That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 accomplishments

733 miles ran.

Short of my goal of 1,000, but I would've totally hit that number had I not had the INJURY. I only ran 12 miles in March, none in April, and 28 in May - a little ironic since I was supposed to BEGIN May with 26.2. Between the time off, the slow comeback, and the numerous smaller injuries (no caps needed), I'm proud of 733.

16 races.

New PR's for every distance.

A sub-30 5k.

A sub-60 10k.

Took close to 20 minutes off my 13.1 time.

RAN an entire 13.1.

That one seemed impossible a year ago, but I ran two half marathons with no walking. Not only that, I actually RAN the first 21 miles of the 26.2.

First venture into triathlons - which, btw, I've thought about doing since 2009 but got too wrapped up in running to bother cross-training much. Doing tris was NOT a goal for the year - which is why I'm actually thankful for the injury. Without it, a tri would still probably be on my bucket list.

First sprint AND Oly distance tri. And now I'm signed up for an ironman, which was not in my wildest dreams a year ago.

Went from a typical "10 and change" pace to doing long runs under 10.

Became a stronger, smarter, more confident, more consistent runner. (And ATHLETE, come to think of it, though I've got a ways to go in the pool.)

Swam a mile (and then some) for the first time ever.

Biked a metric century (63 miles).

Overcame (sorta) my fear of open water.

I can run on hills without dying. I avoided them like the PLAGUE until this past January.

Oh, umm, don't forget I RAN A MARATHON YA'LL!!!

...and I did it at a faster pace than I'd done my first 13.1 a year beforehand.

And I did it all despite injuries. I'm thrilled with my 2011. 2012 will be even more kickass.

(2012 goals/plan to come....)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I can't watch this without crying

This is super inspirational! I'm kind of yanking someone's story here....but I felt that I had to share it.

A woman shared her IM story on the Beginner Triathlete forums. She did Ironman Florida with a knee injury (doc ok'd her to walk the run portion). She posted about how it felt to push as hard as she could to make the 17 hour cutoff, but I think her finisher video speaks volumes.

Grab the tissues, then click here.

race report - Reindeer Romp 10k

Yep, I quit doing the week in review posts. I promise I'll start them up again, but I've been insanely busy. SO MUCH TO DO before Christmas!! Thank God, I have next week off from work to get some stuff done (including finally figuring out my ironman training plan!). I've still had time to keep up with training decently well, just not enough time to blog about it. And, well, if I have to sacrifice one in the interest of time, it should be the blogging. :)

Anyway, on to the race....

First of all, I highly recommend this race. It was only $25, and that included a long-sleeve tech shirt (that is adorable and obnoxiously green) AND a pancake breakfast after the run! Pancakes, bacon, sausage, ham, coffee....awesome. It was small, 83 people total, and it was far enough away from the city to have a friendly, small-town feel to it. It reminded me a lot of the Fall Freedom Dual - other runners and staff were all happy, friendly, and supportive.

It was COLD. Not really cold for a Cincinnati winter, but the coldest it's been all year thus far, and I'm not used to it. At. All. The forecast had called for low 20's, which in my head didn't sound cold. I was wearing tights, a mockneck, a lightweight long-sleeve shirt, gloves, and my new moving comfort hat that I am totally stoked about because it has a ponytail hole!!! Usually, hats mean I'm forced to wear my hair in pigtails because I can't STAND having hair against my neck when I run. This way, I had my hair off my neck and out of my way and I was pretty happy about that. with that getup, in the low 20's ("feels like 18" said the weather channel's website), I was FREEZING. I went to the registration tent to get my shirt and number and I realized that my booty was shaking hardcore, involuntarily. Yep, I had butt shivers. The shirts were GIANT and they gave me an xs even though I signed up for a small. That is insane. I'm not a large woman by any means but I'm a solid medium in normal clothes. I felt bad for the girls out there who were built like tiny little runners!

Thank God we were allowed to wait inside. I found some people to chat with, the sun was shining, and as long as I could warm up during the race, I felt pretty good. They didn't have a timing mat at the beginning but I didn't care so much; with the small crowd it didn't make a difference.

I started off too fast. I had turned off the pace indicator on my Garmin so I didn't get all OCD about it, but in retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to have it. Let me clarify something: I don't get swept up in the crowd. I'm not competitive - I'm really not. I don't care if people pass me. I'm happiest in a race when I'm running pretty much solo. BUT having people ahead of me and behind me and around me really throws off my sense of how fast or not fast I'm going. I thought I was going pretty slow and easy, and when my Garmin chirped it said 9:05. Crap.

