Sunday, January 27, 2008

the manhattan 1/2 marathon

i just got back from the first 1/2 marathon of the season. as you will remember, i was debating if i was going to do this whole race given the injury and 10.5 to 13.1 miles is a decent jump in miles. so i opted to treat the race as just-another-run-with-free-water-and-more-bathrooms.

swede made me pasta and we had a chill night. why is it that when you need to go to bed early you are never tired? i finally hit the bed around midnight, planning to get up at 6 to scarf down some pre-made oatmeal in a thermos, back to sleep for another hour or so, and out the door by 7:30 to get to road runners to get my number by 8.

all of that went as it should (although the pre-made oatmeal is going to take some finessing) and i was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't quite as cold as i thought it was going to be. there also was no line at road runners, and i'm not sure if that was a function of the cold, the distance or the arrival time, but it was a pleasant surprise. i grabbed my number, skipped the tee shirt and headed to race start. i knew there was a bunch or tnters racing, but i couldn't remember where they were going to be so i was on my own for the morning.

i intended to get in the porta potty line, just in case, but like most of the other 1/2 marathons, the line was out of control. i'm talking at *least* 30 people per line, probably more, because there was only about 20 portapotties for over 6000 people. since i had peed twice before i left, i decided it was just nerves and that i could wait until a more reasonable time.

i lined up pretty much directly behind the met, where there is a little crop of rocks and trees and shrubberies - perfect coverage for peeing al fresco. i was not so desperate, but many were. there are risks, besides the usual prickers and poison ivy - if you are caught by road runners, you can lose your membership which means no nyc marathon for you. to deter folks from peeing on/near/behind the met, a volunteer with a bullhord heckled the rouge pe-ers, much to our amusement:

"don't do it sir! don't even think about it!"
"if you pee up there you're going to find your picture on the internet!"
"ma'am - stop, stop right now, there's a good girl."
"sir, you, in the blue, yes, yes you stop there...oh, don't...oh man...oh now. someone get that gentleman's number and nobody shake his hand!"

i decided to go with a little arcade fire to begin, and sooner than i thought, we were off.

so i knew i would do at least 12 miles, 2 full loops. then if i was feeling alright i would push it for the last. i would take the first 4 or so real slow, breaking the miles up into 3 parts - gradually getting a little faster if i was feeling good. our coaches say that 75% of people in races go out too fast, and are always reminding us to hold back. i did, and you could tell i was. people were passing me left and right, but i did my best to think "just a long run, not a race" and do my own thing.

we had started at 84th on the east side which meant harlem hill would be the first challenge. the uphills don't really bother me so much, and although it is harder, i was extra careful to stay very steady and in control on the downhills to take care of my quad and all my joints.

so the first 4 miles were good and slow and steady. around the 2nd mile i passed larry the lighthouse - the guy that runs with a big wooden lighthouse over his head and 1/2 his body. i was, despite myself pleased that i was passing him. my ego can take many many blows in this sport - i don't think coming in after someone sporting a lighthouse is one of them.

around the 4th mile was when i got lapped by the first elite runner. sigh. even though i consciously know i am no where close to the level of those athletes, and with all likelihood, never will be, there is still a small wince when that happens. but man, were they flying, and it wasn't a bad distraction to have.

i continued with my pace down around the lower loop, up stinky slope (my new nickname for the lower east part of the park where all the horse carraiges ambling along) and soon i was back at 84th street. 6 miles down. i mentally checked in - no pains, only a little tired, water intake good. i decided that once i got up to 102nd, which would mark mile 7, i would try to push it a little bit.

i also had it in my head, that once i was done with the rolling hills of the west side, the run would practically be in the bag. the west side is far more demanding than the east, and by my calculations, that would be mile 10 or so - i'd have a good indication if i could make the full race or not.

from there on in, i ran 11 minute (or so miles). i'm getting pretty good at recognizing what pace i'm going at, which is kind of cool. i had my 2nd goo somewhere around mile 8 and it was officially the worst one i ever had. i don't know if it was because of the cold or what, but it had kind of thickened at the bottom so part of it was the consistency of very very very thick gel, or a soft gummy bear. it was really really gross, but i choked it down. i hoped it would not attack my stomack and plugged on.

