Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We were on a Break!!

It's been too long.... I've been so strong.  So sane.  I've been so good about cross training.  But I'm ready to get back to running.  I don't want to be on this break anymore!

Yes, I did go on a brief leave of absence from blogging.  I just couldn't muster up the strength to talk about my cross-over into the world of biking and swimming. It's been new, exciting, challenging and humbling but I'm at the point that I'm ready to get back to normal.

During my little break-up with running here's a snap shot of what's been going on:
  • Physical Therapy and Doctor- A few days after the Fast Firecracker I went to see my doctor to figure out what I needed to do.  X-rays showed no sign of fracture or bone spur which was really good news. Basically I'm just dealing with a persistent case of plantar fasciitis.  He referred me to our local sports medicine doctor and a physical therapist.  My physical therapist has really been working on my calf and foot muscles.  There were moments of pure torture and pain but I kept reminding myself that this was helping me.  I'm doing a series of stretches every day and wearing a night splint when I go to bed.  I kept reading about runners doing this to help alleviate foot pain in the morning but I thought it would be too uncomfortable.  Believe it or not it doesn't really bother me.  I forget I'm even wearing it!  And best part about it- my foot feels completely normal in the morning!
    • 9 miles swimming (in a 17 day period)- 1 mile swim each session.  I was a little unsure about how accurate the distance was but my friend measured it with her new TomTom watch on the swimming setting and confirmed it was one mile.  Phew.  (You know how anal runners are about getting their distance right!)  It takes me between 32-35 minutes to swim a mile. 

      34 pennies = 34 out & back's which = 1 mile!

    • 171 miles biking (outdoor and on stationary bike).  Biking is definitely my weakest of the triathlon three.  I did notice improvement during the past two and a half weeks.  (Started at 11 mph and this weekend averaged 14 mph.)
    Testing out the bike... This was actually my first ride on a bike (outside) in 25 years!
    Running friends that are willing to ride bikes are pretty awesome!
    • Two longer bike rides including an 18 miler and then a 26.3 mile ride over a hilly route.  I went with a friend who bikes a lot and knows what she's doing.  I was WAY out of my comfort zone on that ride.  It was a crazy hard workout but I loved it.
    • I also experienced my first bike accident on a 12 mi bike ride early one morning by myself.  I went on the bike trail I have run on literally hundreds of times.  In one section there are two cattle guards which are annoying to run over but on a bike it is ten times scarier.  I slid off the cattle guards and lost control and then slid off the trail down a ditch.  I landed upside down with my bike on top of me.  Had some scrapes and bruises but nothing too serious.  It could have been much worse.
    Cattle guard crossing- annoying when you run but much worse on a bike!
    the lovely ditch I fell down
    I took this pic to text to John after I regrouped!

    2 days after the bike accident
    leg was also bruised and then had an allergic reaction to Neosporin
    • First run on an Alter G treadmill! I actually have done this twice now and plan to use it again tomorrow when I'm at Physical Therapy.  I could probably do a whole post on Alter G treadmill running but basically it is a treadmill that gives you the option of running at a fraction of your body weight.  This makes it MUCH easier on your joints, etc.  I ran 2 easy miles the first time and then last week I was able to get in 10 miles at a 6:58 pace (which felt like a 7:58 pace).

    PT time for plantar fasciitis

    • Strength Training and Core Work- I've really tried to keep this going strong.  I am lifting more consistently now for the first time since high school.  I am continuing to do my push-ups and planking.  Two weeks ago Jackie and I hit a 4:00 minute plank and yesterday made it to 4:30.  (We are working our way up to 5.)  We do not plank every single day and we do not always shoot for one long one.  Sometimes we do 4 sets of 1-2 minutes each or a 5 min plank routine (switching sides, raising legs, etc).  It's good to change it up along the way.

    A 1 mile swim followed by a 4 min plank.  We were pretty pumped!

    we made it to 4:30!
      • Running- This morning I ran outside and all I can say is that it was okay.  I didn't feel any "pain" per say but after a few miles my foot started to feel a little "off"/ heavy?  Can anyone with PF relate?  We stopped at 5 miles.  Honestly I was pretty beat.  I know I'm getting a good workout swimming and biking but it's just different.  I can tell I haven't been running (in the heat).  

      Overall, my foot is MUCH better than it was at its worst (the night after the Fast Firecracker) but it's still not 100%.  I'm hoping I can start to slowly add in running outside- at least a couple of days per week mixed with cross training.  I feel extremely slow and out of running shape right now.  I know a few weeks off is nothing compared to the time I had to take off during my stress fracture.

      I'm still seriously considering doing my first triathlon in September.  It's hard to picture racing anything right now but hopefully by then things will be going better.  I'm trying to appreciate the little victories.  After months of daily foot pain I am walking pain-free.  Surely running is right around the corner... :-)

      Tuesday, July 8, 2014

      Fast Firecracker 5K- 2014 edition!