That is a tie (along with Warrior Dash 5k) for the fastest mile I've ever ran in a race.

So I tried to slow down, although it was really fun seeing the miles fly by and seeing that the time was way lower than I anticipated it would be. I talked to an older guy and told him I wanted a sub-60. He said I was well on my way to a 55-57 and not to let an old guy beat me. I told him old guys beat me all the time. When he started to pull ahead, I held myself back. I was having trouble getting words out anyway. The next mile was a little slower.

Then....wall. Yucky no fun race time. I was not happy when I was seeing 9:50-something splits, but I was doing about all I could. There were some ice spots, but some nice volunteers pointing them out. For a while, I was totally solo on a bike path, no people in sight, and that was when I was at my happiest. Maybe I really am a lone ranger runner at heart.

We had to go out and back on the bike path. A guy in a reindeer costume was one of the fastest people and that made me smile. I saw the older guy pretty soon before I had to turn around and he told me I was still on pace.

I hit 5 miles. Even though I had only had distance and time on the Garmin, I was still calculating like mad how much time I had and how fast I had to run and how much time to allow for going a little longer than 6.2 - starting at mile 2, the course markers had been .3 miles or so off. I had hit mile 2 at a hair shy of 19 (according to the guy with the stopwatch) so I was still good with that, but I knew I was slowing down with each one.

So at 5 miles, I knew I had to pretty much give it all I had if I wanted that sub-60. I had no chance to relax. There was a woman ahead of me who I'd slowly been catching up to; I used her as motivation and passed her and tried to put as much distance between us as I could, just to give myself more reason to speed up. I saw the people in front of me zigzagging back to the finish line and they were above me. Crap, there's a hill. I did NOT want a hill of any sort, but it really wasn't bad.

Nobody ahead of me. Nobody behind me. Just me. I hit mile 6 at 57 something on my Garmin, but not quite at the mile marker. I stopped my ipod ("Demon Speeding" - my final kick song) so I could hear the girl at the mile marker reading off my time as I passed her. 58 even. I went all out. I thought I might puke. The guy from earlier had finished and was jogging back. He told me I did it as he ran toward the finish line with me. The clock said 59:40-something. And the timing mat.....where was the mat???? I yelled it out loud. I kept flying by the clock and kept running until a volunteer stopped me and asked for my chip (attached to the bib.) I took it off, doubled over, spitting and drooling and nose running everywhere and tried to ask him where the chip timing stopped. Obviously I made no sense, since the guy answered, "Umm...water's over there." I took a deep breath and tried again, and he told me the sensors were mounted right by the clock. I MADE IT!!! I had to have come in under 60!

I also realized after a minute that my face was FREEZING. That was why I was having so much trouble talking. My jaw felt almost anchored in place.

They gave out awards at the pancake breakfast. I found out my official time - 59:50 - because I freaking came in first in my age group! That was a nice surprise. I got a medal that not everyone else got. :)

So all in all, the race went awesome. However.....I'm really wondering why my training run 1 week prior was a hair faster and felt way easier. This was WAY harder, effort-wise. But...this tends to happen to me during shorter races. Who knows?

Race stats:

Time: 59:50 (9:39 pace)
1/5 age group (F 30-34)
16/46 females
48/83 overall

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I got my vindication. And my new 10k PR. And my sub-60. And an age group win.


Recap to come.

That adorable medal is a WINNER'S medal, not a finisher's medal, ya'll!
PS - Baby, it's effing cold outside!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I get by with a little support....

I didn't mention this, but I got a "jumper's knee" strap the other day. I have a bulky neoprene brace left over from my roller derby days (torn PCL) and I ran in it the other day. It helped, but it was obnoxiously large and cumbersome. I had been reading up on knee injuries and somebody recommended one of those little strap dealies. I've seen people running in them and I couldn't imagine how something that small could do any good (that's what she said), but the more I read, the more people swore by them.

$13.99 at Walgreens later, and holy crap, that thing is amazing. It really is supportive and stabilizing.

...and it doesn't cover the ink!!!

Now my knee is starting to feel a little less like Jackie Chan kicked it. This is good.

I added it to my collection. I realized the other day that I am adding on to a ridiculous amount of injury support gear:

-ankle brace (around here somewhere - from spraining my ankle playing softball in high school. And before you think I'm some athlete or something, I got cut from the school team. This was church league.)

