Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Week 2 of training on a regular schedule again has been very rewarding! I reached an important milestone this weekend: 12 miles. This may seem insignificant, but 12 miles was my last distance before getting injured. This weekend’s run was truly redemption for me, and I feel more confident than ever.

I mentioned last week that I thought I’d found some pacing buddies, and now I can confirm that I actually have (thank goodness). My TNT teammates Alex and Michael are great running partners. They keep me motivated, and also distracted from the long miles. Our conversations ranged this week to chafing (ouch!) to the war in Iraq (yikes!) to our pets (yay!). It’s interesting how quickly you get to know a complete stranger when you’re distance running. Maybe because we’re training with TNT and have a common interest, that there is already a level of trust. Talking comes easy. There is little pressure to impress, so amid the silence between conversations, trying to fill it with words seems unnecessary. The runs are enjoyable, not torture. We work off each other. We’re a team.

Here we are at the mile 9 water stop this weekend. Alex is on my left and Michael is on my right.

Here we are at the mile 9 water stop this weekend. Alex is on my left and Michael is on my right.

I completed my run this weekend in a bit of discomfort, but an ice bath and Advil seemed to help — a lot. Twenty-four hours later, I’m feeling much better. I also think the barre class I took this morning helped to loosen up my muscles.

Per a new post-ice bath routine, I like to have a hot cup of coffee and Oreos. When I did this yesterday, my dog, Matty, was incredibly interested. Dogs can’t have chocolate — so Matty didn’t get an Oreo — but I did get an adorable picture of him going in for a cookie kiss!

Cookie kiss!

C’mon Mom! You’re torturing me with that cookie!

And I also got a fantastic picture of him photobombing!

Look at Matty Boy's face! Eyes closed and tongue sticking out!

Look at Matty Boy’s face! Eyes closed and tongue sticking out!

After a weekend of Calorie-burning, I’d say it’s about time to relax and enjoy the rest of this long, three-day weekend.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Official MCM Course Released Today

MCM

I didn’t know it at first, but I wasn’t mentally prepared to view the official course of the Marine Corps Marathon today.

I received a notification via the race’s Facebook page that the course was now available to view. After opening the PDF, I became a little overwhelmed. I guess running 26.2 miles hasn’t truly set in yet. As I followed the mile markers, I focused on the Aid Stations. Gee, I hope I don’t end up in one of them, I thought. Then I started to obsess over the food and water stations, especially the ones on Haines Point (the halfway mark) and mile 20 (where many runners allegedly “hit a wall”). Interestingly enough, mile 20 is across the 14th Street Bridge, a landmark that has always been really difficult for me. That bridge really screws with my head; I’ve always hated running across it. Mile 20 is going to be more of a mental challenge than a physical one for me, but at least I have time to prepare for it.

Looking at the course today, it seems daunting and impossible. I know I can (and will) do it, but wow…actually seeing it marked up on a map made it feel real. I am really doing this!

I also checked out spectator information since I have a lot of family and friends coming to my race. One thing that caught my attention was the Spectator Shout Out Contest. I thought this would be a great outlet for my family to raise awareness about LLS and the Do It For David campaign. Submissions for the contest begin in October and there will be five winners. The announcer will read the shout outs at the starting line. What if we won?! What an inspiration for me to be reminded on race day of why I’m doing all this: David. Through his story, I continue running to raise awareness of the great things LLS does to help rid the world of blood cancers. And isn’t that the point? To do something bigger than yourself?

I imagine what it will feel like to cross that finish line. Will I cross it solo? With a teammate? Who will I first notice cheering for me? Will I cry? I’ve got 2 more months to find out.

Patience and Perseverance Pays Off!

Pain. Frustration. During my run, it’s all I could focus on. Why am I doing this? My mind wandered and I became fascinated with the foliage. The cormorants perched in a dead tree. The cicada spinning on its back in the middle of the trail, likely to be stepped on or ridden over.

