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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Gift to Myself

No, no, I didn't get a dog for Christmas. I wish. Actually, I only wish if it was this pup pictured above. That's Dozer, my sister-in-law's dog. He's two year old Catahoula leopard dog mix and he's as sweet as can be.

Even though I'm taking a break from hardcore running I knew I wanted to get in a run while I was visiting Jason's family in St. Louis over Christmas. Why? Well, it occurred to me that I'd never run in Missouri in all the years we've been celebrating holidays at my sister-in-law's.

Plus, the weather was AMAZING over the weekend. It was 50 degrees and sunny on Christmas day. Did I need any other excuse to go for a short run?

I asked my SIL if I could take Dozer for a run with me and she said yes. For never having run with a person before Dozer did great. We did 4.5 miles with a short break around mile 2. I'd scouted out a route via Google Maps/Gmap Pedometer the night before so I leashed up the pup and off we went.

The first mile was a little speedy since Dozer was excited but then we settled into a nice pace. It reminded me of running with Trinka Deu.

The hills, though. Oh, the hills! In case you didn't know, St. Louis and the surrounding area are hilly. I think I avoided some of the biggest ones but there were still a few that were less than pleasant. Funnily enough, Dozer tackled those hills like a champ.

My left leg was a little sore post-run but I'm definitely glad I went. And Dozer? I think he enjoyed it.

Christmas in St. Louis by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Hips Don't Lie

I've mentioned in a few posts that I had an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon today to discuss options for my left hip labral tear.

Well, just as you would expect when seeing a surgeon, he recommended surgery.

In fact, he told me that since the labrum is cartilage and basically has no blood supply it won't heal on it's own. He also said that most people wait YEARS before they end up in his office. So, yay for me only taking one year?

On one hand, I'm relieved that they think they can fix this. On the other hand, I've never done anything this major to myself and I really REALLY didn't want to end up here.

And where is here?

  • Laproscopic surgery, tentatively scheduled for January 24th.

  • Six weeks of wearing a hip brace

  • Physical therapy starting the day after surgery

  • Elliptical and bike (and maybe swimming) only starting at 10 weeks

  • Slightly more activity starting at 12-16 weeks

  • No running until at least the 20 week mark and probably more like 9 to 10 months post-surgery

  • Of course, I've been scaring myself silly reading other people's forum posts about this surgery and the recovery. People who say it hurts worse after the surgery. People who say they aren't better after a year or more. I know I should stop reading these.

    I'm trying to take comfort in the fact that there are plenty runners out there that have recovered from major injuries. Beth at Shut Up and Run. Ashley at Healthy Ashley. And I'm sure there are others out there.

    I'm trying to remind myself that I want a lifetime of fitness and that it doesn't all have to happen RIGHT NOW. If I take some time off it's not the end of the world. Yes, I'll have to work on coming back to my post-injury self but that will just be another challenge to tackle.

    Of course, that doesn't mean I'm looking forward to wearing a brace (I see a lot of dresses in my future. That thing is UGLY as sin) or not seeing my running friends every Monday and Saturday. I'm also not looking forward to defending my decision. I've tried PT. I've tried a chiropractor. I've tried ART. Do I want surgery? No. Do I think I need it? Sadly, yes.

    So, that's where I am.

    Pardon me while I go through the Stages of Injury.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Weekly Workout Wround Ups

    December 5th - December 19th

    December 5th - December 11th

    I did absolutely nothing. I didn't run. I didn't strength train. I didn't cross train. Active recovery post-marathon? What's that?

    December 12th - December 18th

    I ran 5.5 miles on Monday and then did 40 minutes on the elliptical followed by a tiny bit of strength training (planks, crunches, push-ups) on Thursday.

    I also spent a good portion of last week/weekend working on my race scrapbook. Considering I currently feel like a bloated flabby whale looking at photos of myself from earlier in the year when I had defined arm and leg muscles and a flatter stomach was a little disheartening.

    I'm trying not to feel too down right now. The "I'm no longer training for a marathon" diet starts after the holidays. I'm not crazy enough to start that when I'll be traveling and eating out! And hopefully soon I'll figure out what exercises don't aggravate my left hip/quad. 40 minutes on the elliptical left me feeling pretty sore so that might be crossed off the list for a while, too.

    Fingers crossed this funk lifts soon.

    Total mileage: 5.5 miles

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Them's the Breaks

    Last night I ran for the first time since the Las Vegas Marathon. I did 5.5 miles with my running group. The first mile or two felt pretty good. It felt good to be out there. But I think I was running too fast and I was totally overdressed. Still, I finished 5.5 miles at a 9:30 pace with minimal left leg discomfort. My hip was a little achy for the rest of the evening but it feels better after a night of sleep.

    Which leads me to my next though: taking a break. Obviously I've pushed my body hard this year. I've run lots of PRs, two marathons, and 30 races total. I've been dealing with left leg issues since the end of January and while I've been able to run through them I'm pretty sure my body needs some time to heal. Plus, I've got an appointment with a surgeon to talk about my labral tear on December 21st.

    So it was rather timely that this month's issue of Runners' World had an article about how to scale back your running during the holiday season. Because that's exactly what I plan to do.

