Living with Lyme

May is Lyme disease awareness month!

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Even though I’m at the end of the month here, I thought it would be timely to make a post about how lyme affects me.  Generally, I don’t really like talking about my symptoms or when I’m sick. I’ve always struggled with sharing my feelings and feeling vulnerable, in fear of disappointing friends and family. But now that I’ve decided to do the 57 mile run in November to raise money for Lyme disease research and awareness, it’s only fair I share a little more about the disease.

I share my symptoms NOT because I want you to feel sorry for me, but because lyme is often viewed as an invisible illness. Myself and many others who struggle with lyme often look perfectly “healthy” on the outside, even though inside our bodies are raging in war. I’m sharing my symptoms because it’s a difficult disease to understand because of it’s complexity, co-infections, and vast ways it affects every single person who’s been bitten.

HEADACHES/MIGRAINES 

This is my number one problem of late.  I can have anywhere between 3-5 headaches a week and they last ALL day.  Usually, I feel the pain building throughout the day like an angry thunderhead, so by the time I get home from work it feels crippling to move (fun!!!!). I have the pleasure of experiencing light and noise sensitivity with these headaches too, so once I feel one coming on, I need to get out of loud environments to lessen the building pain.

FATIGUE

Since treatment, my fatigue has definitely improved. I used to hardly be able to handle going to work, and whenever I got home I was so tired I could only lay on the couch and nap until it was time to go to bed. Luckily, now I’m able to workout, go to work, write, see friends and do some house chores without completely destroying myself, but I still take things day to day.  I know when I’m overdoing it when I start to have trouble getting out of bed in the morning again, and when I wake up feeling like utter crap.  I still have weeks when I feel horrible and can hardly do anything but drive myself to and from work, but luckily these have lessened.

The past two weeks I’ve been struggling with fatigue a lot. I’ve taken this time off from training, and even though taking a step back is EXTREMELY difficult for me, my body feels much better and rested now.  Treatment of my fatigue is bundled up in my many supplements and restrictive diet, and I’ve learned with I’m lax with my diet, my fatigue increases significantly.

INFLAMMATION

Ah, joint pain. But this isn’t the only way I experience inflammation. While I do ache periodically in my joints – usually my elbows, wrists, fingers, knees (especially my arthritic knee), and ankles – these aches honestly don’t bother me much.  A few years ago, because of inflammation in my scalp, I was diagnosed with diffuse areata alopecia by the Mayo Clinic.  Basically, my hair hates me and likes to come out. A lot.  While the intense hair loss has lightened up since starting treatment, my hair is still incredibly thin and comes out whenever it pleases. I don’t think I’ll ever have the head of hair I had back in high school/college. The hair loss used to bother me a lot more because I tied my conception of beauty with my long hair, but I know better now.

DIGESTIVE ISSUES

This really ties into the inflammation, but because my stomach has pained me the most, I decided to give it it’s own section. Before I was diagnosed with lyme, I was seeing doctors for my stomach issues and we believed I could have Crohn’s disease. While my stomach issues are 80% better than last year, they used to be intense. I couldn’t eat a lot of the times, I had horrible lower stomach cramping/pain, and my stomach was constantly upset.

While my blood work did flag for Crohn’s (something to do with the inflammation I came back positive for) all other testing came back negative.  I had SO MANY procedures, I can’t even remember what they all were called but I was clean on everything except my endoscopy.  During my endoscopy my doctor discovered I have metaplasia (cells changing) in my stomach.  This is still something I need to monitor and will most likely have another endoscopy this summer to make sure it’s not worsening.

Because of my digestive issues, I try to stick to a pretty particular diet.  I am gluten free (except for the occasional beer every few weeks I can’t seem to stay away from) and mostly dairy-free too (this is new).  I don’t really eat much meat anymore either.

Recently I had a KBMO FIT test because of some continued digestive issues and my headaches/fatigue. The test identifies foods likely to cause food sensitivity. Using a blood sample, IgG and complement reactions are measured against 132 foods and additives which cause delayed food sensitivity. Basically, this test was able to tell me which foods I’ve been eating have been causing an immune response in my stomach!

