Monday (lack of) Motivation

I’m writing this post as procrastination from my run today. Yesterday’s recovery run was sluggish as hell the first half, so I scaled back my speed and then it was better the last couple miles. But my ankles feel really tight for some reason. I’m not sure what’s up with that, perhaps from the fact that my cadence has gone all high since my hip injury and my body is trying to adapt? I’m not sure. I had to stop a couple times to stretch out the ankles, and that’s unusual for me.

For some reason, I’m feeling really discouraged with my running lately. I guess I’m wishing that I felt speedier, but I’ve been kind of coasting through my races and don’t seem to have much will to push harder. Still, I’m dealing with an injury, so what I’m doing makes sense. I just wish I wanted to push harder. Instead, I feel complacent in a bad way. I want some fire, dammit!

It doesn’t help that my coach hasn’t sent me my running schedule. So I’m on my own today (and possibly longer? I don’t know what’s up with her, although she did have a bad race a few weeks ago. Still, she’s always gotten me my plan before, so I’m not sure what to make of this.) and not sure what I ought to do for training. I keep waffling between punting it and piddling around for a few miles or running long. Bleh.

Hopefully this ennui will pass.

Injury Update & Race Report

20140704-230724-83244887.jpgHappy 4th of July!

It’s an overcast and humid day here, but the heat broke, which is a relief. It was about 70 degrees with 85% humidity at race time this morning.

My hip injury has been getting steadily better. My trainer gave me some great exercises to help relieve the problem and I had a few low pain runs this week. It took about a week for my legs to feel less leaden after the half marathon on June 22.

For better or worse, I decided to run the 4-mile local race today with some small goals in mind.

1) Beat my time from last year
2) Related to #1: no walking
3) Run by effort and keep it conservative
4) Don’t make the injury worse

I didn’t do as well on #4 as I’d planned. It’s mostly an issue if I sit for any length of time, which seems to aggravate the pinched nerve. But this race did have some hills that I wasn’t as running-form conscious as I was at the half marathon 10 days ago. It’s about 12 hours post-race, and it’s ok so long as I keep moving. It also seems that it gets better when I sleep, so it must have something to do with how the area is compressed when seated.

This particular race in 2013 continues to be my least favorite race memory, which — considering another race concluded with vomiting and overnight stomach distress and I nearly quit my last marathon in gastric misery at mile 18 — is saying a lot. July 4, 2013 was a completely off race for me for no discernible reason. After about a mile and a half, I had to start taking walk breaks. I think I took over 12 of them over the course of the remaining 2.5 miles. I finished in a disappointing 36:43.

Although I’ve run a few more 4-milers since my lousy race, last year’s 4th of July race still bothered me. I didn’t need a PR — I just needed to run the course clean and solid. This ended up being my second fastest 4-miler and it was run at a conservative pace. I’m improving even if the time isn’t necessarily reflecting my training. I ended up 20/224 (top 9%) in my age group.

Below is a graph of my pace over the race course, with the blue line being this year’s performance, red being 2013. You can see that there are similar fluctuations in pace across both years and those correspond with the hills. It doesn’t show all the walk breaks in 2013 because I only had the data points in .1 mile increments, but you get the idea.

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Comparison of 2013 (red) & 2014 (blue) Performance

This year I managed a nice, even effort and I finished in 33:24 (my Garmin gave a time of 33:04 since I started it when I crossed the start line, not when the gun went off). I wish I’d run faster because, duh, I always want faster times, but my effort level was exactly where I wanted it to be given my injury. I’m 16 weeks out from my next marathon and I need to be completely rehabbed to effectively pursue my training.

Sometimes you have to scale back to run smarter and achieve the bigger goal.

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Before the race

Now that I’ve adequately redeemed myself at this race, I probably will not run it again in the future. It’s got some logistics that I really dislike. They had more than 4,000 registrants, many of whom are novice runners or walkers, yet they do not have a starting timing mat nor even the loosest of pacing corrals. Which means the rookie runners/walkers all line up near the front because they want to cross the starting line at the gun and not end up with the added time from starting further back. Heck, there were slower runners WITH STROLLERS at the front. This is all dangerous as hell and annoying to boot. It’s hard to get into a rhythm for the first half mile while you’re dodging and weaving around people who should’ve been instructed to stand further back. I have no problem with walkers or slower runners in races — hell, let’s have all the people participate! But do it in a safe, considerate manner, for crying out loud.

