A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Run Back

Some things work better when you surround them with a circle, too.

Last night (Wednesday) was a week since I first felt the pain in my knee. On the advice of pretty much everyone I waited a full week before running (minus the three minutes I cheated and did on the treadmill at the gym on Monday).

Even though track is on Wednesday nights I knew better than to go out so hard on my first run back after a week. Especially since I wasn't sure how my knee would fare. Instead, I decided to do my old 5 mile route.

I got home from work earlier than usual which meant running a little earlier than usual. I'd hoped that this would mean fewer stops for traffic but, sadly, I think I had MORE stops!

I wore my knee strap and the knee felt pretty good for the first few miles. It started to get a little achy around mile 3 but nothing like the debilitating pain I experienced when it first started acting up. I think the knee strap definitely made a difference.

I also noticed that it got crankier when I got tired and my form started to deteriorate. This means the last few miles of the marathon should be interesting.

My pace was probably a little faster than it should have been, too. It just felt so good to get out there and run!

Today, though, my knee feels tight and creaky. I'm not as worried about how it will feel during the marathon (although I'd still like to be more pain free than I currently am) but I'm more worried about after. I've been so lucky with injuries that I don't even know what to do in terms of running with one. I guess go to the doctor and get an actual physical therapist recommendation. I suppose I'll worry about that after I'm done with the 26.2.


Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:09/29/10Up/Downhill: [+114/-114]
Time:04:58 PMDifficulty:2.0 / 5.0

Distance: 5.01 miles
Speed:6.0 mph
Pace:10' 01 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 14+0' 135.9-0.1+3 ft
29' 33-0' 286.3+0.3+10 ft
39' 49-0' 126.1+0.10 ft
410' 17+0' 165.8-0.2-9 ft
59' 56-0' 056.0+0.0-4 ft
end11' 40+1' 395.1-0.90 ft
Versus average of 10' 01 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

When a Runner Can't Run

So what have I been up to since I'm still resting?

Sleeping in!


Spending quality time with the escalator to nowhere.




Attending birthday parties


Going out to dinner


Doing yard work

Going grocery shopping

Drinking wine

Hey, not running equals resting in my book!

So, how about you? What do you do when you can't run?

Friday, September 24, 2010

And the PT Says

Can you guess what my injury is? Well, it's not IT band issues. It's not a stress fracture.

It's Patellar Tendonitis. Also known as "jumper's knee". I would get jumper's knee instead of runner's knee wouldn't I?

I'd self-diagnosed as having runner's knee but then, after some prompting from my husband, I decided to suck it up and actually make a doctor's appointment. Turns out there a chain of physical therapy offices here in Illinois called Athletico that offer FREE injury consultations. And there happens to be a location just down the street from where I do my track workouts.

I went there this afternoon for my screening. The physical therapist poked and prodded and flexed and pushed and concluded that my patellar tendon is inflamed. Why?

Probably because I quit taking Pilates and haven't done any strength training for a month. I knew that was going to come back and bite me in the butt. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now.

Anyway, she suggested I get a Chopat strap and fashioned a sample one out of this fabric-y tape stuff.

And she gave me some stretches and exercises to do.

Click picture to see full sized

So I will be continuing to ice and stretch and picking up one of those Chopat straps. And probably going back to Pilates. I probably won't try running again until Wednesday and even then I'm probably done with speed work. The good news is, though, that the PT thinks I'll be able to run the marathon because I caught this issue early.

But keep those fingers crossed! I'm off to ice.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New News

I'm writing this post after my failed attempt at my Wednesday night track workout.

Except it wasn't my left quad that gave me trouble.

The quad felt a little tight but not painful. My right knee, on the other hand, hurt from the moment I started my warm-up run. By the end of the first half of my second 800 pain was radiating up and down my leg and I felt like my knee was going to buckle.

I tried not to freak out. My coach massaged it for me and I kept moving and trying to jog a little bit. I couldn't even make it 100 meters before the pain reappeared.

