Plano Balloon Race Recap

This weekend was the culmination of 7 weeks of blood, sweat and tears to get myself race ready.  When I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my heel on July 13, I fully expected that I would not have any shot at running this race.  I kept doing the math in my head over and over and I just didn’t see how it could happen.  My coach, on the other hand, told me that he felt it was a possibility and advised me to take it one run at a time.  Being able to cycle during the injury helped me maintain some level of fitness, although there isn’t anything that can keep you in running shape quite like running.  I’ve had some ups and downs the past 7 weeks.  I’ve been humbled – again.  Injuries have a funny way of doing that to you.

I’m not at 100% and I don’t expect to be 100% for quite a while.  Every increase in mileage has presented its hiccups.  And while I want nothing more than to focus on speed work – speed work provides an extra special hiccup that my body just isn’t quite ready to handle.  In the words of Juba from the movie Gladiator, I’ll be doing speed work “soon, but not yet”.

Queen of Stupid Sh*t (QoSS) Strikes Again

I had NO idea how this race would go.  I know how I have performed on the recent long runs – but those are at a turtle’s pace.  I know how I have performed on the easy runs (which are one degree faster than long runs).  I became increasingly nervous this week about “racing” the race, particularly because of some nagging heel issues from a tempo run one week ago Thursday.  It was bothering me so much that I had a lengthy discussion with my coach after Tuesday’s run and he told me to ditch the remaining workouts for the week except for the Saturday shake out run.  I iced it (some) and wore compressions (less than I should have) and continued my stretching.  My heel seemed to be getting better, but on Friday it just seemed to get worse…and worse….and worse.

OK…back up.  My coach also told me to “take it easy on the strength” during taper week and I did take it easy.  However, Friday morning (I know you can all see the slow-motion crash about to happen) I had a “great” idea while I was doing my ankle exercises.  Instead of doing my strength set for my hips, I would do those single leg deadlifts that I have been meaning to add in.  (Can I just say this was before I had even one whole cup of coffee?) So, I did the deadlifts.  And they were HARD.  And I should have stopped.  And I shouldn’t have used the heaviest handheld weights that I own.  And I regretted it as soon as I finished.  I seriously have NO idea what came over me.  Obviously someone let Crazy Jen loose AGAIN and forgot to tell me!  Just when I thought that I had committed ALL the sins of running….

As a result, my hamstrings hated me and I think that was THE reason my ankle was so angry.

Luckily, everything felt fairly decent on the shake out run, so I tried to put my worries aside.

Up, Up and Away

Race morning finally arrived, and…..I didn’t feel good.  My stomach was just nauseous.  I tried to eat, but it just didn’t taste good.  I knew this was going to cause a problem during the race, but at one hour until the gun, there really wasn’t much I could do.  I had decided to stay in a hotel so that I could sleep later, but I was away from home so that kind-of backfired since I didn’t sleep that well.  Plus, I had gone to GrapeFest (tomorrow’s post!) and had lots of wine and some fried pickles.  Even though I had really good intentions of hydrating at the hotel, it didn’t happen……I’m sure you can see a pattern developing.

My HM PR is 2:14.  I’ve actually run a 2:04 HM in training, but I can’t count that.  My ego, even knowing that I’ve only just built enough base for this race, really wanted a 2:14.  After the week with my ankle, I knew I couldn’t possibly shoot for that without causing some big problems down the road.  My coach advised me to run the first mile at 11, through mile 6 at 10:45 and pick up to 10:30 until mile 11, where I could open up if I was feeling like it.

The first few miles went fairly well.  I still felt crappy with my stomach issues and nagging allergies, but I was able to maintain my pace easily enough.  By mile 7, I started to struggle to keep the pace, which at this point I was sure was directly related to my lack of breakfast (lack of properly hydrating on Saturday hadn’t even crossed my mind at this point).  I was planning to take my gel at the next water station but it just so happens that they were handing out squeeze packets of applesauce.  I opted for the applesauce.  Just thinking about the gel made me sick to my stomach.  The applesauce did make me feel better for a bit and it gave me the energy boost I needed.

WAIT!  I haven’t even mentioned my ankle.  My ankle was a little sore at the start and through the first 3ish miles, but after that it worked itself out or I just went completely numb or I was too worried about my stomach.  In any case, the ankle wasn’t an issue. 🙂

The aid station with the applesauce was a two-way water station, so I grabbed an applesauce on the way back through.  The second one didn’t taste as good as the first and I spent the next mile or so just dealing with the yuck feeling of water and applesauce sloshing around on my stomach and debating whether to push myself to the point of puking (because I would have HAD to feel better, right?)

Around mile 10, I felt my psoas getting tight.  And then I became upset with myself because I haven’t released my psoas in some time and I was sure that the hamstring issue was impacting my psoas and I came full circle to being angry with myself about those dead lifts again.  And then I was just mad at my myofascia guy – he really shouldn’t have moved to Colorado and left me to take care of all this on my own.  Luckily, I wasn’t thinking about my upset stomach while I was cursing my myofascia guy.

