Saturday, March 31, 2012

Observations from the gym: Part 2

Not running means spending a lot more time inside the gym lately. This morning my long "run" consisted of 1 hour elliptical, 15 min bike, then a short break to run downstairs to meet and send off my run group then back upstairs for 1 hour elliptical and 20 min bike for 2 hour 35 min workout. Another mentally draining workout, I wish I was outside running! All this time in the gym and I see a lot of interesting things...
  • The man on the elliptical who smelled his armpits every few minutes. Huh? You are working out and sweating, pretty sure you will smell.
  • The man wearing his swimsuit who sat down by the pool, read the newspaper and then headed back to locker room (bike overlooks the pool, always interesting there).
  • There is going to be a local baby boom in the next few months, I have never seen so many pregnant women at the gym as I did this morning! This only continued as ai shopped this afternoon, we are being overwhelmed by pregnant women!
  • What is the point of a 5 minute workout? More then 1 person got on a cardio machine for 5 minutes and then left.
  • Are you really getting a workout if you can have a cell phone conversation?
  • Saturday morning is social hour at the gym. There were many women doing more gossiping then working out.
  • Jeans are not workout clothes and can't be comfortable.
  • There are some interesting looking sports drinks out there.
I took my doctor's other adivce today and bought my first pair of minimalist runnung shoes but they will stay in the box until after I am fully healed! They are actually comfortable and I think they are cute.

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Good news/Bad news


    Follow up appointment with the sports med doctor today didn't go perfect but not worst case either. On Tuesday I read the radiology report on my MRI which said there was no stress fracture, today the verdict is slightly different. My sports doc and another doctor looked at the MRI and disagree, thinking that the white that shows on the one single image is a stress reaction of the bone. So basically a precursor to a stress fracture, ugh! I guess I made the right decision to stop running last week.

    Good news: I am cleared to run Boston and the doctor said "it will not break at mile 10". I can do any other activity that does not cause pain, which is pretty much everything else: biking, elliptical, pool running, walking.

    Bad news: I am not cleared to run yet. Right now I feel 80% better then I did a week ago and should be 100% in the next week but can't do too much and risk further issues.

    We talked about calf strengthening and getting a DEXA scan to see why I am nearly at 4 stress fractures (and 3 traumatic fractures) in the past 10 years. He also talked about adding in some barefoot/minimalist running (once I am healed) to "fix" my form. The most recent theory is that we strike with too much impact in shoes leading to too much stress on the legs and with minimalist running form the impact s less and wider spread throughout the legs resulting in less injury. I've always thought the shoes were cute, so why not?!

    Guess I am back in the pool and spending long hours on the bike and elliptical for another few weeks. I need to look for other cross training options to reduce my boredom.

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Being a non-runner

    This past weekend should have been an easy Saturday run and my final 22-23 mile run on Sunday for Boston and then the taper. Saturday wasn’t bad: 1:15 elliptical while my run team ran in morning and then 45 min pool running and 15 min swimming laps in the afternoon so my little fishy girl could “swim” in the kid pool with daddy.
    Sunday, instead of a nice long run I got one of the toughest mental workouts of the training in as I tried to replace it with an equivalent time of cross-training. I had great plans that soon took a turn, and headed to the gym at 6am on Sunday with plans that revolved around an 8am spin class and 9am pool opening. Little did I know neither of these were actually happening!

    My planned workout: 1:15 elliptical then 1:15 spin class and ending with 30-45 min pool running and few swimming laps. My actual workout: 1:15 elliptical, change to bike shorts and head to spin class to find out it isn’t happening so 1 hour on spin bike instead, change into swim suit only to find out pool opening is pushed back to 10am, go change back and finish with 45min on elliptical for 3:15 workout filled with massive amounts of frustration and reminders why I avoid this gym!

    The day then continued with some baking, of course, what else is there to do on a Sunday afternoon during naptime?! We followed this with a 10 mile family bike ride with some time at the park.

    The best part of all this is the leg is now 80% pain free and nothing like it was on Thursday. This gives me hope that it is not a stress fracture and I just need some time to rest it. The final verdict and plan are yet to come, Thursday morning can’t come soon enough.   

    Carrot Bread
    2 large over-ripe bananas
    1 cup pitted dates (about 8) soaked
    1 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 cup apple sauce
    1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
    1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup regular oats
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ginger
    1 cup shredded carrots
    1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates

    Preheat oven to 350F. Spray or wipe a 9x5-inch loaf pan with oil.

    In a food processor, puree dates (with a little soaking water) and the bananas, then add the lemon juice, applesauce and agave nectar/honey. Combine well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, and stir just until it is well-combined. Fold in the carrots and raisins/chopped dates
    Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting. Very happy with it, almost as good as carrot cake but much healthier!