    I took 7 full days off running after Las Vegas. I'll probably take another 7 full days off running in the near future. I'll be visiting my mom for the rest of the week and she has an elliptical that I plan to use a few times.

    I have a Groupon for a month of unlimited yoga that I plan to use. There are some classes at my gym I want to try. And if I can get up the courage and find a time that works with my schedule, I'm going to try some swimming. Gulp.

    I'll probably throw in some light strength training, too, if I can figure out what works for me. I do have another CrossFit coupon that I'd love to use but we'll have to see if it aggravates anything.

    Some of this is dependent on what the surgeon says next week but I'm hopeful that I can find something that will keep me fit but let me heal. There might be some trial and error but and I'm a little weirded out to deviate so much from the schedule I've been sticking two for the past year. But I'm also looking forward to trying something a little different. Who knows? Maybe it will be awesome.

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Weekly Workout Wround Up

    November 28 - December 4

    Nov 28

    Rest day. I went to the running store to buy some Clif Shot Blocks and drop off something for one of my running club buddies and was sad to see everyone else running. I'm just trying to baby this weird ass pain/quad soreness I've got going on. That is, an actual pain in my ass, not a "weird-ass" pain. Please get better!

    Nov 29

    More rest. Although I was distracted by having dinner with two of the gals from the running club.

    Nov 30

    1.77 miles only so that I could break 100 miles for the month of November.

    Dec 1

    Another rest day.

    Dec 2

    Travel Day! I worked for part of the day and then hopped on a plane to Las Vegas around 6:00 PM.

    Dec 3

    One heck of a chilly, windy run up and down the sidewalks of the Las Vegas Strip. I managed just over 3 miles including up and down stairs, people dodging, and ducking in and out of casinos. The Strip isn't too busy at 9:30 AM but by the time I got back to my hotel it was becoming a sea of people.

    Vegas Warm Up Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    At one point a hilarious street performer started running alongside me with his potbelly hanging out of a stomach-less unitard. He couldn't keep up for very long :-)

    Dec 4

    Las Vegas Marathon!!!

    Not only will I have the memories of this race, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have some permanent reminders as well.

    No, not the tattoo. I've had that years. I mean, the chafe marks! I completely forget to use Body Glide under my fuel belt and this was the result. Yes, it still hurts. And, yes, it may necessitate a tattoo touch-up in the future.

    Interestingly enough, that's the only lasting injury I seem to have. The marathon didn't aggravate my hip, my shin, my quad, my ass or my knee. None of those seem to be any worse for wear after running my fastest 26.2 miles ever.

    Total running mileage: 31.05

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Las Vegas Marathon Race Report

    So, you all know by now that I ran the Las Vegas Marathon on Sunday. My third marathon ever and my second this year. But did you know I ran it as part of a wedding party?

    Yes, two of my friends from my running club were married 10 years ago in Las Vegas after running the Las Vegas Marathon. So for their 10th anniversary they decided to go back and run the race just like the did last time. They invited us all to join them as they ran the race and renewed their vows at the on-course ceremony.

    Well, I'm not quite fast enough to have made it to the ceremony, but I heard it was lovely.

    I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

    Jason and I arrived in Vegas on Friday night and took it easy on Friday and Saturday. I met up with my friend, W, who was also in Vegas as a race spectator. She's cheered for me at my first 5K, my first half marathon, and this year when I broke 2 hours in the half marathon for the first time. But this time she had a special treat for me:

    How awesome is that??? Sadly, I didn't get to see her on the course so I'm thankful she took a picture and shared it with me.

    On Sunday afternoon, after taking "wedding" pictures our group trooped through the Venetian in search of a shuttle bus to take us to the start line at Mandalay Bay. We finally found one even though I had to sit on Jason's lap the whole way.

    The shuttle bus dropped us off on what felt like the opposite side of the world from where we needed to be so we navigated our way through the hotel and finally found gear check. I left my stuff with Jason, though, so I wouldn't have to deal with the lines.

    Oh yeah, did I mention that this race had 44,000 people signed up if you add the full and the half marathon together? That's as many as Chicago in a much smaller space.

    Maribeth and I were planning to run together and she'd made some last minute adjustments to our starting corral. Suddenly we were standing in Corral 2. As in, up with the super fast people within spitting distance of the start line. Kind of freaky but exciting! We almost got interviewed by a local news channel since were standing with our "bride and groom" but it didn't work out. Sad.

    The race started a few minutes late with an underwhelming starting pistol. Come on! It's Vegas! You couldn't get a lion out there to roar or something?

    Anyway, Maribeth and I turned a corner almost immediately and there was Jason!

    I hadn't seen him at the start of either of my other two marathons and Maribeth said it was a good omen that I saw him at the start of this one.

    The sun was slowly setting as we started on our first 13 miles. My left hip was kind of achy and I wasn't feeling too great but we were going at a pretty quick clip. I tried to slow down some but my legs just wanted to go. We twisted and turned through warehouses and business parks (and the Hustler store). Every so often we'd turn toward Mandalay Bay and you could see the setting sun turning it into a gold monolith. Pretty. It was probably a good thing, though, that this race was at night because this part of the course UGLY. The most memorably thing (other than the Hustler store) was the massive hill just after mile 7.

    I only walked for about 30 seconds just after the 10K mark and I worried that not taking my walk breaks might be a mistake. But, I felt pretty good all things considered.

