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Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

I had a feeling I would neglect the blog a bit after the marathon. Turns out I was right. 15 days later and I’m back!

It’s been so weird not training for the marathon. My life pretty much revolved around it for 18 weeks. I was either running or  thinking about running or talking about running all the time. I’m glad to be able to focus on other things now, but last Saturday I also found myself missing my long run! So strange.

The week following the marathon I took it very, very easy. I biked and ellipticalled everyday, but with very little resistance and very little speed. I wanted to run at the end of that week even though my legs were still a bit sore, but I ended up not fitting it in. It turns out it was a good thing I didn’t have the time because with a few extra days off of running I felt 100% better. I think it took 8 days to feel totally normal again, which isn’t too bad if you ask me! It was also a nice change to relax!

I went for 2 runs this past week. The first was a 3.5 miler on the treadmill. Now THAT was weird! I didn’t do one training run inside, and I have no idea what compelled me to run on the treadmill this past week. It is definitely less natural than running outside. The second was a speedy 5 miler outside. I kept the pace under 10 minute miles and it was the perfect weather. I ran around my neighborhood and then down to the river. It was fantastic.

I have also added back in strength training, which I am loving! I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I did some great work outs where I did circuits of cardio and strength to keep my heart rate up. It was really fun!

I wanted to run 7 miles this weekend, but the weekend seemed to slip away from me. I’m starting to realize that I will live (shocker!) if I skip a run or two. I don’t want to slack off completely because Broad Street is in a month. But I’m going to try and take a more relaxed approach with this race.

I’ll try to start weekly recaps again, but no promises!

–Melissa

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(Turns out that I’ve been calling this the National Marathon for months, but it was renamed this year to the USA Marathon…oops.)

So, I ran a marathon this weekend. I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t believe that it is over. I was warned that it would be hard, and I didn’t believe anyone because my 20 mile run had gone so smoothly. Nothing could have prepared me for how difficult it is to run a marathon. This was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. I am sore in places I didn’t know it was possible to be sore. Ouch. Let’s back up to before the race though…

Thursday

The Thursday before the race I felt really off. I went to get acupuncture to help my back, and I don’t think it did anything. I guess it was just a really expensive mid-day nap. I went back to work afterwards and didn’t feel great. After work I met up with Mom and she bought me dinner so I could begin carb loading. Then I went home and got in bed in hopes that I would feel a little better. I watched a movie called “The Spirit of the Marathon” before going to sleep.

I heard that it would pump me up. But really it just freaked me out. (It’s on Hulu if you want to watch.)

Friday

I met up with Vic and we headed for the train station. We had perfect timing and were soon on our way to DC. We checked in at our hotel and then we walked over to the metro to head down to the race expo.

First I got my bib.

Then my teeshirt.

Then we walked around for a while, first we found a faux finish line.

I bought some Gu and some Gu Chomps.

And a sticker.

And a magnet.

(Not sure why that looks green, it’s actually white, and already has a prime spot on my fridge.)

And a headband. (I was planning on wearing all black, and figured a bright color would help my fans find me!)

Then we went on the hunt to find me new sneakers, but no luck. Boo.

As we were walking out a lady told us if we test drove a car we would get a Target gift card and a tee shirt. So we did! Since there is no Target near me I gave Vic my gift card and she gave me her tee shirt. We also entered to win a car, but we didn’t win and I ended up with ANOTHER tee shirt. So, I left the expo with 4 new tee shirts…

Then we went and had lunch and went back to the hotel to rest for the afternoon. I didn’t plan on napping because I wanted to sleep at night. But then I felt really tired and decided I probably wouldn’t sleep well anyway, so I took a nap. Then Mom arrived and we went to a pre-race dinner with Jon!

After dinner I was SO full. Too much pasta!!!!

Then we watched Lehigh beat Duke!

I tried to sleep but didn’t have much success…

Saturday – RACE DAY!!!!

I woke up a little after 5:30. Since I had to wake up before 5 some mornings in February to fit my runs in, this didn’t even seem that crazy. I always think that racing means waking up at insane hours, but not this time!

I got over dressed in pants, a tank top, and a long sleeve shirt. Then I ate my normal pre-long-run breakfast of peanut butter on a flax wrap. Soon it was time to go! I left Vic and Mom still snoozin’ in bed and I headed to the metro. It didn’t seem too crowded when I got there. I talked with a girl while I waited about our Garmins (we had the same one). Remember “runner’s are friendly”. Then the metro arrived. It was packed! I squeezed my way on and got quite cozy with the other people on the metro. I ended up talking to a few people who were doing the half marathon but had done full marathons before. They gave me some tips, particularly not to go out too fast. After what felt like hours, we finally got to our stop! The metro station was mayhem.

