday - 5.2 mile run with the AM run group. Kinda humid and slightly drizzly but not too hot. Also did planks and pushups.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - Rest. Again. 

Saturday - No long run for the first Saturday since I can't remember when (except the weeks here and there when I had a race on Sunday). Spent 45 minutes on a bike while watching the Prefontaine Classic.

Total Miles: 15.6

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Liquids

Thumbs Up

Nuun - electrolyte tablets that dissolve in plain water. Not too sweet. Tastes better than plain water. Makes me thirsty just like Gatorade, though. One tablet is supposed to dissolve in 16 ounces of water, but I think it should be more like 12 ounces. I have tried citrus, orange, lemon-lime, tri-berry, strawberry lemonade, and lemon tea and like them all. Lemon-lime is my least favorite. Strawberry lemonade is my most favorite. Lemon tea has some caffeine. I can't run with orange-colored or orange-flavored anything, so the orange and citrus are just for pre-hydration or after runs. I will have access to public water fountains in DC, so I am looking forward to using Nuun in the summer. A girl can only carry so much water. I also use it as part of my pre-hydration plan a couple of days before a long run in the heat. So far so good.

Chemex coffee - Chemex is a method for brewing coffee, not coffee itself. A Chemex coffeemaker looks like a chemistry beaker. It's pretty simple. Boil water, put the filter in the top, add coffee grounds, pour the water over the grounds, and wait. Now, you need special filters. You need a ground slightly coarser than what you'd put in a drip coffeemaker. It is helpful if you have an electric kettle (which I do ... much easier than boiling water on the stove). Chemex ain't cheap, but oh man, it makes some tasty coffee. I intensely dislike Starbucks coffee, but I will gladly drink Starbucks coffee brewed in a Chemex. It is not bitter at all. Plus their customer service is excellent. I support any company that stands by their products and makes it better.

Thumbs Down

chocolate Muscle Milk - It has a note on the package that Muscle Milk contains no actual milk. That should have been warning enough. I thought I had a carton of chocolate milk (same size and colors ... go figure). I didn't realize it was Muscle Milk until I had already poked the straw into it. It was awful. Awful awful awful. Did I mention awful? It tasted like overly sweet chemical-infused chocolate cake batter. Yuck. I'll take chocolate milk any day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May Mileage Summary

Posting this now because Thursday is almost always a rest day and I am done running for this month.

Total Miles: 125.4
Total Runs: 21
Average Distance per run: 6 miles
Average Speed/Pace: 7.1 mph/8:27 pace
Races: none
Highlights: just maintenance running
Up for next month: A rest for a few days or more (maybe) and the beginning of Marine Corps Marathon training. Oorah!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Minimalist Running

Sometime in the past, I said I wanted to try minimalist running when I wasn't training for anything. Well, I am in between training cycles. Now is the time to try it.

I already had a pair of miminalist shoes, the Saucony Hattori shoes (review here). I have been using them to help my balance during strength training. For that purpose, they were great. I could feel the floor better without all the cushioning of a running shoe.

The first time I tried running in the Hattoris, I ran maybe about a quarter mile total. It wasn't exactly the greatest idea to test them up and down hills, although I didn't really have much of a choice. Still, I could feel the difference. My calves felt it. My footstrike was different, mostly. I still landed mostly on my heels, especially on uphills but ran more on my toes on uphills. My stride was shorter. Much shorter. A few days later, I ran about .4 mile in them. Slowly. Then .6 mile on a treadmill slightly slower than my regular pace. My calves still felt it but not as much. Then .8 mile total. It was different, but good.

I know you have build slowly to minimalist running, and I do not intend to stick with it long-term. But I would like to work up to a couple of miles. A wee bit by a wee bit. Try it out to see what it's like.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gansett Marathon Playlist

This is so behind the game that it isn't funny. I wrote the playlist down over a month ago and then didn't have a chance to update with my thoughts. Oops. After Shamrock, I assembled the random mishmosh of songs that I had during the marathon into a playlist and matched it to my Garmin map. I don't care enough to do that for Gansett. It's interesting enough that I am posting it anyway. Some songs work. Some songs don't. The ones that don't work get eliminated from future playlists. And then some songs surprise you. I never know which songs will end up being really helpful until I am out there.

Here's what my iPod picked me for the second half of the Gansett Marathon. It is in order, except for the 1st 7 songs. Songs with (S) are repeaters from Shamrock.

