Three Things

Thursday is here and I’m starting to see the end of the work-week tunnel!

We all experience set-backs in life, and lately I feel like I’ve experienced set-back after set-back. I hurt my foot a few weeks ago after spending a whole weekend painting. I stressed over my injury and forced myself to rest and not run, which for a runner, is a very stressful experience. I’m not a good injured person. I get frustrated, angry, and antsier than a two-year old in church. But it seemed to pay off, because I returned to running last Friday and haven’t looked back. I’ve experienced no pain during the run, after the run, and my foot usually feels better in the hours after I’m finished. I do experience a LITTLE tightness in the morning, but after walking around for a few minutes, it disappears. Yay! Looks like I’ll definitely be able to run the 5k this weekend!

After running a couple of times this past weekend, I decided to take it to the streets on Tuesday. I geared up, compression sleeves and all – I felt legit, I felt strong, I felt psyched.

Then my Garmin couldn’t get a signal. Seriously Garmin? I know it’s been a while since I’ve used you, but COME ON! After giving up with my useless technology, I said screw it and just kept going. Everything was great, but then around mile two, I had another incident; one even more annoying than the first. I’m going to spare you the details, but let’s just say my intestines hated me. I’ve had GI issues before while running, and it’s a pretty common experience that most runners have at some point in their running career. After cutting out a lot of dairy (specifically milk) from my diet, the problem was diminished drastically. But on this day, during this run, it decided to make an appearance. I ended up walking a mile home and spent the rest of the night back and forth between the bathroom. Not fun.

I felt so defeated. Why was my body acting this way? What did I eat that day that made me feel this way? Why can’t my mind and my body sync up?

Flash forward to last night. It was a new day – I was going to try this again!

I suited up, and made my way out. I waited for my Garmin to crap out on me again, but it didn’t! Signal was reached and I was on my way. It was the best 4.5 miles I’ve run in recent memory. I wanted to go slow and strong and I did! No speed intervals. No tempo or threshold run. Just plain running. I finished at a 9:12 mi/mil pace and didn’t have any GI issues! Success all around!

I can’t get down about these frustrations. In the grand scheme of life and my running career, a couple bonked runs are not a big deal. Two weeks of rest because of a funky foot is not a big deal. There are much worst things in life, and sometimes I have to remind myself of that. I was made ever more aware of that yesterday morning after finding out that they found the body of the missing BC student, Franco Garcia, floating in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. I run around that Reservoir all the time. I’ve seen his family handing out flyers. I’ve seen the ‘Missing Student’ signs all over light posts. It breaks my heart to know that his family is going through something like this. In the days and weeks moving forward we’ll find out what happened to him, but for now, I’m thankful that everyone in my life is safe and sound. His family is in my thoughts, and I wish that you include him and his family in yours.

So on that note – today, I am thankful for many things, but three in particular are:

  1. Healed foot = 5K is a go on Sunday!
  2. I got to Skype chat yesterday with one of my best friends and old roommate from college, Gabby. She’s in Rome, Italy right now working on her Master’s in Architecture. I miss her dearly, so it was awesome to get to talk to her for a little while.
  3. The health and safety of my family and friends. Anything can happen anywhere and it’s been made more and more apparent to me lately with what happened. Hug your loved ones!

I miss you, Gabby!

Have you ever experienced GI problems on a run? Any tips for combating them? Foods to cut out? How do you deal with frustrating and disappointing runs?

Advertisements

Boston Fever

Boston has been hit with marathon fever!

Every April, the city begins to develop a certain buzz around the famous marathon. Television channels have been running commercials about their upcoming marathon coverage, blog posts and articles are showing up in the local papers, and my neighborhood is FILLED with runners every weekend mornings.

Every year, I seem to miss the marathon for various reasons. The Boston Marathon always falls on Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts state holiday that commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Schools are closed, city businesses are closed, and some offices are closed. When I was in college, we always had Patriot’s Day off. I always wanted to spend it by making my way to Copley Square to watch the race, but I never made it. School work, part time jobs, and other things always got in my way.

There’s something about the marathon that’s really special to the city. The marathon is such a storied race with a rich history of marathon stories – it’s the world’s oldest annual race, the challenges of Heartbreak Hill, the “scream tunnel” at Wellesley College, team Hoyt (who actually ran the New Bedford Half with me – and I saw them!!), Rosie Ruiz, and much more. It’s awe inspiring to watch the runners push themselves to the limit, both mentally and physically.

