Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It takes a team

Five weeks ago I finished my 25th marathon and 3rd Boston Marathon in pain and frustrated after almost 2 year of running that has been plagued with injury. I said enough! I need to stop being a stubborn and stupid runner who takes pride in being able to push through the pain and still mange to finish a race. I want to get back to the days when I was picking off PRs at every distance and knowing I could push even harder!

12 days after Boston I had my appointment with a sports doctor who was confused by me! Pain, exam and tests just don't fit...
Good news: No stress fracture, no tears, I can run if it doesn't hurt
Bad news: My pelvis is a mess, the joy of being a woman and having post-baby changes! And hip impingement on the right.

He sent me to physical therapy which I was sent to find on my own "I want you to find someone who works with high end runners and I don't have anyone here." At least he called me a high end runner.

I lucked out and in my frantic calling of PT clinics the following morning I got in on a cancellation, if I hadn't I would have waited at least 2 weeks or more for an eval with a running PT!
Good news: I can continue to run easy and short distances, just let pain be my guide. My problem is fixable! I have great core strength and quad strength.
Bad news: I am a mess! Let me just tell you watching yourself run on a gait analysis is kind of horrifying! My core stability and glute strength are nonexistent!

Next up I began working with someone for Postural Restoration to fix my pelvic and spine misalignments.
Good news: Keep running. After 1 session we started to see a difference and increase in "flexibility".
Bad news:  It appears that my pelvis is shifted (We knew that) but my larger rib cage and spine and making my diaphragm movement limited and my lung capacity is less than it could be.

The exercises are simple: breathing while moving in specific positions. He also suggested new shoes to me. 

I continued with a few more sessions with my chiro for Graston and acupuncture to relieve inflammation. After this it is on me to massage out the adhesions, the tennis ball is my friend! 

Throughout these past few weeks my focus has been glute and core strength and fixing my body. I got in 1 decent short, easy run 2 weeks after Boston then the half relay which was okay but caused issues on the left. Not sure this is related to healing and all the exercises or not. Then I tried to run in the new shoes and it was all over! I have not run in 2 weeks after 2 run fails within the first 1/4 mile. I even skipped a race. After things not seeming to improve my doctor and I agreed an MRI was the next step to rule out something that didn't show on Xray or was inconsistent with exam. I got in for this MRI on Thursday and my doctor is the best he emailed Friday evening to say nothing yet but he'd have his nurse check Saturday. I got my call that morning with preliminary results but we are waiting on the radiologist's read which should come today...

In the mean time my bike and I have become great friends, I've gotten back into the routine of daily (or almost daily) yoga and started CrossFit. 

I think this is the longest I have gone without running since my foot fracture 10 years ago which resulted in 6 months out. This time I'm being smart and enlisted my team: sports doctor, chiro, PT and trainer to kick me into top running shape.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Half of a half!

In my first truly smart injured runner move I decided (in January) that instead of running the half marathon less than 3 weeks after Boston that I'd run it as a relay with my Boston running friend. The race was not only my first relay but our Moms Run This Town group was running to honor a little girl of one of our members who is in the hospital for a new heart condition. Pink and purple ribbons filled our race outfits...

Dawn was off with the start and I boarded the bus that decided to wait and wait! We finally got to about Mile 2 and as I sat on the bus I saw her run past looking strong, but me on the bus was starting to worry that I wouldn't make it! We wait more and more...finally getting to the transition at Mile 6.2 to see 1 port-a potty! Yikes, do I have time to even get in line, luckily someone let me go ahead since her runner wasn't expected for awhile. I quickly shed my extra layers dropped our bags just in time to see the neon yellow of my partner coming up the hill to hand off to me!

Chip on my ankle and I was off, I quickly realized that keeping my jacket was not the best idea. I knew I'd soon be at my group's water stop and would throw it there. I ran telling myself "just take it easy, no pain!" The right leg was cooperating with my thoughts and I was thrilled! I was just waiting for this calm to go away and concentrated on every feeling coming from my lower body, focusing on my form and stride. Soon I see this...
Yes it is!
Time to throw the jacket, high 5 O who is working her first water stop and enjoy the run. As I continue I am counting down the miles very thankful I decided for the relay! I know my pace is slowing as I am now running 7:50s but I'll take it. We made a goal of 8 min miles (kind of sad considering that is marathon pace and this isn't even a half for us each!). I am being passed but that's okay, although I am checking out ankles and have not seen any relay runners sneak pass me!

Now I start to wonder what's up with this? My left hamstring is getting angry. Is it from my changes in stride? Glute exercises? Postural restoration? Or simply a resolution of this ongoing injury that is all based out of my left pelvis? Who knows but I'm not happy! It isn't bad so I keep moving...

More hills ahead of me before the last sort of flat mile! This course is killer for hills but luckily the site of many of my training runs. I see Mile 12 and hear those words "flat from here" I could hug that  volunteer! As I near the high school track I see my relay partner and we head in together. We think we did it, no one has passed me and she hasn't seen anyone from relay come through...
Do we run the same or what?!

And done! 1:40 we made our goal! My individual PR on the course is 1:37 and I'll get back there just not now. We wait for the other runners to finish and find a spot on the field to finish the workout...Yes we were those crazy runners doing push ups, planks, and the rest of our core work!

We ended up with 2nd place for the relay, not bad for two injured runners who are a couple weeks from running Boston! Interesting though considering no one ever saw the 1st place team on the course.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

As I sit here enjoying my morning coffee watching O and daddy play Candy Land and puppy sleep next to them I am thankful for my kid(s). I'm going to take a minute to brag about O and our newest kid...