I had a high reaction to whole wheat, gluten and cranberries (seriously, wtf cranberries). A medium response to pears (again, wtf) and coffee – the no coffee has been crippling – and a low response to cow’s milk, rye, green olives, beets, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and pecans.  Some of this seems very random to me but for the most part, I’ve been working really hard to take these foods out of my diet. I’m going to try and follow the elimination diet more strictly over the next 4 weeks as I dive back into training for my 57 miler – so we’ll see how that goes.

Reducing inflammation in my stomach is a huge goal for me. When there’s a lot of inflammation there, my body doesn’t really absorb all the nutrients it needs to. I’m had low iron so many times I’ve lost count, but what’s more concerning to me (especially with all my running) is being able to absorb calcium/vitamin D to protect my bones. Anyone who is close to me knows I struggle with stress fractures and have been diagnosed with osteopenia in the past. I’d like to never worry about these things again.

Those are the big symptoms for me. While I do struggle with a few other issues, they have gotten better significantly since I first started treatment:

  • Trembling
  • Dizziness/balance issues
  • Eye floaters
  • numbness in my hands
  • random skin rashes

 

And I think that’s a wrap. Even though this is my case, I feel as if every story I read online about Lyme disease is different. And that’s why it’s so important for me to do my charity run in November to raise money for research and awareness. Some of the stories I read are absolutely heartbreaking – lives are forever changed. And these individuals are the ones who motivate me to run more than anything. The easiest way I’ve come to deal with the frustrations of lyme is through motivating myself to try and make a difference for those who have it so much worse than me, those who have struggled for so long just to find an answer.

I don’t view myself as sick anymore. Even though I have these outlasting symptoms, this is the strongest in a long time. My symptoms don’t define me because I know I will eventually conquer them. And more than ever, I want others to be able to conquer Lyme disease as well.

I guess my last note here is kinda a PSA you might not care to hear, but seriously, be aware of ticks when you’re outside this summer. They’re going to be bad this year and you can pick them up in your own backyard. Whenever I’m out running on trails I always stop and check myself after running through any overgrown paths, high grass, or wooded areas.  Your pets can pick them up too – I always remember finding ticks on my dog growing up, even though she was protected. Just be careful and protect yourself please!

Feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions about my journey with lyme. There’s a contact button on my homepage of the blog.

Thank you for reading – until next time!

 

 

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.

 

Weekly Recap: April 3 – April 9

(I wanted to add photos but something is wrong with my phone and I can’t get them off onto my computer!!!)

It’s been awhile! I know I haven’t done a weekly update in a while – I have been completely OUT OF TIME. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been pretty stressed out and not been feeling the greatest, so this plays into my silence. But here I am now, and I wish I had this lovely update to give you about how great things are going, but I’m not going to sugarcoat things – I’m hurting. I’ve been struggling with some peroneal tendonitis since Ragnar and I finally doomed myself in last week with my long run.

Taking some time off to help the inflammation go down and hopefully I’ll be running by Friday for my long run. Lot’s of icing, stretching and rolling on the schedule, along with any pain-free cross training.

Monday, April 3: I ran a lot earlier in the morning because of a doctor appointment I had later. The weather was pretty nice – it’s finally spring – and I was really enjoying myself EXCEPT for my ankle. I wouldn’t call it pain I was feeling, but something definitely didn’t feel right. Every step my ankle felt weak and like the little bones in my foot were moving or something. I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what it felt like. I felt like my foot needed a good crack to make sure everything was in place.

Other than the weird ankle/foot sensations, the run was great. I ran along the Mt. Vernon Trail and went about 7 miles. My legs felt pretty fresh considering the week before was a recovery week and mileage was super low.

7 road miles – 7:55 min/mile pace

Tuesday, April 4: Decided to take a rest day because of ANOTHER doctor appointment. My lyme doctor is about 45 minutes from where I live so by the time I drive out there, have the appointment and drive back, my morning is pretty much shot. I was feeling the tightness in my peroneal this morning so I decided the rest would be my best bet.

