Fighting Self Doubt

I haven’t updated in awhile. Not my weekly training updates, not a fundraiser update…NOTHING. And I’m feeling a little guilty about it. Because when I’m hurting I have a habit of shutting myself off from the world.

For the past three-four weeks I’ve been battling a sprained ankle/peroneal tendonitis. I felt the first twinges in my peroneal the week leading up to the Tennessee Ultra Ragnar, but during the race only felt twinges of pain during my first leg. After ragnar, I took an easy week and didn’t think anything of it. But as I began building the next week I noticed my peroneal was increasingly tight. After I did my last 20 miler out on the flooded trail, I could hardly walk the day after. It’s then I knew I was in trouble.

I took a week off. I didn’t do a damn thing except a few walks here and there and I could tell my peroneal was feeling much better. But when I went to run after a week of rest, the pain came right back. Once I finished my 10 miler on Good Friday I was in the same boat – I couldn’t walk right without pain. Immediately, I felt like a failure. I’ve been training for this 50k for so long, just to get injured in the final stage. So I shut down. I refused to leave the apartment all weekend except for work, and I disconnected from life. I had tunnel vision and I could only focus on how my 50k dreams were out the door.

This was about two weeks ago. and I’m doing much better. I started seeing a physical therapist, running on an underwater treadmill, and taking long walks to ease my anxiety and pent up energy. It’s hard to go from 50 miles a week to zero. But at some point between PT and waking up at the crack of dawn to run on the underwater treadmill, I started feeling better about my impeding 50k, even though my tendonitis still bothered me. I faced reality. My goal this year is my 57 miler in November – not the 50k, no matter how much I trained for it.

Once I stopped stressing, my body started recovering. The inflammation in my peroneal went down and I stopped having pain walking. This past week, after my last PT appointment, I made the decision to try and race. I went for a short jog on the treadmill and had no pain, so I decided I could at least start the race with the option of dropping out if the pain built up too much. I was nervous about toeing the line without any real training/running for three weeks prior, but I also trusted myself. As long as my peroneal didn’t hurt, I knew I could finish.

I’ll have a real race recap later on, but I made it and I am so happy! I couldn’t have done it without the constant support of my friends and family, and I can’t believe it’s already over. Once the race started, I was so excited to be out there running again nothing else mattered. I took in every little moment: the sunrise over the foggy Potomac, the determined forms of runners zig zagging up a steep hill before me, and the sound of my own breath breathing steadily in and out, in and out.

A little bit of ankle pain set in around mile 18 but I started incorporating more walking and the pain never got any worse. Honestly, the course was so muddy in the last 9 miles or so it was IMPOSSIBLE to run. Every person I saw who tried to run through on the trail wiped out in front of me, and I knew if I went down I’d probably have a real rough time getting back up and going with the pain. So I did some speed walking with super-duper short steps cursing the mud under my breath every time I felt my feet lose traction beneath me, causing my already-sore muscles to tense with the thought of falling down.

When the finish line was finally in sight, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried. I was excited and so happy to finish with relatively little peroneal pain. It was 92 degrees out (seriously, what the HELL was up with this weekend’s weather?!) and I still felt relatively fine hydration/nutrition wise. The most painful part of the day was the two blisters I formed on my heels in the last 10 miles – probably from the slipping in the mud and friction caused. No lie – my heels are STILL pulsating and I’ve never had this problem with my shoes/socks before.

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So, now what? I saw my doctor the day before the 50k, and he checked my ankle/fibula for any stress fractures and I’m good. He recommended taking some down time after the race to let any inflammation in my peroneal to go down, and I’ll be starting more extensive PT tomorrow. I still have my eyes on my 57 mile charity run in November, and I’ll be starting training back up in June. This month, I’d like to get back into a routine of not only running, but cross training and strengthening CONSISTENTLY. If tendonitis has taught me anything, this diversity in my training is going to be vital. I’m also looking for a coach to help get me through this summer/fall healthy for my event. But I guess we’ll see. And of course (because I always say this), I’ll try to update my blog more regularly.

Look forward to my 50k race recap soon and once I begin training regularly again, I’ll try to post updates every week or so. For now, it’s rest and recover time. And believe me, my legs need it.

 

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Ragnar Relay Tennessee Ultra Recap

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Stucco Running Club Ultra Club at the start!

It’s time to talk about Ragnar! I had SO MUCH fun this past weekend in Tennessee with my team as we raced from Chattanooga to Nashville as an Ultra team. I struggled a little bit out there for sure, but with the help of my team I was able to make it through all my legs right around the pace I projected myself hitting.

My team, Stucco Running Club Ultra Club, took seventh overall in the race, and we were the first Ultra team across the line (we are technically ranked in the men’s ultra division because we had 4 men and only 2 women). So, let’s just jump into the dirty details of what went right and what went wrong.

Wednesday Night (Pre-flight)
I could not sleep for the life of me. Most of it was from excitement, but as the time passed by, I started to stress out from my lack of sleep. I didn’t really sleep well at all Monday or Tuesday night so I started thinking about how the lack of sleep was going to affect me. I ended up getting five hours, but it really wasn’t enough.

Thursday – Day Before Start
Dave and I woke up at 3:45 AM with two of our teammates who spent the night, to get to the airport for our 6:00 AM flight. I didn’t even feel tired because I was so excited, and I couldn’t sleep on the plane.

I think the first mistake of the weekend came today. My stomach was really upset this morning (maybe from taking all my medicine at 3:45 AM? Something I never do?) and I couldn’t eat breakfast. I managed a protein bar but it made me want to throw up for a good 2 hours. By the time we landed in Nashville I was so focused on having some coffee, I didn’t get anything else to eat. While we waited for Erin and our other teammate’s flight to land, Dave and I went to pick up our snazzy 15 person van from the rental place in Nashville.

