Still kicking! (17M)

So, despite the myriad of seemingly disconnected aches and pains I'm dealing with right now, I would consider last week very successful. If the hard-easy rule is accurate, I will be just fine. :) Last week I basically only ran 4 days and got in 43 miles; that's almost 11 miles per day. Furthermore, about 23 of those 43 were quality (~7:00 pace down to 6:00 pace). That's a solid week, in my opinion.

If I can get this ankle/foot/knee/glute/hip flexor stuff to stop fighting me so much, things just might work out perfectly. Although, knowing me that's a pretty big if. :) Since I got in quite a bit of "longer" hard work these last two weeks, we're mixing things up with some shorter faster work this week. It'll be good to keep my training as well rounded as we can while still salvaging my health. :) I feel pretty comfortable in the 6:30 range and I am feeling more comfortable about the distance as well, but dropping to anything sub half marathon pace (6:10ish), especially for an extended period of time, still knocks me down pretty good.

With 6 weeks remaining until race day, I know I have plenty of time and am not really concerned, but it's crazy to think about how fitness changes so quickly. If my race were next week it'd be pitiful, but for some reason I have full confidence that in 6 weeks it can be extremely successful. Amazing how our bodies work.

Sunday, September 23rd
40' easy on soft surfaces
COMMENTS: Very glad I did my run this morning... I ran into Sarah (one of Jake's college athletes) when I got to the gravel travel and spent most of my run with her. Went by so fast! My knee wasn't as bad today, but my right ankle and my left quad and hip flexor were pretty bad. Icing now and hoping it all eases up soon. Other than the aches, I felt great this morning. No soreness or fatigue from yesterday.

Monday, September 24th
40' easy on soft surfaces + 6 uphill sprints
COMMENTS: Ran to DBU and then spent most of my run on the trail and grass track. I ran into Sarah and Glynis today and Jake joined us after a couple minutes as well. It was definitely a slow run for me, but I needed it as my knee, hip flexor, and ankle are very painful. I almost stopped at several points, but without knowing what I'm dealing with, it's hard to convince myself the benefit of stopping. If I don't feel better after 24 hours off or anything, then it doesn't seem to make sense to skip an easy run? I don't know... may have to rest everything one day later this week though. We'll see! Got the strides in on a slight hill in front of our house... 20" hard up, 40" easy down.

Tuesday, September 25th
20' easy, 2x400, 4x1200, 2x400, 5' easy
COMMENTS: Nearly skipped this one again because of my knee pain (it has extended to my hip and runs along the IT band as well now, so I definitely need to try stretches and such), but decided missing 3 Tuesday workouts in a 5 week period was not a very good idea.. :) At any rate, I started way too fast for the first 400 because I expected them to be so hard - which they were, but maybe they would have been a little easier if I hadn't dug a hole for myself with the first one! :) I had the DBU girls to run with for the 1200's and then finished off my last 400's in spikes to test them out. I don't know if it was the crazy high humidity, windy, or soggy grass, but something about today's workout was off and it was twice as hard as expected. Regardless, we got it in and another day is in the books! Here are the splits based on grass track cones- 74, 79, 4:31, 4:27, 4:23, 4:25, 80, 78 (5:44 AP) and based on my Garmin 73, 76, 4:16, 4:14, 4:09, 4:12, 76, 74 (5:28 AP). I'll call it in the middle and say it was 4 miles averaging 5:36 pace.

Wednesday, September 26th
rest day. anesthesia for some testing... basically a bed rest day.

Thursday, September 27th
12 miles with 8-11 hard
I'm still out of it from the anesthesia. And my day completely off didn't help the knee either. I tried running this morning but couldn't go 10 meters. Walking down hills or down stairs is absolutely the worse. Saw the school's trainer and he said it's my meniscus. Trying to get a doctor appointment now, but the trainer said I'll need an MRI so it'll probably be awhile before we get answers.

Friday, September 28th
40' easy + strides or pre-race
Today marks missed run #2. I think it would be interesting (if I heal and get back to training before my Half) to see how many days of running I had to miss during this training season due to injury. Slight improvement to my knee... definitely still not runnable as I still have pain walking around and bending it, but still a noticeable improvement! My doctor called back this morning and is going to put in a request for an MRI and get me referred to a local Orthopedic doctor she knows.

