Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Toronto

As I mentioned in my previous post, Greg and I spent a long weekend up north. Having recently learned that I was recovering from mono, we tried our best to get the most out of this trip without overdoing it.

We started in Buffalo. My friend Todd, who I have known for over 10 years, was getting married. I was so happy for him! It doesn't seem like that long ago when we were both complaining to each other about being single and doing the online dating thing. It's just so hard to meet the right person! But when you do, the payoff is huge.

We flew in on Friday evening. The trip was off to a rocky start when we learned that there was no air conditioning on the plane. We sat there in the heat sweating bullets for at least 20 minutes before they told us to get off the plane. An hour later, we re-boarded and finally were on our way. After a quick shower, we were on our way to Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant. I enjoyed a beet salad followed by a delicious Mahi Mahi dish. I knew that beets were a super food and I was trying to give my immune system every advantage I could.

Dark Chocolate Sundae at The Chocolate Bar
After Bacchus, we went to The Chocolate Bar, conveniently located inside our hotel. I took one look at the menu and was instantly obsessed. The Martini options were endless and unique: chocolate pretzel, sweedish fish, wedding cake. . . the list went on and on. There were so many fantastic looking desserts that I couldn't bear the thought of just choosing one. Eventually, I chose the brownie sundae with homemade dark chocolate ice cream and hot fudge. Yummy! One of the many things that sucks about mono is that I don't share desserts with Greg. This means I know exactly how much I ate and a little guilt creeps in. But it quickly passes when eating something so delicious.

The next morning, it was time for a long run. For Greg, that meant 14 miles. For me, it was 6 miles. We opted for the treadmill because we were running different distances and we weren't sure what routes there were in Buffalo. Greg was just killing it at 7.3 miles an hour, staying in his "easy" heart rate zone. I was steady at 6.2-6.3 (about 9:30 pace), keeping my heart rate in the easy zone and feeling pretty decent.

After the running, Greg took me on a drive through the University at Buffalo campus. He showed me all the places he used to live, and where he used to go to class. It was really cool thinking about Greg as a college student!

Afterwards, it was lunch at the Chocolate bar, where I had a flat bread with chicken, accompanied by a Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate. This drink was incredible!!! I know that frozen hot chocolate sounds like an oxymoron, but it was just like hot chocolate, only cold.

Afterwards I took a nap while Greg watched the Olympics. Naps were key during this trip! Then, it was off to the wedding. The ceremony was at 3:00 and the reception was at 6:00, so there was some downtime in between for me to take another nap or pseudo nap. The ceremony was beautiful and very well done. I just love this couple!

The reception was awesome. I refrained from dancing, with the exception of one slow dance with Greg. It of course reminded me of our wedding, which doesn't seem like that long ago.

Niagara Falls
The next morning, we watched the women's Olympic Road Race and then hopped in the car for our trip to Niagara falls. Greg had been here a bunch of times in college, but I had never been.

We crossed the border and were immediately at the falls. We parked and walked around for a little bit. It wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting it to be more like Great Falls where there are waterfalls scattered throughout an expansive area. But instead it was just one major waterfall. Don't get me wrong-- it was highly impressive, just not what I was expecting.

We walked into the "town" area which was like one big carnival. We had lunch there and then came upon an arcade/bowling alley. We decided to bowl a game. This is something we've never done together, so it was nice to have a "first". Greg bowled a 122 and I managed a 70. Bowling is a good recovering-from-mono sport because it doesn't require that much energy but it still gets you out and doing something!

We then hit up a candy shop where we procured some authentic Canadian Maple Nut fudge. This would be my between meals snack for the next few days. We walked past the falls again, bought some souvenirs, and then got back into the car.

The Old Mill Inn and Spa
We didn't really have a game plan for Toronto. We mainly just wanted to check it out. When we arrived, we basically just wanted to relax at the hotel. We stayed at the Old Mill Inn and Spa, which was very nice. It wasn't in the downtown area, but it was on a metro stop in a nice area. We walked around the property, had dinner there and then fell asleep watching the Olympics.

It was interesting to get a Canadian commentator and hear the perspectives of the Canadians. We got to hear the human interest stories of the Canadian synchronized divers, who were essentially that country's heroes while we were there.