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pretty sunrise as we landed in Nashville

Once everyone landed we started our 2 hour drive down to Chattanooga. It was a really pretty drive as we went through some of the mountains, and then I realized we were going to be climbing right back through them the next day. It wasn’t until we neared Chatt and many hours later did I realize how hungry I was. Erin and I ate some pistachios while shopping for some race necessities in Walmart. Once we were done shopping we headed straight to the hotel to offload our stuff and immediately go out for lunch.

We ended up at a Panera and I had some tomato soup, salad, and potato chips. Honestly, not ideal the day before a race, but I told myself I would have a heartier dinner to make up for the lack of breakfast and lunch. We walked around the waterfront after lunch and Erin and I re-lived some Ironman memories from her race this past fall, and then we all tried to nap for a bit in the hotel. I only managed 15 minutes of sleeping in the hour I laid down.

We had team check-in at 6 PM, and I knew I wanted to squeeze a shake-out run in before we headed across the river. I hadn’t run since my massage on Wednesday, so I headed out the door with Erin and Jeremy for a veryyyyyyy slowwwww 2.5 mile shakeout. It was glorious. My legs felt amazing and it was such a beautiful evening for a run by the river. The shake-out made me feel confident and ready for the race the next day – my calves felt fine, my achilles were loosened up, and I didn’t really have much leg pain. I was so excited!

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Chattanooga!!! ❤

The rest of the day consisted of the team check-in and dinner. Erin, Jeremy and I ended up going to Whole Foods because we figured it would be my best option to find gluten-free and dairy-free options, but because it was later in the evening they didn’t have much out on their hot bar.  Even though the food I ate was really good, I knew it wasn’t enough. I should have gotten more, but because I wasn’t really hungry I just brushed it off and went back to the hotel to sleep.

FRIDAY – DAY ONE OF RAGNAR

Woke up around 8 AM after not a great night of sleep. It took me a super long time to fall asleep because of surrounding noises, and I forgot I had my ear plugs until 1 hour later into trying to fall asleep without them. Erin and Jeremy went down to breakfast and I stayed in bed, and actually managed another hour of undisturbed sleep before rolling out of bed to catch the free breakfast.

There wasn’t anything for me to eat at breakfast. I had a little box of Frosted Flakes and a banana, but nothing else offered was gluten free. I meant to make myself some gluten free bread with peanut butter when I got back to the hotel room, but I completely forgot while getting ready because we left all of our food in the car overnight.

We headed over to the race start around 11 AM-ish because we needed to check out of our hotel. Our start time wasn’t until the last wave, 2 PM, so we still had plenty of time to wait. Erin and I ran a few last-minute errands to pick up some needed van items, but most of the time we just sat around waiting for 2 pm. We did decorate our van during this time and it came out awesome!

FINALLY, 2 PM rolled around and our team was able to start. I was #4 in the line-up of six runners, so I still had a few hours until my first leg.

3:34 PM – LEG #1 (10.2ish miles, 1119 ft gain) – I was incredibly nervous for my first leg. It was my hardest by far, and I was nervous about how I would feel climbing up the mountain. When Justin handed off the bracelet to me, I flew out of the transition area way too fast. I wanted to go around 8:30 min/mile pace, but whenever I looked down at my watch during the first two miles I was between 7:20-7:45 min/mile pace. I tried to keep myself under control but my adrenaline was still pumping. We had to run on the “shoulder” of this big road, but the shoulder was so small (and the rumble strips took up most of it) it was incredibly unnerving to run, especially when huge 18-wheelers flew down the mountain past me.

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I have to say running along this shoulder was probably my least favorite part of the race because of how dangerous it felt. I had one dog come after me, and after I wasted my energy screaming at it as I trucked up the mountain, it decided to stay on its lawn and not keep coming after me.

Around five miles (still climbing) I decided to try and fuel, but realized my stomach still felt way too uneasy to eat my Gu. Luckily, I brought cliff blocks as well and I forced myself to eat two of those. I was also sipping Tailwind (MY SAVIOR) so I felt pretty confident I’d be able to get through the rest of the leg without bonking.

I walked three times trying to make it to the top of the mountain, but it was planned and I felt very much in control. When I finally reached the top and saw the downhill road before me, it was such a glorious feeling even though I still had 4 miles to go. As I ran down I felt like I was flying and everything was effortless. I forgot about my stomach, and all I felt was happiness. Despite the road being treacherous, it was an absolutely gorgeous run along the river and it made me feel so grateful to be in Tennessee with my friends.

When I finished, they handed me a medal for running the “hardest” leg of the race. We hopped in the van shortly after I finished, so we could beat our runner to the next transition and I was feeling pretty good. I chugged a gatorade as I sat in the van, and slowly I felt my stomach pain returning. I tried to eat a picky bar but I ended up only nibbling at the corners because I suddenly felt so sick.

I don’t know what set off the stomach pain, but as soon as I discovered I couldn’t eat, I knew I was in trouble. I started sipping my Tailwind mixture as much as I could – liquid calories are better than no calories. I laid down in the back of the van while my teammates kept forging ahead, and before I knew it, my turn was coming up again. So I filled my water bottle with my tailwind, got all my reflective gear together and tried to mentally prep for my second leg.

7:36 PM – LEG #2 (6.8ish miles)

When I stood outside the van waiting for my next leg, I didn’t feel as bad as when I was just laying in the stuffy van. The fresh air was really nice and there was a little bit of a chill in the air, so I put my arm warmers on because I was shivering a lot. I tried not to psych myself out about my stomach as I waited for Justin to come into transition and I tried to stay positive.

