Sunday, September 17, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 9

Turn and face the strange
~David Bowie

Week 9, you were a blur.  But I strapped in, held on tight, and enjoyed the ride.  From a training logistics standpoint, I was supposed to have a cut back week.  But my training plan has gone rogue as I deal with this little hip issue, and since I felt great after my 17 miler last weekend, I really wanted to keep the momentum going and increase the mileage again this week.  This change was Coach Bob and PT Lauren approved and it was full steam ahead.

6 easy miles + PT exercises + dry needling
My hip has been feeling really good lately.  Not 100% and not ready to kill any kind of speedwork, but ready to push the pace a little quicker than I have been in the past couple of weeks.  To be honest, these slow paced runs have been getting to be a bit of a drag and I ran 2 of these 6 miles a little faster just to break up the monotony.  I'm sticking to the 3/10 rule for discomfort, and thankfully the hip has been staying below that 3.  I loved breathing a little harder on this run, but I did not love how dark it still was when I finished.  

After getting the kids off to school and a quick shower for me, I did a big thing:

I started my new job at J&A Racing!!!  Crazy pants.  I'll be taking the helm of their retail operation next spring, so right now I'm learning how to do my future job.  I wasn't looking for work - in fact, I was wondering how I could clear my plate a little and really focus on training for New York - but this opportunity was too good and too compatible with my primary role of wife and mom to pass up.  I still can't believe I get to do this.

After work, it was home to get the kids off the bus and back out to PT for some more dry needling.  The girls got to watch this time...that was interesting.

MY Ride w/Mike
I sat in the back row this time...I normally like the front row because a) the air flow seems better and b) I don't have to look at anyone's ass in front of me for 45 minutes.  But it was kind of nice to just do my thing without feeling like anyone was watching me.

When I got home, Kristy alerted us all to an email we received about our fundraising status:
Um, yeah...this is out of all teams raising money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to run the NYC Marathon.  We're in 3rd place, with 4th place right on our heels and 2nd place totally within reach.  It was just the push we needed to dust off our fundraising hats and get back to working for donations.  

5 miles with 3 at marathon pace + PT exercises + dry needling
This workout lit the fire again for me.  It was hot and the humidity came back with a vengeance, as evidenced by my nest of a ponytail I finished the run with.
But I was able to push myself for 3 miles at a pace I haven't seen since I started PT, and the hip felt good doing it.  This run truly set me up to kick ass all day long.  
I'll spare you the play by play of how this day went down, but let's just say I killed it.  And I slept really well that night.  

6 easy miles
This run was nothing to write home about, but I'm proud of it because I didn't look at my watch once.  These miles were totally by feel, and once I finished and looked at my splits, I was pleasantly surprised by the perfect progression of negative splits that happened naturally.  I knew I needed to save everything I had for Friday's long run, and I was able to do just that.  I didn't get a photo during or right after the run, so here's a shot from where I parked for work on Thursday.

18 miles with Kerry
  Ooooooh this run.  In an ideal world, I would've started this beast long before the sun came up and finished just as it started to get hot.  But that just wasn't my reality on Friday, so I had to start this run at 8:30 and endure the heat and humidity Mother Nature thought would be cute.  
Kerry and I met at the aquarium and got along on our merry way.  She immediately scolded me for not carrying water with me.  The thing is, I bought myself a FlipBelt at the start of the summer and hate it.  It doesn't let my shorts move the way they need to and I end up with hellatious chafing in so many god forsaken places.  I'll give the FlipBelt a second chance when the weather cools down enough for capris and tights, but it ain't happening with shorts again.  
I did have a hydration plan though, so don't think I'm a total bonehead...we were running along the oceanfront and into First Landing State Park, where there are ample opportunities to stop at a water fountain, which we did. The shade of the park was so refreshing, but once we emerged and hit the blazing sun again, we were both feeling less than amazing.  But oh, thank heaven for 7-11!!!
A gatorade and a cup of ice later, we were off to finish the rest of that run.  We stopped a bunch of times along the way...sometimes for water, sometimes for shade, sometimes because it was just so f-ing hot.  But we finished that run strong and could only tell ourselves race day should be cooler.  Hopefully much, MUCH cooler.
After I finished, I walked around in the shade for a while before feeling the need to kick my shoes off and get off my feet.  What better place than the aquarium parking lot to sit and enjoy a water bottle full of Tailwind (part of my amazing hydration plan was having a full bottle in the car for when I finished and needed replenishment).  I got up and went home before anyone had the chance to offer medical assistance.

