Monday, August 31, 2009

Injured

I am injured.

One week ago, I felt like part of my running shoe was rubbing against the outside of my right foot. It didn't hurt, but it did feel awkward. I forgot about it completely until later that evening when I went down a flight of stairs in flip flops. The same part of my foot started to hurt.

The next day, I went out for a 10 mile run, including speedwork. I wore a different pair of running shoes (a pair that has more cushion and bounce) and I couldn't feel the twinge in my foot at all. I successfully completed the speedwork, and I averaged a 7:35 pace for 39 minutes. I was so excited about this because it was humid and in the upper 60's, which meant I would be even faster in better conditions. After the run, when I took my shoes off, I felt my foot walking around my house. It wasn't painful, but I definitely felt something as I was walking around. I called my physical therapist, who is typically booked up at least one week in advance, and she was able to get me in the next day-- Wednesday.

Meanwhile, I had been experiencing some tightness in my left medial calf, so I decided to get a sports massage on Tuesday night. This was the most painful massage I had ever experienced! She spent 20 minutes on just my calf and said there was a huge knot there. When I went to see my physical therapist the next morning, she was much more concerned with my calf than my foot. She said that there was some mild Peroneal Tendonitis, but that my calf was in bad shape. It was swollen and bruised from the massage and she said that it had probably been just a few days away from tearing. She told me not to run again until my calf felt better.

I took Wednesday and Thursday off as rest days and my calf felt better on Friday morning. Meanwhile, my foot was barely an issue. I decided to run six easy miles on the treadmill. At mile 3.5, I suddenly felt a pain on the outside of my foot. It was much worse than it had been last time. I kept running in the hopes that it would go away, but it didn't, so I stopped after five miles instead of the planned six. I limped my way off of the treadmill, and my foot has been hurting ever since.

I called my coach and she told me how to take care of it. She recommended ice massage, stretching, and foam rolling the Peroneal tendons. I even found a web site that showed me how to stabilize the ankle with taping to prevent lateral motion that would irritate the area. My coach said this was a minor setback--not an injury-- and she thought that I would be able to do my last long run (20 miles) the following weekend. She also thought I would be able to do some light running on Sunday, but given the fact that I was still limping, I didn't attempt to run.

So now it's Monday and it still hurts to walk on my foot. I've been swimming and using the elliptical machine (neither seem to irritate it) but that is no substitution for running. I just want to maintain what I have. At this point, I am not looking to gain more fitness. I just don't want the past 8 weeks of hard training to come undone. I can't predict when it will get better-- all I can do is keep resting my foot and taking care of it. I'll go back to my PT on Friday.

I cried a lot on Saturday. It hurt to walk on my foot, so every step was a reminder that I was injured. I couldn't put it out of my head. My boyfriend actually carried me a few blocks in D.C. on our way to dinner because it hurt with every step, and I could only walk slowly. Maybe it's not meant to be. Maybe I am not meant to qualify for Boston. I always come so close, and then something comes along at the last minute to ruin it. A year ago, I was in the home stretch for the Hartford marathon but I caught a virus and was sick for five weeks. I couldn't run a fall marathon so I attempted Arizona in January. There was an unexpected heat wave, so I bonked at mile 14-- not having been acclimated to the heat. Then, at the New Jersey marathon in April, I was on target for a sub-3:40 based on my recent half marathon. But it was cold and pouring rain, so I ended up in the medical tent with hypothermia. It never works for me, and it's always a matter of bad luck. I do everything in my power to train smart but the "stars" haven't aligned for me. I have been working toward this BQ goal for over a year, and something always gets in my way.

My boyfriend Greg says that if there weren't obstacles then it wouldn't be worth attaining. That's what makes it all the sweeter-- having to overcome obstacles and fight for it. I agree with this but I also feel like I have faced more than my fair share of obstacles. And I see so many people train for one season, run the marathon and get the time they deserve. Heck, I used to do that. My first six marathons were all PRs. And then the injury/illness/weather demons started to show their faces at every marathon.

As of now, I don't really have a "plan of action". I just have to wait. And wait. And wait. I have no idea when my foot will feel better, but I am not going to run on it until I can walk on it. And even then, it will be very easy running. My patellar tendonitis that I had in the spring of 2008 took three months to completely recover from. My biggest fear is that I will have to wait three months to resume normal training, and I will have lost everything I have worked so hard for.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Award I Never Thought I'd Win

It's been awhile since I have updated my blog, but I have definitely not stopped running! I averaged between 50-55 miles per week in July, with a total of 226 miles for the month. This is my second highest month ever, with the first highest being in March of this year.