So now I'm home with a bag of ice Ace bandaged to it. I've foam rolled and stretched. I've taken some Advil. It still aches when I put too much weight on it. And I'm covered in mosquito bites from where they attacked me while I wasn't moving.

I managed to last through a one mile warm-up, one 1600 at 8:16, and one 800 at 3:57. And, of course, that last 400 meters but I forgot to stop my Garmin as I hobbled across the line.

I don't know what happened. Sure, this knee was a little stiff after my 20 miler but I didn't think it was anything serious.

I'm trying so hard to think positive thoughts. I know it's no fun to read emo, depressing posts. I know some of you worry about me. But, to be honest, I'm scared. I'm crying. I'm worried.

Dammit, this had better get better in 17 days. Jason assures me I will finish this marathon and I know I will. Just, like I said earlier, I didn't want to do it in pain. Everything has been going so well. What did I do wrong?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three Things Tuesday

Instead of running last night I bought this compression thigh sleeve at Sports Authority using my 10% off coupon. I wore it around the house for several hours before bed. When I went to bed I rubbed a small amount of Biofreeze into the sore area. My leg feels much better today. It's probably at about 85%.

While at Sports Authority I remembered I was out of Body Glide. I went on the hunt for some but all I could find was the Body Glide "for her". I'm 99.9% sure this is identical to regular Body Glide just with a pink cap the word "bra" on the packaging. It probably costs more, too. The wonders of marketing.

My marathon participant confirmation booklet arrived yesterday. I'm a little terrified to open it. It reminds me of the first day of class when the teacher hands you the syllabus and you get totally overwhelmed by hearing about all the things you'll need to do. Or is that just me?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Epic 20 Miler is Epic

That's the "after" photo up there of my running buddy Jacob and me. So obviously I survived my first 20 miler and I survived well enough to have a smile on my face. I suppose the fact that I'm making this post also means I survived. But there was a point when I wasn't so sure and, amazingly, it had nothing to do with the actual running.

Several other OPRC members were doing this same training run so I arranged a carpool to the run site. Once we were there I met up with Kim to get my bib. Even though it wasn't a race they still wanted us to have bibs so they could identify who was participating.

Kim and I met another blogger who Kim had been corresponding with and I saw a coworker who just the day before I had discovered was also training for Chicago.

Blogger Bobbi, Kim, and me

Kim, Jacob, and I joined our pace group shortly after 7AM and soon we were off. Although Kim and I originally planned to run this together Jacob was closer to my pace so we ended up way ahead. I felt horrible but thankfully Kim struck up a conversation with another woman in our pace group and ran with her for much of the run. Also, because the run had several out-and-back sections we were able to see each other a few times. Also, Kim was able to get some great photos which I am shamelessly using.

Such as this one:

For the first few miles Jacob and I were sticking with our pace group passing people as they slowed down. We were using the pacer to keep us from going out too fast and I say it worked. We were chatting about all sorts of stuff since it had been awhile since we'd run together and although we both has our iPods at the ready neither of us ever used them. Instead our conversation make the miles fly by. Seriously, I've never had a run go by so quickly. Before I knew it we were near mile 8 and we were passing our pace group.

And then we were at the half way point where we discovered that they don't call that particular suburb Elk Grove for no good reason.

There really are elk! Quite a few of them, actually. I have to thank the run organizers for designing the course so that we passed the elk at the halfway point and then again just before the finish. They were a nice distraction. And I kind of needed one.

My breathing felt fine but my left quadricep had developed a strange pain. It was nothing I'd ever experienced before and I was really confused about why it was showing up now, in the middle of the run. I tried to push it out of my mind and didn't even mention it out loud until around mile 14.

We took a few walk breaks, mostly through water stops. I didn't stick to my "1 minute walk every 3 miles" plan and instead walked when Jacob wanted water or Gatorade. I did walk for a bit when I took my Shot Bloks at mile 6 and mile 12 but otherwise it was up to Jacob. We were clipping along at a great pace and other than my quad I felt pretty good so I didn't mind.

