It’s marathon season, baby!

I’ve been sucking it up at blogging lately.  I envisioned more discretionary time when I decided to take the season off from officiating.  That HAS NOT been the case.  This is the busiest time of the year as far as work is concerned, however, the non-working hours are flying by!  Of course, I’ll blame this on Coach McKinney for twisting my arm into keeping score for our home games this past week. 😉

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!
Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!
What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??
What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

The time not spent in the gym officiating has been a blessing, though!  I have actually been able to spend a lot of time with the kids, for which I am very thankful.  Bobby and I even twisted Logan’s arm into seeing Mission Impossible with us on Sunday afternoon.  I was more excited about Logan coming along than I was about the movie!

The weekend was packed!  Cycling, running, movie, pool party and birthday dinner for Bobby just to name a few.

 

Marathon Training <GULP>

I realized yesterday that it is time to think about marathon training.  I will be running Dallas Marathon on December 13.  I considered running a different marathon (for about a nanosecond), but I STILL have unfinished business out on THAT course.

This time around, I’ll be taking a more laid-back approach.  I think that knowing I completed my first marathon under hellish body conditions has given me a confidence that I didn’t have before.  Before, I thought I could finish a marathon, but now I know I can finish a marathon.  The not-knowing-for-sure intensified the obsessive part of my personality (I know – this obsessiveness is news to everyone!) and, as a result, I made marathon training very stressful on myself mentally.  Physically, I made marathon training stressful on my body because I ran all my long runs at race pace. (I literally cringe EVERY time I think about it! SO STUPID!!!)

My main goal is to remain injury-free.  I haven’t had time to built a good base since my return from the stress fracture two weeks ago.  Even though things are going well, it is more imperative than ever that I address every little ache and pain before it blossoms into a full-blown injury.  I think that not officiating this season will free up enough time for me that I can stay focused on this part of the process.

A nice distraction from the 16 week plan will be the 2 half marathons that I have on the horizon.  Plano Balloon HM is mid-September and I have NO time goal whatsoever for this race.  I want to finish.  It will be hard not to push myself, but I’m not sure that I will be able to push myself too much regardless.  Even though I was able to cycle during my stress fracture, my heart rate during my recent runs is higher than normal.  And chances are it will be as hot as blazes on race day!  Rock n Roll St. Louis is in mid-October.  Hopefully my time will be a bit better by then, but I still don’t expect to post a sub-2 as I had hoped.  Who wants to travel for a race and stress about your time anyway!  LOL

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor's former club coaches. I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11!
I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches (it was his FIRST!). I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11 and I realized I could get close!

By focusing on the half marathons, I’ll be half-way through “marathon training” before I give much thought to Dallas.  It may not be the best way to PR, but I figure I could walk it and get a better time than I had last year.  (Let it go, Jen.  Let it go.)  Honestly, I would like to run a 4:00-4:15 marathon.  Not even sure if it will be possible, but I’m not going to spend much time focusing on it.  Plus, if I build my base properly and add in the appropriate speed work, I may just surprise myself!

The bottom line is that I want to run the race healthy, whatever that means for my time.  Last year I needed to know that I could finish.  This year I need to know what it feels like to run a marathon without nagging injuries.  What can I say?  I’ll probably never be satisfied!

Time for Truth Telling

Running is going well.  In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I am still having some issues with ankle stiffness and soreness post-runs.  This was very stressful to me at first, because mentally I feel injured and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  However, the ankles are less stiff/sore after each run and it is all working out more quickly than before.  As far as any issues during my runs – I am happy to say I have nothing to report!!

I have worked my way up to 20:1 intervals x 3 without having any problems, so my next run will be a continuous 45 min run!  The recovery from that should give me a good gauge of where I stand.  If all goes well, I’ll be running a 6 mile long run this weekend in preparation for Plano Balloon Half Marathon!!

I’ll try not to be the sucky-sometimes-blogger in the weeks to come.  The start of school on Monday will undoubtedly shock me out of summer mode.  I can almost feel my increase in productivity now!

Happy Hump Day AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very special friend, Carmen! IMG_5023

Jen

Squashing that “voice”

Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!
Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!

