Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The highs and lows...

The Denver Half Marathon is 18 days away, and I've got a big problem.

The group run on Saturday was the infamous "Parker Run". I've been hearing tales of its mercilessness since I joined the group several weeks ago. My 7 mile run a few weeks ago was hilly but, as everyone reminded each other as we collected back in the parking lot to retrieve our keys, "it wasn't quite as bad as Parker..."

On top of all this anticipation, I may or may not have mentioned before that as my long runs get to 7+miles, I feel a little unsure of myself. I'm not sure why 7 is the trigger, but for me, it is. Also, just coming off that awful 8miler that I did in TN... well, let's just say I was a little intimidated by my 9miler from the get-go.

So, I don't know if it was my attitude or if it was just the hills, but my 9miler turned out about like I expected it would. I couldn't make the hills. I had to stop and walk. I ran S-L-O-W on the parts where I could run at all. Even on the way back, when it was mostly downhill, I didn't run very strong. Maybe that was due to the completely demoralizing run out right before? Either way, I kept on going and only had to walk maybe a half mile out of the entire thing... But it wasn't a great day.

Big deal, right? Bad runs happen to everyone, and I shouldn't have been surprised by this one, considering all the advance warning I'd received by other members of the group.

The problem is... that run stole everything from me. I dragged back to my car with no confidence whatsoever. All of the sudden, I'm very fearful that I'm not ready for Denver. I feel undertrained and weak and just not ready. It even stole my motivation. I could barely force myself to run a measly 2miles yesterday after work. I didn't want to run. I would have rather gone home and watched TV.

Maybe it wasn't just the Parker run. Maybe it was the combination of the TN run along with the Parker run. Maybe it's all those weeknight runs I missed when my foot was hurting too bad to run. Maybe it's my haphazard diet? Maybe it's just old habits that come back too easily when the tide is going against me?

Whatever the cause of it, I am scared. I wanted to feel much differently about the race at this stage in the game.

This weekend I have a 10miler at the good ol' Highline Canal. Miah says that he thinks going back to where it all started will be good for me. He thinks that knowing the route and not being intimidated by it will help me recover from this latest trip-and-fall. He also thinks I can "think" my way out of my current attitude and back into confidence.

I'm trying, but I'm not so sure it's going to work.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What did I do to deserve this?

I just had two of the most amazing weeknight runs of my life. Seriously, I mentioned Tuesday night's 2miler briefly in the last post because I thought it must surely be a fluke. I ran the two fastest miles I've ever run, I believe. Both were under 12m/m.

I figured it was just because it was only 2 miles, but I was still pretty proud of myself because I kept a good pace even on the uphill mile.

Then, last night, I had a 4 miler scheduled. I ran a new route from my office and my average pace? 12:09.

The first mile? 11:04.

What is going on around here? And why, all of a sudden, am I doing so well after that horrible wreck of a run in TN?

I am noticing a slight pattern... Back at the HM relay that I did with Miah and Jeff in April, it was cold and I ran fast (well, fast for me). It's been cold this week in Denver and I've been running fast. Is it possible that I just run that much faster when the temperature drops? Anyone else experience this?

Either way, I really like running fast. It feels like I'm really going somewhere! It feels great to stretch my legs out and take these long strides and feel the wind rushing past my face. And when I realize I'm running fast, and I try to rein it back in to a more reasonable pace, I find it very difficult to do!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The unhealthiest post-race snack. Ever.

Sea level is so over-rated. I went back to TN all cocky, what with my altitude training and my super red blood cells. But I met a bully called humidity. And humidity kicked my big old altitude-trained ass.

