Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Race Report: The Baltimore Marathon!!!

Fair warning – this is going to be a long one

I am the girl who used to make up excuses to get out of gym class. I was the girl who barely finished the mile in gym class. I was the girl who was never an athlete.

But I’m also the girl who always admired runners and wanted to be a runner. I just didn’t know how to start.

Nine years ago this upcoming Wednesday, I ran my first race – a 5k. It kicked my ass. But I loved it. And I loved the runners. I had never been around a more happy, encouraging, and inspiring group of people in my life.

At the 2008 Baltimore Running Festival, where I was running the 5k, someone put a bug in my ear – that anyone who can run a 5k can run a marathon. I didn’t say it out loud, but I had decided right then and there, before I even ran my second-ever 5k, that I would run a marathon some day.

Seven years and six days later, that day is here.

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After four long months of early Friday nights and even earlier Saturday mornings, grueling Tuesday nights, missed outings and social events, dozens of PT sessions, physically – and mentally – painful injuries, and over 500 miles, it was finally here. Marathon week.

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All week long I have been bouncing around, smiling like an idiot, super excited that it was almost showtime. As soon as our 8 mile long run was over last weekend, race day just couldn’t get here fast enough.

Tuesday I saw my orthopedist for a second cortisone shot. My bursitis had been acting up again, and she and the PT agreed that it would be best just to get it. I’d be hurting enough from running 26.2 miles – I didn’t need to go in with existing pain if there was a way to mitigate it. Tuesday night was also my last run.

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Thursday I went down to Ravens Stadium to pick up my packet and check out the expo. I’ve got to say, it was a little lackluster this year. The official race gear wasn’t nearly as great as it usually is, and the vendors just didn’t seem as interesting. It’s always hard when the expo is at the stadium, though, because the set-up just isn’t conducive to browsing – it’s conducive to frenetically rushing through.

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After the expo I had my (hopefully) last PT session. She taped me up, set me up on the PENS machine for a bit, gave me some last words of advice, and I was on my way.

Friday I found our that I was quoted in a Baltimore Sun article about the Baltimore Running Festival! And then I went down to DC to see a friend’s husband be sworn in as US Ambassador – and broke nearly every pre-race rule I have. Sleep well the night before the night before the race? Nope. I woke up at 3:28am. You know, just because. Comfy shoes all day? Nope. I wore high heels. Take it easy and stay off your feet? Nope. I spent 5 hours in commute and then walked around DC. Eat small, carb-dense snacks throughout the day? Nope. Had a steak lunch at 2:30pm – but it did have rice. Small win. Avoid alcohol? Nope. Had champagne at the ceremony. Have my usual salmon and sushi-rice dinner? I was so stuffed from lunch I only had the rice. Despite all of those deviations, it was totally worth it to see them. And, you know, to see witness something so amazingly important, not only for them, but for our country.

It took me nearly three hours to get home and I could’ve used a few extra hours of daylight to get ready for the race. Once (most) of my stuff was together, I went to bed early – I had an early wake-up call the next day!

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Every year my training group rents out Pickles Pub, a bar right at the marathon start line, which is a fantastic location! The bathrooms leave a bit to be desired, but at least they’re not freezing cold porta-pots. We chatted a bit while doing a last minute check of our stuff, and before we knew it, it was time to do a group photo and head out to the start!

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Getting ready for a chilly morning! Gloves, arm warmers, and a throw-away fleece…

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Charm City Run’s Marathoners (well, those that didn’t get cut off)

It was absolutely surreal standing at the start of a marathon! My usual group of girls – Tracy, Jennie, Anita, and Rebecca – and I planned on running together as much as possible. Somehow the group deemed me the pacer – no pressure!! And because Anita had enough energy for three runners, I deemed her the group cheerleader. We were all bundles of nerves and boundless energy, bouncing around and getting teary-eyed, all at the same time.

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I found Waldo – can you??