    I was having some mild intestinal distress and I debated stopping to use a port-a-potty. When I only saw one at mile 12, though, I figured I'd wait until we got back to the Strip. My pace was good, my hip was hurting less, and I didn't have to use one that bad.

    We turned onto the Strip and started merging with the half marathoners. We knew we weren't going to make it to the on-course ceremony at mile 15 since we only had 10 minutes to spare and 2 miles until we got there. Also, when I saw the lines at the next port-a-potty near mile 14 I realized I didn't have to use one anymore. Score!

    By this time it was dark and I wasn't sure how Jason was going to see me. Sure, I had on a blinking LED ring but otherwise he was just going to have to rely on the lights of the Strip. I knew he'd be somewhere between mile 14 and 16 and then suddenly there he was!

    I was still feeling super strong at this point. When Maribeth stopped to find some on-course fuel near mile 16 I kept going. The aid stations on the course were total chaos with marathoners and half marathoners all trying to get to them at once on one side of the street.

    At this point the course was getting more and more crowded. I was dodging people all over the place as people on bikes rode down the center of the lanes yelling "Half marathoners to the right, marathoners to the left!" I had to cut a few corners because the crowd was so thick around the turns there was no option but to hop up on the sidewalk. I figured all the dodging I was doing would more than make up for the little bit of corner cutting.

    I still hadn't walked other than at the 10K mark and once for a few seconds while Maribeth got water earlier on. I was drinking water from my fuel belt and occasionally trying to grab one at an aid station. I'd taken a few Shot Bloks (with caffeine) but I didn't really feel like I needed them. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I had two meals in my system already. The benefit of an evening race, at least for me.

    Around mile 19, though, I started to get a killer headache. My irritation at all the people surrounding me began to rise and I just wanted to scream "GET THE EFF OUT OF MY WAY!" I promised myself that if I made it to mile 20 I could run-walk my way to the finish. Which is what I did. When I reached the mile 20 sign I pulled over to the side and walked for a few seconds. I looked over at another guy who did the same thing and said, "I promised myself I could walk if I made it to 20." He laughed and said, "So did I".

    The course at this point wasn't particularly nice. We'd left the fun lights of the Strip but weren't quite in the historic downtown area of Vegas. Row after row of sketchy furniture stores, houses with bars on the windows and barking dogs in the front yards, and bail bond shops lined the route. Even the darkness couldn't hide the ugliness.

    But I only had 6 more miles. I decided I'd run until I saw the next mile marker and then walk for a few seconds. I still couldn't find my groove because of all the people and at one point I almost got clotheslined by a woman reaching across the course to high five a spectator. Gah!!!

    Somewhere near mile 21 I heard someone behind me. "Pace group coming through! Make a hole!" I turned on a guy running next to me. "What pace group is that?"

    "4:15," he said.

    Are you serious? Did I really stay ahead of the 4:15 pace group until mile 21? I had a fleeting image of sticking with them for the last 5 miles but knew it wasn't going to happen as they pulled away from me.

    Around mile 23 I looked up and realized that my some of my "bridal party" was right in front of me taking a walk break. I never in a million trillion years thought I would catch up to them. They're sub-4:00 marathoners! But they were taking this one easy. "Go on!" they shouted. "You look great!!"

    I still felt pretty great and that adrenaline boost was awesome. In fact, the adrenaline of the whole race was probably the only thing that kept my mind off the fact that my under arms and under my fuel belt were chafing all to hell even with the Vaseline I tried to slather on somewhere around mile 20 or 21. My speed burst lasted until mile 24 when I took a fairly extended walk break to drink two cups of water. I wanted to give those last few miles my all. Plus, most of the water stations looked abandoned and bombed out so I had to walk almost the full length of one to find someone who actually had water.

    The Mandalay Bay loomed in the night sky and it felt like it was never going to get closer. Finally, we turned a corner and followed a driveway to the convention center area behind the hotel. I saw the finish line lit up and I pushed up a small hill. I could see the clock said 4:26:something and I threw my arms in the air.

    I'd done it. I'd broken 4:30 in a marathon. I was ecstatic. My legs, however, were pretty much done. I started to stumble and a lovely medical tent volunteer grabbed me right up. She gave me water and a salt packet and I started to feel a little better. I got my medal and found my friends who'd finished a few minutes behind me.

    Then the real "fun" began. We got our Mylar blankets and tried to find our way to the indoor gear check. The crowd was ridiculous. Hoards of people mobbing the food and water tables. The wind picked up and chilled us to the bone. There was a bottleneck at the post-race photo station that we managed to skirt around and then it was like a herd of cattle trying to move our way to the exit gate. Finally we made it inside where we found the rest of our party and tried to recover.

    I felt pretty "off". A little nauseous, very headachy, stiff, and cold. Jason played his spectator role flawlessly and made sure I got whatever I needed. After about an hour of recovering we ventured back outside with our Eagle Scout "groom" leading the way to the shuttle buses.

    Apparently if you read a lot of other race reports you'll see that the inside of the Mandalay Bay became standing room only with people passing out, puking, and a general scene of chaos. We missed all of that. We walked right outside, crossed the half marathon route, and got on a shuttle bus that took us back to the Venetian all in less than 30 minutes.