Seriously, I struggled to maintain 13 minute miles, I sweated more than I thought humanly possible. When I ran past the local high school in the pre-dawn hours, the display read "6:00AM, 78 degrees." I wish I was kidding. I did 5 miles before the race, rather than splitting up the run with the 5K. And without a doubt, the highlight of my running experience in TN was talking my little brother into running the local 5K that I referred to before I left. The 5K was a part of a big festival (called Depot Days) that the town throws once a year, so as soon as you finish the 5K, you had to walk less than 100yards to buy your own deep-fried twinkie and assorted Tennessee Vols gear. The weather was pretty crummy, so the events later in the day (the cake walk and the street dance, I guess) were likely cancelled.

Anyway, back to my little brother. He's not a runner. In his words: "Three miles? I can't even run from here to my truck and back!" But, my powers of persuasion are second to none, so I had a running partner for the last 5K of my dismal 8miler on Saturday. Here's a couple of pictures:

Here we are at the start...He's sort of smiling in this one.

And, he's definitely smiling as we approached the finish.

Suffice it to say that he was glad to be done. We finished in approximately 41 minutes, which was good enough for my brother to take a 1st place trophy in his age group! This race didn't exactly have a great turnout.

Afterwards I played with my very cute and adorable nephew (the soon-to-be big brother) at the assorted inflatable fun-houses. This was really fun until I saw a 6-year-old child pin him to the ground and shout "SUBMIT!" I wish I were kidding. This child was intense. Here's a picture of the cutie pie:

But the real reason for going to TN at all was to attend a baby shower for my sister-in-law. She's going to have my neice in October, and my mom and my aunt threw a truly beautiful baby shower for her. My aunt carved a baby carriage out of a watermelon. There were two towers of cupcakes. We made chocolate covered strawberries. We played fun games. And there was carrot cake. So it was worth the trip.

And, also while in TN, I started the process of talking my dad into training for a marathon with me. He's 54, and he used to do a lot of running when he was younger (35-40ish), but he hasn't in quite some time. I suggested that we train for and run the Memphis St. Jude Marathon in December 2010 together. He gave the very non-commital response: "I'll give it some thought." Which, in my dad's language, means: "I'm sure she'll forget about this in a couple of days... I hope." But I will not forget. As I mentioned before, my powers of persuasion are second to none.

I got back to the mile-high city with something to prove, after that pathetic 8miler on Saturday. So, today, I did an awesome 2miler from my office. In the rain. And cold. And snow. That's right, snow. I think I just run easier when it's cold out.

That's all I've got for tonight. Tomorrow is a 4miler for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My, what a tiny jog-bra you have!

OK, I just couldn't pass this up.

Today, I'm browsing over at, and I find a nifty little tool to help me decide what to wear, based on the temperature, the wind conditions, the sky (sunny, overcast, etc) and how I like to feel when I'm running...

I found this because I was browsing around trying to find ideas for what type of gear I should be looking for as winter comes up in Denver.

This handy-dandy little tool seemed like a cool idea. So, for today, I put in 65F, calm winds, overcast skies, and I like to feel "cool" when I'm running. And here's what I got in return:

We suggest you wear:

Hat with visor
A hat with a visor serves not only to keep the sun out of your eyes, but also to shield them from blowing snow and rain on the run. A lighter-colored hat helps to keep your head cool on warm days.
Short-sleeve shirt
Or singlet, or for women, as little as a jog-bra. The minumum upper-body coverage. While this may look like a classic T-shirt, a runner is actually best-off with a technical fabric like CoolMax which will pull sweat away from the skin, instead of absorbing it like cotton. This added comfort, combined with sun protection, can make a technical T-shirt a better choice than no shirt at all.
The basic element of any runner's wardrobe. Usually a nylon or technical fiber.


My favorite part of this is the suggestion that I go with "as little as a jog-bra." Now maybe there's some technical jargon of which I am unaware, but is a "jog-bra" not simply a sports-bra? And does it seem to anyone else that, by calling it a "jog-bra", you're immediately left with the mental image of some pretty little lightweight thing the size of a training bra the likes of which you might find on a 4th grader? In my mind, it's light pink with little daisies on it and probably smells like strawberry shortcake.

