Archive | May, 2013

Top Tips for the Indy Mini-Marathon

14 May

For locals, the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is more lovingly known as “The Mini.”  It is the largest half-marathon in the country with 35,000 participants.  For the past decade, the race has sold out, and it is wildly popular here in Indianapolis. There is also a corresponding 5K, which is a great option for those not quite ready for long distances.   If you are thinking about running this race (or are getting ready to run the race) here are my top tips.

  • Arrive early.  This race is huge. There are 35,000 runners, but that doesn’t include all the 5K runners, spectators, and media.  If you have to park, make sure you arrive with plenty of time to find a spot and get to the start.  You don’t want to let things get down to the last minute.
  • Mentally prepare for the track.  This is the Indy 500 track – it is not your college running track.  It’s meant for cars, not people…so it’s much longer than you think it will be.  If you go in there knowing it’s around 2.5 miles on the track, it will be much easier mentally.  The first year I did this race it really caught me off guard that it’s just so long.  This year, I was prepared and really enjoyed the track.  Sit back and relax – you’ll be out there a long time.
  • Make sure you submit seeding if you run faster than 2:30.  A race with 35,000 participants is pretty huge.  I mean, it takes the back corrals about an hour to cross the start line (that’s not even the finish line!).  If you are a runner and interested in your time/pace, it’s crucial to submit proof of your speed.  This usually has to be submitted about 2 months before the race, so plan in advance.  There is a real difference between corral E and corral X.  Many people walk this race and are put in the later corrals with the other walkers.  If you want to run it, get your seeding done and in early!  You can submit another half-marathon or other race times.  Here is the chart with times:times
  • Don’t miss the bricks. One tradition for Indy 500 winners is to ‘kiss the bricks.’ Well – runners in the race can stop and kiss the bricks too!  The sad part for me – I’ve done this race twice and not only have I not kissed them – I haven’t even seen or acknowledged them!  It’s something really unique about the Indy mini, so it’s definitely worth noting even if you don’t want to stop.  You can join the ranks of all the Indy 500 winners!
  • Run on the left (if you’re going for a PR). This year I stayed predominantly on the left (unintentionally) and realized it tends to be the “inner” part of the course.  A lot of the turns and the track veer to the left.  After sticking pretty closely to the left this year I feel I have found a solid strategy for future minis.  Call me crazy! One thing to remember is that the “left” is often the passing lane for many – be sure to follow nice racing etiquette and don’t stay on the far left if you’re not using it for passing.  I tried to stay “one lane” from the far left and that worked well for me.
  • Run in the grass. Along the track is some deliciously soft grass!  Give you legs a break and run on the inside of the track in the lawn.  I didn’t spend too much time on the grass, but just a few minutes of it was a nice change of pace for my legs.
  • Plan for spectators.  Have I mentioned the mini is huge?  Yeah – so huge that you will miss your spectators if you don’t know where they are!  Specifically know roughly what mile-marker and most importantly the side of the road they will be on.  My ‘fans’ were at mile 5 on the left and that seemed like a popular spot and relatively easy for them to navigate.  I’m so thankful we decided ahead of time or I would’ve been very disappointed to miss them, or be stressed searching for them the whole time!
  • Wave to everyone. Okay this might be my biggest secret of Kelly racing history: I wave and thank supporters.  Consistently and cheerfully.  It might seem crazy to “waste” energy doing this.  But holy moly – it’s amazing how energizing a returned smile can be.  Plus the more energetic you look, the more likely spectators will look at your bib and cheer your name.  Seriously – works like a charm every time.  I’ve done this in every single race (yes even the nightmarish mini of last year) and I don’t see any reason to stop now.  If you’ve never done it, give it a whirl!  You’d be amazed how you can brighten up a random spectators day!  Specific to the mini- the course has to go through some poorer parts of town to get to the main event: the track! Because of this many spectators sit on their porches and don’t really realize runners are paying attention to them.  It’s so heartwarming to see them enthusiastically wave back when they realize runners are happy they are out!
  • Anticipate crowds.  Just like any major race, expect crowds.  Expect lines for porta potties, race pictures, and parking.  Budget extra time getting to and from the race and you’ll have a much smoother and stress-free experience.  The 500 festival does an awesome job so they work through lines and crowds very efficiently, but it’s still a lot of people!
  • Don’t miss the Chocolate Milk. Wow – fantastic new discovery this year!  They give away free chocolate milk at the after-party.  Yeah – talk about big tip (you’re welcome).  The trick is that the milk isn’t in the finisher’s shoot with all the other food and goodies.  Once you leave that area head around to the right and there is a whole booth dedicated to chocolate milk!  It was everything I could’ve hoped for.
  • Pick up your results. The mini has a results tent in the after-party where you can pick up a sticker with your results time and details.  I grabbed mine and stuck it on my bib for a great keepsake.  It was quick, easy, and an awesome way to personalize my bib!
  • Have fun! You’re racing on the Indy track with 35,000 other runners!  What an awesome experience.  The most important tip: have fun and enjoy.  This is a race you won’t soon forget!

Happy racing!

-Kelly

Have you ever run “the mini”?  Do you have any tips?

Sports Bra Engagement

10 May

Happy Friday everyone!  Races, Reps, and Ramblings is going to take a slight pause on fitness-dedicated content for a little engagement story!  If you hate mushy stories or long, detailed posts consider yourself warned!  If you can’t get enough of ’em, read on!

