Trying Not to Jinx Myself

Hi there!

So you may have noticed recently that I’ve been posting here a lot less lately. I haven’t been sharing all of the training and workout recaps the way I did leading up to Philly. It hasn’t been a time issue; my schedule’s been about the same lately.

Honestly, I haven’t been writing here because I’m still so afraid of jinxing myself when it comes to running. While the first half of 2017 started out well enough, the last half was a string of DNSs, PT and chiropractic appointments, and significant frustration (mixed in with some tears). I had never DNS’ed (Did Not Start) a race before this year. And then I had 3 in 2017 – the BAA 10k, the Baystate Half Marathon, and then the Philly Marathon (where I deferred to the half).

The BAA 10k was supposed to be more of a fun run anyway so I didn’t terribly mind sitting that one out even though it was a bit of an expensive race for a 10k. Ok fine, BAA just take my money. Baystate I had planned to use as a tune-up for Philly. I had run PRs on that course in the past, it’s a local race with some beautiful fall scenery and I  generally love that race. While I could maybe have run it, I decided not to risk it with my iffy hamstring.

Baystate Marathon 2015Baystate 2015 – good memories from that race alongside my mom.

I was a little more sad to sit that one out than I had been for the 10k. Not being able to run the Philly Marathon was hands-down the biggest disappointment of the year and probably of my whole running career. I had built that race up SO MUCH in my head for months and months and to have it turn out the way it did (well, didn’t I guess) was awful.

So in a lot of ways I’ve been trying to protect myself against that with Hyannis. No countdown watch face this time around. No training recaps.

There is even a tune-up race the end of this month that I’m thinking of doing but I still haven’t registered (so unlike me) because I’m still so nervous that something will go wrong. I haven’t booked a hotel near the the race start because I’m terrified that the weather will be horrendous and that will be more money  down the drain (it’s also a doable drive so I’m not being too stupid there). I’ve become injury-paranoid. Every twinge I feel in my legs during a run becomes a point of hyper-focus. I’ve been gobbling down so many anti-inflammatories I’ve probably become fire-resistant from the inside out.

So far, my training has been good. Not great, but the hard work is really only just now beginning to kick in. And as you can see, my mental game is…questionable. I’m trying to just take it week by week and not overly stress about the race. That has manifested into a total lack of blog posts. Hopefully my confidence will return soon and I’ll be able to share a little more here, but I’m not putting pressure on myself for the timebeing.

Come on 2018, don’t let me down.

 


Philly Week

Hey there!
This Friday, my mom and I will be hopping on a train bound for Philadelphia. While I could be disappointed that I won’t be running the marathon, I’m choosing to be excited about running the half. I’ve been slowly working my mileage up in the past couple weeks and have been having zero pain in my hamstring so I feel confident that my body will comfortably be able to handle 13.1 miles. Not at a crushing speed but definitely in the “fun run” range.

When I look back on 2017, it really has been the year of Taking It Seriously. This was my first year working with a coach and understandably, my big focus was on PRs. It was also the first year that I actually experienced some really rough races. In March, I went after my half marathon PR at the Half at the Hamptons. It was a freezing cold day, the course was hillier than expected and I faded badly in the final miles to finish in 1:45 (my old PR). I was pretty disappointed afterwards and couldn’t even really enjoy the post race party. For the first time ever really, I did not have a pleasant experience running a half marathon.

Half at the HamptonsI then rallied my strength and gave it a shot a couple months later at the “Fast Half”. While this one was slightly better, I still struggled in the last two miles and ended up just squeaking under my PR at 1:44. While I wasn’t thrilled, I decided to view it as a success. It was definitely not the flattest or fastest course I have run so who knows what I could have accomplished on a more PR-friendly course.

Fast Half Marathon Race RecapAnd then there was the RnR Montreal half. This truly should have been a blast. And it was for the first 7 or so miles. I was using it as a workout and I felt great, nailing my splits. And then my hamstring seized up and that was that. The second half of the course was decidedly painful and filled with anxious thoughts about Philly. Despite wonderful spectator support in the final miles, I couldn’t enjoy it. I felt beaten up and depressed by the end.

