Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Marathon Rules and Security: Post Boston Bombing

After things finally settled down from the Boston bombing it became very clear that the runner's spirit would never be broken.  In fact, I'm pretty darn sure it brought us all as a community, even closer.  The one thing that I think lingered in everyone's minds was "How is this going to effect future races?".

Today The San Francisco Marathon organization sent out communications in regards to the upgraded security at the event.  The start and finish areas will be enclosed and everyone (and their bags) will be searched prior to entering, everyone needs to arrive 45 minutes early to wait in a security line before entering their corral, etc. (Because a 5:30 am start isn't brutal enough) For the runners, we've been given strict restrictions on what type of hydration device we can take onto the course and any hydration device/pack/belt that has any sort of bag or pocket will be searched.  (Let me preface this by saying that I am in total agreement with upgraded security standards and that while I think it is pretty lame that it has come down to this, I will do anything to ensure the safety of not only myself but of all the runners and spectators.)  As soon as I read that restriction I immediately thought of the backlash that was about to take place.  When you train for a marathon, you use your long runs to train not only your legs, but to figure out what sports bra is the most comfortable, which shorts won't chafe your thighs, which gels won't give you a case of the trots, and you also learn how much hydration you need and when to take it.  Most importantly, you train with your hydration device!  Some people don't run an actual race with their hydration packs, but myself and many others do.  Springing this type of restriction on runners 2.5 weeks before a race sends many into immediate panic mode!  Fortunately for me, it looks like my belt fits within the standards.  I went as far as to post on their Facebook page a link to my hydration belt and they said it should be no problem.  Those most affected by this are those that use CamelBak Hydration packs or vests.  I completely feel for anyone who now has to change their game plan! 

Again, in the grand scheme of things this is a small issue to contend with on race day and switching hydration devices shouldn't "destroy" anyone's race goals.  I'm expecting a few additional layers of security at the race that they probably aren't disclosing to the general public.  I'm expecting higher levels of anxiety from all of the runners just to make sure they get in their corrals on time.  I just pray for the safety of everyone in attendance in San Francisco and I am thankful that the event planners have gone above and beyond to have a safe event.  I fully expect to see additional efforts made in other marathons across the country.  All of this is just a reminder that things will never be quite the same as they were before the Boston bombing... 

Monday, May 20, 2013

New goals for San Fran and lots to be thankful for!

Every Monday morning when I come into work as my crotchety old laptop is firing up, I check off another week of training from my plan.  I'm old school and like to use a super sophisticated tracking system known as a spreadsheet that I print and have taped to my cabinets in my office.  I know I know...your mind is blown!

Exhibit: A
I'm a firm believer that with ANY goal, you need it posted in multiple places so that it stares at you several times throughout the day.  A goal that isn't written down is just a wish!  To clarify, I do indeed use my Garmin software for more in depth tracking and comparisons of runs, shoe mileage tracking, etc.  Most runners could probably agree that especially towards the latter months of training your life starts to revolve around your training schedule, so it's nice to have it handy for quick reference. 

When I came in this morning and checked off Week 20, it made me smile to see that Week 21 consists of the 20 mile run and then it is the beloved taper time for three weeks.  It hasn't been a secret that over the last few weeks I have been plagued with some pretty nasty aches and pains.  Some of it is normal for marathon training, but some of it has definitely taken me by surprise.  On my run this morning things felt "alright", "iffy", "not great but I'll take it"....but I couldn't help but still be so happy and SO thankful to be running!  Training has definitely not gone as planned but it never does.  I haven't been able to get nearly enough hill sessions in because of injury/doctor's orders not to (worst marathon ever for that to happen - oh well), and I've had to split the mileage on my long runs to salvage my legs and keep things from getting worse.  But you know what?  I'm still running.   I'm 21 weeks into this and still getting up every day and making the effort (as hobbled as it might be).  You get so caught up in time goals for big races that sometimes you forget the bigger picture.  The bigger picture that you're doing what so many are afraid to event attempt.  You're part of the 1% of the population who willingly signs up for this craziness.  With that being said, I've set some new goals for this race:

  1. Have FUN!
  2. You're running through one of the most beautiful and historic places, enjoy the damn scenery!
  3. Sing the Full House theme song while running across the Golden Gate Bridge...everywhere you look....
  4. Finish strong.  No matter what time I cross the finish line, I better run through it.
  5. Find the course photographers (instead of avoiding them) and get some fun pictures taken!
  6. Don't poop your pants.  
  7. Say a prayer of thanks for each mile marker you cross.
  8. Inspire others.

#8 Inspire Others - In the last three days I've had some really humbling conversations with a few people.  People who want to better their health via just changing their diet and others who want to start running/exercising more.  They say that I have inspired them in so many ways, but what they don't realize is how much they inspire me.  I'm not the best, I'm not the fastest, but conversations like that are what keep me moving.  As I run this race representing the Arthritis National Research Foundation , many of those prayers of thanks are just for the ability to be out there.  Some people don't run marathons because of personal choice in thinking we're a bunch of lunatics, but many people can't simply because of something far out of their control.  Don't take your health for granted...join the lunatic party.  You'll ask yourself countless times during some of those bad runs "Why the hell did I sign up for this"" and in my case "Why the hell did I sign up for this, AGAIN?!".  But I can PROMISE you that once you cross the finish line, your answer is always, "That's why." :)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

This party just got real!