Doctor appointment went fine – had more bloodwork done. When I got home I had a little bit of time before work so I decided to go for a nice walk instead. I walked along the Potomac for 2.3 miles just listening to music and thinking things through. Definitely needed it before work.

Rest Day
2.3 mile walk

Wednesday, April 5: Workout day! I wasn’t as excited about my tempo workout as I usually am because of the ankle pain. I decided to suck it up and hit up the treadmill anyways though, thinking the tendon would loosen up as I ran.

Once I got going on the treadmill though and started pumping some jams I felt okay. The peroneal was definitely tight and ached for most of the run, but the pain was manageable. I ended up being able to complete my entire workout – 7 X 5 min repeats with 1 min recovery in between – with my speed portions being between 6:30-6:05 min/mile pace. I did my cool down outside and ended the day with over 10 miles.

15 min. w.u., 7X5 min up-tempo, 1 min recovery in-between – 8.3 miles, 6:53 min/mile
2.1 mile c.d. – 18:09 mins, 8:28 min/mile pace

Thursday, April 6: ANOTHER rest day. I didn’t intend on resting today, but once I got home from work I couldn’t get myself to go and cross train like I was supposed to. I definitely didn’t want to run because of my ankle and I was trying to get ready for the next day’s long run, but I couldn’t get my butt onto my bike. So I ended up laying on my couch not doing anything. Womp wompppppp.

Rest Day

Friday, April 7: LONG RUN. What an adventure this run ended up turning into once out on the trail. The day before it POURED and we had storms and crazy wind, and it really messed up the trail. When I was driving out to Great Falls Park, I noticed how swollen the Potomac was and I knew the trail was going to be an epic mess. The wind was still very bad and I started getting nervous about falling tree branches and such, but I forced myself to keep driving.

My ankle was pretty sore this morning, even though I took Thursday off. When I first started running my ankle almost gave out with my first step, and I knew it probably wasn’t a good omen. Once I got going on the trail and relaxed, the pain pretty much disappeared.

The trail was flooded in a lot of places and the thick mud made me turn my ankle a few times, unfortunately. There were A LOT of huge trees down and it made me so paranoid to have to run off the trail and around. For once, I forgot to spray myself with bug spray before I started and all I could think about were ticks! Every time I had to jump off trail or a branch brushed up against my side I stopped and checked myself for freaking ticks. So as you can imagine, I stopped a lot on this run.

I wasn’t able to make it out as far as I wanted on the heritage trail because of fallen trees so I turned back early and ran some trails in Great Falls I’ve never went out on before. They were so nice and even though I was tired as the miles racked up, I was having a freaking blast out there. I think this is the first run where my nutrition and hydration were on point. I was eating every 40 minutes and drinking my tailwind from my hydration vest and I actually felt pretty good.

By the time I was done with 20 miles I was definitely tired, but honestly, if I had to go further I knew I could. This was a good feeling to have, especially struggling with the tendonitis. I’ve never done two 20 mile runs (and a 36 mile ragnar) in one training cycle, so to finish this run up made me feel really good and confident.

As soon as I got home I stretched and iced my ankle and it felt pretty good. It wasn’t until I tried to get up from the couch a few hours later I realized how much pain my peroneal was in. Dave and I decided to walk to Crystal City to see a friend at the 5k Fridays and during the 1 mile walk I felt my peroneal loosen up again. Honestly, I thought I would be okay for my 10 miler the next day.

20.1 trail miles – 9:12 min/mile pace

Saturday, April 8: I woke up early for an event I was holding at the store, and immediately I knew I was in trouble. I woke up several times during the night and every time I moved around I could feel the pain in my peroneal. When I got out of bed the pain walking was intense, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run. It immediately put me into a pisser.

It didn’t help when I went to drive to my event that my car wouldn’t start. I felt like everything was going wrong for me and immediately I felt myself shift into a negative attitude about everything. I was upset about my car, upset about going to work on my day off (even though I had volunteered) and upset my “training was going to shit.” It’s absolutely incredible what missing a run can do to someone who is used to running all the time.

