Thursday, August 9, 2012

Here we go again (again)...

It's been a while, and I feel like I've been hibernating for the past five months since my injury.

When bears hibernate they do it for survival. When the temperature dips, their food sources become scarce, so they zone out. For months.

I don't have that excuse. In my case, I hibernated (read: sat on my ass and didn't run) because of... well... laziness. I got the okay for activity in the end of April, and since then have been doing sporadic runs, but without much of routine. That means I wasn't giving myself a chance to get better, and every run was a bit of a struggle.

If you want the honest truth, there have been a handful of times I was fully dressed in my running gear (that means running garb, heart rate monitor, shoes, hair in ponytail, the whole shebang) with a plan in place. Then I sat on the couch.

That's always when Benson and Stabler strike.

An episode of Law & Order (or something) I have seen a billion times comes on, and for some reason I MUST watch it. And what do you know? It's followed by another, and another and another. By now my shoes are kicked off and I am completely horizontal and covered with a blanket. No run.

Long story short, I left running by the wayside for no good reason. But... now I'm back, and it's for real this time, because I don't have a choice. A race is in place, and I don't have time to sit around any more. The last time I posted (waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in April) I said "I'm not running to get across any finish lines... I'm just running to run, and to see where it will take me."

I was rather optimistic. Foolishly optimistic. Whelp, that approach didn't work, so I now have a race to train for. I'm doing the Richmond Half Marathon on November 10th. I'm doing a 12 week program with an "official" start on Monday (although I have been using this week as a tune-up). This is the plan that I have been following this week and will repeat next week (I'm starting off slowly, so please don't judge):

Sunday: Off
Monday: Run 2 miles
Tuesday: Weights
Wednesday: Run 2.5 miles
Thursday: Run 2 miles, weights
Friday: No running, but some cardio
Saturday: Run 3 miles

So here we go again (again)! The official countdown sits at 12 weeks and 2 days!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Starting Over... Again.

It's been seven weeks since I tore my calf muscle and had to stop training for the marathon. Since then I haven't exactly been active. First I was waiting for a diagnosis, then I was waiting to start physical therapy, then... well... I just wasn't doing much of anything. A yoga class here, and elliptical there, you get the gist.

Physical therapy was great, though. My therapist was a super friendly guy named Albert. He did deep tissue (ouch) massages on my calf, along with some ultrasound thing that basically felt like electric pulses going into the injured part of my leg. I was told it was designed to break up scar tissue. Albert also gave me assignments every week... from certain forms of stretching, to using a rolling pin on the back of my legs after exercise. At least the rolling pin got used. I don't really bake, so it's been sitting dormant in my kitchen for years.

Last week marked my last PT session. That means I was deemed ready to run, and it was time to get to work.

I made today my starting day. I mapped out a schedule for myself, basically using the same training plan that I was on before (from the beginning), but this time, there is no race scheduled. I'm not running to get across any finish lines... I'm just running to run, and to see where it will take me.

Today was day one.

The only problem is: running is hard again!

I was scheduled for three miles today. The weekend's rain had also invaded Monday, and that meant I had an appointment with the dreadmill. Ugh. I hatehatehatehate the treadmill. But... three miles? Psssh. I can do three miles no problem. Easiest thing ever, right? Wrong.

I don't know if it was the lack of running for seven weeks, my loathing for the treadmill, or maybe a mix of the two, but it was a struggle. It boggles my mind that I could go from running 14 problem free miles to huffing and puffing through three in a matter of weeks. I know I need to be patient and remember that it will get easier, little by little. At this point though, it's difficult to be that forward thinking.

This is my plan for this week in case you're interested:

Sun: OFF
Mon: 3 miles
Tues: OFF
Wed: 4 miles
Thurs: 3 miles
Fri: OFF
Sat: 4 miles

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Out of the race.

Whelp... no more marathon for me.

The leg "cramp" I thought I experienced that shortened my 16 mile run (you can read about that here), was in fact a tear in my calf muscle. A few days after I originally hurt it, I was playing basketball (poorly) with a couple of friends from work. I pushed off with my right leg, and OUCH. I knew something was definitely wrong. I made a doctor's appointment for the following morning, and she gave me my diagnosis.

The only thing that can really help me at this point is time to heal. My doctor referred me to physical therapy, and gave me a 60 day pass to a gym with a pool. She wants me to swim and to try deep water running (which my trainer is also a big advocate of).

