December 30, 2010

On the mend

I've taken a few weeks off from running since my knee was injured. But I'm easing back into it. I spent five days in my tiny home town visiting my parents for Christmas, and I just had to get out and run while I was there. Santa brought me some fun new running clothes - all pink except for my new favorite cold-weather pants, Nike thermals - and I couldn't resist trying them out! The day after Christmas, I set out for a short, slow run after taking two weeks off. It felt so good to get back out there! I ran a mile, and my knee felt pretty good, but I could tell it was getting tight toward the end. I didn't go any farther because I want to take it slow and make sure everything is healed. So far, so good.

Also, I should confess that I've taken a few weeks off from doing ANYTHING. No gym. No cross training. Nada. So needless to say, I've lost a lot of fitness/endurance/strength. That mile was refreshing, but I was relieved to quit because I was sucking wind and getting exhausted. Since I've been so lazy, that means I'm going to have to work extra hard when it's time to start training for the Bentonville Half. I may have to actually go to the gym and cross train! *gasp* (I know, I know...the first rule of running is don't JUST run. I know I should be cross training all the time to build up my strength so I can run faster and avoid injury, blah, blah, blah. I know all that, and I like doing other stuff besides running. I just really hate the gym!)

I'm so glad that my knee can handle short runs again because today, we had an unseasonably warm day. It was 64 degrees, y'all! Yes, the wind was blowing at least 20 mph and storms were brewing, BUT, it was the perfect day to run in short sleeves and capris. No gloves! No toboggan! And best of all, I got off work a little early because of New Year's, so NO HEADLAMP! It was like getting a little postcard from September.

I ran at the Bella Vista pond trail and just made one lap around the pond, which is about 1.8 miles. Farther than my previous run, but not too far. I kept my eye on my Garmin the entire time to make sure I didn't overdo it. I'm terrible at pacing myself, so my goal was to keep my pace between 11:00 and 12:00. I averaged 11:34, so I was pleased as punch with my warm day run!

In fact, I was so pleased that I was actually smiling while I was running, which got some strange looks from the other folks at the park. I know I'm slow, and I'm not anyone's competitor. I can't run far or fast. But just being out on the road is so nice that I don't care. I couldn't stop smiling, not because I'm good at running, but because I enjoy it and can finally participate again!

December 8, 2010

Down and out

I have good news and bad news.
The good news: I'm going to run the Bentonville Half Marathon in April!

I'll get to the bad news in a minute. I've never run much farther than 3 miles, but I think if I start now and train diligently, I should be able to handle 13.1 by April. Right? Sure. I was able to run a 5K, and I never thought I could. So I'm hoping this will work out too.

I have a good training plan, thanks to Mr. Hal Higdon, and I'm confident that if I stick with it, I can do this. The training plan is 12 weeks, and there are 17 weeks until the race. So this should allow enough time for repeating weeks when necessary or getting off schedule due to nasty winter weather. My only goal at this point is to be able to finish the race without collapsing. Unfortunately, the race director thought it would be fun to run the last mile UP the Crystal Bridges trail hill. See that squiggly line in the center of the map right below the number 12?

That's the STEEPEST, MOST TERRIBLE hill I've ever tried to run. I think they had to make it crooked because cyclists would probably reach 80 mph by the time they got to the bottom. Seriously. It's ridiculous. And to make this the last mile of the race is just plain mean. I tried running it once and vowed never to go back to that awful place. Yes, it's pretty and scenic and all that, but it is wicked steep! I guess I know where I'll be training now.

And now for the bad news.
Remember my one good run? Well, there are occasionally days like that, and then there are days like yesterday when you quit your run 2 miles early and cry tears of frustration all the way home. I had an awful run last night because my left knee is injured. It was injured by a chiropractor who was asked to fix my right hip. Confused? Me too. I've had a wonky hip for a couple of years, and running has aggravated the problem, but the problem has never stopped me from running. Still, it's an annoying pain that I notice all day while sitting at work, while running and walking, and now it even affects the way I sleep. So I went to a chiropractor who also does PT and is known for helping injured athletes. However, after three "treatments," my hip is no better and on my last visit, he somehow tweaked my left knee while stretching my right hip. I knew as soon as it happened that it was a bad kind of pain, but the damage was already done. It hasn't stopped hurting since, and when I try to run, I feel a stabbing pain on the inner side of my knee. Not cool, doc. Not cool. I guess on the bright side, I've focused less on my hip.