    Today also marks the start of the Healthy Eating Challenge at my work which includes various daily challenges like eating fruits, veggies, drinking water, exercise and trying new healthy foods. It is the last I am having the most issue with: I think I eat a huge variety but know there are always more things out there (one of the reasons I loved our CSA last summer) but what are other new healthy foods especially fruits and veggies to try? And I need better snack ideas, I really need to get away from the conveinence foods like granola bars!

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Not the answer I hoped for

    Yesterday's visit to the sport med doc didn't go as I had hoped. I heard the words that norunner ever want to hear "I think it's a stress fracture".

    The leg pain was getting better but still there as a dull ache so I was hoping for a simple calf strain and continue running answer, this was not what I got. On exam he was able to find a few painful spots but nothing that was too terrible, but he also saw the weakness in my left leg which was a concern. When he asked me to hop on my left leg things were done, it hurt, I  was weak and couldn't do it :-( Crap! I hadn't even realized this, guess I was compensating pretty well. He is optimistic that it is my left leg for the first time and not my right like with my previous 3 (yes, 3) stress fractures and posterior tibial tendinitis.

    Since it has been going on for over a month he got an x-ray which as hoped was negative. So the good news is it is not a full out fracture or well healing stress fracture. The next step was an MRI, I spent my Friday night with the MRI table and some 90s music. Now I spend the weekend analyzing the images and wishing orthopedics/radiology was more my speciality. Give me a spine or brain any day! To my minimally trained eye the bone looks fine, but I do see some enhancing indication edema on the tissue. Guess I'll know for sure how accurate I am in a few days.

    Bone looks fine, right? I really need some radiologist friends!
    Not too happy with the white areas around the bone, yuck!

    Until we know the answer I can't run, with just over 3 weeks until Boston this is tough to hear. The doctor is optimistic that with rest and good cross training I will still get to the start (and finish) of the race. Plenty of spin classes, elliptical and pool running in my near future, ugh! Any other good cross training suggestions?

    Fingers crossed for a good answer this week and the okay to run soon.

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    How I know I am a runner

    I often have these moments and thoughts that make me realize I am truly a runner and doing, experiencing, thinking things that only a runner would.
    • Driving down a hilly section of the freeway you think of how good a route for hill training this is and briefly contemplate the ability to run it.
    • Your pants fit (or are loose) every where except your muscular thighs that are attempting to bust out the seems.
    • When asked, your 2 year old says mommy runs for a job. Hahaha I wish!
    • You know all of the public restrooms and port-a-potties.
    • I just cleaned out my car to find: 2 headbands, a running jacket, pair of mittens, 2 running hats, fuel belt, multiple wrappers from gels and bars, empty water bottles, race bib, arm warmers and an old pair of running shoes.
    • I own more running shoes then "regular" shoes and am willing to spend the money on these first.
    • I know distances based on having run places
    • Waking up at 4am on a weekend to run is normal and actually enjoyable
    • I eat more then a growing teenage boy especially the day after a 20+ mile run and no longer get strange looks from my coworkers for eating all day.
    • My 2 year old knows how to use a fuel belt, running watch, and calls all her tennis shoes "running shoes", she has been to more races and logged more miles in the BOB then most adults. 
    • Many other aspects of my life are scheduled/based on running. I passed on a wine tasting tonight because I should be running my final long run Saturday and the two don't mix very well!
    This is one of those days where I have to write about running since I won't be doing any and haven't since Wednesday. The week started off good with an 8K on Sunday, doubles on Monday-Wednesday to include biking/elliptical in the morning and an easy Tuesday run.

    The speedwork on Wednesday was the breaking point for my leg. I ran a 2.5 mile easy w/u 10x 800m Yassos at 6:45-7:00 pace and a 2.5 mile easy c/d. Everything felt fine until afterwards I could barely walk back to my car, yikes! I was once again fine when I got home but the pain returned yesterday while walking at work. I gave in a made an appointment to see my sports medicine doctor this morning and of course woke up pain free. Hoping for some good news today so my weekend plans can include a long run. Head over to Fitness Friday

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Human Race 8K

    Yes I ran, despite advice from others to sit out and keep resting the leg and possibly against my better judgement (I'll know tomorrow if my leg agrees with my decision or not). I woke up this morning pretty much pain free and continued to feel fine after 45 minutes on the elliptical. I headed into work at 6am deciding that the final decision would be based on when I was able to leave and if the leg held out.

    Based on 40 years of tradition this race is always held the Sunday closest to St. Patrick's Day and in the early afternoon to not interfere with all the churches along the route and allow the temperature to warm up (not an issue today, it was 80F and sunny). Even with the wonderful weather and St. Patrick's Day stupidity I still managed to have an easy day at work and got out around lunch time, thank you locals for behaving and not injuring yourself or others and saving me from being stuck at work all day on my final weekend shift ever!