i kept remembering i kinda had to pee, and then would push it to the back of my consciousness again. lines were too long...i could make it. mile 9 on the west side, check. mile 10 - drink water. don't spill. too cold for spilling. up stinky slope, here's mile 11.

i knew then i had 2 more miles in me and decided to pick it up as much as i could. after cat hill, it would be cake from there, so i just had to be smart and know how hard to push. mile 11 was not so bad at all - i kinda kicked a little too much ass on cat hill, and felt a little tired at the top, but when i got to mile 12 i grabbed some water and instantly felt better. also knowing there is just about a mile left mentally is so attainable, i couldn't help but get the dumb grin.

i decided to dedicate this mile to anthony. i thought about channeling the runner thats stuck in his body, and how happy he would be to be out running right now. and i smiled because sometime soon, we're going to run a 4 mile race together and it is just going to be so freaking great.

i kid you not, right around then the clouds parted a little and i got some sunbeams which made me all the more smily, and i was able to use that last little bit of energy to finish strong and happy with my 1/2 marathon that almost wasn't.

today's mileage: 13.1
mileage to date: 93.8

Friday, January 25, 2008

the ripple effect

i just got news of something that's goosebump-worthy and i couldn't wait until after-hours to share.

last year, i organized a bone marrow drive at green team for anthony. the way it works is that you come in, give a tiny sample of blood which is analyzed for certain attributes, and you are added to a global database of potential bone marrow donors. so anytime someone from around the world needs a bone marrow transplant, the genetic factors of each person is the database is scanned against those of the person needing the transplant and hopefully a match is found.

if there is a 1st round match, there are a few more rounds, to go deeper into the genetic info and confirm that its a true match.

i just found out that one of my good friends from that drive, has just one more test to go to prove she is a match! how. amazing. is. that. hopefully, we'll have had a hand in potentially saving a life. i don't even really have the words to express how this makes me feel. i'll work on that...and keep you posted for sure.

and i am *not* teary. okay, well maybe a little, and only in the best way.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

fate intercedes

i hit the gym yesterday to take on the treadmill once again. i really can't wait until it's light out, because i've been forbidden by quite a few people that love me dear that i *will* not run in prospect park by myself in the dark. i hear you people! fine!

this leaves me with either getting up in the morning or going to the gym. the former has been a challenge with the weather and i'm trying to get back into the habit. but yesterday gym it was.

and of course there were no treadmills. ~sigh~. i had somewhere to be so i was forced to work on the elliptical machine. boooo. this is probably not such a bad thing, considering less impact for my quad, but well, boooo anyway.

i haven't done the elliptical since way back in the day when i was having IT band issues. and man, is it *boring*. boring boring boring. even putting it on the interval setting didn't make it less dull.

i toughed out 4 miles worth flicking back and forth between the pinback album and the heath-ledger-media-shitshow. (yeah, i try to keep it pg but the vultures really make me angry. especially when i think of that poor kid.)and you know what? my quad still hurt this morning.


wednesday's mileage:4.0
mileage to date:80.7

Saturday, January 19, 2008

back in business

sorry for not posting for a while. i've been, well, resting. shocker, i know. but after saturday's painful start, i thought it best to do a whole lotta stretching this week. and so i did.

this morning, i wanted to run 10 - 11 miles. the logic here was that i ran 9-something two weeks ago, and next week there is a 1/2 marathon i wanted to run, and you should run at least a ten mile under your belt before you go for a 1/2. of course this all depended on the ol' quad.

generally my leg felt better and better over the course of the week. until last night, when it felt a little twinge-y (successfully psyching me out for a little bit). my boy made me a proper carbo-loaded dinner served nice and early (yeah, tasted good too) and i went to bed at a reasonable hour only a little nervous.