    This race definitely had some logistical problems that put a big black mark on a lot of people's experiences. I'm one of the few who managed to PR in that sea of runners and one of the few who apparently missed the chaos of exiting Mandalay Bay and finding a shuttle. The course, other than the Strip, isn't particularly scenic and even on the Strip you sometimes feel like you're running through a drunken frat party.

    All in all, though, it was a great weekend for me. Sure, I didn't have a typical Vegas experience as our post-race party involved sitting around with my friends in our comfy clothes drinking leftover champagne in a hotel suite but, to be honest, that was the perfect ending to the day. I ran this race to be with my friends and that's what I got.

    Well, that and a medal. And that medal? Yeah, it glows in the dark.

    Las Vegas Marathon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Las Vegas Marathon Preview

    Short version:

    I ROCKED this Rock n' Roll Marathon.

    Finish time? 4:26:56

    Yes, that is 10 minutes faster than my time at Milwaukee.

    Stay tuned for the whole story and some fun pictures!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    November Wrap- Up

    Ah, November. We've certainly had our ups and downs, haven't we?

    This time last year I was struggling to find my running mojo. This year I've had to keep my mileage up for the marathon that's taking place in three days.

    Last year I was dealing with the tail end of patellar tendonitis in my right knee. This year I've been diagnosed with a labral tear in my left hip, developed some ITB pain in my left knee, and, most recently, I'm struggling with soreness and pain in my left glute and left quad.

    Anyone have a left leg they're not using?

    This November I also ran two 5K distances that were drastically different. My first cross country race that left me wiped out and disappointed. Then a week later I ran a 5K PR that felt great.

    Yesterday I added up my running mileage for November and realized I was at 99.35. My original plan was to rest this entire week and maybe do an easy three miles on Saturday, i.e. the day before the Las Vegas Marathon. But, I admit, I wanted to hit 100 miles again this month. So, last night after work I did one loop around my neighborhood. So now my official total for November's running mileage is 101.12!

    Thankfully my left glute behaved itself. My left quad was okay except any time I had to go down or up a curb. I'll keep stretching and icing and foam rolling and asking it nicely to start acting right.

    So, November. Ups and downs.

    Monday, November 28, 2011


    This weekend I had two nightmares about the upcoming Las Vegas Marathon.

    Why am I having nightmares about this race when I had very little anxiety about Milwaukee?

    I think it's a combination of things.

    1. Milwaukee went so well that I'm a little afraid it was a fluke.

    2. My injuries are flaring up more now than they were before Milwaukee. I haven't been able to run as much as I did before Milwaukee.

    3. My only goal for Milwaukee was to break 5 hours. But if I didn't, I had plenty of time to finish the race.

    4. But Las Vegas has a (stupid) course limit of 4 hours and 30 minutes. You may recall I ran 4:36:58 in Milwaukee. So I have to shave 7 minutes off my PR in order to even finish before they shut down the course!

    I am so freaking anxious about this course limit thing that I'm debating dropping down to the half marathon.

    Both of my nightmares involved not finishing the race before the course time limit.

    If one more person asks me if I'm going to see any shows while I'm in Vegas I might scream. I just want to go and get this race over with. Celebrate my friends' 10 year wedding anniversary and come home. I'm beginning to think I'm not cut out for big production marathons. Give me a "down home" race any day. That's much more my speed.

    Weekly Workout Wround Up

    November 21 - November 27

    Nov 21

    After learning last week that doing a long run and a short fast run and then trying to run again on Monday night does not for a happy knee make, I decided to skip the Monday night run and do something else instead.

    Since I still can't fully strength train the way I want (stupid hip) I made up a routine with some moves I can do without aggravating my left leg too much. Shoulder presses, tricep extensions, stability ball crunches, bench presses, and a few other things. All in all I did about 30-40 minutes. I really miss strength training.

    Nov 22

    Kim and I bought a Groupon back before the Milwaukee Marathon that entitled us to 10 cardio fitness classes at a place near our offices but due to our schedules this Tuesday was the first night we could use them together.

    We showed up for the hour long cardio kickboxing class not really knowing what to expect. It's been a long time since I did cardio kickboxing. I miss it. I didn't realize how much I missed it until we started.

    About halfway through the hour-long, high-intensity class I thought I might keel over but I just reminded myself that I've run for longer than that and to suck it up. Plus, staring at my arm muscles in the mirror as they glistened with sweat was a nice distraction. Yes, I'm vain. So what?

    My body also missed hardcore aerobics classes. On Wednesday I was so sore I could barely move. But, hey, I've been looking for a way to work my glutes. I think I found it.

    Nov 23

    Kim and I were able to sneak out for a 5 mile run at lunch. I took her to Northerly Island and we kept up a pretty brisk pace considering we were both super-sore from the night before.

    Lunch Run w/Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Nov 24

    My running group did a Thanksgiving Morning run followed by coffee and camaraderie. I did 7 miles and the first few were rough. Sometimes I'm amazed that I ran 13.1 miles at a sub-9:00 minute pace when there are mornings when running 10:00 minute miles is a struggle.

    Nov 25

    Rest day. My family had our Thanksgiving Celebration on Friday afternoon so I took the opportunity to sleep in and try and let my body recover. It was still sore from Tuesday night!