The nausea at mile 12 became almost more than I could handle, so I walked for a tenth of a mile to calm my system down.  It worked and gave me enough of a boost to git’er done.  I was able to run a good, quick pace the rest of the race.  I was glad that I had some in reserve to do that and it sort-of redeemed the crap that happened on the course.

I ended up with 2:26:11.  That is my slowest HM EVER.  But you know what?  I’m not upset at all.  Just 10 weeks ago, I was sure that I would not be able to run.  And even though I did commit some biggies on the running sin list, I still did it.  And my coach told me that I hit it out of the park!  Even though he gave me times for a faster race – he expected a 2:35 finish.  Imagine what I could have done had I hydrated and eaten properly on Saturday….and skipped the new strength exercise….and not had too much wine at Grape Fest….and actually fueled my body with a good breakfast….  Aaaaaand my ankle seems OK.  It is a little swollen and a little sore, but I have my compressions on and am icing it every chance I get.  All in all, I have to declare this race a huge success!

Except for the fail….when I stopped my watch at the end of the race, I hit delete instead of save.  So I have no splits.  No cadence.  No heart rate data.  No elevation.  I nearly passed out right there before I got my medal.  Each time I think of it, I get a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  This will be good therapy for my OCD.  Right??

I took this between periods of laying on the ground, thinking I might die at any moment while I was waiting on my friend Erica to cross the finish line!
I took this between periods of laying on the ground, thinking I might die at any moment while I was waiting on my friend Erica to cross the finish line!

Friends at Races are THE BEST

I recently joined Renegade Endurance, which is a running/racing club that has several members in my area.  I was able to meet up with a couple of the ladies in the group who also ran the race.  It was so much fun meeting new runner friends and I am excited to be a part of this amazing team!

Aubrun and her mother Christy from our Renegade team!
Aubrun and her mother Christy from our Renegade team!

And Dara, the cohort in crime to Erica, volunteered at the race and made a sign especially for little ‘ole me!  I LOVE IT!!!

Dara volunteered instead of running this race this year. And she made this sign just for me! I LOVE it!!!

 

Baring It All – Plano Balloon HM Race Goals

I may as well be standing naked before you right now, because that’s the way it feels to me when I write these types of posts!  But I’m running Plano Balloon Half Marathon this weekend and the race goals must be published!

If you really know me, you know that I don’t like hanging my hopes and dreams out for everyone to see.    Publishing and acknowledging my race goals (or any goal, for that matter) is difficult for me.  However, since I started blogging last year before Dallas Marathon, I have been working to be more transparent and open with these types of things (that was one of my main goals for starting the blog in the first place).  And if you knew me or read my race goals and recap during that time period, you know that I threw my race goals out there and fell miserably short on a couple of them.  I am happy to report that I have succeeded in making myself extremely uncomfortable, though, which means that I am at least meeting the goals I set for blogging.

I find myself at this stomach-churning crossroads once again as I face another race this Sunday.  I still find it painfully difficult to announce my goals, even if only 5 people read my blog.  I mean, coming off an injury should relieve some of the pressure, right?? Wrong.  The real struggle, for me, is admitting to the masses my pace goals for the race.  No runner has ever made me feel like less of a runner for not being fast, yet I allow myself to feel less because I’m not that fast.  Heck, I even feel like an idiot for ending up with a big ITB injury AND stress fracture within one year’s time frame.  <insert uncomfortable silence here>

<BIG GULP>  Here goes nothing.

The “Shoulds”

should want to run a feel-good race.

I should want to enjoy the course and take in the sights.

should want to run a race that won’t risk further injury.

should be happy that I am able to run this race at all, because two months ago I was almost certain it would NOT happen.

But I’ve never been very good with should.  

In reality…

I would really like the temps to be cloudy and in the 60s. (Go ahead and laugh.)

I would really like to kick this race course in the arse.

I would really like to attack the hills (You’re right, I probably will attack the hills anyway 🙂

I would really like to match my HM PR of 2:14 for this race.  I am faster than when I ran that 2:14 but….stress fracture.

I should probably add that I would like to start off slow, but I’m still me, so why waste my energy?  And we know how I am with should. 

In the end, though, I am genuninely excited to be racing again!  Even before the injury plague, I had been looking forward to this race.  Hopefully, I’ll be writing a glowing race recap on Sunday afternoon!

Until next time ~

Jen

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

Rising to the Recovery Challenge and Clip Ins make me clumsy

I’m beginning to think injury suits me.  Generally speaking, I am much more consistent when I know that I am having to fight tooth and nail for every run.  I tend to stretch and foam roll, strength train and cross train more consistently.  I’m not quite sure what this means about my mental state, but I’m sure it has something to do with Crazy Jen.

Running after stress fracture

It is probably a bit early to declare myself fully healed, but I’ve been out for 3 runs since my release on Monday.  The first run was a very cautious 2:1 run/walk interval for only 30 minutes with intervals run at 11:45-12:00 pace.  I could tell my ankle was a bit weak and I had some calf tightness on both legs after the run.