In my heart of hearts, I’m a realist.  When I assess situations, I see them pretty much as they are, mainly because I view the situation without allowing emotions to weigh in.  Even so, in most situations I try to lean toward the side of the optimist.  I want to see the good in the situation and focus on the positives.  Life is too short to dwell on the negatives…..and the negatives depress me. But sometimes I give more lip service to the positive side than I actually feel internally.  Say it long enough and you’ll believe it, right??

I haven’t been completely honest with everyone about how I have felt coming off my injury.  I wanted SO badly to be well.  I wanted so badly to be brave about it.  I wanted so badly to beat that voice in my head kept telling me I would NEVER be able to run long distances again.  But I didn’t feel “well” and I didn’t feel brave at all and I COMPLETELY bought what the voice in the back of my head was telling me.  And while I am mostly glad that I was injured in the dead of winter, being injured in the dead of winter was also a curse. I have a tendency to lean toward depression in the winter.  There is too much darkness and not enough sunshine to feed this Texas girl’s soul.  Add being injured on top of that and it’s mentally hard to dig your way out.

The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!
The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!

Having said all that, I have seen great improvements with my fitness and running.  The strength training has definitely made me stronger which, in turn, has made me feel better.  Slowly and surely I have made progress with my running.  All this gave me hope, but in the back of my mind the voice was still telling me that I couldn’t do it (and I was listening to it).  Plus, I was still having nagging issues (on my left side, mostly) and those issues gave the voice credibility.

But if you keep saying it, sooner or later you might buy into it.  So I kept saying it (but not believing it).

A week ago Friday, I ran my intervals (TOO fast).  I even pushed the pace on the last  interval.  (I know: stupid.  I guess Crazy Jen found the damn key.)  Then, I worked a big volleyball tournament over the weekend.  By the last game, I was really hurting from my hips down – dull, constant pain.  (The voice was screaming at me, “I told you so!”)  I knew that the Friday evening run plus working all weekend was not a good combination.  Monday I was tight and sore and when I did my strength exercises, they were so much harder than usual but I chalked it up to being exhausted.  By Monday afternoon, my left SI joint was burning and I barely slept that night because the pain was so bad.  This REALLY frightened me, because even with my injuries, I had never hurt this way.  I continued foam rolling and stretching, but decided not to do any lower body strength work until I started feeling better.  I did hop on the TM mainly to see if running made things worse. Thank goodness it didn’t!  Wednesday morning I was better but still not feeling great but went ahead with the first scheduled run with my new partner.  The run caused no issues but walking after a period of inactivity was still painful.  Thankfully, my myofascia guy was able to accommodate me for a 2-hour appointment and things felt better….for a little while.  I was diligent with the foam rolling and stretching.  And I decided that as long as running didn’t make it worse, I wouldn’t skip any runs.

After our first run went so well, it was kind of assumed that we would continue running together.  (Maybe I should tell you that my partner’s name is John….for future reference;) )  Upon John’s recommendation, I decided to try a pair of Newton’s.  (I’ve had a nagging feeling for quite some time that I needed to make a shoe change, but I wasn’t sure exactly what change needed to be made.)  He suggested that I take some time to transition to them, because they are different from the Asics Nimbus and Kinsei that I have been wearing.  He still didn’t think transition would be difficult since I already had a midfoot strike.  OH.  MY.  GOSH.  The first run in them on Saturday was AWESOME.  And since I didn’t have any issues with my calves or my feet, I wore them again for Monday’s run.  Still no issues, so I ran in them again yesterday!!

"The" shoes: my Newtons
“The” shoes: my Newtons

With each run in these shoes, my body feels better and better and better.  By the way, I do realize that a large part of this is directly related to having a running partner who isn’t afraid to make me run slower than I’m used to, but I think switching to the shoes is going to go a long way in keeping me on the road injury-free!

All this to say that I think I may be FINALLY putting the voice to rest.  During the last 10 days of running, I have begun to genuinely believe that I CAN run distances again – healthy and free of nagging pain. (I am confident enough that I signed up for my first race post-mara: a half marathon on 5/3!)  Three things happened:  I now have a partner who can pace me appropriately; he recommended a shoe change that has been nothing short of amazing and I realized that I have what it takes to deal with issues as the arise.

It feels great being a grown-up runner!  And it feels great to really believe what I’m saying 🙂

Happy Hump Day!

Jen