    Nov 26

    The weather was miserable on Saturday so I decided to brave the treadmill in my basement. You may recall that this particular treadmill has been underwater a few times. It still works, it's just a little quirky.

    The biggest quirk I discovered? The speed buttons don't really correspond to the belt speed anymore. I hopped on the treadmill, pressed the button for 6.0 MPH (10:00 minute miles) and started jogging....as the belt went faster and faster and faster. Apparently the 6.0 button now equates to 9.0 MPH!

    Long story short, I had to run for time not for distance after lowering the speed to something more reasonable. I ended up running for 80 minutes which I'm figuring was around 8 miles.

    Nov 27

    Kim and I made plans to go bowling with our husbands. The last time we went bowling together I had to wear my knee strap as my right knee was acting up before the Chicago Marathon.

    This time it was my left glute that was acting up! It's been sore since Tuesday's cardio kickboxing class and the bowling motion made it flare up. I'm not a great bowler but I was bummed that I couldn't even attempt to have good bowling form lest the pain in my ass become worse.

    I bought a heating pad on the way home and basically sat on it all afternoon. I'll probably take a few days off from running since I'm now less than a week out from the Las Vegas Marathon.

    Total running mileage: approximately 20
    Total strength training sessions: 1
    Other cross-training: 1

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 5K Race Report

    In 2009 and 2010 I ran the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 10K and loved it. I've set two 10K PRs at this race AND I get the opportunity to indulge in post-race pancakes with my work running group buddies.

    This year I was torn between running the 10K and the 5K. I'd already PR'ed at the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K this year but I'd be thwarted at all of my 5K PR attempts since February.

    In the end, I decided to make that 5K my bitch. I registered the morning-of, which is one of the things I love about this race. They have all the perks of a big race (including expensive professional photos this year!) but all the atmosphere of a low-key race.

    My only concern was my knee. I didn't want to push it too hard and prolong my ITB issue. I mean, I do have a marathon in two weeks.

    But I just couldn't pass up running this race and seeing what I could do.

    I met up with some of my lunch time running group and we decided to do a warm-up. Well, their version of a warm-up is a little different than mine. They did about a quarter mile and called it a day. Uh, I thought, that's not going to work for me.

    So I handed off my jacket to Jason and took off for another mile or so. I didn't have a lot of time, though. The race started at 8:45 and it was already 8:30.

    I managed one more mile. It wasn't an encouraging mile. I picked it up towards the end at the 8:30 pace didn't feel so hot. How was I ever going to hold an 8:00 minute or faster pace for the race?

    By the time I got to the start line I had to weave my way through people to try and find a good starting spot. Of course, it doesn't really matter since the first half mile or so of this race is always crowded. I spent most of it dodging people.

    When my watch beeped at the Mile 1 marker I looked down to see 7:58. Hmmm, I thought. That might have been too fast. But maybe I can see if I can do all three miles in times that start with 7s. That would be a first for me. Why not?

    I saw Jason shortly after the mile marker and threw him my arm warmers. Even though I'd been freezing at the start line at this point I almost wished I was wearing a tank top.

    The 10K runners split off and I realized how happy I was to be running a 5K. I only had two more miles left and they had 5!

    By the way, 3.1 miles feels really short when you've been training for a marathon.

    I saw Jason again near the two mile mark but barely even looked over at him. I was really trying to push myself. It worked and I ran mile two in 7:50.

    Just one more mile, I thought to myself. You've probably got a PR in the bag if you don't lose it during this last mile. 8:00 minutes. That's all. You can do anything for 8:00 minutes.

    At one point I glanced down at my watch and saw my current pace in the 8:30 range. Nope, I thought. Not gonna work. You need to speed up. I'd fallen into the trap of just running and not pushing myself. So I pushed.

    With a quarter mile left to go I felt like I was going to puke. A woman in front of me was shouting to her running companion, "Come on! Almost there!" Since he was running next to me I turned to him and said, "Are you gonna let her beat you? Go on!" The fact that I was able to do this tells me I wasn't running hard enough. Good to know.

    Still, I rounded the corner to the finish line and pushed a little harder.

    Final finish time? 24:32! A 22 second PR and good enough for 5th in my age group (and, yes, there were more than 5 people in my age group).

    So the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot keeps its place as a PR race for me. But this year I didn't get my post-race pancakes. I got post-race matzah ball soup instead. And some of Jason's blueberry pancakes. What can I say? I like pancakes.

    Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 5K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Weekly Workout Wround Up

    November 14 - November 20

    Nov 14th

    7.25 miles that left me limping. Stupid stupid stupid.

    Nov 15th

    Rest day. I was supposed to attend a cardio kickboxing class but ended up canceling. Probably a good idea since my knee was still bothering me. I got a massage that seemed to help some but it was still sore.

    Nov 16th

    Rest...and foam roll....and ice....and stretch

    Nov 17th

    Rest rinse repeat

    Nov 18th

    Rest, rest, we must be at our best!

    Nov 19th

    After four days of rest I met Kim at Busse Woods Forest Preserve. You may remember Busse Woods from such posts as Epic 20 Miler is Epic and Bittersweet Sixteen. I'm not sure why I chose Busse as our meeting spot since both times I've run there something weird has happened but it IS conveniently located to both Kim and I.

