Tag Archives: Recovery

Race Recap: Ironman Lake Stevents 70.3

As I sit here enjoying my coffee from the couch and waiting for the Ironman Canada expo to open I figure I may as well recap Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3.

It seems like IMLS happened forever ago. Worlds ago! But really it was just 5 weeks ago that I thought I was exhausted, yet actually had no idea what the word exhaustion truly meant, and then woke up at 3:30am to drive an hour north to race a Half Ironman.

From the beginning, my head wasn’t really in it for this race.

Pre-race photo courtesy of Megan!

Pre-race photo courtesy of Megan!

I wanted it to be – I really wanted to go out there and impress myself – but a number of things kept my head from being that clear. I was on week #3 of a 5 week-long build. I knew the next 2 weeks of training would be the hardest thing my eyes had seen or my body had done (see: Whistler Training Camp & a 125mi ride weekend). I was tired from the previous 2 weeks of training, which rivaled my 2 peak weeks from last year.

These are not excuses, but facts, really. I’m actually pretty pleased with how I did that day considering, but there are also some pretty clear things I can improve upon.

SWIM: 34:27 // 1:38/100 yd average pace

Me and Megan pre-swim. Why on earth do we look so excited?!

Me and Megan pre-swim. Why on earth do we look so excited?!

My swim goal was fairly simple – DON’T STOP. My swimming anxiety has improved a lot, but sometimes it’s still second nature for me to freak out and stop. For example, Victoria. I really wanted to practice an aggressive-for-me start and swim through that feeling I get a couple minutes in that tells my brain I CAN’T DO THIS I MUST STOP NOW.

I started in the middle of the second row and when the gun went off the first row took off. I hung for a couple buoys and then I honestly don’t really know what happened! One stroke I sighted and there was a huge gap (clean water hellz yeah!) and when I sighted next there were all these people in front of me and in my way. I tried to go around them and swam SMACK into a buoy. I sort of swam over a few others. Sorry ladies!

On the way back to shore we all started catching up with the slower swimmers from previous waves (M 3034, M3539, F3539) and that wasn’t pretty. But I zig-zagged around them and made it across the timing mat.

I was hoping for a swim closer to 32 minutes, but I’m pleased with the fact I accomplished a smooth swim where I was able to work hard.

T1: 2:02

Not too shabby time-wise, but my transition felt clunky. I ripped off my wetsuit, put on my helmet with glasses attached, put on my shoes, grabbed my bike and started moving, and realized I didn’t have my race belt. WHICH YOU DON’T NEED FOR THE BIKE. Yet for some reason I decided I needed to go back and get it because I usually do wear it for the bike leg. Dumb dumb.

Mount line ahead!

Mount line ahead!

BIKE: 2:52:50 // 19.44 mph avg speed

As I mounted my bike and put my sunglasses on I heard a popping noise. Goodbye lens! Drat. My lens bounced across the road and I started spinning down the block with glasses in my hand. I saw a team member and tossed them at her hoping she’d realize I wanted her to keep them for me.

Here, please take my worthless glasses!

Here, please take my worthless glasses!

Almost immediately I felt disappointed on the bike, because I knew I couldn’t ride as hard as I wanted to. I watched the riders in front of my pull farther away but when I tried to ride harder my legs screamed. I knew if I kept it up I’d be screwed for the run. I checked in on my heart rate frequently, but it was low for how hard things felt. About 10 miles in I decided to ride on feel and use heart rate as a looser guide than usual.

I kept going, thinking about my lost sunglasses but felt thankful it was overcast and misty so I didn’t really need them. Lost in my thoughts at about 20 or 30 miles in I got stung by not one bee, but two! Descending I felt something smack my knee and instantly it felt like glass had sliced me. Whatever had hit me was stuck in my skin, and as it turns out two bees were hanging by their stingers. Having never been stung before this made for an interesting rest of the ride. I waited until I hit a flatter and slower portion and tried to wipe the bees off in the direction to pull their stingers out with them. Then I proceeded to breathe deeply out of my mouth about every 10 minutes or so to make sure I could still get air. Guess I’m not allergic!