I replayed this moment in my mind as I rode my bike to Fletcher’s Boathouse this morning. Today’s run was the first “long” run since my injury. The team was running Capital Crescent Trail today — the same trail that I injured myself on. The same trail that kept me from training for 4 weeks. I was nervous and doubtful the entire ride, but remembered how much my coaches, especially Coach Jack, encouraged me to come out today. He said, “The human body has evolved for millions of years to run, and that means any rust is going to shake off after 20 or 30 minutes and you’re going to feel good.  You’ll see.”

He was right.

Today I ran 8 miles with the team without music. That’s a big first for me! Chatting was actually a nice change from the isolation I usually subject myself to. Running along with crappy pop music is fun, but not all the time, especially on those longer runs. I chatted with Coach Jack today for about 4 miles, and then with Coach Rich for about 1.5 miles. I think I may have found a pacing buddy too, and we chatted for the remainder of the run.

Another bonus: I received my Team in Training t-shirt today. Now I really feel like part of the team!

Go Team!

Go Team!

So you’re probably wondering, how’s the leg? During the run, I felt a nagging pinch on the outside of my left knee, but not painful enough to make me stop or slow down. After the run, I started to feel a bit of tightness down the outside of my left leg. My doctor has been treating me for this, so it’s really no surprise. Again, this is nothing like the pain I previously had 4 weeks ago. After foam rolling and an ice bath, I’m feeling pretty damn good and very motivated.

I’m looking forward to building up the miles again and kicking this marathon’s ass! GO TEAM!

4 Mile Redemption Run

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

I was cleared for a “test run” by my chiropractor this week. Four miles was the goal, and although a bit frustrating since my last run was 12 miles, I was thrilled to actually have the option.

What can I say? I went out there and ran 4 miles. Hard. I tested my body and was able to push harder and pull back when needed. I started off hesitant, nervous that I would be in pain. Was I? No! A bit stiff, but once I relaxed and focused on my form, I was totally locked in. I actually felt stronger than I had in months!

Although my cardio strength has weakened a bit, overall I felt confident. At one point I remember smiling and thinking to myself, I’m back. What a great feeling — a burst of positivity!

Twenty-four hours later, I’m slightly sore, but that’s to be expected. The lower outside part of my left leg feels a bit strained/overworked, but I’m seeing my chiropractor again this week. Maybe more kinseo tape? Maybe an ankle adjustment? I definitely need to do some more foam rolling and icing tonight. What a difference that makes.

So, kind of a funny story…

As I was running the last half of my 4 miles yesterday, I had to stop for a traffic light. A guy behind me, maybe a few years older than me, stopped too. He also was running. He gave me “the eye,” but not in a jerky way. It was almost like, Girl, prepare to get smoked.

I’m competitive (bet you didn’t know that – haha), and when he took off before the light changed, I knew I had to catch up. I gained speed quickly, keeping my knees high, abs tight, and hips forward. I made sure that I could feel my entire foot touch and then propel off the pavement. I was in the zone.

I passed him and kept going. After a few more blocks, I realized that he was trying to catch me. Well, that wasn’t going to happen — and it didn’t. We split ways; I ran through Rose Park and he kept running down M Street. It was almost a movie moment. We glanced over our shoulder and gave a head nod, almost as if saying, It was a pleasure racing you.

Holding my own during my first run in four weeks really boosted my confidence. I can’t wait to ramp up the miles and increase my cardio strength. The marathon is a little more than two months away, so I’ve got to train smart.

Here’s go nothing!!

Two More 5Ks Completed!

My brother, Michael, is kicking his goal’s ass right now of running nine 5Ks by October 26, the date of my marathon. In three weeks, he’s knocked out three — one every weekend! He has a lot of supporters and I’m starting to recognize their faces.

Keep it up Michael!!!

Here are pictures from 5K #2, which was held in Asbury Park, NJ.

Michael and Ezra, my nephew.

Michael and Ezra, my nephew.

