{Currently} November 10, 2014

In my post-marathon haze, I’ve realized just how boring a blog can be when LIFE isn’t really included in the whole training rundown. I used to be good about including life’s happenings in the weekly training recaps, but last cycle was anything but normal. I really enjoy reading Erin’s “currently” posts, so I decided to steal the concept. (So thanks for the idea and I apologize for stealing it, E!)

So, currently this is what’s happening!:

Reading: Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. I’m almost done with the book and I think I still have mixed feelings about it. She’s received a lot of attention because of some specific passages and apparently had to cancel some book signings because of how they were received. I started watching her show, Girls, on HBO after seeing her film Tiny Furniture a few years ago. Most of the time, my reaction to her writing and to her show is somewhere between “omg this is a train wreck and I can’t look away” and cringing in embarrassment. That said, I think it’s refreshing that there is a show out there that portrays at least a few real life situations that 20-somethings have to deal with — even if it is a bit exaggerated. Next on my list of books to read? Wild by Cheryl Strayed (*finally* getting around to it!) and The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. I have them both on my iPad and now I just have to find the time to read them. Shouldn’t be too hard now that I’m not training, right?

2014-11-09 09.43.40

Decorating: Now that I’m not training and starting to feel like recovery is happening post-26.2, I suddenly have so much energy at the weirdest times. I go from being so sleepy to super energetic and back again. I have to do something with those spurts of energy and lately it’s been all about decorating and furnishing the apartment, two months after moving. I went on a cleaning rampage on Friday night and was going to go crazy if I didn’t hang some of our artwork and decor up on the walls. (Reverse taper crazy?) We finally decided on a look for the dining area & stumbled up on a customer furniture maker online, thanks to an ad he listed on Craiglist. This guy has been great to work with and had us choose the wood, stain, and style of our custom dining room table. I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! It’s going to arrive just in time for Thanksgiving. We’re going for the rustic, industrial look.

2014-11-07 12.35.24

The chairs I bought online …

2014-11-07 12.35.59…and an example of the table that is being built this week!

Can’t stop smiling about: My sister’s half marathon PR at Outer Banks this past weekend! I woke up at 7 AM yesterday when I heard my phone ding. I had a few texts from her husband, updating the family on how she was doing. I signed up for text updates from the race but they never came through (until 1 hour after she finished the darn thing)! She looked so happy and relaxed at Mile 8 and I was so anxious to hear how she did! She ran a super strong and consistent race and I couldn’t be more happy for her. It’s been a crazy training cycle because she’s been dealing with chest congestion and an annoying cough for over a month (not kidding). Her doctor thinks it may be a specific allergy that she deals with at the same time every year but an allergy test didn’t come up positive. The fact that she ran such a strong race with breathing that wasn’t 100% clear is so awesome! I’m really excited to see what you do in the spring, Lin!

2014-11-09 11.59.07

This is Lindsey at Mile 8, screaming “I think I’m going to PR!!!!” Wahoooooo!

Drinking: A lot of beer (too much? never). Duh. #recovery

2014-11-08 16.44.18

Corey & CT

“Brunching” at 2 pm with these two (and Jacq!) normally turns into a long afternoon over a few drinks. It’s the best kind of Saturday.

Listening to: Serial! I first heard about Serial on the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast. I listen to a few podcasts off and on whenever I have the time, mostly on a lazy Sunday afternoon or right when I finish up work for the day. The story is already fascinating to me, only 1 episode in and I’ve heard it only gets more intriguing. It’s interesting to hear about people ‘binge-listening’ to this podcast just like they would binge-watch a show on Netflix. Has that ever happened before? I like it. Also, it’s the best kind of listening for an easy recovery spin at the gym. 53 minutes of spin with 53 minutes of Serial.

Planning: Our trip to Honolulu! In 5 weeks, my sister Brittany will run her first marathon with Saucony’s #26Strong program! We’ve been talking about and looking forward to the marathon since February of this year and I can’t believe we’re actually planning what we want to do, see, eat, and drink while we’re there! The plan is to run every single mile of the marathon with Brittany, as long as she wants me to. I am in full support of her racing it on her own if she really wants to OWN it. I’ll help her in any way that I can, for as long as she wants me to. My plan is to recover and slowly build some mileage in the next few weeks. I’m taking recovery seriously, now 8 days after 26.2. I haven’t run a single step (except to catch a bus the other day!) since the race so this week I’ll add in a few easy runs with some recovery spins at the gym to get back into a routine. I don’t plan on doing any tough speedwork & my longest run will probably be around 16 miles before we head to Honolulu. Brittany’s training is going so well and I’m really excited to share the experience with her. We nerded out about running Honolulu together when we were in LA for the Competitor photoshoot in July. Note: lots.of.makeup! Also, that’s an interesting facial expression.

So, what should we do while we’re there?! AKA, what *can* we do after running 26.2?

What have you been up to lately? Doing things you didn’t have time for during training, like me?

-J

2014 Monumental Marathon: RACE RECAP 3:11:07

I spent 12 weeks of training worrying, obsessing, and wondering whether or not I’d be able to run a PR in Indy last Saturday. I’m exceptionally good at thinking about these things. I do it so often that it’s a surprise to me when I am able to turn off my brain.

That happened on race day. I didn’t think. I just RAN.

2014-11-05 15.37.06

My sister asked me last night to tell her all about the race, about every single mile. And I couldn’t. I don’t have a lot to say about each mile of Monumental because I didn’t obsess over the details, I didn’t question my pace, I didn’t get ahead of myself, and I didn’t calculate my finish time early on. I had a conservative plan going into it, but ended up running closer to feel than by pace than I ever have before.

