Physical Therapy + Feeling Crummy

My training lately has been a mess.  I took downtime then dove back in only to strain my glute and get pushed right back to the sidelines.  After my DNF at the Big Blue 5k I decided to get some help.  Even though I wasn’t in a ton of pain and most of my regular activities weren’t in danger, I definitely could not run through it.  And that’s pretty much all I wanted to do.

When I knew I couldn’t run I got a little bit lost.  I wasn’t sure the best way to heal my type of muscle pull or even if it was the muscle I thought it was.  So, off I went to physical therapy.  I had no idea what to expect since my injury wasn’t very severe.  After a few hip strength tests my therapist started going through a variety of exercises designed to balance out my right and left sides.  Here I am doing my ‘homework’!  After five days of not running I eased back at the end of last week with an easy 30 minute jog.  My glute felt good physical therapyand it seems the physical therapy is paying off.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoy it.  It’s supposed to be tough, and it is, but my therapist is awesome.  We do exercises that really challenge my balance and hip stability.  It’s fun to do something totally out of my regular routine. But even though my injury is feeling much better I’m still on the sidelines.

As if an injury and a lack of miles weren’t already enough to put my training back a few weeks, I’ve come down with some kind of junk in my chest.  It’s not only giving my abs an extra workout with all the coughing but sucking my motivation away, too.  I’m getting lots of sleep and taking it easy while it works itself out.  One of my favorite races, the EquiKids Cross Country 5k, is in less than two weeks.  I never perform well at it and was really looking forward to improving this year.  Unfortunately, that might not be the case.  Either way, I”ll head into race day as healthy as I can be.

Meredith

Have you ever gone to physical therapy?  What for?

Blog Spring Break + A DNF

I took a little spring break from blogging after Run the Bluegrass but now I’m back!  Not much has been going on training wise the last week as I fought through a small injury.  I did manage to catch up on some reading and make my first batch of beer cheese mac and chicken, though (recipe coming).  Also included in my spring break were a 5k DNF and a trip to the physical therapist for a little help.

I noticed some difficulties when I started having right shin pain running.  It’s a big sign my gait is funky when my otherwise OK right side starts acting up.  Shin pain is specifically something I never have to deal with.  Knowing that the real root of my pain wasn’t my shin or ankle, I went DNFsearching.  Yes, I had blown out my glutes and quads doing a bunch of pistols but I couldn’t imagine that making that much of a difference.  I’ve run sore before.

Wrong.  My weaker right side was really suffering and that glute wasn’t firing at all.  I could run about 800M without pain.  Trying different shoes got me nowhere.  I most definitely had a strained right glue.  Not wanting to hurt myself more, I took it easy the next few days, deciding to fight through Saturday’s Big Blue 5k then re-evaluate.

Race morning dawned and I steeled myself for a crummy 5k.  There would be no racing.  I’d give it all I could but wasn’t expecting much.  The truth is race morning I could not have been less excited.  The late start, 10:30, meant it would be warm and humid, neither of which I had seen in quite some time.  I had been low on energy for a few days fighting something that never came to fruition and stressing over what my leg was going to do all morning didn’t help.

I quit at the one mile mark with pain shooting up my right ankle and shin.  Not worth hurting myself.  Yes, it was frustrating and disappointing.  I haven’t run since.  I’m letting that strained muscle heal and focusing on evening out some muscle imbalances in my hips.  There’s another race, another day and I’ll be there in tip top shape in a few weeks.

Meredith

Have you ever had a DNF?  How did you deal with it?

Run the Bluegrass + April Plans

March was a great running month and April kicked off in a similar fashion.  I tackled state number 24, Kentucky, with Run the Bluegrass on 1 April.  I hadn’t been doing much training for it after One City on 11 March but headed to the Start with plans to just have fun.

After a shorter than usual warm-up, I was ready to tackle the very hilly course.  My legs were fresh but I could tell I wasn’t in peak performance shape.  My goal was to run around a 1:48, taking things easy and enjoying the scenery.  Things started with an almost immediate climb and I knew I was in for a tough workout.  The hills kept on coming, up-down-up-down, without any flat stretches in sight.  I stuck with the 1:45 pacers until walking leisurely through a water stop around Mile 5.