After the National Anthem, we were off! Ahhh!! It’s really happening!!! We’re running a marathon!!!

Last minute high fives!

Last minute high fives!

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The first three miles are up-hill, but barely seemed like it! It was amazing – unlike a most races where there’s the initial surge of people clearly going out too fast, that didn’t seem to happen at the marathon. Throughout that initial section, there were many people out, some still in their PJs, clutching their coffee, cheering us on!

After about a mile and a half the gloves came off, but I was sure glad I had the arm warmers! It was chilly, at 52, but not nearly as cold as they had forecasted (mid-30s). At 3 1/2 miles we turned into the Maryland Zoo – such a great part of the course! The Ravens’ ravens, Rise and Conquer, were out to greet us, as was a Kookaburra (!!) and several penguins! A number of people stopped to take photos with them, but we were on a mission! It was our first taste of downhill, too.

Before we knew it, we were leaving to zoo and heading into Druid Hill Park and onward to Johns Hopkins!

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We ran the first few miles a bit faster than intended, but allowed it to happen, taking advantage of the downhills; we weren’t so far ahead that we’d pay for it later. It felt like cruising pace, not like we were pushing it. No worries.

The first relay exchange was at Hopkins – as was Rebecca’s family! She ran off to give her husband and daughter a hug, while I helped myself to a munchkin (Thanks, Dunkin Donuts!) 🙂 That was the best damn munchkin ever….

Just past Hopkins, a guy behind us tripped and fell. Having been in the exact same position before, I ran over to help him – as did several others. It was great to see so many people stopping their races to help get him up and make sure he was okay. The spirit of the marathon was alive and well!

The next 3 1/2 miles took us downhill, heading right past the half marathon start at the Harbor, and onto the flat section of the course. Along the way we saw Tracy’s family and Anita’s friend! It was so great to see the support! We then ran past the second relay exchange, aiming for Under Armour’s World Headquarters – but then we saw the holy grail: porta-pots with no line! So we all took a quick pit-stop. It cost us a few minutes, but it was completely worth it. We were comfortable and our legs felt astonishingly fresh. We then continued on to Domino Sugars and UA and headed back to the Inner Harbor. On the return trip we passed the amazing Sid Busch! Obviously we had to cheer and yell for him.

For those who don’t know, Sid runs races nearly every weekend in honor of fallen soldiers. Baltimore is his 200th marathon! And Baltimore truly rolled out the red carpet for him, bringing in seven relay teams to help pace him to the end! I’ll write an entire post about him later this week.

Before we knew it, we were at the half way point! It went by so fast! My parents were there cheering for us and Jennie’s husband had a fresh camelbak for her.

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We were a few minutes off pace, because of the pit stop, but it was okay. Nothing terribly concerning. Onward!

We continued on towards Harbor East, tip-toeing over the precarious cobblestones at Katyn Circle, then ran through Fells Point and Canton. At this point we knew the flat part of the course was quickly fading. We’ve all run the Baltimore Half before – we knew what was awaiting us when we turned left off of Boston Street.

A funny thing happened after we turned left – we started passing people. Slowly at first, but then we began passing more and more people. Huh.

The number of spectators picked up, too, with throngs of loud, cheering fans lining the streets near Patterson Park, where the half and full marathon courses merge. It was just the kind of energy we needed at mile 16!

This section of course has been called Baltimore’s Heartbreak Hill – a ruthless, nearly constant uphill from mile 16 to 20. But we persisted, calling on all of those hills we ran this summer. Talk had all but ceased by this point as we put our heads down and pushed up the hills, weaving through tired walkers, marveling at the relative ease with which we tackled them, compared to previous years. We breathed a sign of relief anytime the hills flattened out, while still fully aware of the even steeper hill that laid beyond.