When I called my trainer, Dan, he took the bad news in stride. While I was feeling badly for myself, he had more of an "Okay, well that happens." approach. He did make it a point to tell me that I hadn't done anything wrong; injuries are part of the sport.

But it really isn't guilt that I'm feeling about this. It's disappointment. Disappointment that all of the miles I've run and the Saturday mornings I've sacrificed didn't add up to completing a marathon. Disappointment that this didn't happen earlier, so I would have had time to recover and not miss my crucial long runs. This past weekend's workout was supposed to be 18 miles, and Saturday's was supposed to be 20.

In the end, this sucks. That's all there is to it. But... there are other races out there, and I am grateful that it wasn't something more serious. Plus, when you look back at the not-so-distant past, I started off in November barely able to complete three miles. I'm at a point now that I can do 14. I know I should be proud of that, and honestly, I  am.

So... my plan at this point is to listen to my doctor and heal. Then I'm going to do some research and pick the next race, and work my way up to it. Just because I'm down right now, I'm certainly not out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Getting rescued mid-run...

I guess it happens to a lot of people during marathon training, but it hadn't happened to me... that is, until my long run on Friday: a massive, debilitating leg cramp that brought my run to a screeching halt, and that can still be felt days after it seized up.

I was scheduled for 16 miles this past weekend, and because of Saturday travel plans, I had to do it Friday before work. I carefully mapped out my course. I psyched myself up, and I hit the road. I was chugging along, and just after I hit the 13 mile mark, the muscles high in my right calf knotted up painfully. Ouch! I walked it out for a few blocks and then attempted to run on it. It seized up again (ouch for the second time), and I knew I was done for the day. The only problem? I was still three miles away from my car.

At this point I was very happy I use my iPhone for music when I run. I called two cab companies, both of which told me it would be an hour and a half before they could come get me (What?!?! This was at 1:00 on a Friday, for gods sake!), so call #3 went to my friend Henry, who was my knight in shining armor. He came and rescued me and dropped me off at my car. Thanks again, Henry!

I was pretty limpy for the rest of Friday, and stairs were not my favorite. It's since started to feel better, but I can definitely still notice it when I go down stairs or walk uphill. Tomorrow will be a true test. I'm scheduled for seven miles, but I think I'm just going to take it easy (read: very slow, and not pushing through pain) to test out how things are really feeling.

I also iced it this morning and this evening, but the pain point is so deep in the muscle, I don't know if I'm really even doing it any good. Frustrating!

This entire episode has made me very nervous. I'm just days away from attempting 18 miles (again on a Friday because of travel plans, but at least I don't have to work after), and 4 weeks and five days away from the whole shebang.

Like I said before, I'm sure this happens to a lot of runners, but I don't know how I can get prepared for 26.2 if my muscles don't feel like coming along with me for the entire journey. We'll see what happens! Hopefully I can't kick this stupid muscle pain soon. There's work to do!

Oh! And I have to say welcome to Scout! She is the cutest little 8 week old Airedale, and the newest member of the Allison clan. My parents picked her up this weekend, and I can't wait to meet her!

This week's Marathon Monday piece featured an awesome clinic at UVA that helps runners become better athletes. You can watch that here. And as always, my schedule for the week is posted below. It's a little different this time around, because I'm doing my long run on Friday. Have a great week, everyone!

Training schedule for the week of 03/04... designed by trainer Dan Bayliss.

Sunday- Off
Monday- Run 5 miles
Tuesday- Run 7 miles
Wednesday- Run 4 miles
Thursday- Off
Friday- Run 18 miles
Saturday- Off

Monday, February 27, 2012

I have to double this? Wait.... whaaaaaat?

This weekend marked the longest run so far in my training. 14 miles. It was a windy but beautiful day, and chugged through my route, mile by mile. I finished proud of myself, with a distinct sunglasses tan line, but I also finished exhausted. I mean really exhausted. My legs felt used up and then used again.

That's when I had a terrifying thought: I pretty much have to double that run in a matter of weeks. Five weeks and five days, to be exact. Yikes! I know that I need to trust my training, but knowing that the race is creeping up on me makes that really hard. I'm working my way through it, and even based this week's Marathon Monday segment on the pitfalls of thinking too much. You can watch that here if you fancy.

So that's the goal. I need to turn off my brain and continue with my schedule as prescribed by my trainer (even though that means 16 miles on Saturday).

