Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Weekly Recap

I know, I know… I’ve really been awful at this blogging thing lately.

I’m sorry 😦

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It’s been tough to get excited about blogging when my running has been so hit or miss due to injuries over the last 6 weeks.

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Things were going so well until mid-August, but the last six weeks have just been so frustrating. BUT, getting my final 20 miler in in such great condition really helped.

This week I was released from 2x per week PT!! This week and next week I’ll only go once, to get my hip taped, to use the PENS therapy machine, and to run on the Alter G. It was a huge mental boost to hear that I don’t have to go on Mondays anymore.

Yesterday we were still getting lashed by that coastal storm that’s been wreaking havoc on South Carolina. When I woke up it was 45 degrees, pouring down raining, and super windy, so I decided to skip my 12 miler – no need to risk pneumonia (or getting hit by a car…) this close to the marathon! Instead I did 8 miles on the elliptical while watching Spirit of the Marathon today (a must-watch).

Tuesday will be the first time I’ve gone to the track in 6 weeks. I’m still not allowed to do speed work, but I figure because we’re doing 1600s at 10 sec faster than marathon pace, that’s not really speed work, so I can do it. 🙂 I’ve really missed my Tuesday night track sessions – I think it’ll be good psychologically to get back there, even if it’s just for the last two sessions.

And Saturday will be my last long run! Whoa! Where has the time gone?? It just occurred to me this evening that I should start planning my race-week meals and acquiring the ingredients. Anal retentive, yes, but I’m not leaving anything to chance. I’ve put too much into this to screw it up with something stupid and easy to avoid.

What are your favorite race-week meals or snacks?? 

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I did it.

16 miles.

As much as I hurt this morning, I was prepared to bail at 5.

But I did it. I got through all 16 miles. I had yards of tape holding my leg together and my training partners were awesome about trying out a new route that didn’t involve crossing the major roadway, and we got through it together. Hills and rain and all.

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You know what’s truly amazing? This badass chick ran 16 miles. SIX TIMES!!


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Ortho Update

I swear sometimes I’m actually a 90 year old… the best damn looking 90 year old in town, but I digress…

This morning I met with my ortho to determine whether my aches and pains are something I can run through or something I need to sit my butt down for.

The good news? No stress fractures! My bones look purrrrrrdy. Yay!!

The not-so-good news? I’ve got a laundry list of issues…

  1. The thigh/femur pain is actually a very angry sartorius muscle.
    Remember that song from kindergarten, “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”? (ha! now that song’s stuck in your head for the rest of the week, too! 😉 )Yeah, well, dem bones tendons are all connected…. which leads us to…
  2. Bursitis of the Pes anserine, and
  3. Distal hamstring tendinitis.

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At least it’s not a stress fracture!! 😀

I get a cortisone injection for the bursitis next week, but this week’s long run is still in question. As the ortho said, if it hurts, don’t run. Ugh. But I can take OTC anti-inflamatories if they help. Yay! Well, not really yay, but you know… #runnerlogic

Luckily i was able to get in an awesome 5 mile run on the AlterG this afternoon. Started out at 70% body weight but was able to get up to 80% once the excedrin kicked in – and I did it in major PR territory! 43:43. Woo!!

Maybe I can break into the PT’s office this weekend and do my 16 miler on the AlterG so I don’t have to do it on the elliptical…. Only kinda sorta half joking….

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Well, I wouldn’t actually break in, but I’m not above begging and crying. Seriously.


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Race Report: Charles Street 12 Miler

After nearly 2 weeks off, my second run back was going to be a race. Good plan, right?

Because this is a point-to-point race, my mom dropped me off at the beginning of the race so I didn’t have to drive allllll the way downtown just to take a bus allllll the way back out to the suburbs. 4:45am was early enough, I didn’t need to make it 3:45.

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The day before the race I received an email from one of my marathon coaches, letting us know that all training group participants were welcomed to use a local PT clinic as a pre-race gathering point – real bathrooms!! woohoo!! It was super nice of LifeStrength Physical Therapy to let us crash there and have a brekkie/fuel spread for us. It made meeting up with running buddies a whole lot easier and made the whole morning a lot less stressful.

About 15 minutes before the race we headed over to the start area and I ran in to one of the women I ran with last year. We all chatted and did our dynamic warmups, then headed up to the starting line.

