Monday, October 29, 2018

30 things I learned in 30 days off running

Due to an injury, I was unable to run from September 30 through October 25.  Since then I have been running on the AlterG treadmill as possible (not every day).  I've had 30 days completely off running at this point, which has been quite rough especially when you consider that during the 15 months prior to this I'd only taken 5 days off, all right after the Houston Marathon (also during our worst snow/ice weather of that winter!).
It is hard to take a photo on the AlterG!

I am sure I learned much more than 30 things, but...
  1. 30 days is a long time when days pass slower when you're unable to run.
  2. Every runner understands how it feels to be an injured runner, but you lose touch with the feeling to some degree when you haven't been injured for awhile.
  3. Not having a timeline is hard (the advantage of bone injuries over muscle and tendon injuries is a more definitive timeline).
  4. My identity is tied to being a runner so much that this occurrence made me very concerned with how I will cope if/when the time comes that I cannot run anymore.  I truly don't feel like myself.
  5. Running is truly a lifestyle, and it's my lifestyle.
  6. I eat healthier when I'm running than when I'm not.  This has always been the case and I've typically cited a slump in my mood as my reason for reaching for many more sweet treats and desserts, but this time I realized it's also because I'm not thinking about how my fueling will effect my next run.  When training hard, I don't want to screw up a run by eating crap, but I really don't care how what I eat effects my next aquajogging session!  The same goes for recovery between workouts; I care a lot when I'm running but I don't care when I'm not.  I also realized I see a lot more food advertisements when I'm cross-training since I watch TV while on the bike and elliptical, which also may tie into this.
  7. I'm in a better mood when I'm running than when I'm not (sorry everyone who was around me for the past 30 days - although I did better this round than in the past).
  8. Confidence nose-dives quickly!  What a mind trip to go from PR-form to unable to run even 100 m., to see people you used to race with competing and feel that you will never keep up with them again, to see your fitness slipping away...
  9. Goals are hard to let go of, and it's very easy to vacillate back and forth between "I'm going to get healthy and go get it" and "I'm never going to run anything worthwhile ever again".
  10. Graston can be brutal, but hurts so good and has helped my injury a great deal.
  11. I need sunlight in my life (once I could walk pain-free, I went on walks just to be outside...also, walking is slow).
  12. Perspective rapidly changes; I went very quickly from wanting to hit 80+ quality miles a week to simply wanting to run an easy 3 miler.
  13. With one workout obsession gone, I take up others (e.g., deciding I need to bike a certain number of miles, PR on my bike pace, hit a certain weekly cross-training duration, etc.).
  14. Cross-training fatigue is different than running fatigue.  My legs and body felt very different with the lack of pounding.  I could workout for 2+ hours a day with interval efforts and still feel like I didn't do much.  Perhaps I'm not as good at pushing myself with cross-training, but even running very easy for 2 hours I'd feel like I'd exerted myself.
  15. My spin bike time re-sets after 99:59.
  16. Intervals make cross-training workouts pass much faster.
  17. I still can't flip turn in the pool.
  18. I can circle swim.
  19. Swimmers think I'm crazy for swimming for 60-90 minutes non-stop.
  20. I swim like a runner.  I have also been told I bike like a runner, although not this round because I did my bike workouts on my spin bike at home (I am fair weather/daylight only road cyclist).
  21. I can aquajog for 2.5 hours straight.
  22. I will get up at 4:30 a.m. to cross-train (I have previously said I won't get up at 4:30 a.m. to do anything besides run, but I stand corrected).
  23. There will always be other races and seasons, but it is also okay to mourn for those that you've lost.  This wasn't my plan or how it was "supposed" to go, but it's what happened.
  24. Being injured is lonely.  Running is my biggest social time!
  25. Scrolling Strava sucks when you can't run.  Sorry for not giving kudos, friends.
  26. The runner mentality never leaves us; I may not be able to run a mile right now, but you know I have over 10 races on my mind for 2019.
  27. We often ask "Why did this happen?" about bad things that happen to us, but we don't ask it about all of the blessings we have:  Why did I have so many great runs and races?  Why do I have an amazing family?  Why do I have a job that provides?  Why do I have so much more than I need every single day?  You get the picture!  Who am I to complain when so many people are facing harder issues?
  28. With any rough patch in life, it's important to remember that it will pass...the only way over it is through it.
  29. Knowing that God has a greater plan doesn't always make hard times easier, but it always makes them do-able. 
  30. 30 days passes before you know it.  It will likely be over 30 more before I'm "really" training again, but the thing about time is that is always keeps passing.
"Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible." - Luke 1:37
You can find me on here for awhile
Sarah Hall has a similar injury to mine...this also made
me wonder if attempting full butt-nearly-to-the-ground
pistol squats (holding onto chairs on both sides)
contributed to my injury

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The "U" Words

Upset, unhappy, unwell, unsettled, uncomfortable, uncertain, unsure.