Asbury Park 5K 2

 

Asbury Park 5K 3

And here are some pics from this weekend’s 5K in Bradley Beach, NJ.

Bradley Beach 5K

Bradley Beach 5K 2

Go Michael! Go!

Go Michael! Go!

The Bearer of Good News

It’s been awhile since my last post and I have a lot to tell.

My cousin David entered the hospital again. Although he’s improving, it’s tough to see him seesaw. The type of leukemia he has — acute promyeloid leukemia — is treated with chemotherapy and arsenic trioxide. David receives his treatments through a port located in his skull. This allows the chemo to directly enter the brain and spinal fluids. His latest trip to the hospital was thought to be the result of an infection at the port site.

Here’s the good news: tests determined no infection. His confusion and weakness is improving (though the reason for it is still uncertain), and he’s doing well in physical therapy. His current round of arsenic treatments end on August 23. By then, the doctors hope to have some answers.

Whether or not you know someone battling leukemia or another type of illness, it’s important to support the organizations raising money to fund research for a cure. This doesn’t always mean making a donation. Spreading the word about the achievements an organization accomplishes is just as important as dollars and cents. David reminds me why I’m training: to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its mission to find a cure for blood cancer.

David keeps me motivated. It’s been several weeks since my last run and I’m excellent at beating myself up. I’m very hard on myself and these past few weeks have been challenging. I’ve created so much pressure for myself.

I can’t run this marathon.
I can’t let myself down.
I can’t disappoint my friends, family, and supporters.

I’ve been focusing on “can’t” rather than “can.” Last week I decided to focus on the positive, the “can do” instead of the “can’t do.”

I can rebound from this.
I can finish the marathon.
I can make my friends and family proud.

With that said, I’ve made progress at physical therapy. The new doctor I’m seeing specializes in sports medicine and chiropractics, and he’s worked his magic on me! Through some simple tests (like a gait test), he determined that my hips are uneven, which causes my stride to be slightly “off”. He now makes adjustments about every visit.

The pain in my calf is gone, but I’ve got some discomfort in my IT band, which we’ve started to treat with two foam roller exercises. I also have a bit of hip flexor tendonitis, which I’m treating by basically lying on top of the handle of a kettle bell. All of these “exercises” hurt, but they’re making a difference. I’m also wearing kinseo tape. It’s a tape that was invented by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase in the 1970s. I have a long strip running down my left IT band, on the outside of my left knee, and part way down the side of my left leg.  (Thankfully, it’s a nude color rather than hot pink or neon green!)

The hotness known as kinseo tape.

The hotness known as kinseo tape.

Some think it’s hype, some think it works. It’s a similar argument to that of compression sleeves. My determination is that both work and I’m a fan!

More good news: I’ve been cleared to start running again this Saturday! Although I have to cut my distance from 12 miles to 4 miles, I’m happy to be out on the pavement again. Here’s hoping for no pain and a lovely morning run.

Thanks to you, my readers, for your continued support. You make me feel so fancy!

1 of 9 5Ks Completed!

You may remember that shortly after I made the commitment to run the Marine Corps Marathon, that my brother and mom also pledged to run the equivalent in 5Ks to help raise awareness and donations for LLS / TNT. Last Saturday, August 2, they completed their first of nine. Way to go guys!

Conditions were not what they expected: torrential downpour, my brother had an undiagnosed case of a respiratory infection (diagnosed after the race), and my mom had never run in the rain before. Obviously, odds were against them, but they both finished and without injury. Mom nicknamed the race the Neptune City Day Slip ‘n Slide 5K (how appropriate)!

My nephew, Ezra, made race day signs and my brother’s friends also came out to cheer. Congrats you two! Keep it going!

Check out those signs!

Here are family and friends after the race. Fantastic sign, right?

Here are family and friends after the race. Fantastic signs, right?

That’s my brother crossing the finish line!

Go Michael Go!

Go Michael Go!