Wednesday’s run was much, much better!  I doubled the interval time to 4:1 for 30 minutes but kept the pace slow at around 12:00.  My ankle felt so much stronger than in Monday’s run.  I was so excited that I barely noticed the heat index of 105!  I do have to admit that I didn’t go until 6 pm and ran at the park so there would be some shade available.

For yesterday’s run, I ran 6:1 intervals for 40 min at an 11:30 pace.  I felt good throughout and somehow managed to settle into the prescribed pace fairly easily, but had some stiff calf issues to deal with post run.  I’m set to repeat this run on my next outing and am planning to run in the Enigmas to see if there is any difference post-run between them and the Newtons.

My friend Jenn told me that this owl represents the wisdom I've gained in dealing with my injury.
My friend Jenn told me that this owl represents the wisdom I’ve gained in dealing with my injury.

IMG_4862

I do love my Newtons, but I want to make sure that the shoe isn’t aggravating my injury (and rule out that they contributed to it in the first place).  For now, I’m going to continue this rotation and consider adding a third shoe to the mix.

I’m trying to be patient and not get ahead of myself (as per usual, for me), but if things continue to go smoothly, I believe that I will be able to run the Plano Balloon Half Marathon in mid-September.  If I’m able, my time will likely be my slowest to date, but at this point I don’t care.  I am going to do my best not to rush this training.  I need to keep the long term goals in mind (Dallas Marathon in December, Cowtown Ultra in February and Austin Ragnar in April) and avoid the temptation to cut corners in this important base-building phase.  (I’m so SICK of base-building!  I feel it is all I have done all year!  Wait…it IS all that I have done all year!)

Becoming a “Real” Cyclist

I mentioned in a recent post that I had ordered a road bike and was just waiting on it to arrive for pickup.  It arrived and I picked it up Thursday evening.  I was discussing the pros and cons of clip ins with the cycle shop employee (according to him there are NO cons…read the following paragraph to see that there is one) and ended up walking out with cycle shoes (NEVER thought I would own a pair of those) and different pedals on my bike.  He was extremely helpful and we discussed the best way to get used to them.  We all know that experience is the best teacher, and by experience, I mean screw ups.  Early Friday morning, I rode around the yard, practicing getting my shoe in the clips then twisting my foot out….it all seems so easy when that is ALL you are concentrating on! I ended up on the gravel in my driveway, focused on something else, when I found myself stopped and my foot still firmly in the clip.  Over I went.  It wasn’t a bad tumble – just bad for the ego.  I was determined to stay focused on getting my foot out of the pedal and off I went on a quick ride (and had NO troubles whatsoever!).

My beautiful bike on the bike rack that I assembled all on my own!
My beautiful bike on the bike rack that I assembled all on my own!
The bike shoes that I never thought I would own :)
The bike shoes that I never thought I would own 🙂

This morning, I went out early again, hoping to log 25 miles (which I DID and is my longest ride to date).  I stopped a couple times for water and, again, had NO issues whatsoever…..until I was back in my driveway.  In the SAME spot, distracted by my watch and my OCD about stopping on even distances, I just fell over!  This time, it actually hurt and I have a big bruise on my knee.  I am such a clutz.  And a dork.  And too ADHD.  But I’m still laughing about it!!  In any case, I feel like a legit cyclist now, which translates to feeling pretty cool.  I will not feel cool, however, if I fall off my bike again.  That phase is DONE.

I'm glad that I can provide entertainment for the masses.
I’m glad that I can provide entertainment for the masses.

Today’s ride was fairly easy, except for the South 15mph wind.  In the Summer in Texas, the South wind is ALWAYS blowing.  And even though I ride East-West for the majority of my ride, I ALWAYS feel as though I’m riding into a headwind.  I don’t know how that happens, or if I am just mental, but I curse at the wind.  A LOT.  To get home, I ride South-bound on an incline…yay for headwinds and hills (not really).  I haven’t learned to love the hills on a bike like I do on my feet.  I know it is possible, though, because while in the bike shop I mentioned I was from Bonham; they had ALL been to Bonham to ride and they ALL said, immediately, you guys have hills!

Making the hard choices

My word of the year has been “Balance” and I revisit it often.  I became unbalanced in my strength training and stretching and ended up with a stress fracture.  Due to several factors, I made the decision not to officiate volleyball this year, in order to balance out some things in my home life.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I have made in quite some time.  I absolutely love being out there on the court, but my family time was suffering (as was my ME time).  Today as the season started with scrimmages, I would normally have been in the gym.  This year was different and I spent the day at home and enjoyed the time with my family.  Plus, I got a bunch of stuff accomplished!  Even though I know it was the right decision at the right time, the gym is still tugging at my heart and will continue to do so!  I am hoping that one day soon, my schedule will allow me to do it again!

Before I go, I want to wish my friend Jenn a kick-ass Spartan tomorrow!  My wish for you is that you aren’t required to do ANY burpees!

Hopefully I will be able to get back on a regular update schedule!  I feel as though the summer vacation extended to my blog posts!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Jen