i got up at 6:30 to eat the peanut butter sandwich sweder made me and chugged some water and then it was back to bed to sleep for another hour. yes, its now crazy breakfast time, where the runs are too long for a quick snack before. so its get out of bed, scarf down some breakfast, and snooze for another little bit.

i was running late. couldn't find my hat. my gloves. erg - where are my socks! i hate starting a morning off that way so i tried to decompress a little as i hauled myself up the hill to the park. luckily, everyone was still making announcements so i had time to get settled. because we're in hill training, the rest of the intermediates would be running a 5-mile-loop with a 1.5 mile hill repeat, and a 3-mile-loop with a 1-mile repeat, for a total of about 10.5 miles. i had orders from michael not to mess around with the hills too much so i did not have to do the repeats. instead, i decided to aim for two 5-mile loops...10 miles total.

we were also supposed to be running in groups today but i didn't want to, figuring i'd need to make adjustments for my leg. so i started with a few people, but soon they were long gone and i was out on my own.

my over-all impression of that run was "good grief that took a long time." ug. i was slow. super slow. in fact the first time up the big hill i was convinced i could walk faster. but i was feeling okay. my injured quad was just fine - if anything i felt an over all creakiness that was probably a product of not having run since the previous week and some compensation going on for the weak quad. i finally ran into lisa somewhere in the 4th mile.

"roxie! how you doing?"
"i'm slow but doing okay."
"how's the quad?"
"it seems okay so far. no hill repeats for me i'm thinking though."
"yes i would say that's a good idea."
"so, i did 9 or so two weeks ago, and i was going to go for 10 today..."
"so that i can run the 1/2 marathon next sunday."

at this point lisa made a face that meant well-i-don't-know-if-that's-a-good-idea.

i quickly chimed in with "well, depending on this goes, you know?"

"well, rox, i'm going to send the email soon, but i'm going to very strongly recommend that folks like you not push it too hard for the 1/2 marathon."
"people like me injured?"
"no, people like you right on the cusp mileage wise. there is the bronx 1/2 on february 10th that we'll all be doing, so there really isn't necessary for you to push it. especially for you where there's an injury you're trying to get over."

i must of have had a grumpy look on my face, or at least some sort of look because she did say "but of course, its your decision." i told her i really really would think about it. soon after i stoped for a goo and some water, and a stretch and was feeling pretty good when i headed back out.

so all the way to where the turn off is for the 5 mile loop, the devil on my shoulder was a-whispering...

"if you're not going to do the 1/2, and it seems like lisa really thinks you shouldn't, you don't really have to run 10 today. you could do like 8, and that wowuld be totally acceptible! especially since you've been hurt, i mean you don't want to push TOO much!"

it is hard to resist that little devil. but, one of the bonuses of running with team in training, and running for a reason beyond just you is that it kicks you in the ass a bit. when the little voice starts, you remember why you're running in the first place. who you're running for. and you also consider all the people that are supporting you. i started thinking about the first marathon, and how many people donated (180 by the way), and how supportive they all were. then the 8 versus 10 decision wasn't really a decision at all.

so i took the turn and tacked on an extra 2+. how was the rest of it? long. very long. i really thought i might be the last one on the course to come in today i was taking so long, but i wasn't. and while i was less than impressed with myself time-wise, i was rather pleased that i wasn't hurting, and i took the extra miles.

now the 1/2 *is* an option. if i want it to be. i've got some thinking to do.

today's mileage:: 10.5
mileage to date: 76.7

Monday, January 14, 2008

smart vs. stubborn

and so, saturday morning i got up and headed to central park for the 5 miler, injury and all.

i met sk8 and demps and we squeezed our way into the corrals around the 9 mile mark. i was feeling pretty good about my leg - encouraged and optimistic that michael said i could run on it, and only a little nervous. it was a beautiful running morning. just chilly enough, and enough sun to warm you up.

it was fun to be out there with the both of them - i hadn't run with my pals in quite a while. sk8 and demps had never met, but i had neglected to introduce them because i thought surely they knew each other. but silly me - it was only that they had read about each other in the blogosphere.

we started out at a good pace, running along with everyone else. i gave them both the freedom to leave me whenever they wished due to my gimpy leg, but we ran, chatting and enjoying the morning. some where in the 1st mile, beck decided to move on ahead and i wished her luck. demps and i continued on, hitting the rolling hills of the west side...

my left quad, the bad one, suddenly started to tighten. i tried to ignore it, and focus on the chit chat, but as we crested a hill, i could feel the tightness constrict my thigh, and move down in to my calf. my right calf cramped up, and as we reached the top, my left followed suite. my left leg was aching...and i decided not to push it.