Somehow Matt and I, who did not grow up as natural athletes, seem to have a daughter who is one of those kids who catches on and looks so strong at any sport! In the past week she passed to the next level of gymnastics and looks so graceful and strong as she flies through the movements. Then after only 4 weeks of swimming lessons she shocked even the teachers and passed to the next level! My little fish is already starting to swim back stroke and front crawl on her own. She can't wait to do a triathlon like daddy.

Then came dance rehearsal and trophy day. After saying she was done with dance class she now wants to continue but informed me she doesn't like tap, a girl after my own heart.

I love having a big girl who I can have somewhat grown up conversations with, who can make her own breakfast (cereal at least), who insists on picking out her own clothes and wants to learn everything. Despite the difficulty her independence and stubbornness causes us now, I know in the future it will only benefit her as she grows. She even approached us today saying she wants chores so she can earn money!

And now to introduce our newest kid who joined our family 2 weeks ago...

This is Cooper, our 12 weeks old lab mix rescue puppy. It took us a few months but we decided it was time to bring another rescue pup to our home, and decided to stick with a black puppy. Cooper fits right in, he loves O and is such a cuddly guy. And to our shock is catching on so fast with training. I can't wait to see hi grow and become my running buddy in the future.

Of course I will always think of my first baby Morgan who left us this winter after a tough fight with cancer. Thanks to Morgan we found Cooper's name. I had a dream that Morgan was playing with a black puppy named Cooper so the name had to stick. And heck seems more appropriate than the name he was given at the rescue, Angus.

Happy Mother's Day!
Hoping for a relaxing day with my family, yoga and a nice long bike ride (since a long run won't happen). What are your Mother's Day plans?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014

Sorry, I know I said I'd post this Tuesday but the past few days have been pure chaos! Lots of changes in our house, little sleep and adjusting to it all! Like I mentioned Monday the race was not the weekend highlight and before writing this I had no idea on my splits and only knew my finish because others told me.
This winter has been tough for training; brutal cold, lots of snow leading to many indoor treadmill runs plus an injury that made me cut back and slow down. I had a couple great runs that put the thought of a great race in my mind but realistically I had no idea what my body was able to do.
After a bad night of sleep thanks to our hotel neighbor I got up at 4:30 grabbed my coffee, figured out what to wear after rethinking it multiple times and finally ate my bagel and banana before meeting my team bus. 
Ready to go!
And we were off on the way to Hopkinton, ready to run a race with more meaning than most others, many on the bus had run last year, some were stopped short of finishing, some finished seconds before the bombs. There were a lot of thoughts and emotions as we started the journey. As we neared start time I ate my second breakfast: banana and Lara Bar.

Now we look like runners!
As always I had my wave 2 start but the process was much crazier this year, only letting some waves go, then others. We started the walk and made it just as the gun went off. Walking through the neighborhood full of support and security what a strange combination. Last minute fueling with UCAN and it was almost time.

And we were off...I know the course and despite this started faster to take advantage of the downhills. 7:40s (yep I said I run dumb!) I knew I wasn't in perfect racing shape so why not see what I can gain now and lose it later?! You could feel the emotion and support from everyone around; runners, spectators, volunteers. Everyone was there to show that we are strong and can't be stopped. I felt great, let the crowds push me and just ran! 5K: 23:35 (7:37 pace) oops. Those darn downhills! I'm not sure I was even feeling the run, just reading signs and getting caught up in the day. 10K: 48:09 (7:46) that's better, but the legs are tight and why did I run with arm sleeves? I am getting warm!

The next few miles were a blur. I was doing fine and had a thought in my head that maybe all was good with my leg and maybe, just maybe a good race was in the works. But this thought quickly passed! Right leg getting sore and now left foot, what is that about?! 15K 1:14:01 (7:58) still on pace but slowing but now I have Wellesley and Boston College to push me along, thank to the group of DG women I saw. You have no idea how you cheering for me (having no idea I was a DG) made me keep pushing! Half: 1:47:06 (8:11) and a text to Matt "I'm fading my leg hurts don't expect me to keep pace!" His response: "I'm sorry. But you have a picture with the champion!"

As I ran I went through my three options 1) continue to push and likely injure myself worse 2) quit to avoid a time I would be happy about or 3) back off, enjoy the run and hopefully prevent further issue. I usually pick the first and my body rebels and I regret it later, I just can't do the second so the third seemed the smartest. And remembering Meb saying "You are only competing with yourself. When you are struggling so are others, just don't let it get the better of you." So I ran and had fun. I was shocked I actually continued to run most of the race, only walking water stops or when the leg told me I needed to. Soon the crowds were an uproar of cheers and support. Many volunteers thanking us for running to take back the race. I soon turn on Boylston and see the finish line, no walking now! I can feel my emotions hitting full force. I have just finished my 3rd Boston and 25th marathon! Something I never imagined in 2003 when I finished my 1st marathon in a rough 5:20ish! I finished 4:02:32 (9:16 pace) 30+ minutes off my qualifying time but in the end I did not care. I never even looked at my time until writing this. I only knew because others told me.

Proudly wearing our jackets!
Since Boston I have not run...12 days and counting. Have seen a sports medicine doctor and started physical therapy in hopes of coming back stronger. My focus has been cross training: swimming (yes I got in the pool!), biking, pilates, yoga and strength training. I am working on a new mentality and not pushing through just to run, I have big plans for fall marathon training and am done with less than great running!

My scarf and medal!