Half Marathon #3 on the Horizon?

This time last year I was already training for my second half marathon. I had lucked out and  got a discount code so I was able to run in the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon for only $25. I tackled the miles with vigor–running 3 training runs a week, with yoga the other two days, then my long runs on Saturdays with the two running groups I joined. The end result? A 10 minute PR over an extremely hilly course…and patellar tendonitis.

I thought I had been doing everything right for training. I ran in the mornings with friends (most weeks it was 2 days of running, 1 day on the elliptical) before work and did some weight lifting (upper body) after work. The long training runs I tackled with knowledgeable running groups, getting in either two or three (I can’t remember) 13 mile runs before the race. I had some off weeks (which I took entirely off because I was at agility trials, etc.), so I thought I was good to go.

For the second half marathon in two years, though, I came out of it injured. In 2012 I had bad IT Band problems during training and while running the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon. Then in 2013 I was diagnosed with patellar tendonitis (then later plantar fasciitis). Both years stopped me from running for a period of time after the races.

Medal

Half Marathon #1: 2012 Kentucky Derby Half Marathon

 

Half Marathon #2: 2013 Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon

Half Marathon #2: 2013 Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon

But this time it seems harder for me to get moving with my training.

I had plans to do the Run the Bluegrass again this year, but the the dates for the AKC National Agility Championships were announced for that same weekend. Since it’s an honor to qualify, and Dally and I worked hard for it, I can’t say no. So now I’m looking at the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon, or maybe even the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon. (I’ve ever been able to run the Indy Mini because it’s the same day as the Kentucky Derby horse race, which I always worked at for my old job, but now that I’m no longer there, I just might have that first Saturday in May free.)

Saturday I jumped in head first back into half marathon training–Run the Bluegrass was hosting another training run over the course at Keeneland Race Course and I had been working at 3-3.5 miles, so I tackled the 4-mile course. The hills are always killers, but surprisingly I kept up a decent pace over the course (and this is after a jump rope and back squat heavy WOD at CrossFit the day before). When I got back to the parking lot, I decided to push for another mile to hit 5. My legs were starting to tire, but nothing too horrible. I probably could have pushed for 6, but I know the trouble you get into when adding on too much mileage too quickly.

I haven’t registered for any races yet–fund-wise that’s not a priority to the pocketbook. I know registering for a race pushes you to motivation, but for now I’m just trying to ride my friends’ motivation as they train for their races. I’ve set a goal to running at least twice a week–I’d like to keep my CrossFit training up, as well, so I have to find a nice balance between the two so I’m not tiring out my body. I’m a little nervous about jumping into training because I don’t want to get hurt again.

Any advice about training to prevent injury, while continuing CrossFit, would be appreciated. I’m also looking for any race ambassadorships to help fund my registration fees while spreading the word of the race that I look to dominate.

Your turn: How do you train for big events and avoid injury? 

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Ramblings of the Under-Amused

I’m taking a break from “5 Things Friday” this week because I’ve just been under-amused this week.

Which is pretty sad, considering the awesome feeling I was having after conquering the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon. I’m still feeling pretty proud of that race, but the thoughts afterwards about what’s going on with my knee hasn’t been the most positive.

I’ve taken it easy on my workouts this week to allow my body to recover fully from the race. Besides all the walking around downtown Cincinnati Monday, I didn’t workout then. Tuesday was a yoga DVD with Bob Harper in the morning, 20 minutes on the elliptical with some weights and a long dog walk after work. Wednesday I was back on the treadmill for 4 miles. Then last night, in a fit of a semi-bad mood, I was going to work out come hell or high water. Unfortunately I realized I forgot to pack socks, but I needed those feel-good endorphins, so it was a socks-less workout that included 20 minutes on the elliptical, then a circuit of squats, bench press, high knees, dead lifts, etc. 40 minutes of solid sweat–exactly what I needed.

You know I need a workout bad, if I'm alright with wearing my gym shoes with no socks!

You know I need a workout bad, if I’m alright with wearing my gym shoes with no socks!

My frustration comes from not knowing what I should do about my knee. It’s been bothering me for a month or so now. I went to the doctor Thursday morning and she poked around a little, took X-rays and proclaimed it to be bursitis and prescribed some pain gel and no thoughts towards physical therapy. So there were no real answers as to whether I should keep running or not. After talking with some co-workers about my frustration, they recommended I go to a drop-in sports medicine clinic in the morning. The idea of this clinic was to get there right as they opened and hope it wasn’t too busy and you could be seen within an hour or so.

