Monthly Archives: March 2012

Week 16 + taper + birthday

For my first week of the taper I had a pretty decent week of running, although my pacing was feeling strange, like I just couldn’t get the rhythm down ever since hurting my ankle, but at least I was able to get my week day runs in. On Friday, I drove down to Charlottesville after work for the beginning of my birthday weekend. Since Matt and I have the same birthday, it makes celebrating together extra special. This year was the 5th birthday that we’ve spent celebrating together, since the first one was when we turned 20 together, wow!

This was the e-card I made for Matt, sweet right?

On my birthday I woke up early to find it pouring down rain so I decided I’d have to do my 12 mile run inside on the treadmill, which I wasn’t looking forward to because the treadmill gets so boring. I had bought some more KT Tape Pro, and I decided to basically tape everything that hurt or could possibly hurt as a precaution. I taped my left ankle, my right hip, and my right outer knee (the parts that had been hurting from the extra impact). I actually felt really cool with my pink and green tape, and felt like I looked all hardcore and intense, like a real athlete!

After one boring mile on the treadmill, I decided it was just way too hot in the gym to be inside and there was no way I’d be able to do 12 miles like that, and plus I needed to stop being a baby and shying away from the rain. So I went back to Matt’s real quick to grab my sunglasses and Fuel Belt, and off I went in the rain for the last 11 miles of my run. The rain was bad at first, making it hard to see and making me wish I owned a hat! But after the first 5 miles outside it stopped and the cool air was perfect to run in. I was really glad I decided to move outside instead, sometimes running in the rain is really invigorating.

My favorite part of the Melting Pot experience!

That night the celebrations began! Matt and I had dinner at the Melting Pot, which he had never been to. It was delicious cheese fondue, followed by salad and then an entree of all sorts of meat (steak, filet mignon, shrimp, BBQ chicken, and lobster tail), and finished off with my favorite, the dessert course. Flaming turtle chocolate fondue with delicious treats to dip in it – Rice Krispie treats, graham cracker-covered marshmallows, Oreo-covered marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake, brownie, strawberries, and banana slices. Mmmm! That wasn’t the end of it though – on Sunday I had two more celebrations, including the famous brunch at Boar’s Head Inn with Matt and his family, followed by going back home for a family birthday dinner and my mom’s famous chocolate cheesecake for my birthday cake. It was a gourmet, chocolately, delicious birthday that’s for sure.

Thank you so very, very much to everyone who made my birthday super special! First and foremost my mom, for birthing me! My dad, my brother, my Aunt Katie and Uncle Matt and my 3 sweet little cousins, Grama, Poppy, Grampa, Eileen, Mimi, my sweet boyfriend and his family, and my great friends who I got to have board game night with last week! Thanks for making my golden birthday amazing, I love you all so much!

So as the taper continues and the nervousness starts to set in as I have less than TWO WEEKS till the marathon, I must remember all of the work I’ve put in to get this far and how much I’ve been preparing for the day.

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Week 15

The beginning of this week was totally… strange. All of the sudden it seemed like, I was extremely tired, really moody, and reeeeally hungry. I tried running on Tuesday (at 75% reduced mileage as suggested since I was out for a week with 4 weeks till the marathon), which didn’t go as well as I had liked. By Wednesday, I was in 100% mood-swing-engaged mode. I just didn’t know why I was so out of whack. Was it the time change? The move? The new (really long) commute? The fact that I wasn’t able to run last week and was off schedule? It ends up, I wasn’t going crazy, but I am experiencing exercise withdrawal. Yes, it’s a real thing (I didn’t realize it before now)… I’m about to get really science-y:

In 2006, a doctor went out to discover “whether withdrawal of regular aerobic activity provokes depressive mood symptoms and fatigue, and to what extent reductions in fitness levels contribute to the development of these symptoms.” It turns out that “fatigue and somatic depressive symptoms emerged after 1 week of exercise withdrawal and subsequently predicted the development of cognitive-affective depressive symptoms at 2 weeks…” And here is where I had my A-HA moment: “Depressed mood and fatigue are commonly observed in individuals deprived of usual exercise activities, and the increase in fatigue may be partially mediated by reduced fitness levels. These findings may explain mood changes in response to short-term exercise withdrawal such as injuries and recovery from medical procedures that do not require full bedrest.”