    The curse of Busse was upon me, however, and when I arrived I discovered the bathrooms were closed for the season! I tried to hover in the woods but no dice. So, I started my 10+ mile run with a full bladder hoping for a port-a-potty.

    No matter how many times I look at the map for Busse I inevitably take a wrong turn and end up off the main loop. This time it was okay, though, because it lead me to a port-a-potty around mile 4.5. The rest of the run was much more comfortable after that. My knee felt pretty good, too.

    My original training plan had me doing 13 miles but I didn't want to push myself too much. In the end, we did 12 miles. Mostly so I could see the elk one more time.

    How many elk can you count in this picture?

    Click the picture to see larger

    Kim captioned this photo. It makes me laugh.

    Twelve with Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Nov 20th

    Lincolnwood Turkey Trot! One of my favorite races of the season. I usually do the 10K but this year decided to stick with the 5K. I'm really glad I made that decision. Stay tuned for the race report!

    Total running mileage: 23.44

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Random Raffle Result

    After the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K I filled out their online survey about the race. This apparently got me an entry into their participant raffle.

    Yesterday I received an email that I had won a raffle prize!


    Except, well, it's a "Rock N Roll Half Marathon Tech Shirt".

    Which Rock N Roll Half Marathon? I'm not sure. Maybe Chicago?

    Short-sleeved? Long-sleeved? Men's? Women's? Size? All unknowns.

    Not to mention that I've never even run a Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I'm not a HUGE fan of wearing shirts for races I didn't run or volunteer for. I have one exception: the 2010 Quarryman 10 shirt that a coworker gave me...it's perfect for biking.

    Oh, also, I can only pick up my prize between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Considering I'm at work 40 minutes away or commuting from 8:00 AM til 5:45 PM Monday through Friday that makes it kind of difficult.

    I mean, I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, really, what if it's a horse you didn't really want in the first place?

    So, anyone else want a mystery Rock N Roll Half Marathon Tech Shirt and can pick it up in Oak Park, IL during business hours?

    Or maybe I should email them and say "Thanks, but no thanks" and suggest they draw another name. That would be the charitable thing to do, huh?

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011


    I'm beginning to think maybe my body doesn't want to run any more this year. That I should have just been happy with my performance at the Milwaukee Marathon and gone on my way.

    But, no, I decided I needed to run Las Vegas. So I didn't take very long of a break and got right back into training. I have that 4:30 course limit to contend with, you see.

    Last night I decided to run to the start of our running group run and then do the long route for a total of just over 9 miles. The day after running 20 miles.

    Yeah, not my smartest idea ever.

    The first 5.5 miles went fine. No problems. But when we stopped at our regular regrouping point and I went to start back up again my left IT band attachment point started SCREAMING at me. The outside of my left knee felt worse than my right knee ever did last year.

    It's not a joint thing and for that I'm grateful. But ITB Syndrome is nothing to sneeze at. I cut my run short and finished up with 7.25 miles at my long run pace.

    I then proceeded to limp around to dinner and then collapse on the couch once I got home. I iced. I foam rolled, I stretched, I applied BioFreeze. I'm wearing my knee brace. However, the outside of my left knee is slightly swollen and painful to the touch. Perfect ITBS symptoms.

    I've got a massage scheduled for this evening and I've been icing and keeping my leg as elevated as possible while sitting at my desk at work. I'll be taking the week off and seeing how I feel this weekend. I'm wearing my knee brace and taking Advil and Omega-3.

    In short, I'm doing everything I should be doing to try and get this to go away.

    Doesn't mean I'm not bummed, though.

    OPRC Monday Night Short Route Plus by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Weekly Workout Wround Up

    November 7 - November 13

    Nov 7th

    I couldn't decide whether I wanted to run 5.5 miles or 7.75 miles...and then it started raining and it was dark and I ended up not running anything.

    Instead I tried two new Pilates videos via Netflix.

    Both are also available via Amazon Instant Video as well, by the way.

    Anyway, it had been a long time since I'd done Pilates and I was definitely feeling the burn. Totally counting it as a strength training session. I liked the first video better than the second, but the second one has a section where you use handweights.

    Nov 8th

    Six miles on the treadmill.

    Nov 9th

    Since I'm still not feeling the cold and the dark (at least not for running by myself) I did the Pilates videos again. I forget how good I feel when I work my muscles by doing something other than running.

    Nov 10th

    Five miles on the treadmill at the gym. For as much as I say I hate the treadmill, sometimes it's exactly what I need. Five miles didn't seem like enough. I only stopped because I wanted to get home and eat dinner at a reasonable hour.

    Nov 11th

    Rest day. I'd thought about doing a Pilates video but something about laying on the couch seemed much more appealing.

    Nov 12th

    3.14 miles cross-country style with a .75 mile warm-up.

    Nov 13th

    The last 20 miler of the season!

    Total running mileage: 34.89
    Total strength training: 2

    Roaring Twenties

    Last year at this time I'd done exactly two runs longer than 19 miles. My very first 20 miler and the Chicago Marathon.

    As of yesterday, this year I've already done double that amount.