Thursday May 9, 2013, started out like any other morning: bright and early with a workout!  Except because it was a Thursday, it meant one of my favorite workouts to hate: Yoga.  I have a love/hate relationship with Yoga, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled about waking up for it.  I managed to get out of bed and change into some comfy pants and my favorite neon yellow sports bra.  Because my apartment has been so hot lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of just wearing a sports bra to workout.  I thought for a second about grabbing a shirt, but usually with yoga it hangs over my head and kind of drives me crazy.  I went to the bathroom to finish up.  After getting ready I came out to the living room where Adam and I normally do our P90X at-home workout DVDs.  Whoever is ready to workout first earns the job of work-out set-up.   Adam is more of a morning person and is usually ready faster than me, easily winning the coveted ‘setter-upper’ job.  So at this point I was very accustomed to him setting up the computer with the workout, grabbing waters, and setting up other equipment.  Because I was so slow this particular morning I fully expected the room to be totally ready to go.  When I came out from the bathroom, not only was the room  not set up – but Adam was sitting in a chair playing with his phone!  What the heck!?  I made some comment like “dude – goofing around out here?  Why are you playing with your phone?  We need to get moving!”  Yoga is an hour and a half – we were cutting it close!  He went off to the kitchen to grab some water glasses.

I grabbed my yoga mat (conveniently already pulled out of the closet and ready to be unrolled).  I undid the velcro and let the mat unfold.  It took me a few seconds to register that the inside was entirely covered in post-it notes.  Initially I thought maybe I found something I wasn’t supposed to see.  After all it was a Thursday morning – maybe this was meant to be for the weekend?!  I laughed and unrolled it the whole way and read “The top 100 reasons I love you!” at the top of the mat.  Beneath the title were individual post-it notes with a number on the front and a reason Adam loves me on the inside.  We both sat down and I started reading the notes.  I thought that possibly Adam was building up to this weekend (I had suspicions this might be the weekend for a proposal) or perhaps he was being sweet ‘just because.’  No matter the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through his sometimes funny, sometimes serious, but very sincere reasons that he loves me.  We laughed at some of them and I made a few retorts to others.  A few times I paused to kiss him – there were some very sweet words among the post-its and it took awhile to get through all the reasons (100 is a lot!).  He asked me to read them out loud and we enjoyed sharing our many memories and inside jokes together.  As the numbers got higher and the time got later I realized that we’d probably have to significantly cut yoga short (yes, this was a serious concern on my mind!).  I even thought – maybe we could finish the list after yoga… yep, that really went through my head!  It takes me awhile to wake up in the morning – so my mind was still pretty fuzzy. Once we got in the high 80’s I started getting nervous – was this leading up to a proposal?  Could reason 100 say “Will you marry me?”  I kept lifting the notes, steadily increasing my pace at the end.  98…  99…

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I took a deep breath before looking at 100. “Just Because!  Now go open my yoga mat” it read.  Like a kid on a treasure hunt I jumped up and raced to the next clue.  I undid the velcro on Adam’s mat letting it open slowly to the floor.  Out poured dozens of red rose petals, and in the last curl of the mat rested a small brown box.  I lowered the mat below my chin to peek at Adam’s face.  Is this really happening?  Is this what I think it is?  I gave him a look that spelled out my confusion, disbelief, and happiness.  Eventually I bent down and picked up the box.  At some point I started crying and laughing and he took the box from my hands.  Down on one knee he asked me if I would marry him.  I told him a quiet ‘yes’ and he told me ‘say it louder!’ Confused I said ‘Yes! Of course I will marry you.”  I sat down on his knee and gave him a kiss.  My unexpected sitting caused us both to fall over.  We laughed as we fell to the ground and just let the moment sink in.  We chatted for a bit and he asked me “Do you know what date it is?”  I laughed and told him that I didn’t – I had been frantically trying to figure it out in my head (I’m a fan of dates).  He said “It’s 5-9, 5 for you (one of my favorite numbers), and 9 for me (one of his favorite numbers)”  I smiled – it was so thoughtful of him to plan to that level of detail.  After a few minutes he asked, “Do you want to try your ring on?”  I had completely forgotten about the little brown box that he was still holding in his hands.  I eagerly shook my head ‘yes’ and we both sat up to properly put on the ring.  Adam opened the box and I got my first glimpse of the ring.  It was absolutely beautiful!  He took my hand and slid the ring onto my left ring finger.  It was a perfect fit.  The ring was gorgeous: delicate, simple, and sparkly.  I don’t think I could’ve done a better job if I picked it out myself. He picked out the most perfect-for-me ring possible.  I couldn’t stop looking at it!

photo(9)photo(8)Eventually we came out of our dreamy state and I jumped up!  We had to get pictures of the scene!  I took a few snapshots of the post-its and the flowers.  While I was taking pictures Adam told me that behind the workout DVD pulled up on the computer he had been recording the proposal!  I was so happy!  I am a huge fan of recording/photographing things for posterity so was thrilled we’ll have that little keepsake.  Until I realized that for the entire proposal I am wearing my yoga outfit: pants and just a sports bra!  “Adam!!  We can’t show that to our families and friends!”  Adam shrugged and said I was wearing more than a swimsuit would cover – it’s no big deal.  I laughed and realized that I loved it.  He proposed in the perfect way: just us, unconventionally, and he totally caught me off guard!  Plus I love funny stories – now I’ll get to tease him for the rest of our lives that he proposed to me in a neon sports bra.  Hilarious.

Afterwards Adam informed me that we were not going to be doing yoga this morning (bad kids!) and we headed to the kitchen.  He whipped up some chocolate and blueberry pancakes and we both relaxed, enjoying our breakfast together.  Afterwards we took a few minutes and watched the recording of the proposal.  It. Was. Hilarious.  The first part of the video I am barely conscious.  Totally brain-dead.  My voice even sounds exhausted.  Slowly I start waking up as the clip progresses, and it’s so cute to watch it unfold.  The angle isn’t quite perfect because it’s recording from his computer and the audio is a little quiet – but I’m beyond delighted we have a little keepsake of the moment.