As I started out, I didn’t feel too bad. Again, I was dealing with an annoyingly-small shoulder and rumble strips, but because the road wasn’t as busy I could run a little bit into the road without fearing for my life. I told my team to meet me about 2ish miles up the road in case I was feeling incredibly horrible and around 2 miles I could see our van parked on the side of the road at a pull-off. I ripped my arm sleeves off as I came to them and asked Dave again to stop a mile or so up the road because I wasn’t feeling great.

The course was rolling – very manageable after my first leg. It wasn’t long before I saw the van up ahead again and Dave and Erin crossed the street to make sure I was okay. When Dave said, “see you at the finish” I had a panic moment. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to make it to the transition, even though I only had about 3.5 miles to go. Because it was “nighttime hours” and we are allowed to have pacers in the night, I asked Dave to jump in and run with me to the transition. I kept running as he bolted back to the van to get ready and I thought the van was just going to leapfrog me and drop Dave off in front of me. I had NO IDEA he actually just grabbed reflective gear and started chasing after me – not until I heard him yell behind me. I stopped and waited and we continued on together.

Talking with Dave through the next few miles was helpful for my mind. I was feeling stressed because of how competitive my teammates were with the other ultra teams, and I felt like I was going to ruin everything by not feeling well. Running with Dave reminded me this was supposed to be fun, and I felt a little better by the time I finished. I tried making myself a peanut butter gluten free sandwich after my second leg, but I only managed to eat half of it before feeling sick again. So I continued downing my tail wind and tried to lay down anytime the van was moving, and get up at each transition for fresh air and to stretch my legs.

10:59 PM – LEG #3 (6.1 miles)

Because I was still having problems eating, I was very concerned with this leg in the middle of the night. I hadn’t slept, and I was nervous about the 6 miles all by myself. There weren’t many other runners around, and Dave decided to run with me for the first 3 miles. I’m happy he was there because we were in the middle of no where and I didn’t see one other runner on the road. At this point, my stomach felt like one gigantic knot and I know it’s because of how empty it was with the lack of food and plenty of miles. Other than the stomach pain, my legs felt fine though, so I kept plodding along at my target pace.

Around 3 miles, Dave peeled off and hopped back in our van and I continued on alone. The last 3 miles weren’t bad at all, they were actually very beautiful. I could finally see some other runners ahead of me and we were running through farmland, and a big beautiful sky of stars stretched out above us. This was one of my favorite parts of Ragnar.

When I finished, I felt relieved because I only had a 2.5 mile leg next and I was halfway done. I hung out with Erin until she was off on her leg and then I tried to sleep. Joke’s on me because I couldn’t fall asleep once, but laying down and closing my eyes was nice at least. I managed to eat a Huma Gu during this time as well and a few more cliff blocks.

3:00 AM – LEG #4 (3.8 Miles)

Ha, yes – I know I said above my next leg was only going to be 2.5 miles. THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT, but I was wrong. Turns out, we looked at the legs wrong, and my 2.5 mile leg wasn’t until Leg 6, and I had 3.8 miles as my Leg #4, and then close to 7 miles for my Leg #5. Internally, I was having a breakdown, but I decided to pull myself together because 4 miles would feel like nothing after my longer legs. I pushed the 7 mile leg out of my mind.

As I got ready for Leg #4, I actually didn’t feel so bad. I knew I had been hydrating well despite not being able to eat much, and Erin and I joked around before my start, making me feel immensely better. I managed to eat a few handfuls of potato chips as well while we waited for Justin to come through, and this made me feel a little more confident. I brought my water bottle full of Tailwind with me even for the 4 miles because of my lack of eating, and I figured if I could keep sipping the stuff throughout the event I would be okay.

The 3.8 miles went by really fast. It wasn’t a particularly beautiful leg or anything, and there were a few good hills in there, but I felt good other than the stomach tightness. I actually passed a few runners on this leg and this made me feel even more confident. The transition area popped up on me in no time, and I was incredibly happy I made it through this leg on my own and without breaking down.

I stretched for a little bit, tried to sleep again, and watched the sun start to rise over the beautiful farmland. Even without sleep I felt calm during this time.

6:39 AM – Leg #5 (6.8 miles)

Now that I had to actually think about running almost 7 miles, I had a little freak-out. I was so worried how I was going to get through the leg because I wasn’t stomaching any real food. When I got out of the van at my exchange and started to get ready, Dave could tell I was upset. Because it was still before 7:15 AM (when nighttime hours are officially over) he promised to run a little bit with me because I was feeling so sick.

I had on my new lyme don’t kill my vibe tank top, but I couldn’t help thinking my lyme was destroying me during this race. I wanted so badly to be strong, but I felt like my body had crumpled under the stress of the race. I wasn’t able to take any of my medicine in the van, and the times I thought I might be able to, I decided against it incase they upset my stomach again. I was in some sort of state.

I started this leg nice and slow and tried not to think about how far I had to go. The sun was rising and it was finally getting light out again, and as I turned a corner onto a country road, an entire field of purple clover was illuminated with new light. It was so beautiful and serene, it made me forget about my stomach for a few minutes and feel lucky to be running. Running has allowed me to see some of the most beautiful scenery.

Dave met me about 2 miles down the road and talked with me as we walk/ran some of the bigger hills. About 3/4 of the way through the leg, my entire body began to ache. My neck and shoulders tightened up so much I could barely move, and the pain caused me to walk several more times. I wasn’t sure if I was herxing from the stress on my body or my muscles were just tense from the mileage, but I got a little worried here.

I was so happy to see the exchange at the end of this leg. When I passed off the bracelet, my neck was so stiff and painful it made me completely forget about my stomach. I laid down in the van for a little bit until the pain subsided and after an hour or so, it was pretty much back to normal.