After falling back from the 1:45 pacers, I decided to take things easy.  I actually looked around at the beautiful scenery and enjoyed the beat down I was getting.  It’s clear I don’t live somewhere that can adequately prepare you for big, hilly courses.  By Mile 8 my hamstrings and glutes were grumpy which was great since Mile 9 is the course’s toughest.  I took a walk breaks at all second half water stops and slowed down to check to out a few overlooks. 

I powered up and down more hills in the last 5k.  Aside from a little moaning and groaning from my glutes and hamstrings my body felt great as I run the bluegrasscollected my big medal.  It was by far my inconsistent half marathon ever but I had a great time and felt good crossing the finish in 1:47.11, 12 in my age group.  I was really happy with my performance on out of race shape legs on a very challenging course.

The rest of April is full of training.  I have one more race, the ODU Big Blue 5k, on the 15th but otherwise I’ll just be grinding away.  With lots of time before my next goal race, Smuttynose Half, I’m looking forward to a few weeks of 30-35 miles with loads of play time.

Meredith

Is Run the Bluegrass on your list?  What’s on tap for April?

Fit Friday: An Almost Trio of March PRs

March 2017 was a solid running month for me.  I raced three weekends in a row, hitting new PRs at the marathon and 8k distances while getting very close at the 5k distance.  It was my best month of running race-wise in a while and I’m really happy with it. 

The month started with a tune-up 5k.  I had no real expectations but knew I’d perform pretty well on tapered legs.  When I lined up to start the Big Wish 5k I looked at the distance on my watch but not the time.  I wish I would have.  Knowing my start time would have shown me that coming into the finish I was only seconds behind my best.  I had plenty left and could certainly have added another one to my March PRs if I March PRshad been more aware.  Lucky for me, I have plenty of 5k opportunities coming up over the next few months.

My marathon PR the following Sunday felt good.  It wasn’t the race I wanted to run after Mile 22 but I hit my goal and qualified for Boston.  I learned a lot during this race that I’ll be taking with me into my next training cycle.

My March PRs rolled on at the Shamrock 8k.  While I hadn’t run an 8k in years and a PR was almost inevitable, I’m still proud of my Shamrock effort.  I smashed my previous best by 90 seconds five measly days after running a marathon.  Imagine if my legs were fresh.

After almost three March PRs, it’s exciting thinking about what I can get done this fall.  I’ll be racing for PRs at the half marathon, 10k, 5k and 5 mile distances.  It’s likely I’ll count that five miler as an 8k since they’re so close.  I don’t have a fall marathon planned but am looking forward to Boston 2018.

Meredith

Did you have any March PRs?  What distance?

My Breakfast and Yoga Morning Routine

Even though my morning routine varies a tiny bit with the seasons, the elements of it are always the same.  Breakfast, yoga and some deep breathing help each day get off to a positive start morning routinebefore I have a chance to get off track.

I can’t remember the last time I was woken up by an alarm and am usually up 10-15 minutes before it would go off.  That doesn’t mean, however, I get out of my nice warm bed.  I’ll stay cozy while planning the day and deciding how to complete the day’s check list.  A quick check of my phone lets me know my early morning hasn’t cancelled and I must go on.  After resigning myself to the fact that I can’t stay in bed all day, it’s off to the bathroom.  Usual business and a cold splash of water to the face make sure I’m actually awake.

Since the majority of my work and workout wardrobe is black, I rarely turn on the bedrooms lights to dress.  Ambient light from the half drawn blinds is enough to make sure I match.  Then it’s downstairs to feed both the dog and myself.  Dog food in bowl, my Cheerios in a bowl and by the time I’ve grabbed a spoon Jordy is ready to go outside.  I eat while he does his dog thing out there then return my dirty dish to the kitchen.  Now it’s time to get moving.

I take a deep breath, reach into mountain pose and start my 5-10 minutes of yoga.  It’s at least five but ideally closer to 10.  If there’s a big north  or west wind, I know I have to leave a bit earlier to bike to work.  During my practice I’ll repeat positive mantras and visualize what I’m going to accomplish that day.  At this point my mind is focused and my body is ready to work.  I officially check my email/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for the first time, hop on my bike and start the day.  The only time this varies is when I have a chance to take my yoga to the beach and bike first.