U2- Get on Your Boots. I think I knew this song was going to be first when I cued up my playlist.
U2 - Beautiful Day. I have a love-hate relationship with this song. No strong feelings about having it for Gansett, though.
Foo Fighters - Bridge Burning (S). I am keeping this song on future playlists.
Billy Idol - Rebel Yell. This song makes it onto every single running playlist. It saved me at mile 23 of Chicago.
Elvis Presley JXL Radio Edit Remix - A Little Less Conversation. This song is fun. Kinda like the Fraggle Rock songs.
Kevin Rudolf - I Made It (S). Haha, not yet.
The Naked and Famous - Young Blood. This song did not make the cut for earlier playlists. It made a return for Gansett.
Sean Kingston - Fire Burning (S). Keeper.
Chris Brown - Turn Up the Music (S). Yep, keeper again.
Dropkick Murphys - Captain Kelly's Kitchen. I tried to skip this song because I couldn't remember why I had it on my playlist. I thought the button on my headphones that skipped ahead to the next song, but the button paused my iPod instead. Oh well. Just go with it.
The Police - Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic
Switchfoot - The War Inside. Clever, iPod. This was around the point where I started bargaining with myself to keep running. Just run til the end of this song and you can take a break. Walk a little and start up again. Repeat.
Pitbull w/ Chris Brown - International Love. I can see myself getting tired of this song, but we'll see.
The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony. I remember hearing this song but didn't have any particular thoughts about it.
Switchfoot - Meant To Live. Not the first time this song has helped me in a race.
Journey - Don't Stop Believin'. Definitely a message you want to hear in a marathon.
Fraggle Rock - Stuff Samba. Short and upbeat and has the line "Do the stuff you've always done before."
Civil Twilight - Fire Escape. This was a new find through Pandora.
Lady Gag - Judas. Here because of the beat.
Incubus - Dig (S). Still love this song.
Switchfoot - Rise Above It. Good message for a marathon.
Hanson - Can't Stop. (S) Oh, you were really clever, iPod, picking this song again just like you did at the end of Shamrock.
Darshan (from the Bend It Like Beckham soundtrack). I like the beat of this song. I don't even think it is in English.
Switchfoot - The Sound. One of my favorite Switchfoot songs.
Pearl Jam - The Fixer. Yeah yeah yeah.
Katy Perry - Part of Me. This song was making me angry, but it might be one of the surprise helpful songs. I found myself thinking, "How badly do you want it?" I said out loud "I want it" and started running again.
Fitz & the Tantrums - Money Grabber. Kinda don't have any strong feelings about this song either. Has a good beat.
Fraggle Rock - Pass It On. Skipped. Just wasn't feeling it at the the very end of the race.
Wang Chung - Everybody Have Fun Tonight. My race playlists are heavily populated by girly pop songs and 80s music. Don't judge. And don't pretend like you don't like these songs too.

I pulled my headphones out a little bit before the end, probably about a little more than a quarter mile to go. The end.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Working It, Yet Another Week

I went back to running 5 times this week. I aimed to get closer to 30 miles. Why? No real reason. Just to see if I could do it.

I am going to plot out my Marine Corps Marathon training schedule and then confer with my training buddy to see if our training plans, long runs, and goals, match up. I am not sure whether I want to run as a pacer or try to go after sub-3:30. But I don't have to decide that just yet. In the next couple of weeks, yes, but not today. My plan will be some variation of Hal Higdon's Intermediate plan. Hal hasn't failed me yet. I have to think about whether I want to slightly increase my mileage or work with a slightly faster marathon goal pace. Or both. I increased both speed and distance for Shamrock, and that worked. Still don't have to decide that now, though.

Sunday - two 20-minute yoga podcasts. New ones. I liked them, except I have never heard of horse and need to look up the pose guide to see what it looks like. Also did lunges.

Monday - 5.2 mile run on the treadmill at a 7:30 pace. Not gonna lie, this was hard. Actually, the 3rd and 4th miles were the worst. The rest were OK. I am so way beyond done with Nike+. Yes, I have said this many times before. Yes, it is worth mentioning again. Eating half a mile at a 7:30 pace is beyond unacceptable.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run in the mist. Warmish and humid. Relatively fast pace. Did one-legged squats, abs, and lower back in the evening.

Wednesday - 6 mile run with my Wednesday morning group. Easy pace. Still humid. Ran about .6 mile in my minimalist shoes, plus upper body strength training. I wish my gym had 12 pound free weights. 10 pounds isn't enough, but 15 pounds is too much. Did planks in the evening.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile run, partly with the husband. Essentially turned this into a tempo run. Ran easy the first 1.5 miles, then ran on my own at a faster pace, then ran with DH (sorta) for the last mile or so. Warm and humid. Anytime it feels like close to 80 degrees first thing in the morning is not a good thing.

Saturday - 11.2 mile long run. I was planning on 10 miles but couldn't find a turnaround landmark. Humid and warm. Again. I definitely enjoyed the shade in Rock Creek Park. I got out early and was done before it started getting hot and sunny. Ran at an 8:14 overall pace, which is on the fast end of my typical long run pace. Maybe it won't be so bad in DC in the summer. Just maybe.