So… not a great year for me and the half marathon.

But something positive can still come out of not running the marathon in Philly – I will be running the half. And my only focus for the race is to run it feeling healthy and happy for the whole damn thing. I am going to smile and relax and enjoy running a race with zero pressure or expectations. I think that is what I need more than anything right now. And afterwards, I’ll get brunch with my mom and enjoy exploring Philadelphia in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do if I was running the marathon.

Another added bonus: I will be able to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! (This would have been ill advised if I had been running a marathon only 7 days earlier).

So maybe it’s a good thing I won’t be going for a marathon PR. That can wait till February.

How has your fall training gone?


Shalane Freaking Flanagan

By now, most of you have probably heard about what happened at the NYC Marathon last weekend. I know we are a week out from the race but I couldn’t let this pass without writing something about it. Never have I felt so fired up about a race I didn’t even run. The running world LIT UP with Shalane Flanagan’s historic win. In case you missed it, it was the first time a US woman had won the TCS NYC Marathon in forty years. And it was freaking SHALANE FLANAGAN who won, arguably the most popular and well-recognized female marathoner in our sport right now.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t in New York to watch the marathon nor was I able to watch the whole thing online. I saw the start of the elite women and then I pretty much had to leave to go to work where I continued to stalk the event on social media. Even with all of these degrees of separation, I couldn’t help but get excited about what was happening on the streets of New York.

Shalane Flanagan | NYC Marathon

(Shalane’s Instagram)

A little context: Last winter, Shalane was training for the Boston Marathon and she ended up fracturing her back. Not a minor injury to say in the least. She had to drop out of Boston, a race she had been very open about wanting to win. I can only imagine how much that must have hurt, to have to set aside this major dream that she had been working so hard towards to focus on healing.

Fast forward to November 5th: By mile 20, the lead pack of women was down to three – Flanagan, Keitany and Daska. From there, Shalane was able to run away with it, running 5:08, 5:11 and 5:04 splits in her final miles. I would be grateful to be able to run that time in a mile race, much less at the end of a marathon. It was freaking incredible.

Shalane Flanagan

Pure emotion.

(Shalane’s Instagram)

So you might be wondering how in god’s name can I relate to this insanely fast professional runner? I have no hope of running a 2:26 marathon anytime in this lifetime. But honestly, it comes down to some of the statements she made in her post race interviews (and if you want an extra dose of emotion, watch the video of her interview) –

“I’ve dreamed of a moment like this since I was a little girl… It means a lot to me, to my family—and hopefully inspires the next generation of American women to just be patient. It took me seven years to do this. It took a lot of work for just this one moment…  About nine months ago I was heartbroken over not getting the opportunity to race the Boston Marathon… I just kept telling myself that there’s going to be delayed gratification and a moment down the road that would make up for it.”

Sometimes I find myself feeling a little frustrated about my race results. I’ve worked so hard in 2017 and I don’t feel like I currently have PRs that actually reflect my fitness. I had thought the Philly Marathon would be my break-through at least, that even if my half marathon PR had only dropped a mere minute, at least I would shave a huge chunk of time off my marathon this year. Well, you all know that that it clearly did not work out that way.

But then here is this incredible marathoner who has literally clawed her way back from a BROKEN BACK and just won the biggest marathon in the world talking about delayed gratification. And it just felt like she was talking to me and to every other injured runner out there.

This sport is hard. You pour so much of yourself into training and even if you are able to get through a cycle with no major injuries, it then all comes down to one day. You have to hope that the weather is on your side (cloudy and 40 degrees with no wind – is that too much to ask?!), that your stomach cooperates, that every other variable is just right. And more often than not, it doesn’t work out perfectly. So yeah, as runners we definitely need to become comfortable with the idea of delayed gratification.