We slept horribly that night. Greg was too hot, which meant tossing and turning. That kept waking me up, and then I was up for awhile coughing, which kept Greg up. I also have a skin rash, which is apparently a side affect of mono, which was itching and keeping me awake. The result was that we slept in until 8:00. I don't think I've slept in until 8:00 in over 10 years. Probably not since just after college. Even sleeping in until 7:00 is pretty unheard of me. It threw our whole day off because we wanted to get our run over with early, but we made the best of it. I also managed to hurt my upper back by sleeping with my neck in an awkward position. Gosh, I am just a mess!

We couldn't have been more pleased with the running options. Toronto seems to be a very fit city with cycling paths and cyclists everywhere. Our hotel was situated on a trail that brought us right out to the waterfront. It was beautiful scenery and an interesting comparison to the Chicago Lakefront Trail I ran two weeks earlier.

Greg was kind enough to go slowly with me. Since we started at 9:00a.m., the sun was high in the sky and it was hot. We averaged a 9:51 pace for 7 miles, which was really discouraging for me. My pace on the Lakefront Trail had been around 9:25 for the same heart rate zone and 9 miles. Plus, it was even hotter in Chicago. I know recovery is not a straight line and I'll have my ups and downs, but it's just super frustrating for two weeks to have passed and I'm doing worse. Yes, I relapsed. Yes, it set me back. I have accepted it, but I do not like it.

Afterwards, I was exhausted. I probably overdid that run. I just felt really great for the first half, so I thought 7 miles would be doable. We ate breakfast and relaxed in our room for awhile, of course watching the Olympics. This was the worst I felt during the trip. The rest of the trip was pretty good, except for getting the occasional "I need to rest now" feeling.

Grevy's Zebras at the Toronto Zoo
Finally, we got in gear and headed out for the Toronto Zoo. This is a huge zoo with a wide variety of animals, but there was really just one type of animal I cared about-- the zebra! After paying a shocking $60 admission fee ($25 each plus $10 parking), we headed towards the zebras. It was hot and I knew my energy wouldn't last for long, so we didn't stop for long at any of the other animals.

Seeing the zebras was totally worth it! They are so cute and exotic. There are just no other animals that can even compare to this combination of cute and unique.

They don't let the visitors get too close to the zebras, so Greg really had use the zoom feature on his camera here. At first, they didn't do much of anything, but eventually they started playing around with each other and it was great to watch! If you really want to get close to a zebra, you need to go through a drive-through safari park. Ever since that trip, I've been spoiled with getting up close and personal with the zebras.

Of course we couldn't leave the zoo without taking home a new member of our family from the gift shop!

We drove back to our hotel, quickly changed and headed out to dinner in downtown Toronto. We went to a swanky place called Brassaii, recommended to us by the front desk staff. I enjoyed yet another beet salad which was good, but couldn't top what I had a Bacchus in Buffalo. My main course was a Halibut dish that was just spectacularly done.

Dinner took awhile, so we didn't really have time to explore Toronto afterwards. I was, of course, tired. We took a cab back to hotel and feel asleep pretty quickly.

The next day, we drove back to the states, and flew home to DCA. It was a quick trip, but we packed a lot into it. A precursor to our anniversary celebration in two weeks!

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's Mono.

As it turns out, the illness that I was suffering from during the last two weeks of June was actually Mono.

I thought I had made a complete recovery and I was proud of how I eased myself back into training. I was feeling 100% during the day (no lingering fatigue) and my runs, although slow, felt good. I really thought I was out of the woods because this healthy feeling lasted for nearly three weeks. I completed a 13.1-mile run in extremely hot weather and that didn't set me back. And the following weekend I ran 14 miles and felt great for the next few days.

But then I went to Chicago for business. The first few days were great. I went running on the Lakefront trail and I was feeling very energized during my business meetings. But by the third day, my throat felt scratchy, and by the forth day, the sore throat and all symptoms returned with a vengeance. I realized that my Chicago trip was about the worst thing for my immune system:

  • Being on a plane stresses the immune system due to all the germs you are exposed to and have to fight off.
  • The first night, I was extremely restless and got only 3-4 hours of sleep (this often happens to me the first night of a trip)
  • There was a time zone change of 1 hour, which meant everything was off schedule
  • Healthy food wasn't readily available during the day, and I wasn't eating dinner until much later than I was used to
  • I had two glasses of Sangria at one of the work dinners-- alcohol is a big No-No for the immune system.
  • I was going to sleep later because the work dinners lasted so long. I ducked out early for two of the nights, but that still caused me to go to sleep two hours later than normal.
  • The weather there was hot, and I did a faster-than-normal run my second day there
These are all immune system busters! And had I known I had mono, I would have been a lot more careful. 