This year, my roommate Steph and I are going to watch the marathon for the first time ever! We’ll be watching from the Brookline area of the race. I feel like it’s the perfect location. The runners will have just finished going through Heartbreak Hill, and at the Brookline point of the race, they have about 4 miles left. The runners are going to need all the support that they can get – and we’re going to give it to them!

Steph and I are also running the B.A.A 5k the day before the race and will be attending the Marathon race expo. I’m super excited!! Running races always gets me super pumped about running more, and I can’t wait to be inspired to keep running.

Another story that is part of the famous Boston lore is the story of the first female runner ever to enter the marathon: Kathrine Switzer. In 1967, Kathrine entered the race using the name K.V. Switzer. Not realizing the name was that of a woman, no one noticed and Kathrine ran the race and finished. I saw this NPR quick story and video about Kathrine and learned something I had never known – she was almost physically pushed off the course by a race organizer. Check it out – it’s a pretty amazing story. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been 40 or so years since women were allowed to run marathons. It seems that women dominate at running races as much as men these days – it’s definitely an equalizing sport and I love it!

 

Are you running Boston this year or know someone who is? Would you ever want to run Boston?  Have you ever watched the marathon in person? What do you find most inspiring about running?

Feeling the Pressure

After my half marathon, I seemed to recover much more quickly than I ever thought I would. I wore compression shorts immediately after and overnight in the days after the marathon. Two days after the marathon I had zero soreness, which I tie to the compression.

It’s been almost two weeks since the race. I’ve been running, but not a ton. I’ve been mostly doing lower impact workouts in the time since. Weight training has returned and I’m actually enjoying it. However, while Bernie and I were painting his house past Saturday, I noticed a very sharp pain in my right foot. All of a sudden, I went from feeling fine to having a super tough pain radiating from my foot, up my ankle, and into my calf.  Oh. Shit.

I immediately didn’t know what it was. I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s from standing on my feet all day and painting. Maybe it’s from lifting heavy cans of paint. Maybe it’s from standing on the super scary rickety wooden ladder.” As the night went on, it continued to hurt. I went to sleep somewhat worried, but chalked it up to overexerting myself.

The next day, I woke up to the same pain. I changed my shoes from my Nike Free’s (little support) to my Brooks running shoes (more support) and it seemed to help. I had on and off pain the whole day while painting. Again, I hoped and prayed it was nothing serious.

So this leaves us to now. I’ve been having a pain in the outside/bottom/top of my foot (it keeps changing). I also noticed that the calf on that leg was SUPER tight, especially along the outside. So I rolled it one night and was left with a really sore lower leg, but a somewhat better foot. I’ve dealt with ankle/calf injuries before when I had peroneal tendonitis. I used to get really bad ankle/calf pain when I rode horses and my orthopedist at the time told me to get a foam roller for my calves. Within a week, the pain was gone forever.

So right now, I think it might be one of two things:

  1. The peroneal tendonitis is back since I have pretty tight calves from all the training I did.
  2. I strained a tendon in the bottom of my foot from walking around in very unsupportive Nike’s while painting all weekend (lifting heavy cans, standing on my tippy toes a lot, standing on a rickety wooden ladder).

At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

I know that the best thing to do is rest, so I’m taking 5 days off from any exercise and waiting to see how I feel on Monday. That would be 9 days after the pain started. I know if I go to an orthopedist, that’s going to be their suggestion. I don’t believe it’s a stress fracture, because I don’t have any tender spots on bony parts of my foot. I don’t think it’s planter fasciitis, because my heel doesn’t hurt (at least that’s what I’m hoping – PF is scary for runners). I am worried, but I’m trying to focus on resting, icing, stretching my feet and calves, and foam rolling. I’d like to not be sidelined from running for longer than two weeks if I can help it. I have a 5k in a little over 2 weeks! If I’m still in pain by Monday, I’m going to make an appointment with an orthopedist.

Please ignore my scary toes. They're getting a pedicure this weekend - promise!

Since I’ve had multiple issues with my calves, I decided to finally make another investment in compression gear – compression calf sleeves. After researching different brands, I headed to City Sports and picked up the CEP Sports Compression Sleeves. After foam rolling, I slipped them on and they felt super comfy. I’m excited to start using them for runs. After walking around in them for a little while, I noticed the bottom of my foot didn’t hurt quite as much anymore. Good sign? I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

For now, I’ve been rocking these at night and will most likely be wearing them under my pants during the day. Shhhh – it can be our little secret ;).