Therefore, week one of half marathon training? Not going so good. In fact, not going at all. I got through ONE DAY before it all went kaput. I can't run. I'm terrified that this is an actual injury that's going to leave me sitting out a while. I talked to the doc about it today, and he apologized profusely and is a little baffled about the situation, but there's not a lot we can do except stretch, foam roll until I'm dizzy and rest, rest, rest.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, my husband is following the training schedule that I chose for the race I want to run. And I have to be nice and say, "Good job!" when he reports that he ran the prescribed number of miles at a 10:22 pace even though I can't run. And if I could run, I know I couldn't do much better than a 12:00 pace. Being a sidelined supporter is hard

December 4, 2010

One good run

I've been struggling to find the motivation to get off my fanny and run for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I'm slow and not a good runner, but also because it's dark and cold every time I get an opportunity to run. But on Wednesday, I decided just to suck it up, get out there and do it. I'm so glad I did. Running hurts and I've been so discouraged lately. But that one night, I had a good run. Besides, I've had so much fun shopping for winter running gear, it was about time I took the tags off my long pants, fun toboggan with the ponytail hole and my awesome C9 shirt from Target and gave 'em a whirl.

Wednesday was cold. Seriously COLD. In northwest Arkansas, it's almost always windy, which I hate and which always makes the cold feel colder. But on Wednesday, it was cold and perfectly still. No wind AT ALL. This never happens, y'all. It was 32 degrees, but it was a peaceful 32. I knew I would regret it if I didn't take advantage of the calm.

Trea was busy and couldn't come with me, so I left my comfy couch and ventured out into the cold darkness alone (sorry mom). I was excited to try my new cold weather gear, and for the most part I didn't get cold (except for my delicate ears, as usual). I bundled up in a long-sleeved shirt, vest and long pants. Then I spent a good 15 minutes trying to take a picture of myself with my phone in the bathroom mirror. How does everyone else do that and not look like a goob? I obviously still haven't figured it out.

I have mentioned this about a thousand times, but I can't stress enough how sensitive my ears are to the cold. If it's below 70 degrees, those babies have to be covered or I'm in for a world of hurt. So I was super excited about my new toboggan. I loved that it had a place for my ponytail!

Unfortunately, this hat doesn't have a bill like my running cap, so there was nowhere to clip my hat light. Dilemma. How to run in the dark without a light - and dressed in black? I did not think this through. BUT, I was determined to get out there and brave the cold and not let the darkness keep me from my run. So I headed out to a park that has lots of safe sidewalks and lots of lighting. When I've run at night before at this park, there have been volleyball games and soccer games going on, so all the fields were lit up like daylight. But not on Wednesday. There was no one else there. The soccer fields were dark and my car was the only one in the lot. It was perfectly still and perfectly silent.

I headed out and was surprised that I wasn't freezing. Especially with my nifty fingerless gloves/mittens, I was perfectly fine. My nose and cheeks were pretty chilly, but since there wasn't any wind, it wasn't bad at all. I decided I would just run for 30 minutes and call it a night. About 10 minutes in, I started getting warm, so I pulled back the mitten part of my gloves and let my fingers breathe so I could cool off a little. I ended up switching back and forth with the mittens closed and open, and was able to stay warm enough and cool enough. Sadly, my hat did little to protect my ears, so I may have to add some behind-the-head earmuffs to this ensemble (nerd alert!)

I didn't run far, but I felt good. This rarely happens. My lungs didn't burn. I had plenty of energy. I could've run farther, but I had told Trea I wouldn't be long and didn't want him to worry. It felt so good to get out by myself in the cold, still darkness and have FUN running. I had one good run, and that's what keeps me going back out there. Every now and then, everything works like it should - peaceful thoughts, strong legs, strong lungs and beautiful scenery. This makes the hard runs worth it.


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