Until mile 17. Although the run organizer had assured us that the storms brewing in the area should miss us it started spitting rain around mile 15. It started raining heavier at mile 16 and we started to see some flashes of in-cloud lightening. The sky got dark and the woods we were running through got creepier and creepier. Then, just after we passed the aid station at mile 17 we emerged onto an open field and just to our left, probably a mile or two away, a huge bolt of cloud-to-ground lightening lit up the sky and shook the area.

Jacob and I immediately came to a halt. We were standing on a path in an open field. It was pouring rain. "This is what I get for running on Yom Kippur," Jacob commented. We debated: continue on and get done sooner or turn around and run back to the shelter we'd just passed.

We decided to take shelter. So we ran back the tenth of a mile and crowded together with some other people under a tent. Probably only marginally safer than being out in the open field but at least the EMT guys were right there. We saw quite a few other people (including Kim) run by braving the storm but we waited until the worst of the storm passed. All in all it was probably no more than 10 minutes.

Those 10 minutes though, they were killer. When we started back up our shoes were soaked, the bottom of my right foot ached, and Jacob said he knees were getting sore. Still, we pushed on. At mile 19 Jacob had to take a longer walk break. We walked for a minute or two and then starting running as we came upon the elk grove.

Have you ever heard the sound an elk makes? It's called a bugle. And it's rather otherworldly.

"What is that noise?" I said to Jacob as we ran past.

"It's the elk!"

I was probably a little loopy at that point but hearing an elk's bugle for the first time made me so giddy that when I saw the bridge that indicated the finish was near I practically grabbed Jacob and screamed, "There's the bridge. THERE'S THE BRIDGE!"

And on the other side of the bridge was a woman standing there congratulating us on finishing. The finish was rather anticlimactic but since I was riding my post-run high I didn't care. In fact, instead of immediately pouncing on the food I walked back out on the path to look for Kim. When I saw her on the bridge I ran toward her and held her hand as we ran to the finish together.

Bedraggled, wet, cold, and tired (but still giddy) I met up with the rest of the OPRC group, scarfed down my post-run hot dogs and made my way back to the cars. I could have stayed longer to chat with people but since everyone else in the carpool group finished before me they wanted to get going. I think this photo sums up how each of us was feeling.

When Kim and I got back to my house we both took nice, hot showers. And that's when I discovered, painfully, I had a new running souvenir:

Fuel belt chafing! Ouch! Guess I know where else I need to lube up for the marathon!

Sadly, the chafe mark was not my only souvenir. My left quad is still painful two days later. Dr. Google indicates I may have strained it. I've been icing it and resting with fingers crossed it gets better ASAP. Tonight, instead of running, I'll be purchasing some kind of compression mechanism to help speed recovery. So, please, think good thoughts that this is just one of my random, short-term twinges that goes away in a few days.

Now I know I can definitely finish this marathon. There's no doubt in my mind. I'd just rather I do it as pain-free as possible.


Route:--Elev. Avg:703 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:+3 ft
Date:09/18/10Up/Downhill: [+452/-449]
Time:07:13 AMDifficulty:3.6 / 5.0

Distance: 20.28 miles
Speed:5.8 mph
Pace:10' 22 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 45+0' 235.6-0.2-9 ft
210' 08-0' 145.9+0.1-23 ft
310' 28+0' 065.7-0.1+3 ft
410' 21-0' 015.8+0.0+6 ft
510' 29+0' 075.7-0.1-9 ft
610' 15-0' 075.8+0.1+13 ft
710' 39+0' 175.6-0.2-3 ft
810' 18-0' 045.8+0.0-7 ft
910' 26+0' 045.8-0.0+16 ft
1010' 17-0' 055.8+0.0+16 ft
1110' 25+0' 035.8-0.0-6 ft
1210' 26+0' 045.8-0.0-10 ft
139' 48-0' 346.1+0.3-16 ft
1410' 10-0' 125.9+0.1+30 ft
1510' 23+0' 015.8-0.0-27 ft
1610' 36+0' 145.7-0.1+26 ft
1710' 15-0' 075.8+0.1-30 ft
1810' 22+0' 005.8-0.0+3 ft
1910' 07-0' 155.9+0.1+26 ft
2010' 41+0' 195.6-0.2-6 ft
end9' 10-1' 126.5+0.8+10 ft
Versus average of 10' 22 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On and Off Track