I stood closer to the front than last year, but it was still too far back. I worry about being the slowpoke for those faster than me, so I want to stay out of their way. Unfortunately, many of those in front of me were not the speedsters. I lost about 20 seconds in that first mile, which wasn’t a big deal since I wasn’t going for a PR, but with a wonky hip, I wasn’t thrilled to be worrying about someone run/walking stopping abruptly in front of me and causing me to wrench my hip in a bad way.

At any rate, I wasn’t the only runner unhappy about this set up judging from the grumbling I eavesdropped over the course of the first couple miles. If the extra timing mat is too costly, the least they could do is have poster board signs made to show runners how to line up by pace. I realize many people will ignore these and line up where they want anyway, but I think it would help.

I may be running a 5k in a few weeks with a friend who runs 9:30-10:00 miles, and I think that will be a lot of fun. Plus at that speed, and the super-flat course, it will be a recovery run pace for me. That race is also local and has about 1,500 participants. It’s organized by a different race logistic company than today’s race. I don’t think they had a timing mat at the start either, but people seemed to mostly abide by the pace signage that they utilized. I really had a good race at this one last year. Plus they gave out whole boxes of Freihofer chocolate chip cookies in the goodie bag!

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It’s called a peanut, although I think it looks more like a potato

Meanwhile, I will continue to do the exercises assigned by my personal trainer and get Active Release Therapy with my chiropractor. Check out my torture device made of two tennis balls and some fancy duct tape.

What’s your biggest race organization pet peeve? You know you have one.

Running Faces

Judith / soveryslightlymad:

This is pretty much me. From the website nobonking.com

Originally posted on :

nobonking_23

If you’ve ever been injured, you’ll agree that a tough or rough run is better than not running at all. Injuries ruin all the fun. The Scream, painted by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch, is an icon of modern art and the perfect freak out face for that horrible moment when you realize you can’t run due to an injury. Where’s my foam roller?

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Bike MS: Cape Cod 2014

Judith / soveryslightlymad:

Last summer my father-in-law succumbed to prostate cancer. He managed to live his life with a lot of joy mixed in with hard work, and he was someone I greatly admire. In addition to having to deal with years of cancer treatments, my FIL also found out he had MS. At the time, he was relieved because at first his doctors thought that the cancer had gotten to his brain.

However, between chemo and MS attacks, he had a difficult time getting around in the end. It frustrated him greatly that he couldn’t do everything he enjoyed, like standing at the stove cooking. He hated it when we lingered behind him as he tried to walk places — he was a self-sufficient man under attack by his own body.

Sadly, his daughter, my sister-in-law, also has been stricken by MS. She has two young children, and she desperately wants to be able to keep up with all their activities.

I am going to try to run for MS in the Boston Marathon if they will have me. It’s such a personal cause for my family, and I feel so very grateful that I am able to run when it is something I see I should not take for granted.

Andy of I’m a Runner and So Can You posted this on his blog the other day, and I thought it important to reblog. I hope you can join us in trying to cure this disease.

Originally posted on I'm a Runner and so can you:

Bike MS: Cape Cod 2014 

The Greater New England Chapter of the National MS society holds a series of Bike MS fundraising events  each year.  This weekend the Cape Cod Bike MS Event begins at 7:30AM Saturday morning at UMass Boston and ends Sunday at Provincetown. Cyclist will peddle over 150 miles to raise funds to help wipe out MS.

MS,research,fundraising

Bike MS: Cape Cod 2014

This year the Greater New England Chapter has raised over $1.9 million, but this is just 74% of their goal of $2,650,000 for 2014. You can help by sponsoring a rider or participating in an event your self.

Events

Additional rides this summer will be held in Burlington, VT, Biddeford, ME, Bar Harbor, ME, Hancock, MA and other great locations.

