Tuesday, April 30, 2013


April 30th...

Where did the month go??  Is anyone else having the feeling like we just rang in the new year, watched the Super Bowl, etc?  Now here we are, 1/3 of the way through the year.

Now I take a look at this past month, and see some of the things that have happened.

This has been a big one.  I am now a few days away from the 1 month mark from my marathon.  It is getting real.  The negative aspect has been staying consistent with the short runs.  I'm getting to the point of training where some days running is the worst.  I have to grit my teeth and just power through it.  Also, April has thrown me lots of obstacles.  Knee pain kept me timid, but I got that mostly under control and figured out.  Several blizzards rocked us this month, canceling some runs and making others dreadful.  I was knocked out for about 2 weeks from being sick, and I rarely get THAT sick.  But here I am on the other side of all of those things, and now it's crunch time.  The surprising part is how successful the longs runs have been.  Even with knee pain I ran a pain-free half marathon.  I ran my first ever run farther than that.  But the big test awaits.  The next two weeks will be an 18 and 20 mile run.  When I get through those, I will be one step closer.  What a journey it's been.

Some of you know, others don't, but this is the first time I've shared this information on here: I am officially leaving my job at the end of the school year.  This is the other big thing on my mind.  So I am in full swing trying to find the next opportunity for me here in Colorado.  It's scary, it's daunting, it's difficult knowing that I am leaving June 30th, and therefor have to move as well.  With noting lined up after at this point.  I am praying and hoping that the right opportunity will come along, I will find a job that I can be happy and grow in, and ultimately allow me to stay here.  I don't ask this much, but please pray for me!

One of my big goals for 2013 was to get my finances more under control.  Boost savings, decrease debt, and not feel like money is stressing me out.  For the past year, I have felt like things have been out of control.  April marked the first month where this wasn't the case.  The numbers are going in the right direction, and I have developed a system that will take longer, but will ultimately lead to more success.

I had to refocus on my weight this month, because last month hit a plateau.  Running a lot helps, but I still have a long way to go as far as consistency and discipline.  But I'm happy with how this month went.

Dec 31: 236.8
Jan 31:  223.2
Feb 28:  216.6
Mar 31:  217.4

Apr 30:  213.0

On a Personal Note...
I have a couple big things happening in my life on a personal level.  When the time is right, I can't wait to share them with you. But for now, time to reflect, discover, and keep growing.

Cheap Plug
I am just a couple hundred dollars away from hitting my fundraising goal for my marathon.  Consider supporting my journey and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Click here for more details.

A Glimpse...

Thanks for being in my life!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Uncharted Waters

This morning I just ran farther than I have ever ran before.

I have been battling a cold the last week and a half, so I haven't been running.  The last run was Tuesday after the Platte River Half.  I've been wanting to just charge through it, suck it up, and keep going, but I knew I was going to have to take some time off.  No reason to risk anything.

So I woke up this morning, got all my stuff ready, and headed out the door to meet up with the team for our long run.  I had no idea how today was going to go.  I just had the feeling like I needed to get out and go, and not focus on the distance.  If I made it 7, great.  If I made it 13, awesome.  Double digits was the goal.  The team was going 16 miles, and I was hoping that I was going to be able to make it that far.  But if I was being honest, I was secretly hoping to just make it farther than I have ever ran, which to this point has been a half marathon - 13.1 miles.

I started running and I felt like crap.  My breathing was heavier, my body felt heavier, I just felt sluggish.  The first half of the run, my breathing was out of whack - I was coughing a little, and just generally feeling the cold.  The second half, my body felt out of whack.  A combination of not running for a week and a half, and the ache your body gets when you're sick, my body just wasn't too happy to be running.

I made it more than 7.  I made it more than 10.  I made it more than 13.1.  When I came to a stop, I had made it 14.26 miles.

This is a turning point in my training - I have now ran 3 half marathons, but this is the first run MORE than that. And over the next few weeks, this is going to be a common theme.  When I run 18.  When I run 20.  There's going to be a handful of Saturdays before the race where I will finish it and be able to say "that was the farthest I've ever ran."  And then comes the big day.

I'm super excited that I made it 14+, and that I am starting to hit distances that I have never gone before.  Each week becomes more and more crucial.

And I can't wait to conquer it run by run!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Platte River Half Marathon

This morning, I ran my 3rd half marathon.

I was scared going into it.

I shared a little bit about the knee pain I've been having the last few weeks since my last half marathon. It's been a combination of taking it easy to rest up, as well as trying to get the miles I need to in.  Because we had snow one of the weekends in between as well, the last 2 long runs were just over 4 and 7 miles.  I was hoping my body was going to be ready for 13 again.

If I'm being totally honest, I was dreading this run.

I signed up to do it with a couple people from my Team in Training team.  For two of them, it was their first half marathon.  Perfect weather greeted us this morning, and we all found each other at the start line.

My plan was to take it slowly.  After chatting with my coach, recommendations from the Physical Therapist I saw, and just listening to my body, I knew I wanted this to be slow.  I was thinking somewhere in the ballpark of 2:30 or slightly faster if my knees were feeling well.

The first couple miles were fun - a quick little loop through the historic part of downtown Littleton.  Lots of chatting, lots of excitement, lots of people.  By mile 2-3 we hit the trail along the river that we would be following the entire course.