I ran a 3 min, 30 second PR with a time of 3:11:07. IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVAHHHHHH! 

The big headline: I ran my 5th marathon, with a 3 + min PR, peed my shorts for the 2nd time in a marathon (it was awesome) and totally surprised myself on Saturday. 

TerryOrlick

I’m so happy I showed up with a “ok, let’s just see what happens!” kind of attitude because it took the pressure of a PR out of my mind. Manny and I drove down to Indy on Friday morning after dropping Barklee off. I hydrated like crazy before and during the drive and we had to take 2 pit stops in the 3 hr drive. Somehow I managed to get 50 oz of water in before 11 AM. I also came dangerously close to finishing an entire large bag of pretzels on the drive. Hey, salt content, people! The drive down was cold, wet, and windy. We even saw snow come down during one of our pit stops. I was nervous about the race day forecast, but kept telling myself that I could deal with the cold – there was no rain in the forecast, thank goodness!

We drove straight to the expo at the Convention Center to meet Scott and Meghan. (Note: I first met Scott at Twin Cities 2012 and he’s raced every marathon I’ve raced since: Boston 2013, Boston 2014, and now Monumental 2014! Let’s keep this streak alive, dude! #TRWU for the win!) The expo is no-fuss, so we were in and out within 15-20 minutes. And the only reason we were there that long was because of an orange sticker on my bib that read “Seeding Group 3. My bib number was #519 so that didn’t sound right. Scott didn’t even have a seeding sticker on his bib so we walked over to Solutions to ask them about it. I asked them what my sticker meant and the woman said “you entered a time when you registered that said you’d run a 3:30 marathon”, to which I replied, “Oh no, that’s definitely wrong.” She was willing to help but she said “That’s ok. You can just move back if that’s not right”. {uhhhhhhh….}. I responded, “No, I’ll be running a much faster time than that tomorrow.” So she gave me a different seeding sticker. In hindsight, I may have sounded like a brat but there was no way I was going to let a silly sticker have an affect on my race (mentally, mostly). We made a plan to meet up in the morning & left the expo.

Manny and I met my brother for a beer and some lunch at Upland that afternoon. I had a beer because a) you shouldn’t change your routine, even on race weekend and 2) it was my brother’s birthday. It was delicious and oh so worth it. After relaxing for a bit, we stopped at Target for some throw-away items and oatmeal for my pre-race breakfast. I had a small headache and started to feel pretty tired from the drive so we went home to watch a movie and eat dinner. Pro tip: find a movie that will hold 100% of your attention the night before a race. I watched Divergent and didn’t really think about the race at all!

I went to bed at 10:30 after laying out my things. The forecast didn’t change much during the day on Friday, so I decided to wear shorts, compression socks, a long sleeve shirt, a hat, and gloves. After tossing and turning for 30 minutes or so, I fell asleep. And then it was 5 AM and it was go time! I slept well and felt really rested. I slept a LOT in the weeks leading up to the race, especially after peak week knocked me on my butt – I know that extra sleep helped prepare me for the race.

Side note: I didn’t even get a pre-race shakeout in on Friday! I thought I’d be able to fit in 2-3 miles after the drive down (because running before the drive would be pointless), but it was cold and windy and gross out. By the time I had an opportunity to run on a treadmill, it was already 4 pm – pretty pointless to shake out that late. Instead of stressing out about fitting it in, I just rested. I’m glad I did! I ran Mon, Tues, and Wed but Thurs and Fri were total rest days.

So, snuggle up with your favorite beverage and get comfortable, folks! This recap turned out to be 275% longer than I originally thought! 

I thought I’d be able to squeak by with a small PR. My plan was to run 1:36-37 through the half and then see if I could negative split. I divide the marathon into 5-mile segments, so I thought I’d run 7:35/mile pace in the first section and target 7:30, 7:25, 7:20, etc for each section after that. This plan would get me to 3:13 and change – if it all went according to plan. We found parking just south of the convention center and start line by 6:45 am. I’m so happy they had the Convention Center open so I could stay warm and do some dynamic stretches before walking 1 block to the start. Gotta love that about small races! Scott, Meghan, and Jeff met up with me and Manny and we chatted for a few minutes while we got ready. The nerves kicked in about 15 min from the start. I said goodbye to Man 5 min from the start, took off my throwaway clothes, and got ready!

2014-11-01 07.49.23

(Likely the closest Jeff will ever come to smiling in a picture.)

It was 30 degrees with a strong headwind from the north, which meant that we’d deal with the majority of the wind in the first half. I wasn’t that worried about the wind considering that’s my normal in Chi, but I knew I should try to tuck in to a pack and draft a bit off some big dudes if I could find them. From the start, it wasn’t crowded (again, small races ftw!). I’m used to jostling and dodging a bit in the first few miles of most races, so this was a welcome relief.

Miles 1-5 

Mile1-5

So, that 7:35 initial pace I mentioned? Yeah, that never materialized. I was definitely excited to be racing in the first mile and tried to focusing on letting my legs warm up. My quads were the most exposed part of my body; they didn’t really warm up until toward Mile 4 or 5. I felt comfortable running closer to 7:20. By mile 3, I realized that I was running a wee bit too fast and that I needed to let the 3:10 pace group pass me. They did at Mile 3.5 and I put my head down and focused on my own race. The pace group would be within my view until about Mile 8. I took my first Gu at Mile 5. Mmmmmm….root beer flavor!

