The Bummer Summer of Feet

Before I get to the running update, I am going to share what has been going on with Alli. 10 days ago, I took Alli and a couple of friends to a trampoline park.  There were 2 other kids there (LITERALLY) and she managed to collide with one of them during the first 5 minutes.  She was doing a back handspring when this kid darted across her path, apparently, and she kicked him in the head.  My gut instinct at the time was that she fractured it, however, there was minimal swelling and no bruising even though she couldn’t put any weight on it for a good 30 minutes.  She ended up walking it off and back on the trampolines.  I told her we needed to keep an eye on it and she HAD to tell me if she felt any pain in the coming days.  She played softball in the All-Star tournament all weekend and would complain about it hurting after the games (but she ALWAYS complains about her feet after running around in those cleats!).  I knew that something had to be done when she told me how much it hurt during tumbling last Monday.  I made an appointment in the office that handled Taylor’s broken foot a couple of years ago and we went down Thursday afternoon for the consult. Turns out, Alli fractured her growth plate.  Waiting for the appointment actually turned out to be a good thing, because the ortho told me that it was more evident with a week’s worth of healing (and would have likely been missed had we gone immediately).  As a result, Alli has to wear a boot 24/7 for the next 2 weeks.  She had a little melt-down in the car because she doesn’t want to miss a minute of volleyball (luckily we still have a 2 week break!).  Sadly, swimming is off-limits as well.  the boot I had promised a trip to Bahama Bucks and was SO glad that we waited until after the appointment, because she needed some snowy goodness to melt her sorrows away!  Even so, she barely ate.  sno cone love By the time we got home, the initial shock of the situation had worn off and her mood had started to improve.  Our strategy is to follow the doctor’s orders to the letter in hopes that healing will happen quickly!  She will go back in 2 weeks for a follow-up X-ray and based on the findings will find out if we get out of the boot or wear it a bit longer.  Alli has been such a trooper and refuses to let it dampen her spirits.  She even asked me if she could run (?!?) on it.  You can all stop holding your breath – I said NO!!

Most of you know running has been going very well for me over the past months.  I’ve been able to make a complete recovery, thanks to the guidance my partner/coach has been able to give me.  However, running wouldn’t be running if there weren’t bumps in the road, and I recently  hit a speed bump. True to my normal self, I really didn’t notice it at first.  Some familiar stiffness has been creeping back in, specifically in my ankles and feet.  Yes, my calves are tight.  Yes, I know my calves have been tight.  Yes, I have still slacked at foam rolling my calves.  Why?  Because it hurts like hell and it is a pain in the arse!! LOL

I discussed the issue with my partner and he encouraged me to scale back my running while in Orlando and step up the foam rolling.  Honestly, I foam rolled once while I was down there.  I know….stupid.

When we returned from vacation, I eased back into the swing of things and running was feeling pretty good….until last Friday.  Even when I have been hurt, I rarely have TERRIBLE runs.  Friday was a TERRIBLE run.  Everything hurt from the get-go and I never found my rhythm.  I was only running 3 miles, but by the last .5, I knew something was wrong.  I started limping and my right ankle was in pain.  Of course, I KNEW the cause.

I shared all this with my partner and, naturally he told me no running until we get a handle on this.  I’m happy to say that I AM getting a handle on it!  I have foam rolled, stretched, taken Epsom salt baths, worn compressions, iced, slathered essential oils and taken anti-inflammatory drugs.  I can say that waking up this morning I feel better than I have in several weeks!  I’m still in awe of the maturity that I have gained as a runner over the past year.  Even though I am still the Queen of Stupid Sh*t (#QOSS), I have been able to take this set-back in stride and welcomed the rest.  Mind.  Boggling.

I am hoping to be out again my mid-week, although I will be taking it easy because I don’t want to miss the 15k that is planned for this weekend.

Until then – Happy Foam Rolling!

OH!!!  How ’bout that US Women’s National Team!!!  GO USA!!!


Weekend Warrior

The weekend was eventful in more ways than one and in some ways, I would have preferred not eventful!

Friday evening, Alli was helping her dad make stew by chopping some of the vegetables.  Well….she ended up slicing her finger.  I’ll spare everyone by NOT posting the pics that we took (that Alli showed to ANYONE who would look).  I would like to give a shout out to my friend Jenn in New York for encouraging me to take Alli to get it checked out.  Long story short, we went to an urgent care facility and walked out with a glued finger.

I’m about to admit my short-comings as human being, and more importantly – a mother.  With AAU Nationals coming up within the week, one of the first things I thought was “Oh my gosh….Alli won’t be able to set!” Luckily, I scolded myself for thinking those thoughts (even though it may or may not have been after I realized that her finger would be fine by tournament time).

