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.

Race Report: Milwaukee Running Festival Half-Marathon

There was never a question that I COULD finish the race… the question was more about whether I would be able to run the race I WANTED to run.

This was 4th half-marathon and the first one that I actually planned to train to run for time. I put together a great training plan and even though the plan would be longer than a traditional half training plan, I was ok with that. Slow and steady

But then I got injured 8 weeks prior to the race. I continued to run for two weeks before the pain became unbearable and I knew it was time to seek some help. I did just that and started physical therapy again.

Still… losing 6 weeks of a training plan right before a goal race… and a goal race that is a pretty significant distance is nothing to snuff. I lost 4 weeks of aggressive training and two weeks of taper that would have allowed me to maintain the mental edge I had built for myself

Instead, I went into this race knowing that mentally a 2:15 race would be difficult and knowing that physically my body wasn’t where it needed to be for a 2:15

Wanting this race and that 2:15 was what I held on to and it was what I used to carry me through the race on Sunday…

But I am getting a little ahead of myself here

Friday after work, I headed home and grabbed my stuff and changed before heading over to Eric’s so we could drive up to Milwaukee together. Luckily the drive was uneventful and we made it in good time. After checking into the hotel, we went in search for food but managed a wrong turn out of the hotel so didn’t quite end up on the area we wanted to be in. Eventually we settled on a place but it was more of a last resort than a place either of us truly wanted to eat at… oh well… While at dinner, we learned that Tiffany and Harry were also in town to run. So that added to the fun for the weekend.

The following morning we woke up and Eric headed for the workout room for a streak keeper while I showered. The weather was already miserable and it was not going to get any better… raining, windy and chilly. We grabbed a quick bite before heading to Walgreens for water and some snacks. I then wanted better coffee than the watery hotel stuff so we started to walk towards packet pick-up and ran into Harry on the street.

We chatted for a bit and decided on a loose dinner plan before I got my coffee (mmmmmm) and headed to the expo.

Mo was there working the Ragnar booth so after getting our packets and while waiting for Chris to arrive, we all chatted. Mo has been chasing a goal time for a marathon and felt like she was in a great place to achieve it this weekend… and I felt like I was hoping for unicorn wings…

1 MKE Half 11-1-15

Chris found us and got his packet. After a quick trip around the expo (small races makes for quick expo trips) we used our free passes to go to the Harley Davidson Museum. I don’t own a motorcycle and doubt I ever will but it was neat to see the history behind them. Chris then drove us to one of his fav spots for a quick bite and then back to our hotel so we could drop all of our stuff off. The weather was still awful so we wandered around the “mall” for a bit trying to kill some time.

Eventually Eric and I went back to our hotel so Chris could check into his and take a nap… and not going to lie… I took a nap as well.

That evening we met Chris, Tiffany and Harry for pizza dinner and then grabbed a drink at a local bar. And yes, I did have ONE drink… and two glasses of water. That one drink also allowed me to fall asleep easily and mostly stay asleep… thank goodness because race anxiety was high for this one.

Turn back the clocks and wake up the next morning (thank you extra hour of sleep) we greeted with sunshine and warmer temps… and some wind… could have done without the wind.

Luckily I thought to bring some “ditch clothes” to wear at the start so I never actually got cold waiting to start… there also wasn’t too much time I had to wait because we got there decided very quickly the port-o-potty lines we were WAY too long, did our gear check and lined up… less than 10 minutes later, the gun went off.

I did snap two pics before the race started… All of us lined up and a selfie

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3 MKE Half 11-1-15

I hung back for about a minute hoping to find Chris before starting the race because we were going to run together but I decided to go ahead and just start knowing he would be able to find… if he wasn’t already ahead of me..

The calf was feeling good but the butt/hamstring were already angry… and I knew it was going to be a LONG race. I also managed to NOT hit the button to turn on my watch hard enough and didn’t notice until about half a mile in… Oops…

For the first few miles I just enjoyed the pretty scenery and ran at a comfortable pace… whatever that may be because I didn’t allow myself to check my pace by looking at watch (which is why it took me half a mile to notice it wasn’t on).

Three-ish miles in and we came to a nice big hill… Ummm… This flat Chicago girl wasn’t having that… not when I was already in pain so I walked up it… This was the first of many hills… all of which I really loathed by the end of the race

The course then started going through a neighborhood with some very lovely older homes which I enjoyed looking at. Around mile 4 or so, Chris popped up on my left side… We chatted briefly before he went back to his music (which I did hear blasting from his headphones the entire race… it was a good distraction at times) and I went back to trying to convince my body to cooperate.

Around mile 6 (and a few hills later) the outside of my right knee started hurting… I think my IT Band got angry but I am not entirely sure it is my IT Band… At this point I am walking all the hills because I just can’t handle them. I know by all the clocks on the mile signs that I am already 5ish minutes off my goal time.

