20 Years

It’s been 20 years and I still remember exactly where I was when I found. Still remember my initial reaction. Still remember trying to hold it together while I processed what was happening. The memories are still so vivid… they always will be. It is difficult to forget something so horrific, something that changed not only you but the world as you knew it.

I really can’t believe it’s been 20 years…

I’d like to think this tragic event changed us for the better, but, if the past two years are any evidence (and oh trust me, they are), we are no better. In fact, we are worse.

This event which brought everyone together with love and support was fleeting and didn’t last. Now we are more interested in me me me and couldn’t give a damn about our neighbors or the people around us.

I’ve healed some over the last 20 years but the time hasn’t changed my feelings. I still cry over it, I still hurt over it.

This event will always be a part of me, it will always affect me.

I will never forget.

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CrossFit

The decision to take up CrossFit (CF) was not taken lightly. For one, it is expensive and if I was going to do this, I needed to decide what was important to me. Paying $200 + a month and only going 1 or 2 times a week is not money well spent. I analyzed my training and my goals and knew if I wanted to advance, I was going to have to make some changes.

I spent a good part of 2017 prioritizing strength training but I knew if I wanted to get to the next level, I wasn’t going to be able to go it alone.

After experiencing SLSC during their open house, I knew this place was a good fit for me. Most important, I knew the coaches knew their stuff. Further, a friend knew the owner and spoke very highly of him… since this friend was not strength training inclined, I knew his high praise was not something he would give easily.

Before I could chicken out, I booked the intro appointment. I knew my upper body strength was lacking but I also knew that, for the most part, my form wasn’t TOO terrible.  My squat, however, was a totally different story.

See, for the vast majority of fitness journey, I have been fortunate in that I am able to see and mimic fairly well. I am not in anyway saying I am perfect but I do a decent job. I also research exercises to teach myself the muscles I am supposed to be hitting to ensure while doing the movement that I am at least doing hitting the right muscles… if I am feeling it in completely different muscles, I am probably doing something wrong.

CF has some staple movements in a lot of their workouts: The Press, Squat & Deadlift. There are the two olympic lifts: Snatch and Clean as well. I knew next to nothing to about how to perform a snatch or clean but had my eye on them and wanted to learn. I could press and deadlift decently to. The squat however… yea…. not pretty.

At my intro appt, the coach asked what he should know about me to which I responded with “I am a smartass” (those that know me understand this response – those that don’t… its the truth). He chuckled and said asked if he should put that in my file, I said it wouldn’t be a bad idea. But then we started to discuss my background with movement and I told him, point blank, my squat is terrible. Less than 30 minutes later he confirmed that I was correct (though very politely).

I made it through the intro appointment and 4 required “elements” classes and started taking classes.

Of course, just my luck (meant seriously and sarcastically), I started classes while Squat was one of the main lifts that we were focusing on during the strength portion of classes.

SLSC class formats were always comprised of a warm-up, a strength session (though every once in a while we skipped strength so we could do a longer METCON), followed by the workout of the day (WOD).

Since I was committing to this being my main form of working out, I was committed to 4-5 days a week (running and bike commuting when I was able as well). The first several weeks every single coach told me I need to work on my squat to the point of joking that I needed to get printed on my tank tops, “Yes, I know my squat needs work.”

This was frustrating, to say the least but not because I was being criticized but because I was so bad at this movement. Well… Squats and jumping rope. Go figure….

I was honest with the coaches and told them that I knew I sucked at squatting but that was why I was there. There were LOTS of modifications in those first several weeks while the coaches worked with me to get my form better even if it meant using the trainer bar.

Eventually I started to improve on the squat (and jumping rope) and I was getting stronger on the other lifts.

Deadlifting is one movement I have always loved (any and all variations). I remember the first time failing on that lift because I tried to lift 135 (which would have been a PR) and I could get it to budge off the floor. A couple of months later, I was able to nail that weight for more reps (BTW).

I was getting stronger and I was getting better at all the lifts. I was also introduced to a slew of new lifts/workouts and I was in love.

Except for box jumps… It is a right of passage in CF to nail your shins in box jumps. But heaven forbid I do that just once… nope, I had to go big. I nailed BOTH my shins badly TWICE in one workout (and proceeded to do step ups for the rest of that workout). A few days later (when box jumps appeared in the workout again), I did it again but this time it was a bruise on a bruise and it was even more painful. Well… that was the end of box jumping for me. My shins needed to heal and then I had such a severe case of PTSD from them (which I am still not over BTW) that I stopped doing box jumps.

Throughout that first year, SLSC offered several special classes/training sessions to focus on certain lifts/elements often found in the sport. I took advantage when I could.

Then, a little over a year after my first class, I felt pain in my shoulder. Given where the pain was and how the pain felt, I assumed it was a slight delt strain which I sorta worked through. After taking a solid 3 weeks off (due to just a crazy 3 weeks where life happened) and returning, the pain came back almost immediately during warm up. It was time to admit that this was not a mild delt strain and was actually an injury.

