Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"

Unfortunately I still haven't gotten over the running apathy that I've been feeling since the NYC cancellation.  To make matters worse, my right knee has really been bothering me and it's become more and more painful to run each day over the last few weeks.  This is discouraging for the obvious reasons, and the fact that this is my "good" knee (the torn meniscus, cartilage fissures, tendinosis, and Baker's cyst which ended my soccer-playing days and brought me to distance running in the first place are in the left knee) only exacerbates my frustration

Today's visit to Sports Med confirmed my suspicions: Runners Knee (aka Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome).  The recovery from this is to be rest and physical therapy, and the Doctor and Fellows had a good laugh over the idea of "fixing me in four days."  There is "good" news though... the doctor said that though it would be painful to run the marathon on Sunday, I could most likely do it without causing any permanent, irreparable damage.  And though he didn't seem to think running a marathon in 4 days was a great idea, he also didn't strongly discourage me from racing, and I am taking that as a green light.  That said, I will keep his advice in mind and if it gets really bad, "don't overdo it and wait to run a better day."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Started today with a nice little "Turkey Trot"... the Skinny Turkey half marathon in Raleigh.  Bex picked me up at 5:45 and despite a construction detour we made it to Wakefield High School in plenty of time for packet pickup, a restroom stop (indoor bathrooms and a warm place to wait - excellent), and a short shake out jog before the 7:30 start.

The pre-race dedication, moment of silence, national anthem, and dance team routine seemed to take forever considering it was in the mid-30s, but eventually "The Final Countdown" (awesome) came on and we were off.  

I waffled a bit on a plan for this race... I haven't been particularly excited about running in general, my knee has been killing me since City of Oaks, and I have a marathon in 10 days so I thought it might be wise to take it relatively easy and run at or near goal marathon pace.  On the other hand, it is a race, Ellen and Allie were going to be running 7:20ish so I could potentially have company, and my dad said "if you're going to run, run hard." So I opted for the latter and decided to try to stick with Allie and Ellen.  

I checked my watch right after the start, and at a quarter mile I was running 6:20-something pace, so I figured running with the girls might not be an option after all.  I slowed a bit and fortunately they did too, and I caught up to come through the first mile in 7 flat.   After that we settled in to a comfortable pace fluctuating in the 7:20s and 7:30s, which seemed perfectly fine with me given the hilly course.

Somewhere into mile 2, the lead runners were coming back at us already, and we cheered for Bex as she went by in 3rd place for women.  A few seconds later I realized that didn't seem right - the turnaround was supposed to be just before mile 3.  As I wondered if they'd changed the course, we came into a traffic circle where the lead pack had gone around and headed back and a few people began to shout that we needed to go right.  So right we went, realizing all of the leaders had followed the cyclist's error and would be a couple miles short of their 13.1. 

Thankfully we stayed on course, through some really nice neighborhoods and over way too many hills.  My knee had really bothered me for the first few miles, but was feeling a bit better on the uphill and flat sections.  We made it to the second turnaround at mile 10 just under 1:15, and started down a fairly steep hill.  The knee pain got quite a bit worse at that point, and though I really wanted to speed up with Allie and Ellen for the last 5k, I just couldn't push myself to do it.  Once there was a little space between us, I was pretty much on my own, tired, with very annoying knee pain, and just ready for the race to be over.   The nice part of the out and back parts of the course was that I was able to see several of my other friends who were also out running, and their encouragement, plus seeing Monte at mile 12, really helped that last part seem less lonely.  Though I wasn't able to speed up, I did manage to not slow down, and finished in 1:38:25 (7:30 average pace).  With the top few women DQ'ed because they were sent the wrong way, Ellen ended up 3rd overall, Allie was 4th, and I finished 6th.  I'm sure B will have more on that in her race report!  

Cutest medal ever
All in all it was a good day, and I have to say I am really thankful for many things, but since this is a running blog, I feel I should give a special shout out to the BCTC and my training partners.  Your support, inspiration, motivation, and encouragement mean so much to me, and I would not want to do this without you!  Thank you!!!


Happy to see Crit back out there!
Santa wished me a Merry Christmas on Thanksgiving :)

Friday, November 16, 2012


The cancellation of the NYC marathon has really taken a toll... I think the race that wasn't really took a lot out of me, both physically (between the taper and a hilly replacement marathon) and mentally.  I am trying my best to get excited about the race on December 2, but I am struggling.  At least I'll be at the beach :)

In the meantime, I have to figure out how to recover, rebuild, and re-taper.  I had a decent week running-wise considering I completed a marathon last weekend, but I am feeling a bit unfit after the long taper.  That feeds into the feelings of apathy toward racing and lack of confidence that I've had of late, and is not helping matters at all.  Maybe this is the running equivalent of post-partum depression?  Whatever it is I need to snap out of it.