    I met up with my team as we lined up checked out the competition. How intimidating being surrounded by local elite runners and Team USA runners, I guess this is what it's like to be racing as a USATF team. Even stranger was that the race was on a split road and there was an unwritten understanding that men lined up on one side of the median and women on the other, good thing someone filled us in so we at least looked like we belonged! The start was a blast, so many of these women have raced together for years and were friendly and welcoming, I don't think I have chatted so much at a start line before today.

    "Take it easy, take it easy, don't get caught up in the race, you have bigger goals ahead" These things all kept running through my head as I stood at the start. And we were off, with the first hill (of many) upon me I kept it easy and was so happy feeling no ache in my leg! Quickly I saw 3 of my teammates pull ahead, "let them go, just relax". I keep repeating similar things during the race. Wow, almost to the turn around and it is warm. This has to be the one and only time it is too warm to run in a tank and shorts in March, wow! I'm feeling good and push a little, surprisingly things feel even better pushing my leg. I see the finish line having no idea my pace or time and look at the clock, 37:27 as I cross for 7:33 pace. I'm happy not only did the leg feel good, but I can't complain for running my first run in a week on a hilly course with heat and wind only a couple minutes slower then my goal had I been healthy. The best perk of running odd distances: an automatic PR!

    Why do I look like I am throwing an elbow?! My first race after a huge hair cut and no hat not sure I recognize myself.

    I hope this is only the start of my leg feeling better. With 4 weeks to go I truly hope I didn't make the wrong decision to race. I still plan to keep this week easy and possibly push back my last long run another week opting for only a 2 week taper and extra time off now.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    1 month, no way...

    I am out, at least for now. After an awesome feeling 22 mile run on Sunday Tuesday's hilly run was slow and achy but not the worst yet. Wednesday I tried a 10 mile interval run and it sucked! Started out with kid and dog aiming for 4.5 miles and planning another 5-6 with only the BOB. By the time I finished the first loop I was in pain and walking, so I dropped off the dog at home and decided to skip the rest and instead walk/run to the store with the BOB to grab a few veggies for dinner. By the end of what totaled 7 miles I was feeling okay, I think the starting and stopping with the dog wasn't helping anything.
    Based on Wednesday's run Thursday became a bike day with 1 hour on the trainer in the morning and then a 2 mile family walk after dinner. Friday I made up some running miles with 1 hour on the elliptical and then did some strength and core before work. I just couldn't hold back after work with temps of 80 and sunny I had to at least attempt a run to the store, dumb idea! I ended up walking about half of the 4 miles total to and from the store, but the weather was wonderful so I didn't care, I was outside in March in shorts and a sports bra and warm! Thank you mother nature :-)


    I almost didn't even mind the fact that I had to ice my shin/calf since I was sitting in the sun watching dog and kid play barefoot outside. What a great weather week, breaking records daily with highs near 80F and it is only forcasted to continue to be warm. 

    Unfortunately the shin/calf pain has returned to the intensity it was about 1 month ago and I am now 1 month out from Boston, ugh! The good side I am fine after a run and can't pinpoint any one spot of pain (yay no stress fracture) just a generalized aches and tightness throughout. So back to even more stretching, icing and some rest. Might even be time to hit the ppol for some water running. At least I have this weather to keep me in a good mood. Plans for today are a stop at the gym for an elliptical workout and then bike ride to enjoy the weather, first time off the trainer this year let's hope for no injuries!

    To add to the questions my first race of the 2012 team circuit is tomorrow, an 8K that I hoped to use for some speedwork. Do I run? Just go out easy or push it if I am pain free? Do I skip it completely?

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    What a week!

    Happy Friday, a 3 day weekend and it began with an hour on the bike trainer and will likely continue with an afternoon run, I love these double days!

    Oh my, what have I just done? For years I've thinking about running an ultra and now I am committed to a 50K. I just registered for the Afton Trail Run in July. Now to figure out how to actually train for this so I don't embarrass myself! There is a 9 hour limit so I figure I will be fine and worst case I can stop after the first 25K loop if I need to. I honestly don't think the running will be a problem but I am concerned with fueling and not upsetting my GI system. Any advice?

    I guess this is what happens after a week of good news and excitement. The workouts of last weekend and then a nice 10 mile run in sun and warmth earlier this week along with time on the bike have inspired me and helped me arrive at an important decision. After being recruited about a month ago and then three interviews I was called on Tuesday and offered a new job using my graduate degree! The pay and benefits are better and even though it was posted as full-time they are willing to hired me part-time. Best yet it is within the same organization I am currently at so I keep my earned PTO and seniority. Strangely (or maybe not) the only thing against the job was longer commutes and less time to workout. Yes, that's right I almost turned down a great opportunity because I am scared or missing workouts! Is there something wrong with me? or am I just a runner!