"demps, i'm sorry...but i think this is just not good for me right now...i have to stop."

he wished me well and i pulled over at the southern part of the resouvoir.

normally i would have felt disgruntled and discouraged for giving up. but today, my legs were hurting so that i knew it was the right thing to do. i stretched and made my way across the park to the tnt cheering session. luis, our bk coach, agreed it wasn't worth it to push at this point.

so i called it a day and lent my voice to the crew, cheering in the tnt runners. it was fun to see how all the newbies lit up when they saw us all cheering for them. sk8 had thought she was going to get to cheer me in - she did really well and finished strong! - and we laughed that i was standing there when she came up.

my leg has continuously felt better from then on...and i'll try a run on the treadmill tomorrow. michael emailed me to see how it went, and i told him that i stopped and he said he was glad i was smarter than most in that situation, so i felt even better. i had made the right decision and smart had won over stubborn.

more tomorrow my friends...

Friday, January 11, 2008

"go to your happy place"

and the diagnosis is...acute quad strain.

so the bad news is that i am officially injured, but the good news is that i can still run - there are just things i have to avoid, namely the super strenuous workouts and lots of hills. quad strains are usually caused by a sudden twist, over-stretcher an over contraction of the muscle. Or inefficiency due to fatigue or the cold. my guess would be that i pushed a little too hard w/o being warmed up in the cold.

so after asking me a bunch of where/when does it hurt questions, michael (the pt) made me do a bunch of contortions with my leg asking what hurt where and when. at the beginning, nothing really hurt very much, but then he busted out a towel and some massage gel, and started poking around and massaging towards the top of my thigh.

he hit the muscle right in the center on the top and pressed down, and i sucked in my breath with pain.

"a little tender there?" he said
"yeah..." usually i'm good at masking/being tough/downplaying pain, but this was too sharp for me to be anything but frank. "that. hurts."
he leaned in and shifted downwards. "yeah...go to your happy place."

ooof. i did not cry, but i thought for one moment that i might. i have been beat up by many cheapy massage places, and those ladies are *strong!!* but that was nothing compared to having my quad worked on. it hurt like a...well, i won't swear but you can finish the sentence however you like.

i'm glad i decided to be all responsible and adult-like and go have it looked at. the course of action is to be smart and take it easy - focus on my miles vs. intervals. michael said if i want to do a interval work out i could do a spin class but i should stay seated. ps, not only is michael a tnt coach but he also does ironman triathons.

what's an ironman? aside from complete insanity, an ironman is:

a 2.4 mile swim


a 112 mi bike ride


a marathon (26.2 miles).

yes all in one day. crrrrrrazy.

anyway my point is that he's an athlete so in addition to being a pt he knows what he's talking about from experience too. this makes me feel better.

he also suggested a roller, so i got one. before and after my runs, i will lay my thigh down on this rolling pin looking thing, and find the spots that are tight/tender, let them loosen up for a few breaths, then bend my knee and deal with the "discomfort" for another few breaths. and try not to cry. i'll do this on the front muscle and the outer (lateral) muscle as well.

and hopefully, this will render me well sooner than later. i will run the race tomorrow, but not race the race, and then michael said to let him know how i'm feeling, so we'll take it from there.

i will keep you posted, but i'm feeling much better. of course, i always do when i know how to fix things...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

at rest

so, the leg issue has become enough of one that i am seeing the tnt physical therapist tomorrow. grrr.