Saturday, September 29th
4x2M repeats or 6k race 
 Alright, so I haven't run, cross trained, or lifted weights for 4 full days now. Definitely not liking the looks of this. If I were biking or something I would at least feel like there was some hope left for me to pick back up in a week or two without losing much... Not seeing that as the case right now.. :( MRI of left knee today.

Total Weekly Mileage: 17M


Settling is not an option (43M)

Not that it ever was an option, but, after this weekend I am even more aware of how important it is to maintain focus. Maintaining focus does not mean hammering day in and day out, nor does not settling mean never resting. What it does mean, though, is not giving up on your goal no matter what gets thrown at you. Be it an injury, a hilly course, strong competition, poor weather, etc, you do not settle for less than what you set out for. I set out this summer to run a fall half marathon in sub 6:10 pace. Since then I have run into a few injuries, I've seen portions of the course that I know will be challenging on race day, I've raced against some of my competition, and though I could take those things as excuses to just to finish the race in a respectable time, I will not. I am no elite runner. I'm not the best in Dallas, I'm not even the best within a five mile radius of my house, but I made a goal, I have a coach who is preparing me to accomplish that goal, and if I can maintain focus it is definitely achievable.

I had a wake up call on Saturday morning to something I've been neglecting in training... hills. In light of my experience, I'm going to try and throw a few more hills into my training over the next seven weeks. This week will be about recovering/healing a bum ankle and foot while still getting in a solid long run and a couple race specific sessions.

Sunday, September 16th
Rest day - 2 hour bike with Jake at the lake
Strength session in the evening
*pain on top of left foot in between 1st & 2nd metatarsal (near middle of foot, not near toes) as well as pain on right ankle... resting both in effort to save the pounding for a higher quality day. 

Monday, September 17th
Core session during lunch
40' easy run on the grass track + 6 uphill steep strides in the evening 
COMMENTS: By the time I ran this evening my left foot had eased up to a barely noticeable ache and only my ankle was causing me decent pain. Don't get me wrong, I am BEYOND thankful for getting in this run and the strides, but I seriously felt like poop. Twelve minutes into the run I looked down to check the time because my joints were aching and my arms and legs felt like lead, haha. Needless to say I mentally struggled through a very slow run tonight! :) Hoping the soft surface and relaxed effort will have me ready to roll for tomorrow's barn burner!! 

Tuesday, September 18th
2M easy, 3M @ HMP, 3' rest, 2M @ HMP, 2' rest, 1M @ HMP, .5M easy on hilly route
COMMENTS: This was by far the hardest workout I've done since starting back up. In fact my stomach felt more like a mid/end-race stomach than it has in my races so far once we got about half way in! I definitely had to work and there were some points were I know I gave up for a portion, but Jake was (thankfully) pacing me and reminded me to take control make things up when I was on a downhill or with the wind. We did the first 3M on a super hilly loop and the 2M, 1M reps on a moderately hilly loop, both into some rough wind and in the sun, so I definitely got a taste of less-than-ideal conditions, haha. All in all, I'm very pleased with this workout. I wanted to quit after each rep, but Jake challenged me every time to fight through it. The first 1200 of each rep felt very good for the pace, but after that I definitely struggled. I also noticed that the uphill (whether gradual or steep) was more of a challenge for me than the wind. Paces were 6:05 (3M), 6:07 (2M), 5:55 (1M) with about a 1/2 mile shuffle between each. As far as injuries go, I still have left knee pain and right ankle pain, but my left foot is good to go! :)

Wednesday, September 19th
Rest day 
Walk/ short jog in the morning + core and stretching during lunch
Thursday, September 20th 
14M progressive on the grass track
COMMENTS: So pumped to have this run in. I want to get in several 14+ milers and that means every week's long run is key from here on out! Unfortunately my first four miles were so slow that the overall run was nothing stellar, but the last third or so was spot on and I'm pumped about that! I didn't get in any pre-run fuel, but had a GU (tri-berry... disgusting!) at 7 miles with a few swigs of water. Went down fine but definitely didn't like it. Also, my left knee and right ankle are really bothering me still but I'm going to give it a week and hope it passes. Miles today were 9:34, 8:24, 8:17, 8:07, 7:44, 7:32, 7:21, 7:09, 6:56, 6:52, 6:47, 6:44, 6:34, 6:26. Just wish I hadn't slogged thru the first four so much so it'd really be a solid run, but the AP ended up being 7:28.

