3.07.2012

Long Runs, Injuries, Vacation & Tapering

As much as I wanted to update this more often, it has once again been a month since my last post and so much has happened since then. First of all thank you Janelle & Alex for supporting my on this marathon journey and donating on my behalf!! I am 90% to my goal with 11 days until the big day and I appreciate it!!

At the end of my last blog post I had just ran 12 miles and was feeling pretty decent. The following week I continued my runs and continued to anticipate the 14 mile run on Saturday. Up until this point I hadn't missed a single run on the training schedule and was doing well and injury free. I woke up Saturday morning, enjoyed my usual routine of Peanut & Honey on Toast and proceeded to drive down to our meeting location in Buckhead. Unfortunately I got half way there and then lightning began to strike. Needless today the morning run was canceled and I proceed to drive home. I pondered running on the treadmill or waiting until later that afternoon but finally decided upon running with a few other TNT members on Sunday. 

Since this wasn't our usual GTS run we had to be self-sufficient, bring our own water, snacks, etc. This was something new for me as I had to try out a fuel belt and bring a gel along. I decided to bring some powerbar gummies as shown below:

The run started out like any other. We paced ourselves well and just continued with the motions until we got into our groove. Things were going great for the first half of the run and then we hit Clairmont road near the VA Hospital. For those of you not from Atlanta...it's a massive and LONG hill! It was important that we slow down but honestly, it still sucked!! To make things worse we pasted right in front of my apartment complex as we hit mile 9 and I wanted nothing more than to turn in and go home. Instead we had to keep trucking it for another 5 miles with plenty more hills in between. The four of us that day (Kevin, Alan, Mary, and myself) managed to keep each other on pace and motivate one another. I ended up not needing to eat the gels and managed my energy level pretty well. Unfortunately, by the time we got back to Piedmont Park I was struggling. The arches of my feet were hurting pretty bad and it was tough to even walk. I took Sunday off and the pain continued for quite a while.

The following we I maintained my normal training routine, but for the first time I skipped one of the midweek runs as I had to finish studying for the GMATs. I had hoped skipping one midweek run wouldn't make a difference and I would be fine for the 16 mile run on Saturday. For the Saturday run I once again brought along the powerbar gummies and set out for another long run. This weeks run was at the river which is always pretty great because it's relatively flat. We were quick to learn that this statement is only true if you are doing less than 10 miles. Anything after that requires a large uphill. 

Luckily I made it up that just fine as it occurred around mile 5. At about the one hour mark I tried my first gummy and it was surprisingly really good. I continued to run with no complaint and the arches of my feet were doing well. It was all great until we hit a downhill right before our turn around point at mile 8. Out of no where I just felt my knee doing something weird and from that point on my knee was on fire for the following 8 miles. I refused to turn around as I didn't want to walk or get driven back so I suffered through it but it was MISERABLE! I was fighting tears the last 4 miles or so and really started to feel the difference between soreness and injury. I drove home and honestly never wanted to move again. The next day I was limping around with a highly inflamed IT band and finally decided a massage was necessary. I went over to Massage Envy and got a sports massage. It honestly was one of the greatest things possible! At the of the massage I could finally walk again.

I attempted to run on Tuesday prior to our flight to Europe; however I only managed about 10 minutes until pain set in again. I decided I'd take Wednesday off as we were just getting into London and would try again on Thursday. On Thursday I left from our hotel, The Regency, and took off to run around Hyde Park/Kennsington Park 
It was great to explore the park as well as the surrounding areas and I managed to run six miles with no pain. It was great running on flat land and I felt the few days I had taken off would be great. I had planned on doing my ten mile run that Saturday morning right as we got into Paris; however, Adam and I decided we wanted to explore the town instead. It was extremely cold in the city but we managed to see a lot of places to include walking up the Eiffel Tower. Not only was it cheaper to walk up, but also the line to take the elevator would have taken nearly two hours just to get on the lift up. The walk up was great and I could tell the marathon training had really helped my lungs. We walked up all 668 stairs with no problem and got to enjoy some great views of the city. The walk down on the other hand was painful on my right knee. While I had been taking time off from running, Adam and I were still managing to walk around every where we could and were easily walking six to ten miles a day. Not to mention if you know my husband you know he never takes the elevator; thus we walked up every set of stairs possible as well.

I was deteremined to stick to the schedule as much as possible so the next morning Adam and I set out to run 10 miles along the Seine River. We set out nice and early and we got some funny looks. Why you might ask?? Because it was snowing, something that only happens in the Paris city center about once every five to ten years!! It looked something like this:
The first few miles felt fine; however at about three and a half miles my IT band started hurting again! Being stubborn I stopped to stretch it out and was determined to finish the run. Adam asked if I wanted to turn around but I simply said no I would survive. That was a dumb move on my part! By the time we hit the five mile turn around I was walking and even that was painful. Walking up and down all of the stairs the day prior really had aggravated my knee and it was not in a forgiving mood. I normally take about two days off after my long runs so I proceeded to only walk the remainder of our time in Paris and I figured I'd try again once we got to Barcelona.

