Things are lookin’ up! I just heard back from my doctor and there are no stress fractures! There is an “area of concern” that he wants to keep an eye on – I’ll try out PT for a few weeks and see if it doesn’t respond to that. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I have 6 weeks to get healthy, push through my long runs, and toe the line.
Good news – I start PT on Tuesday. Hopefully the therapist will be able to coax my leg into cooperating with me and I’ll still be able to run the half in October. I’ haven’t done much of anything since the race last Sunday (although that does mean that I’ve actually been spending time at home with the husband and dog!), so I’m really hoping for progress and good news. To rule out a stress fracture I had x-rays taken yesterday and I am eagerly awaiting the results. Keep your fingers crossed!
Well, as good as I felt on Saturday, I feel that awful today. My left leg is acting up again – worse than last time. I can pinpoint the pain, which is concerning. I have an appointment next week with my doctor to see what the next steps are. Hopefully it’s just a short time away from running like last time, but who knows. Wish me luck.
So it seems that I have finally found a pair of lightweight, soft running shoes that feel good and look good! *cue the choir of angels*
Last week a pair of the much-adored Saucony Kinvara 3s arrived at my door, and I couldn’t have been happier. Everyone everywhere seems to love these shoes, so I was sure after the toebox issues with the Saucony Ride 5s, these were my shoes. They’re super lightweight and a little cushiony and have some seriously awesome colors. I quickly tried them on and they felt fantastic, so I laced them up Thursday morning and hit the trails. Omg. Oww. Pain. The shoes themselves are fine, even with the lower heel-to-toe drop (4mm, instead of 12mm like my Ride 4s) – but the back of the shoe comes up super high and gave me awful blisters after just one mile. I can’t even remember the last time I got blisters from athletic shoes. Seeing as I had run one mile out, I had to make it back… that was the longest mile ever. All was not lost though – other than a bit of heel skin – as I did eek out a mile PR on the outbound trip. And another trip back to the UPS Store.
So after this run, out of frustration, I stopped at Dicks Sporting Goods on my way to the gym and picked up a pair of Brooks Pure Cadences. These shoes are part of the Brooks Pure Project, and are lightweight, cushiony, and flexible, with just a touch of stability. And did I mention it’s like running on clouds? I (hesitantly) took these shoes out for my 6 miler on Saturday. After Thursday’s mishap, I was a bit nervous to try these out on my long run, but the squishiness and hot pinkness were just too much to resist. I did, however, put my old shoes in my husband’s car, which we parked further down the trail with some water, in case we needed it. I definitely did not need to even think about changing shoes. Aside from a little bit of stiffness in the first mile or so, these shoes are a God-send. My feet and legs have never felt so good after a run – and best of all? No blisters! But let me tell you, the neon pink shoes look superhot with my neon green calf sleeve and my neon orange shirt… at least no one should hit me while running on the road! Unless they’re blinded by my neon-ness…
Our run took us down the trail (downhill) about 3 miles, before we veered off the trail (gasp!) and onto the road up a hill. If you look at the Baltimore Half elevation map, you notice it’s surprisingly hilly. I grew up in Baltimore and had no idea Baltimore had such hills. So in order to not get our asses handed to us by the streets, we are adding more and more hills into our training, aside from the 2-3% incline the trail gives us.This hill wasn’t long, but boy was it tough. The worst of it’s barely half a mile, but it’s really quite steep at parts – far steeper than I ever realized driving it. It was definitely tough, and now we know we really need to work on hills, but we conquered it. And all 6 miles of our run. In 1:16:53. Aside from a 1/2 mile walk break just before the big hill, we ran almost the entire distance, which is a huge step for me.
As if 6 miles Saturday wasn’t enough, we had a 5k race on Sunday evening at our favorite local vineyard, Boordy Vineyards. It was a trail/road race, with the beginning and end of the race going through the fields around the vineyards, and the bulk of the distance on the paved road in front of the vineyard. When I think trail, I think grass and dirt and some bumps here and there, but this was more like off-roading than trail. There were divots everywhere, some of which could have easily broken an ankle or 50. It seemed like a lot of people were being fairly cautious on this part of the race, with good reason. The seriously uneven nature of the ground really aggravated my leg injury, and kept me in a fair bit of pain for most all of the race. But, I did something I have never done before in a race. I sucked it up and kept moving. There were lots of times where I wanted to stop and walk, but I kept telling myself it wasn’t going to hurt any less if I walked, so keep running. And I’m glad I did – I got my self a shiny new PR 36:59. Although I’m spending much of today with icebags strapped to my legs, I’m super thrilled that I’ve made so much progress in just two months. Back in June it took me 43:35 to get through the Baltimore Women’s Classic – that means that even with the injury issues, I’ve cut over 7 1/2 minutes in just 8 weeks. If I can do that much in 8 weeks, I can’t wait to see how much more I can do in the 8 weeks leading up to the half.