We started calling and texting family and friends shortly after, though I was worried people might be concerned something happened!  After all, who calls at 7 am with good news?  A few phone calls were definitely met with some “Well this is unique!” or “That’s interesting!”  I could tell people were a little surprised with the unconventional proposal, but thrilled we’re getting married.  I asked Adam what made him decide this date and time.  “Well, I knew you were suspecting weekends in May, so that was off limits.  I also knew that evening would be a suspect time.  I wanted to pick something you would never suspect.  My criteria: I wanted it to happen soon, be a surprise, and be just the two of us.”  Well – Adam certainly succeeded on all three counts. :)

I went off to work via Adam’s ‘Princess drop-off and pick-up’ with the instruction to be ready at 4:30pm for a surprise evening!  After a day full of lots of concentration and productivity at work (might be a stretch – really… I’m supposed to concentrate after a morning like that?), Adam picked me up.  He was all dressed up and looked so handsome.  He had an umbrella in preparation for the gloomy weather, took my hand, and we started walking downtown around the corner.  A few minutes later we arrived at The Capitol Grille – a very swanky Indy restaurant.  We were fancy people!  Our dinner was absolutely divine and the service was impeccable.  It was very fun to do something so out of the ordinary.  Right on cue, it was pouring when we left, but thankfully we had the umbrella (always prepared that one!) for the walk to the car.  We started driving away from downtown and my curiosity got the better of me: what are we doing and where are we going!?  After about 15 minutes of driving Adam finally let me play 20 questions with him.  After a surprising level of difficulty to figure it out, I realized we were going to see the show “Into the Woods.”  Several of our theatre friends were in the show and we had been talking about going to it for months but never really made it happen.  I was thrilled we had the chance to go!  The show was amazing and it was the perfect ending to an absolutely perfect day.

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This weekend is his graduation from med school, and I’m thrilled that lots of family will be in town to celebrate.  My parents get into town this afternoon, and it will be wonderful to celebrate with them.  I’m extra happy that I decided to buy a new dress for the fancy graduation banquet!  The banquet is a served dinner and open bar event for med students, friends, and family.  It’s a built in celebration for us to share our news with our close group here in Indy.  I asked Adam for more details about the planning of the proposal.  He told me he had lunch with my parents about a month ago (driving 2 hours north to meet them).  He said they had a wonderful lunch and granted him their blessing.  I was so happy Adam made that effort – it means so much to me for them to be included.  He also picked out the ring with his Mom – which is special too because I absolutely love his family and I’m happy they were involved as well!  I’m sure more details will come out over the course of the weekend.  For now I’m just trying to enjoy the time and not get too distracted by the beautiful gift on my finger as I type this!  So there it is… the story of how I got engaged in my sports bra on a Thursday morning all before 8am.

Happy Friday and have an amazing weekend!

-Kelly

Dealing with Runner’s Knee

9 May

runLast night, I had a very anticipated and successful trip to the Physical Therapist (PT).  Last week my visit to the Sports Med doc landed me with a prescription and diagnosis of Patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka Runner’s knee).  This is a very common overuse injury, and my appointment last night armed me with even more information and most importantly, a plan. 

What’s the problem?

Just a recap (Get it?  Knee cap? Ok – that pun was intended and bad).  Runner’s knee is a phrase used to describe a couple conditions that all cause pain around the front of the knee.  Mine is most likely Patellofemoral malalignment – essentially my knee isn’t ‘tracking’ appropriately. Tracking is referring to the bending motion and how the patella (knee cap) should slide easily in the femoral groove.  Because the knee is very sensitive and pretty complex, it is a likely joint to experience endurance pain. (How many CLs do we have? ACL, MCL?)  In my case I experience knee pain while I run, but also when I’m just relaxing at home.  My knees feel most at ease when they are extended and not in a bent position.  

What is the cause?

There are myriad causes of Runner’s knee – one of the biggest reasons it’s the most common running injury.  These are the most common causes found in the paperwork from my PT:

  • Malalignment of the kneecap (due to biomechanics)
  • Complete or partial dislocation
  • Injury or trauma
  • Weakness of thigh muscles
  • Flat feet
  • Excessive training or overuse
  • Tight or weak leg muscles

During the appointment my PT did a number of tests by having me push or pull against her in various ways.  She had me walk and evaluated my gait.  At my next appointment she’s going to put me on the treadmill to watch my running gait.  Because there are many possible causes, she had to go through several little tests to rule out possibilities.

What’s the word?

The end result?  I have weakness in my hips that is causing my knees to pull slightly out of alignment.  While walking and running short distances, this isn’t noticeable, but once I get up in miles, it is essentially hours of my knee bone rubbing against my thigh bone – yikes.  That’s exactly how my knees feel! 

What’s next?

The great news is this can be fixed!  My PT was very optimistic about my situation and felt like it could be resolved.  She assigned me 4 exercises to complete at minimum once a day.  These exercises are all aimed at strengthening my outer hip muscles (yeah…never really thought about bulking up those muscles!). Additionally I have a few other appointments scheduled where she will continue to work with me to get me back up to speed.  She’s a little against my upcoming half-marathon, but said she’ll help in any way to get me to run it as safely as possible.  Next week we’ll talk about specific taping techniques to help my knees.

Long-term

After my next half-marathon I will be taking 2 weeks off of any knee stressing exercises.  This includes running, legs lifting, or Insanity.  I think both physically and mentally this might be a nice break.  I know my knees will certainly appreciate the chance to let the inflammation go down.   I’ll probably fill my time with walking, yoga, and some of the lower impact P90X videos.  Once I get the clearance from her to pick up the pace I will start introducing low-mileage runs and hopefully Insanity during the first few weeks of June. She doesn’t feel that this injury will permanently or long-term side line me from running.  This is amazing news.