If my warm-up last night had been any indication of how track was going to go I probably should have just stayed home. My knees felt horrible, my calves were tight, my right hip was achy, and the bottom of my right foot felt like there was some kind of rubber band in it that didn't want to stretch quite right.

I told myself I would take it easy but then, of course, our coach said that now that we're getting closer to race day we should ramp up the speed. Blugh.

And, of course, there was still a soccer game going on at the track's infield so we had to run our four mile repeats at the park before being allowed on the track for our final 4x400s.

Strangely, even after my horrible warm-up, I felt strong for my first mile and all my aches went away.

Warm-up - .82 miles @ 10:40 pace

Lap 1 - 1 mile in 7:39
Lap 2 - .98 miles in 7:42
Lap 3 - .97 miles in 7:40
Lap 4 - .97 miles in 7:55

Walk to track

1st 400 - 1:43
2nd 400 - 1:44
3rd 400 - 1:45
4th 400 - 1:44

I'm a little skeptical of that first mile time. It's what the Garmin says but, really? Really? If that's true then that's the fastest full mile I've ever run in my life. Coming off a half marathon PR and an 8+ mile run that felt like crap.

How very strange.

The last mile felt rough. I could tell I'd slowed down but at least I came in under 8 and that was good enough for the coach.

Once we arrived on the track for the second half of our workout my knees once again began to protest. But as soon as I was running they calmed down. It was weird to run on the track. We haven't run there for the past two workouts so I'd completely forgotten how to pace myself. Obviously, though, I seemed to do okay since my times were so consistent. I really concentrated on pumping my arms. Made me realize I need to do some more upper body strength training! My arms were getting tired by the end.

It was almost dark by the time we were finishing up and for some reason the track isn't turning on their lights. The rumor is they were damaged during July's flooding and haven't been fixed yet. I hope they get them fixed soon! Also, I hope the mosquitoes die off ASAP. I think I got 6 bites as soon as I stopped moving.

And speaking of stopping moving, I'm taking today and Friday off. My legs are sore, the bottom of my right foot still feels weird, and I'm so exhausted I can barely think straight. I just hope that Saturday morning I get a second wind so that I do my very first 20 mile run feeling strong. Wish me luck!

Note: I'm only posting this for the map which I think it hilarious since I ran in three separate places last night.

Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:+3 ft
Date:09/15/10Up/Downhill: [+55/-52]
Time:06:09 PMDifficulty:2.1 / 5.0

Distance: 5.78 miles
Speed:7.4 mph
Pace:8' 06 /mi

Posted from bimactive.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not So GR8


Ever have one of those runs where the entire time you're thinking to yourself "I really shouldn't be running?"

I totally had one of those last night.

My marathon training plan called for 8 miles at a 9:30 pace for Monday. I decided that after running a new PR in a half marathon the day before I'd take Monday off and run on Tuesday. When I got home from work on Tuesday I tried to pump myself up by putting on my running clothes and flexing in the mirror.

But my Garmin was having issues finding a satellite. My knees felt achy. The side of my big toe on my right foot hurt. My chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it. I forgot to put on chapstick and my lips felt like gummy sandpaper. My legs felt like they were made of lead.

I could not wait to be done with this run.

Also, I think I hit traffic at almost every intersection. I'm not sure I ran one uninterrupted mile the entire time. Not only did that screw with my times, it also made it difficult to find a pace and settle in. Just when I thought I might be breaking through the blahness of the run I'd have to stop for cars.