After a while I finally made my way out of the station and headed for my corral. I was really concerned about making the time cut offs and I sneaked up to an earlier corral.

I was busy trying to text Vic the pictures of the subway (they weren’t going through probably because 24,000 people running the race were also trying to text/call/etc while waiting for the race to start) when a lady standing next to me said “oh wow!”. I looked up to see the sun rising.

I ended up chatting with a triathlete while we waited for the race to start. This was his first half marathon because he was hoping to see if he could possibly do a half ironman. Amazing. I noticed that most people were wearing shorts and tee shirts. Hmm…did they know something I didn’t know?! Soon enough, it was 8 o’clock. Annnnd, we were standing completely still. Almost 20 minutes later I finally crossed the start line.

Miles 1-5: I tried to start off nice and easy. I was feeling great. I didn’t feel like I was going too fast, and I took my planned walking break. Mile 2 I felt awesome. When it got to my planned walking break I was flying down a hill and decided it would be dumb to stop and walk on such an easy stretch. The next mile was the same. I felt great! Then I spotted Mom, Vic, and Jon. It was great seeing familiar faces, and I knew I just had a few more miles until I would see them again.

Sitting down with Starbucks...jerks.

After that I started taking my walking breaks each mile. They weren’t quite consistent because I would walk through water stations and then not take the breaks as planned. This really screwed up my rhythm. Before the race I wanted to make a point to enjoy the scenic part of course, we were running by all of the monuments. However, I barely even noticed them. Jon got a neat shot of the Capitol though!

I took my first Gu at mile 5. It was really hot out and I was already drenched in sweat. This made my Gu a little runnier than usual, but I kind of liked it like that!

Miles 6-12: A little after mile 6 there was a HUGE climb. I started to trudge up the giant hill but was killing myself so I just decided to walk instead. I was racing smart and trying not to burn myself out too early. I continued to feel awesome. This portion of the course was very hilly and I took it easy on the uphills and took advantage of the downhills. Crowd support was really great. There was lots of energy.

Around mile 7 I saw my fans again! 🙂 At mile 10 I took another Gu. I was being careful to only drink from my Camelbak when I needed Gu and to drink from the water stations in between. I was worried that I would run out of water by the end. At mile 12 we split off from the half marathon. As I turned right and the half marathon continued straight I realized there was no turning back! At this point the crowds completely died down. It was a like a ghost town on the course. I knew that the race was geared more towards the half marathoners, but I had no idea how difficult it would be without all the energy of the crowds.

Mile 13 – 15: I kept on running, but it was starting to get tough. My watch wasn’t synching up with the mile markers and it was really throwing me off. I was so, so hot. I couldn’t believe I was only just over half way done. I still had a very long way to go and I was starting to doubt if I could do it or not. Just before mile 15 I saw Mom, Vic, and Jon again. Vic said she was going to run with me for a bit. I took my third Gu of the race.

Mile 16 – 19: I felt terrible. Vic was helping me along and trying to give me pep talks. I couldn’t have done it without her (seriously, best sister EVER!), but I also wasn’t having any of it. What a role reversal! I don’t really remember these miles very well, I know I was wishing for death. I know everything hurt.

At one water station they were handing out cups of ice. It was glorious! For a minute anyway.

Just before mile 18 I decided I needed to go to the bathroom and stopped in a port-a-potty. If it had smelled better, I probably would have just stayed in there! 😛 After, I wanted to walk but Vic pushed me to run for another stretch. At mile 18.5 we saw Mom and Jon again and Vic said goodbye. Jon ran with me for about a half a mile in his jeans!

He grabbed a Twizzler from a spectator and gave me a bite but I spit it out because it hurt to chew. At mile 19 he said goodbye and I was on my own again. I got to a water station and walked while I drank my water/sucked on ice. This part was over a bridge and it was really pretty. I tried to tell myself I needed a game plan for the rest of the race (meaning when I would run and when I would walk), but I guess I got distracted at some point because I never ended up doing that. Every single person around me was walking too. Someone would start running and then a minute or two later I would pass them because they were walking. This was pretty much the pattern and I don’t think anyone was really passing anyone else. In a way it made me feel better that everyone else was struggling and it wasn’t just me. The heat was just so killer.