How am I feeling?

Thrilled!  I have exercises, a plan, and an awesome PT to help get me to the next finish line.  My biggest priority at this point is to deliberately do my exercises every day – I know that’s incredibly important to my recovery.  Feel free to casually harass me about my knee exercise progress.  (Hey Kelly great recipe post…you better be doing your exercises!) I have appointed almost-Dr. Adam (he graduates from med school this weekend!) to be a key reminder in my exercises as well.  I’m also going to continue to ice and rest my knees as much as possible.

Prevention

If you want to stay happy and injury-free, follow these tips!

  • Warm-up and stretch appropriately.  This one is such common sense, but it’s amazing how easy it is to skip.  Find a couple stretches to do every time and get in the habit of doing those same stretches.  Warming up sufficiently is also key.
  • Increase the intensity of workouts slowly. This one always seems to get me every time.  The typical rule is don’t increase distance more than 10% in a week.  This means following a quality training program (check out Runner’s World for some good ones) and sticking to it.  Just because you have a great run one week doesn’t mean you can up the speed or distance by a crazy amount. (I’m talking to myself here!)
  • Keep yourself in good shape.  Make sure your body is strong!  Incorporate weight training and core work to make sure your whole body is strong.  Consider adding legs/hip exercises to strengthen your whole leg.

Worried about Runner’s Knee?

The first step would be to talk to a medical professional.  I saw a sports med doc and he was wonderful in guiding my diagnosis.  Just because you experience knee pain doesn’t mean it’s Runner’s Knee.  A doctor or PT can help you determine your exact cause of pain.  Until I see a professional, I always use the RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. 

A hopeful summer of running and fitness

The other great news is that this means I can move forward in planning.  If you’ve been around here for a couple posts you probably have gathered that I like planning and organization.  Now that the mini is over I have been looking ahead to fall races and potentially spring stuff.  I have been going back and forth on marathon vs. half-marathon and my diagnosis has affirmed that I want to continue with the half-marathon distance for at least a little while.  This summer I have deemed “The Summer of Speed!”  (don’t worry – I’m not turning to drugs ;)).  Because the pain comes from many miles, I will stick to shorter distances and work on running in the 7’s as I so desperately needed during the mini.  Perhaps in the spring or fall next year I will look at getting back at the full marathon distance.  At this point I’m thrilled to continue to train for a distance that I really enjoy.  I feel like I still have some time to shave off – bring it on fall 13.1!  I’m excited to start picking out races :)

-Kelly

Have you ever experienced Runner’s Knee?  How do you recover from injuries?

P90X Updates: Dealing with Lack of Motivation

7 May

With all this running, racing, and knee talk am I even still on the P90X bandwagon??  The good news: I sure am!  The even better news: Just two weeks until I’m a P90X grad!  Can I get a heck yeah?  Because of vacation and racing, Adam and I decided (months ago) to push our P90X program back to accommodate these events.

What’s up next?

Just two weeks to keep pushing it!  Now we have only one more week of ‘hard’ workouts: lifting, kenpo, ab ripper, and one week of ‘recovery’ workouts with yoga, core, and stretching.  This week is essentially the last week to really ‘bring-it.’  It means pushing play and pushing the reps/weight.  Unfortunately, I can’t do Plyo or Legs/Back now due to my knees, but I will do some substitution with Kenpo/Chest and Back.  Honestly I’m pretty bummed that I can’t finish P90X with all the appropriate workouts.  But I keep trying to remind myself that this is about more than just 90 days.  Life happens and injuries happen; it’s all about making modifications and making it work. I’m looking forward to seeing my results and doing the fit test at the end of this.

How am I feeling?

Well, to be perfectly honest I’m feeling pretty unmotivated.  I don’t know if other runners out there can vouch for me, but when you finish a half or full marathon…you sort of don’t want to do anything.  Or at least that’s what has been happening with me.  I kind of want to just eat ice-cream and watch movies (yeah…it’s bad).  This isn’t really the type of attitude needed for the last two weeks of P90X.  So I have been fighting my desires and haven’t eaten ice cream (yet ;)) and keep pushing play.  This morning’s workout was the first since Saturday and let’s just say it was a little rough.  I’m still pretty sore from the race so I found myself disappointed that I couldn’t match my previous weeks’ reps.

After the workout, Adam tried to give me a pep talk, but I thwarted his every effort with a pouty attitude.  Once I got out of my “I don’t want to work out” funk I did some brainstorming on how to feel excited and encouraged about the last two weeks.

Pushing yourself to workout when you (really) don’t feel like it:

  • Look up some fun quotes and infographics to get the juices flowing again.  Here are some of my favorites:

 Believe

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  • If you have a workout partner, remember that this isn’t about you.  Not wanting to workout lets your partner down plain and simple.  I don’t want to be that guy!
  • If you don’t have a partner, remember that this isn’t about you.  Not wanting to workout lets down your family, friends, and loved ones that want you to be the healthiest, best version of you!  If you can’t get motivated for you, get motivated for them.  They want you around for a long time!
  • Remember what it feels like when you don’t workout.  Yeah – I don’t want to go back to that.  Lethargic, uncomfortable, and definitely not the best version of me.
  • Keep it simple and celebrate small successes!  This week my body is just plain tired.  Instead of beating myself up for not being able to run or put down huge rep numbers, I’m trying to focus on just doing it.  Just working out is the goal.  Go on walks or hikes, anything that will get you moving!