There are many words that begin with U that describe how I feel about my current injury.  In general, I don't think runners deal well with not running (I sure don't!), and forced time off is far worse than a planned recovery period.  I struggle with not having a definitive timeline for my return to running.  I will start back when my peroneal muscle is healed, however soon or later that occurs.
My mom has an app that finds photos that go with
specific verses, & it is on point!
Initially, at Indy I was sure the injury was season ending.  However, in the 3-4 days right after race, I had dramatic improvements each day, progressing from being unable to walk without holding onto something/someone to being able to walk normally with only slight tightness.  Prior to Indy, my calf bothered me just as much while walking as it did while running, so once I could walk normally I was quite hopeful.  I also had it looked at twice that week, along with Graston and ART treatments, and my chiropractor (who is also my coach) said it was much better on Thursday 10/4 than it had been on Monday 10/1.

I made an appointment to run on the AlterG treadmill on Monday 10/8, sure that I would be able to run on it at a reduced percentage of body weight.  I thought I'd possibly run on it all week, or maybe even alternate runs outside with runs on the AlterG.  I calculated how far I could run during my appointment and even took an hour of vacation from work so I could go in late, since the AlterG isn't open until 6:30 a.m.  I knew I was hard up when I was super excited to run on a treadmill!

When I began running on the AlterG, I had a very abrupt rude awakening.  It was extremely painful.  I adjusted the body weight down farther and farther, hoping for relief, but it hurt just as much at 10% as it had at 80%.  I thought maybe it would loosen up so tried to run for a bit, but pulled the plug at 1 mile.

That was when I truly knew my season was over.

I know I still have time before CIM, and I could probably still run it; but I was never going just to finish another marathon.  I can't miss as much training as I'm going to need to and have a chance to PR, so it is better for me to take all of the time I need to heal and to then select a different marathon based on when I'm able to resume training.  That is also probably smarter long-term, marathon time goals aside, because I'll truly be able to get this muscle back to 100% without rushing back into training.  I want to run a 2:45 badly, but I want to run for the rest of my life a million times more.

There have certainly been tears and stages of grief, and I sure don't deal with work and life stress as well when I'm not running!  But I've learned lessons from this already, and I don't regret the training that I put in one bit.  I loved the day-to-day process, and I would train even if I never raced.  I did things in training I never thought I could do.

I did most things right.  I followed my training schedule well, I ran consistent mileage week after week - you're more likely to get injured when you're inconsistent with your mileage or increasing mileage, and I didn't do either - I mostly sat at similar mileage week after week.  I stretched and foam rolled daily, often twice.  I strength trained twice a week.  I ate nutrient-dense foods and took care of my body the best I could.

My best wasn't enough, and I realize that I made some mistakes (more about that here).  In particular, I need to be more careful about running when I'm sick, and I need to listen to my gut instinct about taking days off.  If I truly don't want to run for a few days in a row or get nervous about runs that should be insignificant, that is a major indicator that I need to back off before an injury occurs or worsens.  I also need to work on sleeping more, but I have a very difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep, which oddly enough gets worse the more active I am (I also don't want to take sleep meds, although I use Melatonin a few times a month).

Perhaps I should not have run the mileage I was running, but I don't regret taking that risk either.  I'm not going to OTQ without running higher mileage than I've done before.  I felt so strong during my build, and I felt like I was handling the mileage extremely well, until suddenly one muscle wasn't.  I am still proud I ran what I did; for 8 weeks (July 30 to September 3) I averaged 78.3 miles per week.  This paid off with a big 10K PR and will help me in my next marathon build.

I'm not sure what's next, but I'll select another marathon once I'm back on the road.  I am sad that CIM 2018 isn't in the cards, because I truly thought it was my best chance for the 2:45, but I suppose CIM will be there in 2019 too!

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

I am trying to think of positive U words, which is a little harder...  Uplift,  unconditional, ultimate, unstoppable... (although maybe unfit - as in, lost fitness - too!).

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The "I" Word

At least the tape looks fun!
If you read my Indy Women's Half race report or my September monthly recap, you know I'm injured.  I used to consider myself a highly injury-prone runner, but I have been very healthy since my last injury (which was relatively minor) in January 2016.  I've had niggles that I've been able to address with foam rolling and strengthening, or at most an ART session, but overall my body has done really well, especially considering I've been running by far the highest mileage I've ever done.  The longer the injury-free streak, the easier it becomes to start feeling immune to injuries, and I admit I was there, especially because I haven't had any injuries while training with my current coach. 