Anyway, on Friday I went to the doctor, who was highly suspicious of mono. I received the results on Tuesday and they were positive. Basically this means I will be feeling fatigued for a long time. Recovery takes 2-3 months. (I am hoping that my start date for this is June 18, and not the date of the relapse). I can run as tolerated, but I am steering clear of speedwork. I attempted to run on Sunday, but I had to stop after just 3.5 miles. I tried again on Tuesday and lasted for six slow miles, but I felt pretty tired by the end of it. Nothing since then.

I'm not going to speculate about what this means for all the races I have lined up this fall. There is no question that they will all be impacted, including the November marathon. I just don't know to what extent yet. I have already had to drop out of two races in the past month due to this illness, so I hope that's the end of it. 

My strategy now is to minimize stress (which is tough with all the stuff at work that has to get done) and try to get as much rest as possible. 

I am boarding a plane for Buffalo, NY later today (I know-- bad idea) for a wedding. After that, Greg and I are renting a car and driving up to Toronto for the fun of it. This was supposed to be like a mini-vacation for us, and now I think I'm going to have to take it easy while I am there, instead of doing all the exploring that I wanted to. We've pre-paid for the Toronto hotel and our flight comes back on Tuesday, so we can't really change plans at this point. I would just love to get back to where I was two weeks ago! Why can't that come back!?

In the absence of running, I have been keeping up with my strength training. No heavy lifting-- just planks and other toning things for my glutes, hips and upper body. If I wasn't doing this, I would feel like my body was turning into jello.

Well, it's time to pack for my trip. I hope to keep the sore throat at bay and that I have enough energy to enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chicago Lakefront Trail

I'm in Chicago this week for business which means I get to explore running in a new city. I've been to Chicago quite a few times in the past but I've never run on the Lakefront trail. Most recently, I came here in February and I just didn't feel like packing all the layers and gloves and hats, etc. required to run outside. I resorted to the treadmill. And in my previous trips here, I stayed just outside of the city and wasn't close enough to the trail.

I didn't know much about the Lakefront Trail prior to this trip other than that it existed and it was a path for running, walking and cycling along the lake. Some things that I was curious about that I eventually discovered:

I took this photo from inside of a cab

  • There are plenty of water fountains along this trail
  • I didn't notice any bathrooms
  • The part that I ran on was concrete as opposed to asphalt, so it's not ideal
  • However, part of the trail has a gravel-like side area that you can run on that's softer
  • If you are in Downtown Chicago, you have to find stairs or an elevator down to get to the lake level
  • The trail had quite a few people on it, but wasn't nearly as crowded as the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
  • If you start in Downtown Chicago and go south, are there are some trees and shading. If you go north, there are no trees whatsoever. 
  • The trail has mile markers, and half mile markers.

Much to my surprise and dismay, it's warmer here in Chicago than it is back home in the DC area. At least in the mornings. On Monday morning it was 79 degrees at 6:00am and yesterday it was 82. With the humidity, the "real feel" yesterday was 86 as I started my run. The only saving grace was the breeze, which felt good on my face.

Monday: 9.2 miles (easy)
So, how did my runs go? On Monday morning, I set out for 9 miles. I looked at a map and figured I just needed to turn right from my hotel and go straight and I'd hit the Lakefront in less than a mile. That was kind of true, only I hit dead ends, twice. I was too high up and the water was below me. I finally asked a woman walking her dog how to get down to the lakefront and she pointed out an elevator. So, another first for me, I have an elevator ride during my run. 

I decided to go south, which was a good decision because I later learned that there are no trees or any kind of shading in the other direction. I had my trusty heart rate monitor with me, so I just made sure to keep it in zone 2, no matter how slow that was. I think I am finally starting to come back from that darn illness so my paces weren't as ridiculously slow as they have been for the past two weeks, considering the 79-degree heat. I filled up my water bottle a few times during the run and I had pre-hydrated the day before so I felt pretty good throughout the whole thing. The total run ended up being 9.2 miles, and I really enjoyed it. One of the best parts about the run was when I turned around and got a great view of the city with the lake. So beautiful and amazing!

Tuesday: 7.3 miles (moderate)
Yesterday morning, the plan was to try to incorporate some kind of speedwork in lieu of the hill workout I would otherwise be doing back home. Well, it was a "real feel" of 86, so I didn't do the speedwork exactly as planned. I started out running with two guys from my company. Once we got to the Lakefront, one of the guys (who is an Olympic class runner with a marathon PR of 2:20) ran ahead of me and the other guy, so the two of us continued on at around an 8:30 pace. 