Other Changes

This past week I got my next goal in the mail: my Insanity Challenge Kit!  It was on sale in April and even though I wasn’t planning on starting it until the end of May I figured I’d take advantage of the sale :) This puppy has been burning a hole in my pocket for a few days and I caved today and opened up my Shakeology (see my review here).  I wasn’t planning to start Shakelogy until I started Insanity, but I couldn’t resist!  With my lack of motivation since Saturday I figured shaking up my routine (pun not intended) and using Shakeology for the last 2 weeks of P90X might help too!

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So excited!

I have my first PT appointment tonight for my knees and will likely get more of a timeline for no high intensity workouts :( This means I will have to push off Insanity for a few weeks, but I’m still excited I got it in the mail.  It will be ready once I get clearance from my MD.  I’ll have to figure out a new plan that includes lots of low intensity workouts until my knees are ready for something as intense as Insanity.  Fingers crossed I get good news tonight!

Happy motivation!

-Kelly

Help!  How do you stay motivated and focused?

Race Recap: Indy Mini-Marathon!

6 May

What a weekend!  Wow – it was one of those busy, running-around, packed full, but truly awesome weekends.  I had such a great time at the race but also had friends in town visiting, a wedding, and plenty to do in between.  Don’t you just love weekends like that?  I must admit I’m pretty exhausted from all the excitement, but it’s definitely ‘good’ exhaustion.

This Saturday I successfully ran my second Indy Mini-Marathon.  And a true success it was –  in every way!  Friday night I managed to have a relaxing evening at home.  I ate my traditional meal of spaghetti – yum, yum, and yum.  I laid out all of my clothes and supplies (knee tape, inhaler, bib, etc.) on the dining room table.  I drank plenty of water and did the X-Stretch video (from P90X).  It is a relaxing, slow video that just focuses on stretching.  It was a great way to do something, but feel calm and ready.  After icing my knees I headed to bed (nice and early – score!).  Adam was a doll and waited up for friends coming to stay at my place for the weekend.  They were running the race as well.   I had a full apartment with many inflatable beds and it felt like a slumber party.  Thankfully I snoozed right on through their arrival and didn’t wake up until morning.

The Preparation

4:45:  Hmm… I’m awake, but my alarm doesn’t go off for another 40 minutes.  I guess I’ll just play with my phone to start waking up.

5:00:  Well, I might as well get up at this point because I’m not going to be able to fall asleep. I’m early!  I like extra time :)

5:00-6:00: Very quietly creeping around the house. Everyone was still asleep!  I made some tea and had breakfast to get that process going nice and early.  The tea I drank was caffeinated.  I read that drinking caffeine the morning of a race can boost performance if you don’t regularly consume caffeine.  It also is a diuretic and I was hoping it might help get things through my system faster.  It was a delicious breakfast and the right amount of food (though probably too much beverage with 2 cups of tea and a cup of water).

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My race day breakfast.

6:00-6:45: Everyone else starts waking up and getting ready.  At this point I’ve had lots of water and already was able to go to the bathroom – great sign of success.  I’m feeling relatively calm, but excited too!  I finish getting ready by taping my knees with KT tape.  I followed the instruction videos on their website and felt pretty good about my tape work :)  Before heading off to the start we take some group ‘before’ pictures and make our way outside!  My nerves start kicking into gear at this point.

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All taped up. I guess I went for the rainbow look? Clearly I’m super into running fashion.

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All set and ready to go!

7:00-7:33: I did a half-mile warm-up jog over to the start line.  I started doing this before my 10/15K and really liked the habit.  It allows me to warm up my lungs but also check to make sure my shoes aren’t too tight and everything is ready to go.  I’d highly recommend this practice – though I used to be against it as I wanted fresh legs.  It’s been really successful for me and I will probably continue it for all the races I can.  With my friends in a different corral, we said our goodbyes and I made a beeline for one last stop at the porta potty.  The line wasn’t too bad and was moving.  Soon it was my turn and afterwards I quickly made my way to Corral D – woah, so far up!  Volunteers checked my bib for the correct corral placement and I lifted up my throw-away t-shirt and proudly displayed my “D”.  After getting accustomed to miles in the 10’s, moving up to corral D was hugely exciting as a runner in the 8’s.  I felt like I joined the big kid club.  It was one of  many moments during the race where I paused and thought back on how far I have come!  Such a neat feeling.  I made a friend while anxiously awaiting the start.  We chatted some, and having that distraction really helped to keep my nerves in check.  Up to this point I was certainly anxious, but a more normal level of worries/nerves.  I had trained for this moment!

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At the start. I look so calm and collected! Hah!

7:33: And we’re off!  It took me about 2 minutes to cross the start line and I focused on remembering that number in case I needed to do some mental math later (not my running strong suit).  The music at the start was pumping, and I couldn’t help but smile as I crossed the start.  This was it!!

 The Race

Mile 1 (8:40): This is fun!  I’m feeling great.  I love running.  Hmm… usually I start out way too fast (in the low 8’s) – I’m kind of surprised at my pace.  I should probably start kicking it up a bit more?  This is so great!  Not too crowded up here – I could get used to this ;)

Mile 2 (8:38):  That’s a little better.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Keep it under control and you can fly at the end.  Hmm… I kind of need to pee.  And wow – is that hip pain?  That’s a new one; kind of early in the race for pain.  Just keep swimming.  Ahh water!  Don’t talk about water.  I really think I need to pee.  Why did I have another cup of tea??

Mile 3 (8:43):  Well shoot, I guess I’m just on the slower side today.  Goal #1: Have fun!  Should I stop and pee?  What is going on with my hip??

Mile 4 (8:23): That’s more like it!  Let’s just ignore the knee and hip stuff – I feel GREAT!! (If I say it enough times it will be true, right??) I’ll get to see my cheering squad soon!!  Just one more mile until I see Adam.  I guess I should start moving to the left side to see them better.  Should I pee?