Not a stranger to injuries, I did what I always did and started physical therapy. Forced to put CF on hold and cease any and all upper body strength work, I returned to running and focused BIG time on lower body strength work. I wasn’t able to do anything involving a barbell (putting one across my back to back squat hurt my shoulder) so I was back at my old gym using machines. There were lots of lunges and leg pressing during this time.

Once my shoulder was feeling better, I was cleared to start lifting upper body again but some movements still didn’t feel good. I did what I could and avoid the movements that didn’t feel good.

I was in physical therapy for 5 months and even had to start seeing a chiro/massage therapist… The muscles in my shoulder/upper back were NOT happy and didn’t want to play together nicely in the sandbox… so-to-speak.

Eventually I was cleared for all movements again. I decided to spend a month in the gym trying to get some of my strength and focus on the rehab movements in the hopes that I would be in a better place when returning to CF.

Well… returning to CF didn’t go as planned. My should still could not handle some movements… Barbell snatch was a hard no and so was any sort of pull-up variation.

I was disappointed.

Over the next several months, there were lots of modifications or avoiding certain workouts because they were too shoulder intensive. My shoulder just felt off and I knew something was still wrong.

I kept the massage therapist and chiro on the payroll figuring it was good monthly maintenance given the amount I workout… plus I had met my deductible by March 1st so it was free for the rest of the year :-p

Eventually, my chiro recommended a MRI. The diagnosis ended up being bursitis and tendonitis in one of my rotator cuff tendons… which solved the mystery of why some movements hurt and some felt fine.

I made the decision to move forward with the suggested treatment of a cortisone shot and some rest. I decided to take a solid month off.

I used the time to evaluate my situation. I had started to miss running. I lost a lot of strength. Despite loving SLSC and the people, the workouts were starting to leave me feeling disappointed more often than not. I had lost a good years worth of hard work with the injury and it bothered me. Plus I just didn’t trust my shoulder to continue a lot of the work in CF. I knew the coaches could modify for me and I actually did reach out to the owner to discuss some permanent modifications for me which he helped with and I took his advice. But I also felt bad taking that extra time away from the other members in class (no one expressed frustration… but I still felt bad). I found I was avoiding the workouts that had moves that, to me, were questionable.

I wasn’t working out as often as I used to and I didn’t like it.

Not able to deny what was going on any longer, I made the decision to stop CF. I decided I would try to get back into running and would continue to lift but would do moves I knew my shoulder could handle at the volume I knew was ok until I felt more confident in my shoulder.

This was not a decision I made lightly and it was difficult. I had found a wonderfully supportive community. The people are AMAZING. The coaches are AMAZING.

I just didn’t trust my body anymore.

Strength

One of the things I realized post-injury was that I needed to build up my strength. Fully understanding the importance of full body strength, I devised a plan around that.

Throughout 2016, however, I found it very difficult to stick with any plan. I was still running a bit, was doing HIIT training and doing strength work. Not really getting better at any thing.

Looking back, it was more maintenance than anything. My fitness stayed where it was. I didn’t move forward but I didn’t lose anything either.

This was not ideal.

I knew I was going to have to make some drastic changes. Never having been successful in maintaining a strength and running program, I knew I was going to have to choose one.

Then I found out that the HIIT place I was going to was closing. Well, this made it easier to give up that part of my training.

I went into 2017 with a new plan… and lots of travel in the first 2 months. This was not normal for me.

I ran a bit but ultimately if I found myself short on time, I choose to strength train over run. When I ran, I kept the mileage low and tended to use the running more as a way to warm up for a leg day.

I was getting stronger but still wasn’t getting where I wanted to be. I kept some races on the schedule but my weekly mileage was less than 10 miles a week still. I started bike commuting a bit to keep my cardio endurance up since I was trying to focus on getting stronger.

Then in May, the opportunity to try out a CrossFit Box arose. I jumped on it and knew I had found the right place to take me to the next level. The decision was made quickly and by the end of the month, I was ready to start taking CrossFit classes regularly.

More on CrossFit later 🙂

Break

It’s been a while… more than 4 years actually.

After my disappointment over the MIL Half in 2015, I knew I had to make some changes in my training. I spent most of 2016 mentally preparing myself for that change.

Then, in 2017, I made a switch. I started to emphasize strength training over running. I was still running but my mileage dropped significantly and I used it more as a warm up than the main training focus.

You see, I had been intrigued with CrossFit for years. My time unemployed in 2014 allowed me to experience it a bit and I knew I wanted to give it a try but I had been afraid to pull the trigger. I knew enough about working out to know that finding a good box with good instructors was key. If I walked into a CrossFit box and knew more than the instructors, that was going to be a problem.

Then a friend came into town and let me know that there was a free open house event at a CrossFit box not too far from my office. It was a chance to test out the place and instructors for free. So I went and LOVED it. Over the week that followed, I found out, through some other friends, that it was actually a really good place.

I made the decision to go for it. I went through the introductory appointment and the elements training and before I knew it, I was starting my first class.

Luckily the work I had been doing during the first half of the year gave me enough basic strength to be a little more than a complete newbie. I also found the other members to amazingly accepting and encouraging. I felt like I really found a place to belong.