The rest of the bike was ho hum. It’s a very tough course in the back half so I spun up the many hills, pushed the few downs, and went back and forth between trying to catch people and letting them go. When I focused on me I knew I was working the right amount of hard for a Half Ironman, but when I focused on others I got complacent and a little bit down, honestly.

The highlight was a cheer from my friend Colleen who happened to be on course on mile 55 of the bike. “Go get that f*$#er!” So I sped up and passed him with less than a mile of the bike left.

T2: 1:50

Again with the bad decisions! I took off my bike shoes and decided to wipe my feet off on my towel (wtf). Then I fiddled with my socks and made some lunch and did some online shopping and headed out to run. (Not really – there’s no Internet in transition, silly! – but that’s how I felt)

RUN: 1:44:35 // 7:59min/mi avg pace

Happy to be off the bike.

Happy to be off the bike.

The run is a fair course: moderately hilly with some rewarding downs but not much flat. I don’t have a lot of play by play memories, but I know I caught a few of the women that had been leapfrogging me on the bike early on but who had ultimately won out on that leg. I ticked them off and chatted with a particularly nice one for a few strides and we thanked each other for pushing the bike.

Eat my dust, guy!

Eat my dust, guy!

About 3 miles in I noticed a guy was running right on my heels, so I moved over to let him pass. He didn’t, but instead pulled up alongside me. Nice pace. Without speaking a word he and I ran together and took turns “pulling” for the next 7 miles. He crushed me up the hills, but I’d get him back on the down hills and flats and we kept each other trucking along at a good pace.

The run is essentially a figure 8 that you travel twice. Running through the center so many times give friends and family a good idea of where you are and a great opportunity to cheer. I have a tendency to get in the zone and can lose appreciation of what’s going on around me, but when I heard “More Knutson!” from the sidelines and looked up to see my teammates and friends I stood a little taller and stopped sandbagging behind a girl in my AG in front of me.

With 3 miles to go I tried to push harder and within a few blocks I lost my run friend. But I knew I could keep up a harder effort in this final countdown and I wanted to squeeze out any additional seconds that I could.

Finishline in sight, and my run doesn't look like a shuffle!

Finish line in sight, and my run doesn’t look like a shuffle!

OVERALL RESULTS: 5:15:44 // 11th AG

Overall this was a 9 minute distance PR and a 30 minute course PR for me. I can’t not be happy about that! But I know I have a better bike in me with the fitness I’ve gained this year, and even if I hadn’t shaved seconds anywhere else I would have been better served not being such a scatterbrain. I would say this was a well executed race for me, but a little on the safe side.

After I caught up with friends and teammates we hit the road back to Seattle. Hours later I found myself on our deck with a glass of wine and got a note from a friend; I would have gotten a roll-down spot to the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas had I stayed. (You have to be present to claim awards and qualifications at IM events)

For .5 seconds I wish I had been there, and then I let it go. The championships are 2 weeks after Canada and I have bigger fish to fry and more important things to stay focused on. Like Ironman Canada!

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The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

I don’t even have any pictures I’ve been so tired and busy, so you’ll just have to believe me.

The last 5 weeks have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By far. IMC was tough, I’d argue that finishing Boston was tougher, and then there are the private and personal struggles we all go through that are a different kind of challenge than anything physical.

I can easily say though, that the last 5 weeks of training, my build to peak, were the hardest thing I’ve ever done: 5 weeks of steady building (training mileage + hours) with a finale weekend of a 128 mile ride + hour-long run on Saturday, and a 20 mile run on Sunday. With a taperless 70.3 and a 3-day training camp in the middle, no less.

Ever single day for the last 5 weeks I’ve woken up more tired.

It can’t get harder than this, tomorrow you’ll feel better, I’d tell myself multiple times per day.

You just need to warm up, I’d tell myself to limit discouragement at the start of each workout.

You should be tired, as I got sleepy earlier and earlier each night.

I watched my Garmin and fought to keep pace, and watched my heart rate drop drop drop. By the end I couldn’t get it above zone 3b if a tiger were chasing me.

There were a few days, specifically in the last 2 weeks, where I truly didn’t know if I could finish my workout. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know if I was capable. Spoiler: I did. But had coaches and friends not surrounded me the first day of camp, or had I not had others to meet and keep me entertained for a 7+ hour ride (that started with 2-3 hours of rain!), I don’t know if I could have blocked out the mountain of a day and focused on moving one mile at a time.