i am trying to keep the discouragement at bay until then, but i'm frustrated because i felt like i had just gotten back into the "running zone" if you will, all happy for running and practice and excited at the progression of the mileage.


so there's my update. more tomorrow, keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

sprints. oof.

tonight was my first tuesday practice of the season. D (my pal from work that is running paris too) and i left a little before 6, trucked acorss canal and she headed to manhattan practice, and i to brooklyn.

what a pain the r train was. i was in the station by a little after 6 and the train did not come for another 15 minutes. grrr. and there i though i was going to be early. couple that wiht the fact that the meeting spot is four lengthy blocks to the park...and i made it up there to catch the tail end of warm ups. double grrr.

my quad was definitely feeling rather tight, and i attemped to stretch while coach lisa gave us the work out.

basically, lisa would stand in the middle of a stretch, luis at the end. first we would run what i will call a "lap" - to luis, and back to the start easy. then each time we'd do it again, we'd run with effort level 4 to lisa/the middle, recover to luis, level 4 to lisa, recover to the start. repeat.

basically you are sprinting and recovering. effort 4 is just less than a full out sprint. and pretty much just when you think you are going to throw up or maybe pass out, you get to catch your breath. then you do it again...and again...until they tell you to stop.

and so i did. i was nerous about how all the pounding was going to affect my quad, and lisa and luis - both being good coaches - asked how it was doing. at the beginning, it actually felt pretty good. i was focusing on my arm swing, and felt semi-fast (ps - if you haven't sprinted in a while. you should. makes you feel kid-ish again.) for a change. luis remarked as i hauled on by that it seemed that i could still push on it a bit. i grinned.

i made it through the warm up + 5 sprint laps before the pain started to set in. i debated stopping there, but managed to squeek another full lap out and then jogged over to the coaches and said "now i hurt!" i dismissed myself and they agreed. i took off down the hill to bag watch, and the impact at that point was rather...ouchie. stretched properly and came home and iced, and now i'm feeling kinda okay, but i think i might just go see team in training's favorite physical therapist this week.

stay tuned!

today's mileage: 7.0
season mileage to date: 66.2

Monday, January 07, 2008

night running

the weather has turned practically balmy, and so when faced with the gym or park decision when i got home from work a little before 8 this evening...well it really wasn't much of a decision. i haven't run in prospect park in the dark yet - i'll do cold, and i'll do dark, but it is extra hard for me to do cold *and* dark.

i overdressed a bit on purpose just in case it was colder than i imagined and headed to the park around 8. the "chill" in the air made me smile because of the warmth that surrounded it. i love unseasonably warm days, global warming aside. there is something about going from 4-5 layers one day, to just one the next that makes me very very relaxed. it's the closest a person can come to shedding one's skin, i suppose, and when i started my run i was feeling particularly light and free.

my legs weren't in a very cooperative mood though. my trouble-some left quad was whining just about the whole run, not getting better as i went along as i had hoped, and to add to the fun, my right calf was one crampy mass just about the whole time. i'd get distracted now and again by some noise or another - the park wasn't quite as bustling as i had thought (but no, mom, i swear it wasn't desolate!) and the hill was the best distraction of all for the aches and pains - your brain can really only focus on one sort of pain at a time, i find.

when i finished, i spent a good 15 minutes stretching on my stoop and my quad actually felt much better for it. hurrah. tomorrow, more interval training - this time with the crew. it will be my first tuesday practice. wish me luck.

today's mileage: 4.0
season mileage to date:59.2

Sunday, January 06, 2008


yesterday was another great day for a run. the cold that had the city in a deep freeze for a few days had dissipated and it was a balmy 40ish degrees when i got to the park.

i was running a little late, so i hadn't eaten breakfast (bad). but i did have the presence of mind to grab an extra goo to slug down before we started running (good). my quad was feeling okay. i hesitate even to call it a "pain" - its more of a dull ache the waves hello, saying "hi! i'm here! don't forget about me!" while i go about my usual business.