2 Generations Running

Winter running is coming…

So while 2017 may not have been the year of PRs for me, I will still celebrate and hold my head high because my best races are still ahead of me. Here’s to delayed gratification.

Did you watch (or run) the NYC Marathon?


The Comeback

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post, it meant the world.

Since my last post, I’ve been doing much better. Very shortly after I posted that, I listened to an interview of Neely Spence Gracey (a professional marathoner for Adidas) on the Ali on the Run podcast. In it, Neely spoke about her first season as a professional. She was gearing up for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016 when she had to withdraw due to injury. More recently, she had to withdraw from the New York City Marathon due to tendonitis hampering her training (SOUND FAMILIAR?!).

Ali on the Run podcastListening to this podcast, I had a few thoughts.

  1. I feel like I could be best friends with this girl (too bad she lives in Colorado!).
  2. I made the right decision to postpone my goal race.
  3. Thank goodness that I’m not a professional runner and that I get to do this because it’s fun and I actually just love running.

It was a really great interview and I highly recommend giving it a listen if you’ve been struggling with some injuries or are just fascinated by the lives of professional runners.

Mentally, I’m feeling much more positive and happy about the decision to not run the Philly Marathon than I was a few weeks ago.

And what about the hamstring??

Well, I’m happy to report that that actually IS feeling much better (and that’s not me just saying that trying to trick myself into believing it). Since my decision, my coach and I cut WAY back on my running. Last week, I ran 3 miles 4 days a week and this week I’m up to 4 miles. And that is without any tightness in my right hamstring!

Strava MilesWhen I think about it too much, I get a little sad looking back at the workouts I was doing back in the beginning of September and how strong I was feeling, but I know that I’ll build back up to that again. I also have to keep reminding myself that training stacks on top of training. No, I didn’t get to run a goal race after those all those weeks of work in August and September, but the fitness that I gained during that period will only make me stronger as I build up to that again.

Fall RunningIn the meantime, I’m going to continue to enjoy getting out for easy runs as the temps finally cool off this Fall! I haven’t signed up for one yet, but I’m hoping to be able to get in a turkey trot in a few weeks on Thanksgiving.

Oh, and as a sidenote, this happened –

Chicago Marathon

I’ll let you guys know on December 12th whether I’ll be going to Chicago in 2018!!

Anyone else already getting excited for Thanksgiving?? I think it might be my favorite holiday.

 

 


The 7 Stages of Grief

Bear with me for a minute here because this post is going to be dramatic.

I KNOW in the grand scheme of the world and life, running is really not all that important and there are people out there dealing with problems and crises far greater than mine. I know that.

But when something you’ve been dreaming about for the better part of a year fails to come together, it really hits like a punch to the gut. I will not be running 26.2 miles on November 19th.

Philadelphia Marathon 2017

The decision to not run Philly was incredibly difficult and really did fall into these 7 stages.

  1. Shock and Denial

When I felt my hamstring give out running RnR Montreal, I was terrified about what it meant for the rest of my training. But in my head, it was still a given that I would run Philly. I texted my coach basically begging for reassurance, asking what this meant in terms of my training. I knew I would have to take some time off, but in my mind, I was already ready to go crazy packing on miles and extra workouts when I was healthy again. My mom even suggested that I could drop down to the half. I flatly told her that come hell or highwater, I was running the marathon.

After the initial rest for the strain, I started testing my leg again with some easy runs. At first, all seemed well. And I was desperate to pronounce myself “pain-free” so that I could resume training again. So at first, I tried to ignore the subtle tightness that had taken over my right hamstring. I could run and it wasn’t really painful – it was just tight and different than my left leg. With each easy run, I hoped that that would be the day where I wouldn’t be able to notice any difference between hamstrings.

2. Pain and Guilt

I literally cursed myself for doing the extra strength training and those stupid hamstring curls where I first tweaked the muscle. I kept running through timelines, trying to think about how Philly could still work. Where would I find the time to complete multiple 16, 18, and 20 mile runs?