Going with my better judgement, I declined an invite to run with a couple of friends before work, so that way I had enough time to get ready for work and the appointment…

Luckily I was the first one there this morning. The doctor took his time really feeling around on my knee, asking me questions like “How does it feel here?” and having me do a few things like squat on one leg, hold my leg straight, etc. He took the time to listen to what I’ve been doing and what I’d like to do. His diagnosis: overuse of the tendon in front of my knee.

He said that, yes, I needed to take it easy on the running right now, but cross training was alright. He prescribed physical therapy and ultrasound therapy, which I start next week. He said the injury wasn’t severe, which was good. We just need to strengthen my quads, hips, and glutes to help take the load off of this tendon. When I broached the subject about running the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon later this month, he said if I was alright running it without much training, I could be OK. He said he didn’t see me injuring the tendon worse, especially with going to physical therapy right now.

strength

So now the wheels are spinning in my head: Should I or shouldn’t I? Can I be alright with spending $80 on a half marathon registration and know that I can’t train as hard as I’d like to leading up to it? The race is much flatter than the Run The Bluegrass, but you never know how your body will handle it.

So I need your advice. What would you do, if you were in my shoes? What advice do you have?

5 Things Friday – 3.29.13

This “5 Things Friday” is brought to you by racing nerves!

That’s right…less than 24 hours from now I’ll be running in the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon–just my second half marathon, but a scary one with lots of hills and one giant hill! I’ve been training hard since January, run in single digit temps with 3 inches of snow falling, run in totally different locations in the area, joined two running groups to train for this, and learned so much. I hope I’m ready!

I'm going to love having one of these cool medals around my neck!

I’m going to love having one of these cool medals around my neck! (Source)

My first half marathon I ran in 2:17:58. I’m hoping to better that time–aiming for 2:14 or so. We’ll see. I just hope I can keep the nerves at bay and just run my race and keep a solid pace.

I checked out the Run the Bluegrass Race Expo last night, and was totally bummed that I ordered the wrong size race shirt! FAIL! I’m hoping I can trade with someone for a smaller shirt. The expo was alright–not as big as the Kentucky Derby Marathon/Half Marathon Expo last year, but it was nice to see the local companies.

So, without further adieu, here are my five things for the last Friday of March!

  1. Fun Weekend. Last weekend was fun with the agility trial and getting in 8 miles in Sharon Woods Park. I strongly suggest checking out new places (as long as it’s safe) for runs, especially when you’re traveling–I feel like it gives you an extra burst of energy because everything is fresh and new!
  2. Leading by Example. This was a great post that I caught on Twitter about being a healthy example and how you can “lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.” Boy do I know how Coco feels! I feel that way everyday with my husband and family. It can be so frustrating, but you hope something might rub off at some point.
  3. Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon. Did I mention that this was tomorrow?? Did I mention there were hills?? Yeah. I’m planning to try to relax and take it easy tonight, but not sure how I can get a good night’s rest with all the anxiety.
  4. When A Calorie Isn’t A Calorie. Very informative article, thanks to yet another Twitter find! It’s mostly about eating clean and basic to introduce people to thinking that 100 calories of low fat fried crackers isn’t the same, nutritionally, as 100 calories of (say) raw almonds.
  5. Crushing Doubts. I’m hoping that this weekend I can crush some of the confidence crushers I’ve felt lately. I’m going to tackle those 13.1 miles of hills, and I’m going to revel in the after-race-party, and I’m going to love wearing my medal! (Did you know I was running in a half marathon tomorrow?? haha)

I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Not only because of the half marathon on Saturday, but I’m hoping to host a little Easter gathering with friends Sunday evening. Then M and I are headed to Cincy for the Reds Opening Day on Monday! I just hope the weather holds up and is at least decent for us!

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Looking Ahead to a Crazy March

I’m so happy it’s March because I have a lot of things happening this month that I’ve been looking forward to (and getting nervous for). It’s going to be a crazy busy month for me, but I’m looking forward to every minute.

March 9 – Rail Runner 10 Miler  This will be my first 10-mile race and I’m looking forward to it. It’s being run on the grounds of a local railroad company. They’re having a 5K and the 10 mile race, and they’re opening up the 5K course early for those of us who have longer distances scheduled. I’m going to do my best to try to get there early enough to get in a run on the 5K course for my 3.1 miles before the start of the 10 mile race, that way I have another 13.1 training run complete.