Naturally, the joggler was there

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two inflatable baseball bats and a football this time

And then I ran into a local runner (more accurately, he ran into me) who I’ve been chatting with on twitter and instagram for about a year but had never actually met. Smalltimore at its best!

Given that I really hadn’t run in nearly two weeks and my leg was questionable at best, I was pretty nervous through the announcements and the anthem. Luckily, the race started on time without much delay – much less time to worry!

My main goal for this race was getting through it. In one piece. As my PT (and mom, and running buddies, and friends) reminded me on Friday, this isn’t a race for me – it’s just a well-supported training run. No racing.

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Tracy, Ivan, Jenni, and I all started together, but Ivan peeled off after about a half mile, as he was planning on doing a run/walk to get through it with his injury. Jenni was chomping at the bit from the get go, and although I could see her for the first mile or so, she pulled away in the second mile. Tracey ran with me the whole time, graciously putting up with my aches and pains and walking.

This race is billed as a downhill race (it is net-downhill), but the first couple of miles are full of uphills – and the first mile is all uphill! I knew this, though, and was well prepared for it.

We ran through the campus of my undergrad alma matter and finally hit the race’s namesake in the 3rd mile and hit a few more hills as we ran through Rolland Park, past the Cathedral, the College of Notre Dame of of Maryland and Loyola University Maryland. The pain I had in my femur after the 20 miler came back around mile three. The pain level held pretty steady, but it was enough to cause me to walk up a few hills (*tear*) and walk through every water stop.

As we approached Johns Hopkins University’s main campus, the route turns decidedly more urban. The road turns to the right as you leave Rolland Park and enter Homeland, which gives you your first glimpse of the Baltimore skyline – a view you keep the entire way downtown. It’s easily one of my favorite views in Baltimore.

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I’ve honestly never seen so many cops on a race course as I did on this one – most of the intersections had 2-3 officers holding traffic for us. It’s been a rough year for officers in Baltimore (and around the country, really), so I made sure to thank as many as I could. Most of the cars they had stopped were being respectful and patient, but in certain areas they were getting mouthy with the officers. Maybe if they ran with us they’d be a bit more chilled out 😉 And they just might’ve gotten to their destination quicker…

It’s really amazing that this race goes on as it really does muck up one of Baltimore’s main arteries. We ran in the southbound lanes, allowing traffic to flow northbound, but cross-traffic was held up for quite a while as the pack spread out throughout the course of the run. It really says a lot about Charm City Run and Charm City that we get the opportunity to run down such a scenic route.

After wiping out on Charles Street during the St. Patrick’s Day 5k, I was a bit paranoid about tripping on the road again – unfortunately, this meant that I spent more time looking at the road than I did looking at the gorgeous scenery (seriously, I barely even remember running past the Washington Monument).

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If only Charles Street was actually a flat surface!

Once we cleared the spot where I tripped in March, I was able to relax a bit. We ran through downtown and into the Federal Hill neighborhood, where we did a u-turn and headed back towards the Inner Harbor. The end was near! As we approached the finish, we veered off the road and onto the promenade (another known trip risk for me!), past Harbor Place and the World Trade Center, before heading back onto the road for the final approach. One of our coaches was there cheering us on, which helped take my mind off of the pain for a moment. One more turn and we were home free!

My goal for the race was to finish around 2:15 – which would mean I kept a comfortable pace, consistent with recent long runs. Tracey and I finished together in 2:13:35. Nearly perfect. 🙂

It felt weird to not race a race, but I knew why I was there. I got through it, without letting the rust legs and pain stop me. Jenni ended up finishing a few minutes before us, but we never saw Ivan again.

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To top off a great race, they had a party for us at Power Plant Live, with a live band, boxed lunches (that were actually pretty good!), and free beer for those who wished to partake.

Despite being in pain for the rest of the weekend, I’m calling this race a success. I made it through the run and through the pain. I kept a good pace throughout and, other than the left thigh, felt pretty good.

But I’ll find out just how much of a success this truly was when I meet with the orthopedist tomorrow morning. I’m hoping to get an MRI to rule out (I hope, I pray) a femoral stress fracture. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!


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My First 20 Miler!!

Yesterday was about as perfect of a day for a run as one could hope for in late August. It was 58 when I got out of my car with low humidity. I was nervous about this run and it was making my stomach a bit upset, which made me even more nervous, but at least I didn’t have to worry about the conditions.