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Tennessee countryside 

11:13 AM – Leg #6 (2.3 miles)

Finally! My 2 mile leg! Once I was done with Leg #5, I knew I would get through my last exchange, no matter how my stomach was feeling. My mood substantially lifted after finishing #5, and I was even able to eat another GU, take in a few cliff shots, and some potato chips. I kept drinking my Tailwind because I knew it was my main source of energy and I am so grateful for the stuff and actually thinking to bring it!

It was a lot warmer out for this final leg and there was absolutely no shade. I was feeling a little competitive with the other ultra team as I waited for Justin to come in, and I decided I would not let them pass me in the two miles – no matter what.

I went out much faster than I did for any of my other legs, except maybe leg 1. There was a decent hill about .5 miles in and as much as I wanted to walk up it, I thought about the other team catching me and I leaned in and powered through. The downhill was fantastic, but at the bottom was a major road where a police officer was supposed to help me cross to the other side so I could run against traffic. Mr. Police Officer was NO HELP at all, and I stood around on the corner of the street for a few minutes trying to make the pass myself. As I looked from left to right, from right to left, for an opportunity to cross, I kept thinking about the other ultra team coming over the hill to catch me.

When I finally got across the road I looked back at the hill for our competition but luckily no one was in sight. It was a straight shot to my finish from here and I pushed it to the exchange trying to keep a good distance on them.

It felt so amazing to pass the bracelet off for the last time in my exchange. Part of me was in disbelief I actually made it through the 36 miles, especially because I felt so horrible after only leg #1. But I was so happy to be done and to cross my final leg off, and even though my stomach was still hurting and I couldn’t eat yet, I was in a much better mood.

THE FINISH

Erin was our final leg. It was a much-too-long 8 mile leg to the finish line, and I felt so antsy waiting for her in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Before the final exchange, the other men’s ultra team was telling Erin how they were only 3 minutes behind us, and we’re pretty sure they were trying to psych Erin out. But the joke’s on them because Erin could have cared less what they said to her, and they ended up being about 30 minutes behind us, not 3.

Seeing Erin turn the final corner to the finish was so exciting. We all ran across the finish line with her and finished as the first ultra team of the race, and 7th team overall. Our time is listed as 23:30:41.1 on Ragnar’s website, but I’m pretty sure you have to add an hour to all the finishing times listed on the site because of a time zone we ran through, or something like that.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

As sick as I felt for the most part, I would absolutely do another ultra ragnar relay. I had so much fun with my team and it was incredibly motivating to work together and to stay strong for one another. My stomach is STILL a little messed up from this weekend but I’m working on feeling better, and my legs aren’t feeling too bad either.

Next time, I know I need to get much better sleep before the event and really fine-tune a nutrition plan. I think I didn’t get enough calories in before the race, and I CERTAINLY did not get enough in during the race. I know now how difficult it actually is, and I think resting up a lot more before the race will help me feel more primed.

But I’m so happy we did it (and did well), and it’s still all I can think about. Some of my teammates and I are already planning to do another next year :).

And that’s about it. I probably won’t do a training update for this week because it’s just a recovery week and honestly I’m not doing much. I want my legs to recover as much as possible for next week’s long run, so I’ve only ran yesterday and will probably only run a few more times this weekend. I plan to go for a nice long walk today to shake out my legs some more, and that’s about it. If my legs are still feeling fatigued by the end of this week, I might go ahead and get a massage early next week so I’m all ready for my 20-22 miler.

 

Setting New Standards.

I’ve changed.

For me, this is always a hard thing to admit, because I’m one of those individuals who clings to how things used to be. Living with Lyme disease has made me rethink my priorities and what I do from day to day. It’s been hard for me to accept my new self because I’ve gone from being a person who used to focus on everyone but myself, to a person who finally puts myself first. And it feels selfish.

A lot of times I feel like I am disappointing friends. I skip outings because of headaches, I can’t “party” anymore, and I go to bed early to save all my energy for running. My 57 mile run is always looming in the back of my mind and I’m so focused on getting to the start line nothing else seems to matter sometimes. This past weekend was Dave’s birthday and I felt a sense of sadness when I could not really participate in the celebrations. The Old Me would have tried to put down just as many drinks as the guys. But the New Me decided it would be best to nurse the same beer I had been holding for quite a few hours because even one beer can trigger a headache now.

I am mourning who I used to be before Lyme. The girl who always had energy to get everything done on her to-do list, the girl who could stay out late and drink like the rest of my friends. I used to clean, cook, run, write, work and socialize. Now, when I wake up I feel like I am drawing straws and hoping I don’t get the shortest. Usually, I can only cross one thing off my to-do list and this is devastating to me. I almost always pick running unless I feel overwhelmingly sick. And this makes me feel so guilty.

Recently, I went for a 17 mile trail run along the Potomac River on a balmy Saturday morning. It was only me out on the trail and I felt a calming sense of solitude. Running seems to be the only thing I do right anymore and it makes me  feel whole. Alive. I could see my breath cloud before me with every exhale and my throat was numb, coated with the cold air. I was surrounded by silence. No chirping birds, no rustling in the leaves, and no wind causing the branches to scratch and claw one another. Just me.

I used to feel uncomfortable in the silent woods. I used to constantly feel like I was being watched or unwelcome. But on this day, I finally felt one with the trail I’ve devoted so many hours to, and running here felt natural. I walked the uphills, I took my time to hop stone by stone over a frigid looking creek, and I stopped often to look across the Potomac at the beautiful landscape. When I trail run I become so detached from civilization and it’s what I love best. Nothing matters except keeping my breath steady, putting one foot in front of the other, and making sure to keep myself fueled. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone but myself. And because trail running is something still relatively new to me, I can keep my expectations in check.