The reality is setting in that today is not a day for a 2:15

So I start coming up with second and third choice times…

We arrive at mile 9 and are running through the Marquette campus… to which Chris is getting a lot of cheers because he is running in his Marquette jersey (and pink knee high compression and USA shorts… he never disappoints with the race attire)

And this where things turn ugly… FAST

The course splits and the marathoner’s climb a nice big hill (and I am think thank F*cking hell I don’t have to take on that hill right now) and the half marathons start making our way back to the finish line…

We get a little ways away from the split and it happens… pain so intense on the outside of my right knee that I immediately stop running and can barely walk. I double over trying to just focus for a minute. Chris asks me if I am ok and I tell him that I am not.

I try taking a few steps but I am limping and seem incapable of walking normal. Tears come to my eyes as the severity of what is going on with a little over three miles left in the race

There is no way in hell a 2:15 is happening and visions of my second and third choice times are quickly slipping away. I keep trying to run but my knee refuses to let me. I am cursing like crazy and as we pass the 10 mile mark, I comment that the next three miles are going to be F*cking hell since I can barely walk right now. Chris tells me that I will just do what I can… which was so beyond greatly appreciated because he is sticking with me which is sacrificing his time as well.

I keep trying to push myself but my knee is NOT cooperating… at one point I stopped running and doubled over again and a women goes running by and says “you got this ladies keep going”

Not only was the encouragement what I needed right now but I also realized suddenly that Chris was referred to as a “lady”… Perhaps it was the pink socks?

And I burst out laughing… which was welcome compared to the tears I had just moments prior

Still trying to push myself… and the 2:30 pace group pacing me… which gets me VERY angry and I start running again

The pain is intense and I know it won’t go away but getting pissed off that the 2:30 pace group passed me helped fuel me… and so the game of rabbitting begins.

I would stay ahead of the 2:30 pace group but not enough for them to NOT catch me… Trying to stay ahead of them and getting angry each time they passed me fueled me for the rest of the race and I focused on the anger

At some point the pain subsided enough to where I could run more but my legs were completely trashed and pushing the pace wasn’t much of an option.

The pace group was right behind me and I didn’t have enough in me to run long chunks at this point so I took short walk breaks… at some point after passing the 12 mile sign, I started to get nausea

I knew I was pretty dehydrated and probably REALLY needed some food but I have run while being nausea before… never thought THAT would have ended up being good training…. So I was able to deal with that

I was still ahead of the 2:30 pace group and I was passing other runners that had already finished and came back along the course to cheer us on… each and every one said my name (it is printed on the bib in case you didn’t notice) and said something encouraging… I can’t recall what any of the words were because I was focused on anger, pain, being nausea, and trying with all my might to cross the finish line by 2:30

I had absolutely ZERO idea where Chris and didn’t have the energy to turn around and look

Once I saw the 13 mile marker I tried to run faster and I think I did but I honestly had nothing left and I was in so much pain…

I saw the finish line clock read 2:32 and change and I knew it was a massive PR for me but it was also so far away from my goal time.

There were so many emotions going through me… anger… pain… happiness… self-loathing…

Oooo… A Chocolate Chip Cookie!!!!

Hahaha… needless to say seeing cookies and knowing I was still a bit nausea got me out of my head a bit

Chris and I went to grab our gear. I had already planned with Eric that I was going to head back to the hotel right away to shower knowing that we might be cutting it close to showering and getting out of the room before check-out time.

Chris’ hotel had a shuttle running and his hotel was only a couple blocks from mine… walking a few blocks was a MUCH better idea than walking the mile or more back. So we went to head back toward the shuttles

But first I saw a results tent and veered over immediately knowing that my watch was off by half a mile and at least 5 minutes…

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2:30:55 is my time… a far cry from 2:15

But it is also about a 15 minute PR

I really shouldn’t be angry and upset about this race. A 15 minute PR is HUGE and I know that. I AM proud of that accomplishment… especially considering how much I fell apart on the back side of the race.

This just was not the race I envisioned and I know it is not what I am truly capable of. Sure, it was ALL I was capable of on THIS day… The immense amount of pain I was in during and after the race… and still am in proves that I wasn’t capable of anything else. I know I left everything I had… and quite a few tears out on that course. But it is just not the race I wanted to run.

I know there will be other races and I know 2:15 is a goal I will chase until I nail it. There is a LOT I need to do to get my body ready to train at that level and I know what needs to be done.

I still have faith in the running portion of the training plan that I put together… I still believe THAT plan would get me where I need to be to run the race I want. I just can’t get injured and have to kill 6 weeks of training. I also know that I need to make strength training part of any future half marathon training plan that I have. The injury is caused by weaknesses that I have… tight calf muscles being a life long weakness that I am going to have to work on. I have other weaknesses too and I know what I need to work on (and have already started with physical therapy).

My running IS where it needs to be and I have full faith in the plan I had… I just need to do more.

It’s time to put together my new plan and figure out another opportunity to run a half for time… until then… I will just put in the work… and perhaps add a few more weeks onto physical therapy…

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