We ran in the neighborhood near the store, which was a blessing and a curse. It’s great because there are many places in which to rack up miles and is hilly, which is great prep for Baltimore, but it can also get monotonous. Our first loop ended up being nearly 14 miles. My right calf was tight through the first 3 miles, which caused my right foot to fall asleep on the uphills, but it worked itself out. Around mile 8 I noticed that my left knee was feeling a little weak laterally, but nothing earth-shattering. Near that same time one of the women I was running with was dealing with some hip tightness while another was dealing with abductor tightness, so we took a stretch break which helped us all.

When we returned to the store to fill up on water, I tried a new fuel, the Clif pouch of Sweet Potato with Sea Salt. In theory it’s a pretty good idea, given how sweet most fuels are, but it took 10 minutes and half a bottle of water just to get down half of the pouch. And the taste left something to be desired. A lot, really. The volume of the fuel plus the water made my stomach feel all sorts of off, and I ended up having to walk for .25 mi to let my stomach settle. For about a minute I thought I was going to throw up along a rather busy major road…

Once I got through that I actually felt pretty good. We only had 5 miles to get through at that point. Totally doable, but also some of the hardest 5 miles I’ve ever run. We purposefully took a hilly route (Baltimore is basically straight uphill from mile 15-20), which was challenging but I think successful for all of us. It wasn’t until about mile 18.5 that the wheels kinda came off the cart. My left thigh starting aching and then hurting. I knew stopping wasn’t an option. I also knew that the direct route I was on wasn’t going to get me to 20 miles. So I ran in circles to get closer to 20, even running in a broad circle while the girl I was with stopped to get a drink. When we finally made it back to the store, my Garmin read 19.93 – and you’re damn straight I ran around the parking lot until it turned over.

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489 is not 5 miles

I immediately cleaned up and changed into dry clothes and made a bee-line for the bagel table and chatted with some people for a bit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t actually hungry, so I took the bagel to go.

The only thing standing between me an that amazing 20 mile bagel was the long trek across the kitchen to get a knife from that drawer....

The only thing standing between me an that amazing 20 mile bagel was the long trek across the kitchen to get a knife from that drawer…. #thestruggleisreal

Although it didn’t hurt that bad during the run, my left leg was killing me by this point. I needed to lean on something just to use my left leg; stairs were nearly impossible. For only the second time ever, I took an ice bath. Things didn’t turn out well last time. 

Thanks, mom....

Thanks, mom….

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Later last night I spent nearly an hour in the hot tub, which really helped my right leg. Honestly, my right leg feels so great today I could run another 10 miles if both legs felt that good. My left leg, however…. feels like it was repeatedly beaten with a baseball bat.

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This morning I substitute coached my mom’s 5k/10k group with another girl from my group, and then met Aaron and Katie afterwards. I warned him I might not be able to walk, but i tried – I only made it .25 mi out before I had to turn around. 😦 The poor dog seemed horribly frustrated to be walking so slowly haha

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I’m not really sure how to analyze yesterday’s run.

It was a success because a) I RAN 20 MILES, b) I ran it faster than I expected to, c) I felt physically and mentally strong throughout nearly the whole run, and d) I learned that the Zealots are keepers.

It was less than stellar because a) I tried a new fuel halfway through which made me have to walk and b) I could barely put weight on my left leg afterwards. I still can barely walk.

The biggest takeaway is that I RAN 20 MILES!!!! Mentally that’s a HUGE hurdle. I’m still nervous about that extra 10k that I’ll have to run to finish the marathon, but that’s another issue for another day.

The biggest problem is that I’m not even sure what exactly I injured or how I injured it, but my left leg and knee are not happy with me. At all.

I already had the PT on the schedule for tomorrow morning, but I may be calling the ortho for a proper injury eval. Not words I wanted to utter this late in training.

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Mid-week recap

Seeing as I didn’t have any photos when I wrote my last post, here are some photos of me climbing Saturday!

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this wall actually started like 8-10 feet below the bottom of the picture

So much fun – and I certainly hope to do it again (you know, after marathon training ends and I can reclaim my life)

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Sunday races/long runs always throw me off – I’m such a creature of habit! Instead of my usual recovery day after the race, I went straight into my usual Monday cross training and strength routine – and felt amazingly strong after it.