3. Anger 

I was angry at myself and anyone/everyone semi-involved in my running. Even though I know in my heart of hearts, that this was a random accident (and that strength training is really not the devil), I wanted to be able to point fingers and direct blame. I really started to realize that even if I made a miraculous recovery, my training had now been interrupted twice (once to back down when the Achilles tendonitis flared up, now for the hamstring), and the chances of me running a strong, break-out performance were seriously dwindling.

4. Depression

I came back from an easy 6 mile run one morning where yet again, the back of my right leg had felt tight. I was supposed to test out some gentle speedwork later that week. And in my heart of hearts, I knew that was not a good idea. And then I opened up Instagram and scrolled through people’s posts about running the Chicago Marathon – the PRs, the BQs, the triumphs and disappointments. And I’ll admit, I started crying.

Sure, I could probably run Philly to complete it and get the medal and the finisher’s T, maybe even PR by a minute or two. But that was never what I wanted.

I wanted the difficult training. I wanted the 18 mile tempo runs where I was nervous going in, unsure whether I’d be able to hit the paces, only to surprise myself. I wanted to string together 45-55 mile weeks, running higher volume than I’d ever trained at before for a marathon. I wanted to feel healthy, be able to run my speedwork, and to go into my marathon with the confidence that I was about to blow my PR out of the water.

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapHappily running my third marathon.

5. The Upward Turn

Just when I was about to throw my phone out the window to escape social media, I came across a post from another runner who had run Chicago, except she hadn’t. It was supposed to be her goal race but when an injury sidelined her long enough to compromise her training, she pushed back her target race to the California International Marathon in December. She ran 17 miles of the Chicago Marathon as a training run, using the energy of the crowds to fuel her running at her goal race pace as a workout. And that’s when I began to think I might have some other options too.

6. Working Through

That day at work, I got advice from some of my coworkers. It felt so good to lay out my situation and goals and get an unbiased, third party perspective on my options. I was basically an emotional wreck at this point. My coworker actually mentioned another local marathon that was held in February every year. I had been thinking that I would need to travel for any winter race I could potentially sign up for, but this gentle reminder showed that there was another way. A way I could salvage my goals and what hard work had already been put in.

As my coworker pointed out, I could probably run Philly – but not to the best of my ability. And if I was to run it, I would have to take time off to recover, which would delay any further chance to run a marathon. And if my main goal is to BQ, than it wasn’t really logical to beat my body up running a marathon where that was very unlikely to happen.

7. Acceptance

So here I am. I literally have been dreaming about Philly since last April when I registered for it on the same day I spectated the Boston Marathon. As I’m sure you’ve seen, it’s been a bitter pill to swallow to accept that I won’t be running 26.2 miles in 2017. The only thing that’s given me hope is that I’ve signed up for another marathon – the Hyannis Marathon in February. I know that the weather on Cape Cod in February will be a total wild card. Last year, it was sunny and almost 60 degrees. In years past, it’s been 20 and sleeting. But, the race was relatively cheap to register for, so if the weather ends up being disastrous, I will once again wait a few months and run a spring marathon. But, I’m feeling hopeful that things might just come together after all of these bumps in the road.

Either way, I’m looking forward to finally letting my hamstring heal (all the way so that this annoying tightness goes away) and getting back into the thick of training. Call me crazy but I still love this marathon stuff.


Life Updates + My Achilles Heel

Hello again!

Apologies for falling off the grid there for a bit, but life got in the way (as it usually does). Things are once again getting crazy with work (I realized I will only be home for 1 full week during the month of June) and there really haven’t been any exciting happenings with my running to blog about.

Short 3-miler on Friday.

Basically, I’ve been running minimal mileage and really focusing on letting my Achilles heal (HA – it’s a pun!). Leading into the Fast Half, it had become a persistent niggle. It would bother me pretty consistently for the first mile to mile and half of a run before easing away. After finally getting my goal race out of the way, I decided it was time to really focus on rehabbing my Achilles before diving back into any heavier training. Plus, my coach wanted me to take a decent break after the long training block I had just experienced.