After the event I went home and cleaned up around the apartment before getting a new battery in my car. I had plans that evening to go out with friends to the pub, but immediately I cancelled. I felt myself retreating into that dark place where I didn’t want to see or be near anyone. I was sure I ruined myself for my 50k I’ve been training forever for and I was so mad at myself.

Later in the afternoon I took myself to a massage appointment with great hopes it would be a fix-all. I told her about the tendonitis and she focused on that ankle for a lot of the appointment and HOLY CRAP DID IT HURT. I feel like my ankle is still a little bruised from her digging in there. But I was able to walk normally when I stood up after the appointment, and the pain was cut by about 70%. As much as I wanted to push it and try and run, I told myself no and rested on the couch for the rest of the evening.

I iced a lot, cooked up some veggie chili, and watched some documentaries until it was time for bed. I was still feeling pretty mad at myself about the tendonitis and for letting it affect my entire day, but I took some Advil, put on some anti-inflammatory cream and went to bed.

Sunday, April 9: I woke up ready to be in a better mood. I made myself coffee, relaxed and enjoyed myself before I had to go into work. Sometimes, I feel like it’s okay to have one of those days where you kinda wallow and feel angry at the world (as long as you don’t let it consume you and continue for a long time). What I felt Saturday was completely normal. It was frustration, anger, and sadness about my injury. And it’s ok. But I was ready to leave it behind.

I KNOW you can’t lose fitness by taking 1-2 weeks off. When people come to me for running advice, especially if they’re hurting with an injury, I preach this all. the. time., but it’s hard to take your own advice.

I believe in myself. I reminded myself to stop comparing my training to anybody else’s, because every person is different. I reminded myself I was able to complete both marathons I’ve done in the past off less than 30 mile/week mileage. I reminded myself just how strong I am physically and mentally – and I felt happy.

It was a beautiful day so I decided to ride my bike to work. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten in the saddle and I had so much fun riding to the store. It’s less than 3 miles so it was super quick, but it was enough to get those endorphins flowing. Work ended up being so busy I didn’t even have time to think about my tendonitis because I was running all over the place like a crazy person – definitely my workout for the day.

After I rode home I immediately ate dinner because I was unable to eat all day at work. Now that the days are longer, there was still some sunlight after I finished, so dave and I went for a little walk. We ended at the grocery store so I could pick up a few things for the week and when we got back to the apartment, I went down to the gym to see if any cross training didn’t hurt. I rowed for about 10 minutes (and felt great) but because there were a few twinges in the ankle I decided to stop. I hopped on the elliptical and that wasn’t great so I left and went back to the apartment to ice, roll and stretch.

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 37.5 Miles

THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK: Obviously not the mileage I wanted to hit this week. I’m about 13-14 miles short of what I wanted, but it’s okay. I’m in the final stretch here, and it’s about making it to the start line, not pushing myself through painful miles. I’m happy I got the 20 miler in even though I know I would have felt a little more confident having the 10 miler the day after as well. But I’ve already done that once in my training and I’ve only gotten stronger since then, so I think all will be okay.

I’m going to keep stretching, icing and rolling and hopefully I’ll be okay for 15 miles this Friday and maybe 7 or so on Saturday. I’m not going to push or force anything. Maybe this injury is an opportunity for me to get back into cross training/strengthening so I can better incorporate it into my 57 miler training this summer. It’s going to be so important!

I picked up some anti-inflammatory juices to try this week as well and I’m going to try and really clean up my diet. I’ve been eating a lot of processed crap and it’s not doing me any favors.

Here we go! IT’S THE FINAL COUNT DOWNNNNNNNN.

Training Update: February 27-March 5

Gahhhhhh I can’t believe it’s already March. But here we are. I’m not even going to apologize for posting my training late because I’ve had so much on my plate lately, I can’t believe I actually have time to right this update at the moment. So, I’ll just dive right into it.