For the rest of 2017 my main form of training was CrossFit. I still ran on occasion and was bike commuting as well.  I got stronger and even vastly improved my squat from (a lift I have always had issues with).

I then decided I wanted to put on muscle and knew I was going to have to adjust my nutrition plan so I started to work with a nutrition coach. I continued to get stronger but I was running less and less. Then in the summer of 2018 my shoulder started to really bother me. That September, due to natural life stuff, I was forced to take off most of the month from training. When I was able to get back in the gym, my shoulder started hurting within minutes of starting the workout. I knew whatever was going with my shoulder wasn’t a simple strain like I had thought… it was a full blown injury.

Well, I am no stranger to injury. I went into physical therapy and started running more to keep my fitness. I would lift but focused on the lower body and avoided anything that didn’t feel good with my shoulder (including back squats). I spent a solid 3 months in physical therapy but there was still something wrong.

Off to a chiropractor and massage therapist I went. In all honesty, I probably should have been going to a Chiro/Massage therapist all along for some basic maintenance given how often I work out… but I digress.

Things started to improve and I was able to start doing upper body work. But there was still something off with my shoulder. Certain movements hurt and I just couldn’t do them anymore. Have to admit, there was no love lost over not being able to do a barbell snatch anymore.

Throughout all of this, the CrossFit box was AMAZING. I was able to put my membership on hold while working through everything and then, when I started back up, all of the coaches were amazing with modifications to accommodate my shoulder.

I started to miss running though. And my shoulder still just felt off and I knew something else was wrong. After discussing with my chiro, he suggested a MRI (and hell… I had reached my deductible already so really, it was free).

Turns out I was correct and I did still have some issues with shoulder. Recommended coarse of treatment was a cortisone shot. I opted to take September and October off for the most part. I bike commuted and ran a few times but for the most part, I let my body heal.

November came around and I started to get back into a normal groove. Lifting at my old gym and trying to get my running fitness back. However, the time off  that I took in September and October meant my fitness level took a sever hit.

Knowing that Thanksgiving was coming up, I decided I would get my running back on track with a run streak of sorts. Thought I modified it so it would fit my life and the holidays a little better.

I was doing ok with it but my pace was WAY off what it used to be and I found myself disappointed more often than not.

When I decided that I was going to have to give up CrossFit, I knew I was going to miss the community the most. I started looking into Peloton.

Throughout my winter run streak, I noticed that my body wasn’t responding to running very well. My left calf tightened up way too quickly and, more often than not, was VERY painful. Well… I am stubborn so I found a way to work around it but ultimately, I knew if I wanted to get my fitness back, I was going to have to figure something else out.

That was when I made the final decision to purchase the Peloton. I figured with a bike at home, I would be able to cross-train more. I put together a plan to try and run 1-2 times a week and supplement the rest of the weeks training with the Peloton. I was going to keep lifting too. I had a plan and was excited about it.

I shared this news with my parents deciding I would take advantage of them having a Peloton Store near them while I visited over the holidays. I was going to have to get cycle shoes and had ZERO idea what size I might be… having only worn them once. Plus I didn’t want to deal with a delivery/set-up when work is, historically, most busy in December and I didn’t want try and figure out where to put the bike while my tree was still up.

Well, come Christmas morning, I was shocked to learn that my parents would purchasing the bike for me!!!!!!

I was beyond shocked and thrilled. The following day it was off to the Peloton store with my parents (AKA Dad’s Credit Card :-P) to purchase my present and the accessories I wanted (which were on my credit card).

My delivery date set and the ability to work remote for a few hours in the afternoon and I had my new toy.

I hopped on right away and loved it. Over the course of January, I fell in love. With the awful weather in Chicago and knowing that New Year Resolutioners would be crowding up the gym (I approve of their commitment to change but they annoy me to no end) I decided to just stick with the bike for all of my training in January and February.

I was getting ready to start trying to run and lift again and then Covid happened. My company started to work remote full time on March 17th. With everything shut down, including the Lake Front Trail, and deciding it was better to stay in to assist with flattening the curve. The Peloton became my only source of working out… and quite frankly, sanity.

So here we are, 8 months into 2020 and I have turned from runner to crossfitter to biker.

Throughout all of this, I have only stuck with two races each year. Run for the Zoo where I started doing the 5K instead of the 10K and Pumpkins in the Park. I’ve been lucky participating in these races with a running buddy… Though, in all honesty, Zoo 2018 was the last one that I “ran” at a lovely conversational pace with a wonderful woman. The others have been done for fun and have been more walk/run not caring about finish time.

My plan for 2020 had to go out the window quickly but hey… it happens.

Now I track my bike miles, pace and output just like I used to track the running miles and pace. There have been many PRs on the bike and I have found a great, supportive community all from the safety of my own home.

But that 2015 half still nags at me. I miss the strength training and the progress I made (which I have to work back to). I miss running. I love the Peloton and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect but I had strength and running goals that I haven’t accomplished yet.

It’s been odd committing to training with no real end goal this entire year. Sure, I have set short terms goals (60 day bike streak, hitting certain mileage in a week/month, PR a ride that I took in the past when I take it again, 100 Rides then 150 Rides… on my way to 200 rides). Its been fun having new goals to chase and something to strive for but all of those other goals are still there.