Mile 20-23: I took my 4th Gu at mile 20. These miles were hard. It was exciting because I was officially PDR-ing with every step. I also liked that with every mile, the finish line seemed so much more attainable. 6 miles, I can do that! 5 miles, no big deal! 4 miles, so close! However, those miles were ticking away very slowly. The 5:00 pace group passed me, and since they were a pace group they were going steady, not stopping and starting like the other runners. I was disappointed that I probably wouldn’t make my under 5 hour goal, but at the time I really didn’t care. I just wanted to finish. I walked for the entire mile 22. At mile 23 I took my phone out of my Camelbak to tell Vic that I had just 5k left. I also tried to run again, but my legs felt SO weird. They did not like the fact that I was trying to get them to run again.

Mile 24-26.2: It was another mile until my 5th planned Gu, and I was really dragging. So, at mile 24 I took a few Gu Chomps. They gave me the boost I needed and I was able to run for a bit. There were rolling hills at this point and I took my approach from earlier in the race with running down hill and walking up hill. It seemed to be working. At mile 25 I took a few more Gu Chomps instead of the gel. There was a giant down hill and I was really cruising. The sun was incredibly hot. The last stretch was down the highway and the sun was just beating down. It seemed like it would never end. At one point, I asked a spectator how much further until the finish. I knew how far I had to go, but I guess I thought by asking someone it would magically make it shorter?! Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight. Anyway, this guy didn’t speak English… I knew I had a just a mile left but I still couldn’t force myself to run. I finally got to mile 26 and I ran for the last .2 miles. I saw my fans again and pushed to the finish.

Then, just like that, I crossed the finish line.

I kept saying “oh my god” over and over again. I got my medal and headed into the finisher’s chute. Instead of the space blankets they gave us ice cold towels to wrap around our necks. Someone handed me a water bottle and I grabbed a second one (I got the stink eye for that, I was like oh please, I just ran 26.2 miles cut me a break!). Then someone else shoved a fist full of granola bars in my hands. I was so disoriented. I met up my family and friends and they tried to take pictures. I was clearly very happy about that.

We met up with a co worker and his wife who came to see me finish and then all walked to the metro. Even though I smelled really good, I wanted to shower immediately.

It was the most painful shower of my life. My back and sides and armpits were chaffed and the water burned so badly. I thought I was going to pass out! I have had some blisters on my feet throughout training and my socks were bloody but the blisters were totally gone, how weird! My feet were also really swollen! I didn’t think ahead and didn’t pack flip flops for after the race. I could barely fit my feet in my shoes! Then, Mom and Vic headed back up north and I went to lunch with my best friend and cousin Jon.

Post race thoughts: My Garmin said that I ran 26.44 miles, so the splits aren’t exact (i.e. the mile that I walked the whole time for is shorter than some of the other miles according to my Garmin). But here are the splits anyway:

Mile 1: 10:32
Mile 2: 9:43
Mile 3: 9:33
Mile 4: 10:25
Mile 5: 11:01
Mile 6: 10:31
Mile 7: 11:17
Mile 8: 10:53
Mile 9: 10:33
Mile 10: 10:18
Mile 11: 11:24
Mile 12: 11:18
Mile 13: 11:33
Mile 14: 11:41
Mile 15: 11:18
Mile 16: 14:02
Mile 17: 11:36
Mile 18: 13:47
Mile 19: 13:47
Mile 20: 14:04
Mile 21: 13:18
Mile 22: 13:46
Mile 23: 15:56
Mile 24: 14:30
Mile 25: 13:14
Mile 26: 11:52
.44 Miles: 5:54
Total 26.44 5:18:00

Obviously you can see my splits for the first half were much better than the second half. I had high hopes of keeping them slightly more consistent than these. I think I went out too fast, despite my efforts to take it slow at first. I also think the weather really killed my pace. It was about 40 degrees hotter than I was used to training in. It’s no surprise that my pace suffered because of it.

It’s also possible that I was under trained even though I know I really, really gave it my all both in training and during the race. I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish in the time I thought I could (between 4:40 and 5 hours), but I know this was still a huge accomplishment and I’m so glad that I did it!

Sunday I was very sore, even walking hurt. My abs were a little sore, and everything from the waist down hurt. The chaffing was a little better and it was starting to scab over. I went to get a massage and it felt amazing. It was the same masseuse I went to during training so he didn’t go to hard on me, otherwise I’m not sure a massage would have been the best idea considering how sore I was.

Today I took off work since I was away for most of the weekend and knew I would want to relax. My right quad is still very tight. I ended up walking around town a bit. One stop was to get new sneakers. I had to order them, but they should be here next week. In the afternoon I was tired of sitting around so I went to the gym and biked very, very lightly. It didn’t hurt, but I don’t think I can do much more than that for a few more days.

So will I be doing another marathon?

I don’t think so.

