Tag Archives: races

Maintaining Fitness with Runner’s Knee

23 Jul

Okay folks.  It’s happening.  I feel like I’m finally having my “ohmygoshican’trun!??!” breakdown.  I have worked hard to maintain a positive attitude and a cheery disposition on my ‘vacation’ from running over the past 2 months – see I’m even using positive words like ‘vacation’ to fool myself into thinking this is a happy time.  Well this week I have really hit rock bottom.  I stare longingly at runners at times.  Other times I glare angrily at them as they joyfully jog along, smirking at me as I either a) walk slowly in my fitness gear or b) look out my car window.  Okay so maybe they aren’t smirking at me – but seriously, they might as well be…

photo(57)

Is that dust collecting on my shoes? Gasp!

Signs you may not be dealing with a lack of running well (aka Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude, RKNA):

  1. Angry or jealous thoughts regarding anything running related.  Runners included.
  2. Turning to food to deal with the frustration.  Nope I didn’t have half a box of girl scout cookies this morning.  Or several scoops of peanut butter straight up instead of a breakfast.  Not at all.
  3. Angry thoughts targeted toward the injury.  Frankly I’m just really mad at my knees right now.
  4. Sense of hopelessness.  No, but seriously, sometimes I feel a little lost without running.
  5. Feeling depressed (not the clinical kind – just the meh this sucks kind).  Running helps me to stay cheery.  Not running isn’t good for my attitude.
  6. Feeling like you “aren’t a runner.”  Yeah I used to be one of those…
  7. Not eating well or hydrating enough because after all “I’m not training and it doesn’t matter”
photo(58)

Step away from the peanut butter!

photo(56)

I don’t even remember what this is… a pull-up bar? a push-up bar? Was there even a time when I could do pull-ups? (okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic)

photo(55)

Absolutely I’ve used my new yoga block. I just prefer to use it with the packaging still on. Helps me feel more yogi.

As of this week I am officially displaying all signs of Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude.  A non-life threatening issue that can wreak havoc on your attitude, outlook, and disposition.  It can have ramifications on your social life, loved ones, and anyone in your path.  Proceed with caution.  Now that I have been (self) diagnosed, I feel more prepared in coming to terms with my condition.  Over the past couple weeks I have done some things well in dealing with the condition, but I’ve also bombed majorly in other aspects.  Now that I’m in this sad, pathetic position I’m realizing there were some crucial steps I could’ve taken to avoid this unpleasant condition.

Bottom line: It all comes down to maintaining fitness and staying active.

For me, the double whammy is not being able to run, but also slowly moving backward fitness-wise.  Major bummer.  These are the steps I wish I would’ve taken when I first got diagnosed.

1. Stop. Okay, so you’re freshly diagnosed with an injury.  Hooray, right?  The most important thing to do: stop using it.  I cut way back on my running, but I should’ve stopped entirely and switched to another form of fitness.

2. Find another outlet.  This is my number one mistake.  Instead of researching a pool for swimming or taking my bike into a shop to get fixed, I just stewed and swirled.  For the first few weeks I did well with my workout DVDs.  But I know myself, and replacing running with a cardio activity like swimming or biking would help simulate the theurapuetic benefits that running accomplishes.  The repetition is calming and I should’ve stinking made the effort and committed to a new activity for a couple months.  This would’ve helped tremendously.

3. DO YOUR EXERCISES!  A big one.  Again – for the first few months I was diligent.  But as time passed and I didn’t “see” improvement I got discouraged.  Well here’s the thing folks – normally recovery isn’t instant and it will take some time for those exercises to provide benefit.  Stay diligent and eventually there will be a payoff.

4. Maintain a healthy diet.  I have been doing about a B on this one, but eating balanced meals more regularly would’ve significantly helped.  Now I feel a little out of sorts without running and not eating as cleanly as I could be.  You are what you eat.  Now that I’ve been eating more processed/sweet things I can feel it.  And I don’t like it.

Recovery is possible.

I truly believe that my RKNA is a direct result of not doing the above.  Instead I have let myself get a little bit soft, a little bit lazy, and allowed myself to pout just a little too much.

The biggest secret?  Stay active.  Do whatever you can to maintain fitness and stay active… you won’t be sorry if you do!  Here are some ideas on how to maintain fitness when you can’t run regularly.  I wish that I had done a better job overall.