March 13-18 – American Kennel Club National Agility Championships   Dally, my friend Merinda and her Cardigan Corgi Porter, and I will be headed West to Tulsa, Okla, for the National Agility Championships. I’m so excited because almost all of my agility friends qualified this year, so we’ll have two stalls together for crating and will be cheering each other one and hanging out. Plus, we’ll be competing in the same arena I won a world championship with my horse nine years ago, so I have lots of memories here. My good friend from college, Cassie, is coming from Oklahoma City to watch me and hang out, so I’ll finally get to meet her little girl, Emily! So much excitement in too short of days!

Dally and I competing at the AKC National Agility Championships in Reno in 2012.

Dally and I competing at the AKC National Agility Championships in Reno in 2012.

March 23-24 – Agility Trial   Just four days after getting back from Nationals, we head to an agility trial where I’ll be able to show LaMesa as well as Dally at one of our favorite locations. It’s always nice to show there.

March 30 – Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon  It’s going to be here before I know it! 13.1 miles of hills over some of the best scenery you could ever ask for! I’m still nervous about what I’ve heard is possibly the worst hill of the entire course (mile 9, which I didn’t see in my training run over the course a month ago), but I’m telling myself it’ll be alright to walk at the top of the hill–just get your booty up and over!

I'm excited to have one of these medals hanging around my neck after conquering 13.1 miles of hills!

I’m excited to have one of these medals hanging around my neck after conquering 13.1 miles of hills!

March 31 – Easter  Easter means I get to have chocolate again, and since I’ll be celebrating my conquering of the RtB, I’m already planning to celebrate with lots of Easter candy! M and I usually make little Easter baskets for each other, so I plan to have fun with it. We probably won’t be able to celebrate the holiday with family (which is a total bummer), but I’ll try to do something special for the two of us.

I'm more excited about Easter candy that I have been in a long time!

I’m more excited about Easter candy that I have been in a long time!

Do you have anything exciting happening in March?

12 Miles Conquered in the Cold

The day dawned cold, and early, for me–5 am alarms on a Saturday can be cruel, but when you’re waking up early to get your mileage in, you just want to get out there and get it done.

If you’re joining a little late, I’m training for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon at the end of March. I’ve had to up my mileage/training earlier because I will be missing some weekends of training (like next weekend and a weekend in mid-March) due to dog agility trials. So this weekend I had 12 miles on the docket. I ran with one of the running groups I’ve joined, and Keith took us on a “wild goose chase for 12 miles” all around the city of Lexington.

There were some hills, so I was still getting hill work in, and we started out at a quick pace–much faster than the past few runs. So, needless to say that towards the end of the run, my legs were feeling heavy and dead, but I pushed through. In fact, after getting separated from the leaders of our run, I ended up running 12.5 miles. I probably could have pushed myself to run the rest of the way to my car, which ended up being a full 13.1, but I didn’t want to push my luck with my legs, so I walked the last bit. Funny thing is, I still ended up finishing the 13.1 with a faster time than my first half marathon last April! Maybe that’s a good sign for March?

photo-21

Here were my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:42
Mile 2 – 9:38
Mile 3 – 9:46
Mile 4 – 9:56
Mile 5 – 9:33
Mile 6 – 9:46
Mile 7 – 9:49
Mile 8 – 10:27 (<–Big hill and traffic)
Mile 9 – 10:01
Mile 10 – 10:13
Mile 11 – 9:54
Mile 12 – 9:42
0.5 nubbin – 5:35
Total: 12.55 miles 2:04:09 (9:54 average)

It was a crisp 25 degrees when we started and ended, and even though it was cold, I was soaked with sweat–steam was pouring off of me as I stretched next to my car on the cold asphalt. I promptly came home, whipped up a banana protein shake, stretched more and foam rolled, then relished a long, hot shower. (Which was good, since I had icicles in my hair after my run.)

True story: My hair had icicles in it after my run!

True story: My hair had icicles in it after my run!

Now I’m off to do some agility training with the dogs while rocking my ProCompression socks to help me recover.

Hills, Hills, Everywhere There are Hills!

It’s only 11 am and I’m exhausted! This morning I tackled 11 very hilly miles around some of the prettiest running scenery you’ll ever experience.