      The Fast Firecracker- I love this race.  The course, the atmosphere and the fact that it's on the 4th of July.  Did I mention it's also very fast?!

      Last year was my first time to experience this race and as soon as I crossed the line I knew I would be back!  This race will always be special to me as it was the first time I ever saw a 17:xx on the finish clock.  I hoped the magic of the course would rub off on me again this year but I knew it would be a little harder with my pesky foot trouble (plantar fasciitis in my right heel).

      Going into this race I had about six weeks of 5k training which including two other short races: The National RRCA One Mile Championship and the Arkansas 2 Miler. At almost any other time of the year a 5K would feel like a sprint of a race but after racing a one and two mile race a 5K felt like the perfect distance.  Unfortunately, the last two weeks of my training has taken a major hit because of my injury.  I've cut my mileage in half and I've been biking and swimming to get in some easy cardio days.  After every run my right foot would hurt and I've had to adjust my schedule a lot.  I just wanted to make it through the race!

      This year my oldest daughter decided to run it so I was excited for her. I even talked Jackie into racing it too.  As you can see Jackie was wearing the coolest tights EVER!
      Pre-race pic with Jackie and Abi

      The race started at 7:30 so we got to packet pick-up by 6:45.  The weather was perfect for a summer race- mid 60's! That doesn't happen often in the summer around here so I was very thankful!

      My only suggestion for this race would be to have more bathroom facilities.  There were over 1700 participants and only 5 port-a-potties.  Needless to say the line was LONG.  We jogged to the nearby Starbucks but there was a long line there as well.  After we finally got through the bathroom line Abi stayed with some friends so Kem, Jackie and I could warm up together.  We didn't have much time but we got in a little over a mile and did some strides before we headed to the start.  I lined up right next to last year's female winner- a college student who ran a 17:05!  I introduced myself ("hey- didn't you win last year?") and she seemed very friendly.  I hoped I was able to go sub 18 but was not sure if my foot would cooperate.

      The Fast Firecracker is a point to point race.  It starts at the corner of University and Kavanaugh and heads down Kavanaugh and Van Buren.  Then it finishes up at War Memorial Stadium (where the Arkansas Razorbacks play).  The course has a lot of downhill (over 320 feet elevation loss)- mostly in the first 2.5 miles.  But there is over 140 feet elevation gain- most of which is from mile 2.5-3.

      Last year my miles splits were: 5:39, 5:38 and 6:00. I hoped I could run something similar this year.

      The Race

      Mile 1- 5:40.  Within about 30 seconds from the start I found myself in position of 3rd place female.  My foot was off but it was still manageable. 

      Mile 2- 5:43.  My foot started to hurt more.

      Mile 3- 6:17.  By this point my foot was in extreme pain which intensified with every step I took.  Then there was the hill at mile 2.5 which felt like a MOUNTAIN.  I was also getting passed by what seemed like a flood of guys during this mile but there was nothing I could do but finish the race.

      Mile 3.12- 0:44 (5:54 avg.)

      Total- 18:24 (5:54 avg.).  3rd out of 861 female finishers (1st and 2nd finished in: 17:16, 17:48)

      Official Results can be found here.

      Then I jogged back to find Abi.  When I found her she was just about to the top of the hill.  She was only about 30 seconds shy of her personal best which I thought was great considering it was just 3 days after her 10 mile birthday run.  She finished in 25:22.

      Abi kicking it in

      It was also very wonderful to see my little sister Tara at the finish line.  She lives right down the road from this race and came out to cheer for me near the finish.  I always love when she comes out to my races.
      My little sister Tara- due any day with baby #3!
      A Few Fast Firecracker Shout-Outs:

      Jackie finished in 19:11- her new personal best!
      Natalie, another training buddy PR'd with a 19:17!
      Kem also PR'd in 19:46- and won the Masters age division!
      Beverly PR'd with a 21:18!
      Three of my running clients around the state also went to Little Rock to run in this race:
      Brandi (on right) ran 23:08- *new PR!

      Lucinda with me at the finish.  She ran a 23:50- *new PR!
      Heather (2nd from left) ran a 24:06- *new PR! 
      Abi & Jackie know how to refuel after a race!

      And a few more pictures from the 4th...

      The tradition continues... we make a flag cake every year!

      Relaxing and watching movies after the race with my big girl
      Watching fireworks from the lake in Heber Springs
      Watching fireworks with J.  ♥ this guy!

      What's Next?
      I can tell you what I won't be doing for the next two weeks- running.  I have decided to take a few weeks break from running.  It's been four days now and my foot is feeling much better already but I know it's not right.  I have an appointment scheduled with sports medicine doctor and a podiatrist next week (soonest I could get in).  If I can get in to either one sooner I will.  I definitely want to get a professional medical diagnosis- not my own from wikopedia.

      In the meantime I have been biking and swimming.  On Saturday I biked and even did a little open water swimming at the lake.  Let's just say I have a lot of room for improvement... Right now I am biking for about 45-60 minutes and hope to get in a one mile swim about four days a week.