  • Walk.  Lace up those shoes, listen to music and go on nice walks.  They are relaxing and get you outside, moving, and active.
  • Swim.  See above – but seriously I should’ve made this happen.
  • Bike.  Again, see above.  Biking is a nice lower impact way to be active and outdoors.
  • Join a gym.  If you can use the elliptical and don’t own one, consider joining a gym or Y.  Generally these facilities have equipment that can be used with Runner’s Knee or other injuries.
  • Complete an at-home DVD program like P90X or ChaLean Extreme – one that is more focused on lifting.  I’m starting ChaLean next week and I CANT WAIT.  I think getting back into the swing of a program will really help.  Be careful not to choose something high impact that could cause more injury (in my case, Insanity).

Now that I know what I should’ve done, I’m trying to work on my attitude to try and turn this ship around!  I start ChaLean Extreme next week, which should be a big help.  I’m also going to research both joining a gym with a pool, and getting my bike fixed.  They may be out of my price range, but it’s at least worth taking a look!  August 5th is my start date with my first foray back to running.  It’s just 2 weeks away and will be an indicator of whether or not a fall race is happening this year.  Let the countdown begin!

-Kelly

What activities have you done when you couldn’t run?  How have you dealt with injuries?  Have you ever experienced Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude?

The Benefits of Not Running

12 Jul

Well I haven’t been running, which you may know if you’ve been around here before.  You can check out my experiences with Runner’s Knee here: The Dreaded Runner’s Knee, Dealing with Runner’s Knee, and When Running Hurts, okay…so maybe I talk a lot about my inability to really run.  But what I wanted to do today is take a look at the positive side of this situation.  The benefits of not running!  Okay, I tease, there really aren’t that many true benefits.  But… this morning I was able to find TWO clean athletic socks (that matched) easily and swiftly and it got me thinking, “there have to be more positives out there!”  So for all you injured runners out there – this one is for you!

Screen-Shot-2013-04-07-at-10.32.19-PM

The Benefits of Not Running

  • An abundance of clean running/workout clothes.  Now when I do my morning workout I no longer have to search and sniff test endlessly.  It’s super easy to find all parts of my workout ensemble that are clean.  Win!
  • Extra time to try new fitness trends!   Without all those hours spent running you could explore Zumba or Crossfit or any Beachbody at home DVD program.  Think of the possibilities!  Usually with all that time running I don’t feel motivated to check other things out – a non-serious injury allows you that excuse!  Or you can be like me and watch hours of old Grey’s Anatomy episodes on Netflix.  Endlessly.  Either activity is a big win!
  • Decreased hunger.  When I’m not running a ton every week, my hunger seems to go down to a tolerable level.  Though, the lack of running means I should probably keep track of what I eat a little better.  The excuse “I ran 10 miles today” no longer is valid…darn!
  • No paces to stress you out!  If you like to see improvements with running and get frustrated with slow times… one way to avoid all this?  No running at all!  No running = no pace = no stress.  Sounds brilliant to me.
  • No farmer tan.  I don’t have to worry this summer about my usual running shorts line on my thighs.  Now I can look better in my underwear.  Such a win.  Priorities people.
  • Money savings.  Race entries are expensive.  Like really expensive.  A break from running means a break on my wallet for awhile.  Though I have made up for it in Physical Therapy bills… womp womp.
  • Free Saturday mornings!  Without a long run to plan around I’m totally and blissfully available!  Saturday brunch?  No problem.  A late night on Friday?  No problem.  Want to drink wine at 9 am?  No problem.
  • No need to track the weather!  What a relief!  I no longer have to care about the humidity or chance or rain.  Is it a nice day?  Great.  Is it the most horrendously humid day every experienced?  Cool.
  • Nothing to compare.  If you have an issue comparing yourself to other runners…taking yourself out of the game removes all comparisons!  Now you can sit on a high pedestal and say “Oh if I could run, I totally would be faster and could run longer” and it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to prove it.  Sweet.

So if you’re currently injured and feeling sad – don’t worry, there are plenty of positives to the situation.  And, if these don’t make you feel like slightest bit better (or at least smile), hang in there… you’re not alone!

Happy Friday!

-Kelly

What positives would you add to the list?  How do you deal with breaks from running?

