Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Something Is Not Right With Me - TQL 5/31

"...Trying not to let it show."

Thanks, Cold War Kids!

(Link to the YouTube video here because apparently you can't embed on the iPhone.)

This is no good, folks. I almost had a panic attack/crying episode tonight, and it wasn't because I was forcing myself to run in the heat. It was because I was physically unable to run. Backwards, right?

I started the run, fighting the knee twinge that has sadly become a regular part of warming up for me. But I limped and shook it off and got into my groove. I banged out a nice, slow mile+ before I stopped to take a short walk break. But when I started to run again, my knee had other plans. Lots o' pain. Twinges with every right-foot strike.

So I walked a little more, then tried again. No go. I stopped counting after 5 tries. Each attempt sent the pain shooting in my joint.

I let my recent worries take hold of me and started to panic at the thought of my running "career" being over already, before I reach my first anniversary of road races (5k's). I finally found a healthy activity that I love and could see myself doing for a long time, but my body can't take it.

Just as I was reaching my car, I decided to give it one last go up a very VERY short little hill (we're talking 4 long running strides). I bounded up and went to take my last step to crest the hill when the concrete reached up and tripped me.


Turns out there's a flaw in the pavement that I didn't see. I tripped and caught myself with my legs (no scraped palms), and I could feel that I jarred something, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Sure enough, I tried to run again, and after a few careful strides, I was good to go again. Unfortunately I can tall this isn't going to go away, though. Something is not right with me, for sure.

Oh yeah, and I've got all kinds of weird popping awfulness behind my other knee. Please tell me how one stupid half-marathon can make so many things go wrong.

So, not such a happy run tonight, but at least it wasn't an attitude problem on my behalf. Just a silly potentially-run-ending mystery injury. Pish posh...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Creeping Knee Concerns - Woodland Mound 5/28

Short run this morning. I woke up not feeling it, got to the lark not feeling it, and pretty much stayed that way throughout the single mile I managed (thought I might do 3 miles). Not sure if my attitude kept me from doing well, or if my body was tired, or if the humidity got to me (not used to it yet), or if I'm just not used to morning runs anymore.

Despite all that, I somehow did okay. I'm going to credit the sweet downhill section.

I'm also starting to seriously wonder if my knees can handle running. I haven't posted much about it, but I've had knee pain while running since the Pig. Now it's migrating to the other knee and includes some behind-the-knee popping. Ugh, not cool.

Something to consider. Should I switch to walking until I can shed enough weight to take pressure off my knees? Would I keep up with the walking? I am a terrible walker. I'm slow.

Anyway, off to a busy day. Happy 3-day weekend for most of you! (I'm wrapping up a 10-day weekend myself.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Woodland Mound 5/26

I know I said I'd run tomorrow, but the skies cleared and I felt like getting out. Here are iMapMyRun stats and a picture of the storm clouds from high atop Woodland Mound, one of my favorite parks (though I haven't run here yet).

I finished the second "30 miles in 30 days" challenge!

I kinda kicked this run's a$$.

Oooh wicked! (Looking at Kentucky.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Nordyke Rd,Cincinnati,United States

The Forest Hills 5K And A Commitment

I'll address my ineptitude in blogging momentarily. For now, here's a re-cap of my latest 5K adventure.

The Forest Hills 5K was this past Saturday. It benefits the schools I grew up in and runs through the 'burbs instead of the dirty, nasty streets of downtown Cincinnati like so many other races do.

Finishing time: 41:12

I'll let the pictures do the talking.

(Click on the collages to see a larger view.)

A few shots before it started. It was before 8:30 and already steamy hot. It was one of the first hot runs of the year and definitely the first hot race. Hello sweaty head!

Some signs, some firefighters (big and small) and me at the halfway point. I stopped running shortly after this because the course went back uphill. Oh yeah, this course was surprisingly hilly. Yikes! And I've lost my ability to run 3 miles without stopping. I can force 2 miles uncomfortably, but 3 alludes me once again. Turns out I reached my distance peak right before the Emerald Miles back in March (read the post here). Go figure.

Finish line photos. Check out the top left corner shot...I totally look like a runner there! That stupid Bengals mascot was all up in my grill, yo. Had to get around him.

Me and my photographer, my mom. The pile o' donuts at the finish line (along with bagels, water and bananas), me offering the donut to my mom, and some browsing after the finish. Ah the joys of freebies after a race! =)

The race also featured a mascot race. A mascot for each of the 9 local schools (6 elementary, 1 middle, 2 high schools) and some other local organizations like businesses and college and professional sports mascots. My high school track coach (the bee below) won the race last year and took the prize again this year. Go coach!