Miles 6-10

Mile6-10

The plan targeted 7:30s here, but every single time I looked down at my watch, I realized how comfortable 7:20-7:25s felt. The half marathon splits from the full course at Mile 7. I looked ahead where they had a sign directing the marathoners to the right side of the course and remember thinking, “welp, I’m going to be all alone now!”. It seemed like 1 runner for every 10 in the half were moving to the right. I knew the wind would be a factor in these miles and that I should find a small group to draft off of but it never materialized. It was likely strung out a bit between the 3:10 and 3:15 pace group. Every time I felt like I found a big dude to draft off of, I felt like they were just going slightly faster or slower than I wanted to. It would be pointless to spend energy surging to catch a small group of runners and I wanted to run my own race. Around Mile 8, a small group formed. These two women were talking pace strategy and I could tell that the leading woman was pacing the other. She looked incredibly fit (and *freezing*, judging by her decision to wear just a sports bra & capris in 30 degrees) and they told me to tuck in behind them. It was nice to have something to focus on for a few miles; I kept my eye on the pacer’s heels and dodged sketchy potholes when I could (ahem…no falling on my knee this time around!). They were running even 7:20-25 so right where I wanted to be. And the men in our group seemed to be the ones trailing so that was also also a confidence boost. You could tell they were letting the women do the hard work. The wind seemed more manageable for these miles, but we still had a few gusts that felt strong. I ended up running with them through Mile 15-16. (Fun fact, I looked one of the women up and it turns out she also lives in Chicago!) I took my 2nd Gu and waved to Lindsey Hein (AKA spectator extraordinaire!) near Mile 10.

2014-11-01 09.17.27

Photo credit: Lindsey H.

Miles 11-15

Mile11-15

I just kept moving through the half. My mom, sister, and Manny were planning on spectating at 13.1 and I started to worry when I didn’t see them there (There was no way I’d miss them.) I looked at the clock as we ran across the timing mat at 13.1. I was right on pace-  It read 1:36:30. I remember thinking, “Just keep this rhythm going”. Every time I started to tense my shoulders or hands, I’d take a deep breath and relax. My form felt really strong. I saw my mom and my sister here at Mile 14 — no Manny! They were loud and obnoxious on a quiet part of the course, which was exactly what I needed. The only thing I said to them was, “where is Manny?!?!” Turns out he got stuck behind traffic related to the 5k after the start. Derp!

At this point,  I started to get annoyed by the two women – the pacer and her friend. They were talking a lot (too much!) and they were completely obsessing about the pace. The one racing told the pacer, “Ok, next mile I just need 2 seconds back.” Yeah, 2 seconds won’t make a difference. I knew I was having a good day and I didn’t want to get stuck depending on them for 7:20-7:25s so I left them around Mile 15. There’s a slight uphill there, the only noticeable one on the entire course. It was shorter than I thought it would be. Short, quick steps up the hill and onward! I took my next (3rd) Gu just after 15.5 along with a few swigs of water. (I’m really proud of how easily I got each Gu down, along with water every 5 miles.)

Monumental2014-11

Out of 26 race pics, this is the only one that looks somewhat attractive. You’re welcome.

Miles 16-20

Miles16-20

My legs TURNED ON in this section. The sun was out so I started to feel more warmed up and we had an ever so slight tail wind (although it really wasn’t that noticeable). People were starting to string out even more and I felt like I would be running by myself for the rest of the race– and that’s pretty much what happened. At 18, near the IMA, I saw my mom, my sister, and (surprise!) Manny. It was so nice to see them one more time before the miles really became lonely. I gave Manny a side-5 and a thumbs up to all three of them – my legs were rolling and I knew the next time I would see them would be at the finish line.

2014-11-01 09.59.382014-11-01 10.15.53

Monumental2014-15

Happy after running through the IMA :)

Mile 18 was fast for two completely unrelated reasons:

1) It’s a long downhill section.

2) I purposely peed my shorts and IT WAS COMPLETELY EXHILARATING. Don’t worry, folks. I’ve done this before. Been there, done that. And this time was just as hilarious as the first time. There was no way I was stopping just to go to the bathroom. And once you make that decision to pee your shorts, there’s no going back. I was gliding on this downhill section, the sun came out from behind some clouds, I looked down and practically snorted at myself. It was heavenly. I can only imagine the view that that dude running behind me had. It was glorious, until it was cold. Even then, it was worth it. I remember thinking “oh no, what if my calfs cramp because of all the pee in my socks?!”. Thankfully, that didn’t happen (and I finished the race with zero blisters!).

If you’d like proof that I was thoroughly hydrated and my pee was essentially water, here you go:

2014-11-01 18.54.42

See that? White compression socks are STILL WHITE, post-pee at the finish. And yes, I’m keeping those socks.

Despite the obvious adrenaline rush, I started to feel like the last 10k would get really interesting once I passed Mile 20, where I took my 4th and final Gu (mmmm Caramel Macchiato- just as delicious as Espresso Love). I wanted to stay close to 7:10s and hopefully dip under in the last section of the race.

Miles 21-26.2

Miles21-Finish

At 21, I couldn’t believe how empty the course was. During race week, I watched the time lapse video of the course several times and realized this section would be tough without spectators. I wasn’t running with others at this point. This one dude and I went back and forth a few times between Miles 17-20 but he likely saw me pee my shorts at Mile 18.5 and decided not to get near my kind of crazy. There.was.no.one.near.me. Just me and the road. This section is a parkway and close enough to the finish that spectators are few and far between. Once you make the turn onto Meridian at Mile 23, the energy starts to pick up a bit again. The run-walkers in the half marathon were clustered in groups on the left side of the street. Marathoners were running on the right but I honestly only remember seeing 3 or 4 others. I stopped after 23 to take a few more swigs of water before continuing on because I knew it would be my last one (I never really felt thirsty the entire race – proper pre-race hydration and regular sips of water the entire time helped, of course). I really had to pull myself together in Mile 23.

ENTER: 100% pain face.