After Week 8's 17 miler, I rode my beach cruiser around Norfolk, which I think helped contribute to my quick recovery.  I employed the same strategy after Friday's 18 miler by riding my bike up to Green Flash for hydration, calorie replacement, and leg elevation.

I also returned later than evening for another dose of hydration with Sara, who beasted out a 22 miler in that heat.  At this rate, we're going to need to modify our Cancer Better Run gear to read "Cancer Better Run - sponsored by Green Flash."

I actually did rest a lot this time.  I planned to have my ass parked in a beach chair and toes in the sand most of the day, but through no fault of our own, only the former part of that plan came to fruition.  I sat in my beach chair in my driveway and got some work done while watching the Blue Angels air show and my kids played with their neighborhood friends.  We also got to go for a little joyride in my neighbor's antique (yet still younger than I am - don't get me started) Mercedes convertible.  I think we turned a head or two going through the Wendy's drive thru for some Frosty's.  

4 easy miles with a few passes over the Rudee Bridge
The thought of running another out-and-back down Nimmo Parkway bored me to tears, so I hopped in the car and had some bridges for breakfast.  It was another hot, sticky morning, but the breeze we're already getting from Hurricane No-Way Jose made it bearable, as did one of my favorite views of the water.
After this run, I had to scoot over to a far-too-lengthy training session to coach Girls on the Run at my girls' school, but I checked my weekly mileage after dinner and realized I was at 39.3.  Unacceptable.  So with a belly full of tacos and a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Ale, I headed out to get that number to 40.  My first 40 mile week of this training cycle, and it just so happened to be my first week of work in almost 11 years.  From this day forward, I'll be trying my best to listen to the words of encouragement I give my can do hard things.  I can do this.  I am surrounded by the best people who push me, pull me, listen to me, guide me, run with me, and raise a glass with me.  Week 9 was a big one.  And I can do big things.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 8

"You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running"
~ James Taylor

Week 8.  The halfway mark in our 16 week journey to the start of the NYC Marathon.  And the last day of summer vacation.  And the first day of school for my girls.  And last week of holding an official title of stay-at-home mom.  It was an emotional week, and I'm glad running - but more importantly my people - were there for me.

Easy 8

I was a little nervous about this last attempt at more than 6 ended in a long walk home, but I was hopeful that keeping it slow and steady would allow me to finish all 8.  The running gods had my back on that was a great run that included one stop at the world's coldest water fountain (because Sunday night included Green Flash).  

I hit the road again right after my thirst was temporarily quenched, and finished out the 8 miles with a 1 mile phone conversation with Dayna.  I never ever ever answer my phone mid-run, but I was craving company and what better company than your BFF.  

We really lucked out on the weather for Labor Day, and we hit the beach for one last hurrah before the school buses rolled in Tuesday morning.  
God help these kiddos...they all have runner moms and surfer dads.

Easy 4 + PT exercises and dry needling

This run was totally boring, other than I ran into Karen and got to see her off on her mile repeats.


I was invited to try out a new spin studio in town in a private session with my new coworkers.  They put me front and center...which authorities do I notify to report hazing of the new girl???

Easy 5  + PT exercises and dry needling

I got to go for a moonlit run with my hubby at 5:45am.  The full moon was bright in the sky and we got to compare notes on training plans and race strategies.  Totes normal married people behavior.

One thing Week 8 reminded me of is that training for a marathon makes you hungry.  So very god damn hungry.  I took my mom out to lunch for her birthday and devoured every last bite of the most delicious balsamic steak and bleu cheese wrap you ever did see, and she may have been slightly disgusted about my membership to the clean plate club.  Dinner was no different.  I wanted something quick and easy - because I was so friggin hungry and didn't want to wait long for food to actually cook - so I whipped up this Asian quinoa concoction with chick peas, broccoli slaw, peanuts, and a homemade peanut dressing.  

I then proceeded to eat entirely too much of it and needed to walk around the block to aid digestion.  Luckily I had a willing companion.

Easy 5
Rest (hang out with an inquisitive 4 year old and his copycat 2 year old brother) 

Lauren (PT extraordinaire) hit a new spot with the dry needling on Thursday, leaving me pretty sore on Friday, so I decided to let the hip rest up and save itself for Saturday's long run instead of running a few junk miles on Friday.  That worked out well, as I had been in a Benadryl haze for the better part of the week thanks to being stung by a bee last Sunday.  Five days later, this is what it looked like:

And since social media is a pretty reliable tool for diagnosing medical conditions, I dragged my little buddies to urgent care - on their last day with me, no less - to rule out a nasty infection.  The nurse practitioner didn't find my elephant arm as alarming as others did and instructed me to keep up with the benadryl but hang on to a prescription for antibiotics if the redness spread.  My worries were eased tremendously, so thank you to everyone on instagram who advised me to get it checked.