The run was hard. My legs were fatigued from 15 miles the day before, but still I managed to push myself and complete 17. I wanted nothing more than to quit at 5 miles, but the trail kept urging me forward. I wanted to make it farther than I had the weekend before and explore where I hadn’t stepped foot yet. So even though I was tired, I let the trail entice me and pull me along with new twists and turns and it was beautiful. Beautiful I had pushed through the mental wall, and beautiful I proved I could do it.  As I ran down the finishing straight with 17 miles in the bank, a smile spread wide across my face. My legs hurt, but I was accomplished.

It’s important for me to look back on these moments where my Lyme isn’t in control. There are many things I cannot do any longer, but trail running shows me there are many things I WILL do and accomplish in my future. It’s not an easy path, but my treatment and management of symptoms is just another step in my journey.

There are many things I like about the New Me, despite being a little insecure about what others think of me and Lyme disease. I like I can stand up for myself now, I know how to say no, and I still find balance between being social and completely secluding myself. It’s only taken me 27 years to learn :)!

So that’s it for now. It’s been awhile since I posted, and I apologize. It goes back to what I was saying in the above paragraphs – I honestly haven’t had the energy to do much more than work and run. I want to do SO MANY things, but my body often says no.

Because I missed doing a weekly training update, I’ll try to post one tomorrow and combine the past two weeks. Next week is my Ultra Ragnar Relay and I am SO EXCITED, but also very very sore from two hard weeks of training. I’ll probably modify my training for the next few days and keep it incredibly easy up to the race. I want to enjoy it as much as I can!

 

 

Weekly Update: February 20 -February 26

I know, I know – I really keep neglecting to get these posts up every Monday. Lately, I’ve felt so crunched for time, and I haven’t been able to do any writing. Working at the running store a lot lately, plus my 50k training has left me with little time for anything else, but I’m just going with it.  It kills me, because one of my goals this year was to write more and I’ve been neglecting it horribly, but I can only do so much. Hopefully I can get things back on track here soon.

BUT – in the world of training, things have been going pretty well! February 20-26 was a huge week for me!

Monday, February 20: Today was a rest day, thankfully! I was crunched for time writing an article for my alma mater, but when I submitted it they never acknowledged soooo, who knows if it will actually run.  I also had a doctor appointment in the morning and it went pretty well.  I’ve been feeling pretty good lately with our current treatment plan so we’re going to keep at it, and hopefully in a few months be able to wean off some of the herbal medicines.

The rest of my day was spent running around like a crazy person at work during our President’s Day Sale. So even though I didn’t have to run today, I still feel like I got in a workout.

Rest Day.

Tuesday, February 21: Today I did a tempo workout! I decided to run along the Mt. Vernon Trail because I could be mostly uninterrupted by traffic lights and the such. I started out feeling really sluggish, and I started doubting I could actually do the workout.  When it came to the uptempo portion, I focused on one mile at a time, and before you know it, it was over.

Running into Old Town was not my favorite because the sidewalks did get a little congested, but all in all, it was a good workout. I cooled down for four miles, rounding the day out at 9 miles total.

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Whoop calculates strain on a scale of 1-21. Apparently, I worked harder in my tempo workout than I thought. 

9 mile tempo workout on Mt. Vernon trail – 2 mile warm-up, 3 miles uptempo (7:26, 7:18, 7:00), 4 mile cool down.  Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes (7:48 min/mile average)

Wednesday, February 22: I woke up and my bad knee was super sore. I stretched for a little bit and put some anti-inflammatory cream on before I even thought about getting outside for a run.  I wanted to go five miles, but once I got outside I only ended up going 4 miles, with the thought I could go 2 more in the evening with Dave.

Other than the knee pain, the run was really nice. It felt easy but I was still moving at a decent pace so I’m happy with it.

The two more miles in the evening never happened and I wore a compression sleeve around my knee for the rest of the day to try and help with the swelling I felt.

4 road miles, steady – 7:42 min/mile pace

Thursday, February 23: I woke up early this morning to get a little run in before work and I couldn’t believe the weather. I wore a long sleeve and shorts, but I should have just been wearing a short sleeve because it was so warm. I ended up taking off the long sleeve half way through and I couldn’t believe this is February.

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I don’t really like the warmer weather because it’s unnatural, and makes me feel guilty our planet is such a mess.  But, something about the weather made everyone so nice today, I couldn’t help but smile my entire run.

Also – I SAW A BEAVER. I don’t know why I am so excited about this but I am, and I only wish I had my camera with me this morning so I could further share my excitement.

Anyways…I felt restless all day at work and couldn’t wait to leave so I could get back outside. I decided to go for another run and as soon as I got home I changed and headed back out the door.

The run was good for the most part and I went about 7 miles. My knee is still hurting a bit so I tried to run slow and not push it, but there were so many other runners out, I got a little competitive.  To cool down, I walked the remaining mile home and other than suddenly getting blasted with severe cramps, I’m so happy I got back outside.

AM Run – 3 road miles, 7:53 min/mile pace
PM Run – 7 road miles, 7:48 min/mile pace.  1 mile cool down walk

Friday, February 24: The day I was waiting for ALL WEEK! Today, I went hiking with my friend Megan in Shenandoah National Park.  We drove out early in the morning to Old Rag, a 9 mile hike with really fun rock scrambles.

The hike was beautiful. Again, the weather is creepily warm, so we hiked the entire time in shorts and tanks, and I finally got to test out my Hoka One One hiking boots (they were awesome).  Last time I did this hike with Dave, I got some NASTY heel blisters in some trail running shoes I used, but I was all good this time!

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We crushed the hike. All in all, it took us about 3 1/2 hours to hike the 9.2 miles, rock scrambles and all.  Some of the scrambles are pretty technical (=fun) and we really needed to lift ourselves up onto the boulders and use any rock surface as leverage with our body weight.  It wasn’t until the final mile did I really start to feel how tired and sore I was, and by the time we made it back to DC, we both were exhausted.