I didn’t know my face could do that, but I’m willing to bet I looked like this for the better part of the last 3 miles. (These are in the finish chute.)

Monumental2014-2 Monumental2014-3 Monumental2014-4

By the time I reached Mile 24, I was entirely ready to be finished. I didn’t have much, if any, kick left. I wanted to dip closer to 7:00 min/mile but that wasn’t really happening. I was just trying to keep it together. I stopped to walk for 5-10 seconds and immediately thought, “no, Jenny. That’s not happening.” (Low point- so close!) With 2.5 miles to go, I started to calculate my finish time. That’s always a dangerous game to play, but, after some tough math with a brain that didn’t really want to function, I knew that I’d PR even if I just had to keep up with 8:00 minute miles. I still had 7 min miles in my legs; I just had to keep telling myself that.

I WAS GOING TO PR. PR! Peeeeeeeee (your shorts) -RRRRRRRRRR! 

Ok, hold it together. It’s happening. Just keep the legs going. Come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, Jenny.

We made a right hand turn, I looked off to my left, and realized the finish line was in sight. This dude on my left yelled, “YOU’VE JUST GOT TWO TURNS LEFT. TWO TURNS LEFT UNTIL YOU FINISH!”. I was like shit, I can’t make it two turns! I literally had 0.2 miles left and I felt like I was going to fall over. I made the first left and tried to focus on the second.

2014-11-01 11.11.15

Pic credit: Lindsey H.

I made the final turn and somehow there was a tiny kick left in my legs. I don’t even remember seeing people run near me but knew they were there. It’s amazing I didn’t run into anyone through the finish chute. I heard the announcer say  “and we’ve got Jenny Poore from Chicagoooooooo coming through!”.

As usual, cue the water works, folks! I crossed the finish line, stopped my watched, and looked down. It read 3:11:07. 

THREE ELEVEN OH SEVEN! Like, what?! That couldn’t be right! My pie-in-the-sky goal was 3:13. That’s the time that I thought I was capable of on Saturday.

2014-11-03 08.49.06

I put my hands on my knees, fought to stand with shaking legs, and volunteers asked me if I was okay. I said yes and started to cry. It was all worth it. I didn’t know how badly I wanted to PR until I did. And I didn’t know how fit I was until I raced. All that worrying, all that agonizing about the short training cycle and silly knee issues from a ridiculous fall in July. I made it. I fucking made it.

2014-11-01 11.55.38

Unreal.

Monumental2014-1

I couldn’t even manage a smile for the post-finish line photo. Water.works.

5 days later and I still don’t think it’s quite sunk in. All I know is that I’ve got the fire back. I want that sub 3:10 now — you know, because I’m addicted to running and racing and what the finish line feels like when you conquer that distance. I’ve run 3:17, 3:14, and now 3:11 in the marathon. I can’t help but think, “why not just keep the pattern going and run sub 3:08 next year?”.

My favorite two photos of the day are these two. I’ll never get sick of the “I can’t believe I just did that” feeling and happy hugs at the finish line.

2014-11-01 18.55.07

2014-11-01 18.55.25

IT WAS THE BEST DAY.

-J

Monumental Training Snapshot: The Good Stuff

I’m 4 days out from the Monumental Marathon in Indy and I’ve found myself reflecting on this cycle the past few days. Yes, it’s been short. Yes, it hasn’t been without its challenges. And yes, it’s been quite the ride! I knew I was taking a gamble with a 12 week cycle after allowing the prepatellar bursitis to heal and I’m happy to say I’m feeling happy & lucky to be racing this weekend.

So, the GOOD STUFF of this training cycle!:

  • I was smart and patientfrom base building in June to dealing with injury in July and, finally, to committing myself to 12 solid weeks of training beginning in August. After some much-needed rest after Boston, I began building my base in June. I was super conservative and spent time cross-training and strength-training as I increased my mileage. I didn’t jump into tough speedwork right away and I felt strong running 14 miles as my long run before I fell the following weekend. I was incredibly sad and frustrated the week that I fell. I cried…a lot. After a few days of wallowing, I gave myself an attitude adjustment, got on the bike as often as I could (and as much as my knee would let me), and did what I could to stay fit. 3 weeks off running is no time at all in the grand scheme of things, but I’m very proud of myself for not being so stubborn to run through unnecessary pain. Not running for 3 weeks was the best thing I could do. Once the true training cycle began again in August, I remained flexible. I managed the pain of tendonitis (residual from fall + bursitis) in September. If I felt like I needed an extra rest day, I took it. If I felt like I needed to bike instead of run, that’s what I did. If I needed to shift a workout to the next day because I knew my legs didn’t have it in them, I did that too. Travel for work forced me to run when I could and accept when I could not. The big headline here is that I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it and not being a big baby about the things I could not control.

The range of motion in my knee went from this …. to this within 7 days of falling because I wasn’t an idiot & didn’t keep running on it. Win!

Moving…Kinda! #bumknee

A video posted by Jenny Poore (@jennypoore) on

Tiny bit of progress! The bum knee can rotate easily on a spin bike with only a wee bit of discomfort now.

A video posted by Jenny Poore (@jennypoore) on

  • I didn’t lose my mind! – I know! This is as shocking to me as it is to many of my friends. In 12 weeks, I packed up the old apartment, moved to the new apartment, traveled for basically two weeks straight for work (including a long weekend in DC with my sisters), and hosted family visiting Chicago several times — all while training. Moving apartments drove me to near insanity and I was seriously questioning my ability to function there for a week but hey! I’m still here! I’m alive! And we quite like the new place. BarkleeAnn does too…

2014-10-19 14.08.36-1

  • The best speed workout of the cycle was a workout I’d never done before. In week 5, I ran the first speed workout of the cycle where I felt strong and confident. 10 x 600s is no joke – I had FUN and I finished feeling accomplished, happy, relieved, and like I wanted to scream “cowabunga”! My splits were all between 2:15 and 2:20. It was a good week of training, finishing with my first 20 miler and a beer festival with my sisters. It had been years since we ran together. We ran the first 6 miles of our own long runs together – they are my favorite miles of that run. Looking back on the cycle, this was the week where I really started to think “ok, maybe it could all work out”.