Even though it was only 2 days after the peak of my training, yesterday I woke up feeling better. To say I felt “good” would be a laughable overstatement, but better than I’ve felt for at least a month. Even if my body hasn’t gotten the memo, my brain knows: Taper Has Arrived!

I feel grateful to have arrived at taper in one piece this year. I feel happy that I held it together and didn’t have a mid-build meltdown like I usually do (nevermind some exceptionally grumpy days – no tears is an incredible feat!). I am proud that I worked so hard every single day.

At this point, I couldn’t panic train if I tried. There is nothing left, I am empty, and my tank needs to refill itself. But I believe that I did everything I could this year. I know I did. I will always wish to be faster, and fitter. But all you can do is give each day your whole body and heart, and I did that a hundred times over.

With about 40 miles to go (of 128) of our last long bike ride on Saturday we started talking about how we were heading home.

Crossing the bridge this direction means we’re headed home, and

This is the last time we’ll have to climb this hill until next year, and

This is the last time we’ll stop at this gas station

Then there was a pause.

Well, unless any of get to Kona this year.

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Injury Fake Out

Coming down from Ironman has been a humbling experience. I feel eager and excited and full of energy…until I’m 3 miles into a 6 mile run and want to just take a nap. My muscles aren’t burning, my joints aren’t creaky, but I’ve been insanely sleepy. In fact, I could pretty much – 3+ weeks later – fall asleep at any moment. The sleepiness is starting to lift though and with each workout my body is waking up more quickly and engaging more efficiently. I finally feel like the fog is lifting.

Which is why it was especially infuriating after Track Tuesday one week ago that my right foot started hurting. My right foot being the one that’s been fine since Portland Marathon 2009. During the 2 mile time trial my foot felt fine – the rest of my body including my lungs is a whole other story – but when I got in the car and started driving home my big toe felt cramped in a claw-like position, and the cramp extended into my arch. Having battled PF before I knew what to do and iced, rolled it out, and stretched my toes.

So when it hurt 100x more the next day I was really angry. And concerned. Wednesday morning my big toe joint was immensely swollen, and the pain was radiating from the center of the joint upward. I could hardly walk on the poor toe, because I really couldn’t move it. As the day progressed it hurt more and more, and then I got worried. I called my doctor in a panic and though he was leaving on vacation the next day he let me come in after hours to take a look.

When I arrived and described the pain he looked grim. And when he came back with x-rays I knew that he had not good news to share. He showed me a few x-rays that looked fine, and then we got to looking as my sesamoids. The words ” stress fracture” and “boot” were said. According to the x-ray my 2 sesamoid bones were in 3 pieces.

What 2 sesamoid bones should look like. (But not actually my x-ray)

I left the office feeling like my heart had been ripped out and thrown on the floor. 4-6 weeks in a boot. No NWM Half. No NYC Marathon. But it wasn’t even the boot-time and missed races that got to me the most. What got to me is that this time, this training cycle, I listened to my body. Since my last bout with stress fractures at the slightest sign of something amiss I’ve taken action, be it rest or physical therapy this time around. On the list of top 200 body parts that hurt during training or racing IMC this spot on my body wasn’t ever on the radar, truly. I drove home wondering how I’d ever be able to trust my own instinct again, and arrived on the assumption that I wouldn’t.

In the following hours I became more and more doubtful – 50% in myself and ability to read pain, but 50% in my doctor. Sure I’d wear a boot, but only until I could get a 2nd opinion on the injury. Generally stress fractures can’t be seen in x-rays, and if I was going to be in a boot for 6 weeks I wanted concrete proof that I needed to be there. My doctor was gone so I couldn’t show up on his office doorstep anymore, so I pulled together a list of new doctors to call first thing in the morning. At 8am I called and pled my case with each office. Thank you sports medicine community for listening to my woes – I was granted appointments with every doctor that I called and had my pick. I picked Dr. Blahous at The Sports Medicine Clinic.

I arrived, explained the onset and pain, and the doctor was great. He didn’t discount my previous diagnosis too much, but at the same time said that it didn’t sound like a fracture of any kind to him. Music to my ears!! He poked and prodded and asked thoughtful questions, then more x-rays. This time around they took images of both feet and I thought nothing of it.