Tuesday, as usual, was speed work at the track. My reward for a faster 10k PR? Faster speed work. D’oh! 8 Partner 800s at 5k pace meant I was now aiming for close to a 9:00min pace. If you’re not familiar with partner 800s, they’re pretty cool – runner A runs 400 by themselves, runner B joins in and they both run 400 together, and then runner A falls off after the end of the second lap (having run 800) and runner B finishes up their last 400 by themselves. It’s a really great way to break up the monotony of 800s and it keeps you honest – assuming you both run about the same pace, you only get to rest however long it takes for the other runner to finish their independent 400. The girl I ran with, Jennie, is a speed demon at shorter distances and was chomping at the bit every time we did our lap together. I am grateful that she was able to drag me along, though!

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I’m not sure if I was still recovering from Sunday, or if I was overstraining, or if it’s the constant left-hand turns on the track, but I was not feeling so hot during the workout. My left leg just hurt – not anywhere in particular, but all over, from the hip down to the foot – so much so that it definitely affected my stride, cadence, and in the last two repeats, my speed.

With this workout, I surpassed 100 miles for the month! Wow!! My highest monthly mileage ever is just over 107 miles, so that’s huge. And I still have a lot of month left!

Yesterday morning when I woke up I could barely walk without flinching. I spent as much of the day sitting as possible because whenever I walked I limped and had a shooting pain throughout my entire hip and leg. Not knowing what was going on, and having a 20 miler breathing down my neck, I made an appointment for a massage.

First, though, was the Alter G. That thing truly is a lifesaver. I was able to get in 4.45 miles in 40 minutes. Even with the weight resistance down to 70%, it still hurt quite a bit to run, though upping the incline to 2% and the speed to nearly 7mph seemed to help.

As soon as I got off the Alter G, I wiped down and hopped in the car to make the cross-town rush hour trek to get to my massage. I don’t typically get massages. I’ve only had two in my life. But I’ve heard so many good things about the use of them in marathon training that I’ve been considering getting a few; waking up in pain just made it much more of a priority. I only went in for 30 minutes, but it was worth every penny. I explained to her the issues I’ve been having and that I wanted to mainly focus on the left leg, and she took it from there.

Now I’m a major fan of the foam roller and foam roll as often as I can, but with her pressing down on my hamstrings, it felt like I had never rolled in my life. You don’t realize just how tight your muscles get until it’s too late. She worked on my hammies and piriformis, primarily, and loosened up the calf muscles as well. Oh my piriformis… she hit one spot and it was all I could do to not moan. It hurt so good. (Be honest, you know exactly what I’m talking about).

After the massage I felt better, but not insanely better. I didn’t wince when I got off the table, but there was still some sharp pain. But I knew that it wouldn’t be a miracle. I went home, had dinner, and hopped in the hot tub for about 15 minutes before the lightning just got too close. I’ve gotta say though, I feel about 90% today.

I’m substitute coaching for a 5k/10k group this evening (and Sunday!), which I’m super excited about, but am also super disappointed because my PT doesn’t want me running on the track for a while. Unplanned/forced rest days are the worst. There’s also that .75 mi run from the parking lot to the track, which normally is nothing, but has me pretty nervous with my left leg situation. Maybe I’ll break the rules and drive to the track…. Until then, you can find me perched on my foam roller…

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I thought new shoes were supposed to be fun??

Remember in middle school when buying gym shoes was so easy?

Step 1) Walk in to the sporting goods store
Step 2) Find the coolest/best looking/whatever floats-your-13-year-old-boat shoes
Step 3) Whine until your parents break down and buy them in your size

Easy, right?

Yeah, I wish it was still that easy.

There is so much conflicting information out there about what kind of shoe you should be in or avoid. Some people swear that all pronation should be controlled, while other say only extreme pronation should be controlled. There are lots of well-meaning articles out there touting the dogma of pronation control, and this has been the accepted practice for a long time now. New(er) research says that you should just buy the shoe that’s the most comfortable to you, regardless of what it’s specs are. Then there’s the minimalism vs. maximalism debate (not to mention the myriad options on the spectrum in between). Then there’s the colors. I know “they” say color shouldn’t matter, but I’m sorry, it does. Clashing is lame, no matter how fast your mile. #sorrynotsorry

And that’s not even taking into consideration the people who argue that people shouldn’t even run in shoes!