17 miles

Not gonna lie.  This run scared me.  Like scurrrrred scared.  Not knowing how my hip would hold up was stressing me out, and I knew I'd be so much better off having company for as many miles as I could muster.  Enter Team Cancer Better Run.

I made my way to the oceanfront to crash the J&A Training Team party and run with my people.  Karen and I did 6 miles at 6am before the rest of the training team kicked off at 7.  At 7, we headed out for 10 more miles, and Steve was with me as I tacked on one more to make my 17.  This run wasn't fast.  I stopped a number of times.  But there was no quit in me.  I set out to run 17 miles if my level of discomfort stayed below a 3 out of 10, so 17 miles I ran.  I'm not sure what would've happened if I had to run those miles by myself, but I do know I'd be bored to tears.  I am so thankful I had these people to pull me along, and it was great to meet the other runners they spend their Saturdays with.

One thing that makes marathon training such a challenge is that I'm still Mommy after I've run for 2.5 hours.  My kids still deserve my time and my energy, so once I've showered and refueled, it's always on to the next adventure.  On this particular Saturday, that adventure included packing up the bikes and heading out to Norfolk to explore some new (to us) bike paths and breweries.  And street corn from the food truck.

By the time I collapsed into bed, I had racked up some steps.

Easy 4-or 5

I thought about going for a run pretty much all day Sunday.  My legs felt pretty decent after Saturday's 17 miler, and I definitely could have squeaked a few more miles out of the week, but I spent my energy around the house instead.  Ryan took the girls to the rec center so they could play while he got his swim done, and I stayed behind to clean.
Hahaha, me back about 10 years living with 3 grown ass men, one of which was mine so I didn't mind cleaning up after him but the other 2, oh man I wanted to choke them sometimes!

When they returned, the girls found some friends to play with and Ryan and I found some yardwork to get into.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt all day, which made me really look forward to the coming week.  We're getting into the meat of training now, and we're going to have to dig deep.  I'm so glad I'm not the only one holding a shovel.

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, people standing, hat, sunglasses and outdoor

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 7

"Always move forward;
going straight will get you nowhere."
~Green Day

Having run one marathon before training for New York, I've been excited about how I can do this one differently.  And when I say differently, I really mean better.  And by better I don't necessarily mean faster, either.  I mean smarter.  Stronger.  Did I mention smarter?  So along with the knowledge and experience I've gained over the three years since the last marathon, I am also so very lucky to have an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced coach to guide me through this journey.  And by guide me, I mean give me a little smack upside the head when needed and keep my eyes on the prize of running strong in New York.  He may be Leprechaun Bob to a lot of you, but he's now Coach Bob to me.

One of my mantras for this training cycle is "Let go and let Bob."  I have a tendency to overthink each run and each decision I make when it comes to my training, and it has been amazing to be able to shoot Bob a text, pick his brain, and have him offer a solution that's so obvious I smack myself in the head for not coming up with it myself.  This week was a prime example of that.  Coach Bob suggested I simply swap weeks so I'd have a cut back week this week instead of next week, let the hip settle the F down, and see where to go from there.  Duh.  Brilliant.  I started the week relieved to have an easy week when I wasn't feeling 100% instead of pushing through tough miles and making things worse.  

Easy 5 + massage

This has been a very common view for my runs lately.  Run a few miles, stretch, repeat.  The tightness high in my hamstring just keeps creeping in after a mile or two, and I stop to stretch in hopes I can complete the miles I have planned.  Since I had a spin class planned for Tuesday morning, I decided this would be a great day to cash in on a massage gift certificate I've had since last fall.

Ahhhhh.  Heavenly.  Lorri at Natural Balance by the Sandbridge Harris Teeter has some good hands.  She's worked on pro baseball and hockey players before, so she can certainly handle these little legs.  I left feeling loosey goosey and great.

MY Ride with Mike

Normally getting up at 4:30am for this 5:30am class is absolutely brutal, but after waking up around that hour most days all summer, it really felt like any other day.  There was a low off the coast that morning, and I woke up to driving rain, howling winds, and a huge sense of gratitude I didn't have to run in it that morning.  