The organizer of the Run the Bluegrass, the half marathon I’ll be running in at the end of March, has organized some training runs over the course with 4, 7, and 13.1 mile options. It’s a great way to learn what you’re going to find for the race. And let me tell you, if you think you train on hills, you haven’t until you run this course! As you’re going up one hill, you think you’ve reached the top, but you find another incline with a curve. It was tough. I was wanting to do 11 or 12…hoping for 12, but when we got to about 10 I could feel my calves burning and my left hip flexor hurting and I knew I shouldn’t push myself past 11 and save 12 for next week. I ran the 7-mile loop, then turned around and did the 4-mile loop.

Mile 1 – 9:55
Mile 2 – 10:14
Mile 3 – 10:13
Mile 4 – 10:04
Mile 5 – 10:03
Mile 6 – 10:10
Mile 7 – 10:24
Mile 8 – 10:31
Mile 9 – 10:25
Mile 10 – 10:12
Mile 11 – 9:51
Total: 11 miles in 1:52:08

Miles 7-9 were all uphill! Crazy! But yet, when you’re running next to Thoroughbred horse farms and rolling hills with foals and horses sprinting next to you, you can’t help but push through the run and enjoy everything about it.

One of the best parts was having fresh donuts waiting for us at the parking lot. The race organizer got with a new, local bakery and they provided donuts for all the runners this morning–you can’t beat that! I’ve learned runners will basically run for anything–beer, donuts, Starbucks. If it’s food and/or drink related, we’ll do it!

11 miles = No Guilt Donuts

11 miles = No Guilt Donuts

The rest of the day my legs will be rocking compression socks for recovery, that’s for sure! I’ll be doing some agility training with the dogs (have to get it in today before the rain tomorrow) this afternoon, then tonight M and I are going to celebrate his new job!

Happy Saturday!

8 Miles that Turned into 20!?

Saturday dawned with a lot on my plate. I woke up early, dressed in my winter running pants, short sleeve tech shirt, zip pullover and fleece, and headed out to meet with the LexRunLadies at yet another new running spot. My plan was to run 8 miles, and the leader of our run said it’d be easy with a down-and-back course.

This time I was smart and took my fleece off before we started running–it was 34, and I knew I’d warm up within the first mile. Great thinking, because I later even took my pullover off after the half-way mark and ran in my short-sleeved shirt (thank you, sun!).

The run itself was very nice–we ran along part of a road that then turned into a running trail along some horse farms (this is horse country, after all, so most of my runs are along horse farms–I won’t complain!). We crossed one major road, but it wasn’t too bad because it was pretty safe. I was able to run with two other ladies who were at my pace, which was great! It was a lot of fun to be able to chat with someone throughout the entire run–it made it go by so quickly!

Only one time did I stop to walk, and that was when Jill and I took off our extra layer when we were about 3/4 of the way back. We knew where the 2 mile mark was and we were completely surprised at how quickly we were already done with 6 miles. At this point, I should have checked my GPS on my phone, but I didn’t. (Once again, I forgot to charge my Garmin, so I was just using my RunKeeper on my phone.)

It was fun talking with Jill because she had finished an IronMan, so she was telling me about training and her and her husband’s experiences with the races. She’s training for the Run the Bluegrass too, so we talked about future training runs, etc. When we finished our run, she pushed me to run two short cool down laps around the parking lot and then walking–which I needed. Usually I’ll walk to cool down, but I really need to think about making myself run a little longer to cool down after my runs, no matter how tired I am. (I totally forgot to take any photos from our run! The weather was perfect with sun and clear skies and a bit of a stiff wind at various points.)

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

So why does my title say 20 miles when I said I was running 8? Because, according to RunKeeper, we ran 20 miles in 01:15:08. That’s like a 4:30 mile! Crazy, huh?? I don’t know why it messed up so badly like that, but it frustrates me because I couldn’t see my splits and accurately record my miles and pace to go with my training. Has anyone else had any problems with RunKeeper?

So, we believe we ran the 8 miles in 01:15:08 (rough estimate, since I don’t recall the total time, and we weren’t sure exactly what time we started our run). Not bad. I felt great! I came home, quickly foam rolled and stretched a little more (I had stretched in the parking lot before I got in the car), showered, and then I was off to meet with a couple of friends for a presentation.

That afternoon I went to work the dogs in agility at an indoor facility (I was totally rocking my ProCompression socks all day after my run to help my legs recover). I was hoping to be able to rest more after my run, but the only time to work the dogs was Saturday afternoon. I did my best to not push myself too much, and I think it worked.

Then it was time for a date night with the hubby–using up wedding gift cards for dinner and then we saw “Broken City” at the theater with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe–definitely recommend it.

How was your weekend?