I’m glad I did it, but this was the most challenging thing I have ever done. When it was over my first thought was “why would ANYBODY do this?!” As much as I enjoyed long runs on the weekend, I don’t think a distance this long is really for me. Running for 5 hours is a LONG time! I think I will switch back to half marathons. That distance seems so much more reasonable now that I’ve done a full! I have a few half marathons on my radar, but I’m not sure if I will sign up for any of them. I have a ten miler in a month and a half and I think that is enough for now.

Thanks to all of my fans!!!!

–Melissa

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This week was not my best. I only ended up missing one (more) run, and one cross training day. So in the end my back/neck injury thing wasn’t too bad. Here’s what the week looked like:

Monday: Cross Training Rest – I couldn’t move my head again when I woke up in the morning. I was in a ton of pain, and called it a rest day.

Tuesday: Speed Work Rest – Still in a ton of pain. I decided to make an appointment with an acupuncturist. I didn’t think my regular doctor would do anything than tell me to take some pain killers and wait it out. I was already doing that and my neck wouldn’t move and my back was killing me, I needed to take a different approach. I left work early (amazing) and went to acupuncture. I felt immediate relief. I left able to turn my head but my back still hurt a bit.

Wednesday: Cross Training – I kept it very light with 45 minutes on the elliptical. I didn’t want to do anything too strenuous, but it felt good to move again.

Thursday: Tempo Run  Rest – This was also the week that my crazy schedule finally caught up to me. I set me alarm for the morning but literally could not get out of bed. I was so exhausted and decided to post pone this run until Friday. I went to my second acupuncture after work this night. Again, I felt better but still a little off.

Friday: Tempo Run – I waited until after work to do this run since we get out at a reasonable time on Friday nights. I was nervous because I hadn’t run since last Thursday, but I was also SO anxious to hit the road. My legs were itching to run! This called for 1 easy mile, 4 tempo miles, 1 easy mile. I ended up doing a 10k at whatever pace I felt like running because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself for the first run back. But I killed it and juuust missed my PR by 18 seconds. The splits:

Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 2: 8:57
Mile 3: 9:20
Mile 4: 9:38
Mile 5: 9:57
Mile 6: 9:33
.2 Miles: 1:46

Not too shabby for my first run back!

Saturday: Cross Training – I hit the gym after work, but ended up not getting there until later than planned so I only had time for an elliptical work out before the gym closed. I wanted to keep this work out very easy anyway because I had an 18 mile run planned for the next morning.

Sunday: Long Run – I wasn’t sure if I was completely ready to do such a long run after the whole neck/back thing, but I also knew that I couldn’t skip this run if I wanted the marathon to happen. I felt off when I headed out for this run. It wasn’t pretty. I think the fact that it was FREEZING COLD probably didn’t help things, but I know I could have pushed myself harder. At one point I touched my face and I realized it was completely numb. I considered finishing the run inside at the gym, but I kept at it when I saw a guy running in shorts. I really was just not feeling it at all today, and my paces showed. I walked A LOT. My legs were tired. I just couldn’t get in the zone today. I’m really, really hoping that this doesn’t happen on race day. Anyway, the terrible splits:

Mile Pace
Mile 1: 10:16
Mile 2: 11:01
Mile 3: 10:49
Mile 4: 11:27
Mile 5: 11:38
Mile 6: 13:34
Mile 7: 12:16
Mile 8: 12:43
Mile 9: 13:24
Mile 10: 14:10
Mile 11: 13:18
Mile 12: 12:07
Mile 13: 13:36
Mile 14: 13:14
Mile 15: 12:26
Mile 16: 12:27
Mile 17: 12:17
Mile 18: 10:18
.76 Miles: 12:42     Cool Down

Yeah….Not so great…But at least it was a PDR. And at least I finished. There is always next week!

–Melissa

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Avoiding an Injury

I’ve written about this on my About Me page, but…2 years ago I started to get serious about running. I ran A LOT (only on the treadmill) and while I loved it (seriously…I LOVED it) I ended up with a bum IT band. Heh…pun, because it hurt at the top of my IT band, sort of on the side of my butt.

After going through physical therapy and not running for a while, I got back into running and trained for my first half marathon. My injury completely shaped how I train. Instead of running 5-7 miles 5-6 days a week, now I never run 2 days in a row. Hello moderation!

I had my super fast run on Saturday, Sunday I did a lower body work out, Monday I ran outside before work (3 miles around a 10 minute pace), Tuesday I did upper body, the plan for today was speed intervals on the treadmill. Sounds like a nice mix right? You would think, but no…I woke up this morning and my IT band hurt SO much! I’m not sure whether it was from Saturday, or that fact that I have been spending a lot of time at work (aka a lot of time sitting at a desk), or what, but I knew I could not run today.