 

When Running Hurts

27 Jun

images

I have to admit – I’ve been a little bit disenchanted with running lately.  Running and I have been in a long relationship for 10-15 years and we’ve had our ups and downs, so these feelings are to be expected from time to time.  We have moments of pure joy and ecstasy, followed by hurt and frustration.  It happens with any relationship.  At this point, I don’t let these bumps ruin what we have – but I tell you what… they are a pain!  My runner’s knee has been frustrating to no end- I still am not really running “pain free.”  Honestly, I’m feeling a bit discouraged – will my knees ever allow me to run wild and fancy-free again?

My other running frustration, asthma, has been flaring it’s nasty head lately too.  What happened to my gleeful runs of just 2 months ago?  You know, the ones where I was fast, fierce, and head-over-heels for running?  Yeah, they are gone for now.  Instead they’ve been replaced by their slower, asthmatic, heavy-breathing, painful stepsister.  It’s not a pretty sight.  Like usual I’m really trying to remain positive and be patient (key word: trying).  But it’s hard!  I want to be back to where I was… can’t I be, pretty please?

Well, since I’m not a fan of pity parties… let’s get productive.  I’ve been doing some brainstorming… what can I do when running hurts?  What can I do when I’m frustrated with running?  How can I feel more at peace about running, or my lack-of?  So instead of letting this frustration eat me up – here are some ideas for moving past the hurt in running.

What to do when running hurts:

  1. Stop.  This may seem like the obvious one… but why is it so hard to do?  As soon as I “shouldn’t” be running, it is ALL I want to do.  Taking a break from running helps your injury (or whatever hurts) recover, but also has the added benefit of giving you a mental break.  Normally when I come back at running following a break, I’m mentally fresh and recharged.  I’m trusting (and hoping) that will happen this time too.
  2. Try something new.  Noooo… I like running, I don’t want to do anything else!  I know, I know.  It’s hard.  It’s even hard for me to type it.  But, it’s possible that a little break from running might allow you (and me) the time to discover a new hobby.  And that’s exciting right?  When I trained for my first marathon I was experiencing stress-fracture symptoms and dove headfirst into swimming and biking (oh yeah, pun intended).  I essentially taught myself how to swim in a lane (a whole story for another day), but it gave me something to supplement my running.  Additionally I enjoyed the challenge of trying to not drown master something new.
  3. Stay away from running.  Sometimes when I’m really down about running, I just stay away: mentally, literally, in every way etc. etc.  I will stop reading Runner’s World (save it in a pile for later) or reading intently all my favorite running blogs or doing anything that could make me feel worse about not running.  It may sound a little extreme, but for me even a slight reduction in running related activities can be mentally helpful.
  4. Get involved with running. So in contrast to the point above… sometimes getting more involved in running “stuff” can be helpful.  Volunteer at a local race, plan for races in the future, or cheer on your friends from the sideline (or blogosphere).  I think it really depends on what particular issue is causing the pain and how you cope.  I’ve used both strategies at different times in my life and they both can be helpful.
  5. Be proactive with injuries.  The best way to avoid a serious injury is to listen to your body when you have a not-so-serious injury.  Take it as a cue to slow down, stretch more, ice more, or reduce mileage.  The sad fact is that running can cause running-related injuries.  Makes sense though.  Sometimes using your head to reduce miles instead of following your heart’s desire to run, run, run, can be most helpful in the long-run (no pun intended this time).
  6. Add in strength-training.  Want to make your body more durable?  Add in some weekly strength-training!  Getting your core and legs stronger will help your body once you do return to running.  Or if you haven’t stopped running, adding strength training now can help prevent injury in the future.
  7. Up the stretching.  This one is a hard one for me to remember.  I think it is for a lot of people.  Time is such a precious thing that spending 10 minutes to stretch after a run seems unnecessary or wasteful.  A whole ten minutes?? Well earth-to-kelly: it’s not wasteful!  It’s incredibly helpful in the prevention of running related injuries.  Can we make a pact that we’ll remind each other to do it?  Everyday?
  8. Don’t play the comparison game.  Gah – another one I stink at.  Don’t compare someone else’s running story with your own.  The reality is: I’m on my own running path and nothing anyone else does will affect my injury, ability, PRs, or races.  That’s a fact.  Try to stay away from letting your mind compare, “I wish I wasn’t injured so I could run an awesome race like Courtney.”  “It’s all because of my knees that I won’t get my PR like Katherine in the fall.”  “I’m not a real runner like Jane because I haven’t been able to run over 2 miles in months.”  It’s just a waste of time and in the end doesn’t result in anything positive.  The comparisons don’t even have to be against another person…sometimes I’m my own worst enemy/critic.  Take the names out of those thoughts and it’s still a negative comparison that doesn’t end well, “I won’t PR because of my injury” or “I’m not a real runner because I’ve been living it up on the coach for weeks.”  There is no winner with the comparison game.
  9. Stay positive!  Most running-related injuries can be overcome with proper rest, care, stretching, and fixing the root cause.  I have overcome running injuries in the past, I just need to remember I’ll do it again this time.
  10. Focus on nutrition.  One thing that often happens when I go from running 40 a miles a week to 10 is I eat the same way no matter the mileage.  This can lead to even more feelings of self pity because then I feel lethargic, and eventually a bit heavy.  This makes it even harder to get back at running when your body/injury is finally ready.  Don’t throw an ice cream pity party – save that for a real break-up.  You know you and running will make-up at some point.  Patience and take good care of your body in the meantime.