Me with the mascots. A picture with the organizations from which I matriculated, plus two. Clockwise from top left: Mercer Golden Eagle, Cincinnati Bengal, Xavier Musketeer, Ayer/Summit Bee (can't remember, didn't go there; my high school track coach), Turpin Spartan, Kroger Bagster.

This is the professional picture, taken by Cincy Sports Photos.

After the race-day events, I got some time to rest, get un-sweaty, and get dolled up to go to a wonderful wedding. One of my best high school friends, Anne, put on a beautiful event. It was so great to see her wedding come to fruition after so much planning and it was REALLY great to see all my friends (and a handful of parents) in one place. Here's a collage:

So, about my blogging slackertude. I'm going to remedy this.

Here's what's happened. Running, as I've said before, has become a full-on part of my life--pretty much un-spectacular. I forget to blog about it because of that, but I don't want to stop. I still love keeping you all up to date, and I definitely need the accountability to keep me going. You all have been so helpful until this point and I need your help.

So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to post. I'm going to post after every workout. It might be one sentence, two sentence, 8 paragraphs, 3 pages. Seriously. If I go out and run a ho-hum 2 miles or a crappy 1 mile, you're getting an update. It'll likely be from my phone and will likely be boring. But I'm going to do it.

Don't worry, I'm going to continue to do my classic over-long posts with pictures and such, but because they seem to be happening fewer and farther between, I need to do something else.

So there it is. My plan. Is that okay? I hope so, because I'm doing it anyway.

So, news:
  • I got a new job! Big change. Big, BIG change. I'm scared and excited and scared. It starts on June 7.
  • I start boot camp on June 6. I'm scared and excited and scared about this too. But I've been noticing my arms getting flabbier and fatter lately, so Imma need this.
  • I'm doing the Redlegs Run for Home 5K again! This was my first 5K last year, so I'm excited to return to the scene of the crime to see how I fare. This day also marks the 1-year anniversary of my "road racing career." Woooo! (Last year's post.)
  • My post-Pig toenails are still in less-than-stellar shape. I didn't lose them, but I still think that would have been easier. The big toe nails are still...um...oozing. Goodness. But I finished the antibiotic and I've been keeping them clean, so yeah...good stuff.
Alright, that's all I've got. I guess you'll be hearing from me tomorrow since I plan on running then. Wheee! What's up with you all? How's the running going?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Week After The Pig

Well, I think the best way to let you know what the last week has been like is to take you through a day-by-day replay. You seasoned runners know how your body reacts to big challenges, but I know there are folks who read that don't know anything about it, so I'll cue you in on how my body reacted. And of course, as promised, it's a long one. Riveting I'm sure, but long.

In case you aren't a loyal follower of my blog (shame on you) or you haven't been subjected to my in-person and/or Facebook whining, let me fill you in. Last Sunday, May 1, I participated in and completed a half-marathon in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. It was my first half-marathon, and about 8 miles in to the 13.1 miles, I declared it to be my last. It was an extremely painful experience. Rain + hills and hills and hills + under-training = ouch. But I finished. Read all about it in my blog post here, written Sunday evening after the race.

I totally made it through a day of work, y'all. And I didn't do it from the comfort of my couch, which was my contingency plan. Yes, working from home would have been a really easy option considering what my body was doing, but something made me want to go in. I wanted to say, "HA! I'm here! I survived! I made it and I made it to my cube! Look at my nasty feet!" Granted, I probably would have gotten more work done if I had worked from home; I spent most of the day recalling the Pig's terrible-ness to the wonderfully supportive folks in my department. But they donated to Fernside, so they deserved to hear the full story, right?

Monday was an extremely wobbly and wonky-walking kind of day. My feet felt bruised on the bottom, my toenails hurt (more on this in a bit), and my hips--OHHHH my hips! They were very sore and stiff, which prevented me from making fast movements (like getting out of people's way as they walked quickly down the hallway). Sitting down was very comfortable. Taking the first few steps after getting up? Not so much. The surprising thing was that my "usual" pain spots didn't hurt. My lower back was peachy keen--no problemo. My legs felt just fine.