Dr. Blahaus came back and shared new images with me. This time the image was more clear; the blurry line that had looked like a fracture the day before was much more pronounced, and my sesamoid bones were much more separated.

Again, not my x-ray. But this is what my x-ray looked like. I have a Bipartate Sesmoid.

Then my new favorite person in the world then shared the news that earned them that title: No fracture, I’m just a freak!

“Sesamoid fractures need to be differentiated from bipartite, or two part sesamoids.  Bipartite sesamoids are found in less than 10% of the general population.  Bipartite sesamoids are usually found bilaterally.  Therefore, one way to differentiate a bipartite sesamoid from a fractured sesamoid is to take a comparison x-ray of the non-symptomatic foot.  Bipartite sesamoids usually have a rounded appearance at the separation of the two fragments while fractures are typically sharp edged, without rounded edges.”

Though the physical pain and swelling didn’t immediately disappear with this news, I felt like a boulder had been lifted off my emotional and psychological state. The doctor guessed that the pain was some sort of soft tissue issue, prescribed lots of ice and Advil, and guessed I’d be good as new in a couple of days. His thought that track work on a tired body was the culprit.

The moral of this story: Trust yourself. 4 days later I’m back to running with no swelling, minimal tenderness, and no real pain. I can’t stop thinking about if I had agreed to hang in a boot for 6 weeks…for no reason!

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Confidence in Rest and Recovery

I read a really great article last weekend, I think in Triathlete Magazine. Then I accidentally recycled it in a stack, and can’t find any trace of the article online. The premise was simple in theory, but unlike any way that I’ve ever read or thought about self-confidence and its relationship with race preparation, readiness, and success.

Athletes who dislike rest days, tapering, and recovery generally do so because of a lack of self-confidence. 

The article really focused on smarter training and recovery as part of a well-constructed and successful  plan. Of course you need to stress your muscles and body in order to see improvement, but before you can reap the rewards you also need to recover to build a stronger version of yourself. Many athletes – me included – really dislike rest days, taper weeks, and doing anything that resembles not actively moving forward.

But that’s just the thing. Resting and recovery does move you forward.

Recovery should really be looked as another discipline to work into a training schedule. Without them the hard work can’t be absorbed – or celebrated – in a productive way. And the athletes who don’t like easy sessions or days off? Well, turns out most of them are workhorses who are insecure about their performance and lack confidence in their preparation plan. Hating on rest doesn’t have much to do with hating resting, it has to do with insecurities about preparation, and thinking that you could have done more.

On every rest day I’ve had I experience an underlying feeling of guilt when I should be proud for doing what I need to do to get better. I’ve heard “rest is part of the plan” about a million times, but I’ve never thought about it in connection with my confidence in the plan.

I don’t always have confidence in my ability to perform. But generally speaking I have good confidence in my plan. I believe that if I follow my plan I’ll get where I want to go. Occasionally I question details. But I’m an athlete who feels so guilty for cutting 10 minutes out of a run that I’ll make up the time later for peace of mind. Really. I did that this weekend. I take extreme pride in following directions.

All of this makes sense to me, perfect sense, but I think it’s also a bit easier said than done. Some days I can’t give as much as I’d like to and want to make up for it later. But rather than putting miles in the bank it would probably be a better idea to make each one count now and enjoy the rest day when it comes around next. Because there probably won’t be a whole lot of them between now and August!

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Race Recap: Lake Samish Half Marathon Part 2

I can’t stop thinking about how much yesterday’s race was NOT easier than the Seattle Half Marathon in November. Yes, I trained with less intensity. Yes, I trained for a shorter amount of time. No, I didn’t have the big race expo to get my nerves going. No, I also didn’t have weeks of holiday eating and drinking leading up the Seattle Half.

But still. I did some research to make myself feel better, and I accomplished my self-consolation goal with flying colors.

Seattle Half Marathon Course

The Seattle Half & Full Marathons are notoriously hilly and hard. Pair a killer course with Seattle winter weather and it’s somewhat surprising that it gets the turnout that it does. 13.1 miles, 466 feet of gain.

Lake Samish Half Marathon - You gotta run two loops of this lake!