My current issue is a peroneal muscle strain.  The pernoeus is two muscles that run alongside the outside of the calf and act as stabilizers.  Strains in them for runners are usually caused by overuse.
It started at the end of August with a hamstring niggle.  When I'm building up mileage, I sometimes get a little niggle in my right hamstring, which I've been able to resolve without too much effort each time it has occurred (this was the third time, and I've never needed even a day off for it).  August was the highest mileage month of my life, and I had the little issue with my hamstring that I was able to train and race through from the end of August to the beginning of September.  While I was addressing that, I felt a little twinge in my left calf, and chalked it up to all being part of the chain.  My hamstring was 100% back to normal by mid-September, but the calf twinge hung on.  It was very minor and most of the time I didn't feel it, so I figured I'd up my eccentric calf raises and foam rolling and it would be just fine.  I am super in tune to my body and notice anytime anything doesn't feel perfect, but have also learned that most of those tiny things go away within a few days with no training adjustments.

The week of September 17, my calf became somewhat more bothersome, but it would always loosen up after I'd run a few blocks or at most a mile.  I became more aware of it, and the first time I became pretty concerned about it was after my long run that week.  It felt fine during the run but afterward was not happy.  It was also angry after I spent all day on my feet that Saturday.

The week of September 24 (the week leading up to the Indy half), my calf continued to bother me and I didn't enjoy my runs because I was worried about it.  Race week went like this:
  • Monday - I had ART on it, because I wanted to be extra proactive since it was race week, and because I planned to jump right back into training post-race.  
  • Tuesday - It slowed me down during a run for the first time.  I also wasn't feeling the best, and after I completed my track workout on Tuesday morning, a full-blown stomach bug hit me and I was unable to keep much nutrition or hydration in that day.  The worst symptoms of that abated within less than 12 hours, but left me depleted.
  • Wednesday - I felt weak and hadn't recovered from Tuesday's workout, but I ran anyway because I didn't want to miss the mileage, and because it was a much shorter than usual Wednesday run at 7 miles.  This was the first run my calf hurt throughout and at the end, but it was still minor and mainly just tight feeling.
  • Thursday - This was the second run it hurt throughout and at the end, but I hoped that the reduced volume of my 3 day taper would resolve it.  It also didn't seem any worse when I ran strides than when I was running easy.  I went in for ART again and my coach also taped it up and told me he didn't think I'd have any issues racing with it since it is a stabilizer and not a major muscle.
  • Friday - I only ran 3 miles plus strides, but it felt about the same or slightly better.  I wore compression socks and elevated it most of the ride to Indy, hoping for the best.
  • Saturday - You can read about that here, as well as more about my reasoning for refusing to DNS or DNF, but after this race running on it (or even walking) was no longer an option.
Looking back, I wish I'd have stopped running after Tuesday's workout and illness.  Maybe if I'd have taken days off then it wouldn't have worsened.  Clearly I shouldn't have raced either, but I think being unable to recover from Tuesday's effort (due to lack of nutrition and lack of sleep when I was uncomfortable and sick) really hurt it.  It felt markedly worse on Wednesday than it had before then.  Historically, I've had other injuries that came up following running while sick.  However, I pretty much always run when I'm sick (not that I'd advise this!) and 95% of the time I'm fine.

I've also read that most injuries come 2-3 weeks after training errors, and the main error I see looking back was not sleeping enough.  Training as much as I do while being a full-time working mother, I never sleep enough, but the week I traveled to and raced two 10Ks early September I missed a lot of rest.  I know I am pushing the envelope with the mileage I'm running, but I also believe I need it to have a chance at accomplishing my goals.  I think I can handle the mileage in itself, but when you combine the mileage with working 45-50 hours a week, big events every weekend, lack of sleep, family life, etc. it is a lot.

Initially I was in so much pain that I was convinced my season was over.  However, each day I've made improvements, beginning even the day after the race, which was a pleasant surprise - with how bad it felt on Saturday, I fully expected to be unable to get out of bed on Sunday, and was highly concerned about whether or not I'd be able to get around at work the next week.

Right now, I am still on the road to CIM, so I have cross-trained too much a lot this week, at minimum trying to match what I'd be running each day.  Starting with 90 minute workouts on the bike and in the pool has been interesting, since I hadn't done either for almost 3 years!  I am also working on my glute medius weakness, which may have contributed to this (even though I was doing diagonal sits and clamshells with a band like crazy before this occurred!).  I am not sure I will be able to run CIM, because I'm not going just to finish a marathon -- but I'm not sure I won't at this point, so I am working to maintain fitness with abandon.  Although I miss running like crazy, it's been nice to have a clear direction on whether or not I should run; the week before the race I felt very unsure about what to do every single day and it caused a lot of stress and anxiety.