Mile 5 (8:36): Adam!!  Hi!!  Feeling great.  No knee issues, body is cooperating.  It’s almost Speedway track time – bring it on.

Mile 6 (8:24): Track time.  Hey almost half-way there!  Feeling strong and so far so good.  Maybe I’ll stop to pee at the next one?

Mile 7 (8:16): I actually really like this track.  Let’s start picking up the pace and passing a bit more.  Feeling a bit emotional.  Don’t cry!  So much relief, excitement, and happiness that I’m here running.  That’s a beautiful thing.

Mile 8 (8:22): Track is almost over – then it’s all just heading back downtown.  It’s almost go-time!  You can start safely picking up the pace.

Mile 9 (8:10): All I have to do is run home and run to Adam.  Time to start picking it up.  I’m right on track to beat 2 hours.  If I push it, I could be in the 1:50:00s. This is one of my last times to enjoy running for awhile.  Soak it up!

Mile 10 (8:12): Excellent progress – keep pushing it.  Almost there.  Maybe I’ll just wait to pee??

Mile 11 (8:04): Wow!  I’m seriously almost done!  Now it’s really time to kick it.  I will be done soon.  (A little mental math) Holy moly – is it possible for me to get in 1:49:00s??  Okay it’s time to chase down that goal.  Unleash the beast!

Mile 12 (7:55):  Chase that goal!!  Moving as fast as my little legs can go.  Roads narrow, congestion of people.  Start my “On your left!” campaign.  I’m flying!!  Cruising by people.  Where’s Adam?  He’s supposed to be around here somewhere.  I’m on a 1:49:59 mission people!!

Mile 13 (7:42):  Heaving, breathing heavily, starting to feel pain. I think I’m being the annoying heavy-breather runner now.  Oh well – don’t care, can’t breathe.  Must finish fast.  I’m really not used to running in the 7’s.  I should probably do some training runs with these paces.  Wow this straight away is deceiving – I still have a while to go.  Push it!  Focus.  My muscles hurt!  My muscles never hurt while running – only after.  I must really be pushing myself.

13.1: Make. It. Happen.  You’re almost done!!!  (See time clock not close to 1:49)…well mental math is not my strongest skill – still I’m in the low 1:50s!!

Finish:  1:51:05.  Wow!  Am I seriously done??  That went faster than I thought it would.  Let’s let breathing return to normal.

Phew!  It was an awesome race.  Shortly after I finished it dawned on me that not only did I break two hours, I crushed my old time by about 15 minutes!  What a feeling.  I knew I could be faster than 2:06, but wow!  1:51!  Holy P90X!  I’m still taking it all in days later.  After I finished I collected my medal, goodies, and stood in line for a finisher’s picture.  I left the runners’ area and met up with Adam and his Mom.  They were both ecstatic!  They watched me cross the finish line and said they had an awesome time out cheering.  I was the first of our friends that finished (woah, you read that correctly), so it was nice just having a bit to chat with them.  Hearing about the race from both perspectives (runner and spectator) was fun and we traded stories.  I was still feeling pretty decent and stretched out.  Soon our friends started coming out and we had a great time taking pictures and sharing congratulations.

Finishing this race makes me happy that now I’ll be able to just relax for my next half in two weeks (yeah… who had that brilliant idea??).  The course for my next half is quite a bit hillier and I likely won’t be fully recovered from this race, so likely won’t be seeing the low 1:50s for awhile.  It’s a good feeling knowing I can just relax for that one.  But…this race also made me question – how much faster can I go??  It really has me inspired to incorporate speed work into future training to see what my full potential really is!

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With my beautiful sign

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We finished :)

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With my #1 fan

After hanging around the post-race festivities for about an hour we headed home.  At this point I was really starting to not feel well.  My body left everything out on the course, and it was starting to catch up to me.  After slowly walking home I rested, ate a bit, and took a shower.  I felt better, but honestly for the rest of the weekend I definitely didn’t feel amazing.  Thankfully I’m feeling a bit more myself today.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful with a friend’s wedding, birthday lunches, time with friends, and lots of excitement.  It was a non-stop couple of days!

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All cleaned up for the wedding Saturday night.

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This was the fanciest wedding I’ve ever attended. Absolutely gorgeous!

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The three runners! We still managed to get on the dance floor.

The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and it was fun getting all dolled up after such a sweaty morning.  Three friends there also ran the race and we were out on the dance floor a few times during the night. I was impressed our legs held up!  It was pretty hilarious – when we left Adam was helping me down the stairs (okay practically carrying me) and I wanted to shout to the few people staring/judging me: “I’m not drunk!!  I just ran the mini!”  Alas, it gave us a couple chuckles.  Nothing like a 1:51 half to really put you in a great mood!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

Happy running!

-Kelly

Did you race this weekend?

Race Rematch!

3 May

Well, tomorrow is the big day.  Tomorrow I will run my second Indy Mini-Marathon.  My stomach hurts just typing that!  Right now I’m a bundle of excitement, nerves, confidence, worries, and anticipation.  This will be my first half marathon in a year (I pulled out of one in October), and I can’t wait to see what happens.  My goal is to finally hit sub 2 hours.  My two other half times were 2:06:00 and 2:06:01.  I don’t think I could’ve done that if I tried!  I hope to finally break the 2:06 streak.  This time the race is different.  I am more prepared.  I am more fit (thanks P90X!).  I am healthier.  And most importantly, I am more confident.  My outfit is picked out, my bib is picked up, my knees are iced, and I have my game plan for tomorrow.  Indy Mini – Bring it on!!