The course description was “mostly flat with rolling hills.” Hmmm. This map here shows only one loop of the Lake Samish Half Marathon, so take everything here and count it twice. 13.1 miles, 472 feet of gain.

I think my job is done here.

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Hydration is Important

Some people hoard cats. Or trash. Or beanie babies.

We hoard Nuun, because hydration is very important.

Tower of Nuun

Grape, Banana, Kona Cola, Lime, Tropical, Fruit Punch, Citrus, Orange, Oh My!

How long do you think it will take us to drink all of this deliciousness?

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Battling Evil With Medi-Dyne Magic

Today I’m honored to be featured on Medi-Dyne’s blog, where they’re sharing my story of recovery from the evils of plantar fasciitis. *shudder. Seriously evil stuff. And I’d be remiss to not mention, just in case you don’t gather from below, that the only way and reason I recovered was because I finally pulled the trigger and bought a ProStretch Plus. And yes, I happened upon it and bought it myself (in a moment of pain induced depression and rage). Ask my Visa card if you don’t believe me, but I’m just grateful that my PF story has an ending.

Seriously though, if you or anyone you know are suffering from PF get one immediately. And keep it in your kitchen. For real. It helps. And I can’t wait to try the RangeRoller, too!

—From Medi-Dyne’s Blog—

Overcoming Plantar Fasciitis, An Inspiring Story

Posted on December 14, 2011 by admin

We were sent this testimonial from Arielle; runner, triathlete, and soon-to-be Ironwoman. She recently overcame 10-months of pain and suffering, due to ‘nagging’ Plantar Fasciitis, with some truly inspiring perseverance and what she calls “Medi-Dyne magic.”

“As a highly competitive gymnast growing up I periodically had heel pain, but nothing that I couldn’t remedy within a few days. Fast-forward about a decade later, and I found myself completely in love with long distance running. Ever since I took up the sport in the spring of 2009, I had experienced intermittent heel pain on and off again. In all of my athletic history my feet and ankles have always been my weak link, and I’ve run the gamut of injuries from stress fractures to dislocation to neuromas and so on…
Fast-forward one more time to March 2011, just 6 weeks before the Boston Marathon. I had been training for over a year to qualify and prepare for the race in Boston. After my
first 20 mile training run my foot completely seized up, and nothing would remedy the intense heel pain and feeling of strain that I was feeling in my foot. I stretched 3 times every day, used traditional methods—ice and massage, but nothing would alleviate my heel pain and get my arch to loosen up. I was forced to stop training up until race day, though  even after over a month off my feet, my Plantar Fasciitis was no better than that first day it came on.

I limped my way through the Boston Marathon and afterward my injury was no better or worse than before, so I took another couple of months off from running to try to get the inflammation to cease.  In the mean time, I found triathlon, which helped due to less running, but I was dissatisfied with the solution. I was recently gearing up for the Seattle Half Marathon in November of 2011, my first race since April. I was having a particularly painful week, feeling like I would never be uninjured again.

Training was going well but I still had nagging Plantar Fasciitis and foot pain, a sign of not good things to come (given that I’m racing in the Ironman Canada next summer). During an evening of injury-related depression I was surfing Twitter and saw someone post that Medi-Dyne would be sponsoring #runchat. I went to medi-dyne.com and clicked through to learn more about you guys. I instantly remembered seeing you in either Runner’s World or Triathlon magazine, and pulled the trigger to have my ProStretch Plus rush ordered. From all of the stretching I’ve done I understood immediately what sets the ProStretch Plus apart, and hoped it would truly be the device to save me!

My ProStretch Plus arrived just a couple of days later, and after 1 day I saw a huge  improvement in my Plantar Fasciitis (both heel pain and arch tightness). After 3 days my  heel pain was gone, my arch tightness had subsided, and I was noticing less arthritis pain in the outside edge of my foot. After 7 days I was able to go off my arthritis medication and I haven’t had any heel pain since!!