I've made some major changes to how I train:

- I train using the Heart Rate Zones that I tested for in my VO2 max test. Instead of training based on pace, I let my heart rate be my guide. This means going slower on hills and slower when it's hot and humid outside.

- I train primarily outside--but this is a luxury that I have for just a limited time. I am a morning runner, so it gets light early enough for me to do most of my runs outdoors before work. However, it's starting to get lighter later now, so I don't anticipate I will be able to do this much longer. It's nice when my boyfriend runs with me in the mornings, because then I can run in the dark and feel safe.

- I am focusing more on speed work. Now that I know exactly how hard I need to be pushing the paces based on my heart rate zones, speed work is much more effective, and I have the confidence to go faster than I have ever gone before. My intervals are typically in the 6:xx range, which I had never seen before this cycle. I do speed work twice a week (typically) in exchange for the medium-long runs I used to do.

Now for the race report. I ran the Leesburg 10K on Sunday. I had originally registered for the 20K, but given that the forecast was for 90% humidity with race temperatures in the upper 70's, I decided that wasn't smart. I raced in that kind of weather at the VA Beach half marathon last summer and I ended up very sick for weeks. I transferred my registration to the 10K and decided to run with my friend Lindsay. Lindsay and I used to train together all the time, but she recently moved to Atlanta. She was in town on business and also to run this race. My boyfriend Greg was also running the race, but he was going to go at his own pace.

My coach told me that she thought I could set a PR even in the hot, humid conditions on a hilly course. This is mainly because my 10K PR is very soft. In fact, my fastest 10K pace is slightly SLOWER than my half marathon PR pace. It's just that something always seems to go wrong when I try to race a 10K-- the weather, an injury, I don't pace it properly, whatever. Lindsay and I decided to go for a pace of 7:55. We would start the race together and stay together as long as possible, but we agreed we would separate if one of us couldn't hold on.




Everything started out okay. We naturally went out too fast because the course starts with a big downhill. We averaged a 7:46 for the first mile which was faster than we wanted, but of course it felt easy. The second and third mile were both uphill, as well as the first half of the fourth. I decided to ease up on the pace toward the end of the third mile and Lindsay pushed forward.

We reached the turnaround point at mile 3.5 and it was mainly downhill from there. Knowing that it was all downhill going forward gave me an extra mental push, so I caught up to Lindsay, and eventually passed her. By this point, I really felt like I was going to pass out. I kept glancing at my heart rate monitor thinking that I should be able to be working at a higher heart rate, but the feeling of being so close to passing out overwhelmed me. I grabbed a cup from the volunteer and poured it all over myself. It turned out to be Gatorade! As I approached the end of mile six, Lindsay caught up with me and we exchanged a few words. Then she pulled ahead of me and I felt like I had nothing left, so I stayed back. Lindsay crossed the finish line about 15 seconds ahead of me, and I came through at 50:35. This race was a PR for Lindsay, so I was excited for her, but not the PR that I had been hoping for.

They had these wonderful ice cold clothes at the finish line and I grabbed three of them. About a minute later, my boyfriend Greg came through the finish area, setting a three-minute PR! He's certainly gotten a lot faster since the 10K we ran back in June. I told Lindsay I thought she might have won an award because I didn't see many women who looked our age ahead of us. But she didn't think it was possible with her time, and such a large race. The three of us left, and went to breakfast.

When the results were posted, that's when I learned that Lindsay placed first in our age group and I placed second. I was thrilled for both of us! Even though I didn't PR and I really struggled in the heat/humidity, my training had earned me something. Apparently we won awards that will be mailed to us. We were kicking ourselves for not staying for the awards. Typically in these large "Capital Running Company" races, the winning times are in the mid to low 40's. I guess not when it's that hot out. And of course there were many talented runners in the 20K.

I placed 2 of 56 in my age group (30-34)
I placed 31 of 354 women

My average pace was 8:09 with an average heart rate of 182, which is near the top of my Lactate Threshold zone. My coach says that I didn't run this at race effort because race effort would have yielded and average HR of 184 or higher, but I gave it all I had while feeling like I was about to pass out. I felt like I had the fitness to go faster, but not the energy. Plus, when I realized I wasn't going to PR, I didn't have as much motivation during the last mile.

I'll have another shot at a 10K on September 12. Hopefully it won't be as humid or hilly.