Plus, I decided not to run with music since I'd be running alone and it would be getting dark before I got home. Listening to myself struggle to breathe and having not much to distract me from the random aches and pains didn't help matters either.

And here's a question. Have you ever run your regular running route backwards? Normally on this route I only go east on Thomas St. Last night I double-backed that way so that I went west. A street looks entirely different when you're running the opposite direction! I kept having to slow down to glance at street signs to make sure I wasn't totally lost.

Still, I did the entire 8 miles even though it wasn't as fast as I would have liked. I just kept telling myself that this was the last weeknight 8 miler I had to run and I wasn't going to cut it short.

Although, honestly, it was one of those runs where the entire time I was thinking "Two days ago I ran how far how fast??? Why does this feel so horrible right now?" A smidge of over training perhaps? I think I'd better get some more sleep before Saturday.


Route:--Elev. Avg:625 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+3 ft
Date:09/14/10Up/Downhill: [+42/-39]
Time:06:06 PMDifficulty:2.3 / 5.0

Distance: 8.20 miles
Speed:5.9 mph
Pace:10' 09 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 55-0' 146.0+0.1+6 ft
210' 16+0' 075.8-0.1+6 ft
39' 38-0' 316.2+0.3-6 ft
49' 45-0' 246.2+0.2-3 ft
510' 13+0' 045.9-0.0+6 ft
69' 45-0' 246.2+0.2+3 ft
711' 05+0' 565.4-0.5-6 ft
810' 14+0' 055.9-0.1-6 ft
end9' 43-0' 266.2+0.3+3 ft
Versus average of 10' 09 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicago Half Marathon Race Report

I know, the suspense is killing you. Did I break 2:10? Did I get a new PR? What happened??? I promise to tell you if you promise to keep reading after I do. Okay?


Official race time?


Not only did I break 2:10, but I blew my old PR out of the water by almost 9 minutes and I came thisclose to breaking 2 hours!

And it didn't even feel that hard. But let me back up.

Race weekend events did not get off to an auspicious start. Due to a snafu with packet pick-up on Friday I had to go back to the packet pick up location on Saturday. Wearing shoes that were not designed for hiking all the way to and from the far east end of Navy Pier. When I finally got home I realized I had two huge blisters on the insides of my heels. The night before the race. Great. I drained them, slatered on Neosporin, and hoped they wouldn't give me trouble the next day.

I ate my new favorite pre-race meal (pasta with roasted broccoli and walnuts with chicken sausage and parmesean cheese) but when I went to bed at 9:30 PM my stomach was still rumbling. I've discovered that the key to a good morning run is eating A LOT the night before so at 10 PM I got back out of bed and downed a Clif bar and some pretzels. And some more water.

My alarm went off at 4 AM and I jumped out of bed. Got dressed and ate my bagel with peanut butter. Amazingly I wasn't as groggy as I thought. I drove to the carpool location, picked up my riders, and off we went. Except we didn't go more than half a mile before I saw flashing lights in the rearview mirror.

Yes, I got pulled over. By a cop. For not having my headlights on. Which is totally strange because I NEVER turn my headlights off. I blame my husband. He drove my car last. Thankfully the officer just double checked my insurance, ran my license, and let me go. That's one way to get the pre-race adrenaline flowing!

We arrived at the race super early, parked, hiked about a mile in the dark to the gear check/race prep area and did our best to find the rest of our group. We were only marginally successful. One good thing about getting to the race so early was that there was little to no line for the portapotty. So, I used it. We waited awhile before checking our gear since it was downright chilly and we wanted to keep on our jackets. Plus, I wanted to wait until about 45 minutes before race time to eat another Clif bar.

After checking my gear and hitting the portapotty one last time I found where I wanted to stand in the starting corrals. I positioned myself near what I determined to be the midway point between the 2:00 and 2:10 signs. All by my lonesome I did some stretches and tried to ignore the leg aches I was feeling. My left shin was also not happy about hiking all over hill and dale in those shoes the day before.