This race holds a special place for me because it’s the first race Adam and I did together.  It also holds a little anxiety-filled piece of my heart because it was one of my worst races to date (excluding my Columbus full marathon…  no training = wanting to die).  The Indy mini is the only race I’ve ever cried during and sobbed hysterically afterwards (yeah drama much?).  I am determined to create better memories of the Mini tomorrow.  I am determined to overcome what happened last year.

Why am I so anxious for this race?

Well, that’s just it.  Last year, anxiety literally killed me during the race.  I was excited for the race – I had high hopes that I could help guide Adam to a sub-2 first half marathon.  After all – I was the experienced runner.  I was going to be the rock for him.  We would laugh and run, make great memories, then run through a field of flowers and rainbows.  Early in the morning we were suited up and ready to go.  Even then, I knew something wasn’t quite right.  My stomach wasn’t really taking to breakfast, and I hadn’t been able to go to the bathroom.  The anxiety started setting in.  What if I couldn’t go to the bathroom before the race?  What if my stomach doesn’t stop hurting?  Well as you can imagine this sort of thinking just made my stomach hurt more.  I tried to stay calm as we made our way over.  After a quick successful stop at the porta potties I had a renewed sense of hope: maybe this was just pre-race jitters!  We hopped into our corral and remarkably ran into our two close friends running the race (in a sea of 35,000 people).  This was a huge boost and we had a great time before the gun went off.  My stomach wasn’t doing great – but I did feel more confident I would recover.

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Our fake “finish-line” photo taken at the start line before we began the race.

Soon we were off!  The beginning of the Indy race is pretty congested, but also incredibly thrilling.  Adam and I dashed and darted around runners trying to navigate as politely as we could while staying near each other.  Mile 1 and 2 came and went, but by Mile 3 I knew this was truly going to be a battle.  I told Adam I really needed to stop for a bathroom break.  I kept going back and forth and finally he said “Kelly, just stop!  You will feel better and then we can just continue.”  I followed his advice.  But alas, no luck at the stop.  I couldn’t go!  What the heck, body??  So on we went.  The miles kept dragging on and my posture kept hunching over my stomach the farther we went.  Miles 6 and 7 are around the Indianapolis Speedway (the race track of the Indy 500).  I hit my low point on the track and kept urging Adam to leave me.  I wanted him to have a great run and I was a sandbag pulling him down.  He cheerfully kept encouraging me and telling me he was sticking with me.  I started to get a bit grumpy towards all his perkiness, and after a not-so-nice exchange of words and some tears we continued on in silence.

My stomach was still killing me and I was a black hole of negative energy.  I felt so guilty that I was ruining the experience for Adam.  Around mile 10 I knew I’d be able to finish and I started perking up a bit.  Just a bit.  We kept painfully and deliberately pushing towards the finish and soon it was within sight.  Adam grabbed my hand and literally pulled me across the finish line.  Some days later I could watch the finish line video and chuckle at how pathetic I looked.  Adam holding my hand like a sick child dragging me behind him.  At the time I was happy to be done, but heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken.  We collected our medals and started walking a few feet back.  I just started sobbing.  Not only did we not get the sub 2-hour race I desperately wanted for Adam, I ruined it.  I still hurt and I ruined the day.  I was pretty inconsolable for a few minutes.  Let’s just say lots of running and pressure can quickly take you to an emotional place.  Soon Adam was able to get through to me and I started feeling a bit better.  We stilled managed to get a “B” in terms of what we were hoping to attain time-wise (We had a sliding scale of goals set). We grabbed some food and ended up meeting with some friends at the end of it.

Even now I’m not 100% sure that I didn’t get food poisoning or Montezuma’s Revenge as I dramatically titled it in the days following the race.  But in my gut I know a big factor was my anxiety.  I put too much pressure on myself and either made myself sick or exasperated an existing stomach issue.  Either way, I let my disappointment get in the way of positivity and making it a great day.  It was a good lesson to learn.  As much as pace is important and it’s wonderful to have goals, I never want to let myself get so down for doing something so great.  For goodness sake I ran 13.1 miles!  That is an accomplishment, whether I shaved those 6 minutes off or not.  And the reality is: we didn’t train for a sub-2 hour race.  I should’ve stuck with more realistic goals based on my training (Another important lesson).  Last year during this time my asthma was causing a lot of trouble and I was traveling weekly for work.  I just didn’t make my runs a priority.  It makes sense – you get what you put in.

What about this year?

Fast forward to today: the night before my rematch.  My chance to have a happy and successful race.  Yes I have time goals, but I will not let myself get on the train to negative town.  My most important goal is to enjoy and have fun.  That was my biggest lesson from last year.  Because after all –  I’m running a half marathon tomorrow baby!

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Getting ready to head into the Expo!

Yesterday I went to the expo and had an awesome time.  I grabbed my packet easily and sure enough my bib says Corral D.  Crazy.  Still convinced that’s an error.  Adam and I wandered around the expo and I picked up some tape for my knees, new bottles for my fuel belt, and an awesome sparkly headband (score!).  It was a great success and not too crowded.  I could feel my heart pounding when I was heading into the expo. I’m hoping I can stay calm and anxiety free tomorrow.  I trained for a successful race – I just need to remember that.  I made a game plan for fueling/water stops so that’s all decided as well.  All that’s left is running!

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Red circles are water stops and blue stars are 1/2 Gu.

If you’d like to track my progress you can sign up for that here.  The Indy Mini has race tracking available for all participants.  I love it – my family across the country is already signed up to get updates.  How sweet is that?  Additionally you can follow me on Twitter (@racesrepsramble) as I signed up to automatically tweet my splits.  You’ll see the tweets here on the homepage too.  Isn’t technology amazing?  Enjoy the weekend!

Wish me luck!  And fingers crossed my knees hold up!