[Follow up post about my exit from the road to CIM is here].

I'm by far the most at peace I've ever been with a running injury.  I've always have very little stress about things that cause many people much stress (e.g., finances, world news, job interviews, etc.) because I trust God so much, but this is actually the first time I've been able to fully and completely feel that ways about time off running.  I trust that it will all go as it should, whatever way that is, and I'll do the best I can along the way.  That doesn't mean there haven't been some serious lows this week or that I haven't been pretty moody at times, but I know I'll come out the other side.
I have amazing cross-training friends Monday
with bike shorts edition
I have amazing cross-training friends Friday
I-still-own-a-lap-suit edition

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Indy Women’s Half: You don’t know, until you know

Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether to toe the line or DNS. It can be even harder to know when a DNF would be the best call. I now know I should have made the first choice about the Indy Women’s Half Marathon, but if I had to start the race again I would have made the second choice, pride and other considerations aside. But I’m getting ahead of myself...
Expo fun
After I PRed at the Plaza 10K at the beginning of the month, I felt really good about trying for a half PR in Indy. Typically I don’t have to slow down much from a 10K to a half; last year my differential between the 2017 Plaza 10K and the 2017 Indy Women’s half was 8 seconds/mile. To hit my big goal time of sub-1:20 at Indy, I could slow down about 14 seconds/mile from what I ran at this year's Plaza. I felt really good about going for that, and thought if the weather was good and I could get in a fast pack that 1:18:59 would be realistic.

Leading up to the race, I felt a niggle in my calf (full details about this here). Initially it was too tiny to even worry about, and loosened up after a few blocks or at most a mile into my runs, but 6 days before the race it started getting worse and I started worrying. I did not enjoy my runs like usual during race week, because I was worried that my body was betraying me. I also had a short but intense stomach bug on Tuesday during race week that certainly didn’t do my recovery or body as a whole any favors. I had ART for my calf twice during race week, hoping for relief.

I really vacillated on whether or not I should start the race, and had pretty much backed out, but the lightened up mileage of race week had me feeling like a race horse and I became optimistic that I could race and then take a few days off afterward to address the issue. On Thursday morning I told my parents my decision to race, since they were traveling to my home that day to leave for Indy with me on Friday morning. When I went in for ART on Thursday evening my coach told me he did not think racing on it would make it worse or that it would jeopardize CIM in any way, so I felt validated in my decision. He didn’t even think I’d need time off afterward as I expressed. He said it was a minor strain to my peroneus longus, a stabilizing muscle on the outside of the calf. I also rationalized it away by deciding that if this turned into a season-ending injury, I would be happy that I went to Indy to go for a PR because I might never get to my current fitness level again. Worst case scenario, I wanted a last hurrah.

Throughout this time, my instincts were screaming at me: “Don’t do it! This is a bad idea!” I wouldn’t listen; I told myself I would power through the pain, mind over matter. I was honored to be featured as one of the Five Women to Watch in the race, but this honor also greatly contributed to my stubbornness about a DNS. I was already printed in the race program; what a loser I would be for pulling out last-minute. The weather forecast was also perfect for racing, at 50* and light wind (bad weather would have made pulling out much easier).
The photo of me was NOT the one I submitted to be
published, & IS the worst photo of me from the
2017 event...not sure what happened there, but it
upset me the day before the race
Starting photo from 2017 - can you find me?
Posing with bib #3
My sweet mom
My sweet dad
Race morning my calf hurt on my warm up, but I was used to the feeling from the week before. It wasn’t terrible and I figured I’d just power through. Prior to this race, I'd never really tried to race with an injury so didn't know the reality of your body simply not allowing it to happen, no matter what your mind says. As the race started, adrenaline took over, and I told myself, “See, you’ll be fine.” I could tell I was running tentatively but thought maybe it would warm up more and I could speed up then; I wanted to go out conservatively and negative split anyhow. I felt like I was in my own little world, just me and my calf, not like I was in a race; although I knew by mile 3 I’d moved up to 5th place in the all women's field. I looked at my first 3 splits and then stopped checking them, disheartened, because my leg wasn't working right.
Trying to stay optimistic pre-race
By mile 4 I was limping. I couldn’t focus on racing or the women ahead of me; all I could think about was my leg. I tried changing my stride slightly, varied my foot-strike, anything for some relief, but nothing helped. I went back and forth between telling myself “this was a terrible idea” and “you’re going to be just fine, it’s just getting warmed up, just don't think about it.” My body was fine otherwise; I wasn't putting out a race effort, which was discouraging. I kept telling myself to toughen up; to just power through. Mind over matter. Make that leg work; force it to feel normal.