I need to find a balance. I need a longer-term plan and short-term goals to attain. The world is uncertain right now so I need to keep that in mind too.

Four years later and this is where I am. I’ll figure it out.

Hopefully you will join me on this journey again 🙂

Race Report: SF10 2016

For those following along… or not following along as the case may be… I haven’t been a very good blogger. If it makes you feel better, I have written a ton of blog posts in my head… I just haven’t actually put them down on paper… so-to-speak

If you follow me on Instagram, then you are probably aware that I am not running as much as I used to. There is a reason for this and it is all part of a bigger picture… but all of that is a blog post in and of itself.

So this whole lack of running thing kinda means that I was going into this race a little blind. The last race I ran for time was back in November when I ran a half while injured.

This whole not really running thing does not mean I have been slacking off. Quite the opposite, I have still been working out hard but I have been leaning more towards HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and trying to get back into strength training.

I knew, from a cardiovascular perspective, I was in top shape… my only question was how would my body handle the pounding of 10 miles. My longest training run was an easy 6 miler with Eric and other than that ONE (yes, one) 6 miler the majority of my running has been 5 milers or running to/from my HIIT training (which is between 1 and 2 miles).

Weekly mileage has been incredibly low… so… yea… running blind

My overall goal going into this race was still that 1:40:00 that I have been chasing for a couple of years now but I also knew that, realistically, I am not really in PR shape for a 10 mile race right now.

Then you factor in the weather… we went from winter to summer more or less overnight so there has been zero time to acclimate.

I didn’t exactly have factors stacked in my favor but I still hoped for one of those perfect running days when the running gods and weather gods decide to be nice… spoiler alert… the gods didn’t get the memo.

I had also figured out that this would be my 79th overall race. And despite having run 78 races already… race anxiety was still out in full force… so needless to say, I did not sleep all that well.

These early race starts are when my work schedule work in my favor because I only had to get up 15 minutes earlier than I normally do for work… then again, I had been wide awake for a solid hour and a half before my alarm went off…. lovely…

Race morning and I checked the weather… it was already 68 degrees at 5 am with about 70% humidity… yea… the weather gods DEFINITELY did not get that memo

I had prepped my bag the night before so I didn’t have much to do in the morning and headed out to the train. The train ride was uneventful and as soon as I got off the train I spotted Eric so we walked to the race together. I checked my bag, took my turn at the port-a-potty (it was far more complicated to get back inside to use a normal restroom) then grabbed a bottle of water and got into my corral.

There wasn’t a ton of time to kill and one of the things I love about this race is the pre-race stuff. Since the race is always on Memorial Day weekend and always at Solider Field… well… you can guess the theme. After a moment of silence for our fallen heroes and heartfelt thank you for those that serve the race began.

Thanks to a nice little 8K PR last summer, I was placed into a decent corral and was right at the front of the start line…. Of course as soon as we were off, I remembered why I told myself that was a bad idea last year… It causes me to go out too fast

It took me about a quarter mile to adjust my error and soon we were heading under the old McCormick place or McCormick Place East and I couldn’t help but think that it would be wonderful if the Star Wars museum went in here and this horrendous under pass was eliminated… but I digress

Mile one split and I am on pace for my goal but I was also very thirsty already… not the best sign but I know that there is a water station about a half mile up. I grab my water at the station and take a short walk break so I can actually drink the water instead of wear it.

At the mile two split, I lost some time but I am still even for my 1:40:00 goal. I was optimistic but I was already thirsty again… and it had only been a half mile.

Once I get to mile 3 I see that I am not WAY off pace… I am also dying of thirst. Yea… this isn’t good. Luckily there is a water station so I grab a cup of water to sip while I walk and take another cup of water to sip half of and then dump the rest on my head.

Mile 4 split and I notice that I am no longer sweating… with just a mere 6 miles left in the race. I am even more off pace now and I know I can either finish the race or I can put myself into danger. Given that I have played the severe dehydration at a race game once before, I opt for the smarter decision and back off a bit.

Right before mile 5 is the turn around and for once I am thankful to be on the LFT because I know there are water fountains there. I stop at the water station which is shortly after the turn around point but I am also walking more than I would like. I keep telling myself to run a quarter mile and walk a tenth but my body is just not cooperating. I proceed to stop at every single water fountain I see.

Come mile 6 I am still stopping at water fountains and I know there is another water station around mile 7. I have internal dialogue going about fighting and not giving up but my throbbing head reminds me that I need water.

I start to feel better after the mile 7 water station and find it easier to push myself a little so I start to try to extend my running intervals a bit and I succeed a bit.

By mile 8 I have still been stopping at water stations and it is definitely helping because I am feeling significantly better than I was just two miles ago. A quick glance at the mile 8 clock tells me there is zero way I am coming in under 1:40:00 and now even a 1:50:00 is out of reach but I still have a fighting chance to come in under 2:00:00

And really… coming in over 2:00:00 would have just royally pissed me off

Time to fight

I manage to run more than walk and I grab water at the last station and try to talk myself into kicking it up a notch for mile 9…

My body just doesn’t entirely agree with that whole kicking it up a notch part. But I do manage to run almost all of mile 9 so that’s something.