-wrist brace (tendonitis in my waitressing days)

-two knee braces - the generic one and a fancy one, from the derby injury. Luckily that particular tear is an impact injury so it doesn't have nearly as much to do with running as other knee injuries.

-two finger splints - one day, one night (PS - the finger is STILL too swollen to wear my rings on it. I was told it can take several months for the swelling to go down. I got upwards of 95% of my range of motion back in it, though.)

-compression sleeves, if those count

-calf brace from the latest injury

Not to mention that I am never without icy hot, kt tape, aleve, a foam roller, the stick, and a frozen water bottle for rolling around on owie body parts.

Ah, the life of an injury-prone runner....


I just had one of those runs that reminds me why I run. It was freaking amazing.

I've been babying the knee since the 10k - I was in a world of pain the day after - but I ran on it a couple of times this week and it's been largely ok. More importantly, it's improved when I'm NOT running, which is the real test - the endorphin release during the run can mask a lot of pain, but I've had injuries where I can barely walk a few hours later. So I decided to do a longer run today, but nothing too crazy. (There was a 10 mile group run this morning and the 7 hills run - which is a crazy 12ish miler on some of the biggest hills in Cincy - tomorrow. Neither seemed like a good idea.)

The plan I came up with: run for an hour, at a comfy pace. I took the pace indicator off my Garmin, so all I could see were distance and time. No worries, no obsessing, be happy with whatever my pace may be. I went to a park with a 2ish mile loop so that if the knee wanted me to stop early, I could at any point without having to trudge too far back to the start.

And what did I do??? I went out and ran the fastest run of my life. No, really. 6.5 miles at a 9:28 pace that felt fun and easy. OK, not like marathon pace easy, but not uncomfortable. I was paying attention to my mile splits and I couldn't believe it when I didn't slow down. I actually got faster. And when I got to the 6 mile mark, I sped up - not all out, but decided to see how much I could squeeze into an hour.

6.5 miles. 1:01:40. Faster than my 10k PR last week. Faster than my 5k PR pace. Loved every minute of that run.

My splits - and mind you, this is without being able to see my pace on the Garmin: 9:40, 9:29, 9:28, 9:35, 9:26, 9:27...and a 9:01 pace for the last .5 miles (and I swear I could've kept it up for another half mile!) Guess what....this means my ability to evenly pace myself is returning!! I've missed it so. It's such a great feeling - when I run like that, I feel like a literal running machine.

I seriously hope my knee doesn't hate me for this tomorrow....but if it doesn't, I'm really really really tempted to sign up for a (smaller and flatter) 10k next weekend so I can get some vindication and a PR that matches my ability. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

boundaries (and a long, introspective bit of rambling)

I kinda had a training breakthrough yesterday.

It wasn't an especially fantastic run, bike, or swim. It was a fantastic *thought* that I had on the way to the gym. The thought: BOUNDARIES.

Now, this training approach probably doesn't work for everyone, but it does for me. Earlier this week, I had the thought that right now, while I'm not following a training plan, I'm going to do a little LESS than I want to do for each workout.

That's right. I'm cutting workouts short. Why? Because I'm neurotic. I am constantly overestimating myself as far as training goes. Now, in some ways that's fantastic and it spurs me to be better. It also means I wear myself out and then feel like crap physically and mentally.

To use one of my favorite therapist sayings, I "should" on myself. I am ridiculously good at saying, "I should be able to run at x speed." "I should be able to run x miles today." "I should be able to train 12 hours a week and have energy to burn." Why do I do it? Ya got me. I think because I spend time (in real life and virtually) with people who are faster and stronger than me have different strengths and abilities than what I have. Since I'm constantly learning what works for me, I borrow from everyone else and I end up worn out and injured and crabby and disappointed.

I'm not a person that struggles with motivation to exercise, not since I found it years ago. I'm the opposite. I'm a person who struggles with obsession. I've been in therapy myself. Running slowly became an obsession. Multisport has potential to be obsession x3. If a little is good, then ALL THE TIME must be awesome.

What does this look like? I want to fill every spare minute of my time with exercise. I start feeling guilty if I'm NOT exercising. I feel a little guilty right now because I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop and my bike is on a trainer in the other room (although I haven't figured out how to set up the dvd player so that's why I didn't ride it today). I don't want to take rest days. I want to do all my workouts all-out so I know/can show off how fast I can go. I feel like a slacker if I do ONE workout in a day.