I was working away at my desk this morning when my email pop up said "Confirmation Email and Bib Number!" and my stomach immediately did about a hundred back flips.  I registered so long ago and hadn't even thought twice about confirming this, but it looks like they have assigned me into a much faster wave than what I should be in, which might be the fault of my overly excited fingers and a typo from when I registered.  Whoops!  I'm going to hang back and start with Brandon and be a courteous runner and stay to the right, way out of everyone's way.  My nerves are going to be through the roof so having him there will definitely help.  Who am I kidding, my nerves are already through the roof!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cryotherapy is....interesting....

What is cryotherapy you ask?  You can read the technical definition here but I will give you my real world explanation of it....

I've been wanting to try cryotherapy for quite some time now.  The technology behind it is relatively new to the commoners, but has been tested for several years in research labs around the world as well as the highly regarded Nike training facility for professional athletes.  The Dallas Mavericks actually called it their "secret weapon" when they won the championship a few years back.  Cryotherapy has a ton of amazing benefits for your body including your skin, energy levels, major benefits for people who suffer from any form of arthritis, and most importantly for me - injury treatment and recovery.  The reason I hadn't started it sooner is because of the cost...$80 per session (you need about 2-3 sessions per week to get good results) quickly adds up.  Luckily, I actually found a deal on Groupon for a local wellness center/spa in Addison that was offering three sessions for $99 - SOLD!

I made my first appointment for Saturday after my 10+10 = 20 miles workout had completed and boy was I ready for some cryo!  Brandon dropped me off at Veda Light Wellness Center.  I had called the day before to ask if I needed to bring anything and the lady said, all you will be wearing is a pair of cotton socks.  Ummmmm, yikes!  The lady at Veda (who was super nice) walked me through the process and explained what was going to happen..  After putting on my birthday suit (and sexy cotton socks) I hopped into something similar to this bad boy:

(Photo from Millenium Ice)
 Once inside, I had my wireless clicker that I pushed that notified staff I was ready.  If you are claustrophobic and want to do this, I'd highly recommend some sort of mild sedative or something because it's pretty darn creepy being inside that thing.  Once she came into the room, she lifted me up so that my head was sticking out of the top of it and I had to place my fingers on the top so that they didn't fall off....not kidding.  I was given the "you can tell me to stop at any time" speech and off we went!  It starts off gradual but then makes its way to -220 degrees...holy mother of all things, COLD!  Pretty sure it looked a little like this:
(I have mad photo-shopping skills if you couldn't tell)

The first 30 seconds were by far the worst but once you go numb it's not so bad really.  She stayed in the room and talked to me which made the 2.5 minutes go by pretty quickly.  Before I knew it, we were all done!  I was lowered back into the tube and it kind of reminds me of one those capsules you use at the bank drive-thru that then shoots up and back down to transport your checks back and forth.

When I left the spa my body was still a little cold but warmed up pretty quickly.  Low and behold I did notice an energy kick and was feeling pretty good.  Of course my aches and pains caused from my injuries had subsided a little bit, but it's going to take a few sessions before I hopefully start to see a significant improvement.

My doctor had suggested I look into cryotherapy so when I visit him this week I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that I actually followed orders.  I'm hoping to get two more sessions in this week and then continue sessions up until the marathon and a little afterwards.  For someone who cannot stand being cold, it truly wasn't all that bad, but it definitely doesn't fall into the relaxing category either. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Plan of Attack!

So remember on Monday I was having a major freak out/Jessie Spano moment minor panic attack about forward to today and things are better.  Things are still aching as usual but my mind has settled itself down.  Today I had a much anticipated visit to my running doc.  Not only was I excited to get some of these kinks worked out but I knew he'd be able to help me work out a plan of attack for training these last few weeks.

One of the things you'll learn about running/runners/running coaches is that everyone is very opinionated on what they believe is the "right" way to train.  Some people will tell you that you need to get at least two 20 mile runs in before race day, while others will tell you you're a damn fool to do anything above 18 miles period during training.  You can read and read and read for hours and walk away with no definite answer.  Bottom line - listen to your body and do what works for you.  None of us are engineered the same.  Some will always be naturally faster than those of us >cough< me, who work and work and work and never get that much faster.  I have the heart of a Kenyan with the legs of a turtle. Others are more injury prone, while some battle the mental aspects with every run more than others.  

Back to my doctors visit... we ran through a lot of questions trying to determine a few things.  One of which was "Have you gained any weight?" which I was so proud to answer NOPE!  Over the last week I've actually lost another inch off my hips and waist (bringing the total to 4 inches off my hips and waist since January, BOOM!).  Gaining weight (in fat, not muscle) during this phase of training is super easy to do and I am hell bent on not going down that road again.  After eliminating any obvious causes, we decided that for these last few weeks of training I do not need to run any more than 10 miles in any one session.  Many will tell you that the human body isn't really built to run more than 15 miles at a time, and anything after that you're basically just breaking down and destroying yourself.  So in the last few weeks of marathon training, imagine the destruction you are doing to your body week after week?  It's no wonder your body starts rebelling against you, you're being quite the jerk to it...  