Tuesday - 5.5 mile recovery run with Sara; 46:50 (8:31)

Wednesday - 3.75 miles with Bex, including 6 x 400s  at 93-97 secs; 30:09 (8:03); 20 minute pull swim

Thursday - Easy run with Sara (4M in 32:33) in the morning; 
Brooks nightlife run at Bull City Running Company in the evening (3M in 24:15)

Saturday -15 with B, plus cameos by Ellen and Allie; 2:01:16 (8:05)

Tuesday - 20 minutes elliptical, followed by the Duke vs Carolina vertical climb challenge (5 minutes on a treadmill set to 30% incline; left in 5th place for females with 361 feet)

Wednesday - 7.5 miles on the ATT chasing after Bex for 10 x 400s (1:02:44)

Thursday - 6 miles in the dark with cold, rainy weather.  Thank goodness for Bex, because I totally would have skipped this if left to my own devices.  47:04, averaging 7:40 after the warm up (thank you B!)

Friday - Finally stuck to the pace plan for a progression run.  6 miles with Ellen, Bex, and Jen D; 46:47 (splits 8:24-8:05-7:32-7:18-6:50-8:34)

Two weeks until the Palm Beach Marathon... hopefully by then I'll be excited about running...

Monday, November 5, 2012

A bittersweet 26.2

Given the disappointment of not running NYC, I decided that I would not be mentally ready to race this weekend and signed up for the Palm Beaches Marathon on December 2.  Sara's brother, who is an amazing triathlete and runs a coaching business, was nice enough to send me a 4-week plan to go from tapered to race-ready.  The suggested run for this weekend was 23 miles, so I decided to pace Lora at the City of Oaks marathon instead of going out for a long run by myself.  I was fortunate to get a race bib from a friend of a friend who had signed up but couldn't run, so I didn't feel like a bandit and was able to get water on the course rather than wearing the belt.

Lora picked me up at 5:30 and we made it to the race in plenty of time to make it through the restroom line and jog a short warmup.  I was a bit worried about the weather when I woke up to a thunderstorm at 4:30, but it turned out to be a perfect day for running.  We stayed in the 8:15-8:30 range through the early ups and downs of downtown Raleigh, and came through halfway at 1:50.  

After the loop through downtown Raleigh we headed out on a nice greenway, which was downhill and then mostly flat through the turnaround until mile 20, which we hit around 2:50.  I decided to pick up the pace for a bit, since I really had only 3 miles left to my training run, and attempted to run it at goal marathon pace (7:40-7:45).  It did not help that miles 20-24 are all uphill, but I managed 7:50s.  Do not believe the website - "faster and flatter" than the old course does not mean "fast and flat"!

With 5k to go, I waited for Lora and we finished the race together.  The last few miles were definitely not easy, but I was happy to have done the 23 I was supposed to in about 3:15.  So despite an emotional marathon weekend, in the end I finished my 26.2... just not in the time or place that I'd envisioned.

Big thanks to Lora for the company, and congrats to all my BCTC teammates and friends who ran the full and half today.  And a special congratulations to Jennifer, who came back from NYC to run a 2:55 on a really tough course!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mixed emotions

My journey to the New York City Marathon started in March of 2011, when I decided that my goal for that fall would be to run a half marathon fast enough to qualify for the 2012 race.  After months of training, I qualified for guaranteed entry in October, and signed up as soon as registration opened on January 2. I've continued to train throughout the year, focusing solely on this race for the last four months.  Over these last 15 weeks, I've run over 600 miles, made reservations, studied the course map, visualized how amazing this race would be, and spent hours discussing all things New York City marathon related with my teammates and friends who also had "November 4 - NYC" on their calendars.  

And then came Hurricane Sandy.  It has been awful to see footage of the disaster and hear the stories of those most impacted by the storm.  Yet the decision was made that the marathon would go on, and that brings me to today.  There has been so much backlash against the marathon, and understandably so.  However the race will also bring millions of dollars to the city, along with many who are bringing donations and offering time and money to help relief efforts.  So what to do?  I am not remotely concerned about the actual running part, as it would be quite simple to stay home and run the City of Oaks Marathon instead.  But will throwing away the money I've already spent on flights and accommodations have any positive impact on the city at this point?  I really doubt it, but I also have no desire to run through a city that doesn't want me to be there.  A huge part of the reason that I wanted to run NY in the first place is the famed crowd support, with people 10 deep and a deafening roar as you come off the Queensboro Bridge.  If we are going to hear silence or hostile words, is it worth it?  I've struggled with this for the past few days, and decided that staying home is not going to do any good.  So I will do some shopping, dine at restaurants, and bring extra clothes to donate at the start.  Hopefully in a small way that will help.  And hopefully all New Yorkers do not share the view of those posting such negative comments about the race, but can embrace the event in the same way they embraced the return of baseball after 9-11.  Everyone cheered on the Yankees seven days after thousands were killed in the September 11 attack, citing the return to the field as a symbol of resiliency and offering a welcome distraction from the devastation.  I can only hope that Sunday's race will at the very least serve that same purpose. 

Update: 11/2/2012, 8:27pm

Well, as you may have heard, the race has been canceled.  I think it is probably the right decision, but it is incredibly disappointing after finally having made a decision and come within 36 hours of the start.  They should have canceled much earlier, rather than waiting until so many people had already traveled to the city.  Though I was not going to fly out until tomorrow, the rest of my teammates have already battled hectic airports and crazy traffic to get to NYC.  To not only have something I've been looking forward to and training for taken away at the 11th hour, but also lose a significant amount of money on non-refundable flights and the $255 registration fee, really makes me sad.  Of course this does not compare to what has been lost by the residents hit by Sandy, but that does not make it any less disappointing.