Check out Walk MS events this summer as well as opportunities to contribute at the Falmouth Road Race, Harborfest Weekend in Portland, Maine, The…

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Five Things About Me

20140627-115742-43062332.jpgI’m trying something new this week by joining the DC Trifecta link up. I first heard about this via Run Salt Run and Helly on the Run, two blogs that are must-reads for me. The DC Trifecta is comprised of Mar on the Run, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What, and Courtney of Eat Pray Love DC. I hope I did all the linking back properly to give credit where it’s due.

This week’s theme for Friday Five is Five Things About Me. You know you’re sitting on the edge of your seat for this post. All the secrets of Pandora aka Judith that you didn’t realize you needed to know.

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Medusa before the breast reduction

1) I had breast reduction surgery about 4 years ago. It didn’t matter if I weighed 125 or 87, these knockers were outsized (like a 32 DD — maybe larger but I refused to buy bigger bras and getting them in a 32 band size was damned near impossible) and the first place I gained weight and the last place it came off. It finally started to affect the curve of my spine and insurance paid for the whole thing as a medical necessity.

Best decision ever. I only wish I’d done it sooner. I used to have to wear three sports bras to do any sort of exercise and now one suffices. I’m still shocked when I see running photos of myself because I look so relatively flat-chested. And I love it that way!

20140627-115903-43143829.jpg2) I pitched a suspense book to the agent that discovered Tom Clancy and he loved the concept. He wanted me to send the full manuscript to him and… I chickened out and didn’t send it to him. Self-sabotage much?

I later went on to spill a glass of wine on the laptop containing said novel and destroyed the hard drive. I do have about 75 percent of the book in hard copy, but I can’t bear to look at it now. At the time, I think I was more upset over the spilt wine.

3) I have a crocheted turtle my mother made for my sister before she was born. I was two years old and liked the turtle so well that she gave it to me and made another for my sister. I still haul it around with me whenever I travel as it’s the one thing I couldn’t stand losing in a fire. I think my attachment is because it’s the one sign that my mother might’ve liked me once before her NPD completely took her over. Yes, I know it’s strange that a grown-ass woman carries a stuffed toy with her around the world. I’m emotionally stunted.

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Don’t give me any ideas… but I do think my grandfather’s Caddy would’ve looked smashing painted like this.

4) When I was six, I painted my grandfather’s new Cadillac with tar meant for the driveway because I thought the car should match the color of the wheels. I proudly announced what I did… um, thank goodness he eventually forgave me and laughed about it.

5) I ran for about a year when I was 23/24 and most of it was while I lived in Philadelphia. I had some weird experiences with men during those city runs, including one time when an older gentleman in a Mercedes convertible pulled up beside me. I thought he was going to ask for directions, but instead he asked, “Can I pay you to get me in shape?”

He was a persistent bugger, and when I replied that no, I didn’t do that sort of thing, he asked if he could take me to dinner. Right then and there. While I was in my sweaty running clothes. To the nice Italian place we were right in front of.

I still don’t get why he thought this might get him somewhere. Maybe it was my D-cups’ siren song befuddling his brain.

Question: What was the weirdest pick-up line that you’ve either had used on you or that you’ve used? Did it work?

I Would Run 1000 Miles

Yesterday I surpassed my total mileage for last year: 1,106.3.

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The heart rate data is completely wrong since I never wear a heart rate monitor. I’m not sure why it shows anything.

I’m still feeling pretty beat from Sunday’s race. In addition to my hip being still off, I’ve got some sort of bug with a sore throat. Ya think my body might be telling me something?

Fairfield Half Marathon Recap

Half marathon #6 completed!

The Fairfield Half Marathon is a really terrific race, one that I’m likely to run again next summer. It’s mid-sized, between 3,000 and 4,000 finishers, and has a gorgeous course and enthusiastic spectators. Usually about 20 or so elites run as well, although sadly I haven’t seen them except if they run by me during warm up. This year’s winner was Habtamu Arga Wegi of Ethiopia. It sounds like it was an exciting final push if you want to read the news story linked above. The first three men came in at 1:05:31, 1:05:33 and 1:05:37.