    In other news we are halfway through an elimination diet trial for O since she has many GI issues (I'll save the full details), continues to be small, always bloated and complaining of "tummy hurt". We started with dairy elimination and of course I had a tough time coming up with dairy free dinners even though I try to limit it since I am sensitive as well. So in attempts to use up some ingredients in the kitchen I came up with this super easy curry.

    Chickpea Spinach Coconut Curry
    1 small onion diced
    2 cloves garlic minced
    Spinach leaves torn - I used about 1/2 bag
    1 can chickpeas
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 can coconut milk - I used lite
    2 tsp curry powder
    1/4-1/2 tsp tumeric
    1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or less)
    Salt to taste

    Heat oil and saute onion and garlic until soft, add spinach until wilted. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20-30 min to reduce. Serve with rice.

    Unfortunately 1 week into the 2 week dairy elimination I am seeing little improvement meaning we will likely need to continue with further testing and/or elimination trials.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Ride of a Lifetime

    What a weekend of workouts! I guess that's what happens when you hang out and train with friends training for an Ironman! It all started with an innocent conversation when the endurance trainer at the gym where I am the run coordinator asked me to let his group know about us. Fast forward a few weeks and I was asked to join some of the "fast" runners for long runs and it has progressed, I am now biking and have gotten into the pool, even considering a triathlon this summer.

    Saturday started early with a long run of 18 miles in the snow. I love snow running, it is just so peaceful and calming, but I could have done without the wind, bad footing and ebing pelted in the face with icy snow. It was tough and slow, but a great way to start the weekend. Kind of strange having my first real winter run in March, what a strange year so far.

    Sunday was another early morning. I was convinced to sign up for a spin event which is basically 1,000 people doing a 2 hour (actually 2:15) spin class in a party atmosphere, DJ and all. We headed down early to get in a run before, the course that was planned was 7 miles with some crazy hills. Yikes, this would normally be tough but with tired legs from the day before, wow! Now follow this by 2 hours of spin. What a great workout especially considering I haven't biked more then 1 hour in nearly 3 years. Add into this the usual post-long workout hunger and try to figure out how to fuel for another day of hard workouts when you tend to be eating and hydrating. Bananas and Lara Bars were my friend that day.

    These workouts also got me looking closer at my protein intake and how it is falling short and effecting my recovery. Another perk of IM athletes, they love their protein shakes. Today I joined the movement and had my first protein shake for a mid morning snack. First attempt was okay and reinforced that I need a blender: vanilla soy protein with banana, mango and OJ. What are other good shake ideas? Or uses for protein powder? Another reason to search Pinterest!

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Fitness Friday Randomness

    Look what my friend the UPS man brought (along with two new pairs of compressions socks)! If it isn't running clothes/shoes then he brings me wine, I think he is my best friend! Love the Boston jackets this year, now to convince myself to wait another 6 weeks to open the packaging. Not sure if I think it is okay to wear it until marathon weekend, that has got to be some sort of bad karma. So there it sits, bag still sealed. 6 weeks from today on our 10th anniversary we leave for Boston and I will let myself open it then.

    February left with a bang and March is here melting all the remains of the snowstorm with forecasts in the 50s next week. February was a good month for workouts, I kept with my goals of cross training and even got in 2 pilates classes at the end of the month and swam once, a huge accomplishment considering it has been 3 years since my last swim! I logged...
    • 222.4 miles running (a great higher mileage month despite the calf issues)
    • 5 hours 15 min on the bike trainer
    • 35 min swimming
    • 2 hours on the elliptical (to replace some running)
    • 2x weekly strength training

    Now I have something to aim for in March, increasing the quality and run miles along with bike and swim workouts while keeping up the strength training. I also have my fingers crossed for departure (on no return) of the snow!
    I'm ready for gymnastics!

    Yesterday also ended the 3rd gymnastics session. It is amazing how much she has grown and improved over the past 9 months. From a crooked forward roll and just watching others to two feet jumping, walking backwards across the beam, hanging/flipping off the bars and swinging on the rope.

    It is hard to believe that just 6 months ago she was afraid of the foam pit and now she loves swinging and jumping into it! The spring session starts next week and we found out that the toddler class is part of the show in May as well, this could be interesting better have the video camera ready! I am so happy she is such an active little girl and that we have been able to be such strong role models for health and fitness, I hope she continues to love this as much as I do as she gets older. Linking up to Fitness Friday