    Yesterday I met Kim at the Half Day Forest Preserve about 40 minutes north of my house. We did almost all our long runs prior to Milwaukee on some part of this trail and I knew it would be a good place to do my last 20 miler before Las Vegas.

    Considering Kim just ran the New York Marathon last Sunday she definitely wasn't running 20 miles with me. But she was sweet enough to ride her bike alongside while I ran. She warned me she might be out of it since she'd just flown home from New York the afternoon before but if there's anyone out of it on a 20 mile run it's definitely the runner.

    I mean, ugh, look at my form!

    Anyway, the first 10 miles went by pretty quickly. The only bummer was that they'd turned off the water fountains along the trail and I knew I wasn't carrying enough water and Gatorade to last me 20 miles. The weather was warm and the wind was at our back for the first half. Although the forecast threatened rain it never appeared.

    Around mile 7 or so another runner with a cycling buddy passed us. The runner looked REALLY familiar and I think he must have thought the same thing about me. But even though we passed each other again later I never figured out where I knew him from. Probably from one of the almost 30 races I've run so far this year.

    I decided to try and walk every 3 miles or so. Due to a flooded section of trail, though, there was a point near mile 3 and near mile 17 that required waiting to cross a pretty major highway. I stopped my watch for those pieces and counted them as walking breaks.

    Actually, I remember thinking that mile 13 and 14 seemed REALLY long but that mile 15 and 16 went by in flash. Also, the mile where I almost stepped on a snake went by really quickly, too. Man, I hate snakes. Kim laughs at me. I don't care. They are creepy as hell.

    Toward the end of the run I was really starting to struggle. Running out of water and Gatorade was not helping. Kim gave me some off her fuel belt but I could feel the salt drying on my face and I knew I needed more liquids. My stomach was starting to slosh, too, which, paradoxically, means I needed to drink more (at least according to the speaker we had at our October running club meeting). Also, strangely, my bladder felt full which NEVER happens to me on runs.

    So, I tried to pick up the pace for the last few miles just to get this run over with. My legs didn't hurt, my knee didn't hurt, but I was just done. I was quite happy when my Garmin beeped 20.

    After our run we went to get lunch. "Do you want something to drink?" the cashier asked me.

    "Yes." I replied. He stared at me for a moment.

    "Uh...what would you like?"

    Oops. My brain wasn't quite fully functioning yet.

    I am SO thankful that Kim was able to join me for my last crazy long run of the season before Las Vegas. I really don't know what I would do without her.

    20 miles w/Kim on bike by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Illinois Cross Country Club Invitation Race Report

    I've never run a cross-country race. I've never even attended a meet. Everything I know about it comes from watching the movie The Long Green Line. Cross-country seems to typically be a 5K distance over grass and dirt. A little different from my usual road racing.

    So when my running club's president sent out an email stating that another area running club wanted to host an all running club cross country meet I was a little apprehensive. My impression was that we needed super-fast people to run and earn points. As someone who still gets super-excited when my average race pace per mile start with an 8 I figured I probably wasn't the best woman for the team.
    Running clubs from throughout Illinois are coming together to stage the first ever Illinois Cross-Country Club Invitational. It will be a team race, with the best runners from top clubs running head to head. This will be the first of what we hope will become an annual "end-of-season" friendly competition among the clubs for "bragging rights" in X-C.

    But, in the end, I decided to join the team. "It'll be fun!" everyone told me. Well, Jason had plans for Saturday so I decided to pay my $8 and show up in a field north of Chicago mid-morning on Saturday.

    Most of our club's team hadn't ever run a cross-country race, either. I'd read the rules but still wasn't sure how it worked. Basically, if I understand correctly, teams are scored based on assigning points to the finish place of the first four runners and the lowest score wins. We grilled some of the team members who had run cross-country in the past and I came away with the understanding that passing people was very important. Okay. Good to know.

    There were two races: Open and Master's. Open is everyone under the age of 40 and Master's is 40 and over. The Open race was first so I lined up with everyone and when the race director shouted "GO" we took off like bats out of hell. The course was almost four loops of a field and from doing one loop as a warm-up I knew there were some muddy and wet sections. How do you know where the course is? Follow the white line spray painted in the grass.

    I realized halfway through the first loop that I was running way too fast. And I still couldn't keep up with everyone!

    As I passed John who was taking photos I shouted, "I'm in last place aren't I?" His response? "Looking good!!" So optimistic, John.

    I basically felt like death. I ran that first mile in 8:00 minutes flat. For something I was doing for fun it sure didn't feel fun. Chili and beer do not a good pre-5K meal make, for future reference.

    On the second loop I managed to pass a woman. Okay, now I'm not in last place. I could see across the field and realized that now there were two women behind me. While coming in dead last would be something to write about, I didn't really want it to happen.

    I was fading fast, though. And all I kept thinking was "This was supposed to be fun. This is not fun." I started to get anxious about letting my team down and I felt like my legs couldn't go any faster.

    The lead guys lapped me. Thankfully one of them was from our team and since he's super nice he said, "Nice job" to me as he flew past.

    On the final loop the woman I'd passed came up behind me and got in front of me. "Go for it," I gasped. "You paced yourself way better than me." I never caught her again.

    I knew there was one woman behind me, though. I figured she was waiting until the last minute to make her move. She pulled ahead of me in the last 200 yards. As we rounded the corner to the finish my team started screaming for me to pass her back. I really didn't want to be last. But, in a way, I'd resigned myself to it.