When I hit the down hill that will bring us into the stadium, I use the momentum to gun it… and then we TURN instead of going straight. DAMNIT!!!!!!!!

Stupid Beyonce is in town for a concert… and there are TWO shows on consecutive nights so the stage is blocking out NORMAL entrance onto the field.

AHHHHHHHH

I am beyond pissing and moaning in my head right now because I was counting on using that downhill like I have in years past but since we have a little extra to go now (I thought the course was a little different this year) so I start losing speed and am barely holding on trying to keep gunning as hard as I can through the finish. I want to go wide into the finish line but I am boxed in and can’t get around anyone so I am forced to slow just a tad.

I cross the line and feel like I am dying… that little reroute definitely did me in. I know I am officially done for the day.

Another favorite aspect of this race is that service members hand out the medals which is just beyond awesome. They congratulate us when they are the ones we need to congratulate.

After getting my medal and my water, I go and grab my bag… from the person who apparently doesn’t know what bib number area she is working in because it takes her quite some time to find my bag (despite my pointing it out several times) but she keeps telling I am in the wrong number area :-/

Finding Eric was easy because he was waiting outside by the exit. We start heading back to the train. I invite him to get breakfast with me but he isn’t all that hungry. I opt to get off the train a few stops early so I can transfer to a bus to eliminate the mile walk from the train to get breakfast (which is a block from my place).

I was thrilled that I came in under two but I definitely have some work to do and I know I cannot skimp on the long runs come fall training cycle.

3 SF10 5-28-16

4 SF10 5-28-16

 

 

 

Perspective

I have been writing this post in my head for months now…  but I have failed to actually put the words down on paper… errrr… so-to-speak

Perhaps the  main reason I haven’t actually written the post is because it STILL bothers me…

Yes, that little half marathon that I ran in Milwaukee in November… the one where I failed to meet my time goal by 15 minutes.

Yep, that’s the one.

It still bothers me… but I know it shouldn’t

I worked so hard for a year…well… more than a year. I think my training for that race truly started when I got laid off from my old job and I threw all of my emotions into the only thing I could control… My running.

And everything fell into place. I got faster and I stopped fearing the long run. I PR’d every race that fall. I went to Disney World and accomplished something that, when I signed up for the series of races, knew was a HUGE gamble given how my running had been over the previous few years.

By all accounts… I was in the best running shape of my (admittedly) short running career. So I decided I wanted to run a half marathon again and I wanted to run it for time… a thought that hadn’t even come close to crossing my mind in years.

A friend found the race and a plan was set. Everything was going well… so well and then one day I started to feel pain in my left calf… it was dull but nothing I couldn’t handle…. a decision that, in hindsight, was insanely stupid. I continued to run on what, I later learned, was a strain for two weeks. Yea… not smart…

I went for an 11 mile run and it was amazing. I finished the run in 1:44:51 which would give me over 30 minutes to run another 2 miles and still nail my goal. There was still 4 weeks of intense training on my plan with a two week taper. It was in the bag.

The following day, I went for a 3 mile shake out run and that is when everything fell apart. That pain I had been feeling for two weeks… the pain that wasn’t that bad for that 11 mile run was suddenly excruciating… So excruciating that I cut the run short at 2 miles

After a solid week of rest the pain was no better and I knew it was time to get it checked… so off to physical therapy I went.

I was six weeks out from a major goal race that I had worked so hard for and I was injured. I tried to keep some sort of training plan together but the pain was too severe.

For this race, I was going to run blind… Go for broke when I had zero idea of where I truly was after not training for 6 weeks. I held onto that blindness for all it was worth… blissfully unaware of the peril I was about to endure.

And a week before the race my calf was feeling fantastic but my hamstring was excruciating…

I clung to my bliss and ignored the rather persistent pain in my hamstring. My PT knew my plan and we both knew I would stay in PT to address the hamstring.

On race day, with absolutely perfect weather, I hoped that was a sign of the greatness that was going to come but with each step and each mile my blind bliss faded fast.

My hamstring was killing me and it was getting worse and then my knee went haywire. I questioned my ability to finish this race let alone still hit my goal time. I knew my early splits were already far off what they needed to be

My blissfully blind bubble had finally burst. I finished but I was in a lot of pain and I knew I had a long road of PT ahead of me.

One day, several weeks after the race, I was out for a run. My hamstring strain and knee issues had been worked on for close to two full months and I was finally feeling like a runner again. I was feeling good and that was when it hit me…

I ran a half marathon in a lot of pain with a severe hamstring strain and a host of fun knee issues and I still PR’d by a full 15 minutes.

Perspective

Sure, I was nowhere near that 2:15 goal time but it was still a SOLID 15 minute PR… a PR that I earned while injured.

Imagine what I could have done had I not been injured?

So yes, I am still bothered by missing my time goal but I also know that everything was working against me that day. I did the best I was capable of that day. It may not have been good enough for a 2:15 but it was still good enough for a massive PR.

I have never been one to settle and I won’t settle until I hit that 2:15 time goal.