9 miles, last 3 at marathon pace
6 easy miles
3 easy miles + 3 miles walking

This run actually earned the title of "shit show" on my garmin app.  First mile was great.  Second mile was meh.  By the time I finished the third mile I knew I better stretch my hamstrings a bit...the left one was tight and throbbing by this point.  I stopped at a spot with a pretty view, where an unexpected rain shower began.  I started to get cold, so I picked up the run again, deciding I'd cut 3 miles off the run for 6 total.  The hamstring actually felt worse than before I stretched, and I slowed to a walk, hoping I could run/walk the 3 miles back home.  After a short walk break, I picked back up to a jog again and knew I had to stop.  The hamstring was throbbing and the discomfort was throwing off my gait.  I sent Ryan a mayday text to come pick me up, but he never looks at his phone and didn't see it until I was turning down our street.  Frustrating, but it was just as well because I got to see this as I walked mile after mile home:

The huge rainbow made me smile and reminded me that things could be worse and time is on my side.  I made another mayday text to Kerry to get the name and location of the PT she speaks so highly of.  Thankfully I was able to get an appointment that day because panic was starting to set in.  

Enter Lauren.  A physical therapy wunderkind who evaluated my body and my running form and concluded I'm not getting enough hip extension when I run, which doesn't tell the glutes to fire, which makes the front of the hip and the calves do more than their fair share of the work.  Stretching the front of the hip and strengthening the glutes should do the trick, and sweet baby Jesus I can keep running - albeit slower - while we work on the rest.  So a little dry needling and a little massage later, I was on my way to happy hips.

Not gonna lie...lying there for a while was pretty awesome, even if I did have needles in my ass.

Elliptical + PT exercises

My hip was moderately sore from the needling, as expected, so I held off on any running and hit the elliptical before doing the glute strengthening exercises Lauren gave me.  One thing she won't have to worry about with me is patient compliance.  I do my homework.

Hip check - easy 3.4

I was nervous at the start of this run, but it went in the win column by the time I was done.  Lauren told me I can run as tolerated as long as my pain levels don't go higher than a 3/10.  By about mile 1.5, the high hamstring started talking, so I stretched the hip flexors - not the hamstrings - and continued on my merry way.  Pain stayed at a minimum and all hope was restored.  We headed off to Busch Gardens for one last hurrah before summer ended.

Tailgating before roller coaster riding...I highly recommend it!  And is it me or are these drinks 2017's Zima?

Tight hip flexors?  Pshhhhhhh.

My brave girl waiting to ride the front row of Invadr

8 miles of walking the park and my hip was no worse for the wear.  #winning

Easy 4
Easy 5

I planned to do 4 miles but these felt soooooooo good I snuck another one in.  And of course did my stretching after.

Easy 5

This is where the crazy comes out and I have to keep myself in check.  I calculated my mileage for the week and saw that if I ran a few more miles on Sunday, I'd be pretty close to where I originally planned to be before this hiccup of a hip issue.  Because I was feeling good - and only because I was feeling good - I ran an easy 5 miles before cheering on the nut jobs running the Rock n Roll half.  I'm happy to report I was smart enough not to run all the miles I needed to equal the original plan, but just enough to ease my mind while resting my body as well.  Some beach time and Green Flash time with these gals was exactly what I needed to finish up a tumultuous week of training with a smile on my face and a skip in my step.

Training for a marathon is hardly going to be a straight line from start to starting line, but as long as I keep moving forward and relying on the advice of others who want to see me succeed, I'll get there strong and smiling.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 6

"Makes me that much stronger,
Makes me work a little bit harder,
Makes me that much wiser,
So thanks for making me
a fighter."
~Christina Aguilera

I hit my first little speed bump this week in the form of an unhappy left hip.  After crushing Week 5 and hitting some quick paces during my speedwork, Week 6 told me to slow my roll.  My left hip did a little something funky a couple of times during Week 5's long run and felt tight and achy afterward, but by Monday morning I felt ready to tackle my tempo run.  

5 miles with progressive tempo for 3 miles

I opted for a progressive tempo run...1 mile to warm up, 3 miles that each got progressively faster, 1 mile to cool down.  I should've known by how hard it felt to shave just a few seconds off each tempo mile that my body was fighting me, but I pushed through and chalked it up to sticky and humid summer running.  But as the day went on, my hip got louder when voicing its displeasure.  No big deal, I had easy miles on tap for Tuesday.  We got on with our day and had some fun watching the solar eclipse.

