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.

 

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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?


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.


Riding the Roller Coaster

So remember all the confidence I was spouting off about in previous posts as I nailed workouts and tempo runs in the previous weeks?

Well, I think that is pretty much out the window.

The hamstring issue does seem to be a minor one and it is healing. I went for a 5 mile easy run on Tuesday with no discomfort whatsoever, which is good. This past week, my physical therapist cleared me to resume running as usual – but no speed work yet. But the fact of the matter is, that I have essentially lost at least 2 weeks of training. Last week, I ran a whopping 2.5 miles on Sunday and while I’m resuming my routine this week, my long run will only be 12 miles.

Philly is 6 weeks away and I have yet to crack 15 miles.

I know it is better to go into a race a little under-trained than over-trained and that is what I keep telling myself, but I’m frustrated and upset that a stupid little hamstring issue is derailing what was the start of a great training cycle.

I don’t know what this means for my time goals for Philly. My stretch goal was a BQ (which would have to be around a 3:32 for my age group). I always knew that was going to be hard, but that 8:00/mile pace was starting to feel really comfortable and I was beginning to think I might just be able to do it. Now, I don’t know.

Am I considering that time completely out of the realm of possibility? No. I am still going to work as hard as I can during these next 6 weeks to get to that starting line feeling strong and healthy and ready for 26.2 miles. I just feel like it suddenly became infinitely more difficult.

Anyway, I had to vent my frustrations. Pity party over, time to get to work.

46 days to Philly.


3 Weeks to RnR Montreal!

Hello and Happy Labor Day!

Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend! I got in some great workouts, got ahead on some food prep for the week, and generally enjoyed a pretty low key weekend.

I had a couple of tough workouts this week that I absolutely NAILED, which has me feeling pretty excited for Rock n Roll Montreal. It’s only a few weeks away at this point and I am so stoked!! I’m getting to participate as part of my Bibrave ambassadorship and I can’t wait – my first Rock n Roll race AND my first international race!

I worked on Saturday this past weekend, but then had Sunday to myself to get in my long run. The workout was 2 mile warm-up, followed by 4 x 2 miles at marathon pace (8:01/mile) with half mile recoveries, and then a 2 mile cool-down. I LOVE these long tempo runs and I was excited to give this one a shot. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t looking great for Sunday and we were supposed to get hit with the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. When I started the run, it was cloudy and lightly drizzling, but not bad at all. I had my phone safely wrapped in a plastic baggy, but I was hoping I’d be able to finish up before it got too crazy. No cigar.

The rain and wind progressively picked up as I ran and by the time I got to the third set of 2-mile repeats, it was really pouring. My shirt was soaked through and felt like it weighed 5 lbs. But I was crushing my paces, so I focused on staying tough and reminded myself that I have no guarantees for what the weather will do in Philly so I might as well get used to it. During the last set of mile repeats, my wireless headphones died from all the water (currently trying to revive them using the old bowl of rice technique).

Splits for the 4 x 2 mile segments were: (1) 7:59, 8:01 (2) 8:07, 8:03, (3) 8:08, 8:06 (4) 7:59, 7:48. BOOM! I was really surprised by how controlled I felt at this pace. Not super easy but it doesn’t feel like an all-out sprint the way it used to. Progress is happening, I can feel it!

I also spontaneously tried my hand at a mile race on Thursday night! It was a track event called the Mob Mile

Mob Mile

I’ve never raced a mile before (track or road) and I was excited but admittedly nervous to try it. I think my best mile time before this was a 5k I ran last year where I went out WAY too fast and ran a 6:57 for my first mile. So I guessed 7 minutes for my seed time, but I figured I could probably run under that.

(Not a great photo considering it was dark but gives you a sense of what the heats were like!)

It was so fun to be out on the track again and when my heat went off, I tried to focus on staying calm and not going too hard in the first couple laps. I really wanted to make sure I would have something left over at the end so I wouldn’t have to crawl across the finish line. Mission accomplished!

Mile race

My official chip time was a 6:43, but you can see looking at this chart from my Garmin that I was speeding up at the end – I felt so strong!! I’m aways off it now, but someday I’d like to break 6 minutes for the mile.

Oiselle VoleeI also got to meet some of my new Oiselle Volee teammates! I joined this group back in April and it’s been so much fun connecting with other women who love this sport as much as I do.

Anyways, sorry for the rambling post, but that was what I was up to in my running this past week!

75 days to Philly

19 days to Montreal

 


Long Runs and Dry Needling

Hello!

So despite having a lot of time on my hands (I start my new job next week), I’ve been totally lazy about blogging. I’m not sure why, but I guess I’ve been feeling a little bit of writer’s block.

Anywho! Let me update you on what’s been going on of late.

Last week, I ran an awesome 12 mile workout. There was a 4 mile warm-up, followed by 6 miles around goal marathon pace (I was supposed to start these around 8:15 and then cut down to 8:01/mile). Then 1 mile at 7:32, followed by a 1 mile cool-down. As you see, I didn’t quite hit my splits, but I was really happy with how well I did considering this was the longest block of miles I’ve run at goal marathon pace since I started training.

12 mile workout

Though it wasn’t bad, I was still feeling some discomfort in my Achilles on this run. I stopped and did my ankle circles which helped, but I was feeling annoyed that here we are, 4 months later, and I’m still dealing with this. That afternoon, I did a little research on places where I could get dry needling done as I had heard really good things about that treatment method. Because who wouldn’t want a bunch of needles stuck in the back of their ankle?!

Count me in gifI found a place very close to my apartment and gave them a call that Monday. To my complete amazement, they had an appointment available the NEXT DAY.

Without going down too much of a rabbit hole here, the place is awesome. The doctor I saw spent just over an hour with me, getting my history, assessing my movement/flexibility, coming up with a treatment plan, and yes – dry needling my ankle (which was not as painful as I would have expected actually). I’ve never felt so excited about physical therapy before. I have a whole bunch of appointments set up for September and I feel really really good about the whole process.

After the dry needling, I took a day to rest my Achilles with no running. I did do a lot of walking around that day and while it was a little sore and looked kind of bruised, it wasn’t too bad at all. The following day I ran 35 minutes easy and it was like MAGIC. I couldn’t believe how good my ankle felt. I had gotten so used to having to stop after half a mile to do ankle circles to loosen it up, but for the first time in ages, I didn’t feel like I needed to stop at all. If you are reading this and dealing with Achilles tendonitis, do yourself a favor and go get some dry needling done ASAP! Don’t be an idiot and wait months to try it the way I did.

My ankle has continued to feel good into the weekend so on Sunday I did 90 minutes easy with 4 strides, which worked out to 10 miles on the nose. I slept in and took my time getting out the door and kind of paid for it with how sunny it was out. I was carrying water though so that definitely helped.

So my mileage dropped down a bit this week with all the Achilles stuff going on, but it will likely pick back up again this week since I’m feeling good. I have another round of PT on Monday as well.

83 days to Philly! This Friday I start my new job! Very excited about all the things going on around here. 🙂