Getting hurt last year turned me into a paranoid wimp. Every time something hurts I start to freak out and think I’m injured. I’ve re-arranged countless workouts and I haven’t run a full 7 day week in ages.
On the one hand I think its a really good thing and its helping to keep me healthy. On the other hand I can’t live in a bubble and I’m really making an effort to claw my way back into the real world and get out of my comfort zone a bit.
It started at the St Louis half marathon a few weeks ago. I am REALLY glad I did this race and it ended up being a great confidence booster for me. But honestly had I known how hilly it was going to be beforehand I probably wouldn’t have gone. After the course tour I called my coach and begged to not wear a watch during the race. I was nervous about the terrain and thought my time would be way off. It turns out I felt AWESOME on the hills and really enjoyed them. I even came within 4 seconds of my PR!
Then last weekend I ran the lakefront 10 in Chicago. It was pretty icy along the path and on my warm up I thought about bailing. Had it been a workout at home I would have definitely gone on the treadmill. But you know what? Life doesn’t happen in a climate controlled gym and neither do races. I went through with it and ended up having a blast and still ran a decent time. I’m not gonna lie…I whined like a little girl on the icy spots and ran in the grass next to the trail when things got really bad. But I’ll take it.
This morning I had 8 by 800 on the schedule and I planned to do it on the lakefront path. I was rainy and windy and cold and very tempting to stay inside. Had I run on the treadmill I could have had lighter shoes and a drink right next to me and been in comfortable temps. Instead I carried my flats to the trail and hid my trainers in the bushes. I put my key and a credit card (for emergencies) in my compression sock. I was soaked before I started. And kind of pissed. But it felt good to be in the elements and I felt a lot more alive than I would running in my indoor bubble. I was still a little hesitant in the slick spots but I’m definitely getting better. And I was thrilled to find that no one had stolen my shoes!
In running and in life it’s ok to have your guard up sometimes and it’s hard to find that balance. But sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and go for it. That’s what I’m striving for right now.
I wanted a low key event to kick off my racing season this year and I’ve been trying to get out to Portland to visit my aunt for awhile. The Shamrock run 8k ended up being the perfect fit and I’m happy to report that the race went well and I had an amazing time in Oregon.
Going in the goal was to run faster than I did last December for the same distance (275x). Based on my workouts I probably could have aimed a little higher but since it was my rust buster I decided not to put too much pressure on myself.
I typically run mostly on feel and not by the clock so the first couple of miles I just got into a rythm. It felt too easy but the mile splits were fast so I just tried to settle in and enjoy. Overall I felt really strong until the uphill started at 3.5ish miles but I knew I was on a good pace so I tried to stick with it and ended up finishing in 2643 for a 13 second PR.
Sure 8k isn’t a distance I run often and definitley not my best event. And there were some things I could have done better and in the past I probably would have focused on that. But I was truly satisfied with my performace this time and nothing but smiles after the race. I’ve learned that PRs don’t happen every day and you gotta enjoy them when they do. Plus I didn’t have tons of time to analyze because I had to slam a gel, change numbers and chips and jog to the starting line for the 5k.
Yep I got to do 2 races in one day! Well ok I wouldn’t call the 5k a race really but it was a good tempo to add some mileage to my workout and way better than doing a long cool down on my own. I’m a race junkie and loved that the timing worked out to be able to do both. After a really slow start I just focused on catching as many people as I could. It was a blast.
The race organizers did a great job with this event and the atmosphere was pretty awesome. 35,000 people, 3 different events and even a tutu contest. Oh and lots of beer. In fact I ended up winning my weight in Widmer Brothers Brew for my 8k effort and we celebrated with a cold one and lunch at Potbellys.
As if that wasn’t enough fun the rest of the trip pretty much rocked. A trip to Powells’s was a huge highlight for this book nerd and I have 6 new (used) ones to tackle in the coming weeks. Running on the Leif Erickson trail with good company was another. It was great having people to chat with since I do a lot of running solo.
Huge thanks to my Aunt for having me out and all the people in Portland who made the race and weekend such an enjoyable experience.
I always find it funny whenever I read about how exercise gives you energy. ha. hahaha.
Maybe if you exercise like a normal person. But I don’t. I run a lot of miles and I’m even finally doing speed work consistently. My body is totally healthy and it feels amazing to be able to run fast again. But I’m also exhausted. Which makes me wonder…..how tired is too tired?
Lets face it: If you want to be the best runner you can be you have to push your body and find your limits. The quest to find that edge will sometimes send you over to the dark side of injury or illness. I’ve seen both and done my best to learn from them and move on.
When I tore my hamstring I wans’t listening to my body. I only took two weeks off for my original strain because thats what the doctor ordered. It was supposed to be fine after that and I resumed training. Well it wasn’t ok and I knew it but I kept pushing.
Now I’m much more paranoid. When anything hurts I immediately take a day off or cross train instead. Thats not to say I won’t ever get hurt again but I know I won’t blindly ignore the pain like I did then.
What I struggle with more now is how much fatigue is “ok”. I’ve been absolutely shattered in my buildups to my best races but I know there is a limit there. I’m starting to look for and keep track of the little warning signs. Eye twitches. Being overwhelmed by the thought of having to do an easy errand. Not having enough energy to go to the book and/or candy store. Laughing uncontrollablly….about nothing. Not taking a second look when the hottest guy ever walks by. Getting angry that Taco Bell doesn’t deliver.
Luckily I’m not there yet. But just in case I’m backing off a touch for a couple days to stay on top of it. Being healthy again rocks and I hope to keep it that way for a long time. And I’ll have a race report for you next week.
How do you pick the events you participate in each year? Do you run the same races over and over or mix it up?