Why do I stick so steadfastly to this morning routine?  It’s made a big difference.  Clearing my mind and moving my body before I let any distraction in has made me more prepared for sitting at my desk, hitting the gym for a client or tackling a workout.  My focus is better, my attitude is positive and I’m ready for whatever comes my way.  Even heading out for those 20+ mile runs in sub-zero temperatures wasn’t so bad.

Meredith

Do you have a morning routine?  What does it include?

Shamrock 8k PR + Down Time

Saturday I ran my first 8k in three years.  Five days post marathon the Shamrock 8k might not have been the best idea I ever had but I hit a new PR and had some fun.  For the second week in shamrock 8ka row the ugly weather forecast held off.  Predicted rain didn’t hit until after the race and I was lucky enough to stay dry the entire day.

Weather aside, the Shamrock 8k is a simple, flat and fast course that presents a great opportunity push yourself.  This year it was home to the USATF Master’s 8k Championship.  I started in Corral 1 surrounded by masters athletes and speedy high school runners.  The first half mile was a little traffic filled and I definitely got swept up in the pace.

My legs felt OK heading into the race but after about 2k they let me know it was too soon.  My pace decreased in spite of the tailwind and I was OK with that.  I was well on my way to crushing my old 8k best even if slowed down a bit.  I crossed the finish line in 35:48, beating my old PR by over 90 seconds.  Five days post marathon I was more than happy with it.  I collected my medal, a new kooize, a banana and a few snacks before heading into the always wonderful Shamrock Party Tent.shamrock 8k

Now it’s time for a little R&R.  I say a little because I have Run the Bluegrass coming up in a few short days.  The race will check Kentucky off my 50 states list and be loads of fun but beyond that I have no expectations.  There are roughly 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the 13.1 mile course and it will be my first run over 6 miles since the marathon.

Meredith

Did you run the Shamrock 8k?  Do you like the 8k distance?

Plantain Chips + Marathon Recovery

Marathon recovery is moving along nicely and I’m all ready to race the Shamrock 8k tomorrow.  I wasn’t too sure how I’d be feeling about tomorrow’s race after hitting my marathon goal last Sunday.  The good news is a week of rest, yoga, body weight exercises and light running has me ready to go.  I’d like hit a new 8k PR since it’s been quite a while since I’ve raced at that distance but the weather doesn’t look too good.  Rain with some reasonable wind might hamper my efforts a bit.

No matter what happens at Shamrock, I’ve had my best training cycle yet this year, learned a lot and am in a great place to hit my goals for the rest of 2017.  I’m ready for a little post race down time then kicking things back up later in the spring.

Since I had a quiet workout week, I hit the kitchen to try something completely new.  Plantain chips!  I’m not too familiar with plantains but received some from a friend and figured it couldn’t hurt to play.  My first thought was plantain chips since they’re simple and probably hard to muck up.  This experimental recipe is a mash up of others for both banana chips and plantain chips but it turned out well.  I hope you enjoy it, too!plantain chips

Cinnamon Plantain Chips
Ingredients: 
1 plantain, peeled and sliced thinly. 
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil. 
1 teaspoon lemon juice. 
Cinnamon as desired.

Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss plantain slices with coconut oil, lemon juice and cinnamon until coated.
Place evenly spaced plantain slices on lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then flip over for 5-7 additional minutes until edges are browned.

Meredith

Do you like plantain chips?  Have a favorite plantain recipe?  Share it with me!

One City Marathon + What’s Next

The 2017 One City Marathon is in the books.  I had a solid run and was happy with the results in an official finish time of 3:29.19.

I came out of the gate fresh and ready to go.  Too fast.  I settled in around a 7:45 pace and kept telling myself to slow down.  I couldn’t.  A lovely runner named Jim had settled in right one city marathonalong with me and we chatted our way through the first 14.

After hitting the half in 1:41, I knew I had to slow down or I would be in big trouble.  Of course, I also had it in my head that it was race day, I had tapered well and didn’t actually know what I was capable of.  I walked through a water stop at 14 very easily in an attempt to bring slow my body down.  As you can see from the splits, it worked a little bit.

I still felt good downing an extra GU at 18.5.  The fast half was starting to catch up with me and caffeine was just what I needed.  Of course, I also needed water.  Unfortunately the water stop at 20 was all the way on the other side of the road.  Across four lanes on the outside of a turn.  Hitting it would have added even more to my already extra long marathon.  I skipped it feeling confident I could make it to the stop at 22.