This was too fast to be a warmup, but too slow to be considered a tempo run (which I am planning for Friday), but I just went with it because it was nice having someone to talk to. He turned around after 2.5 miles, and I continued on. I figured I would just slow down and make this an easy run but it was really hard to do that once I had established a cadence at the faster pace. I slowed down slightly, but not to the point of it being a truly easy run. So, I'm going to log this as a marathon pace run on the books! Keeping in mind, if it hadn't been so hot, the pace would have been easy, but I usually slow down abut 30-45 seconds per mile when it's this hot.

I got back to my hotel and was just dripping with sweat. I got out of the shower and was still sweating, and my face was still bright red. I tried drying my hair after the shower and I just kept sweating. Not the greatest for having to give a presentation in front of 30 people!

Today is a scheduled rest day (although I did lift weights in the hotel fitness center), and tomorrow I plan to run about 7-8 miles on the trail again. Friday I will be back home on the track with my teammates for a tempo run.

Other Chicago Things
I took this photo from the top of the Willis Tower
The meetings that I am attending are taking place in the Wills Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). It's the second tallest building in the world, depending on which standard of height you are using. Apparently their are four different definitions of height when it comes to buildings. After we were done with work, all 30 of us went to the top of this building and looked out. It was incredible. It was 110 stories up, and I have to admit it was a bit scary being that high at first.

My hotel is situated very close to the Magnificent Mile. When I got in on Sunday night, I tried to explore to see what was so Magnificent about it, but I didn't find any shops or anything. I later learned that I was looking down the wrong street. I'll have some time tomorrow before my flight leaves to check it out!

It's been a great trip so far. I've enjoyed meeting many of my co-workers in person who I previously only knew from conference calls and emails. I also gave a presentation to the group which went well and received many compliments afterwards. Having only been with this company for six months, the positive reinforcement is nice!

Anyway, if you ever come to Chicago, I highly recommend the Lakefront trail as a scenic, safe place to run!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Beat the Heat: 13.1 in 79 Degrees

Is it odd that someone like me who absolutely hates running in warm weather, was really excited for this morning's long run? Instead of dreading it like I typically do for hot runs, I was really looking forward to the challenge.

The high for the day is forecast to be around 105, and this morning's low was 79.  By 8:00 it was forecast to be 85. This meant that even starting early would still mean a ridiculously hot run. My coach, who hates treadmills with a passion, suggested that these conditions were hot enough to make the treadmill a viable option. For me, however, it was not a viable option because I was afraid of getting injured. I attribute my three stress fractures to running a 20-miler on the treadmill after not having run on one in a year, so I wasn't about to risk that again. Plus, it's just not at all enjoyable.

Greg, on the other hand, opted for the treadmill, so I was alone in my long run this morning. This didn't bother me because I enjoy running by myself. I rarely run alone, so it's a great opportunity to have "me" time.

In order to tackle this weather, I needed a strategy. I've run 13+ miles many, many times, but never in this kind of heat. Today might even set the record for the hottest day that Washington DC has ever seen. Not just the daily record high, but the record high of all time (or at least since they started tracking these things). I struggle with the heat more than most runners. In hot races, my ranking/placing is significantly lower than it is in cool or mild races-- which I interpret to mean that I am more adversely affected by heat. In the past, I've done runs in the heat where I have seen black spots afterwards and felt dizzy/spacey for the rest of the day. I wanted to avoid this at all costs.

Yesterday, I planned out what I would do to be able to run safely in the weather. My strategy consisted of these elements:

Adjust Mileage if Necessary: The original plan called for 14 miles this weekend, but I figured that with the marathon being so far off, I could certainly afford to knock that down to 12 or even 10 if necessary. I'm also still recovering from being sick for so long that even if it was perfect weather, 14 might be a stretch. I decided I would go out planning to run 10-14, based on how I felt.

Hydrate: Yesterday, I drank water throughout the day and threw in a coconut water for electrolytes, plus some Pedialyte. I am not a fan of most hydration tablets because they contain sugar alcohols which upset my stomach. I prepared a handheld bottle of G2 to carry with me for the first six miles, and then I would stop home and get another bottle of water. (I am not fancy-- I use Deer Park 24oz sports bottles as my hand-helds). Before leaving the house, I would put the refrigerated water bottle in the freezer, giving it about an hour to get really, really cold but not frozen by the time I needed it. If I did decide to run 14 miles, I would stop at mile 10 and fill up at a McDonald's, which is conveniently located 4 miles away from my house.