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MIL getting ready to serve dinner


For me, it is so great to be able to race in a place that’s comfortable and I can eat my right foods. My mother-in-law is so great about doing whatever it is I need for my races. For dinner the night before, we had grilled lemon-garlic chicken, grilled vegetables (cauliflower, onions, peppers, broccoli, zucchini and carrots) and baked sweet potatoes. We ate it out on her beachside patio and it was fabulous.

The next morning, I got up at 5:30 to eat breakfast (a banana and some sweet potato/beet purée) and drink coffee. I also took some apple cider vinegar and Advil. Normally I avoid Advil as much as possible, but I wanted to keep any hip inflammation to a minimum. When I awoke, the area felt alright. On Saturday, I did a 4.3 mile run/walk over the last couple miles of the race course. Or I should say I jog/walked; I walked half a mile then jogged half a mile. I also tried to skip a little, but my hip was having none of that — too jarring. Speed was questionable, so I didn’t do any of the strides I had originally planned to do.

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Finish line party location the day before

At about 3 miles into the run (and right where the race finish line would be), I stopped to take some beach pictures.

My hip felt a little tight race morning, but not in pain. I set out on this race with a few goals:

#1 Not to get more injured
#2 Have fun
#3 Beat 2 hours if the hip could handle the hills and the speed
#4 If everything was working, a PR

I managed everything but #4.

This course is not hip-wrecking hilly like the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half that I did two weeks ago, but it does have a couple tough hills. What’s interesting about them is that they are short-ish and steep. I find these a lot easier to deal with mentally and physically than the gradual inclines, although my big concern yesterday was jamming my thigh bone into my hip joint on the downhills which were equally as steep since we went over the hills both out and back. Total elevation gain is roughly 400 feet. Luckily, there is a lot of flat before, between and after the hills.

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Course elevation

I went out a hair too fast for the first four miles (not too fast if I’d had a 100% hip), but hill number 1 just past mile 2 did help settle my pace a little. Uphill number 2, which in my opinion is the hardest, started around mile three. Then we got a downhill for a bit before running through Southport town center then into Westport and Greens Farms. The course takes us by the ocean around mile 6 through 7.5. What was nice for me this run was remembering my training runs I did out there last summer. It really mentally juiced me knowing I was slower then but ran fine. I don’t know if it was reading Elite Minds, that I set appropriate race goals or what, but my negative internal dialogue was significantly minimized this race. I was more present in this race, much like I felt during the Nike Half in April. I like that feeling.

The temperature started in the mid-60s and went up to the low 70s. We had a nice breeze and a lot of shade on the course, but being in the sun was a little warm. The local fire departments put sprinklers out every mile for this race (and many locals are out with their hoses, orange slices, lemonade & ice as well, which is awesome), and I took advantage of the dousing like I did last year. It makes a difference in comfort level to be cooled down. I also took water at most of the stops, although I only slowed down a tad to get it and kept moving. I wasn’t sure how my hip would hold out if I stopped running, so I didn’t walk at all. It felt fine, but I spent a lot of time really focusing on form, which can be tiring and also uses my muscles different than perhaps how I’d been training. Form focus really ought to be ongoing, but, um, well, a bit of a fail on my part there.

Speaking of form, I believe I have a new way of dealing with down hills. I really exaggerated shortening my stride and increasing my cadence going down in order to protect my hip, and even though I felt like Fred Flintstone feet, I cruised past other runners.

Around mile 9, my iPod decided to go crazy, so I turned it off. I was listening to Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot. I’m glad I ran two of my races in Newton without my iPod because this malfunction didn’t freak me out or make me spend time fiddling with it while I ran. Instead, I just shrugged and ran on. I do wish I’d remembered I had a place to store my earbuds, but instead I left them in my ears, which was sort of silly. I get a little stupid when I run.

I may eschew iPods in races from now on. Definitely for ones shorter than a half. One less thing to fuss over.

Around mile 8.5, we got back to the big hill, this time with a slightly less steep but longer ascent. Then we go down and over a bridge, then back up one short but steep rise then about a half mile climb. But once you get over that hill just before the mile 10 marker, it’s a downhill then flat to finish off the race.