The final – and worst- hill of this section was the hill from the awkward u-turn at Sinclair Lane up to Clifton Park. It’s mile 19. You’ve just run 3+ miles of nearly up-hill road. And if you’re like most people training for a marathon, you’re coming up on the distance of your longest training run. Clifton’s hill is particularly steep and is made more challenging by the relay exchange you have to navigate. And then just when you think the hill has peaked – you turn a corner and it goes up some more!

But shortly beyond the apex of torture, you are rewarded with 1.3 flat miles around Lake Montebello. Noe most people would relish in this flat terrain, but we all groaned. None of us enjoy flat courses. And the lake is so big that the exit seems to pull even further away, no matter how fast you run. Just as we turned the corner to run around the lake, we noticed something – we had caught up to the 5-hour pace group! They must’ve passed us while we had our pit stop. We followed them for a short while, but realized they were running a 10:45 pace – something which was not realistic for us to continue while we extended our longest-ever run with each step. We very, very slowly pulled back, but then passed them at the water stop. For the next mile or so we’d continue to leap-frog them.

After the long, tortuous road around the lake, we were rewarded with more hills! Many people erroneously believe that 33rd Street is flat; it is anything but. The hills are nothing like those that we just conquered, but they’re relentless and punishing on your tired legs.

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In the past Jennie has had some issues with nutrition on the run, so I began to remind (quite frankly, pester) her to keep on top of it at this point. I had no intentions of explaining to her husband why she, in her hypoglycemic confusion thought it would be a good idea to go hug a bus at mile 24.

We were all tired and aching at this point, but we just kept pushing. The November Project and Back On My Feet had amazing support at their water stops which helped so much – but only for so long. Each step caused my feet to hurt even more, but I kept going because it was the only option.

I quite frankly don’t remember much of the last few miles because I was staring at the ground – partly to make sure I wouldn’t trip and lose momentum, and partly because I was afraid to look up and see how much further I had to go.

Tracy and Jennie started pulling away from me a little bit, but I managed to catch up with them every time. We wound our way through Charles Village, past the Eye of the Tiger folks, back to Hopkins, and then, finally, made The Turn – the turn back down south, the turn that meant we had only 5k to go. The turn that meant the end was within our grasp.

There was only one more hurdle in our way – the Howard Street bridge. When I first ran (walked, really) the Baltimore Half in 2009, this bridge was my Everest. I barely made it 100 feet up before I had to walk – and it seemed to never end. It looked like a scene from The Walking Dead. But this year? This year, that son of a bitch was going down. Heads down, one foot in front of the other – and it barely even felt like a hill. I guess all those torturous sessions at Oregon Ridge paid off 🙂

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We kept running, weaving through the runners. At one point I yelled “coming through” to warn two walkers I was coming through the space between them (because, you know, at mile 24.5, weaving isn’t an option unless there are literally no other options), only to realize it came out much louder, and much more forcefully than intended. In the next breath, I apologized, also surprisingly loudly – they giggled and all was good.

When we made the final turn onto Eutaw Street, I knew it was real. This marathon was happening. Every time I thought about that, I got a little choked up – and then had to take a deep breath and focus on the moment so my throat wouldn’t close off. I continued to put one foot in front of the other, getting a little bit faster with each passing block, continuing to weave in and out of walkers. As we got closer, Jennie found another gear and was racing for the finish line! She’s usually a fair bit faster than me in the shorter distances (like 2-3 minutes faster in the 5k!), but I’m usually the faster one at long distances. I don’t know where it came from, but she was off and running! With about a mile left, I had lost her in the crowd. Tracy was just up ahead of me.

I don’t remember much of this part of the course. I remember hearing the cheering, I remember someone yelling “you all inspire me!!”, and I remember seeing Camden Yards come closer and closer. I remember staring at my Garmin, realizing that sub-5 was within my grasp. I remember thinking that I can go faster. So I did.