Another surprise was the sore muscles in my middle and upper back and shoulders. See, during the last mile-ish of the Pig, I was in so much pain (feet and ankle) that I was completely clenched from my fingertips, up my arms, across my shoulders, and down through my legs, all in an effort to alleviate the pain.

No worries, though. I lathered Biofreeze all over myself for the second night in a row, including on my legs. (For future reference, Biofreeze on your legs at bedtime makes for a FRIGID hour under the blankets. Talk about shivers!)

I made it to work again on Tuesday, and I wore my gym shoes in the office again (one of the benefits of tearing your feet to pieces in a half-marathon). My shins started to feel a little cramped. My feet still felt really tender on the bottom and my toenails continued to hurt. But, the nails weren't falling off. Both Monday and Tuesday, there were several times where I would have preferred the nails to fall off, because surely it would have been more comfortable than what I felt. My two big-toe nails were throbbing (or rather what's under the nails).

Despite the feet/nail issue, I was moving just a bit better. I still hobbled when I got out of my desk chair, but it took me far less time to loosen up and walk more smoothly. Still couldn't change direction quickly, though, and my hips were still sore and stiff. Shoulders/back = still sore.

Tuesday night, while I was sitting on my living room floor going through some paperwork, I was playing with my feet (as I'm sure we all do when we sit on the floor) when I felt a mysterious stickiness on my toes. What the ...?

As I yelped into the phone when I called my BFF Jeff (a seasoned dancer and therefore feet-issues-quasi-expert), "MY TOENAILS ARE LEAKING!"

Oh yes, that's right ... leaking toenails.

I'm sorry, did you just eat dinner? Oops ...

I don't know if I figured it out Tuesday night or Wednesday, but I deduced that I had big fat blisters under my big-toe nails. Really? Blisters under my toenails? Talk about a new experience. Not on my heel, not on the bottom of my foot, not on the side of my toe. No. Under the toenails. The leaking and discomfort has continued through until today. After trimming my nails last night (while trying to NOT cut the blister skin), the pain has decreased greatly. And I only leaked once today that I know of. Blech.

I had plans to work from home Wednesday because of a mid-day appointment, so I didn't have to endure another wobbly day in the office, but I did do something pretty impressive Wednesday evening. I ran! Yay!

I knew that my body was ready. And I knew that some marathon recovery plans included a light run on the third day. So I hit the pavement. I planned to meet my cousin, Autumn, at Veterans. She wanted to get started on Couch to 5K and I knew that I could handle those intervals. Well, I got to the park about 10 minutes early and decided I'd take a few laps around the small loop (about a quarter-mile loop). I most definitely ran at a good, quick clip around that little loop. Twice. And it felt good. I felt my knee tweak at first (something that is still plaguing me and terrifying me), and my stride was a little wonky for the first lap, but I eventually found my legs and pounded the laps out. I also did the 2-mile (30-minute) workout with Autumn, who did a great job, with no problem. Yay!

Got better. Toenail pain increased. Nothing spectacular.

Only sporadic wobbling, back/shoulder pain gone, toenails hurt worse and still oozing. So, I decided to head to The Little Clinic to rule out/determine infection and to find out how to treat the bad boys. An antibiotic prescription, 3 packs of bandages, and a monster bag of Epsom salt later, I walked out of TLC in the Kroger store and went about my business.

All other race-related pains are gone by this point. I soaked my feet a few times and put my running shoes on and hit the pavement again. I set out to do two miles of "speed work." I only did one. But that one mile was FAST! I so wish I would have timed it.

Soaked the feet some more. The toenails were still oozing. I headed out for a day with Mom on Mother's Day and finished the day with a 3-mile run at my pre-race pace/effort. I was a little bummed at my finishing time (41 minutes), but then my mom reminded me that it was my first run like that since well before the Pig. In that case, I'm totally happy with the time.

And more importantly, I'm so ready to run some more.

I feel like I'm on the cusp of some kind of breakthrough here. Now that I know I'm happy with 5K races and maybe the occasional 10K, I want to focus on improving my times and effort at those distances. I want to do hills and speed work and focus on my form (which, according to an article in this month's Runner's World, isn't so bad). I'm excited about what's ahead of me.

After that heinous half-marathon experience, my biggest victory at this point is that I still want to run. FOR THE WIN!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Reason I Did It

I'm going to blog tomorrow--probably one of my long, rambling posts about the past week's dramatic physical reactions to last weekend's half marathon. (Just wait till you hear about the toes.)