I thought about taking a rest day, but the thought of sitting at my desk for 10-11 hours (it’s been busy at work) without moving AT ALL sounded awful, so I decided I would just walk on the treadmill.

I ran into mom just as I was getting on the treadmill and we decided to walk outside instead. We walked down to the river and walked on one of my favorite running trails.

I wish I could say that it helped stretch me out, but it didn’t. Boo. All day I was discretely (I think?) doing stretches…standing in a co-workers cube, walking to fill up my water cup, grabbing something from the printer. So sneaky 😉

Anyway…all this rambling leads me to officially deciding to take a few days off of running and hard lower body workouts until my leg feels better. I really don’t want another injury!

I’m going to go read some of One Day and hope my IT band pain goes away!

–Melissa

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Taking it easy

I had plans to do a good hard run on Saturday, because Thursday I didn’t get home from work until 9:30 and Friday I went to happy hour instead of working out (a good choice I’d say!). When I woke up on Saturday my IT band was killing me. I have no clue why since I hadn’t worked out in 2 days, which is long for me. Maybe from dancing Friday night?

This is exactly what we looked like...

Anyway, I decided to take it a little easier and just ellipticaled and lifted. When I got back from the gym, the elevator was out of order so I finished my work out with a nice 12 floor climb up the stairs.

Today, I knew I had to run, I hadn’t since Wednesday. My IT bands were still sore, so instead of pushing it with a hard, long run I decided on 5 at an easy pace. The last thing I need is to get injured again! I quickly fell into a groove and my mile splits were between 10:10 and 10:30, which seems to be a “normal” pace for my outdoor runs.

I was hoping to be at a 9 minute/mile for Broad Street, but I don’t think that is going to happen. Oh well, it’s still fun! Maybe when I am less stressed by exams I can focus more on speed. Speaking of…off to do laundry and then study.

–Melissa

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I was going to run a 5k yesterday morning in my own version of a Turkey Trot. But when I woke up I did not feel like running, and rather than force myself I decided not to go. Running is fun for me, and sometimes just before races it starts to feel like a chore. For a little while, I’m going to just run when I feel like it, and I’ll do other things when I don’t.

Today though, I was in the mood to run. I set off to do a 5k. I wanted to take it easy because my race was only 5 days ago. Before my run I took advantage of a sale on my favorite underwear 😉 Vic put it on her credit card and I wanted to pay her back right away. So after the 5k I swung back home to grab my debit card and continued my run down to the Wawa to stop at the ATM.

Hanky Pankys

I got to the Wawa at 3.5 miles, but the ATM was out of order, so I ran another .65 miles down to another Wawa with an ATM. I was at 4.14 miles in 41:39 when I got there and then I finished up with a cool down walk home for .76 miles. The splits:

Mile 1: 10:18
Mile 2: 10:17
Mile 3: 10:00
Mile 4: 9:39
.9: 15:27

Pretty awesome considering my legs were still a little out of it from the half marathon.

The other day I got an email with my official race photos. They were still not great, but far better than any of the other race photos. Especially the one I did in September where I was the size of a pin prick in the pictures! I apologize for breaking any copyright laws by posting these, and the quality isn’t great because of that…

About to finish!

So flattering haha

Yay!

Crossing the finish line

13.1 miles done!

And in other VERY exciting news, I finally passed a section of the CPA exam! Yay!

Tonight is the annual post-thanksgiving get together with all of my high school friends. Can’t wait to see everyone!

So happy right now!

–Melissa

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Stretch it out

My butt is so. sore. Hills will do that to you I guess.

Anyway, no run to write about, but I did have physical therapy this morning. I told him I was getting my hopes up because I had been pain free for a few days, but my foot started hurting again last night. He said that my foot is still really tight and has a lot of scar tissue. I still have a lot of work to do.

In this case “work” means stretching, stretching, stretching and then when I think I’ve done enough stretching, stretch some more. There’s just one problem. I hate stretching. It is time consuming. If I’m being honest here, I just don’t do it. Oh, sure, there’s the whole plus side of it, you know, injury prevention/treatment. But somehow I still avoid doing it. Stretching doesn’t give you that same high as you get after finishing a 10 mile run. Stretching is a pain in my (sore) butt!

The reason I’m writing all of this is because if I want my foot to get better I know exactly what I need to do. The tricky part is doing it. But, if I write about it, it’s more likely to happen. So! On non-physical therapy days I’m going to make sure I get at least 10 minutes of solid stretching in and even more on days that I run. Let’s do this!

–Melissa

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