For the rest of the day I just hung out on the couch with my legs up.  It wasn’t until around 8:00 pm did I try to get my run in, and it was a STRUGGLE FEST. My knee was definitely feeling it.  I ran on the treadmill so I could call it quits at any moment if needed, but I ended up going 3 miles. I do think the run helped shake out some of the lactic acid, but I can’t believe what a struggle it was to even get down to the gym.

Hiking Old Rag: 9.2 miles, 3:29:32
3 mile treadmill run – 8:10 min/mile pace

Saturday, February 25: I woke up SORE.  More sore than I imagined I would be, and I started worrying immediately about being able to get my long run in.  After breakfast and stretching for a bit I drove out to Great Falls Park with Dave to try and get 15 miles in before the storms were supposed to roll through the area.

With the first step I took, I knew I was in trouble. My calves were so tight, my shins aches, and my glutes felt FRIED. I kept running slow with Dave anyways, and after a few miles I warmed up, but it didn’t help much. Dave stopped after 3 miles with me and at that point I was already defeated. I ran 2 more miles out on the trail before giving in to my sore legs.

All in all, I hit 10 miles and I didn’t let myself get down over not completing my long run. I actually felt really proud of myself for getting out there and not giving up on the trail and all the hills.

The rest of the day included napping, eating, stretching and laying around. Solid recovery if you ask me.

10.1 miles at Great Falls Park: 9:14 min/mile pace

Sunday, February 26: I woke up nice and early again to make a second attempt at my long run. I decided to head to the canal because it would still be a soft surface, but nice and flat for my still sore legs.

Honestly – I didn’t feel any better getting out there on the canal. My legs were still incredibly sore from the hike, and I was SO BORED on the flat path. I thought about giving up after 3 miles when I stopped to use a bathroom, but I talked myself into trying to run a few more miles out before turning around. I’m glad I did.

As I got farther down the canal, I actually felt a little better. The weather today was the only “cold” day of the week, and it was so refreshing. It’s been awhile since I ran on the canal and I saw so many familiar faces! Other runners I work with, college teams out for long runs, and some old friends.  By the time I finished the run (even though I was spent) I felt really happy I came out to the canal. It ended up being a refreshing change of pace.

ANDDDD – as much as it hurt toward the end, I got my 15 miles in! I walked for a little bit after the run to try and cool down, but then I had to rush off to work for another crazy-busy nonstop day.

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15 miles on c&o canal: 8:06 min/mile pace

 

WEEKLY TOTAL: 51.2 MILES!!!!

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I am so happy I finally topped 50 miles. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to do this, and I felt incredibly accomplished. It’s been a long time and I’m excited for the endurance I’m finally building.

One thing I am NOT so excited about is my lack of cross training and strengthening. To be fair, my training plan doesn’t really call for much cross training, but I have always felt better when I incorporate cycling into my running plans and I haven’t really been doing that. I don’t want to overload myself either, but I think if I could just get on the bike 1-2 times a week it would be incredibly helpful.

Not doing my strengthening workouts is totally on me. I get so tired by the end of the day and I just run out of time with everything else I am trying to do. I really hope I can start doing these workouts consistently because I’m going to need them more than ever for my ultras.

SOMEONE MAKE ME DO MY STRENGTHENING.

Weekly Update: February 6 – February 12

Whew! It was a busy week, and I can’t believe how quickly it passed by. I love traveling, and it was awesome to get down to Texas to see Erin and run a half marathon together. I can’t remember the last time we actually ran a race the entire way together, so it felt amazing (despite horrible weather).

I’ve never trained through a half marathon so the experience was interesting. I didn’t taper at all this week or take it easy, so I knew I was going into the race fatigued.  It was super helpful to have Erin there to remind me to hydrate and eat, and to keep me straight on tempo-ing the race as opposed to racing it.  Still had a blast!

Monday, February 6: Running was great! I headed to Roosevelt Island with my friend Megan and we did some easy loops on the trails and enjoyed the beautiful day. My legs felt a little more tired than I thought they would coming out of a rest week, but it was still a great run.

(5.1 trail miles, 8:19 min/mile pace)

Tuesday, February 7: Workout day! I wasn’t feeling the greatest this morning so I was really apprehensive about the workout.  But after the warm up and the first two repeats, I fell into my groove and was okay.  Ran my standard pyramid workout – 15 minute warm up followed by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute speed work with equal rest in between.  I cooled down outside for 16 minutes or so, rounding the day out at 11 miles or so!

(15 minute w.u., pyramid workout on treadmill: 9.2 miles, 7:07 min/mile pace)
(16 minute c.d. outside.  – 1.9 miles, 8:32 min/mile pace) 

I also did strengthening later – yay! I did 20-25 minutes of leg lifts, some squats and some abs.  Nothing too rigorous – didn’t want to make myself overly sore.

(20-25 minutes strengthening)

Wednesday, February 8: Run rest day! Today I did a lot of stretching and a decent amount of strengthening. For 38 minutes I did abs, squats, lunges, arm work, pushups and leg lifts.    Again, I was a little nervous about pushing it TOO hard because of the long weekend I knew I was going to have mileage-wise.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day today – 70 degrees! I really don’t know what to make of this winter, it’s kinda driving me insane.

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Went for a little walk in the 70 degree weather 🙂

(Run rest day)
(38 minutes strengthening)

Thursday, February 9: Travel day! I always get nervous about traveling even though I do it all the time.  I woke up super early to try and get a hill workout in but I quickly learned it wasn’t going to happen. I tried to go outside but it was SO WINDY out and rainy and I already didn’t feel good, so I turned right back around and went inside.

I was supposed to hit 7-8 miles, but as soon as I hopped on the treadmill I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I had a headache and stomach pain and after 4.25 miles with a few hills thrown in there, I called it quits.