2014-09-13 11.26.39-1

  • The best long run of the cycle was an 18-miler at the beginning of October. I felt like I could run for days – big confidence boost! I think this cycle has taught me to go with your legs when they tell you to GO. And today was one of those days. In the past, my schedule has dictated long runs with 2-3 miles fast finish. This cycle, I knew that that would be risky because I just needed to build my endurance without risking injury. But you take quality miles when you can get them, so I ended up running the last 6 miles of those 18 at 7:25/mi pace or faster. This was the best long run of the cycle by far and it was the confidence boost when I needed one, 4 weeks out from race day. It propelled me through peak week, just knowing that I was able to build my endurance and stamina in 8 weeks.
  • I was patient with my running, but quick to get help when I needed it. I visited my acupuncturist to help alleviate pain from tendonitis in my knee and my chiropractor when I started to feel slightly ‘off’ or lopsided. If I waited to make an appointment with either one of these women, I don’t think that I’d be going into Monumental pain-free OR excited – because running through pain is most definitely not my idea of fun. Those small fixes made me feel so much better each week and now, just a few days out from racing, I feel balanced and comfortable in my stride.
  • I’m proud of the big picture.

Training_Log_-_Strava

2014-10-22 11.44.41-1

I’m going into Monumental with a fluid time goal. Putting the pressure of a PR on myself doesn’t sound fun – I honestly want to run 26.2 miles and have fun doing it. I want to avoid being an idiot in the first half and I don’t want to be a wimp in the second. I want to tuck into a pack and run with others as long as it works out and I’m feeling good (I rarely run or race with others). It’s almost time to take a victory lap around Indy!

[If you’re interested in tracking me on Saturday morning, just enter my name “Jenny Poore” here.]

- J

Monumental Marathon: Fast Forward to Taper!

So, last time I wrote, I updated week 6 of 12. Annnnnnd now I’m tapering. I guess that’s what happens when you run a 12 week marathon training cycle. You run run run run run for what seems like a few weeks and then it’s all over!

Here’s a brief recap of the weeks that you missed (note: a LOT happened):

Week 7: 4 runs, 3 spins, & 38 miles.

A big DERP. After monitoring minor knee pain for 2-3 runs, it became a problem (although still relatively minor). I’m 80% sure it was all residual from falling on my knee cap 10 weeks ago. I did not see a sports doctor because it wasn’t changing my gait and I was pretty sure that it was patellar tendonitis. I felt tightness under my knee cap toward the end of longer runs/workouts, but the pain came and went, as tendonitis tends to do. I managed 4 runs this week, but replaced recovery days with easy spins at the gym (3 hours total). I went from 53 miles in Week 6 to 38 in Week 7, so I threw the scheduled workouts out the window entirely. I managed 13 miles on my long run but was still annoyed by my knee the entire time. At this point, I was really reliving the same emotions of this exact week last year. Low point! I saw my acupuncturist on Wednesday – small improvement after the first treatment.

2014-09-28 10.33.14

Cranky knee. Low point!

Week 8: 5 runs, 1 spin, 1 full rest day, & 48 miles.

Weeeee! Ok, back at it — slowly, but surely. My knee was cranky again on Monday, so I was really looking forward to a second acupuncture treatment. And guess what? It must have worked! She needled the s*&^ out of my knee and the release points targeting it. Acupuncture has helped relieve pain in two running-related situations in the past year and I really recommend it. I’m also very lucky with my acupuncturist because she has a strong athletic background. She had major reconstructive surgery on her knee after playing soccer in college – and eventually found that acupuncture helped her heal. So, knowing that I was seeing somewhat of a “knee specialist” made me feel comfortable. It’s also relieving to have someone say to you “I trust you as an athlete & I think athletes should continue to do what is normal for them.” She encouraged me to push through discomfort (to a point, of course) and I’m glad I listened to her. I never let the discomfort go beyond a 5 out of 10.  I also started wearing a patellar tendon band around my knee to take some of the pressure off the joint while running (surprisingly, also recommended by Kelly, my acupuncturist). It worked wonders, but I was still really cautious doing scheduled workouts. I was in a MUCH better mood this week after doing a pseudo speed workout, a 4 mile tempo, and a FAST finish 18-miler on Sunday. I felt so good on my long run that I actually considered squeezing in another 20 (since I had only done 1 in the cycle so far). I decided not to push my chances and be happy with a really solid 18 with a fast finish: 7:26, 7:26, 7:26, 7:15, 7:22, & 7:06. — No one was more surprised than me at those split times! I think my plan of running every other day early in the week and giving my knee plenty of rest worked, judging by how great I felt that weekend.

:sigh.of.freaking.relief:

2014-10-05 14.27.58

Long run dessert, disguised as fuel.

Week 9: 5 runs, 2 full rest days, & 59 miles. 

PEAK WEEK! My knee was ready to GO just in time for peak week, thank goodness. I didn’t wake with any pain and I felt like I was depending a little less on the patellar knee band on each consecutive run. No knee discomfort this week.

Monday: Easy 6

Tuesday: 12 x 600 – 11 mi total

Wednesday: Easy hour, 7.66 mi

Thursday: 8 mi steady state – 12 mi total

Friday: REST

Saturday: 22 miles! 7:50 average, followed by an ice bath + Chi Marathon expo with Manny.