At around mile 4 is when we started to split.  Rather, the others trotted ahead, and I lagged behind, not feeling up to keeping up with their pace.  On any other day, I'd be with them, but I couldn't let myself do it this time.  I had to run smart.

I had a first during this race:  The first time I ever had to stop in the middle of the race to pee.  At mile 3 I started to feel it.  By mile 5, it was getting uncomfortable.  I passed a porta potty that only had 3 people in line.  During races, that's basically winning the lottery.  BUUUTTTT, these people took forever... So I sat in line frustrated.  I didn't care about my time, but I was worried about my legs tightening up and losing my momentum.

There were two moments where I really struggled in the race - about mile 4 and 6 - I was just feeling sluggish, worn out, and exhausted.  But my legs were holding up, and the weather was perfect.  My breathing was great.

By mile 8, I was feeling great.  I had great rhythm, my knees/legs felt great, I stayed hydrated, and things were just clicking.  During this race, I also tried something new: salt tablets.  Because of how much I sweat, my body loses a lot more salt/electrolytes than the average person, so I need to make sure I get it back.

I passed mile 9.  Still in the zone.  Still feeling great.

I passed mile 10.  This is normally when I start dropping off.  Not today.  I was passing more people at this point because people were getting sluggish.

I passed mile 11.  I'm waiting for the crash.

I passed mile 12.  Still waiting.

It didn't come.  The coolest part about mile 12 was the TNT aid station.  This was an official TNT event, so throughout the whole race there were a lot of people cheering on and yelling the familiar "Go Team!"

The last mile was my favorite.  There was a giant uphill leading onto a bridge.  I stayed really strong up the hill, when everyone else was crashing.  I was passing people left and right up the incline, but I was getting worried about putting too much into it that early on in the last mile.  The incline flattened out, and I was still passing people.  Still strong.  Then, with about 1/3 of a mile left, the decline started.  I didn't want to go too fast, but I pushed it quite a bit.  I rounded the final corner and saw the finish line.  At this point 3 weeks ago, I was worried about even crossing the finish line, running out of gas, and hoping I didn't collapse.  This time, I was doubling, tripling my speed. Somehow, I still had enough to have a pretty good kick at the end.

Official Time:  2:20:57

I am EXTREMELY happy with this time for a big reason:

-My time at Canyonlands (and current PR) was just over 5 minutes faster.  This was a race where I wanted to take it easier and run at a pace that was comfortable.  But apparently that's the same pace.  Because I felt great today, and I know that if I wouldn't have stopped to go to the bathroom, I would have beaten that time.  I am ecstatic that I came out pain free (aches - yes, but pain - no).  I can see the progression.  And this was a big test for the knee - a test that I passed, and it gives me a lot of hope for the coming months.  Bring it on!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Bee's Knees

Yesterday, we did our first hill running workout of the season at nearby City Park, where I do a lot of my running.  A gradual half mile hill that we spent some quality time with, running up and down a few times.  Nothing like a beautiful 4 mile run to brighten the mood.

Honesty time...

A few weeks ago, I ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon.  During the race, I felt my knee starting to hurt a little bit.  When I finished, it was throbbing.  Cue the "sexy limp" (read: awkward painful hideous limp) as I dubbed is back to my hotel I was staying at.  Over the next few days, it was getting progressively better.  Awesome!  I ran a couple times on it, and it loosened up great and wasn't a hinderance.  A week later, I could barely feel it.  Then, for one of our running workouts, we did mile repeats, which was HARD running.  It felt fine during.  I woke up the next day and the pain was back.  [The first thought that went through my head has been removed due to profanity].

Immediately, you mind starts playing tricks on you.

Oh, it's not a big deal... it's only a little pain, I can make it through the next few months no problem, I'm not too worried...

Your life is over.  There's no way you can make it to June.  You're going to start running longer and farther than you ever have before, and it's only going to get worse.  Stop running now!

Shut up brain.

Our running coach referred us all to a physical therapist who specializes in running who conducts a free 15 minute run screening, hoping anyone who needs it would take advantage.  Since my knee decided to go rogue, I knew I should go see someone.

The screen was great!  She had me run on the treadmill for about a minute, examining me from behind and the side, noticing my form and what my body is doing when I run.  She even took video so I could SEE those things as well.

Great news!

The issues I have are directly related to form and completely fixable.  She noted that I was "by the book" and that a first year med student could come in and have zero issues working with me.  I am easy.

Basically, what she noticed is that there is weakness in my hips/core, and that is affecting my knees and legs negatively.  Because of that weakness, my foot mechanics are inconsistent, my knee mechanics are uncontrolled, and that my pelvis/hip movements are asymmetric, leading to some essentially lopsided running.  This means LOTS of stretching and strengthening my hips, glutes, and thighs.

She also noticed that my knees converge awkwardly and I need to focus on having a "window" between my knees when I run, and that I tend to overstride a bit, so I should work on increasing the frequency of my steps.

I have a half marathon coming up this weekend, so I'm not supposed to do anything in the mean time.   But after, game on!  With a little work in these areas and focusing on these things, all of my pain issues I have been experiencing should be reversed!