Flew out to Texas in the evening and enjoyed a quiet evening in with Erin, sipping wine and watching SNL.  Flying makes me extremely tired, so we went to bed around 10:30 pm, especially because we had an early

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my medicine and hokas – 2 essentials for my travels!

(4.25 treadmill miles – 7:58 min/mile pace)

Friday, February 10: Early morning wake-up call! Erin needed to work a half day so we headed to her office and I got in quite a few hours of writing in (hence the blog post you guys saw from me) while she worked.  Around lunch Erin headed down to the pool for a swim so I decided to get my run in around the campus she worked. There was a 1.3ish mile packed-gravel trail around the office buildings so I ran the loop a few times and really enjoyed the change in scenery.

Got a little excited out there and ran a few miles too fast, but still a good run. Had some knee pain and a little bit of shin pain on the right side.

After work Erin and I did some abs and then enjoyed the rest of the day in the hot, hot Houston sun :).

(5.3 miles outside, 7:44 min/mile pace)
(10-15 minutes abs)

Saturday, February 11: SO HUMID AND HOT TODAY. A front moved through the night before and when I headed out for my run I couldn’t believe how much the weather had changed from the day before. I ran 3.7 miles slowwwww down a packed trail and by the time I made it back to the apartment I was DRENCHED. Definitely started worrying about the half marathon the next day because it’s been quite awhile since I’ve run in the heat and humidity.

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Nice little trail I ran on through the Heights

Erin was out on her bike and I was waiting to run a few miles with her when she got back, so I walked until she was done.  Ended up walking about 2 miles, and then Erin and I headed out for another 3 miles.  We were dragging, but it was nice to get the work out done.

We picked up our packets and hid inside during the heat of the day since we were both feeling it.  Once the sun started to set, we went for another walk and it was beautiful.  I always forget how much I like going on walks.

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Delicious pre-race noms we made: gluten-free pasta with vegan sausage, spinach, zucchini, onions, fresh tomatoes, and tomato sauce!

Lots of stretching and icing and rolling at night before bed.  I felt a little bit of shin pain during my run and my knee was swollen from the heat, so I was trying to work everything out before the race the next morning.

(3.7 miles run outside: 8:20 min/mile pace)
(2 mile walk)
(3.1 mile run outside with Erin: 9:22 min/mile pace)

Sunday, February 12: Half marathon day! Erin and I woke up at 5:15 AM to start getting ready for the race and to eat breakfast.  Unfortunately, I was not feeling well and was a little sick to my stomach.  I don’t know if it was something I ate the day before or what (I certainly wasn’t nervous since Erin and I knew we were just going to tempo together) but being sick actually made me nervous since I was worried about dehydration.

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Houston all lit up as we drove to the race in the morning. Hazy and jungle-like.

When we got to the race start I was still not feeling well and most of our time was spent running back and forth to the bathrooms. Kinda reminded me of how sick my stomach always was this past summer, so I tried to remind myself I’ve run in these conditions before. I drank a good amount of water and gatorade before the race to try and balance everything out.

Erin and I warmed up a mile to assess the heat and humidity.  Did some stretching and before we knew it, we were off.

I’d say most of our splits were right around 8:00 min/mile pace. I definitely was feeling the  humidity on the second half of the race, but running next to Erin was fantastic for me because she’s so good about hydrating and eating on the run. I ran with a hand-held water bottle holding a mixture of gatorade and water inside, and I am SO HAPPY I brought it. The race had water stations sporadically spread here and there on the course, so I definitely would have gotten dehydrated without my bottle.  I ate powergel at mile 5 and mile 10 and it helped a little bit, but I was definitely dizzy by the last few miles.

Despite the stupid weather, Erin and I still had a lot of fun together. It was nice being able to talk with someone the entire race and commiserate together. I helped keep her on pace when she started to fall behind a little and she helped me at the points I was feeling the heat a bit too much.

Finishing was awesome. The race was long – 13.3 miles instead of 13.1 miles. I noticed throughout the course the mile markers were incredibly off, and I worried the race would be long (and I was right).  We hung out in the park and listened to some music afterward and drank a few beers. It made running in the wretched heat totally worth it.

I don’t think I would do the race again (poor organization, torturous 2-loop course) but I enjoyed my time with Erin for sure.  We’ll find something better next year.

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Bling bling from the race – Erin and I took 2nd and 3rd in our age group 🙂

(1 mile warm up – 9:12 min/mile pace)
(13.3 “half marathon” – 1:44:53 – 7:52 min/mile pace)

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Couldn’t wait to get this ramen after the race. Perfect recovery food with all that salty broth – SO GOOD.

Flew home at night after a nice, relaxing day and OMG my flight was crazy. Smooth until we got to DC and our pilot tried to land in the 60 mph wind storm.  I’ve never been so uncomfortable and nervous on an airplane.  He had to circle around 2-3 times as he attempted to land and the whole plane was being tossed around in the sky like a rag doll.  I was SO PUMPED to finally touch ground and be out of the sky. Kudos to the pilot – I have no idea how he did it – I thought for sure they were going to send us to another airport.  Those 40 minutes of trying to land got my heart working harder than it did all morning during the half marathon.

WEEKLY TOTAL MILEAGE: 47 MILES!!!

NOTES ON THE WEEK: SO happy with the mileage and doing strengthening/abs 3x this week.  Maybe I can do 3-4x this week and also throw a little cross-training in there as well :).

Weekly Training Update: January 23-29

This past week was the highest mileage week I’ve had in YEARS.  And it’s only the beginning!  Also – I should have a “real” blog post coming your way soon, I’ve just had a lot on my plate. I’m getting my fundraiser page ready for my 57 mile charity run in November and I’m trying to figure out how I’d like to organize everything, so it is taking up a bit of my time.