I made it through the halfway turn around in a solid 5th place. I knew by that point that my sought after PR was for sure out the window, but I hoped I could stay in the top 5. By mile 7 I was becoming increasingly concerned about my calf, and by mile 8 I was truly dragging my left leg along. My body kept saying, “just stop” but my mind wouldn’t listen. I thought about my seeded race ranking. I thought about my parents who’d traveled to watch me. I thought about how this could be my last run for awhile...what if this was my last race ever?!
By mile 10 I was truly worried my leg was going to give out with each step. My body begged me to stop, and my mind acquiesced that I would if I couldn’t hang on to a top 10 spot. I stumbled along, and a slight decline in mile 11 truly made my leg scream (had this course not been so flat I would certainly not have finished). At mile 12 I was still in 5th but I could tell someone was coming up on me. I knew I’d have no response when I was passed. She blew by me like I was standing still, and I figured several more were coming, but there was nothing I could do, and I was so close I knew I'd finish even if I crawled it in. Effort-wise I felt like I was out for an easy run, but my leg was shooting pain and wouldn’t move any faster. My positive splits told the story of my increasing discomfort.

I was so relieved to see the finish line ahead; I was going to make it in. It's funny how adrenaline carried me to the line but not a step farther. I had no idea what my time would be, but it didn’t matter at that point. I crossed in 1:24:18 and immediately broke into tears. If I’d just had an off day and run this time it would have been quite disappointing, but it wouldn’t have shaken me in my pursuit of a marathon PR; my recent 10Ks showed me my fitness was at an all-time high. I cried because at that moment I was certain my season was over. I got my last hurrah race but I couldn’t show my fitness in it. I was too stubborn to quit but not stubborn enough to over-ride my own body; I couldn’t force my leg to be okay.
Exactly how I felt photo 1
Exactly how I felt photo 2
Hindsight is 20/20, and I should have listened to my own body and head instead of what others told me. The whole week my gut told me no. I prayed about it and thought God told me no. I did it anyway. I was wrong. But I also didn’t know until I knew, and by then the damage was done.

Post-race I couldn't walk without holding onto someone or something. My cool down mileage wasn’t an option, and my dad ended up walking to the car and coming back to pick me up. To add injury to injury, my poor mom tripped and fell while trying to get from the start to a spot a few blocks away where we would later run by. She scraped and bruised her face, broke her glasses, and bruised up her knee and body. I was just sick about this happening to her; I felt like it was all my fault for not staying at home in Missouri like I clearly should have. Instead of having fun in Indy post-race, we headed home since we both couldn't really walk.

Most of the top 10, in no particular order
We both visited the med tent for ice!
I’m thankful I was able to finish, even though I shouldn’t have. I’m thankful I held on to 6th (video of the awards here; official results here). Happiness is based on happenings, but joy is based on Jesus. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very unhappy, but I am aiming to choose joy. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

Going from running 80 miles a week to 0 is a huge mind-trip, but I know that is what I have to do until I'm pain-free. I’m not going to do anything to risk permanent damage. As much as I want to run CIM 2018 in 2:44:59, I want to run for the rest of my life so much more. The good news is that I've had significant improvements every day post-race, and no longer fear that this is season-ending (plus I was able to go to work on Monday then walk across the Missouri State campus to teach on Tuesday, both of which I'd been quite concerned about!).

I didn't know I shouldn't have run until I, I know.
Post-race meal at Texas Roadhouse
Fitting rest stop on the drive to the race
2 days after the race while I was on the spin bike
my cat knocked my award on my workout room felt sadly symbolic

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Books in 2018 - Third Quarter

This continues my un-originally titled Books in 2018 Series.  The first quarter list can be seen here, and the second quarter list is here.

  • Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green.  Green is a great author, and she is really good at making you like and/or dislike certain characters at certain points in books.  Put her work on your reading list.
  • Falling by Jane Green.  A great read with some unexpected events.  Green's books seem to share some commonalities, including blended families, marital issues, addiction, adoption, 30-40-something main characters, betrayal, and forgiveness/resolution.
  • Sociable by Rebecca Harrington.  This book made me really happy that I was married by the time I got a smart phone, hah.  It was kind of anticlimactic but it was a quick read.
  • Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett.  I found this book in the adult fiction section of my library, but I think it would be more accurately categorized as young adult or adolescent fiction.  It was a good read and I'll pick up more from this author if I can find it!
  • Tempting Fate by Jane Green.  Continuing on my Jane Green kick!  I thought the ending on this one was unrealistic, but it was still a really good story.
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spear.  This was a book that Albani checked out from the library that I read because I'd finished all of the ones I checked out before we had a chance to return.  I could see why it was an award winner; have your 8-12 year old child read it.
  • The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy.  This one was full of surprises and an excellent read!  It kept me on the edge of my seat so to speak.
  • The Good Byline by Jill Orr.  Another one with several surprising twists and a lot of action.
  • Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley.  I loved part of this book and hated others.  I think if I could cut a lot of the middle and weirdness out it would have been much better.
  • And Then There Was Me by Sadeqa Johnson.  Loved the story, but couldn't love the ending.
  • The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck.  I will be reading more from this author!  I particularly liked how she weaved faith and Christ into the book without being overbearing about it.
  • Dune Road by Jane Green.  More continuing on my Jane Green kick!  Reading several by her close together illustrated to me that her books tend to have a lot in common, as I mentioned above.  This story had some unexpected twists and kept me very interested through the end.
  • This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison.  I couldn't put this one down; it was a good big picture whole life reflection with several twists.
  • Love Starts with Ellie by Rachel Hauck.  This had a lot in common with the other book I read by this author this month, and I would also recommend it, but maybe don't read the two books close together.
  • Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday.  This one was okay.  The only reason I continued reading it and finished it was because it was the last of several books I'd checked out together, and I had a stretch of time where I was too busy to get to the library to check out new books; if I'd had other options I wouldn't have read it because it didn't capture my attention.
  • But Not For Me by Mona Ingram.  This was good, but I feel like it could have been so much better, if that makes sense.
  • The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich.  I alternated periods of enjoying this one and struggling to get through it.  The good parts were enough to keep me hanging on, but I wouldn't read it again.
  • One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel.  The opposite of The Beet Queen, I flew through this one, although I did not like the ending.
  • The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein.  This was humorous and a quick read.
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slmani.  This was dark but a page-turner.
I think I got too busy in September to write book descriptions, haha!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Wake me up when September ends: September recap!