I have to brag on Alli for a bit, though.  She is the baby of the family, which means she has been coddled more than the other two.  At one point, I worried about whether she would EVER toughen up.  Back in basketball season, she rolled her ankle, walked it off the rest of the period and came back to finish the game (I still get teary-eyed over it), so I knew that she was getting tougher.  She had an extra practice on Saturday evening.  I told her that, as part of the team, she would go even though she wouldn’t be able to set.  She could still serve, hit and possibly pass and if there were drills she couldn’t do then she could help shag balls.  That little stinker ended up setting toward the end of practice.  I could tell that it hurt, because after taking a few balls her hand started shaking when she would put her hands up to set.  She told me afterwards that it did hurt some – not too much, but she felt she could endure the pain because her team needed her.  Now I’m not a proponent of playing injured, but if you are hurt and playing doesn’t further hurt you, I think it is good to work through the pain.  There IS a difference between being hurt and being injured.  The tricky part is to recognize the difference.  Needless to say, I’m proud of the athlete she is becoming.  🙂

Bahama Bucks before practice.  Possibly the best sno cones on the planet.
Bahama Bucks before practice. Possibly the best sno cones on the planet.

Sunday, I found myself at a tea party, hosted by the youth of my church.  They were fundraising to help pay for camps and conferences.  I took one for the team and wore a hat….Mad hatters

We had a very good time!!  Logan was one of the servers.  I’m sure you can sense his excitement, just looking at this photo!

Can't accuse him of not being enthusiastic! LOL
Can’t accuse him of not being enthusiastic! LOL

At the end of the festivities, a prize was awarded for the best hat and my mother won!  Memo tea party

Now on to the training updates!  Friday through Sunday, I racked up 22.6 miles!  Training is going incredibly well, thanks to the direction that my coach/partner has given me.  However, instead of him just telling me how we need to train, I have noticed that I am starting to internalize what he has taught me.  This is a huge transition for me which is really starting to boost my confidence in my abilities as a runner.

Saturday’s training was to be a timed 1:15 run with my goal pace between 11:00-11:15.  Typically, I attempt to run the fastest pace allowed and end up fighting and wrestling with myself the entire run.  I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about having to run it on my own, because I struggle so much with pacing.  This run turned out to be one of those pivotal runs – one that I will no doubt look back up on and realize that it truly was a turning point in my attempts to become a better runner.  I didn’t struggle with pace AT ALL, and almost every mile split was right at 11:15.  Even MORE exciting is the fact that I didn’t deviate from pace much within each mile.  I was truly running that pace.  And if that wasn’t enough, I could tell almost immediately when I deviated from the pace AND possessed the self-control to get myself back on track.  I can’t put into words how monumental this was, except it was AMAZING!!

My partner is suffering from a swollen/bruised ankle & heel, that he suspects is delayed onset from a fall down stairs earlier in the week.  This little development meant that I would have to run our 12 mile long run solo….in the afternoon heat.  Had I known in time, I would have planned to run early Sunday morning, but even he didn’t realize the problem until he was getting ready for work Sunday morning.

So I set out around 6 pm, sun blazing with temp of 94.  Make no mistake about it – this was by far my toughest run since my marathon.  The first 8 miles of my run were every bit as tough as the last 8 of my mara, but I battled mentally and garnered several victories along the route.

Running this tough of a run by myself allowed me to realize how much I have matured the past 3 months.  Here are some things stuck out for me yesterday:

  • I have finally accepted (and genuinely believe) that long runs are about time on your feet – NOT pace.  I was truly satisfied with slowing down when needed.  Old Crazy Jen would have beaten herself up for slowing down.  I think part of that stemmed from the fact that I didn’t feel adequate as a runner if I wasn’t running a certain pace.  I’ve made peace with that – and I am quite happy running a pace that will allow me to improve as a runner and remain injury-free!
  • Now that I have built a good base, I am able to use my heart rate data more effectively during my runs.  I know where my zones are and (this is the kicker!) am willing to slow down when needed to get my heart rate in the proper zone for that run.  (Except Sunday, when it was so hot that I just tried to keep my heart rate below 160, which I know is way too high for a long slow run.  But with more heat training my heart will hopefully adapt.)
  • I no longer run with music.  I can practically hear the gasps from all of you.  Learning to run sans music has been good for me.  REALLY good.  Without the distraction of the music, I am much more in tune with my body and what is going on.  I find it much easier to stay focused on the run, which I suspect has directly resulted in developing my pace-awareness.

I got several “looks” yesterday from people in passing cars.  I’m not sure if I looked that desperate, that horrifying, if they were offended that I had taken off my shirt, or if they simply thought I was insane.  In any case, I didn’t really care.  I felt blessed to be out there regardless of the heat.  I was, however, incredibly jealous of the guy who drove by looking at me while sipping what was surely an ice-cold drink.

Beautiful, but deceiving.  Hard to believe how hot it was when you look at this gorgeous sunset.
Beautiful, but deceiving. Hard to believe how hot it was when you look at this gorgeous sunset.
No, that is not is part of the "B" on the 50 yard line.  I needed .15 to finish my run and got it on the track :)
No, that is not snow….it is part of the “B” on the 50 yard line. I needed .15 to finish my run and got it on the track 🙂

I work through Wednesday, then my summer will officially begin!

Happy Monday, all!