I trained. I ran. Let’s do that again.

My training for fall marathons has gone so well. I hit my long run paces on all but my fourth 20 miler (it was horribly hot and humid). Since I am training cautiously due to surgery on my peroneal brevis tendon in December 2016, my speed work and tempo runs were modified. Still I went into the Chicago Marathon feeling prepared. It would be my 7th Chicago and 12th marathon.

Like life, the marathon humbles. My goal was to let this race just come to me. I expected to do well, not PR, but a reasonable 4:15-4:20. This race had other things in mind. By mile 10, I was sporting a huge blister (left foot, fourth toe…of course I have never blistered there).

I stopped at an aid tent right after the half. I hoped they had blister gel pads….nope just vaseline. I stopped at the next three aid tents to reapply. By mile 20 it finally popped and felt much better.

After Pilsen, my stomach was a wreck for a couple miles. That’s what I get for eating a banana. I was hungry. Still, I know better. You do not eat what you do not train on. Around Chinatown it settled down.

By then the heat and my poor mental game did it’s part to make the last 4 miles slow. I soooo wanted to quit. But I didn’t. I finished in 5 hours. Close to an hour from my PR. Not ideal. But…..I ran. I get to run. My tendon is doing fine. I can run some more…and I have, and I will.

My toes are still blistery but thank goodness for Compeed blister pads. I have three runs in for the week so far. After my recovery long run on Sunday (6 to 8 miles) I will be retapering for the Indy Monumental. It has to be cooler and I look for better results. Isn’t that hope what keeps us running?


Chicago, I am coming for you!

I grew up on the south side not far from Comiskey Park. I love the city.  I really love the Chicago Marathon. It really does bring out the best of the city.  

This year, the registration period for legacy runners came really early.  So early, it was before I had any idea if I would physically be able to run it. Maybe it was desperation and fear, but I registered. I hoped that with a surgery date of Dec 2nd, I would be able to rehab my tendon and get my base built back up to be able to train. 

In business, we like to say hope is not a strategy. Maybe in running it is. Hope is about possibility. A runner needs to believe in the possible before working towards it. I have been working hard and it has been paying off. I have slowly been cranking up the distance and volume. 

In early May, I ran my first post-surgery race, a 12K. With a miserably slow time, I somehow placed 3rd in my age group (at least 5 local gals faster than me were not running that day). I felt awful during the race and was naseated for hours after…but I raced. 

The next week, I ran my first 10 miler. I have run two more since and this weekend put in 11 miles. I also printed off my 16 week FIRST training program and put it in my calendar. There you have it. I am training for Chicago. It will be my 7th Chicago and 12th marathon.

Pretty excited and hopeful.

When Runner’s Brain Strikes

Growing up I was a smart kid. I got good grades and performed above grade level. I was a mathlete, competed in writing contests, and did academic bowl. Our state academic talent competition meant I took the SAT in 8th grade. In high school, I competed in Academic Decathlon. So, yes…a bit on the nerdy side.

But when I run, all my “smarts” fly out the window. My body takes over and tells my brain to chill. I am jealous of my running partners who can do runner’s math. “Hey, we are at 10.57, so if we run down to the silos that will give us another 6.25, then we need just x more to get to our 18 miles.” Nope, once I am running it all goes out the window. Seriously, this is why I map out long runs and wear a watch.

So no surprise that runner’s brain strikes me often and more so when on longer runs. I am happy to announce I ran long enough for it to strike this weekend. Yesterday, I met up with one of my marathon training partners for a long run. The wind was projected to be 16-18 mph on Sunday morning, so the 9 mph wind yesterday was a breeze in comparison.

We headed out with the wind to our backs. It was a bit chilly at 42 but I had arm sleeves (a must for midwest runners who deal with schizophrenic weather) to stave off the cold while I warmed up. We started out a bit fast but I was much more diligent about slowing down compared to last week. I intended to bump up a whole mile (from 6 to 7 miles) instead of a half of a mile. Normally, I do not take issue with the occasional breaking of the run “rules”.  Experienced runners know what their bodies can do. I believe I can pump put a half marathon at a decent pace with my current fitness level. Will I try that given my surgery…no. But I do feel ready to start moving my mileage a bit more. So 7 was the plan. And the plan was working well. Then I made a potentially disastrous move. 

Our turnaround point included park district water fountain (Yay! First weekend they are turned back on!) and a bathroom.  Of course as we neared our turnaround my “no, I done have to go” turned into “I have to go now”. My partner ran ahead while I headed for a pit stop. Instead of staying on the paved trail, I decided to cut through a wooded section to get to the bathroom faster. And then I turned my ankle. My LEFT ankle. Total mind freak out occurred. It hurt like turning your ankle does. Then it felt….okay. I walked it off while I headed to the bathroom. And got right back to my run and it didn’t hurt. Lesson learned…stay on even terrain. 