This was a recovery week and I NEEDED it. After hiking old rag and having two long runs back to back last week I definitely was hurting. My left achilles, especially.

Monday, February 27: Rest day! I welcomed this day so much because I was absolutely exhausted from the weekend. I did some stretching today and that was about it other than work. I definitely noticed a tightness in my achilles, which I blame on power-hiking Old Rag.

When I came home from work I did have a nice surprise because Dave made dinner and it was awesome. The recipe came from Blue Apron and they were curry veggie fritters. He used gluten-free mazto meal instead of the regular they provided, and it was still delicious!

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Rest Day.

Tuesday, February 28: Woke up bright and early today because I needed to go to a training session in DC with Brooks. The session was pretty cool,  but I didn’t take advantage of most of the experiences they had there because I was crunched for time.

By the time I got home I didn’t have much time before I had to go to work. I decided to go for a little run on the Mt. Vernon trail and immediately felt the tightness still in my calves.  Other than the tightness, the run was pretty good.

Because my car was already at work (I carpooled to the Brooks event), I decided to just walk the 2 miles to the store instead of Uber. It was a beautiful day and the walk helped stretch my legs out a little bit more.

When I got home from work I did a little bit of strengthening, maybe 15 minutes? I focused mainly on abs and some leg lifts, but because my calves and hips felt so tight I was afraid to worsen the pain and I skipped out on a lot of exercises.

I also made myself Daiya Mac and cheese because it’s amazing, especially after a long day. It’s gluten-free AND vegan…so winning?

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LOOK AT IT.

3.2 miles road miles – 7:58 min/mile pace
2.6 miles walk to work
15-20 minutes strengthening – abs, some leg lifts

Wednesday, March 1: Woke up still feeling pretty tired so decided today would be a cross training day.

Well, that never happened. I did, however, go for a nice little walk midday before work to try and work through the million thoughts in my head. I ended up walking for about 40 minutes with the intention of doing an hour of cross training after work on the bike. lol.

40 minute walk on Mt. Vernon Trail – 2.4 miles

Thursday, March 2: For whatever reason, I love going for a run after my Thursday work shift. It’s such a stress reliever after work, and I always end up running over to Gravelly point to watch the planes take off and land.

It was pretty windy today so watching the planes take off reminded me of my harrowing experience landing at DCA in the 70 mph wind gusts, but that’s another story. I only stopped for a minute or so and then headed home.  I went nice and easy and my legs felt pretty good, despite lingering tightness in my left achilles. I ran in compression socks and have been wearing them almost all week to help with blood flow and the tightness.

5 road miles – 7:50 min/mile pace

Friday, March 3: Friday morning I decided to head into Clarendon to do some writing in a cafe I used to always go to before work. I actually got a lot of writing done for a few hours, but by midday I was pretty restless and decided to go for a short run. I ditched my stuff in the Clarendon store and went for a quick run around the nearby neighborhoods.

It was another really windy day, which made it feel a lot colder than it really was outside. I felt good on the run, other than my left achilles really tightening up mid run. LOTS of stretching afterwards.

When I got home from Clarendon I decided to craft up a delicious dinner for Dave and I. I made a tomato sauce with some broccoli, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, vegan sausage and goveggie parm cheese over gluten free shells. SO YUM.

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3.3 road miles – 8:00 min/mile pace

Saturday, March 4: Great Falls day! I’ve really come to love running in this park and I couldn’t wait to get there and get to run short AND easy. Dave ran a little bit with me, but for the most part I was alone. I felt really strong on the uphills, despite my achilles still being a little bitch. It was also a beautiful, winter morning (the first it feels like in forever) so I was in such a wonderful mood to be out there in my tights and long sleeve. All this warm weather so early on makes me super nervous for this summer.

I ended with 6.1 miles in the bank but because I couldn’t find Dave, I ran back out along the trail looking for him. I ended up running an extra mile looking for him, when all along he was just a few minutes behind me to get to the car and I left too soon. Whoops!