Friday, September 21st
15' shakeout after work
COMMENTS: Had a fasting doctor appointment in downtown Dallas in the morning, so I couldn't run until after work. Felt so terrible when I started (mix of heat and the knee/ankle pain I've been having and unsettled food from an afternoon snack) that I ended up just shuffling for 15 minutes and didn't even do any strides. Waste of a day but probably good for me to at lease loosen up after work.

Saturday, September 22nd
2M easy, 8M @ 6:25-6:30 pace, 2M easy 15k @ 6:25-6:30 pace, 1M easy
COMMENTS: Really, really lucked out with this one! On Thursday night I found this race online and realized there was a $100 cash award for first place. It was not very fast last year, so we figured it was the perfect chance to get in my workout and make some money at the same time! :) I had some serious stomach pain that kept me up all night and had an unsettled stomach during my warmup too (stopped twice to use the restroom during my 2M warm up!!), so I was glad it wasn't a major race day. On the start line I was actually panicking because I had to go so bad but couldn't! At any rate, the plan was to run 6:30's unless I had to race to get the $100. Since it ended up not being competitive, I got to go with plan A! :) Mile paces were 6:29, 6:27, 6:26, 6:25, 6:19, 6:28, 6:28, 6:28, 6:23, 6:16 (last .47M). Averages out to 6:25 pace so I hit the nail on the head! There were a few miles where I looked down after 800m and was either way faster or slower than pace and had to make a drastic change in the second half, but it all evened out nicely. Made a friend with a guy named Dan and ran (talking!) with him for the second and third miles. Very pleased with this run as it was a good lesson learning and I felt strong on it. Also learned Gatorade does NOT settle well on my stomach! Started getting a calf and quad cramp in mile 3 so took Gatorade at the next stop (5M), very, very, very bad choice! Oh well, lesson learned! :)

Total Weekly Mileage: 43M


Back in the swing of things! (49.5M)

I'm so thankful to be running again! Taking a week off was one of the hardest things I've done in a while, but I know that if I hadn't rested I would have lost much more time later. My ankle no longer hurts while running, so I'm excited and ready to attack these last 8 weeks with a vengeance! Carefully, though, of course! :)

This week I'll be racing the Tour de Fleurs 10k on Saturday morning, so we're keeping the front half of the week normal and then backing off a tad for the last couple days going into the race. I'm not at a place in training where I'll be set up for a PR or a fancy time, but this one does have pretty sweet prizes so I'd like to be fifth or so if I'm able. I'm going to aim for sub-6:00 pace and see where that puts me.

As I said earlier, I'm now eight weeks away from my goal race, which means it's time to start looking at switching to race pace (race specific) workouts. Kicking that off with 6 by a mile of HMP down to HMP-15" on Tuesday and then a hard 6 miler (10k race) on Saturday. Over the course the following 7 weeks, Jake has my workouts designed to include lots of HMP or just below HMP work and I'm really looking forward to it. I remember that this is the phase of training last year where I saw the most significant jumps in my fitness, and I believe I'm already more fit going into it than I was last year.

Sunday, September 9th
7M 10M at White Rock Lake w/ light surges for the last 5 miles
Strength super-sets in PM
COMMENTS: This was only supposed to be a 7 mile run, but I adjusted the workout halfway through for a couple reasons. 1. I know I'll be doing short runs for the second half of this week, so there won't be any long or medium long days. 2. The weather was 100% perfect. Light breeze, cool temps.. You just have to take advantage of those days when you train in Texas. 3. I started so incredibly slow that I know the extra miles would not wear me down. When I got to 3.5 miles I was about 8:50 pace so you know it was very pleasant and comfortable. :) After turning around I spent the run back doing light pick ups between the 911 signs on the lake. They're about 150 to 300 meters apart (not equidistant) so it gave me a variation in pace to wake up my legs without me looking at the watch. Miles for the full run were 9:14, 8:54, 8:49, 8:27, 8:09, 7:28, 7:22, 7:10, 7:09, 6:50 (7:58 AP).