So we headed back in the wind and it felt kinda good. I had ditched my arm warmers. We got back to our parked cars at the park and were at 6.5 miles so we decided to head into the park trails to pick up some more mileage. And my runner brain struck. I had paused my watch so we could drink and decided if we were going to do trail or park paths. When we started I ended my run versus restarting it. Ugh! Stupid runner’s brain. There is no way to merge two runs with my TomTom My Sports. Luckily my non-running brain knows how to calculate average pace between two runs. So the final results are: 7.25 miles at 9:22 pace. 

P.S. So far my left tendon is okay. It does feel tight this morning so I’ll have be careful with my activities the next two days.

Finding Pace

When a first started back running, my pt suggested I run 3 mins and walk 2 mins. It was seriously challenging. After a couple of weeks, I was able to get to 6 min to 2 min and eventually 8 min to 2 min. Then came a mile with a walk break…then 1.5 miles and a walk break. Running farther was the focus.

As I gained strength and cardio endurance, my speed followed. My first month back running, I was pacing between 9:30 and 10 min miles. Then I dropped to even 9:30s, and a couple weeks later 9:15. Running started to feel good again.

The last 2 weeks my legs have found pace. A had a week straight of  9:08 pace runs. I wasn’t following my watch for pace, it is just what my legs settled into. Last week, I broke through the 9s and into the 8s. 

Ob Sundays, I have been running with my run club’s marathon training group. I surely am not running their distances yet, but it helps to be with like minded runners. Sometimes there are a couple of runners near my pace. Last week I was able to get a few miles in with Abby. She has just run a 30 mile trail race the day before and was looking to shake out her legs. I ran the first 3 miles at 9:15 to 9:20 but the last 2.5 miles were under 9 min.

Then on Tuesday, during a 3 miler my splits were 9:10, 9:01…. and 8:45! 

This Sunday, I was able to run with a very respected Boston Qualifer. He reminds me of Clint Eastwood…a bit gristly in the voice. He was supposed to run 14 miles at 9:30. I hadn’t run with him in about 2 years. We chatted about my surgery and Boston,  of course. We kept trying to slow down but would find the fast pace taking over. I did 6 miles at 9:01 average pace with several less than 9. 

So happy! I am now ready to start adding a mile a week to the long run. Oh, and my first race is in 4 weeks. Haven’t run the Lake Run in like 12 years so I am pretty excited.

Success: Two Marathons and Surgery

Why hello there! The last few months have certainly been interesting. I made it through two fall marathons and in early December had surgery on my left peroneal brevis tendon. And…..I am back running.

Let me do a quick catch up. Chicago, my beloved hometown. I really enjoyed just getting to do this race. I enjoyed staying at one of my favorite Chicago hotels. I had dinner with friends. The weather was perfect. And I finished with relatively little pain…in 4:34. Not too bad at all.

A few weeks later, I tackled Indy. It was a bit chilly which made it even more perfect weather than Chicago. Again, I ran smart, walked when I needed to, enjoyed the race, and finished with a 4:30 time. My foot was angry before I even started and I was thinking I might get a DNF in Indy. Nope, not in the cards. I was really emotional as I approached the finish line. I knew my surgery was coming and all the uncertainty around my running future really snuck up on me. It was such a mix of…”woo-hoo I am done”, “I made it!”, and “Dear God, let me get to do this again. I have so much more in me to discover.” 

And then just a few weeks later, I ran a two miler on a chilly December morning. So curious as to when I would run next. My foot ached that whole two miles, but yet I had to run, because I could. My surgery was later that afternoon. 

This was my last mile home before surgery. I shed a few years of frustration at this intersection. I was happy to be able to get out for a quick run. I was really unhappy that I could not have any fluids. Man, I really wanted a cup of coffee. The nursing staff totally understood and had brewed a pot for me while I was in recovery. When I got home, my hubby made me some bulletproof coffee while I settled in on the couch. The pain definitely led to some “what have I done to myself” moments. Sleeping was hard. Bathing was a circus. I hated not be able to take care of myself.

Recovery was hard. With other injuries, I could workout all through. With my stress fracture  I swam, cycled and worked with weights. This was “sit and do nothing” recovery for the first two weeks. I was weight-bearing in a boot and without crutches at two weeks. Whew that was slow going. But I was lucky. My tendon was not as bad off as the MRI indicated and I did not have to be in a cast. This meant mobility and bloodflow…and better healing.