So you're probably now wondering, then how are you going to finish out the last weeks of training with a 19 mile and 20 mile on the schedule?  Break it out into two parts, that's how.  For example, Friday night I will run 10 miles, and then wake up Saturday morning and run 9-10 more.  If the miles are run within a 24 hour period, my body is still feeling the effects of fatigue so even though the miles aren't run all at once, my body is still computing them as if they were.  That might make zero sense, but somehow it does to me.  The only real beef I have with this method, is the fact that I now I have to set aside two different blocks of time to run on my weekend.  Go ahead and call the waaaaaaaaambulance, because I'll probably moan and groan about it some more in future posts.  Who knows, maybe I'll end up liking this method.  Either way, if it gets me to the start line of San Francisco in one strong solid piece, I'm willing to try anything.  I always say that if it's important to you'll find a way, and if it's not, you'll find an excuse.  So I WILL set aside the time to execute this plan of attack.  It's only for a few more weeks and I have come way too far to start making excuses now!   WAY.  TOO.  FAR.  PEOPLE!!

>drops the mic<     

Monday, May 6, 2013

Panic Mode.

I got my 13 miles in on Saturday but it wasn't pretty to say the least.  Friday night I had to be out wayyyyy past my bedtime (especially knowing I had a long run in the morning).  I was at an event that night so I was also not fueled properly and pretty dehydrated.  It was one of those runs that you approach with a "just suck it up and survive it" attitude.

Approaching mile 11 my left quad starting getting this awesome burning pain which transitioned into a shooting pain towards the top of my quad.  I stopped and tried to stretch it out, but that didn't seem to help much so the last two miles were a run/walk combo.

All day Sunday there was a dull achy pain hanging out in that same area all day.  My mind of course went into immediate panic mode and I consulted the best doctor we all know and love, Dr. Google.  I read on everything from a minor quad strain up to a stress fracture.  What the F.....stress fracture??  No, no way, can't happen....oh dear God please don't let that be it.   I settled down and went through my heat/stretch/ice routine for my calves and added it on to the quad as well.  A little extra stretching couldn't hurt right?

I got up early this morning to do an easy 5 mile run to test the waters.  Admittedly it felt pretty good for the most part, a few twinges of pain but still enough there to keep me in minor panic mode.

To anyone reading this, I have a selfish favor to ask - please pray for my body to make it through this.  I am only 6 weeks away (SIX WEEKS) of which the next 3 are the hardest and contain my extra long runs.  I just need to make it through and get to the start line in San Francisco.  This race has a deeper meaning to me than any of the 12 others.  I've thrown all time goals out the window and made my new goal of "just be able to finish, not only for me but for my Dad".  That's all.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can......

Friday, May 3, 2013

13 miles is a "recovery run". That's cute....

Week 18 of training and I have finally arrived to a "recovery" week!  This is so stinking exciting except I use the term "recovery" lightly simply because I still have to run 13 miles tomorrow.  I'm not sitting around getting massages and devouring an entire bag of Oreos (God that sounds good).  However I do have to be honest here and make a confession.....I skipped two of my workouts this week.  >gasp<  I know, I know.  Granted I still got 3 workouts in plus the 13 tomorrow, so you know what, I'm NOT sorry.   Hal Higdon is cursing my name somewhere.  Ultra runners are laughing under their breath...and I'm sitting over here all like:

Mentally and physically, I needed this break.  I enjoyed every second of the extra sleep I got.  My aching knees are actually a little less achy.  I woke up on Wednesday morning and rolled over, and just the act of rolling onto my side (on my super comfy pillow top mattress) actually hurt my knees. So that was that, no 8 mile run for me that morning.  So instead of running that morning, I did this:

After icing I thouroughly enjoyed snuggling on the couch with this guy:

 After work, we further capitalized on "recovery" week and the beautiful weather and imposed a week night date night!  I always say that marathon training is a family commitment because it takes up so. much. time.  Not only the time spent running, but the time spent icing knees, stretching, being completely affects everyone in our household!  Brandon and I went out and indulged in these:

We had an absolute blast on our date night!  Before soaking up the frozen goodness we went to the Grand Opening shindig at our new Run On! store in Murphy, at which both of us scored some new running shoes!  I mean, new running shoes is a vital part of training so I can't say I didn't do ANYTHING for the marathon this week, now can I?  New running shoes is like Christmas morning; it's whimsical.

After skipping Wednesday's workout AND Thursday's workout, I feel refreshed.  My legs are still tired but they feel a ton better than how they were feeling this time last week when it felt like someone had been beating them with golf clubs.  My mind feels like it got a bit of a breather from training, and I got to spend some quality time with the hubby.  All of this now leaves me ready and excited to tackle the next 3 weeks of training before my tapering starts.  I needed a re-boot and now I'm ready to roll!

I'm not looking to set any land-speed records in San Francisco, I'm not training for the Olympics so just do what you gotta' do!