Weekly Training Report: December 28th – January 3rd

Dec 28 - Jan 3

Monday – 1.50 / 15:02 – Pace 10:01

I got back from TX the night before… and the TX storm system followed me home. So I was greeted with quite the winter wallop which was a far cry from the sunny and warm weather that I had just spent a week running in. I knew running outdoors was out of the question… plus I really needed groceries so a trip to the gym was in order. The entire trek to the gym was slippery and I couldn’t help but wonder if I should get Commitment Points, Stupidity Points… or both. And, of course, as soon as I got to the gym, I realized I forgot my knee brace. Going back home was NOT an option so I decided to run without the brace. The knee was rather unhappy with this decision and as much as I wanted to run 2 miles, I knew cutting it short was a smarter idea.

Tuesday – 1.08 / 10:15 – Pace 9:30

PT has become a normal part of my routine over the past…well… three months and this was my “last” appointment. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I decided to do a mini run streak. I like little run streaks because they help me get back on track. I had no time to run between getting off work and getting to PT so I knew I would be running after. The big debate was running at the gym (PT is luckily about a block from my gym) or just run outside. In the end, I decided to just do the run outside. It was definitely cold but luckily most of the sidewalks near the park where cleared earlier in the day… but there were a few icy patches. I definitely never planned to do more than a mile since I have never run after PT and wasn’t sure how my knee would hold up with that. It was a bit tender but only in the areas where my PT scraped it.

Wednesday – 2.63 / 26:26 – Pace 10:04

A little mini goal that I had set for myself when I knew I was cleared to start getting back into running was to hit 600 miles for the year. A far cry from the 700 of last year but considering I spent three months injured and didn’t run much in those 3 months, I knew anything over 600 miles would be too aggressive. With only two days left in the year, I had just under 2.50 miles left to hit 600 for the year and I decided that I wanted to finish off the goal a day early so my planned two miler ended up being a little over 2.50 miles. Part of the reason why I love where I live from a running standpoint is that I live a couple blocks from the zoo… and the zoo parking lot. The zoo parking lot is my winter running secret because it just under a mile in length and always blissfully ice and snow free and very well lit… I only have to deal with the couple of blocks to get to and from the parking lot. Zoo lights was still going on so it was significantly more crowded than it would normally be but I didn’t have any run-ins with cars. I also was further from my water fountain which I hadn’t thought about when I choose the course for the evening… then again, I didn’t decide to run more than two miles until I was already running… so I slowed quite a bit on the last mile because my legs were cold (my thighs and butt are ALWAYS cold in the winter) and I was thirsty. But the knee and hamstring held up

Thursday – 1.08 / 10:05 – Pace 9:20

Work was eerily slow for the last day of the year but even so, we had a handful of small flurries… and one happened as I was doing a final sweep of systems before leaving. So I ended up staying a little late. Since I knew I had the 5K the following morning and my body isn’t used to three days in a row of 2+ miles, I opted to do just a streak keeper. This ended up being a good thing because as soon as I got out of the shower, my boss text me that her and her husband were heading over the bar where I was to meet them for a couple of hours before they went to dinner. I quickly threw on clothes and text Eric (who decided to join us) and headed out. We ended up going to a different bar but it all worked out and I had a great time… even if I did get a tad buzzed which I hadn’t intended on the night before a race… whoops.

Friday – NYD5K Race

I woke up with the slightest bit of a hangover headache even though I tried to kill my buzz before going to sleep the night before. I downed some water and chilled on my couch because my body refuses to let me sleep past 8:30 am no matter what. I changed and headed out for the race. You can read my full race report here. I spent the rest of the day starting the process of taking my Christmas decorations and managed to get most of them down and put away.

Saturday – 2.04 / 19:43 – Pace 9:39

There were several errands that I needed to run and I wanted to finish taking down and putting away my Christmas stuff. The debate for the day was between going to the gym to run my two miles and strength train or just run outside. The sun was shining so I really wanted to run outside but I also wanted to strength train. In the end, I opted to run outside because it would allow me the time to finish taking down my Christmas stuff… the putting away part will wait for another day since I had zero desire to make several trips to my storage locker…

Sunday – Rest

When I decided to do a mini run streak, I set the number at 15 days, which meant Sunday was a rest day. This worked out well since my boss offered me tickets to the Lions/Bears game. I asked Eric if he wanted to join me and he agreed. We met for breakfast to exchange Christmas presents then headed back to my place to layer up (no point sweating like crazy over breakfast) and headed to the game. It was fun and I didn’t really start to get cold until the second half

Race Report: NYD5K 2016

1 NYD5K 2016

This race has become somewhat of a tradition for me. I have signed up over the past 4 years but have only started (and finished) the race 3 times. There was a minor issue with freshly falling snow, extreme wind, very cold temps and barely being able to walk (let alone run) back in 2014… Food was eaten instead.

Since this race is in January in Chicago… there is very little chance that it WON’T be cold and I am ok with that. This year, we got a lovely sleet storm on Monday and then the temps dropped… making it actually feel like winter for the first time this season. Go figure… timing…

As I was walking to the race, I knew I would not be running for time. The race is a LP race which means it is along routes that I run frequently and I knew that the most of the course would be covered in ice still because we would be running on the inner path instead of sidewalks.