6.1 trail miles – 8:46 min/mile pace
1 mile through parking lots – 8:11 min/mile pace

Sunday, March 5: Originally this was going to be my second rest day of the week, but because I took Wednesday off, I wanted to cross train. I waited allllll morning and even though I had plenty of time before work I decided not to do it. Big mistake.

Work was super busy so by the time I got home I was exhausted. Decided not to get on my bike again and I took an extra rest day. Not mad about it, but seriously I SUCK at cross training and doing strengthening.

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my best friends this week: feetures compression socks!!!

Rest Day.

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 21.3 miles. Right on target for a recovery week!

NOTES ON WEEK: Not so bad. The not cross training and strengthening is really beginning to eat away at me but I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I wouldn’t be struggling with my achilles if I was doing strengthening all along, but I’m trying not to get too hung up about it. I only have time and energy for so much.

I also was very careful with what I was eating this week, and I’ve noticed I really do feel 10X better when I avoid dairy. I’ve been doing well with being gluten-free (except I did start having a few beers here and there on the weekend with friends if I’m feeling ok) and I’ve been vegetarian now since January.  I’d really like to make the full commitment of being vegan because I find I feel SO much better, but I always find dairy sneaking into some of the snacks I eat.

So that’s about it. I always wish I felt a little bit better during recovery weeks but I think the point is to work out all those blah feelings in the legs and mind. I’m going to really be focusing on stretching and keeping my achilles pain under control this coming week… Ragnar is only a few weeks away!!! AHHHH.

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 13 – February 19

Little late with the weekly update, I know! I’ve been super busy these past few days working at the running store because of the holiday weekend, and holy hell did it take ALL my energy. But here we are.  Definitely been struggling with some knee pain lately and it’s most likely the increased mileage and lack of strengthening. I really, really need to get on top of this.

Monday, February 13: Rest day. My knee was feeling a little creaky from the half marathon the day before, and my body was EXHAUSTED from the harrowing flight the night before. I let myself sleep in a little today and tried not to do anything stressful.  Wasn’t feeling sore at all from the half marathon, but I wasn’t expecting to either with the pace we ran it at.

My Whoop heart rate monitor arrived today! I am super excited about this piece of equipment and I’m really hoping it’s going to help me keep on track with my training, rest days, etc. When I get excited, I have a tendency to over do it. This monitor allows me to track my sleep, workouts and recovery based off HRV and my heart rate.  Excited!!!

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My new Whoop HRV monitor!

Rest Day

Tuesday, February 14: I had a meeting in Clarendon this morning so I decided to get my run in before I headed back home. After the meeting I ran from the Clarendon store to the Custis trail and did 5 easy miles. I always forget how hilly this trail is, but the hills were a nice little wake up call to my legs. It was a beautiful morning – it actually started flurrying once I finished up the run.

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gray morning pre snow flurries on the Custis Trail

I totally forgot it was Valentines Day, so I’m happy I got my run in before work, because Dave surprised me with a vegan dinner creation when I got home from closing up the store. It was delicious!

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vegan sweet potato fajitas for dinner!

5.1 miles outside – 8:08 min/mile pace

Wednesday, February 15: Treadmill workout today! I wanted to get a little tempo work in so I headed to the gym. After a 15 minute warm up I wasn’t really feeling the greatest but decided to try the workout anyways. I ended up doing 6X5 minute repeats uptempo and my pace was anywhere in between 6:25-6:00 min/mile pace.  So not bad!

I cooled down outside on the Mt. Vernon trail for 15 minutes.

15 minute w.u., 6X5 min uptempo, 1 min recovery – 7.4 miles, 6:52 min/mile pace.
15 minute c.d – 1.8 miles, 8:29 min/mile pace
(9.2 miles for the day)

Thursday, February 16: NOT feeling good today. Even though my knee didn’t hurt at all yesterday, it was killing me when I woke up this morning. I struggle with the pain on and off all the time because of the arthritis, but I could definitely feel some swelling in there. I put on some anti-inflammatory cream and a compression sleeve for the whole day before I decided to try and run after work at 9:00 pm.