But for this evening, I'll leave you with a photo. It's kind of the main reason I put myself through the Pig. Thank you, Lisa, for surprising me with this on packet pick-up day!

Praised be the 13.1 car magnet. Amen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thank You

You all are wonderful. I just wanted to put that out there. Your comments on my Flying Pig post from Sunday nearly bring me to tears every time I read them (and yes I've read them several times). Same goes to the TONS of Facebook messages and wall posts. I love you all.

Just an update on the feet ... they're much better, but they still feel bruised on the bottom, which is totally understandable. My toenails are still attached but still slightly uncomfortable.

I was walking a little wonky all day yesterday, espeically right after I stood up. My hips were super stiff and sore. Today my shins hurt more than anything and my middle and upper back muscles are still pretty tight.

Oh, and my weight has recovered after dropping down to my lowest point shortly after the run Sunday. Booo!

That's all! Later gators!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Cincinnati Flying Pig (Half) Marathon

I'm done. I finished. My feet (and toenails) hurt. I don't ever want to do anything longer than a 10K again. But apparently participating in these torturous events is similar to giving birth and getting tattoos (the latter which I actually know about), and I'm destined to want to do more. Not looking forward to that day. In fact, if you catch me slipping into the "I want to do another half marathon ... or heck, a whole marathon" mentality, please slap me ... hard.

Anyway, here's me at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning before heading out. Still nice and dry. (And excited about the new bib placement on my leg instead of on my shirt. Less snagging.)

Oh, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, the forecast for today in Cincinnati called for showers and storms, beginning at 6 a.m. (the race started at 6:30). Fortunately the rain didn't last the entire race, but it was definitely enough to drench everyone. It was also enough to soak my socks and shoes and to give me some seriously bad foot pain because of the intense pruning.

I was miserable. I was seriously considering quitting at least 3 separate times. What kept me going? Was it the drive to accomplish something huge? Was it the finishers medal? Did it have anything to do with the significance of the event? No. My driving thought was, "I paid for this sucker! I'm going to finish it!"

Even in the last mile, when my feet and ankle hurt so bad that I couldn't do much more than shuffle (not exaggerating in the slightest), I just wanted someone to bring me a wheelchair. I did manage to jog over the finish line, though I have no idea how I did.

So, on to some pictures and I'll fill you in in the middle.

Dark picture, but this is the band playing at the start line. Speaking of the start line, it took so long to get across it. There were 5 corrals (Pig Pens) leading up to the start. I'm not entirely positive, but I think it took 10-15 minutes to cross the start line. Whew!

Plus, walking to the Pens was a HUGE pain. The had fences erected to separate the sidewalks from the corrals (street) and THEN they put port-o-potties in that fenced-in sidewalk area creating a nasty bottleneck as my friend Sarah and I tried to make our way to Pig Pen E.

Speaking of Sarah, she was nice enough to stick with me through the entire first mile of the race. That was actually a really fun part. I ran the whole first mile and took two short walk breaks during the second mile and a few more during the third. My sock started rubbing funky on one of my toes during mile 4, so I stopped to adjust. Good story, huh? =)

My mom made her way from the start line up to 7th and Plum to watch me run up to mile marker 5. She snagged a few pics.

Dude dressed like a pig.

There's me in the light green Fernside shirt!

Speaking of Fernside, I raised $595 and some change! Yay!

Mile 5 and still trucking.

Hi mom!

Time for a pic with mile marker 5.

So, shortly after these pics, I continued down 7th, which turns into Gilbert, which is an enormous hill. I mean, HUGE. It's "The Hill." It's 3 miles of intense uphill followed by a lot more gradual uphill. As I expected, it killed me. I couldn't run up the hill at all and didn't expect to be able to. I actually had a lot of trouble walking up the hill. I hate uphills.

After the hill, I hit some pretty bad spots for me, including my first bout of wanting to quit. Nothing sounded better than a ride in a medic vehicle. With a few exceptions, I walked from the bottom of Gilbert (mile 6-ish) until the end of the race. I got a few short jogs in where the road was flat and on Martin Luther King where there were some little bitty downhills.

Then I got to see my coworker, Theresa, at the top of Gilbert and that gave me a little extra mojo to run down Gilbert. I was so worried I wouldn't be able to do it, but I did it. I ran the whole way down. That's why I pulled off a 15-minute mile that late in the race. (I'm good at downhills.) Another short jog across I-71 and down a hill on Central, and that was all she wrote.