I also remembered seeing that Tiffany had posted to FB that she and Harry would be running. She has been injured so I wasn’t positive if they would still be there but I decided to keep my eyes open for them.

Even though this race starts at 11:00 am instead of the usual earlier start time, I also knew that the weather and people being far more hungover than they anticipated would mean for lower numbers… All on top of this being a smaller race to begin with.

Despite living near the race, I have already learned that NOT wearing my winter jacket and taking advantage of gear check for this race is just not an option anymore. After making sure my coat could be stuffed into my normal polka dot race backpack (I like polka dots) so that worked out because the wind was brutal and there was no sun.

Luckily I got there only 15 minutes early and it didn’t take long for me to spot Tiffany… Her bright pink top and high ponytail helped. After teasing her (also TX blood) for wearing two pairs of gloves and thus incapable of operating her phone in any capacity, I told her I would take a picture so I snapped one of her and her husband. Then her husband snapped one of us… I totally stole this picture from her blog 😉

2 NYD5K 2016

We lined up and were off without any huge ceremony. It was slower than normal at the start of the race, part due to ice and part due to walkers NOT lining up in the back…

Harry (Tiffany’s husband) took off to run a little faster but us two hamstring injured chicks took it slow and chatted. We definitely slipped and slid a bit but for the most part didn’t have too many issues… and gratefully we stayed completely upright.

A broken < Insert Body Part of Choice > would not be a good way to start off the New Year… especially before I have even had a cup of coffee.

I really enjoyed being able to run most of the race with her. As we were heading back, my slightly hungover body decided water would be a good idea with about 3/4 of a mile left to run. She kept running and I sipped on a cup of very cold (but not frozen) water. Then I proceeded to walk over an large icy patch that was also going downhill… I didn’t really think that was a good combination

After that part, we were luckily on the sidewalk which was nice and ice free so I was able to run at a more normal pace. I even managed a little kick into the finish (though not much of a kick). Harry and Tiffany were nice enough to wait at the finish line for me 🙂

We hopped into the short line to get our official results as Harry joked he wanted to see how bad it was.

I knew it wouldn’t be a great race time due to the ice but I also didn’t care. This is always a race I just run for time.

3 NYD5K 2016

Not my worse time for this race but not my best either…. I can live with that. Tiffany and Harry had family in town so they were not able to join me for breakfast but that ended up working out because, as a table for one, I was seated right away.

Which was good because I was STARVING and really wanted hot coffee

The before and after of, what has become, my New Years Day Breakfast tradition. It was yummy… in case you couldn’t tell :-p

4 NYD 5K 2016

It was a great start to the New Year!

Starting Over

A week later and some reflection later… well… I am still bummed that I missed my goal. The long runs I had been doing up until I got injured had me where I needed to be to complete my goal

But… my body had other plans.

Nearly 6 full years of running and without a doubt, I have learned at least one thing… It’s not always your race/training day. Running isn’t always easy and there are lots of highs and lows that come with the territory. Sometimes you have an excellent run and everything clicks and then the next day everything can go to hell.

My last long run before getting injured was that… one of those perfect running days where everything clicked. I ran 11 miles in roughly 1:45 which meant I would still have 30 minutes to cover 2.1 miles… I was THERE

So close yet so far away

The next day everything went to hell and I just couldn’t maintain the training that I needed to stay where I was.

My calf healed intake for the race but something had been giving me trouble off and on for about a year reared its ugly head again… 6 days before the race

Perfect timing

I saw my PT once before the race and she told me that it could be a mile strain… like the calf

Well… fan-bloody-tastic

During the race I had pain so bad in my right knee that I thought finishing was going to be a bigger a struggle than I ever considered. Determination and anger took over and blocked the pain so I could finish the race.

I opted to take the next two days off completely. Knowing before I even started that race that I had barely run over the previous 6 weeks and was about to take on 13.10 miles… I knew I was going to hurt a LOT after that race.

And oh boy did I hurt. Monday was brutal and I didn’t start to feel loose until after I had spent a solid 10 minutes with my foam roller when I got home for work.

Tuesday I was feeling better but the pain in the knee was still there off and on and the hamstring/glute was still a huge issue. Even though I felt like I could put in a nice easy mile, I opted to take the day off again until I spoke with my PT

I do in fact have a strain in my hamstring… and the pain in my right knee is caused by some scar tissue build up… No clue when I got scar tissue in my knee… but that had been acting up off and on since March

After speaking with my PT about my calf being the only thing that didn’t hurt and the issues I was having in my hamstring and the intense pain I felt in my knee during the race, I knew that I would be spending some more time in PT.

So that’s where I am at… I will stick with PT a few weeks more to deal with these two lingering issues

Which brings to the main point of the post… Since I do have these issues it best to deal with them and take it easy on the mileage

And really… I have barely run over the past 7 weeks so it doesn’t make sense to try to jump back in the level of training I was at.

I have plenty of time before any significant race is on the schedule so I am going to use the time to get back to basics.