Well, that explains all of my symptoms at the beginning of this week… I was out for a week with an ankle injury after 13 solid weeks of marathon training, which ended up being a big, big break in my routine for my mind and body that hit me all at once this week, leaving me feeling insatiable, cranky, and tired. This week also gives me a little bit of (possible) insight into a phenomenon I’ve read about called “post-marathon blues.” If you google it, you will get a tons of hits, like this or this one for instance.

Luckily by Thursday I had a great run, no ankle brace, just KT Tape, and even though the run was short, it was reassuring and good for my confidence. Then on Saturday I had my long run – originally (pre-injury) I would’ve done 20 miles, at 75% reduced mileage I could perhaps do 15 miles. But it was really hot out and I was still easing back in, having only run twice in the past 2 weeks, so I was did 12 miles, and there was no ankle pain, YAY!

It was a mentally tough run, but I did it and didn’t have to stop at any point except for a water refill and bathroom break. And the best part was that at mile 11, Matt joined me for the last mile 🙂 he didn’t like how slow the pace was, but hey, I had been running for hours, so he could go my pace for a mile! It’s definitely harder with his longer legs and he was all fresh, whereas I had just run 11 miles! Even though 12 miles is on the “shorter” end of my long runs, I decided to do an ice bath afterwards as a precaution, and even managed to stay in for 20 minutes, eating pizza, listening to music, browsing Facebook on my phone, anything to pass the icy time.

And now, there are 19 days left until the big day. The last three weeks is all about the taper – so my mileage goes way, way down, but I keep running 4 times a week – this is so that the body has time to recover from the  high mileage before going into the race. Getting excited now!

A special shout out some friends that did marathons this weekend! Asta completed the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and Nicole finished the LA Marathon (her first!) – CONGRATS LADIES! 🙂

Week 14 – acute ankle sprain, no running

Missing a 30 mile week of running is NO FUN. The only 2 days I was on schedule this week was Monday and Friday, rest days… So last Tuesday I fell down the concrete stairwell as I was leaving work in a hurry (wanted to get a quick 5 mile run outside in before a clothing swap party with some friends that night, since it was SO nice out). Well, my rushing ended poorly, since my heel got caught in the cuff of my opposite pant leg and I tumbled down the stairs, resulting in an inversion sprain of my left ankle, a scrape on my opposite shin along with a bruised knee (somehow on both sides) of the right leg. I hate how I injure myself doing non-running things and then I’m forced to not run…

I’ve had quite a lot of experience with ankle sprains and luckily this is one of the least painful I’ve had, but the one where I most want to get back to running and physical activity! Ankle sprains are divided into three categories. Grade I is a minor twist. Ligaments are stretched, but there are no major problems. Grade II is more severe, with increased tearing, while Grade III involves a major rupture that may need surgical repair. Luckily, my sprain appears to be a Grade I.

I’ve had my share of Grade III sprains, such as when I tore ligaments playing soccer back in the day, and another when I tripped on the UVA campus in Charlottesville my first year and managed in twist my ankle both ways, resulting in serious pain, tears (as in crying), lots of swelling and bruising, crutches, and general annoyance for weeks on end (my foot would not fit into any shoe). Oh, and did I mention these are all on my left a ankle?

TREATMENT & RECOVERY:

Anyways, treatment for the acute sprain begins with the classic “RICE” therapy: rest, ice, compression, and elevation (check!). Also, give your ankle some protection and support by wearing a brace (check!). After those first 72 hours, you can proceed to cautious, non-weight-bearing exercises. The classics are drawing the alphabet in the air with your toes or working the ankle gently with elastic therapy bands. Next come simple weight-bearing exercises, like leaning against a wall while squatting, and balance training, such as balancing on one leg, and single-leg squats, hops, and reaches.