Within a month I was cycling with my boot on. I also did a ton of squats, ab work, and upper body work. Even with the additional activity, I was losing muscle mass. I lost a half an inch off my left calf. And while I tried to keep my diet in check, weight began to slowly  creep on. Just in time, at 4 weeks post op, came the removal of my boot and the thumbs up for physical therapy. My doctor was very impressed with my recovery. 

During my third week of PT I got to “run” on the eliptical for 5 mins. I was sooooo happy. The therapist then said I would be on the treadmill the following week. I swear I have never looked forward to running on the treadmill. Never. But that whole next week it was all I could think about. The week could not go fast enough. When the time came to run, I walked for two minutes and hit the 6mph button and feel right into my gait. The body really does remember what it should feel like. My legs felt fine. My foot was quiet. My lungs where on fire and my heart was about to burst outta my chest. It was hard. I got released from PT that day with instructions to walk run no more than two miles 3x a week. I was estatic! 

Oh man. It was so hard. I couldn’t get my breathing down. My heart rate would hit over 200 during my run minutes. Those first two weeks were rough. Then it got a bit easier. My heart rate stayed under 180. I ran two 1 mile repeats on a gorgeous February afternoon. And, it has been easier with each run. My scar is a bit stingy still, but it is not too bad. It has a couple of thick spots I have to massage regularly.

Now, I am back on pace. Heart rate is back down to about 160-165 while running. I am rowing and cycling my days off running. I am trying to carve off the extra 7 pounds I picked up. I have actually had to use Myfitnesspal again and it is working. My mileage is increasing and that helps too. I hit 11 miles this week with two 3 milers and a 5 miler for my “long run”. I have restrained myself from signing up for a spring race so far, but am now targeting a local 12K the first week of May.

As for longer races, I am registered for Chicago and Indy Monumental in the fall. I am excited to be running again and with more speed than while injured. Come June, I’ll add in tempo runs, and eventually some speed work. For now, it is a slow build but I am so grateful to be back at it.

Yes Folks, it is Taper Time! I MADE IT!!!

This training cycle has been iffy. I have stepped down to the Novice First mararthon training shedule. I have had a few painful runs. I have stopped when necessary and allowed extra recover days when needed. And so far, it has paid off. 

I completed my 20 miler this past Sunday (20.65 to be exact). There were some rough spots due to fueling  (alternating UCAN and gel). But can I say how happy I am? And my foot has held up! Some speedwork aggravates it but for the most part, this has been okay..not my best training but okay. 

Now onto logistics for the marathon. I have a bit of a bump in plans. My daughter’s swim club moved their fall hosted meet a week later this year. Yes, it is now marathon weekend. Oh, and I coordinate all the volunteers for meets. My hubby will be managing the kids and swim meet duties while I head up to Chicago on my own. 

My main running partner has been fighting some hamstring issues. He is in Hawaii this week and skipped the 20 miler. His stance is if he cannot run 16 this weekend, then he is skipping the marathon. He has introduced me to a runner friend  of his and she and I have run together a few times. She is doing her first Chicago Marathon…so excited for her. The girl is speedy and is going to do awesome  (I predict a 3:45 finish for her). 

Did some short speedwork tonight and felt freaky fast. Did a mile warm up, 1 800, 1 400, then 4 200s, and another 800. My 200s rocked! Got one down to 5:39 pace. My others hovered at 6-6:15 pace, with my 800 at 6:35. I was pressed for time and did not cool down properly. Have to admit I often cut my cool down to half a mile and then today I just had to be done.

I have held my weight down fairly easily thanks to the Keto diet. I’d like to bit a bit leaner going into this race but at the same time my foot has left my expectations of a BQ in the “stars have to be perfectly aligned” category so I really haven’t tried to lean out.

So there you have it. Miles in. Foot okay. Diet good. Race is on. 

Just 4 Weeks Till Taper!

Somehow, my foot is holding up. I ran 16 miles today, felt good during and feel pretty good now. 

Last week I did not have such a good experience. On my long run, at about 11.25 mikes in, I ended up calling my husband to come get me. My tendon was screaming. In hindsight, I think it was the couple of miles downhill. I tend to over stride when going downhill and my foot cannot handle over striding. It was so mad that I skipped my speed work on Tuesday. 

When I do speed work, I am hitting my paces for under 800 m. I am struggling with 800s and above. And my tempo runs are not quite at tempo either. 

But…here I am 3 months after stopping the Illinois Marathon at the half distance. I am just glad to still be running at this point. I am enjoying the stress relief and running with friends. While there is no doubt surgery on my peroneal brevis tendon will be needed soon, I am increasingly confident I will make it to the Chicago start line.