I made it to 22 and grabbed a cup of water as I walked by.  More attention would have been a good idea at that moment because that cup was barely full.  I got maybe 2 ounces of water before continuing on.  Not more than five minutes later I started to pay for it as my calves locked up.  I gave them a stretch and tried to slow my run down to a jog.  My pace inevitably crept back up and my calves responded with hostility.  I skipped the next water stop at 24 knowing if I walked I would struggle to run again.  Powering through the last two miles was one city marathontough but I did it, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

I had run 26.39 miles in 3:29.19.  While not exactly the race I wanted to run, I learned a lot and will be much better prepared for my next 26.2.  If there is one.

Next up is the Shamrock 8k.  Only five days after this marathon I’m not sure what to expect but it’s been a long time since I’ve run an 8k and would love to see a PR.  I’ll also have to decide if I really want to run the Boston Marathon.  There are 51 weeks a year I’m not that into the idea but when marathon weekend kicks off, I always wish I was there.  I’ll have more on that later because right now my focus is rocking 5 miles this Saturday.

Meredith

Did you run the One City Marathon?  Have you ever qualified for Boston?

**For more of the nitty gritty like parking and hotels, check out my review on BibRave**

 

Marathon Weather Questions + The Plan

One City Marathon weekend is finally here.  With snow and heavy winds in the forecast early in the week, I spent most of it worrying more about whether the race would actually happen than my plan for running it.  I came up with contingency plans, looked for alternate weatherraces on the same day and tried to stay calm.  There is really nothing that can be done about the weather.  Luckily the forecast has turned around and the race is on! 

The weather based distraction was nice to keep me busy during my quiet week but now my legs need some work.  After my last workout Wednesday and two days of rest, I’m seriously looking forward to tomorrow’s three mile shake out jog.  My sanity will take anything.  As far as the marathon goes, I’m ready.

I’m itching to run.  My legs feel good and my plan is solid.  I trained all winter in the cold so the chilly race morning temperatures (feels like 18) will actually be just fine.  I know exactly what I’ll weatherwear and will definitely be avoiding the horrible blisters of last year.  I’ll run the first ten miles a hair slower than goal pace then pick things up when I feel like it.  Hydration stations every two miles will give me flexibility but keep me from getting thirsty.  Energy gels at the start, around 7, 14 and 20 miles will keep me fueled.  My best training cycle yet will keep my head on straight and I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

Meredith

What’s the worst weather you’ve run a marathon in?  Do you stress about forecasts?

Big Wish 5k Win + Marathon Week

It’s Marathon Week!  I’m ready to run and have had some solid workouts through my two week taper, including a great Big Wish 5k.  Currently the One City weather is looking less than ideal with temperatures in the high 30s, 20 mph winds and an 80% chance of 1-3 inches of snow.  Ugh.  I’m really hoping that changes as the forecast so often does around Hampton Roads and I’ll stay dry.  If not, oh well, there’s nothing I can do anyway.

My training is behind me.  It went extremely well and I feel 100% ready for race day after two weeks of taper.  I wrapped Taper Week 2 with a easy eight mile long run Friday then stepped the intensity up with the Big Wish 5k Saturday morning.  It was a brisk and breezy but sunnyBig Wish 5k morning.  My plan was to to keep my legs firing without taking too much off the table for this weekend’s marathon.  During my two mile warm-up I felt really good.  We went off right on time as I focused on not getting swept up with the fast starters.

I expected to run comfortably around half marathon pace (7:15/mile) but settled in faster.  The first mile ran by in 6:58.  Slow down, I told myself.  My legs and lungs both felt great as I made the u-turn at halfway.  Mile 2 registered as a 6:56.  Since I was feeling so good and picked it up a hair for Mile 3 in 6:45.  I crossed the finish line in 21:19 as first female.

I was bummed I hadn’t looked at the time on my watch after my warm up.  If I had, I would have known coming through those last few hundred meters I was only 5 seconds away from a new 5k PR.  A faster 5k is definitely in my near future and I look forward to seeing what I can do.

The rest of Marathon Week includes yesterday’s 12 x 400M, another short workout Wednesday and a 20 minute shake out Saturday.

Meredith

What does your Marathon Week look like?