Other things:

I posted previously about how I tried energy gels and didn't like them at all. It turns out that my knee jerk "I hate all gels" reaction was wrong. It's all about the flavor, baby! This weekend I tried Cliff Chocolate Cherry, and it was great. It was like a sundae topping, and I highly recommend it!

Also, as I was running on Saturday, I was passing a lot of the Charlottesville sights this city is well known for. It got me thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful, fascinating city. So please allow me to give you a tour of the best parts of my route. This week's training schedule is also posted below, in case you're curious.

Charlottesville is the home of UVA... Thomas Jefferson's University. The Rotunda is the keystone building. This is between miles 1 and 2.

About 2 miles in there is John Paul Jones Arena... home of the Cavs.

I'm not done yet, sports fans! Scott Stadium greets me between miles 3 and 4!

Keep going! All the way to the Downtown Mall (mile 7). It's a ped mall smack in the middle of downtown, with local shops and restaurants lining it. There is an outdoor pavilion on one end that boasts a free live concert every Friday in the summers.

Next up? The trails at Riverview Park (miles 10+). I've heard there are around 20 miles of trails here, but I can't confirm. It's a pretty run for the most part!

And finally, to finish the run I'm back downtown. This is Charlottesville's historic Court Square (mile 14). The main building has been used continuously as a courthouse for over 200 years!

That's the end of my Tour de Charlottesville! Have a great week, and wish me luck on tackling 16 this weekend! :)

Week Eleven Training Schedule*, designed by Trainer Dan Bayliss

Sunday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Monday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Tuesday- Run 6 miles
Wednesday- Run 6 miles
Thursday- Run 4 miles
Friday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Saturday- Run 16 miles

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Getting over the yucks, and learning to be social...

Getting over the yucks
So after my no motivation pity party last week, I think I'm finally getting back into the zone. For a while there I wanted no part of running, and I was just going through the motions because I had to. I think that feeling of responsibility comes with the territory when you announce your training plan on the nightly news.

But you know what? I'm glad I'm doing this in such a public way. If I was on my own in this, I probably would have thrown in the towel by now, or downgraded myself to a half marathon. I can honestly say now: the training "yucks" are something you can overcome. This is a new life lesson for me, because I have never gotten over that hump. Let's just say I have thrown in my share of towels over the years.

Learning to be social
Typically I'm a solo runner. Running with others kind of stresses me out, because I'm constantly worrying about my pace. I'll start out too fast and way out of my comfort zone, only to tire quickly. That leads to even more stress because I need to walk... etc. etc. Bottom line: social running has never been my thing.

But... for this week's Marathon Monday, I came across a group that meets bi-weekly to run and socialize. The best part? "Running This Week" is made up of runners at every skill level. Fast to slow, high mileage to low mileage. Unfortunately they meet when I am at work, but it did give me hope that there are other semi-slow runners out there that won't stress me out during a group run. I now have new faith in social running.

I don't know if it will work during training, but I may be on a hunt for a running club in the near future!

My training schedule for the week is posted below, and you can check out this week's Marathon Monday segment here.

And finally tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say goodbye to Cassidy. She was the best dog anyone could have asked for, and we were lucky to have her for almost 14 years. We love you, DeeDee. Thanks for being a part of our family.

Sunday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Monday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Tuesday- Run 6 miles
Wednesday- Run 7 miles
Thursday- Run 4 miles
Friday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Saturday- Run 12 miles

Monday, February 6, 2012

Halfway there...

I am officially 8 weeks and five days from M-Day. That means my training is pretty much at the halfway point. This freaks me out a little more than I like to admit, because I am currently missing something: my motivation.

When I started training 7 weeks ago (and even during my pre-training training), there were plenty of days that getting out the door wasn't high on my list. Lately though I have been dreading it... and even after a couple of miles I'm still thinking about my couch. I know this is just a phase, and my drive will soon return. I look forward to that, but until then, may I just say uggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!

I had to get that out of my system. I know negativity isn't becoming, and it's definitely counterproductive when it comes to my training. I still go on my runs, but I perform so much better when I actually want to be there. I would take any tips out there that could get me out of this funk!

Until my motivation is back on track, I'll keep racking up the miles, but I won't necessarily enjoy it every step of the way.

This week's training schedule is posted below, and you can check out the latest NBC29 Marathon Monday segment here. Have a great week!

Sunday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Monday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Tuesday- Run 5 miles
Wednesday- Run 4 miles
Thursday- Run 5 miles
Friday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)
Saturday- Run 10 miles