So once a week for the past few weeks, I’ve been going to the chiropractor and getting ART (active release therapy) and graston. For those of you who don’t know what those are, you can think of it as a very deep and painful massage. It is NOT relaxing or comfortable, I can promise you.

ART MassageMaybe Monica was actually doing ART.

The good news is, it seems to be helping. I’ve been going on easy 2-3 mile runs in the past couple weeks that have felt almost normal. I’m confident that in a couple weeks I’ll be good as new.

I think the break has been good for me mentally. I’ve been going to a lot of yoga classes and really enjoying sleeping in a little later in the mornings. As nervous as I was about the late timing of Philly, now I’m really happy that I chose this marathon because I haven’t felt rushed to dive back into training. I know I have PLENTY of time this summer to get back to it.

Have you ever had ART or Graston?

What have you been up to this June? Any exciting plans for the rest of the summer?


Life Goes On

Today’s post is another guest post from my mom regarding her injury/life lately. Enjoy 🙂


I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but whenever I felt ready I would have a bad day, and I worried that this post would turn into a whiny, negative rant. But life goes on and now I feel I really just need to make the attempt.

The hamstring injury that slowed me down all summer finally stopped me cold in September. After weeks spent in pain going to PT and even acupuncture without any progress, I finally started going to a sports chiropractor in Boston. (Nora found him for me and I am pretty darn grateful!) After one visit he told me I should start walking and even to hit the gym for some easy elliptical workouts. [For folks in the Boston area who might be interested, the clinic is Wellness in Motion.]

After three months of not being able to do anything that wouldn’t aggravate the pain in my lower back/ buttocks, I laced up and hit the road. I was sad not to be running but it felt good to be outside and moving again. I still have to be careful.  Too much walking will aggravate my injury but at least now I know that the treatment I am getting is appropriate and that things are going to improve.

Last Saturday, I walked 3 miles of my old 5 mile running route. There had been some changes: life goes on even while you sit at home for three months. Two small houses had been completely torn down and the new super-sized ones were well under construction.  I had fantasized about owning one of these small cottages. It was right on the lake and I thought our lab, Brady, would enjoy leaping into the water from his front yard. And I would love the view.

Two houses away from the little cottage I had coveted in another tiny house, there lived an older, somewhat standoffish gentleman. As I ran past, I would see him sitting on his porch in all kinds of weather, smoking a cigarette. I began to say hello. At first he would not even reply to my greetings and Nora discouraged me from continuing on the grounds that my behavior might seem intrusive. But I said I would keep saying hello and I was confident that one day he would answer. Naturally, he did respond and in time our conversations lengthened from “good morning “, to introducing ourselves, to full on chatting, usually about the weather or sports. His name was Brian.

Passing his house on that Saturday he was not on the porch. This wasn’t unusual: it was a cold January day so he would minimize his time sitting out there. Still I did notice that the Oxygen in Use sign was not in the window. I wondered about it, but nothing else seemed amiss.  I walked on, probably wondering how much longer it would be before I could actually run …

Later on that day I learned that my “running route friend” had passed away in October, just weeks after my last run. He was only 56.

I don’t remember if I saw him on that last run, on September 12 . I did the five mile loop four times and imagine that in the course of those 3+ hours, I must have… But here’s what I know. If he was there on his porch, I definitely stopped to say hello. We exchanged pleasantries, probably about the weather. (I remember it was hot!) And now I will miss seeing him there on his porch, smiling with his coffee and cigarette. And if his little house is torn down and replaced with a huge  modern monstrosity, I will still think of him as I run past.

I feel a bit like the thread of this post has gotten away from me. I had intended to post about my recovery but I seem to have missed the target, so to speak. Still, I’m going to stop here. My “recovery post” will be for another time. Life goes on and I need to go for a walk.


No questions today – hope everyone’s week is going well!


Super Bowl Sunday

Hello again!