2014-10-11 11.06.39-1

Sunday: “REST” — Today was more like active recovery because I was spectating the Chicago Marathon like crazy all morning. I’m pretty sure my heart rate was high for several hours between anxiously tracking friends, getting to three different spots on the course, and blowing that darn vuvuzela. It was such a fun day!

All I can say is that this cycle has been quite the ride. Let’s recap, shall we?!

I fell with 100% of my weight straight down on my knee cap in Week ONE (ridiculous) of 16. I was less than a mile from home when it happened. I blame: 1) spacing out for 5 seconds and 2) massive Chicago potholes and treacherous sidewalks for the fall. Cue panic and heartbreak and worry. Followed by clear MRI (no connective tissue damage), diagnosis of prepatellar bursitis, and 2 weeks of prescribed time off. Inflammation went down with rest, ice, and ibuprofen but not sufficiently to run pain-free and still put in a good training cycle. The sports doc approved a cortisone shot, followed by another week total rest from running (3 weeks total). I became good friends with the spin bike — and was so relieved that I could still get closer to a runner’s high.

The return to running after 3 weeks off was pretty much glorious, but difficult and clunky and weird. I didn’t have any knee pain but continued to ice my knee cap nightly. I wasn’t committing to any solid tempos or speedwork in the beginning. I ran short tempo surges and slowly built up to steady states and short tempo runs. As with any injury, I still worried that my knee wasn’t 100% — even if it felt fine on workouts and long runs. I’m not surprised that I had some minor tendonitis after 6 weeks of pain-free running, considering how hard I fell on my knee, but I am surprised how quickly I seem to have recovered from it. Since last fall, I think I’ve become even more sensitive to small aches and pains – because preventing those aches and pains from becoming big, nasty ones is really important (and can be the deciding factor between running the race or NOT running it.)

MonumentalTrainingEscapades

After 9 short weeks of training, it’s already time to taper. [read: holy crap] I think I did the best I could in a very short amount of time, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not freaking out about running 26.2. I’ve been reminding myself that I have a really solid YEAR of running in my legs and, even if Boston didn’t demonstrate my hard work, I still have another chance to enjoy racing 26.2 this year. I don’t normally run longer than 20 miles in training, but this cycle was anything but normal. My long runs were: 13, 15, 15, 18, 20, 15, 13, 18, and 22 miles. Just knowing that I have the ability to run 22 miles & only be slightly fatigued the next day makes me feel like I’m ready. It’s less than ideal, but I made progress in a short amount of time. Not to mention, life has has been absolutely insane this cycle. Between a lot of work travel, big projects, moving, & getting The Man to the start line of his first 26.2, I’m just proud of myself for making it out alive. We’ll see how it works out in a few short weeks!

Bring on the taper crazies.

-J

Monumental Marathon: Training Week 6 of 12

Week6

Ahhhh, it felt so good to be home this week. I felt like I could finally focus on catching up on sleep and make the apartment feel more like a home as opposed to a random place where I’ve slept a few nights this month. I unpacked my office (finally) on Monday and working in my new space each day this past week was refreshing. The apartment is flooded with light in the morning – it makes waking up with my cup of coffee that much easier. :)

Because I was less stressed about the new place, I think I was also less stressed about training. The added relief of running my first 20 miler last weekend made me feel like I could really focus on quality workouts. Annnnd the PERFECT weather in Chicago lately was pretty nice too.

The glaring hole in my training lately has been a lack of both core AND strength work. This is a huge red flag to me because this is when I usually tend to break down. I’m committing to both this week and hope to avoid the DOMS waddle as much as I can. On the other hand, I have been foam rolling every day and stretching more than I have in recently weeks.

Monday: [Easy 8.1 mi, 7:45 avg] 

Legs had some pep and ‘pop’ (in a good way) today. It was a grey, gloomy day but a perfect one for an easy run. After about two weeks of running in hot & humid D.C., a cool lakefront felt like a big treat (and contributed to a relatively speedy easy run). It’s amazing what kind of clothing people think they should be wearing when it’s 60 degrees outside – shirtless dude in shorts was followed by a woman with ear warmers, two long sleeve shirts, and leggings on. IT’S NOT WINTER, PEOPLE! But I guess, you’re prepared?

Tuesday: [Speed: 10.07 mi, 4 x 1 mi] 

More progress! I take it as a good sign that I actually had FUN during this workout. My goal was to run the mile repeats at 6:15-6:30, so between target 5k and 10k pace. I think I’ve done 5 x 1 mi at 6:25 average before but that was probably a year ago. (And I knew that 6:15 per mile would have been pretty much ridiculous, so I settled on anything between 6:20-6:30.) I’m really happy with how this went and it was the perfect evening for a workout on the lakefront.

Splits: 6:29, 6:12 (poop break = mid-mile rest = speedy split), 6:19, 6:23 – 3 min recovery (45 min walk, remaining jog)

2.57 up, 2.2 down

Wednesday: [Easy 10, 7:54 avg] 

10 easy on the lakefront tonight. I felt like I had a ‘workout hangover’ this morning after the previous night’s speedwork so I didn’t run in the morning as planned. Longish work day and some relaxing at home before heading out around 6:30 pm, which is really late for me. It’s definitely getting darker earlier these days. Hurumph. It was so dark by the time I finished that I ran down the middle of my quiet street to avoid cracks in the sidewalk. I’m clearly learning since the bursitis fall, people! (This was myirst run in the Saucony Cortana – really like them, probably because they just feel like a heavier, more supportive Kinvara.)