The rest of the year will be low mileage… November will be the month of one milers… and maybe a two or three miler once a week as a “long run”. In December I will move on to two milers with, again, a three or maybe even a 4 miler thrown in.

But for the most part it’s very low mileage from here on out while continuing to address the issues I have. Hopefully, by the time the new year rolls around, I will be all fixed and able to start training the way I want to.

To add to all of this, I am going to be doing a LOT more strength training in my future.

I am also playing with the idea of swimming once a week and/or doing yoga once a week. The tight calves are likely going to remain an issue and doing yoga will help to keep them a little looser. Swimming… well… it might be a good idea to do some form of cardio that is much lower impact.

The yoga and swimming are really just an idea that I am toying with… nothing decided on either of those yet but I might give it a try to see how it fits in.

But first… I need to get my hamstring and knee happy again… those are the priorities

Almost a DNF

For those who do not know a DNF is short for “Did Not Finish”

My running career is thus far DNF free… and really… I am proud of that. I may not have completed all the races I have done in the way I WANTED to complete them all but I have still completed them all.

The reality is, running is something I love and racing is just a part of that and I don’t always WANT to “go big or go home” so-to-speak

I may be a runner but I am not competitive

However, there are those few races that I pour my heart and soul into… the races I run for time and legit train for to run a certain way. The race this past Sunday was one such race.

Basically… I put all my eggs in one basket

I knew when I started to train for this race that a PR would be easy. Never having actually run any of the other three half’s that I completed for time, made that likelihood easy to figure out. But I didn’t want an easy PR I wanted to essentially blow my previous half marathon times out of the water.

And I guess I technically did that… a 15 minute PR is huge and I know that… but being so close yet so far away is kind of eating away at me

The race was such a major let down for me… and it really wasn’t the race itself but the way I ran it. Don’t get me wrong… I KNEW going into this race that everything was pretty much stacked against me. I KNEW that mentally I had lost what little edge I had with my last long being 6 weeks prior to the race. I KNEW that physically my body wasn’t prepared.

I KNEW all of that but I still held onto a glimmer of hope that everything would click and it would be one of those magical run days where miracles happen

And it just wasn’t

Everything fell apart for me on that course… and really… everything fell apart for me 6 weeks prior when I went out for a little 2 mile shake out run and the dull pain I had been feeling for two weeks already became unbearable. This race was just the past 6 weeks of frustration essentially coming out of me over the the 13.10 miles

Part of me thinks I gave up too easily… but the other part of me knows that I was in a LOT of pain that day

Right now I am dealing with wondering if I really COULD have given it more… but the truth is, I do not know that answer. I know how much pain I was in and I know those miles between 9 and 11 were gruesome.

There was a point when I was walking… well… probably more limping and I was in tears and… I can’t even describe the amount of disappointment I was feeling. Chris and I passed a police car and an ambulance and for the first time EVER in my running career I seriously contemplated dropping out of the race.

I was in pain… a lot of pain… I was limping and in tears and I don’t think anyone would have blamed me for dropping out.

The reason I didn’t – If I had dropped out during THIS race it would have been more because I was acting like a petulant child than an inability to finish

Let me explain

There were a million and one things going through my mind during that race. A LOT of those thoughts were centered around self-loathing and extreme disappointment in myself. I was physically incapable of running the race I WANTED to race

And well… basically… because I couldn’t get what I wanted I was acting like a petulant child in my head.

I was pissing and moaning and screaming lots of “whyyyyyyyyys?” In my mind I was having a total temper tantrum

I realized around mile 6 that there was no way in hell my body was going to magically allow me to run faster and make up time reach my 2:15 goal. I was already 5ish minutes off pace and I know that it takes to maintain pace AND make up time. My body was not physically capable of accomplishing that on Sunday

And I was heartbroken over it and instead of accepting it my mind reverted to temper tantrum instead… which really wasn’t all that productive.

If I had dropped out of the race I would never be able to forgive myself for that… I knew that in the moment and I know that now. My body COULD finish that damn race and I also KNEW that.

So I decided to trek on and… well… listen to Chris and do what I was capable of doing.

I let anger take over… anger at myself for even considering dropping out… anger at my body for going haywire 6 weeks before my goal race… anger at that damn 2:30 pace group that kept passing me… anger that as much as I was fighting, I was BARELY holding on… anger that I felt like I was letting down the people that believed in me… anger that getting injured crushed me completely

My struggles began LONG before I crossed that start line, my struggles began when I got injured. I kept trying to keep up some sort of training but I was physically NOT able to do it.

I feel like I gave up even though I know I didn’t. As much as I tried, I kept failing and that failure crushed me.

There is still some anger in me… I am going to use that anger to fuel me… fuel me to get my body back to… well… to not being in pain

My left glute/hamstring still hurt and it is not just muscle soreness… there is something a little more major going on there and my right knee is still wonky as well so need to figure out what is causing that.

There will be another race… and I think I choose it already

But first I need to heal and get my running back on track… and I need to get stronger…

In the meantime… I WILL be proud of that 15 minute PR because that ISN’T a small feat and it IS something to be proud of.