Readers: Have you ever had calf muscle issues? Ever try compression gear? Do you think they make a difference? Ever had arch pain? How do you deal with annoying injuries?

What I Learned from Half-Marathon Training

Happy Spring everyone! There’s really nothing better than some fresh flowers on the first day of Spring.

I’m still basking in the glow of my first half-marathon this past Sunday. Over the last couple of days, as people have asked me “so how was it?”, I’ve describe it as, “The most physically and mentally demanding thing I’ve ever done in my life.” I honestly was prepared for the physical demand of the race, but the mental demand of the race was something that I was not quite as prepared for. There was a point in the race where I just wanted to quit. I wanted to walk off the course, find one of the many cops lining the edge of the course and say, “that’s it. I’m done.”

But I didn’t.

I pushed through. I got through these rough moments by thinking about Bernie and my parents and friends waiting for me at the finish line. I knew they would be there, with funny signs in hand, and cheering loudly. I couldn’t let them down. I worked too hard to not make it all the way.

Immediately after finishing, I knew that half-marathons were for me. I’m so ready to do another one! There’s a half in Boston in October that I plan on doing, and I’m looking forward to start training again. I’m already looking up training plans to help me shed my time. 2:12 is a good base, and I want to improve upon it.

As with everything in life, training was definitely a learning experience. I had never really trained diligently for a race before, so this was the first time. A few things I learned while training for my first half-marathon include:

  • PB/banana toast is my go-to pre-run fuel. There’s a reason a lot of people eat it before running, it works.
  • Fruit flavored Gu’s are WAYYYY better than the other non-fruit Gu’s.
  • Chomps don’t always sit well with my stomach. Use with caution.
  • My fuel belt was the best $40 I’ve ever spent.
  • When in doubt, go to the chiropractor. When my lower back/hips were hurting, the chiropractor fixed it and taught me at-home exercises that I could do to make them stronger. I’m officially a chiro convert.
  • There’s a really nice bathroom in the Boston Common. It came in handy many times.
  • My body can do amazing things. I learned that my body is so much stronger than I thought it was. I can push it harder than I ever thought I could. I need to trust it more.
  • Self confidence and body love. I haven’t always had the best love affair with my body, but after running the marathon, I am in awe of what it can do. I will no longer take it for granted and will appreciate every muscle.
  • Compression shorts are the JAM! I won a pair of Aspaeris compression shorts on Julie’s blog (I was shocked – I never win anything) and they are the greatest invention known to man. I wore them the nights leading up to the race, and immediately after the race, and over the last two nights post-race. It’s now 2 days after the race and I have no muscle soreness. If you often have hip pain after running long runs, invest in some high-quality compression shorts for recovery. I swear to you – they’re miraculous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Running really is for me. Some people run a big race like a half-marathon and realize that running is just not for them. After my experience on Sunday, my love for running has been reaffirmed. Running is definitely for me.

I’m already looking forward to my next race – the B.A.A 5k the day before the Boston Marathon. Steph and I are running the race, and then will spend the next day cheering on the Boston runners! It’s going to be a blast!

Until next time; readers – have you ever experienced similar mental blocks during a race like I did? How did you overcome them? What has running taught you? Share!

New Bedford Half Marathon Race Recap

I did it! I ran 13.1 miles and finished my first half marathon!

I couldn’t be more prouder of myself and my roommate Steph – who PR’ed!

Let’s go back to yesterday. The night before I packed everything I would need in my bag, created my playlist, and charged my iPod.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early. I slept like a BABY – I was really surprised. I thought I was going to be nervous and toss and turn all night. I had my normal pre-run breakfast, got dressed, and off we went. New Bedford is about an hour and ten minutes from Boston, and we made it in about that time. No traffic. Parking at the race was actually really easy. There were a ton of people there, but parking lots were numerous and had spaces left.

Steph and I made our way to get out numbers and boy, was it crowded! This year they had their largest field ever – 3,350 runners. Last year it was 2,730 – the largest to date.

After getting our numbers, we got ready, warmed up, and took some pictures to remember the moment. My parents came from NY to watch, and our Boston support group included Bernie, Steph’s boyfriend Micah, and our friend Devon.

Then we made our way to the start. It was a beautiful day in New England – 60 degrees and sunny. Perfect for a race.

And we’re off!