Fortunately, you can rehab most sprains, often quite quickly. Better, from a runner’s perspective, is that the rehab doesn’t involve sitting around doing nothing. Sports medicine doctors recommend getting back to weight-bearing activity as soon as the ankle will tolerate it. So in the meantime, as I do these exercises, I am contemplating what I am going to wear when I go back to running, at least in the beginning – for instance, there are lots of braces and types of tape you can wear to give extra support to an already-weak and/or recovering ankle. There are literally dozens of different ankle braces, but some of them are too restrictive to really move around in or could effect running speed drastically. That’s why I’m looking into getting some kinesiology tape to put on my ankle to help with recovery and stability, which basically works in this way: “by applying KT Tape over affected tissue, athletes experience an external support which helps to prevent further injury and allows the body’s damaged tissue to rest and heal naturally despite continued activity.” Sounds like I’ll be picking some of that stuff up at a local sporting store soon.

My next scheduled run is tomorrow, 5 miles, but I’m not sure if that’ll be happening or not. I have been walking unassisted (no crutches), the swelling is almost completely gone, and I am able to flex my foot, but still a little tender to the touch, and not feeling as strong when compared to the other one (doing calf raises for instance). Fingers crossed that I can be back to running at least by the middle of this week, I am hoping that this won’t affect my marathon training, but I don’t think it will – luckily I got the 20 miler in a little early (I wasn’t supposed to do it until this approaching weekend; it’s like I had a sixth sense!) and my training is really almost done, only 4 weeks left and the final 3 weeks are the taper. So I’m optimistic! 🙂

My fortune last night - is it referring to the marathon?

Week 12 + Week 13

One thing I’ve been trying to do, whether running inside on the treadmill or outside, is add lots of hill training, since the marathon will be super hilly (in case you forgot, look at the elevation chart). So, let’s do a quick test. Do me a favor and look at the picture on the right. Put yourself in his shoes, imagine you are running up a giant hill right now, and describe think about your emotions. Are you: (A) Angry, agitated, defeated, miserable, and resentful, or (B) Happy, joyful, blissful, chipper, and thrilled?

If you answered (A), then congratulations, you are a normal human being. If you answered (B), then welcome to my world, pal! I have to add that I haven’t always been “abnormal,” but since I started marathon training, me and hills are best friends (most of the time, all friends have arguments, right? And when the arguments do happen, the hills usually win…)

Anyways, when I’m running in Charlottesville, it’s no problem, I can run literally anywhere and get my hill fill. But when I’m at home it’s a little more difficult, and I have started ravenously seeking out hills…

"I LOVE RUNNING UP HILLS!"

Despite finding and running as many hills as possible at home, I find that on my runs I get saddened when I feel like I am running on mostly flat/downhill terrain, and I get super happy when I am running uphills. It’s a sickness. Honestly. Most people hate hills.

Do NOT buy me this shirt, because the sarcastic remark on the bottom makes it completely false.

I sang a short ode to the hills when I ran my most recent 5k, because hill training did wonder for my speed. Running hills is just all around great for you, it gives you more strength, efficiency, and  endurance – as long as you’re careful and do it the right way!

In addition, I was feeling so good on my long run on Saturday (my pacing was steady, no cramps, steady heart rate, legs felt good, great weather, the whole nine yards) that I decided around mile 11-12 that I was going to add an extra mile and do 20 miles instead of 19 miles (technically I went a little over 20, because I was just guessing after mile 19 since I hadn’t mapped out 20 miles before on mapmyrun.com). My finishing time was with probably 5 minutes worth of breaks (bathroom, water refill, shoe adjustments) and it all felt super steady and totally do-able. If I had to run more, or if a bear had jumped out at mile 20 and started to chase me, I would in fact still be alive, cause I would’ve been able to run away still.

My training plan had me only running 20 miles once. I am doing the Hal Higdon “Novice 2” program, but the “Intermediate 1” program has two 20 milers, so I figured, you know what, I’m feeling good, and it feels safe to tack on an extra mile here. So I’ll be a step ahead of my plan by doing two 20 milers, the next one being St. Patrick’s Day weekend, which I’ll try to do in Charlottesville if I’m lucky! What has the world come to when getting to run on hills is considered “lucky” in my mind? 🙂