NASA approved cereal box eclipse viewers

Easy 8
Easy 7

The views on these early morning runs never get old.  It's incredible to watch the sky change colors as you go through the miles, ending with an entirely different look than when you started.  I had 8 miles on my training plan, but right around the time I took this picture at mile 3, I knew I'd be cutting this one short.  My hip was tight and sore and wasn't getting looser as I continued my run, so I aimed to finish 6 miles.  By the time I hit 6 miles, I was just down the street from my house and realized the hip finally felt good, so I got in an extra mile (and a teeny tiny bit of redemption).  It was another hot one and I was thankful my sprinklers were on when I got home.

The rest of the day included a whole lot of foam rolling and hoping for the best.

4 hill repeats

Another day, another gorgeous sunrise.  Not to mention the gorgeous company.

It may have taken all summer, but I finally got a sunrise oceanfront run in with Kristy.  Yippee!!!  The hip was feeling better, but it seemed like the tightness had shifted to my hamstring.  With no set mileage in mind, I just wanted to increase my effort a smidge going over the Rudee Bridge.  No all out effort, just picked up the pace as I climbed the hill and kept it super easy on the descent.  I finished with 4 miles in the books and stretched a ton before getting in the car and heading home.  

I had my own personal massage squad at home that night too.  Even though they don't enjoy my picture taking much these days, they were troopers to give me some good karate chops to the hammy while we watched America's Got Talent.


It had been months since I had last gone to MY Ride, so I was pretty excited to get back in the saddle.  Even without the music, this class delivered the drenching low impact workout I was craving.  My left hip was making little but significant improvements with each passing day and each smart choice on my part.  I was beginning to have hope for Friday's 16 miler after all.  

16 miles

For some reason, this run didn't scare me like Week 5's 15 did.  I wasn't stressing out about fuel and hydration the day before and I didn't wake up with that nervous pit in my stomach.  It could be that I wasn't sure I'd be able to complete all 16 miles if my hip started acting up, so I didn't put as much pressure on myself.  I got up and got out the door in about 40 minutes (my new long run double french braids are a bit time consuming, but holy moly is it worth it!).  Lucky me got to share the first 6 miles with Ryan, who had no idea why I was taking a picture of our shoes when we finished.

Still unsure of how far I'd be able to make it, I set out with every intention of doing all 10 I had left.  2 miles in, I stopped to stretch.  

Yup, right there in the middle of the bike path at Sherwood Lakes while people ran and walked their dogs right by me.  It was a pattern I continued for the rest of the run - run 2 miles, stretch, repeat.  It kept me out for what felt like an eternity, but it was worth every stretch session.  I finished feeling decent and my hip was no worse for the wear.

Not sure why my watch didn't congratulate me on my longest run to date (well, since owning this watch, at least), but I celebrated by downing a bazillion ounces of Tailwind, water, chocolate/peanut butter/banana smoothie, and iced coffee afterward.

5 easy miles

Here's something that never would've happened the last time I trained for a marathon...I ran 5 miles the day after running 16.  There's no way I would have ever even dreamed of doing that the last time...part of it is that I feel I'm simply more fit than I was last time, but it has way more to do with how much smarter I am this time around.  My easy runs are easy.  My ego has been kicked aside and I'm doing what's right for my body.  If I run 16 miles too hard, I'm not recovered enough to get those easy 5 in the next day.  It's a lesson I learned the hard way, but I'm thankful to have learned it nonetheless.

I got a late start on this run but it wasn't dreadfully hot out and I didn't suffer much.  I couldn't help but think of how many times I'd run this very route while training for the last marathon I was winter so these crape myrtles were barron, but I'd always see a bluebird in this little stretch and be reminded of my mother-in-law and her battle with cancer.  She loved birds and seeing them out here on this path always made me smile.  There weren't any birds out during this run, but I was still reminded of Peggy, putting these otherwise unremarkable miles in the meaningful column.

Then I enjoyed some R&R on the beach for a bit by myself.

Glorious.  All of it.

Finished up a great day with a great evening...there's definitely a fall chill in the air these days, and even though Ryan and I could've easily gone to bed at 8pm, we made the push to squeeze a little more summer fun (and s'mores) into the day.

Rest (P90X3 yoga)

Sundays are usually 100% rest days for me, but my body was craving some ohms and asanas when I woke up.  That's the beauty of the P90X3 series...they get the good stuff in and they get it in quick.  This yoga video has a few basic poses for strength, a few for balance, and some great stretches toward the end.  

Week 6 finished with 37 miles and considerably less soreness in the hip than what it started with, and leaving me to wonder what kind of fun Week 7 has in store for me.