For the first two miles, Steph and I ran together. We were going at a good pace and I felt really good, but I knew something was wrong. I was going WAYYYY too fast way too early. For the first two miles, I averaged an 8:30 – 8:40 pace. I knew I had to slow down, so I told Steph to go for it, and off she went. After mile 2 there was a HUGE hill. It looked scary and it sucked, but since it was so early in the race, it really wasn’t that bad. I was enjoying the race and loved seeing all the signs that people brought to cheer on the racers. At the 10k mark, I clocked in at 55:32. But then. The wall.

I have never actually hit the proverbial ‘wall’ while running. I think it was a mixture of the heat, the constant sun beating down on us, and my big rookie mistake – going out too fast too early. As you can see from my splits, everything went down hill at mile 8. I was overheated, dehydrated, and tired. I had nothing left. I took a Gu at mile 6, but it sat like the biggest rock in my stomach.

The last 5.1 miles were the roughest miles of my life. At mile 8-10, the course looped around the edge of the ocean, so the breeze both cooled me off, and slowed me down. At this point in the race, I knew my goal of running a sub-2 hours was not within my reach. My goal at this point was to just finish strong. I began to walk through every water station, taking in as much water as I could. Every mile, I promised myself that I would walk for 30 seconds.

I hated myself during these miles. I started to beat myself up for quitting. I felt like my Gu was going to come up for a few miles. It was the toughest moment of my life. Mile 12 was another hill, a sort of heart-break hill like in the Boston Marathon. As I was running up the mile 12 hill, I started to see more and more runners who had already finished lining up the sides of the course, cheering on runners. At one point, a man who was sitting on the curb with a finishers medal around his neck looked me directly in the eye and said, “Don’t stop! You’re almost at the top…it’s all down hill from there!!”

That was it. I was going to finish. At that point, I knew that I was going to finish the race. I turned the corner and saw the finishing line. It was the most glorious sight I had ever seen.

One of our signs. Probably my favorite.

Then, I spotted them – my cheerleaders! They had made a couple of signs and once I saw the “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking so much ass!” sign, I knew it was them. Clearly I was happy.

I crossed the line in 2:12:58, and honestly, I didn’t care. I finished. I finished running strong and I didn’t vomit on myself! I was so ecstatic! It took a few minutes for it all to sink in. Once I found everyone, I found out that Steph beat her last half marathon time by a whole 15 minutes!! She finished in 1:49:56! She’s a rock star and I’m so proud of her!

Bernie came up to me after the race and said “I had a great time! I totally see why you did this! I want to do some 5k’s with you!” That took me back completely. Bernie has been very supportive during my training, but he always thought I was crazy. He didn’t get it – why would I run this? Only crazy people run long distances for no reason. After he experienced the excitement of the race and the energy, he was totally into it! I’m excited that he wants to do some 5k’s!

After the race, we stretched out, changed and went to find some food. My stomach was pretty unsettled for a good hour after the race, and I couldn’t even think about food, but we ended up at the Waterfront Grille for some seafood and beer. Steph and I had some celebratory drinks while we waited for our food.

Devon and Micah

Overall, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The satisfaction and pure joy that I experienced when I crossed the finish line was worth every shitty mile. There is another half I plan on doing in October, so I’m going to take this experience and learn from it. There are definitely a few things that I know I will fix for next time:

  1. Wear my fuel belt with my own water. I got so dehydrated and I was jealous of every person with their own water on the course.
  2. DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST. I need to slow the hell down! I went out way too fast. If this was a 10 k, then I did awesome. But it wasn’t.
  3. Eat more breakfast if I’m eating 4 hours before the race. I only had one piece of pb toast and banana for breakfast. My stomach felt weird in the morning, and I didn’t want to stuff more food in it. Bad decision. I needed more fuel. And the chomps I had right before running did not settle well in my stomach.
  4. Wear sunscreen, even if it’s a March race. I got burned. Ouch. Who wears sunscreen in March?!

For now, I’m still basking in the glow of the race. Now I’m off to foam roll my tired muscles. Thank you to everyone for all your comments of encouragement on the blog yesterday! It definitely helped! And a big thank you to Steph, Micah, Devon, Bernie, and my parents – you guys were the best cheerleaders/supporters ever!

13.1 or Bust!!

Today is the day! Today I run the 35th annual New Bedford Half Marathon. I’m super excited! I’ve gone through weeks of sore muscles, an aching back, many Gu’s, and cold Sunday mornings – but it’s here!