Monday, September 10th
40' easy on the grass track + 6 uphill strides
COMMENTS: My ankle was feeling much better today!! I kept things nice and easy on the grass track and then used a small hill on DBU's campus to get in my strides. Nothing exciting about this morning's run, but I got it in. :) My calves and glutes are definitely sore today, though. I assumed it was from yesterday afternoon's strength work since it was a new circuit and left me pretty shakey, but Jake mentioned it could also be delayed soreness from Saturday. Who knows! Sore muscles means stronger muscles one day, so I'm not going to complain! :)

Tuesday, September 11th
20' warm up, 6x1M (HMP to 10k)/300 jog recovery, 1M cool down
COMMENTS: Got it it in and no complaints! I ran in the middle of the DBU ladies for the first four and then was solo on the last two. We used the grass "track" around the soccer field so the miles didn't quite match up with my watch. I felt fine on the first four, crummy and heavy on the fifth one, and then back up to par on the last one, haha. I timed two of the recovery jogs from the finish back to the start and they were about 2:30. Times for the "mile" loops are listed with the mile pace from my Garmin in parenthesis- 6:08 (5:54), 6:06 (5:50), 6:02 (5:46), 6:00 (5:46), 5:57 (5:42), 5:55 (5:38). So I'm happy any way you look at it! Even if the Garmin is off, that's what I measured with last year when I did this workout in flats on the road with Jake setting pace, and yet my Garmin paces are still faster this time. If I go by the grass track measurements, I still ran the paces I needed to and cut down consistently with each rep. Success!

Wednesday, September 12th
Light weights in the AM
Very stressful morning/day and lots of ankle pain. Same extreme fatigue (sleepiness) during the day yesterday.

Thursday, September 13th
7M with 2M uptempo
COMMENTS: Almost went back to bed and pushed the run off to lunch, and probably should have. Ankle still hurt (though no worse to run on) and totally and completely wiped out (exhausted). I though I was moving pretty well on my run but the first two miles were 9:30 and 8:40... yikes! Dropped to 6:41 and 6:21 for the fourth and fifth miles, but quickly bumped back to slower than 8:00 pace after they were over. Rough morning, for sure. Time to eat and SLEEP so I'm ready to roll on Saturday!

Friday, September 14th
16' easy run + 4 strides in the AM
15' easy run in the PM
COMMENTS: Didn't feel good on either run, but that doesn't concern me much. I will say, however, that I REALLY enjoyed going for a 15' shakeout (literally a shuffle) around my neighborhood after work. One of the best ways to shake off the day and get ready for evening. Hope I can start doing that a little more often. I considered skipping one of the runs today because my ankle is really hurting still, but every time I start running I stop noticing the pain. It's like it's magnified when I am walking around or sitting still, but just completely slips my mind while running.

Saturday, September 15th
2 miles easy + .75M of 1' easy, 1' hard
TDF 10k race. Goal - 37:00, Actual- complete failure.
4.5 miles easy
COMMENTS: Started the race with plans to run just behind the leader going out and then see what I could do on the run home. I was warned before the race about the second half, so I wanted to be in a good position going into it, but I also did not want to waste myself in the first three miles by trying to fight the wind too much (yes, the wind was strong going out, but at least it wasn't on the run back!). Becky took off from the gun and I stayed within 3-10m of her for the first half. At about 2.8 or so, we turned to go up the first hill which is just past the Big Thicket. By the time we got to 3.5 miles, Becky was at least 200m ahead... I had completely fallen apart. At about 3.6 miles hit the second long steep hill (up from the Bath House) and I fell back even more. After that I tried to regather myself and use the downhills when I got them, but only downhills and the finishing stretch were run at a noteworthy pace... everything else was pitiful. I'm embarrassed and frustrated and wish my ankle wasn't such a nuisance right now so I could start attacking these next seven weeks immediately. I have A LOT of work to do. Thankfully I have 7 weeks left which is enough time for some serious fitness changes to occur. No time to waste though. Time to start making things burn a few days a week. Paces for today 5:48, 5:54, 6:03, 6:18, 5:59, 6:10, 5:43 (last .31M) (6:01 AP) for a 38' 6.31M race. I was told to run this as a blow-out race (start with the leader, not at your own pace), after today I think I'll go back to my usual method instead. Not proud of the way these splits look.
*Also, threw in a longer easy run after the race to get at least 13.1 in today. I'd like most Saturdays from here on to be race distance or longer to start preparing for that amount of time on my feet.