Thursday: [10 mi, 7:17 avg with 3 x 10 min @ HMP-ish]

I guess this went well? I dunno, wasn’t really feeling it. Intervals were all on pace, but I just didn’t feel energetic today. 4 consecutive day of running and almost all 10+ miles, so being tired made sense. I was monitoring minor knee pain and iced it after the workout. Ran 2.5 to the lake, 3 x 10 mi at HMP-ish with 3 min jog recovery, and 1.9 home. Splits: 6:44, 6:41, 6:38. I had to give myself a big pep talk on the first one just to get through the headwind going north. Woof. Tailwind was appreciated on the last one!

Friday: OFF 

Much-appreciated rest day!!! My mom drove up this afternoon before seeing family in the suburbs on Saturday. We got mani-pedis and went out to an Italian restaurant for dinner together. It was a nice, relaxing evening. :)

Saturday: [15 mi, 7:41 avg]

Beautiful and relatively cool morning out on the lakefront this morning. Manuel A C. had his 20 miler and he absolutely crushed it with a solid negative split. He sauntered into Starbucks where we planned to meet like he was just out for a stroll. My 15 went well, although I was still monitoring some minor knee pain. It originally started on the inside of my right knee but later in the run it shifted to the outside and felt like IT band tightness. It didn’t get worse really, just noticed it off and on. The planned rest day Friday helped and Sunday is another rest day. Not too worried about it but it’s a little discouraging to feel these little pains pop up. I took an ice bath after the long run and iced my knee several times on both Saturday and Sunday. I felt really good at the end of the run, surprisingly. The last two miles were a fast finish: 6:58 & 6:52. I basically spent the rest of the day on the couch watching movies (post- long run insomnia yo!) , drinking beer, and eating pizza. First lazy Saturday in a long time!

2014-09-20 14.34.17-1

I stopped in Fleet Feet to buy a #RunChi t-shirt finally! And then I sheepishly tucked two magazines into my shopping bag. File this under: “I normally don’t look like this.” See also: “That will never happen again!”

Sunday: OFF

Complete rest day. Ahhhh. This felt heavenly. I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30 on Saturday (watching The Lorax, no less) and, after dragging myself to bed, woke up at 10 AM. I haven’t slept that long straight through in a long time and I desperately needed it. I felt like I was cracked out on Saturday, but a brand new refreshed person on Sunday morning. 12 hours sleep + donuts ‘n coffee + brunch with the CT and Corey + football & beer with friends = perfect lil’ Sunday.

Because this is such a condensed training cycle, I know my legs are taking more of a beating that they normally would in a longer cycle. I’m really taking it day by day so that I don’t do something stupid and blow up. I’ve had a bit of deja vu lately because this exact week last year was when my left adductor started to cause big problems and resulted in me not running the Grand Rapids marathon. Thanks to TimeHop, I relived the “big breakdown” through tweets of the past. (I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.) I’m doing my best to put my head down and put in the work so that I can have a great race this fall!

-J

15 Long Distance Recovery Methods (And What They Actually Look Like in Real Life)

15 Long Distance Recovery Methods and What They Actually Look Like in Real Life

We all know that recovery is important. You have to stress, recover, and repeat to get fit & fast during a training cycle. But I always feel like people talk about recovery as if it’s some kind of sophisticated act of willing your muscles to feel relatively human again. When, in reality, it’s painful, not all that pretty, and usually involves some kind of teeth-baring agony if you’re really working hard. So, I’ve listed several fancy (and not so fancy) recovery methods and their literal “holy shit why does that hurt so much” translations for the long distance runner.

  1. Compression socks –> because squeezing both your muscles and your fat into socks that are 3-4x smaller than they should be feels really, really good (and we don’t know why but it kind of makes us feel badass)
  2. Foam rollin’ –> because why not roll around on the floor like a sloth for entirely way too long just because it hurts?
  3. Roll recovery –> basically, spring-loaded roller blade wheels with handles that inflict an inordinate amount of pain on your tender muscles. AKA meat/muscle tenderizer (and you’re too lazy and/or tired to roll around on the floor anyway)
  4. Legs up the wall –> Reverse that blood flow! And because that awkward bum-shaking shimmy that you do to get closer to said wall is actually hilarious after a 20 miler.
  5. Chocolate –> antioxidants, yo. (And because some smartass person once said: “Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. So, basically chocolate is a vegetable” …and I believe them 173.9%.)
  6. Beer –> Liquid carb-loading, because you probably already ate a bowl of pasta or an entire pizza today. Plus, it’s practically the nectar of the gods.
  7. Ice bath –> Because going to the edge of frostbite and back is worth it, damn it! If you can’t feel your crotch, you’re doing it right.
  8. Recovery boots –> To reach the point at which you discover that, in fact, your sciatic nerve does exist! And shit, you probably could take a blood pressure test from your buttocks. Also, because you’ve always wondered what it would be like to have elephantiasis of the legs.
  9. Active Release Technique (ART) –> Because you know you have “soft tissue” in there …. somewhere.
  10. Dry needling and/or acupuncture –> Your legs already hurt so what kind of damage could a bajillion tiny little needles do anyway?! Also, you do this because you get some sort of sick satisfaction of seeing your nerves pulsate and you’re really not sure why.
  11. Deep tissue massage –> Because you’re one badass chick/dude and a ‘relaxation’ massage with aromatherapy just won’t do. You value a massage therapist like a normal person values his/her best friend foreverrrrr.
  12. Trigger Point Massage Ball –> You seriously never thought you’d ever willingly sit on top of a lacrosse ball or tennis ball and call it ‘magic’. You buy the fancy ball anyway.
  13. The Stick –> You might as well use your grandmother’s old wooden rolling pin and call it a day. see also: meet tenderizer slash foam roller slash Roll Recovery.
  14. Your Couch –> Your most prized possession: you know, before, during, or after you commit to #1-13. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, really. See alternate: the floor, because it’s never felt so comfortable as it does after a 20 miler in 90 degrees.
  15. Chiropractic adjustment –> You’re a sick individual and you love hearing that snap, crackle, and pop. And you’re supposedly ‘aligned’ because of it.