Sorry... This is completely ridiculous, but the thought of heading out in what refers to as a "jog-bra" made me laugh out loud at my desk. Overlooking all of the obvious, parts-of-the-body-that-don't-go-into-the-jog-bra modesty issues, I feel quite confident that there is not a company on this earth that sells a "jog-bra" that could adaquately handle my ridiculously oversized (and painful!) endowment.

That is all.


That pretty much sums up my last 3 weekday runs.

After the 7-miler on Saturday, other than a little soreness, I was feeling pretty good. Until I started out on Tuesday's (what was meant to be Monday's) brief little 2-miler.

You know how you just have those days? You stub your toe getting out of bed, then you slip and fall in the shower, then you notice a massive pimple right between your eyes, then you burn your toast, then you get a speeding ticket because you're running late for work... and so on? Well, that was the day-to-day equivalent of Tuesday's little 2-miler. From the office, the first mile was all downhill, but it felt really hard. When I heard the Garmin beep, I figured out why. 11:30! That's why. Which meant that the second mile, the uphill mile, was all that much more gruesome. I couldn't wait to get this one done and in the books so I was thrilled when I finally stumbled back to the parking lot to find my car... which, of course, had no awaiting bottle of water. Stupid Tuesday.

Wednesdays are a little tricky in our house because we take Ini to Doggie Daycare (aka "school") on Wednesdays. So, this means we have a pretty strict schedule of when we need to leave the house to drop him off, as well as when we have to leave work to pick him up. Until this week, it was even more crazy in the afternoons because we had to rush up to Indian Hills (oh, I've run those hills before) to take him to Agility class. However, this Wednesday we didn't have agility, so I planned a sweet little point-to-point route from our office out to a point close to where Miah would be driving after picking Ini up from school. I was really excited to be running a new route. So excited, in fact, that I left the house without... my Garmin. I did not realize this until I was already at the office, however, so going back for it was not an option. Immediately, Garmin-less anxiety set in.

Ugh. I've done these runs before. You know... where you just run. And you have no idea of your pace or your distance or anything? How did I ever survive pre-Garmin?

In the end, it was a pretty awesome run. It was annoying to not have any idea how far I'd gone at any given point... And it was annoying not to have any idea how fast I was going. But I did the run, and I felt really good! I ended up finishing in about 52minutes, for 4 miles, which is right at a 13m/m pace. I guess my body is learning how to run roughly the same pace with or without my Garmin directing me. The most annoying thing has to be that there is no record whatsoever that I even did this run. Aside from what I've just written here... and still there's no proof! I could have totally made this up!

The best part of this run, anyway, was finishing right at the car. Miah and Ini were waiting for me with lemon-lime gatorade. What could be better?

And then came today, when I was forced to run in the pre-dawn hours because I'm flying out to TN this evening to visit my family. Again, today, another terrible slog. I'm blaming this one on lack of rest. It was just a mere 12 hours ago that I ran that glorious 4-miler, after all.

It's either the lack of rest or the fact that my head just wasn't right before I even started. I just didn't want to be running. There are lots of runs that I start with this exact attitude, but usually it wears off after the first mile or so. Not so today. Again... I can easily blame this on the lack of sleep.

What was supposed to be a measly 3-miler turned into a 2.3miler. I just didn't have it today.

The really excellent news in all this is that I've done all my weekday runs this week, and my foot still seems to be holding up pretty well. I got the word back from the doctor on Tuesday that I do NOT have a stress fracture, though she also offered no explanation as to what actually is wrong with me. So, at this point, I figure I'm going to just keep running on it until my body says otherwise.

I'm on the schedule for an 8-miler this Saturday, though, as I mentioned, I'll be vacationing this weekend in TN with my parents. Luckily, my tiny hometown (and I mean tiny) is having its annual 5k race this weekend, so I'll be out there (with approximately 20 other people) on Saturday morning.

