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.