If you want to follow updates in real time, follow me on twitter!

See ya on the other side!

[source]

Tapering Like a Champ

Happy Friday everyone! It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend!

This past week, I began the part of half-marathon training that everyone looks forward to; TAPER WEEK!

my thoughts exactly. Taper week=scary.

So far, I’m not really enjoying taper week. I feel anxious. I feel like I should be out running and doing other various crazy things. Here’s what my week has looked like so far:

  • Sunday: Lovely 8.5 mile run with Steph. Last long run! We high-fived afterward.
  • Monday: Gym, jump rope circuit and too many squats. Ouch.
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run outside, which sucked. My hips were super sore from previously stated squats. Stupid Sarah.
  • Wednesday: 60 min spin class with my favorite spin instructor who is 1 week away from her due date. She’s so pregnant it’s insane. Felt amazing to spin. Slept in my compression shorts.
  • Thursday: I was scheduled to run an easy 2 miles, but my stomach was NOT feeling too great throughout the afternoon, so I decided against it. I foam rolled my IT bands until I was bruised. Slept in my compression shorts again.

Today I plan on doing nothing, again. ‘Rest’ is the operative word this week. There are a lot of theories about how long one should taper for certain distance races, and how much activity is too much. I found a pretty great article with tips or first-time marathoners from an old Runner’s World “Ask Coach Jenny” blog. Some of my favorite tips include:

Have faith in your preparation, especially during the taper. Something mystical happens when you begin to taper your mileage to rest up for the race. It’s a little like taking away Linus’s blanket as there is comfort in training because you are actively moving towards your target race. As you reduce the mileage, the nervousness sets in. Remember that tapering allows your body time to rest and accumulate energy at the rate of a slow simmer so that on race day you are fresh and ready to rumble. Review your training log to remind yourself of the base you have going into the race and visualize a strong run during the season. You are well prepared and that is the best insurance against earning that medal.

I found myself reading over my training log today. My first ‘long run’ was 5 miles. Within 7 weeks, I doubled that and ran 11.5 miles for my final long run. That’s insanity! I’ve come a long way in a pretty short period of time. Over the course of training, I’ve gone from hating running, to being absolutely head-over-heels in love with it. My overall love for running has increased and I’m surprised how much I enjoyed my slow and easy long runs.

Warn your family and friends that you’ll have the stability of a 3-year-old child on race day. I’ve borrowed this line from my husband John Bingham, and it’s true. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, making even the smallest decisions like what to eat and what to wear will feel like life changing moments during race week. Ask your support team for extra patience, because they’ll need it. Anticipate this temporary state of immaturity and lay out your clothes the night before the race. It helps to try on everything you plan to wear (bib number, chip on shoe…) The more prepared you are the night before, the better.

Bernie is probably already so sick of hearing about running, he could scream. It’s become my entire life, especially over the last couple weeks. I don’t know what will happen on race day on Sunday, but I might cry. We’ll see.

Run the tangents! It took me several years to learn this nugget of information and I shaved minutes off my time once I did. When a race course is measured (and certified) it follows the tangents to the curves. A tangent is a straight line just outside the curve (or as close to the curve while still on the road). For example, Sandra the runner sees a curve on the course and runs a straight line (tangent to) the inside of the curve. Beth (who is not paying attention and didn’t read this blog) follows the curve in the road.  Curve for curve, Beth will end up running more mileage in the end. Sandra will run the measured 13.1 miles (and be showered  before Beth finishes). This will help you in two very important ways:  One, it keeps your mind actively engaged in running the course as you think your way through every turn.  Two, you’ll run only 13.1 miles! You can add more than a quarter-mile to the course by taking the long way around turns! Stay focused, grasshopper, and set yourself up efficiently as you wind through the course.

I figured this out from running a lot of 5k’s, but I didn’t even think about it for the half marathon. I plan on doing this as much as possible. While I have a time goal in my head, I decided the other day not to hold myself to it. This is my first half marathon and my first time running the distance, ever. I really should focus on enjoying every second.

Only 2 days to go! Thankfully, the weather is going to be gorgeous – almost 70 degrees! The average temperature this winter while I was running was between 35-40 degrees. 70 degrees is going to be quite a change. Hopefully it doesn’t completely throw me off.

 

Readers: Seasoned marathoners/racers – what are your tapering tips? Have you ever tapered before? What are you doing this weekend?