Barcelona was AMAZING. The town, the people, the food...it was all wonderful! I wish I could say I got in a run while we were there but honestly we were just enjoying our honeymoon and my knee simply needed a break. Maybe running in Rome would be a better idea?!
Nope!! Once again the cold front of Europe continued and I used this as a nice excuse to enjoy our honeymoon and give my knee a break. It was hurting every time I would sit down for an extended period of time and stand up, when I would go up and down the stairs, and even when I was just walking down the street. At this point I decided my knee needed time to heal and I would take off the rest of the trip and start again once we got to Colorado. Next up we headed off to Prague and enjoyed the final stop on our honeymoon. It really was a great two weeks!

Once we got back to Colorado I knew I needed to start running again but I once again took a few days off. I knew I HAD to do the ten miler that Saturday as I had basically taken two weeks off and had skipped the 18 miler. I found out Janelle was doing a 10M race in Littleton so I signed up with her. The first three miles she and I were averaging about 10min miles and I felt pretty decent. 
Then at around the four mile mark I told her just to go ahead as I was feeling exhausted thirsty and just out of shape. From that point on the rest of the miles were a struggle. Everything that could possibly hurt, DID. I really was kicking myself in the butt as I had spent nearly three months training and was struggling to do 10 miles. How was I suppose to do 20 the following weekend?!? I finished the race at 1:54 which wasn't the greatest time but seeing as though I hadn't run in quite a few days I was willing to accept it. Once we got home I iced my IT band and hoped everything would get better for the upcoming weekend. 

We arrived back in Atlanta and I was slated for a tough running week. Tuesdays run was a 5 miler and I was amazed at how nice it was to be at a lower elevation and in a warmer climate. My body was happy again! The next night was 10 miles and it was great. I figured my body had rested and was ready to go again! When Thursday's five miler came around I did the first 2.5 until my knee started to hurt and finally decided to call Adam to come pick me up as I wasn't going to risk doing the same thing that happened in Paris; I was going to run 20 miles on Saturday!

All week long I was anxious about this run. For those of you who know me well, it won't surprise you to know all of the "20 mile run" Google searches I did on how I should feel, what I should eat, and overall was I prepared?? The day before the run I proceed to eat pizza for lunch, mozzarella sticks for an afternoon snack and then spaghetti for dinner. Talk about a carb overload! I was bummed that night as it was med school "Cadaver Ball" and because of the run the next morning I could only dress up and have one drink. After the pregame I drove Adam and some of our friends to the Fox and I headed home for some sleep before the big day.
I woke up at 6:45 the next morning and got myself ready for the morning. I made sure I brought along my gummies as well as "Gu" as that is what will be along the course. We were leaving from Chastain Park to try and include some hills that would be similar to the actual marathon. We took off at 7:45am and Alan and I ran together with the mentality we were going to take it easy and try and keep the same pace of about 10 min miles the entire time. We stayed a little bit behind our usual group and maintained the pace. At around mile 7 I started to eat my first few gummies as well as took a salt packet. At the half way point I honestly was feeling great and continued to feel well through the remainder of the run. Certainly as we got into the 18+ range my legs just wanted to be done but I certainly wasn't feeling as I was after the 16 miler where I never wanted to run again. I managed to finish the 20 miler at around 3 hours and 40 minutes and for the first time felt confident that I could actually do this marathon in three weeks. The longest run was under my belt and it was finally time to taper.
On Tuesday I came home for a rather stressful two days at work and wasn't in the mood to run so Adam & I decided I'd go out on and bike while he ran. At first it was a great thing, I was going faster on the bike and he was struggling to keep up. Unfortunately that ended quickly! Needless to say the hills got the better of me as I have no idea how to use gears on a bicycle. I really need more practice riding a bike! Wednesday night was our eight miler and it was another good night out. I'm glad I went out and ran with the usual group at Park Tavern as they kept me motivated to just keep going.  I took Thursday off due to knee pains and ran 5.5 on Saturday followed by 3.5 on Sunday. Overall my knee is doing well but it is still struggling with the occasional pain. Last night I was able to run 4 miles without pain and today I did eight, but I do have to admit I walked the big hills as it was putting too much pressure on my knee. The moment it starts to hurt I am backing off of it because I have come to the realization that I do have a solid base, it's just staying healthy and resting my muscles so that I am strong on March 18th. With 11 days left I am definitely feeling a bit anxious and excited all at the same time. I really hope I have a good leg/knee like I did on my 20 miler rather than the bad day I had on the 16 miler. For those of you in Atlanta I have the race can be found here and I would certainly love to see your smiling faces cheering along the course :) 



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