The foot is so interdependent on all of its moving parts that inherently many of my injuries have stemmed from compensation for other injuries. Regular use of the ProStretch Plus has really gotten to the core for me to work through many of my foot injury issues. I  haven’t been in pain for a while (finally!!) I’m still seeing active improvement in my flexibility and stride while walking and running. And I love that the product is so easy to use; I keep mine in my kitchen so that I can use it between cooking and cleaning in an area where we all congregate. The ease of use makes it easy for me to remember and more likely to incorporate it into my routine. So happy to have found you guys am looking forward to more of your magic!” – Arielle

Thanks to Arielle for sharing that amazing story and the fun photos with us.You can follow Arrielle’s training on her blog, “On the Way to Ironman” at www.onthewaytoironman.wordpress.com.  We are looking forward to hearing about her success at the Ironman in Canada this summer.

If you have a story about your injury recovery that you would like to share with us, or if Medi-Dyne helped heal your pain please email connect@medi-dyne.com. Read what others are saying about the ProStretch Plus at medi-dyne.com or order your ProStretch Plus today.

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Product Review: ProStretch Plus Magic

Since last April I’ve struggled with lots of injuries, including the evil plantar fasciitis. Anyone who has ever had it can attest to its very evil nature, and if you ask me I’ll do that plus go on and on and on and on about it. So actually you may not want to do that, ever.

When I took some time off from running – which is actually when I found triathlon so thanks I guess you evil evil injury – and spent my time in the pool and on the bike it went away. But the moment I started running again pain came back and the PF continued to rear its ugly head in one way or another. Sometimes it was heel soreness, sometimes the top of my foot hurt, sometimes the underside along the edge, sometimes it was nighttime calf cramps so bad that I’d be sore for days. It never reached an unmanageable point, I’d just ice and stretch and things would resolve themselves until the nagging pain relocated and sprouted up somewhere new. Rinse and repeat, again and again.

Fast forward to October and November and nothing had gotten better but nothing had gotten worse. But I was feeling sort of nervous because of the half marathon, and even more so because I’m supposed to start January at 100% healthy, motivated, and ready to rock. I’d been insanely responsible about stretching, had weaseled myself into receiving a nightly massage and luckily was noticing progress with the combination, but I still had that nagging feeling that things could be better. But it wasn’t nagging enough to stop running, and so I ran.

I had read about the ProStretch Plus in a few tri magazine ads and it just so happened that during one of my more frustrating nights (Will I ever not be in pain? EVER?!?) they were posted as an upcoming sponsor of #runchat. I visited the website, understood the theory, and ordered one to be rush delivered. And since that wonderful magnificent day that it was delivered I have used it twice per day, and have been in no plantar fasciitis pain. Literally, zero pain. After just one time! And as the cherry on top of my pain-free sundae my arthritis has started to subside substantially, to the point that I’m forgetting to take my celebrex and it’s still getting better and better!

If you ever have any PF/foot/calf/toe/leg/etc pain, EVER, please do yourself a favor and go buy one of these. Love it, cuddle it, and use it twice a day and your feet will love you back!

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Filed under Gear & Tools, Health, Injuries, & Prevention

Seattle Half Marathon: Race Recap

My race highlight: I met…

Spiderman!

Me & Spiderman at the Seattle Half Marathon

I kid. I wasn’t even talking to him, but this picture makes it look like we’re about to celebrate together with post-race beers. We actually aren’t, like really really aren’t, because he passed me around mile 7 and didn’t swoop me up in spidey-like fashion and carry me to the finish line to beat my goal time. And so I ran those last 7ish miles, and he finished before me. Hurumph.

Nonetheless, overall race day was a success.

Half Marathon – 13.1 mi // Time: 1:37:05 // 7:24 min/mi

I woke up at 5am to dry pavement, but upon triple checking the weather forecast I was disappointed to learn that rain was still forecasted with 100% likelihood to start at 7am. I’d been stalking the weather report for days hoping for freezing cold over rain, but alas race morning had arrived with guaranteed wetness. Drat. I stood at my computer and silently hoped I wouldn’t have to stand around waiting for the race to start with my gear soaking up all that heavy, chafing, and cold water. Then I let the thought pass. Nothing I can do about it anyway, but I can get ready for this race!

After my tumultuous relations with weather.com I downed some coffee, ate my favorite breakfast (AKA peanut butter banana toast DUH), stretched out, peed 107.5 times, and soon it was time to head out the door to the start line. Given that the start line is 3/4 mi from our front door it seemed silly to drive, so I ran as a pre-race warm-up to get my heart pumping and keep my legs warm. I gathered my belongings, double checked my race belt for my gu’s, grabbed my trash bag in case my worst weather nightmares came true, and closed the door behind me. Not until then did it really feel like race day.