-Kelly

Do you get race anxiety?  Have you ever wanted a race rematch?

The Dreaded Runner’s Knee

1 May

Well, I finally did it.  I went to the doctor about my knee pain.  As a long distance runner I’m very accustomed to over-use injuries.  Whether it’s stress fractures or sore joints or ankle pain – been there done that.  Normally the recipe for success and recovery is the same sad story: no running, rest, and ice.  When my knee pain started last September I did just that.  I dropped my half-marathon, I stopped running completely, and I let myself totally rest.  About 6 weeks later I began P90X and maybe a month after that I started running again – this time only short distances.  I am pretty “by the book” when it comes to treating injuries, so I really expected a quick recovery.  My body had something else in mind.  When I started training in February for the mini-marathon I experienced little knee pain and felt confident progressing.  About a month ago, however, I had to walk home because the pain was too much.  That was the final straw.  If weeks of rest, strength-training, and limited racing didn’t solve the problem, there had to be more to the story.

Today I found out that I have Patellofemoral syndrome aka ‘Runner’s Knee.’  This is the most common running injury and certainly nothing out of the ordinary.  It’s a relief that this is something pretty standard, but also a bummer that it is bad enough to be qualified as something.  My sports med doc was very thorough, and I left feeling a bit sad but confident about the next steps.  I had a resident in my appointment, which was fantastic because the doc ended up explaining verbally all of his testing and tweaking – which was great for me!  I loved hearing the explanation behind all of the pushing, pulling, and analyzing he did.  Based on my pain, symptoms, and physical exam he came to a swift conclusion that I have runner’s knee.  Yay – no MRI or x-rays needed!  But sad that the pain was real enough to lead to such an obvious diagnosis.

What is Runner’s Knee?

According to trusty Wikipedia, Runner’s Knee is caused by the prolonged repetitive compressive or shearing forces (running or jumping) on the Patellofemoral joint.  The result is the thinning and softening of the cartilage under the patella (hence the pain under my knee cap – makes sense!).  Essentially my kneecap is irritating the groove where my femur is resting.  It is very common, and is found twice as often in women due to wider hips (thanks Ma!).  It’s tough to say exactly what is causing it in my case, but it could be any of the following:

  • Overuse
  • Biomechanical problem – my body just might be more prone to it (something about Q angles?)
  • My quads are weak, specifically the inner quad
  • My hamstrings are tight
  • My gait isn’t aligned appropriately
  • Or a few other things

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So how do I fix it?

The bad news: no running.  This was to be expected.  I think this is a big reason I’ve been putting off this Dr. visit for so long.  I knew this was going to be the first order of business.  Though he did tell me, “I know you have your races coming up so go ahead and do those.  I’d tell you not to, but I know you wouldn’t listen anyways.”  I laughed and told him he was very correct.  He must be a runner :)

The good news: there is more to the story than just rest and ice.  Obviously rest and ice is the first step, but there are also exercises for strengthening the inner quad muscles.  Additionally I can tape my knee and wear a brace that might provide some support and relief.  The last step: Aleve twice a day for 2 weeks.  That’s a lot more anti-inflammatory medication than I’m used to taking, but he wanted to be aggressive in relieving the inflammation.  I have to admit that it felt pretty good walking out of there with a prescription and Physical Therapy referral, as opposed to just “rest and stop running.”

Hopefully I’ll get my first PT visit scheduled soon and I’ll be on the road to recovery.  I’m still looking forward to my upcoming races, but sad that I’ll have to take a break once they are done.  I’ll be sure to soak up the running happiness and really enjoy them.  Biking and swimming were the recommended replacement activities, but I’m still not sure what my next step will be exercise-wise.  I’m not sure how much this will affect my 2013 Fitness Goals.  Really I’m just trying to process the information.  Let’s see.  Essentially any bending motion irritates it more: so no Plyo, likely no Insanity, lunges, or squats for a few weeks, along with the running.  Sigh.  Should I start thinking more seriously about committing to biking and swimming?  Ugh.  Knees – you can get better!  I believe in you!

I’ll leave you with some old lady advice: take care of your bodies and be sure to stretch and rest appropriately! You don’t want to be sad and benched like me!

-Kelly

How do you handle periods of rest and recovery?  What’s your favorite ‘recovery’ exercise?

I joined The Twitter.

1 May

Announcement!  Anti-Twitter-forever Kelly has joined The Twitter!!  (yes I know it’s not called The Twitter, but it sort of makes me chuckle every time I say it).  Why the change of stance you ask?  Well…this past weekend, several of my blogger friends had races, and it was so easy to see their race updates right on their blog home page via Twitter.  It was much shorter, faster, and easier than waiting for a full blog post (I know… terrible to wait those 2-3 days to get the full report).  It was something I could check while on the run, and something in the future I could post on the run (pun not intended, I’m not that clever).  i.e. “I had an amazing race, running is the best!”  or “I got a PR” or “Lunch after races is the best thing in the entire world!” or “That Insanity workout just about killed me” are among potential future tweets.  So I decided to sign up in order to get and give those quick updates.  Don’t worry – this new techno phenomenon is not replacing my blog, more just supplementing it.

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You can follow me @racesrepsramble on Twitter or just see the updates here on the blog homepage.  So far I have 1 follower (my sister) and 2 tweets – so it’s a pretty rocking place to hang out.  In order to know how to even tweet (note: not called ‘sending a twitter’ – thanks Adam for that tip) I used this helpful post: Mom, this is how twitter works.  As you can see, I’m already extremely skillful at The Twitter.  At very least it will be a fun experiment :) See you around the Twittersphere! (or just here on the homepage…)

-Kelly

Do you use Twitter?  How often do you post?  How often is annoying?  Should I be scared?  Any helpful tips?