    But then I heard Coach Holly in my head. "Come on, Erin. You're a sprinter!"

    So, I sprinted.

    And I screamed.

    And I passed her.

    And then I needed to lay down.

    But I wasn't last.

    After I recovered I enjoyed a beer and a hotdog while I cheered and took pictures during the Master's race.

    In the end, our club finished second in the Women's Open category so I must have helped some. Not sure how, though.

    I went to this event to have fun. Did I? The race itself was miserable. But cheering for my team, taking pictures, and enjoying what may be the last nice day we have this year was totally worth it. And I've been told that my finish performance was one for the books. So, as always, even though the running may not be enjoyable, the company of my running club certainly is.

    Cross Country Race by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    The Deal with My Hip

    I mentioned two weeks ago that I may have finally got a diagnosis for my weird hip pain that comes and goes.

    If you recall, I've basically been battling left leg issues all year. They're not painful enough that I've needed to stop running but nothing I do seems to make them better, either.

    I've seen two kinds of physical therapists, done numerous physical therapy exercises, I've seen a chiropractor, massage therapists, and I've had three MRIs.

    This last MRI was done with contrast which basically means they injected a dye into my hip socket so that they could see the area better on the scan.

    Why did they do this? Well, apparently many of my symptoms can be caused by a hip labral tear and the only way to truly diagnosis this is to have an MRI with contrast.

    So, that's what I had done.

    And they think they found a tear. Apparently you can only see it on a few of the images and it's tiny, but the sports medicine doctor I've been seeing is pretty sure this is the cause of my issues.

    No, I don't know how it happened. All I know is that I can still run as long as it doesn't hurt (which is why I did 5 miles on the treadmill at the gym on Thursday night) and that I'm scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon at the end of December.

    As much as I want this weird pain to go away I also don't really want surgery. I've been doing some research and it appears that that the recovery from surgery can go really quickly or very, very slowly depending on how much work the surgeon has to do in the joint. I won't really know my full options until I see the surgeon.

    So, for now, I'm still running and doing some Pilates. And I'll still be running the Las Vegas Marathon. But I feel like I've had to put any plans for 2012 on hold until I figure out what's next.

    But I did recently read an article in Competitor Magazine about taking six weeks off from running. Unfortunately I can't find the article online but basically it said that certain coaches recommend you take six weeks off at the end of your season and don't run at all. Instead they suggest you try lots of different exercises to keep your fitness and break up the routine of just running.

    I've been running hard all year so I'm thinking that no matter what the surgeon says I'll take some time off in December and January. Maybe I'll try swim lessons again. Maybe I'll do a lot of Pilates and yoga. And if I'm really lucky I'll be able to lift weights again. We'll see. I hope you stick around for the ride!

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Back to the Belt

    Well, it appears that we've reached the crappy weather portion of our year.

    Monday night I totally wimped out and skipped running in the rain and the dark. Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to run during the day but it was STILL raining. So, I took what some would consider the easy way out and went to the gym to use the treadmill.

    Although, perhaps some of you wouldn't consider 6 miles on the treadmill to be the easy way out.

    I figure it's good mental training, right? Treadmills are BORING and it takes all I've got to not hit the stop button and go do something else.

    I set the incline to 1.0 and the speed to 6.0 MPH (10 minute miles), turned up my music and tried to zone out.

    The first mile is always the worst. "How am I going to do this?" I think. "How many more miles?"

    When I get to mile three I always think about how I want to be done. "Maybe three miles is my limit on this thing..."

    But I know that's not true. So I finished all six.

    Run for Pi made a couple posts this week about what to do now that the weather is finally turning for the worse. Do you suck it up and run outside? Do you outfit yourself in an outfit made entirely out of reflective tape and run in the dark? Do you resign yourself to being cold?

    Whenever the time changes and the seasons change it always takes me a few weeks to adjust. Run in the dark? Blech. Run in the cold? Blech.

    By January, though, I'm usually okay. Although, this time last year I wasn't still training for a marathon so I was able to take a little longer to adjust.

    I don't WANT to resort to the treadmill but until I'm comfortable with the weather and the darkness I have a feeling that's where I'll be.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Weekly Workout Wround Up

    October 31st - November 6th

    Oct 31

    7.75 miles...in costume!

    Nov 1

    Rest Day! Actually, I presented at our monthly running club meeting. We got a new website and it was my job to show people how to use the "members only" functions.

    Nov 2

    Another rest day. Our track workout season has ended which can only mean one thing. Party! Wednesday night we all got together so we could see each other in non-running clothes. And eat and drink, of course.

    Nov 3

    4.84 miles of "Illinois hill workouts". Meaning, it was windy. Really windy.

    Nov 4

    Rest day. Girl's night in the city with my mom! And, I mean, really, could you resist this view?

    Nov 5

    Yet another rest day. Unless you count braving the crowds on Michigan Avenue.

    Nov 6

    16.18 miles!

    Total mileage: 28.77

    This training cycle I'm not doing so well with getting in more than 3 runs a week so far. Travel and work and other commitments keep getting in the way. Not to mention that now it will be dark after work. Time to break out the reflective gear!