Holy crap. That game last night. For most of the game, I felt like I was on the cusp of a nervous breakdown. And then somehow, the Patriots pulled it off.

Super Bowl Win. New England PatriotsI also enjoyed Katy Perry’s halftime performance a lot! Did anyone else really like those friendly dancing sharks?

Katy Perry.I was hoping to see them chase some of the football players. 😉

Ok, enough football talk (please don’t hate me if you’re not a New England fan!).

Sunday marked one week since my last (painful) run, so yesterday I was nervous but looking forward to trying running out again, after a week of careful stretching and research of exercises to help with runner’s knee. I taped my knee using KT tape to give the joint a little extra support, bundled up, and headed out, hoping for the best.

2 Generations Running selfie.The good news was, it didn’t hurt as much or as quickly as it did last week. But, definitely not better yet. 😦 Despite the cold, it was a sunny morning and it just felt so dang good to be back outside running (even with my knee not cooperating) that I ended up going just about 2.3 miles2 Generations Running. Garmin ResultMy mom and I had been considering the possibility of an 18 mile race in early March, but after today’s run, I know that’s not going to happen for me. 😦 Thankfully, we hadn’t registered for it yet. While I had been excited about the idea of a new race and another big challenge, for now, I know I have  to focus on really trying to clear up this knee issue, while hopefully going for some short runs in the meantime. There is a relay option for the race though, so maybe that will be a possibility!

Oh well. As far as times to be injured go, it’s not so bad. We’re supposed to get another 6-12 inches of snow today, so it seems like a fitting time to scale back on winter running (even if it wouldn’t be my first choice).

Have a great Monday (if you’re in New England, enjoy basking in the glow of that win!)


A Snowy Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend! My mom and I have been rudely thrust back into typical New England weather. Just a few days ago, we went from this-

Florida Trip. 2 Generations Running.

Florida. Packet Pick-Up for the Clearwater Distance Classic.A selfie from packet-pickup. Looks pretty nice, amirite?

To this-

Winter. 2 Generations Running

Winter. 2 Generations Running.A nice, 5 or so inches of snow to remind us we’re not in Florida anymore. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, we are supposed to get a BLIZZARD Monday night into Tuesday. And I’m not saying that as hyperbole. It’s going to be an actual, legitimate blizzard. Oh, the joys of winter…

So while the snow was falling on Saturday, I decided to try a recipe for cookie dough protein powder balls I had found on Pinterest.

Cookie Dough Protein Powder Balls

Cookie dough protein powder balls

You make these balls by first making a chocolate dough using chocolate protein powder and a vanilla dough, then you squish and roll them together to form a swirl. Of course, these don’t look as appetizing in my pictures as they did in the original recipe (see it here.) Unfortunately, they’re a little dry and kind of bland, but I like the idea behind this recipe so I’m thinking I may experiment in the future and try to adapt it to make these balls a little more moist and flavorful.

So much discussion about balls lately…

Deflategate. Tom Brady.

Sorry, I had to. But that will be the only reference I make to Deflategate, because COME ON, ENOUGH ALREADY!

On Sunday, my mom and I braved the slushy roads to try to get a run in. I did some of the knee stretches I had looked up before we went off, but unfortunately, they didn’t really help. Within the first mile, it was already bothering me and when we reached 2 and a half miles, I finally gave up and walked the last half mile home. So new plan – I’m going to take a week long break from running and I’ll focus on stretching, icing, and some other workouts (maybe yoga?) Next Sunday, I’ll try a short run and see how the knee feels. I’m not thrilled about this, but the good news is, I don’t have any races on the horizon for a while, so I can really focus on resting.

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing, cooking, and watching Downton Abbey in the evening! Even though I missed a bunch of episodes, I’m really enjoying watching the show again with my mom.

Downton Abbey. 2 Generations Running

I hope you all had a great weekend! Good luck surviving the snow if you’re in the blizzard zone too! Any other fans of Downton Abbey enjoying the new season?