September 2018 in review

Total mileage for the month:  305.4  -- in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357
  • August 27-Sep. 2:  75.8
  • Sep. 3-9:  73.0
  • Sep. 10-16:  80.1
  • Sep. 17-23:  81.7
  • Sep. 24-30: 57.7 (planned cut-back week, but ended up being lower than the 70ish planned because I missed cool down miles on Sep. 29, then took Sep. 30 off due to a calf issue)
This month sure illustrated how running can give us major highs and significant lows, even within the span of 30 days!
Signaling low battery in sync with my
training partner Rebecca
  • Sep. 3 - Run for a Child 10K in 37:55 for 1st overall female.  I was thrilled to slip in under 38 and net a course PR after a conservative start and with less effort than I've put into this hilly, warm, humid race in past years.
  • Sep. 9 - Plaza 10K in 36:34 for a bright shiny new PR!  This race really couldn't have gone any better...well, unless the 5 women who beat me had instead slept in that day (but I was the fastest in age group 35-39)!  I was pretty much elated about this one for remainder of the month.
  • Sep. 22 - Gill Family Fall Festival 5K, although I ran this as a recovery run instead of a race I won overall person in 21:01 (see: tiny small town 5Ks).
  • Sep. 29 - Indy Women's Half Marathon in 1:24:19 for 6th overall and my worst decision of the month (turned a minor calf problem into a major issue).  I did not get to show my fitness in this race due to the calf injury (I believe I was in shape for 1:18:50-1:19:30), but my husband told me, "Now you know you can run a 1:24 on one leg", hah.
  • Sep. 5:  12.5 miles with 0.15 pick-ups at the beginning of the final 5 miles - 6:57 pace for all 12.5; pick-up paces of 5:33, 5:40, 5:47, 5:33, 6:07.  I almost turned around and ran the final push in the opposite direction so I could avoid the uphill and hit a faster pace, but then I figured I'd get more benefit from the hard uphill so I continued on but couldn't get it under 6:00 (grade-adjusted pace was 5:49 though, thank you Strava!).  This was just a tiny workout within a medium long run midweek, but I was really happy with the run as a whole because I distinctly remember running 12 miles two days after the Run for a Child 10K last year; I remember it because it was one of my worst runs of that season due to residual fatigue.  12 miles felt soooo long that day!  So before this one I was a little concerned that would happen again, but instead I felt good!  I ran 3.1 miles from my house to meet Rebecca, ran a 6 mile loop with her, then ran 3.4 miles (a different route) back home.  Anytime I do this it splits the run up mentally and makes it seem short.
  • Sep. 12:  6.2 mile 3', 2', 1' fartlek with recoveries equal to the next push, 3.1 warm up, 2.2 cool down.  My push paces were 5:44, 5:39, 5:34, 5:38, 5:28, 5:48, 5:42, 5:46, 5:24, 5:43.  I ran this with Ben, who was a college miler, and he told me that I recover like a long distance runner (7:10ish pace on those) and sent me out to run on the outside of the road on the loop while he got the inside (lane 8 vs. lane 1 basically), haha!
  • Sep. 18:  5 x 1 mile road repeats in 5:41, 5:50, 5:50, 5:53, 5:51 (5:49 average), 0.25 recoveries, 2.2 warm up, 2 cool down.  My goal pace range for this workout was 5:34-5:50, and I was feeling confident coming off the Plaza 10K and lined up to run with Ben, who always helps me run faster than I run alone.  Even though the workout was more repeats with half the recovery distance of my PR mile repeat workout, I decided beforehand that I was going to try to better that average -- possibly an unreasonable goal, but I was being stubborn and refusing to admit the difference between 0.25 vs. 0.5 recoveries and the effect of 1 more rep. The first repeat went just as I wanted, and felt hard but do-able.  Unfortunately Ben strained his calf about 0.75 in and pulled out of that repeat, then intelligently called it a day. Repeat 2 alone felt much harder even running slower, and I really had to fight in the final bit to get my pace down to 5:50.  I was a little discouraged, but told myself maybe I was just finding my rhythm and the rest would be better.  The rest were pretty much the same, fighting for the top of the pace range or not quite that.  I milked those 0.25 recoveries for all they were worth, running over 8:00 pace, and even walking for about 20 seconds each during the final 2.  I certainly stick by my hypothesis that I can run about 10 seconds/mile faster when I have someone to push me, and I think I could have stayed in the 5:40s if Ben had been able to run the whole workout with me, but I sure couldn't get back down to that gear by myself.  I was somewhat disappointed that I did not come anywhere near my best mile repeats, and that my average pace was "only" 10K race pace, but I am also trying to remind myself that I can't compare workouts run during 55 mile weeks (as was the case with my PR mile repeat workout) to workouts run during 80 mile weeks. It is also probably unfair to compare workouts run alone to workouts run with others.  It was 68*, dew point 68*, so also not as nice as my 10K PR weather.  I gave it my all out there under the circumstances!
  • Sep. 25:  10 x 400 m of regression - splits of 1:25, 1:25, 1:25, 1:26, 1:27, 1:28, 1:28, 1:28, 1:29, 1:30 (goal range was 1:21-1:24).  This was not my day!  I think it was just the perfect storm of several things that were not conducive to a good workout:  71* with a dew point of 71*, tiredness, GI issues/a minor stomach bug, and a calf niggle.  This wasn't the first time I couldn't hit my 10K pace on 400 m repeats and probably won't be the last time either, bahaha!  This was one of those workouts I just had to laugh about in order to not be upset can't win 'em all, and I sure can't seem to win at 400 m repeats this year!
  • Doubles on Sep. 6, 10, 12, 18, 19, 24, and 25.
  • Strides on Sep. 2, 13, 20, 27, 28, and at least few before races and workouts.
  • Full body strength workouts - Like last month, I completed my full strength circuit twice per week and also did 5-10 minutes of core work more days than not.  I also did some extra rehab exercises often for a couple of niggles I had this month.
  • Favorite workout: I felt the best on the Sep. 12 fartlek, which coincidentally also had by far the best weather!
Albani came outside at the end of a run we'd all
started from my house, so got in Amy's daily
Lululemon photo with us!
Long Runs:
  • Sep. 9:  17.5 miles via 3 warm up, the Plaza 10K, and 8.25 cool down.  This sure didn't feel like a 17+ mile day, thanks to my post-PR high and the company of Michelle, Jessi, and Janell on the cool down.  I brought chews and a gel on the cool down...I have learned my lesson about hungry cool downs!  Janell ate an apple on the cool down, which I found quite impressive.
  • Sep. 15:  18.5 miles (6:52).  Let the true long runs really begin!  I had company the first 9 miles (Ben, Claudio, and Missy), and then finished it up solo.  I ran this fasted, although I carried a just-in-case gel.  I felt strong throughout this one!
  • Sep. 21 (Friday):  16.2 miles (7:16).  I ran this one a day early due to our weekend plans, and I didn't feel as perky for it as I usually do for long runs.  Usually I run 4 miles on Fridays, which my coach calls my "rest day", and it truly makes a difference.  I didn't feel bad on this one, but just didn't have as much pep in my step or glycogen in my muscles.  I had Missy with me for about 10 miles, and Rebecca for 8 miles, and it went by quickly.  It was what I presume will be my last summer weather run, at 75*and 90% humidity (I will welcome cooler temps and lower humidity, but I also believe I get a lot of training gains from running in crap weather).  All in all, it is always great to knock out a nearly 2 hour run before work!
  • Sep. 29:  16.2 miles via 3.1 warm up and the Indy Women’s Half. I missed my cool down mileage, but I couldn’t even walk to the car after the race, so there was no chance. 
  • I didn't run long on September 1 because I ran that one a day early on August 31, which in turn got me to a monthly mileage PR in August while subtracting from my September mileage total...but no regrets because with September having only 30 days and 2 of my goal races, it meant no chance for a monthly mileage PR anyhow (plus I lost miles on Sep. 29-30).
  • Favorite long run:  Since there were only two outside of races, I choose the longer - the 18.5 miler!
Smiles from Miles from Mentor group members
(we need a Hoka One One sponsorship!)
  • On Sep. 13 I experienced a first, when a horse that was out of its fence followed my friend Missy and I during our early morning 10 miler.  I've encountered cattle out of their fences before, but this was the first horse.  Our conversation went something like this:  "OMG, Sara, it's chasing us, what do we do?!"- Missy.  "Just keep running, I don't want to stop my watch!"- me.  I knew there was nothing we could do to return the horse to where it belonged, plus it was unclear where it actually belonged (we were between about 10 different farms), so I told Missy to call the non-emergency number for the county sheriff.  When she did, they told her to call 911, so she did that to report the horse's location.  It was a dangerous situation for the horse and any oncoming traffic (although there is really no traffic on this road, it was about a half mile from a highway).  We continued our run after it stopped chasing us, so I hope it was returned to the appropriate location safely, but I know enough to know not to try to handle an unfamiliar large animal!  Missy also thought to snap pictures of me while she was freaking out; if I'd have known she was taking them I'd have turned off my headlamp.
  • Another random first - I found a completely unopened scrapbooking pack laying in the road at the end of a lunch run from my office.  Too bad it wasn't one I'd like to use!  I had to pick it up for the pure weirdness of it though.
  • The last 10 or so days of the month I had a calf issue, which really blew up at the Indy Women’s Half (I limped through 9 miles of the race).  I had a hamstring niggle I was able to train through in late August/early September, and it completely resolved with some extra attention to strengthening and rolling, but the calf thing didn’t respond as well, and by trying to race on it I doomed myself to some days off, in addition to strengthening, stretching, foam rolling, and ART.  I plan to write a separate blog about this also, because hindsight is 20/20 and I know exactly what I did wrong during the final week of the month (the race was the nail in the coffin, but I made a few other errors as well).  Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes!
  • RIP to my running streak - January 27, 2018 to September 29, 2018. I never streak just to streak, and even if I did, I could barely walk on September 30 so there would have been no chance!
You can't say I'm not visible!  I was also returning to over-
dressing for heat adaptation on this 70 degree run
Not horsing around
Found on my run...
Life events:
  • We had events every weekend this month!
  • Labor Day weekend we traveled to Arkansas to visit a friend, visit the fun Bentonville area, and to race a 10K.  This was our fourth year in a row doing this, so it's become a tradition that I'm not willing to give up, even though it's not an ideal match with running the Plaza 10K 6 days later.
  • The weekend of September 8-9 I traveled to Kansas City to run the Plaza 10K and to work at our Kansas City division.
  • Albani had her 11th birthday bash on September 15 at the Ozark Community Center pool.  Her actual birthday was on September 18, which was also her school picture day.  After running mile repeats I still managed to curl her hair.
  • Jon and I celebrated our anniversary on September 17...he got me a trip to Sacramento at the beginning of December, which was exactly what I asked for (CIM!).
  • The weekend of September 22-23 we traveled to Southeast Kansas for a community event fundraiser for one of Jon's closest friend's family members who has Lou Gehrig's disease (more details here).
  • The last weekend of the month I made the trek to Indianapolis with my parents, to run the Indy Women's half.  We had some other fun planned afterward, but ended up heading back home post-race since both my mom and I were having problems was not our finest day!
My mom made this; the photo was taken after
the Tiger Trot 2016
I got to dine with my 7-year-old nephew while in
 Kansas City
Pool party

Birthday + school picture day

Excuse the dead plants in the background

Bandit is still nearly as big as Albani!
Crazy amazing slip and slide

I was in awe
I can't convince everyone to plunch (planks at lunch) with me,
at work so sometimes I just ask people to lay on my
office floor & chat while I do daily core, hah!
She wore this medal for 2 days straight + our
cat is huge
Our Sep. 30 visitors
Family photo to close out the month