Regardless of what other crazy people post on forums and how they do 2-3 workouts every day....this is not remotely healthy for me.

So  I've spent this week taking my ideal workout for the day and cutting it down. Monday I did spin class, but I did not swim or run beforehand. Tuesday I did yoga class and a mile swim, not an hour long swim and I did not bike like I kinda wanted to. (This would've been day 4 in a row of biking.) I also slept in instead of doing a morning workout because I had been absolutely exhausted Monday. (I somehow put a kink in my neck biking Saturday and didn't sleep well for the next two nights. How does one injure one's neck while biking? I'm not exactly sure.) Wednesday....well, I had a LONG day and only time for a 30 minute run. And I chose not to feel bad about that; I chose to feel good that I had gotten up early and ran for 30 minutes before my long day. (OK....I was going to cut that down to 20 and couldn't bear to do it when I was out there.) Thursday I did pilates and I swam and I did circuit class and I ran for 2 miles. Umm, I may have wanted to run 3 miles and/or do some biking too because I got off work early.

So back to my thought on the way to the gym. What does this have to do with boundaries?? EVERYTHING. Boundaries are something that I've had to learn. I used to be the sort of person where, if someone needed something and I had it available, whether it was time, money, or energy, it was all theirs. Grad school taught me how well that really works out. If you want to learn every problem and issue and piece of baggage all your friends have, tell them you're going to school to become a therapist. Of course, at first I loved that everyone was coming to me for help. I wanted to help everyone. And I helped them so much that I ended up in therapy and on anti-anxiety meds myself.

Because if you do everything that you're humanly capable of doing, in any area, you will absolutely exhaust yourself. You have to have boundaries with everything. I have a job where I need lots and lots of boundaries. I could work so much if I did everything that my clients and my employer and my coworkers want from me, especially since I don't work set hours. (Incidentally, that is the same thing that means that I, theoretically, COULD train for hours and hours a day. It would also mean my paperwork would never ever get done.)

So it hit me that I need boundaries with working out, too. Yes, I COULD do another mile. I COULD go to spin class. I COULD do another lap. Does that mean I should? No, it doesn't. Just like I don't need to turn every single progress note in right on time and return every client's phone call right away and go to every school meeting. And lately, I've been planning my workouts based on absolutely the most working out I can squeeze into a day and squeeze out of myself, which leads to me running late everywhere and being tired and getting sick.

This week? It went a whole lot better. I had a lot more energy. I got caught up on some paperwork. I got to spend a leisurely morning with my cup of coffee before work. Sometimes I was EARLY to things and got a chance to sit in the quiet in my car for a few minutes. And I got rid of some of the guilt and the "should" that's been following me around. Even better, I realized, on the way to the gym, right after I realized it was all about boundaries, that I had to stop for gas. And I didn't freak out that I may have to cut a few laps off my pre-pilates swim. I'm starting to feel better about what I AM doing rather than guilty about what I'm NOT doing.

Oh yeah - in my first session with my therapist, she had pointed out her desk how it was doing a good job of keeping her stuff together and, well, being a desk. So what if she decided to park her car on it and it broke? Should she be mad? No, because that's not what it's made for. The lesson is that I need to do what I'm made to do, not try to take on the world. I can still tackle 140.6 without it being an obsession.

This is important. I'll try to keep this going.

(As a PS, discovering running is what led to me getting OFF the anti-anxiety meds. Time to keep it as a source of relief, not a source of anxiety!)

more 2012 race options

I just became aware of the Racing for Recovery Triathlon. It has multiple degrees of awesomeness: for a good cause (a non-profit organization for substance abuse recovery, founded by an addict turned Ironman), flat course (used to live up there, it's a pancake), and OMG CHEAP.

I'm considering making that my 70.3 instead of Muncie half Ironman, except that it's a mere month after the Flying Pig marathon. Hmmm. Bad idea or not, ya'll?

Muncie is a month later, in July. It's also $145 more. Eep.

Other option would be to do Muncie and do Race for Recovery as a relay, because I really really want to do a triathlon as part of a relay team. (I'd be the biker. I have the swimmer and the runner picked out. They know who they are. :))

Choosing races can be soooo stressful sometimes. Why can't I just do all the races I want to do? Oh yeah, because time, money, energy, and the amount of stress my body can take are finite. Damn it.