i talked to coach luis about it on the way to the warm-up spot. it could be a muscle that just isn't getting stretched, or possibly the i.t. band is tight and it's pulling at the quad. he suggested the usual icing stretching combo, maybe getting a roller, and said to see how it felt during the run. if it got better as i went, that would be a good sign.

we had our usual warm up of squats and lunges, etc. and then most of the team was headed off to do the effort level work out. since i had already done this on the treadmill tuesday, i told the coaches i was going to go straight away into my distance run. for nine miles, i could do two loops (6.8), then a bit of a down and back for the extra 2+ miles.

all in all the run was good. i had a lot of motivation - i had gotten a really sweet email from anthony, the other person i run for, which i will tell you about in a different post. suffice it to say that it brought a tear to my eye. and happily my quad did loosen up, even if the "ache" was still there a bit. i took it nice and easy on the downhills (where you can actually do far more damage to your legs) and tried to pay attention to if it was getting worse. i will not be skipping breakfast any more, i will say that. the goo i had around mile 5 was good, but i definitely felt like i was fading a bit at the end of the run. and i might have to suck it up and get a fuel belt...right now i've been stopping for drinks of water after each loop, which is managable at shorter distances. technically though, we're supposed to be drinking every 20 minutes, which at my current speed isn't quite 2 miles.

when i finished i was happy to find that it was quarter to 11. we started right around 9, and then with my two water breaks, i figure i did the run in about 100 minutes or so, which puts me right around an 11 minute mile. not so bad considering i've just been getting into the swing of things.

maybe my time goal is not quite as impossible as it seems some days ;)

of course today i woke up and in addition to the sore left quad, my right knee is a little achy. but it feels like a typical i-ran-a-long-distance-pain that i remember from my first season when i really was a novice.

saturday's mileage: 9.3
rough pace: 11 minute mile
season mileage to date: 55.2

Thursday, January 03, 2008

roxie 2, treadmill 0

wednesday i planned on doing a regular run on the treadmill after work, since the cold has set in. but when i checked my email that day, there was ramon - and he was having practice! i was already at work without running stuff and the brooklyn crew was not having practice that evening so there wasn't a way for me to join. despite the frigid air, i was slightly disappointed - because work was so crazy during december i had yet to attend a tuesday practice and those are the practices where they basically, well, kick your butt.

ramon did give a treadmill alternative to the workout though, and so i decided not only to battle the treadmill (which i loathe), but also to take on the prescribed interval work out. for those of you who are just joining me or for those that have forgotten, the point of these sessions are to build strength and speed. saturdays are purely about getting used to long distances, and the other weekday runs are more fitness maintenance than anything else. if you want to improve, and i need to if i'm going to hit my time goal, the intervals are where its at.

the workout was as follows:

warmup 8-10 minutes
then do:
8 times: 1 mins @ incline 2 and 1 min @ incline 4 (keeping same speed)
run easy 5 minutes @ incline 1
5 times: 1 mins @ incline 2 and 1 min @ incline 4 (keeping same speed)
8 mins cooldown

it was...well, not easy. i could see in the reflection of the tv that my face was read, i was sweating like crazy, breathing a little heavy (which is, frankly, the point)and the weird quad pain was back but i managed. it was actually not as boring as when you're just plodding away like a hamster on a wheel at the same level for 45 minutes. i was very close to taking that 5 minute break a bit early, somewhere around the 6th time of the first set, but i kept at it.

when all was said and done i was a sweaty, dizzy mess (the 'mill usually throws my equilibrium of balance a bit), but happy for it.

last night, i opted for fundraising letter writing and stretching/icing of the quad instead of the treadmill. i'm going to go for 9 miles on saturday - i'm trying to get ready for a 1/2 marathon at the end of the month - and i'm trying to balance my stubbornness at wanting to get out there and run vs. being smart about when i should take a night off.

time on treadmill: 45 minutes
wednesday's miles: 3.6 (with intervals!)
miles to date: 45.9

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

january schedule

lots going on this month, including a 1/2 marathon - eek. i'm happy to see i'm not as behind as i saturday i should be caught up with the intermediate schedule.