I remember crossing the photo mat at Camden Street, and not even caring – I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I do remember, however, making myself look up at the crowds leading into the spine and take in that final stretch running through Camden Yards. I remember hearing the crowds on the other side of the stadium echoing through, and then bellowing as I exited the spine. I remember scanning the crowds, seeing all of them smiling and cheering for us. I remember crossing Lee Street and seeing the finish line up ahead. I remember pushing with everything I had. I remember thinking, in that ubiquitous Kona Ironman announcer voice, “STEPHANIE CHURCHILL – YOU ARE A MARATHONER!” as I crossed the finish line. And I remember screaming as loud as I could out of jubilation and relief. And I remember breaking down when I realized what I had just accomplished.

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I FINISHED A MARATHON.

I finished a marathon in UNDER 5 HOURS!!!!!

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I finished a marathon with a brutally hilly second half in under 5 hours with NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!

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Jennie was just beyond the finish line – I don’t remember what we said, but I remember celebrating our triumph before getting our space blankets – and our massive MARATHONER medals!

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During the race I thought I’d have to stop at the med tent and get ice for my knee, but I realized I felt surprisingly good. I ached, and my muscles were tired, but I didn’t hurt. The wall was never a consideration. It never taunted me. I ran 26.2 miles and felt great. Relatively speaking, of course. 😉

The only spot of tarnish on an otherwise outstanding day was after the race. Whoever was “guarding” the finish line area refused to let people cross the finish line. Throughout the previous 26.1 miles, people could cross the course. But here they refused to let my parents, along with many others who had warm, dry clothes for their runners, cross the course at all – instead, telling them to walk around the entire stadium complex. Even though by the time I finished, there were frequent gaps through which spectators could cross. I’m sure some of it is governed by fear of a Boston-type incident, but fear ought not cripple life. I faced a similar problem last year – as an injured runner, who could barely walk, with multiple icepacks clearly strapped to my legs – when they dared to tell me to walk around the entire stadium complex to get to my car and my dry clothes. I told them off in words I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d utter to a police officer and pushed through anyway. I don’t know who was preventing spectators from crossing this year, and quite frankly I don’t care. But thankfully someone finally had an epiphany to finally let my parents, and the others, through. It’s a damn good thing, too, because it was an incredibly windy, cold day – far too cold to be standing around in cold, wet clothes after running 26.2 miles, and without family to celebrate with. I’m a runner – I get that we don’t need people darting across the course, especially at the finish line. But as a runner, I also want to be able to have my friends and/or family celebrate with me at the finish. It’s awful when such a great accomplishment and (what should have been) such an amazing celebration was sullied by someone on a power trip.

Once they got through I was finally able to get out of my wet shirt and put on some toasty warm clothes and wander around the celebration village. We checked out the official gear shop – they FINALLY had a cute 26.2 shirt! My wonderful parents got it for me, and then we went over to the Under Armour tent – WHICH HAD FOAM ROLLERS!!! I have never been so happy in my life to see these little nubby torture devices. Finally, I got my medal engraved with my time. I never pay for engraving, but this was my first marathon. I’ll never have another first marathon. I had to.

Horribly unflattering photo, but oh man were my hammies and glutes so ridiculously happy!

Horribly, horribly unflattering photo, but oh man were my hammies and glutes so ridiculously happy!

When I got home, I was amazed at just how good I felt. The stairs that I had been dreading just to get to the shower? Piece of cake. Seriously.

My expectation:

My reality:

Earned.

Earned.

I had such a blast running my first marathon! I was so fortunate to have such amazing coaches, who knew exactly what they were doing, a PT who understands runners and seriously works magic, an ortho who gets athletes and knows what he’s doing, truly amazing training partners who made this entire process such a joy that I looked forward to every single day, and parents who supported me 100% – even when they quietly questioned my sanity when I couldn’t stand up but was already planning my next long run. Without this perfect storm of support, I may have still accomplished my goal(s), but the journey wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

As I sit here, nearly 36 hours removed from my first marathon finish, I already have dreams of my next marathon (and a 50k!) dancing in my head. So many options, but so little time and money. For now, I look forward to some well-deserved time off.

Amen

Amen

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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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