I was so prepared for everything, except for the fact that the temperature was so mild that I was sweating buckets under my throw-away sweats by the time I reached the start. I arrived, downed my water I had run with, and hunted the water station down for a few refills. Once I peed 32 more times and got myself set up with a full cup of water I was ready to camp out until race start in a more horizontal position (not on my feet). I found some dry concrete under the overhang at EMP and sat down, and within minutes a few folks followed and we all became quick race day friends. A fellow triathlete from the area, a runner from Sonoma, and I ran through the usual race day topics including the weather, the porta potty set up, race goals, fashion choices (Did you see all the Waldos out there? Really, like, runners dressed up as Where’s Waldo?), post-race plans, and future race plans. Eventually though we all had to part ways for one last pee and to cue ourselves up in the starting line just so.

I hopped the guard rails to get in where I wanted and sifted through the sea of around 8k bodies to try to find the 1:35 pacer. Eventually I spotted him, along with a teammate, and we all huddled together to try to establish our group and space amongst starting chaos. All of a sudden the final countdown was on and runners began to shift forward at a snail’s pace, and we were off!

I'm the Pink Blur

The first 5 miles were an exhausting game of follow the leader. So many people mis-seeded themselves up front, and our pacing group of 6 or so had to do some serious zig zagging to stay together and on pace. Combine that with water-filled potholes and it was stop! go! left! right! leap! repeat! until we got through the I-90 tunnel and down into Leschi. At which point I felt so mentally exhausted from trying to follow in the leader’s path that I let the pacing group go and did my own thing. With every passing mile I was expending more energy, and I was worried about what that would mean at mile 10, 11, and 12. I felt sad as they drifted away, knowing that my 1:35 goal was drifting away with them, but I tried to keep going and hoped to stay close far behind.

The next couple miles I beat myself up, a lot. How could I have let them go by? I could have held my own, right? They had to have evened out at some point unless the 1:35 group was going to hit 1:33, but perhaps they took the hills slowly? I should have stayed I should have stayed I should have stayed. I suck I suck I suck. Okay, eat your Gu, shut up, and keep running. I suck. Shut up. Okay.

I was happy to get to the Madison hill if for no other reason than to have pain to concentrate on, and when I got down the far side I heard my family yelling my name. Hi family! I didn’t expect to see them there and they gave me the extra boost I needed to push myself down the hill and use gravity to my advantage. I flew by and before I knew it we were at Interlaken climbing up and up and up. At that point Coach Ryan was there cheering, reminding me to relax and RUN. Another great point for a smiling face between climbs. At this point I realized how quiet much of the course had been; between the pouring rain and off the beaten path course there really hadn’t been many wild spectators, especially in comparison to Boston & the RnR Seattle. I enjoyed the quiet sound of wet feet hitting the pavement so much that when the crowd got rowdy with shrieking and horns I felt caught off guard, like something sacred was being interrupted.

Once I got to the flat portion of Interlaken I knew I’d survive, but I had a hard time quickening my pace to make up time. I wasn’t running particularly fast but tried every trick I know of to speed up my step. Quick feet, concentrating on lifting your legs up rather than pushing off, lean forward as a plane from the ankles, focus 15 feet in front and will yourself forward. But it just wasn’t happening for me. The more energy I put into moving fast, the slower I traveled. So, I found a 7:20 pace and tried to lock into it as best I could and go by rhythm and feel. I finished up Capitol Hill, crossed I-5, and tried to bring it home. I had flashes of the painful downhills in Boston, but this pain was nothing of the sort. My legs weren’t so dead this time around, but my hips were achy and my lungs were breathing fire, not air.

At the last little uphill, less than .5 mi from the finish line I got cheered in by favorite friend and her husband. I was in such a daze I hardly responded or acknowledged them, but to Courtney and Thomas THANK YOU for getting me up that hill. Perfect placement, because I would have been really embarrassed to half ass it in front of you guys with so little left to go.

I am a superhero, because I am DONE!

Then the race was done, and we got some breakfast, and I feel really lazy today for having a workout-less recovery day because I’m not even that tired. And as for my feelings post-race? You’ll get those next time!