Your ability to recover quickly is directly correlated to your willingness to commit to 1 or 15 of these methods, which usually results in looking like some type of fool to the general population. But you never said you were normal anyway.

What’s your favorite recovery method? And what kind of love/hate relationship do you have with it?

- J

Monumental Marathon: Training Week 5 of 12

Week5

Week 5: the week I started to feel my legs coming back around.

This week wasn’t nearly as stressful as weeks 3 or 4 but I was still traveling for work and then extended my stay in DC through the weekend to spend time with my lovely sisters. I flew out Monday and flew home on Sunday so I was in full “live out of your suitcase” mode — which, is probably a good thing because whatever wasn’t in my suitcase was still packed away in boxes in the new apartment.

On Sunday, I realized I had only been home for 3 days this entire month — but I genuinely enjoyed training in DC! I felt like I had quality workouts and my legs didn’t struggle through workouts kicking and screaming (well, maybe a little whining here and there).

Monday: OFF 

I had a run planned today but I was exhausted and had to tidy up a few things before flying out that afternoon. A rest day after 13 mi at GMP (and 18 mi total) the day before was probably wise anyway. Worked out for the best.

Tuesday: [9.24 mi total: 10 x 600 workout] 

This was the BEST workout I’ve had probably since before Boston. I haven’t really felt like myself lately – but that’s probably because I only have 4-5 weeks of consistent running logged since the bursitis healed. Consistency is beginning to pay off.

I’m sure the cooler temps in DC had something to do with it – it was a beautiful morning for a workout. I ran through the mall to Potomac Park and ran around Hains Point. I wish I had done my research the week before because I would have done workouts in the same place. It’s flat, fairly shaded, and a large portion of it is actually closed to vehicles. I saw plenty of cyclists whiz by and some speedy runners. I think it was also a bit cooler right on the water. This was my first 600m repeat workout ever – it’s interesting because my body knows how to run 400m, but extending it 200m was challenging. The goal was between 6:10-6:20 pace with 1:30 recovery jog between (30 sec walk, 1 min jog)

Splits: 2:16, 2:18, 2:17, 2:17, 2:20, 2:20, 2:21, 2:12 (woah nelly), 2:16, 2:22.

2014-09-09 07.59.12-1

Confidence boost!

Wednesday: [Easy 5 with client + Easy 5 solo]

AM 5 easy, 8:24 avg: Took a client for a run around the tidal basin and down the national mall this morning. Another beautiful rave run in DC! Legs were tired yesterday and a bit fatigued this morning but the shakeout helped.

2014-09-10 07.00.12

View of the tidal basin, with Washington Monument to the left

PM 5 easy, 7:37 avg: Another easy 5 after a long day of work. Stopped at the Jefferson Memorial and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just to people watch. Observation: there were groups or pairs of people that were obviously traveling together, yet they all chose to take selfies of themselves with each monument. I wanted to turn and yell “why don’t you just take each others’ picture?!”

Thursday: [9 miles, 7:40 avg – 6 mi steady state]

I slept through my workout this morning and had a full day of work. I was really looking forward to a solid 10-12 miles to start the day. Storms were expected later this afternoon so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run at all. Luckily, my sister was planning on going to her gym today anyway and had a guest pass I could use. We had dinner plans so I shortened the steady state from 8 to 6 miles. It was stupid hot and humid in the gym and I never really found a rhythm. It’s been awhile since I ran on a treadmill in general so I’m assuming that’s why I felt a little crazed. Still, happy to be able to get in a short workout. 2 up, 6 at 7:13-7:19, 1 down.

Friday: [Recovery 4.13, 7:47 avg]

Recovery 4 from my sister’s apartment mid-morning. Ran down Capitol Hill and then back up it! A homeless dude chirped “4 min miles, 4 min miles,…” as I jogged by.

2014-09-12 12.22.36-1

Saturday: [20 mi LSD, 8:24 avg]

First 20 done! Fueled by pizza, chocolate brownies and ice cream. My sisters and I all had long runs to do this morning. Lindsey T. was a wonderful tour guide for the first 6 miles. We ran from her apartment down Capitol Hill to the mall, then over the bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail, where we split off to finish our own distances. I ran past DCA and then back to the Mall before doing a loop at Hains Point. I really started to miss frequent water fountains between miles 4.5 and 13.5. It wasn’t terribly hot or humid (and there was plenty of cloud cover) but I stopped for several minutes at mile 13-14 just to make sure to get enough water and not bonk. The first 6 mi were 10 min/mi just chatting with my sisters and the last 14 were 7:30-7:50. The last time all three of us ran together was probably middle school. We talked the entire time and I couldn’t believe that we’d already run 6 miles by the time we had to split off.

2014-09-13 11.19.18

Loved this route!

2014-09-13 11.26.34

3 sisters, 42 collective running miles before 11 AM.

20 miles followed by a beer festival. It’s practically routine now: run 20 and drink beer for 4 hrs. Related: if you ever thought Korean BBQ tacos taste yummy, try running 20 miles beforehand. I practically went weak at the knees.

Sunday: OFF – back to Chi 

I’m really happy with how this week’s training went. I may not be hitting paces or feeling quite as strong as I have in past cycles, but I know my legs and motivation are starting to come around. I feel like after being 157% stressed last week, that this week was a big ‘refresh button’. 7 weeks to go!

- J