Monday, January 23: I woke up this morning and it was POURING and windy.  Stared out the window for a few minutes and decided NOPE.  I made it my rest day :).
(Rest Day)

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I did make some delicious veggie chili this day though!

Tuesday, January 24: I intended on heading out the door for a 5 mile run, but only made it 4.2 miles.  I ran on the Mt. Vernon Trail but was really not feeling it.  I felt groggy, my legs felt heavy and I had a headache.  I had to talk myself through each step.

But the best part of today was…I DID STRENGTHENING.  I focused on my glutes – doing lots of leg lifts and squats, but I also did some abs too! Strengthening work out lasted all of 22 minutes.
(4.2 road miles, 7:59 min/mile pace)

Wednesday, January 25: WORKOUT DAYYYYYY! I seriously love tempo workouts.  I do wish I didn’t always have to do them on the treadmill, but I KNOW if I try and run one alone outside, I won’t be able to hit my pace.  So I think going too fast on the treadmill is better than nothing.

My glutes were SO SORE this morning, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to affect my workout. I did a lot of stretching this morning to help alleviate some of the tightness.

I warmed up for 18 minutes at about 8 min/mile pace and then did 5X5 minute repeats uptempo, with 1 min rest in between.  My 5 minute repeats were anywhere between 6:40-5:50 min/mile pace.  I progressively got faster with each repeat, which I always enjoy.

After the workout I hopped outside to cool down for 20 minutes.  It was a beautiful day, sun shining and in the upper 50s…seriously, I feel like winter has been completely absent this year.

Total mileage for the day was 9.5 miles!

(18 minute warm-up, 5X5 min fast, 1 minute recovery: 7 miles, 6:54 min/mile average)
(20 minute road cool down: 2.5 miles, 7:58 min/mile pace)

Thursday, January 26: Glutes still tight today, ha! I think the tightness really shows how badly I need to start doing strengthening on a more regular basis.

I woke up with the intention of getting my run in before work, but I just couldn’t get myself out the door. I was feeling very tired and achy, so I did some writing instead and tried to stretch a little bit.

My boss let me step off the floor a little early, with the caveat I had to go out and do my run if I was going to leave.  So I got dressed at the running store and headed out for my run (I knew if I went home I would just lay on the couch and do nothing). It was very windy, and no matter which direction I turned, I felt like there always was a headwind.

I also got some really weird pains shooting down my right leg. I was wearing compression socks, trying to help with blood flow in my legs after yesterday’s workout, but I feel like they may have been causing the pain? I honestly have no idea.  My right knee felt incredibly weak (this is the knee I have arthritis in and constant joint pain) and every once and a while I would take a step and it felt like fire was shooting down my lower leg from my knee.  Dislike. But I took it easy and finished the run.

I only needed 3-5 miles, but somehow got myself turned around in Old Town and ended up going 5.8 miles.  I stretched A LOT and iced after the run.

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I tried these after my run and they were actually pretty good!
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YASSSSSSS

Later in the night, I also did strengthening again!!! Stayed away from doing any leg work and really just focused on abs and some arm stuff.  After strengthening I stretched and rolled my legs out for a good 25 minutes.

(5.8 road miles, 8:10 min/mile pace)

Friday, January 27: So excited for this day! All week I planned on going to Fountainhead Regional Park to hit up the trails again for the first time in awhile.  My good friend joined me so I wouldn’t have to suffer alone, and I’m so happy I had her there with me on the trails.

I was a little nervous about my knee because of the pain from the day before, but I put on some supportive tights and a patella strap and decided to just go for it.

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This was my first time testing out my hoka speedgoats on an actual technical trail, and I thought they faired pretty well.  I, however, really need to get out on the trails more often. I felt like I was turning my ankles constantly, and I tripped twice (the second time was about .1 miles from finishing…so frustrating!).  But even with the turning of ankles and falling, I had an amazing run.  The hills definitely challenged me, but it was so nice to be out in nature again.

(8 trail miles, 9:51 min/mile pace)

 

Saturday, January 28: Long run day! I decided to head to Great Falls park because most of my 50k April race will be on some of the trails in this area.  I tested out my new Nathan Vaporairess Race Vest today and it was the first time I’ve ever run with a water pack before.  IT WAS AWESOME.  I definitely need to get used to drinking on the run and having the pack on me, but it didn’t bother me once throughout my entire run.  And that’s saying something.

I really wanted to go slow today and just focus on having an enjoyable run.  My ankles were super sore from turning them so many times at Fountainhead, but the rest of my legs felt surprisingly good.

I think today was the first run where I let myself walk when I needed to (up some of the steeper hills) and stop to enjoy the beautiful park and scenery.  I know I need to get used to power walking in long trail ultra races and I feel like today was the first time I told myself it was okay to take breaks.  And I really ended up enjoying my run, even though it was long and challenging, and I was absolutely exhausted at the end.

(12.6 trail miles, 9:07 min/mile pace)

Sunday, January 29: I meant to do some strengthening and some cross training today but it never happened.  I slept A LOT last night but I woke up still feeling exhausted, which is never a good sign for me.  I ended up taking the day as another rest day, but I was definitely hustling at work a bit, so my legs got to shake out some.  I do wish I could have done that strengthening…

JANUARY 23 – JANUARY 29 WEEKLY MILEAGE: 40.3 MILES!

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I am so happy with this training week. I can’t believe I finally hit 40 miles and felt pretty good doing it.  I did notice I’m feeling a lot of fatigue after my longer runs (I can’t seem to do anything but lay on the couch afterwards) so as the mileage ramps up in a few weeks, I’m going to pay really close attention to what my body is telling me.  I don’t think the fatigue is from being out of shape, it could be the lyme and overexerting myself, but I’m going to monitor it.