By the time I descended the final hill, my legs were just plain tired. Aerobically I was hardly working. I saw my husband just past the mile 10 marker and I was running a little on the slower side (he said he knew because he didn’t have trouble keeping up). I knew the rest of our family would be just past mile 11, so I hung onto that thought. I made sure I was on the side of the road where my sister-in-law’s house was, and there they all were: my mother-in-law, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, my son (up before noon!) and my sister-in-law with her camera. I waved and smiled and greeted the kids by name. My sister-in-law took some great pictures of me. I look relaxed and happy — they think I’m a weirdo.

I just chugged along the rest of the way. I wish I had some gas, but all the form focus had worn the old legs out. I made it a goal to keep it at around marathon pace for the remaining miles, and I succeeded at that.

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Jennings Beach walkway

Just before the beachside finish line, a section of the course ran over sand. That sucked. I felt like I was running backwards. I had no kick at the end of this one. The announcer had trouble with my last name, which isn’t really a hard name but people struggle with it anyway (it’s Dore and it’s pronounced like “door”). I know they had cameras at the finish last year, but I’d forgotten about it, so I might have a funny look on my face in a picture while the dude tried to figure out my last name.

And then it was over. 1:57:20. Nine minutes faster than last year. Not a PR, but it wasn’t a PR effort, so I am happy. My Garmin read 13.24 miles, same as last year.

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Race shirt & finisher medal

My husband met me at the finish (avoiding last year’s snafu of not realizing that with a larger race you should plan a meeting spot so you know how to find each other in the crowd), and we went to the Generation UCAN booth (I carried a handheld bottle with their Pomegranate Blueberry for fuel this race) and tried their new electrolyte product. It’s so damn good! It kicks even Nuun’s butt, and I’m a Nuun fan. Unfortunately the UCAN drink is sort of pricey. But I drank two cups of the samples and felt restored.

I skipped the hot dogs and pizza the race after-party offered. Those probably would sound appealing to me in a few hours, but immediately after a race it sounds disgusting. I’m a sober alcoholic and beer sounds horrible to me after a race, and that’s saying a lot since I used to drink despite feeling like I wanted to vomit. :P I don’t know how other runners do it, but I’ll stack both grease and alcohol aversion in the “benefits of distance running” column.

My husband and I walked back to my SIL’s (which is only a half a mile away if you walk straight there and not winding through the neighborhood like the final miles of the race). I was able to eat a turkey sandwich there and cheer on the other runners.

I truly love this race and the locals make it special. The crowd support is really nice and the water/Gatorade stops are well done. They have timing clocks at every mile. If I were to change anything, it would be to make the start time at 7 a.m. rather than 8:15. It’s June, and it’s a crap shoot over what the temps might be. Last year the end of the race was in the mid-80s. I ran/walked it then, and dumped a ton of water over my head, but I was so new to running that I didn’t know much better about how much the heat affects your running (cuz it pretty much was hard and sucky all the time for me back then as a total newbie).

One nice touch that I think was new from last year? is that at around mile 13, volunteers handed out iced, wet towels to the runners. I grabbed one of those babies and wiped down the back of my neck and it felt amazing. It was also good for wiping the salty brine off my face after I finished.

And one tiny little peeve… The start for men and women are at different places and we converge just after the first mile. I like this, but I don’t like that the men’s start gets a banner and we only have a timing mat. How much money could it be to get a banner for the women’s start? It’s not like the men’s starting banner doubles as the finish line because it doesn’t. I also wish there were additional timing mats on the course for splits and tracking, but that’s not a big deal to me, just a preference.

After a pasta dinner with delicious homemade meatballs with my husband’s family, we drove the three or so hours home.

Last night, my hip wasn’t thrilled with me when I sat for any length of time. It is less painful than it was last week. Now that I’ve only got a 4-mile race on July 4 until my October marathon, I’m looking forward to doing the strength work to fix whatever imbalance I’ve got going. It probably would’ve been wiser of me to have been a little less aggressive with my spring race schedule so that we could do strength work and not just keep me race ready. I sacrificed around 30-45 seconds per mile in speed and risked a worse injury by piling on long distance races (for those who might’ve missed earlier posts, in the last 8 weeks, I ran 3 half marathons, 1 marathon, 2 10ks and a 5k). Live and learn.

In closing, I always thought the phrase “my blisters have blisters” was pure hyperbole. Apparently not.