Wait, I take that back. I did do tiny little jogs to see my coworkers Theresa (again) and Lisa and Lisa's daughter, Kate. I thought since they came out to see me, they deserved to see some action. Then that was it until my finish line jaunt (maybe 100 yards).

Bad, bad, bad. UGH!

Yes, I know I finished, but it was just so hard and I was so obviously not prepared like I should have been.

Okay, back out of the dreariness hole...here are the "Finish Swine" pics my pal Caitlin took when she met my mom to see me cross the line.

The Finish Swine

Check out the sign on the US Bank Arena.

There I am! Light green shirt, looking like death.

At this point I was choking up and was seconds away from hyperventilating. No joke. Couldn't breathe because I was freaking out, in pain, emotional, and my feet felt like hell.

Dying some more.

Pretending like I have some "kick" left in my step. I almost fooled myself here.

I'm glad these shots are from behind, because I was seriously puckered up right about now.

So, after crossing the line, we were given our finishers medals and a Mylar blanket, and ushered through the recovery area. Water, Gatorade, people to cut the tags off your shoes, bananas, fruit cups, donuts, potato chips, go-gurt, chocolate milk...

All I wanted was a banana and a spot on the concrete. It was crazy crowded down in Sawyer Point, so I found the first curb I could that wasn't covered in garbage or people and collapse to the ground--exactly what you're not supposed to do. But oh, it felt so good. My mom and Caitlin found me and I immediately showed them why I was in so much pain.



Ohhhhhh! My poor feeeeeet!!!

And here I am. My only post-race shot with my medal. Yay feet!

So here are the stats:

Official finish time: 3:40:49
Official pace: 16:52/mile

Here are my lap times, recorded by yours truly on my iPhone, which I managed to keep try with my trusty bandanna:

0-1 13:44 (ran it all)
1-2 14:14 (few short walk breaks)
2-3 15:34 (few short walk breaks)
3-4 14:00 (yep)
4-5 16:36 (still yep)
5-6 16:10 (7th to Gilbert)
6-7 19:19 (up uphill)
7-8 18:29 (still uphill)
8-9 17:10 (still uphill, though less, but still walking, wanted to quit)
9-10 19:05 (wanted to quit and die)
10-11 15:58 (Hey hey hey! Downhill fun!)
11-12 18:24 (dying again)
12-13 20:43 (low point...shuffling and limping)

Here are the Flying Pig's official photographs.

Thank you to everyone who sent me emails and texts and Facebook messages. You're all wonderful and I could tell you were really happy for me and that you believed in me.

Thank you to those of you who donated to Fernside and contributed to such a successful fundraising project.

Thank you to Theresa, Lisa (and Kate), and Caitlin for coming to watch me.

Thank you to Sarah for signing up for the event and for sticking with me for the first mile.

And a HUGE thank you to my mom for getting up extra, extra early, chauffeuring me and Sarah to the race, standing in the rain, hiking all over the downtown area, taking pictures, watching me finish, taking me home, making me lunch, doing my dishes and taking care of me! I don't know what I would have done without your help today. I love you!

And with that ... I'm going to bed with my man, Mr. Biofreeze.

Hello 4 a.m.!

Good morning. I'm drinking my cup of coffee before getting ready to leave for the Flying Pig Marathon, so I thought I'd do a little pre-race update. I got to bed later than I would have liked yesterday thanks to a to-do list that seemed to keep growing and a few small non-race-related dramas that popped up Friday and Saturday. Alas, I made it to Sunday and I'm as ready as I'm going to get for 13.1 miles.

No stomach upsets ... yet.

A few sore back muscles that I think are preparing themselves for later today.

A pair of tender-soled feet that are probably in the same boat as the back muscles.

Pockets full of gear for the race (gummy bears, hair ties, lip balm...).

Devoted fans that hopefully still make it to the course despite the forecasted downpour.

A HEAP of well-wishes from my Facebook community.

An encouraging greeting card from my caring coworkers.

A probably-sleepy mother who's getting ready to pick me up and head downtown to grab Sarah and then wait for 4 hours in the rain for me to cross the finish line.

One small tube of Biofreeze, one 32-ounce pump of Biofreeze (a generous gift), a bottle of Aleve, and a container of Epsom salts waiting for me at home.

So I think that's it. The coffee is almost done, which means it's time to gear up. I'm hoping I can get a blog up rather quickly after the run, so keep your eyes peeled.

I'm already ready for a nap...