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Operation: Stay Healthy

Unfortunately I have enough experience with injury to truly understand the value of investing in prevention. Prevention, plus a bullpen of health professionals that not only know how to help you heal but who also support whatever it is that you love, even if it’s why you need them in the first place. If I had a nickel for every time someone has suggested that I Just stop running I’d be rich as well as really unpleasant to be around. I don’t know, why don’t you just stop breathing? Of course breathing is more important than running, be it life and death and I’d reconsider. But plantar fasciitis or tendonitis or a stress fracture is not the same thing as death. Why don’t you care about anything enough to work through a challenge? *end rant

After one of my first (unsuccessful) attempts at open water swimming this summer I couldn’t breathe. The water was rough, it was early in the season so it was cold and dark too, and I was with some expert swimmer friends so I was equal parts scared shitless and intimidated by greatness. I swam maybe 100 yards and stopped. I couldn’t get any air in. They stopped with me and tried to coax me back into it, breathe slow, take loooong strokes, they said. Yeah, no. They thought I was having a panic attack and choking on water. Water had nothing to do with it, rather my throat was swollen and phlegm was growing to spoil any hope at getting air to my lungs. At the time all I knew was that I was discouraged by my wimpyness. But hours later when I still couldn’t breathe I knew it was something else.

Fast forward to a doctor appointment that afternoon. Oh yeah, same day, baby, tell ‘em you can’t breathe and you become very important. I explained the situation to my doctor and told her I had experienced the same thing during previous swims to lesser extents, though the water had never been so rough. Her first response? Well, maybe you should take up a different sport. Well maybe you should take up a different profession if you don’t want to enable people to do things that keep them healthy! I had no research to back myself up, but I pressed the phlegm angle hoping she’d prescribe me something that would cut congestion to at the very least limit my choking. You know, the lesser of two evils.

Low and behold I walked out of the office with a prescription for an inhaler. Done, and done! My problem is an allergy that can be managed with an inhaler and Sudafed, and the occasional netti pot pour. And I’ve lived happily ever after never to hear from the choking phlegm or closing throat again.

My podiatrist is the complete opposite. Meaning, he is the best. With a serious injury he will by all means sideline activity with a boot. I speak from experience. Twice. But for something that can be worked through he wants to help you find a solution. He listens to my injury woes. Adjusts my orthotics ever so slightly to reduce pressure and alleviate soreness. Cuts restricting crap off my shoes to allow my feet to expand to the wide piggies they’re getting to be with all this running. Pieces together pads to make my feet stay better in place. And when you have a month ‘till Boston and have plantar fasciitis and a neuroma, he asks if you still want to run it and gives you cortisone shots. And when things are still rough the week before, he gives you two more. And before you leave he always reminds you that running is painful, you have to expect some aches and pains along the way, because without pain in the sport you won’t get very far. Dr., you are my people.

My physical therapist is also like-minded. No shock considering my podiatrist recommended her. Rinse and repeat everything that I just said but in a PT application, and there you have another hero of mine.

I need to find a primary physician and chiropractor that also get it. Seattle people, suggestions?

I’m making a point to get my care and injury prevention right this time, and just started massage therapy as a preventative measure to keep my body healthy, relaxed and ready to go. In the past I’ve only gone pre and post-race as a means to gear up and recover. If I have an ache I wait until it’s shrieking to visit the doctor. But yesterday I called and got in to my podiatrist today. I haven’t been 100% comfortable in my left foot since…??…but with a couple tiny adjustments in my shoes I have been without any discomfort or pain since 9am this morning. First time in a long time. And more than anything I feel like my brain can now rest. No more energy will be wasted on this, and I can sleep and run with a sound mind.

I’m turning over a new and healthy leaf, because if I want to be as good as I can be I’m going to need to be as healthy as I can be, too. In my gymnastics career I wasted too many days on the stationary bike mimicking my routine’s dance movements with my arms. As teammates trained to compete I struggled to gain strength and keep fitness while injured. Arm dancing won’t help me much with swimming, biking and running, so I need a new plan. Operation: Stay Healthy is now top priority. Goal: To stay in the game and make use of every training opportunity to build strength, get faster, and be better.

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