On a side note, I’ve discovered a wonderful pre-run snack – Oatnut bread with honey. Super delicious. And if you can squeeze it in, a banana is a great accompaniment (or, if it doesn’t completely gross you out like it does me, cut the banana up and put it on the bread with the honey and some peanut butter).
They announced the race shirts and finishers medals for this year’s race! The shirts are basically the same UA Catalyst shirts that they’ve had for several years now, just different colors each year (when I did the half in 2009 it was a turquoise blue), but the medals are a fair bit different (the half medal is the silver one in the back). Can’t wait to have one hanging around my neck!! Less than two months!! (eek! less than two months?!?)
They also announced the courses for this year, and the half course is pretty much the same as it has been for the last several years. It’ll be mostly uphill, with a bit of a reprieve around Lake Montebello at mile 7 and then all downhill for the last mile or two (woohoo!) to the finish line at Camden Yards.
When I was skating, one of the things I loved was how you would work on an element for weeks or months, not able to do it to save your life, leaving you incredibly frustrated – and then one day, it would just happen. One day, you would hit it perfectly, and every time after was just as perfect. That feeling was addictive.
I finally had that feeling with running this weekend. After weeks of running, getting myself back up to speed, I had my best run yet. I went out for a 5 mile run yesterday, expecting it to seem like torture. Aaron was out of town this weekend, so I was running by myself, and I hadn’t run 5 miles in almost two years. The weather was fairly cool (well, compared to the rest of the summer thus far), which was a big plus. Instead of running from my usual location, I decided to try a new spot on the trail. I seem to have a bit of a mental block on the last 3/4 mile of my usual spot, so I needed a change of pace. This change also allowed me to run uphill first, then have a nice downhill return trip.
After a mile warm up down the trail a bit, I set off. My asthma acted up quite a bit, and I probably sounded like I was dying for much of the first mile; not wanting to leave my lungs feeling lonely, my calves joined in, too. I pushed through the first mile then stopped to stretch my legs a bit and then kept going. Before I knew it, I was back up at my usual stretch of trail. Because I was just about to my turnaround point, I decided to push extra hard – a) to get to the half way point sooner, and b) to help me get over whatever mental block I have about this part of the trail. When I hit 2.5 miles, I decided to keep going another .15 miles to the crossroad. Either I would get in some extra mileage or I would get a longer cool down at the end of the run. At some point, however, I must have hit “pause” on my GPS app, because I looked down and the mileage hadn’t changed a bit since I hit the crossroad. Luckily I’m familiar with that stretch and knew it was about .15 miles since I turned and could add it later, but it was still a bit annoying. With the return trip being downhill, I pushed harder than I did on the outbound trip. All said and done, I beat our 4 mile time from the week before by nearly 9 minutes! I completed the run (about 5.25 miles) in 1:01:56. I was so happy. Not only did I run almost almost 2 minutes per mile faster than my usual long runs, I beat my previous 5 mile PR by several minutes. I was ecstatic I need to figure out what I did right so I can keep doing it! After my run I had a nice stretch on the side of the trail and (literally) put my feet up for a few minutes, listening to the birds chirp, the water bubble, and watching the world go by.
Although I was a bit sore this morning, I decided to go out and do another 2-3 miles to loosen up the legs. I went to the same spot as yesterday, hoping for the same success, but none was to be had. Of course, yesterday I hadn’t run 5 miles the day before, so naturally today was going to be slower. My legs were a bit more sore than I had realized, and my left leg is acting up again, but my times weren’t terrible. I ended up getting 2.8 miles in, which is quite fine by me. Even though I’m more sore than I would like to be, it’s a good kind of sore that I can live with. I think I’ll take tomorrow off or just use the elliptical at the gym, and then get out for another run on Tuesday. On Thursday I meet with my trainer for the first of three sessions of strength training specifically for runners. I’m really looking forward to these sessions and hope they help.
So after watching this, I feel kinda lame for having to walk during my long runs. Talk about dedication!