The next 30 minutes went by quickly and before I knew it they were singing the national anthem and we were off. Well, we walked briskly for almost 10 minutes before we reached the actual start line and then we were off.

(Note: my personal race photographer was not available so I have no photos of me actually running. Unless the race photographers got any and I feel like paying for them later.)

At Tuesday's running club meeting someone mentioned that at the full marathon you shouldn't waste energy dodging people at the beginning. I decided to employ this strategy and only went around people when I was right on their heels and couldn't get between them. It seemed to work as it kept me from going out too fast and feeling like death after the first 3 miles.

Most of the race itself is a blur. I had my headphones on and I was doing my best to ignore everyone around me. I wore my fuel belt with one bottle of water and one bottle of Gatorade so I was able to skip the aid stations. At the 10K mark I considered walking so I could take my Clif Shot Blox but instead I figured out how to take them while still running. I wasn't looking at my current pace on the Garmin and I only occasionally looked at my average pace. Imagine my surprise when I looked down to see it was at 9:21 and then later 9:16!

"You've got under 2:10 in the bag," I thought. "You could slow down if you wanted." But I ignored that voice and decided I would try to hold on as long as I could and see just how far under 2:10 I could get.

I read some funny signs ("My girlfriend is the hot one"), some sweet signs ("Did I ever tell you you're my hero?"), passed a guy in a frog costume and a guy dressed like a flamingo. Listened to a high school drum corps and got cheered on by the cheerleaders from the university where I work.

And just kept running.

Around mile 10 I walked through part of an aid station and refilled my water bottle. I didn't know if I'd need more water but I'd rather have it just in case. I was alternating sips of Gatorade and water every mile just like I do on my training runs and it was working perfectly. The few times I did catch my mile splits I was amazed that they were around 9:00 or faster. "Am I really running that hard?" I'd think.

Apparently this course is kind of hilly but I didn't notice until near mile 11. Then we hit a bridge that just about killed me. Still, I kept on going, passed one of my coworkers on the downward side, and realized that while I was getting tired, I didn't feel like I wanted to walk. Not once.

When we hit the 1/2 mile to go sign I desperately tried to look at the time on my watch and do the math. I couldn't, though. So, I just tried to run a little bit faster. I was pretty wiped, though, but I swear I tried! Then we rounded a corner and I could finally see the finish line! I was finally able to pick up the pace and I charged to the finish.

One bottle of water, one medal, and one chocolate chip cookie later I was meeting up with the running group who convinced me to get my official results printed out just in case my Garmin, which said 2:01:24, was off. Instant official results? Isn't technology amazing?

Except that as soon as I stepped up to the table all the computers froze.

Thankfully they got it straightened out and I got my sticker and my official 2:01:21 time. I was ecstatic! Still am, actually.

Actually, several people in our group had good races. Several PRs, one time that means a New York Marathon qualification, and general decent runs. It really was a great day for racing.

I can't wait to get under 2:00. Give me another day like this one and perhaps a slightly less crowded race and I'll be all over that. Just you wait!


Route:--Elev. Avg:589 ft
Location:Chicago / Northerly Island, ILElev. Gain:+13 ft
Date:09/12/10Up/Downhill: [+291/-278]
Time:07:10 AMDifficulty:3.1 / 5.0

Distance: 13.17 miles
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 13 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 02+0' 496.0-0.50 ft
29' 45+0' 326.2-0.40 ft
39' 33+0' 206.3-0.2+3 ft
49' 17+0' 046.5-0.00 ft
59' 05-0' 086.6+0.10 ft
68' 58-0' 156.7+0.2-4 ft
78' 59-0' 146.7+0.2+4 ft
88' 53-0' 206.8+0.20 ft
99' 00-0' 136.7+0.20 ft
109' 11-0' 026.5+0.00 ft
119' 00-0' 136.7+0.2-3 ft
129' 07-0' 066.6+0.10 ft
138' 50-0' 236.8+0.3+4 ft
end8' 25-0' 487.1+0.6+10 ft
Versus average of 9' 13 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com