I ran on the treadmill and there was a decent amount of pain. Decided to cut the run short and hit up the treadmill for a little bit instead to take some impact off the joint.  Once I finished up the treadmill/elliptical, I headed back up to my apartment to do some strengthening.  I didn’t do anything strenuous since I was already sore – some abs, leg lifts and push ups.

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I iced and stretched A LOT afterward.

3 treadmill miles – 8:16 min/mile pace
15 minutes elliptical
20-30 minutes strengthening

Friday, February 17: I woke up feeling a little apprehensive about trying to go for a longer run because of the knee pain. Decided to go for it anyways and head to Great Falls Park, reasoning if I couldn’t run, at least I could hike around instead and enjoy the beautiful day.

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According to Whoop, I nailed my sleep recovery goal! 

I ended up getting a fantastic run in! I did have knee pain but as I ran, it loosened up a little. I took it nice and slow on the trails and it was such a beautiful day I ended up forgetting all about my knee. I love challenging myself on the hills back there.

After my run I walked around the park for another mile or so just enjoying the day and letting my legs/body cool down.

At the end of the day, I decided to run again with Dave when he got home from work. Since I need to be getting ready for the Ragnar in a month, I didn’t see any problem going out for 3 more slow miles with Dave to round out the day. We ran along the Mt. Vernon trail together and my legs felt absolutely fine. I wore my patella knee strap to give a little more support for my knee and didn’t really notice it after the first minute or so of running.

9 trail miles – AM – 8:59 min/mile pace
3 road miles – PM – 8:36 min/mile pace

Saturday, February 18: Long run day! I had so much fun at Great Falls the day before, I decided to head back. Since it was a holiday weekend and it was going to be like 70 degrees, I headed out early because I knew the park was going to get mobbed.

I had some knee pain as I started the run but it dissipated over the next couple of miles. I ran with my Nathan hydration vest and I seriously love having my water and nutrition right at my fingertips.

I went farther out on the Potomac Heritage trail than I’ve ever gone before and it was kinda creepy out there. I ended up playing some music via my phone’s speaker on the way back to civilization just because it was SO QUIET and I’m honestly not used to it. The music helped motivate me to make it back to Great Falls though, especially the last 3 miles or so when I was really starting to feel my knee pain come back.  The trail was a little muddy too, so I really had to slow down at a lot of points so I wouldn’t wipe out in the slick mud.

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All in all, I made it 14 miles on the trail and I was so happy when I finished. And when I was leaving the park – totally right about it getting mobbed. The entire parking lot was full, and there was a line of cars all along the road leading into the park as cars waited to get in. Happy with my decision to get my butt in gear a little earlier today.

I iced and stretched and wore my compression sleeve for the rest of the day and actually, my knee didn’t feel too bad!

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post long run noms = deliciousness

14 trail miles – 9:02 min/mile

Sunday, February 19: Today called for 6 miles but I knew I was going to cut it short the moment I woke up. I could feel some stiffness in my knee so I really didn’t want to push it too much, and instead went out for a short run with Dave before work. We ran along the Mt. Vernon trail nice and slow and even though my knee didn’t feel too bad, I stopped after 2.6 miles.

I had the intentions of getting on the bike trainer in the evening after work but it was SO CRAZY at work with the sale, all I could do was collapse on my couch when I got home. No strengthening, no cross training, no nothing.  You win some, you lose some.

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me and my icing buddy 🙂

2.6 road miles – 8:32 min/mile

 

WEEKLY MILEAGE TOTAL: 45.9 miles.  Ahhhhh the .9 kills me (why couldn’t I of ran .1 more miles?!) but that’s okay.  I’m not going to lie, I wanted a little bit more mileage for this week, but given the knee pain – I’ll take it.

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I keep disappointing myself with my lack of strengthening and cross training but I’m really trying not to beat myself up too much about it. I’m on my feet all day, working two jobs AND trying to train for an ultra marathon so I only have so much time. I know the strengthening will help me so I really need to get to it though.

gahhhhhhhhh.

Hoping the knee starts to feel better soon!

 

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 :).