Total Miles: 32.8. Woo for over 30!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Working It, Another Week

I guess this is another stepback week. Other than marathon recovery weeks, this was one of the first weeks in a long time where I only ran 4 times. It was partly a busy thing and partly an ankle thing. That pesky ankle is being pesky again. I took some extra rest this week, which seemed to help. I gotta figure this out before I attempt to ramp it up again.

I finally feel like 25-30 miles a week of running easily fits into my routine. Just a few years ago, 25-30 miles a week would have been the peak of half marathon training. I was tired, sore, and hungry on 25-30 miles a week. Now, it's my everyday running volume. While that many miles still make me hungry, I am no longer tired or sore. Never thought I would say that. Of course, I have gotten faster in just the last year alone. I am probably spending about the same amount of time running. Faster pace means more miles in the same amount of time. Good stuff.

Sunday - three 20-minute yoga podcasts, plus lunges and calf raises. Plus 4 minutes running in my Saucony Hattori minimalist shoes. Mapped it when I got home and figured it was about .4 mile.

Monday - 5.2 mile run in showery rain.

Tuesday - Upper body strength training, one-legged squats, and .6 mile running on the treadmill in the Hattoris.

Wednesday - 5.7 mile run with my Wednesday morning group. Humid as heck. 95% at the time we were done. Bleh. It is going to be a long summer.

Thursday - 4.1 mile run with the husband. Much less humid.

Friday - Rest. I did a whirlwind overnight trip to NYC on Thursday night and didn't get much sleep. Rest was probably a good idea. My ankle was feeling a lot better.

Saturday - 9.2 mile run in Rock Creek Park. I do so enjoy Rock Creek Park. Every time I am amazed at how quiet it is in the middle of city. Pleasant temperature and not too humid. Also did planks and pushups afterwards because I didn't do them earlier in the week.

Total Miles: 24.2 miles plus 1 mile (uncounted) in minimalist shoes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blogging for Mental Health. Yes, it relates to running.

Mental Health Blog Party Badge

This is a running blog. For today only, this is a mental health blog. Today is the Mental Health Month blog party.

Wait a second. Running and mental health are related. They go hand-in-hand pretty easily. See, I told you it all goes back to running. It always goes back to running.

Running is one of my mental health coping skills. It keeps me fit. Helps my health. Gets me outside. Helps me sleep better. Gives me time to think. Teaches me how to listen to my body. Strengthens my mental skills. Gives me goals. Clears my head. Improves my mood. Reduces stress. Some of my best runs have been on days when I was angry, upset, or otherwise not feeling it. Yet I got out there anyway and always felt better afterwards. You often regret sitting at home on the couch. You rarely regret going out for a run.

It isn't just running that provides the mental health benefits. It doesn't have to be the extreme miles of marathon training (like what I do most of the time). It doesn't have to be anywhere close to that. It doesn't have to be running. More generally, physical activity of any type can impart the similar benefits.  Even something as simple as short walks can help.

Why am I blogging about mental health? Because there is far too much stigma around mental health. Because far too often mental health issues lie in the silence. Because mental health permeates all aspects of our lives. Because it's too important not to.

You can find out more about the Mental Health Blog Party here or more information about mental health at

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Working It, One More Week

Yep, still no plan. What else is new?

I kinda pushed myself with the distance (not pace, though. That is one of the good things about running with my husband) last week, so I figured I'd back off this week. Stepback weeks ain't just for during training.

Sunday - 2.5 short yoga podcasts, plus lunges and calf raises. I need to find more yoga podcasts because I finally got bored of one that I have been doing for several weeks. Or I need to pull out Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown.

Monday - 4.4 mile run, plus planks. Cloudy but pleasant weather. I lied about getting used to the hills. I felt every single one of them when I ran on my own at my normal pace.

Tuesday - 4.2 mile run, plus upper body strength training. Easy paced run.

Wednesday - 5ish mile run. I paused my Garmin in the middle to cross a street and forgot to turn it back on. Lost about 2 miles, including a nasty hill. Oh well. Also did one-legged squats, pushups, lower back, and abs.

Thursday - Rest. Extra sleep.

Friday - 4.6 mile run. Cool and clear. Another easy paced run.

Saturday - 7.7 mile run on The Mall. Ran this one by time (warmed up for 5 minutes, ran about a half hour, and turned around) rather than distance. Tested drinking mostly Nuun. Good to know that it makes me thirsty, so I still need water.

Total Miles: about 26

Apparently, 4 miles is the new everyday distance. And I should probably start thinking about my Marine Corps Marathon training plan, shouldn't I?