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Over a month later…

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my marathon! It is sufficient to say that I have been enjoying my break. As much as I loved training, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to come home from work and run 8 miles, especially now that my commute is back to being an hour each way as opposed to 3 minutes.

Since I posted last I’ve been getting more into strength training, even buying a pair of these bad boys from a friend who was upgrading to heavier weights and selling them for more than 50% off retail! In addition, the longest I’ve ran since the marathon is about 6.5 miles this past weekend, and that’s felt long enough for me at this point. I don’t know how people do multiple marathons back-to-back without any rest. I am definitely more comfortable without the pressure of a big race and all the training looming over my head right now.

Because of this, I’ve decided to wait until next year to run another marathon (although a half marathon this fall could be in the works, since training isn’t quite as long and demanding, obviously). If I had decided to do a marathon this October/November, I would’ve had to start training in the end of June/beginning of July, which is fast approaching! So my long term plan is to run another marathon in 2013, probably in the fall (like I mentioned in my last post, Richmond or Marine Corps perhaps?)

You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.

– Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist

Coming up soon, I am doing a fun Twilight Four Miler in June and a Crystal City Twilighter 5k in July. Both of these are night races as you may have guessed (no, they are not in fact Twilight vampire-movie themed races, haha). I’ve only done one other night race before, the Fairfax Four Miler on New Year’s Eve a few years ago, and it was different and exciting so I’m looking forward to these. Plus, I’ll have some friends like Emily, Leo, and Maxwell running in the four miler in June too!

A little further down the road, but even more awesome, is the Army Ten-Miler on October 21. This race is supposed to be just awesome according to everything I’ve heard and read. There are 30,000 runners: one-third (or 10,000 spots) of those registrations are reserved for U.S. service members and runners who have participated in at least seven or more Army Ten-Miler races, and the remaining two-thirds (0r 20,000 spots) opened to the general public on a first-come-first-serve basis last night at 12:01 am. Since I am in bed way before midnight, I risked waiting until morning to register. When I woke up at 7:30 this morning, I immediately went online to register. At that point, there were only around 2,000 spots left. That means between midnight and 7:30 am, 18,000 people had registered in the general registration, not counting the 10,000 that got to register early. WOAH. AND, by the time I got to work at 9 am, the race was SOLD OUT! That is definitely a new record for this race!

This will be my largest race to date by far. Side note: the Charlottesville marathon I believe had a little under 500 finishers. The Richmond marathon is somewhere over 4,000 runners. Compare that to the four biggest U.S.  marathons, which are NYC (46,000+), Chicago (35,000+), Boston (23,000+), and Marine Corps (20,000+). So, as you can see, this 30,000 person Army Ten-Miler is BIG! Oh and also,  it is “the third largest 10-mile race in the world.

Pretty neat, huh?! I’ll probably start my training for this race in mid-August. The short twilight races in June and July I won’t really ‘train’ for it in the way I’ve been using the word. I’ll just keep up with my strength training and running a few times a week, not too far.

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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 11 + “ice” bath

Saturday’s run was crazy – here is the good and the bad.

The good:

-I’ve recently started a new tradition that before my long runs I’ll go to Panera Bread and buy a pre-run bagel and a post-run bagel. My pre-run bagel is relatively simple, a whole grain bagel with regular cream cheese. My post-run bagel (and my motivation during some of those hard miles) is a cinnamon raisin swirl (or french toast bagel in this weeks case) with hazelnut cream cheese (or icing, as Matt calls it). It is literally like eating a delicious dessert. A-MA-ZING.

-It was about 56 degrees and beautiful outside! I was in shorts and short sleeves and my sunglasses.

-Two of the Gus I used (of the 4 total) were my favorite, Chocolate Outrage!! I won’t get into that, since I’ve talked about it a lot already so you should know by now how much I love it.

-That night I got to hang out with Matt, his youngest sister Jenna, and their cousin Sarah who was in town. The girls made delicious chicken tacos, homemade salsa AND guacamole. Mmmmm, it was heaven!

The bad:

-I was dragging the first 5-6 miles, I felt sooo heavy. I realized that the Gu I took before the run (Peanut Butter) doesn’t have any caffeine in it, and I need that caffeine beforehand!

-Since I was at UVA and part of my run goes by the basketball arena, I somehow managed to time it so that I was running through crowds arriving TO the game at the start of my run (mile 1-2), and then on my way BACK there were people overflowing the sidewalks and streets leaving the game (mile 10-11), it became sort of an obstacle course trying to get through! Next time I should check to make sure there aren’t any major sporting events I’ll have to run through, haha.

-Running by a Wendy’s around mile 16 – made me want to gag. I don’t ever eat fast food, but it smells ESPECIALLY bad when you’ve been running for 3 hours. People were sitting in their car eating their artery-clogging burgers and staring at me like I was an exotic animal they had never seen as I ran by. Some people are amazed/confused/amused(?) by me running with all my gear and intensity! 😉

…and the next category, the new:

Don't let the lack of ice cubes fool you, it was freezing...

Ice bath! Even though it was only one mile more than my longest run last week, my ankles were feeling especially tired. I told Matt I felt like I had baby ankles – I guess that means my bones are still forming and are hard to walk on and I would’ve rather been crawling – a bit of post-run genius right there. I knew that putting some bags of ice on them just wasn’t going to be enough, so I decided, for the first time I would try an ice bath. I did some googling of ice bath criteria and rules as Matt started filling the tub was luke-cold (his word, not mine) water. I went in to check the temperature and immediately made it colder because I’m a champion like that. One of things I read was that some runners like to sip hot chocolate or hot tea while in the ice bath to make it feel not as bad. So by the time the tub was all full of icy cold water, Matt started heating some water for tea. I was literally pacing around being all nervous as I waited for my tea and as the ice bath waited for me. Finally, I decided I need to JUST DO IT and get it over with. I did it with my clothes on to provide some (small amount of) warmth, so Matt came in as I stepped in and lowered myself into the tub while yelling things such as “IT IS SOO COLD, OH NO, SO COLD,” and the like. As I was all the way in, sitting up with my legs straight, the water was up a little past my waist and my legs extended straight out. Within about 15 seconds I realized it didn’t feel bad anymore. But it didn’t feel GOOD per say. It just felt strange. I could rotate my ankles in the water and they didn’t hurt at all like they did outside the water.

Matt started the timer (10 minutes) and went to get my tea for me. The ice bath was definitely a super strange feeling and I never really felt like I was the happiest child on the planet, but it did feel relaxing, I can’t deny that! After adding some ice cubes, sipping on some hot tea (great idea by the way!) and asking Matt “how much longer do I have?”, I finally finished my 10 minutes and slowly stood up. My legs were red, but they felt good, they felt totally cooled off right through the muscle. All in all, a great, great idea that I will definitely be doing again after my long runs, when frozen peas are just not going to cut it.

Oh, and one more thing to add to “the good,” I didn’t have work today so I got to stay with Matt another night AND it snowed yesterday in Charlottesville, beautiful! 🙂

47 more days till the big day! I am getting SO excited!