Geeze, that’s exhausting…

Admittedly, I have long been of the mindset that even though your feet may over-/under-pronate, most people don’t “fix” that in their daily lives. Your body adapts to whatever your quirky gait may be by adjusting accordingly throughout your life. If I don’t “fix” it in my daily shoes, what impact will “fixing” it have on my natural mechanics and what might the unintended consequences be? Basically – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, as soon as persistent injury – or even a single injury that can’t be assigned to a particular, acute event – enters the picture, it’s time to re-evaluate.

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For the last three years, I’ve been running in the Brooks PureCadence line – a 4mm drop shoe with moderate cushioning and a smidge of stability. I ran in the 1st gen and 3rd gen. I have loved these shoes since day one. Truly. They served me well through so many races and were wonderful through the half marathon distance.

I don't have a problem.

I don’t have a problem.

However, when I decided to take on the marathon, I considered switching it up for two reasons: a) more cushioning for the greater distances, and b) a higher drop to help my persistently achey achilles.

Given my past experience with finding new shoes, I was pretty nervous to go through the ordeal process again.

Several weeks ago I met with a physical therapist (who is now my new PT), who recommended trying out an 8mm or 12mm drop to help my achilles, when I came hobbling in to her eval clinic. I first tried the Saucony Guide. They didn’t feel awful, but they didn’t feel great. And they irritated old shin splints which had been behaving for the last year.

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So I took them back and exchanged them for the Mizuno Wave Inspires. (They clearly didn’t leave much of an impression on me – I had to go look back at my receipts to remember which pair came second!) They were nice shoes, but the rise on the shoe was really high and irritated my ankle bone.

Sooooo I exchanged them for the Asics Gel Kayano. This is a well-known powerhouse shoe that tons of people have had success with. It must be good – it’s in its 21st iteration. Third time’s the charm, right?? It’s a 13mm drop and super, super cushy. Honestly, they felt like slippers when I tried them on. I took them out for a hilly long run, but had to switch out of them halfway through – although they made my achilles feel amazing, they were causing some serious pain in my left forefoot on the uphills and flats. The pain got so bad that I switched back into my PureCadences halfway through the run, willingly sacrificing my achilles’ comfort for my forefoot’s comfort.

After this experience, I think I figured out what the problem was – too high of a heel-to-toe drop, along with too-cushy of a shoe, seems to cause the excruciating forefoot pain. So back to the (oh-so-amazing and accommodating) running store I went, for option #4. Brooks Ravenna. Cushioned but not squishy. Slightly lower 10mm drop. Supportive with a noticeable arch. I took them out for a spin on the track and they felt okay, so I decided to run my 18 miler in them. The arch support was higher than I’m used to, though, and that caused foot and leg discomfort for the first several miles, and then around mile 7 the forefoot pain came back and didn’t go away for the remainder of the 18 miles. Hoping that that was just because we were running on such a hard surface, I ran one more track workout in them, but no dice. Plus, they absolutely destroyed my feet! The 4th time was not the charm, either… *sad face*

I swear I'm not diseased...

I swear I’m not diseased…

I spoke to one of my coaches, who is also the manager of our running store, about all of the issues I’ve been experiencing and all of the shoes I have been through and she recommended the Saucony Zealot. It’s a lot like the PureCadence – lightweight with a minimal drop – but it has a cushier (but more adaptable) ride. It’s technically a neutral shoe, but has a flat, solid sole that doesn’t allow for a whole lot of motion. I took them out tonight and so far they feel good (*fingers crossed, knocking on wood*), but I’m not getting my hopes up just yet. Having been in the higher drop shoes for the last several weeks, my achilles is feeling better than it’s felt in a year (yay!!) and I’m nervous about returning to a lower-drop shoe. Plus, they are kind of squishy, which makes me nervous.

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So next time you’re due for new shoes and plan to go in to your LRS for a proper fitting (something which, despite all of my opinions, I still totally support), be an educated consumer. The fitter may be an expert on shoes, but you’re an expert on you. Only you know what works and what doesn’t work for you. Only you know what feels comfortable and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to question them or speak up if something just doesn’t feel right. And don’t be afraid to take full advantage of their return/exchange policy. Trying out shoes is part of the game – don’t feel guilty about putting mileage on shoes and then returning them. Running shoes are no small investment and can totally make or break the running experience. It’s so important to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth – and getting the best experience for your feet. You can’t #findyourstrong or #runhappy if your feet hurt. 🙂

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