Total Weekly Mileage: 49.35M


Subtalar joint on the mend... (31M)

Well, after all of the careful attention Jake gave to my training plan and after all of the patience I exercised in controlling intensity and mileage, I have missed a solid week of running. I successfully managed to sprain or jam my subtalar joint while running in the boy scout camp last Monday. After some failed attempts at running on Tuesday, I got it checked out by my doctor who gave me a 6 day steroid pack and told me no running for a full week. I did not cross train for the first two days in order to give my tendons optimum time to recover, and have been lifting or biking since then. Unfortunately, I still have very consistent pain in the area but I'm going to take a chance and see what my body allows this week.

I understand that I won't lose much in a week, so I'm not in major panic mode, but I am concerned that I don't feel 100% yet. I'm hoping that pain subsides entirely by the end of this week and I can get in a full week of regular training going into next weekend's 10k race. If there is one lesson that I've been reminded while cross training, it's "just start". To put it bluntly, I hate biking. I pretty much detest any kind of cross training there is. That said, it's taken an awful lot of effort to get started the past couple days, but once I've started, I really haven't had a problem finishing. In fact, I often find myself saying "this isn't bad, I'll sneak in five more minutes" and then five minutes later repeating the same statement. I believe this is true with a lot of things in life. Chores, work, anything you want to apply it to, it works. If you'll just start, you'll find that it's over before you know it and you're better off for having gotten it done.

Sunday, September 2nd
24 mile casual bike with Jake at WRL + 3x15 weights in the afternoon

Monday, September 3rd
45' bike with intervals in the AM + 55' bike in the PM

Tuesday, September 4th
24' test run on the grass track + weights in the evening
COMMENTS: Still had pain in my ankle, but it did not get any worse through the course of the run and that gives me plenty of confidence to continue with our plans! I'm back!!! :)

Wednesday, September 5th
Core + 30' run on grass track + 4 strides
COMMENTS: Awesome higher effort run this morning. I was fully awake when I started my run because I did core first, so it did not take any time for me to work down to a solid pace. I was feeling very good and knew I didn't have another workout until Saturday, so I had no problem pushing it. Finished the 4 miles well under 30 minutes. No pain in my ankle while running, but still decent pain level before and after runs.

Thursday, September 6th
7M run with 2M uptempo on the grass track
2x12 strength in the evening (cut off one set because I was already sore and it was so late)
COMMENTS: Another very good run. It's amazing how much quicker you start your runs when you've an entire week off. ;) Mile splits were 8:14, 7:48, 7:42, 6:18, 6:10, 7:28, 7:12 for a total average pace of 7:16. Very pleased with this since I was solo on the grass track and did not do any strides or warm up drills first. Same notes as yesterday regarding my ankle.

Friday, September 7th
40' run on the grass track with Jake + 6 uphill strides
COMMENTS: Definitely not a slow run again. This is four days straight of solid paces on my runs and I'm hoping that doesn't come back to bite me in the butt later. I'll just be taking Sunday and Monday very easy! :) Still have ankle pain before/ after the run and doing strides, but not during the actual run.

Saturday, September 8th
2M easy, 6M steady averaging 6:26 pace, 2M easy
COMMENTS: Great workout today!  The weather was partially cooperative as we had SUCH cooler temperatures, but it was definitely a fight-the-wind kind of day with winds of 20mph.  I had Katie to run with for the warm up and first 3 miles, which was really really nice, and I actually felt very good for the workout. About 4.5 miles in I thought I was about to hit a bit of a wall, but it's because I had dropped the pace too much into the wind and I felt better after turning a corner. Splits were 6:34, 6:31, 6:25, 6:24, 6:23, 6:22. Ankle was worse than usual but definitely not a game-stopper.

Total Weekly Mileage: 31M