      My sister is letting me borrow her road bike since she will not be using it in the next few months.  I am seriously considering registering for my first triathlon in September.  I would like a goal to motivate me during this cross training phase.  I have no idea how long I will be on this running break (I'm hoping just a few weeks) but biking and swimming will really help me stay active.

      Plantar fasciitis-- have you had it?  If so, how did you get over it?

      Local runners- have you ever participated in the Conway CATS triathlon?  It's in September and it looks interesting...

      Thursday, July 3, 2014

      My Most Important Run of the Year

      If I had to think about my most important run of the year it would not be my last marathon or even my big race tomorrow- The Fast Firecracker... I would honestly say it is the run I get to do with my daughter on her birthday.  Sure, we run together a few times during the year but there is something special about being the first one to see the birthday girl in the morning and spending the first part of her day with her.  Just the two of us working on a goal together.  

      This was the second year she wanted to run her birthday year in miles.  We started this tradition when she turned nine.  (Up until that point she had run one 10K and figured what was 3 more miles?)  I wasn't sure if she would want to do this again but a few weeks ago she mentioned wanting to run 10 miles on her 10th birthday.

      Her training:  She is not following any specific training plan.  She's a kid!  She is active and loves most sports.  Most of her "training" came from her participation in to 100 Mile club at her school the past two years.  (Great program, by the way!)  She runs in many of the local 5k's and has done a total of three 10k's in her life.  She finished her last one in around 54 minutes. 

      The good thing about her birthday being at the beginning of July is that we don't have to worry about it ever being on a school day.  The bad thing- hello HEAT! We intended to leave earlier but by the time we were at the trail and running it was just after 7 am.  I carried a water bottle so she could stop for water at any time.  I planned a very simple route.  It's actually my go-to 10 miler because it's 5 miles out to Harp's and 5 miles back.  Harp's has a water fountain and I knew we could refill our bottle there.  I also had some shot bloks if she needed some fuel.

      around mile 3.5
      mile 3.5
      I texted John this pic of the halfway point- we made it to Harp's!

      The run back home was tough.  She was tired and it was hot.  I poured water on her and we stopped for her to drink water several times.  I asked her if she just wanted me to call John to get us but she said no.  She wanted to finish.

      Last year I told her a memory I had of her at each age that corresponded to the mile we were on.  She looked forward to it every mile and when we would get to a mile she would remind me.  We did this again this year and I think this is her favorite part of the run.  But it was hard.

      mile 7

      I would say running 10 miles as a 10 year old is probably the adult equivalent to running a marathon.  She "hit the wall" at mile 8.6 and we stopped a few minutes for another break.  I texted John to let him know how it was going.  She was determined to finish her 10 miles no matter how long it took. 
      mile 8.6

      I told her that she was strong and she could do it.  I told her that this would probably be the hardest thing she would do the whole year that she was 10.  I don't know if this is true.  Obviously I don't know what will happen to her or anyone in our family this next year.  I guess I would like to think that overcoming one challenge makes a person stronger so they are ready when the next one comes their way.  During the next year I want her to remember that she was able to overcome something that was really hard and if she could do that then she could do anything.  We only listened to one song during the run and it was when we started back up after 8.6.  I have all kinds of music on my running playlist and this is a good one.  The words really fit with what I knew Abi needed to hear.

      Overcomer by Mandisa

      I also told her another one of my favorite movie quotes. 

      yes, that's right- Tom Hanks in A League of their Own

      Right around 9.5 I saw a little kid off in the distance.  Then another.  Then I recognized the group ahead in the distance.  It was John and the younger three.  He had brought the kids out to the last quarter mile of the trail to cheer Abi on to the finish.   We had no idea they were planning to do this but it was just the motivation she needed to finish strong.

      John snapped this one of us as we finished

      She did it!

      10 miles with my 10 year-old!
      Afterwards we took her (and the rest of the kids) to get a late big breakfast.  She was pretty exhausted and needed more to drink.  A few hours later she had her own personal leg massage.  My sponsor at Massage Me knew Abi was planning this run so she wanted to give her a little birthday treat.  Abi was thrilled!

      This little run was a very memorable part of her 10th birthday.  While we were running I was definitely thinking about where I was ten years ago.  I was laying in a hospital bed, with over half my body still paralyzed on the epidural following the c-section.  But none of that mattered because I was holding my precious new born baby girl. 

      July 1, 2004

      Being a parent these past ten years has not been easy.  In fact, it is the hardest thing I've ever done.  I've learned so much and I can only imagine what's in store the next decade.  (In 3 years I'll have a teenager?!!)  But there is SO MUCH joy and love found in many moments of parenting.  It is hard but SO worth it! 

      4 completely different personalities

      Coming up next:
      The Fast Firecracker- TOMORROW!!I just hope that my foot gives me one more race.  Then I'm taking a few weeks break to hopefully heal this plantar fasciitis!

      Anyone else racing on the 4th?