Man alive, I feel better already about my little running situation.  Here’s to hoping I can listen to my own words and continue to be patient as my knees recover.  Isn’t that always the hard part though?  It’s always easier said than done.  Well, if you’re struggling with running injuries – know you aren’t alone!  Sometimes that simple fact is helpful enough.

Happy almost-Friday!

-Kelly

What do you do when running hurts?  How do you channel it?

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?

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?

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).

photo(6)

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.

IMG_1182

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

IMG_1185

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!

photo(3)

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!

photo(4)

With my beautiful sign

IMG_1212

We finished :)

photo(5)

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!

IMG_4126

All cleaned up for the wedding Saturday night.

IMG_4131

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

IMG_4159

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?

Back-to-Back Half Marathons!

18 Apr

geist

In the spirit of keeping on keeping on, I signed up for another half marathon!  I’ve been hemming and hawing about it for a few weeks now, but I just decided to go for it this week.

The awesome:

  • It’s near me.  Close races are always convenient.
  • It’s on the smaller side, which will be fun after doing the largest half marathon in the country.
  • It’s around a reservoir; I’m guessing lovely views!
  • No pressure – the mini will be done…this one is for fun.

The con:

  • And this one I’m pretty worried about: it’s only 2 weeks after my other half.

I know, I know…all you marathoners out there are thinking ‘I do that mileage in my sleep.’  Well this marathoner is thinking – woah I really don’t want to hurt myself.  I’ve been feeling pretty strong lately (thanks P90X!), but I don’t like to push my luck.  I think 2 weeks is just a week or two shy of what I’d feel comfortable with to recover fully, but I think it’s doable.  I am going to going to do the second half-marathon as a chance to do something fun and relax – I’m not expecting any PR.

I’ve been thrilled with my running lately, and why not seize the opportunity to do another race?  With Adam moving to Nashville in June, I won’t have many chances left to have my #1 fan in tow (though my mom might object to that title ;)).  Summers are always crazy busy for weekends and there are usually far less race opportunities (at least close ones).  In the fall, there are 3 or 4 all right back to back so this will be a good time to see how many I should sign up for then.  I’m also hoping that knowing I have another race soon will keep my anxiety low on race day for the Mini.  It’s not “hey this is your one and only chance to do well,” so I’m guessing this will keep me more calm and allow me to set appropriate expectations for myself.

The Mini is almost here!!

Just a little over 2 weeks until the mini-marathon, and I am beyond excited.  I got my race confirmation in the mail yesterday and my corral placement.  It makes it seem that much more real.  I am up really close in corral D – which seems like potentially an error (for real people – I’m not that fast, come on!).  Though I was in E last year.  Moving on up ;)  I can’t believe my chance at a rematch is almost here.  I’m feeling good about going into it confident and prepared.  Last year’s mini was a pseudo-disaster…more on that another time.  Let’s just say I’m looking forward to kicking booty!

corrals

Signing off for a bit…

And last but not least, Adam and I are off to a real vacation tomorrow!  We are thrilled for a little R&R and time away.  We’re going to work hard to stay accountable to enjoy our vacation but not completely and totally fall off the P90X (healthy living) bandwagon.  We’ll just do our best!  We are packing some snacks just in case we can’t find anything healthy – that should help…right?  Our goals also include getting in 2 short runs and a couple rounds of ab ripper – though we are postponing P90X for our vacation (a calculated decision based on where vacation and the mini fell).  Things will be quiet for the next bit – see you when I get back!

-Kelly

Have you run any races back to back?  What are your tips for a speedy recovery?