I’m trying to plan my schedule for the rest of the year. I certainly learned last year that nothing is guaranteed but since racing is my favorite part of this whole adventure I hope that a lot of it will happen in the coming months. I tend to race more than most people but I only have a few really big races that I specifically train and taper for.
I’m looking forward to doing a lot of traveling and figure I might as well go for it while I can. I’m not married and I don’t even have a pet. Plus I work for myself and can bring work with me pretty much anywhere. I typically don’t even bring my work stuff on race trips since I am trying to focus but at least it’s an option.
I feel very lucky to be invited to races each year and realize how spoiled I get as an elite runner. Free entries and travel to amazing places with the opportunity to go out and do what I love more than anything is pretty hard to beat. All road races are different but some even offer meals or per diem for food so the out of pocket expenses is really minimal.
I definitely have my favorite races and hope to fit some of those in this year. I am THRILLED to be going back to Freihofers in June. Normally I probably wouldn’t travel across the country for a 5k but this race is really special to me. I LOVE their school visitation program and wish other races would do something similar. It’s really nice to get out and go to schools and talk to kids about having a healthy lifestyle. Getting to race one of the fastest 5k road races in the world is an added (and very humbling) bonus.
Some new races are getting thrown into the mix as well. I’m hoping to jump into a race in Portland while visiting my Aunt in March and looking at a half marathon in a couple of months. I’m always looking for reasons to go back to Chicago so I’ll probably run some events there including a couple I haven’t done before. I’m still not sure what I’m racing on memorial day or what my next marathon is but both of those are in the works. I’m sure I’ll jump in a lot of things last minute as well but I like to have a basic idea of my year so I can plan my training and line up travel. It’s going to take me awhile to get back to where I was pre-injury but I am just thrilled to be able to run and race again pain free. Hope to see you at a race this year!
Running and reading are two of my favorite activities but they can make a dangerous combo when combined. And I’m not even talking about falling off the back of a treadmill. I just sometimes have trouble making myself stop running when I have enough reading material to continue on. Like the time I accidentally ran 28 miles because I really got into the New York Times. Yes, flipping newspaper pages while running looks quite ridiculous. But if you have ever seen me rocking hokas and huge headphones and mis-matched socks you know I don’t really worry about that sort of thing.
Anyway….the point is I run and read a lot. And it got me thinking about the correlations between the two. Finishing a book provokes one of the weirdest emotions for me. It’s so so awesome and so terrible at the same time. I’m happy I made it but bummed I won’t have the experience anymore. Not unlike finishing a marathon. I soooooo want it to be over but I also kind of want it to last forever.
The more epic novels are probably more like the marathon distance. I’ve dropped out of short races and not finished several books. But I’ve finished every marathon and most 800+ page books I’ve started. Some are slower than others. My worst marathon was 22 minutes slower than my best and some books have taken me years to finish. (Infinite Jest you will be mine!) But there is something about the volume that makes me determined to keep going and see it through even when its a struggle. Shorter races and books don’t provide the same stimulus. You can participate day after day without any down time.
One could argue that epic novels can be read back to back and I know some runners do marathons every day. But personally I need some down time between both and prefer 1-3 marathons and big books per year interspersed with a bunch of fun runs and even the occasional chic lit. Currenty I’m reading a book on the history of candy and planning my race schedule for the rest of the year. But no fifty shades of grey for me and no ultras just yet. You gotta draw the line somewhere.
Last weekend I ran in the 2013 Houston Marathon. I am very excited that I was able to finish without seriously injuring myself and my hamstrings held up just fine. I had a bit of a scare with my ankle but nothing a week off won’t fix.
This gives me the green light to be able to go at it in training again. I’ve been hesistant to do the volume and hard surface training that I have in the past because I was worried my legs couln’t take it. But if they can get through that I am pretty sure they are ready for anything.
Now the race itself certainly wasn’t perfect. In fact it got downright ugly. At 10 miles my legs felt like they normally do at 20 and I knew I was in for a long day when I wanted to drop out well before 17.
Going into the race I thought I could dip under 235 even on a bad weather day. Almost every marathon I’ve done has been in extreme weather. But I didn’t realize how cold and tight I would get and how thrashed my legs would feel so early on. And really what’s the difference between 234 and 239? Not that much. I would have placed one spot higher and made bit more money. Sure I’m competitive and would liked to have beat the woman ahead of me but at least it gives me something to build on. And while its a huge bonus that I’m excited about I certainly don’t run for the money.
I’m actually quite happy with the result. The me from a few years ago probably wouldn’t be. She would be beating herself up for running so “slow”. But if I’ve learned anything in the past year or two of injuries it’s thats you gotta find the positives and thats what I’m focusing on. I finished a marathon on a brutal weather day when I felt worse than I ever have. I’m proud of myself for sticking it out.
The best part? I still believe.
HUGE THANKS to the Houston Marathon Organizers for having me, my amazing parents for making the trip out, coach Brad for the insight, and all of YOU. I feel so much support from so many and I’m very grateful.
I’ve been having a bit of trouble getting these pictures to load. And I didn’t have a great camera with me so they don’t really do it justice but here are a few scenes from an amazing place!
The trip highlights:
Hang gliding and jet boating. I was white knuckling it the whole time but really enjoyed both.
Tasting wine straight from the barrel on one of the tours we went on.
Christmas dinner with the family. I still can’t believe the Moody’s ate a vegetarian meal on a holiday but it we loved it.
RUNNING. Training in New Zealand was amazing. The scenery was stunning and it was shorts and t-shirt weather. As a huge bonus it gets light out at 5 am and I saw the sunrise almost every morning.
JET LAG really hit me hard. 28ish hours of travel is rough. But so worth it.