Question: If I run 3 miles, then pause and register for the race, then run the 5k then continue on for an additional 2ish miles after... does that qualify as an 8-mile run? Does pausing in the middle make the run less meaningful?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Saturday wrap up

Well, I did it. I ran 7 miles on Saturday with the group, just like I'd intended.

And the foot held up pretty well for the first 2 miles or so.

When I started the run, I felt pretty good. A very slight twinge of pain now and then, but otherwise I felt pretty healthy. I intentionally tried to hold back on the speed, which led to abysmal splits, but I thought it might be better for the injured foot to run slowly. But, right before the first water station, I was having consistent pain with every footfall. In all reality, I probably should have turned back as soon as it started hurting. But I've skipped so many weeknight runs in the last couple of weeks, I just couldn't bear to turn around. Finishing those 7 miles, however slowly, was an indication that I may still have a shot at running in Denver in 5 weeks.

Provided that the foot holds up, of course.

I am still waiting on the results from the bone scan that I had done last Thursday.

All in all, I had an average pace of 14:27 for Saturday's really hilly group run. The weather was perfect, but the course was tough, and I did end up walking 0.4miles in there along the way. You can get all the details here. It's starting to feel like fall in Colorado. I always love this time of year.

Miah keeps reminding me that I need to carefully weigh my options right now. Maybe I can keep running, through the pain, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I should. He says that if I keep going, I need to realize that I may be sacrificing other things down the road. Not only might I not be able to run in Memphis, but I also might sacrifice the upcoming ski season. These are good points, I realize, but I have been trying to ignore them up until this point.

That's it for now, as I have a date with my dentist. There will be drilling involved. Ugh. What a way to start a Monday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I am so back...

Injury update: I had the bone scan done today, but I've had ZERO pain for two days in a row now, which means I'm going to be running again. I'm going to do a few miles tomorrow, then I'm on the schedule for 7miles on Saturday. I may not have the results of the bone scan until early next week, but I feel confident that everything is fine now. I haven't run since Saturday, so I guess the rest (combined with the ibuprofen I've been taking in ludicrous amounts) was enough to get me better.

It's funny, but taking just a few days off running has made me realize how important running is to me. Sure, I complain about it every now and then (or every day), and sometimes it does genuinely suck... but, the thought of not being able to do it... well, it sort of makes all the other parts of my life fall apart, too.

I'll post a summary of tomorrow's run to let you know how the gimpy foot holds up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Of all the rotten luck...

I now have a pair of these:I didn't write anything last week because I was so upset about my latest misfortune and I kept thinking if I ignored it, maybe it would go away.

It began a few hours after my first group run. Miah and I were out looking at houses and I had a pretty nasty pain in my left foot. I figured it was a muscle spasm or something and it would go away with a little rest. But, it did not go away. I saw the chiropractor on Monday morning to rule out any weird bones-out-of-place issues. Then when I tried running on it on Tuesday, the pain got even worse. I hit my McDoctor's office on Wednesday, where they took an x-ray and didn't find anything wrong. Big surprise.

Still, I have my suspicions... I'm off for a bone scan come Thursday morning to find out if it is a stress fracture.

I did go out to the group run on Saturday, where I did 4 miserable miles. And, though I still have a lot of pain even just while walking, I'm going to try my hardest to get in a 2-miler today and a 3-miler tomorrow.

The thing is, I know there's something wrong with the foot. That much is clear, as it's been hurting for over a week now. But until I'm diagnosed with something, I can't just quit. What if I stay off the foot now (for another week) and then find out it was just a really bad bone bruise or something? Something that I could totally have run through? Then I'll be behind in my training and really mad at myself for giving up too soon.

At the same time, every time that I run (or walk, for that matter) I fear that I'm doing myself more damage. Maybe it's a situation where Denver is out of reach (a mere 6 weeks away), but if I stay off the foot I could still run Memphis?

I'm very torn about what to do. I'm obviously disappointed. I've put my heart into training for these races and I'm afraid they're about to be taken away from me.