Route: In order to execute this hydration strategy, I needed to plan a route that would bring me home after six miles, and then to the McDonald's after another four. I knew of a 6-mile route throughout a neighborhood near me that's not shaded. I figured that would be perfect for the early miles because I wouldn't need shade. I also have a standard 8-mile route which does not go through that neighborhood, but through a shaded one and has a McDonald's at the halfway point. I figured I would head out that way, but if I didn't want to do the full 14, I could turn around early in which case I probably wouldn't need a refill on my bottle.

Timing: I set my alarm to 4:30 and hit the start button on my Garmin at 4:47am. This allowed me to run the first five miles before the sun had risen, and the rest of the miles while the sun was low in the sky. I finished a few minutes after 7:00-- just as Greg was starting his treadmill workout. :-)

Wrist bands with mini ice packs
Being "Cool": I recently purchased a pair of Be Cool Bands which are designed to keep your body cool in hot conditions. They are wrist bands which contain an ice pack thingee that touches the inside of your wrist. Apparently, ice on the inside of your wrist is one way to keep your entire body cool because of the veins there. Or something like that-- I don't really know why, but putting ice inside your wrist is a very efficient way to cool the body. Luckily, these bands came with two sets of cooling packs. I planned on swapping them out when I stopped at my house at mile six so that I would have a new, frozen pair. They felt amazing!!!! It also felt great to be holding that water bottle which had been in the freezer. These are my equivalent of the "hotties" I wear in the winter to keep my hands warm. :-)

Pacing: Very slow! This was not a race and I didn't want to make the mistake of trying to run a certain pace and then getting to exhausted to finish. I've been running in the 10:00's all week due to the heat and my recovery from being sick, so I was fully prepared to continue that trend.

Music: I usually don't run with music, but for solo long runs it's nice to have. Yesterday I downloaded a bunch of songs from the DC101 playlist as well as the new Linkin Park album (only $5 on amazon.com) and the new Shinedown album. I figured new music would make the run more enjoyable.

My excitement came from wanting to see how all of this would come together for me. So how did I execute all this and how did it go?????

Fantastic! I couldn't have been more pleased with this run. I did everything according to plan. As I started the run, I realized that I wasn't getting a heart rate reading because I had forgotten to put on my heart rate monitor! My first instinct was to go back inside and get it, but then I realized that it might actually be better to not have it. I have been running in zone 2 all week and I know what it feels like. Plus, my heart rate was bound to get above that zone, even at a really slow pace just because of the heat. I was prepared to be in zone 3 for a lot of this run, but not wearing the monitor left me free to run by feel. I'm really glad I forgot to put on the monitor and didn't go back for it. I was able to run without looking at my heart rate the whole time, which I know I would have been doing. And. . . I had one less piece of "equipment" to wear, which was nice.

I ran in the dark for the first 3-4 miles and then the sun began to rise. I kept the pace very slow, didn't look at the Garmin very much and just enjoyed the music and the feeling of running. I had missed it so much while I was sick!  I returned home after six miles, traded water bottles, drank the leftover G2 that didn't fit into the first bottle, swapped out my "Be Cool" ice packs and was out of there in less than two minutes!

Back on the road I was mentally prepared for the second leg. I had the ice packs on my wrists and the water bottle from the freezer felt awesome. I figured I probably wouldn't need to go to the McDonalds because I drank all that extra G2 at home, so I wouldn't need to drink from my water bottle for the first 15 minutes-- leaving me more water for the end of the run.

About 8 miles into it, I started to think about how many miles I would run. 10 would be no problem, and 12 also definitely doable. But 14 was an unknown and with the sun rising quickly, I didn't want to take the risk of heat exhaustion. So I settled on 13.1-- a half marathon!

I turned around at the point on my route that I knew would get me back home at 13.1 and was so pleased that the run continued to go well. I felt really good! After so many bad experiences in the heat, this kind of surprised me. But then I realized that I had all the "tools" I needed to deal with the heat, so there was no reason to have expected it to go poorly. With one mile to go, I picked up the pace just a little bit and it felt awesome!

I came home and my face was bright red and my clothes were dripping with sweat. I was drenched! I immediately got into the shower and let the cold water hit my face. HEAVEN! I also checked the weather to discover that the temperature was still 79 degrees, but now with a "real feel" of 90!

I think the fact that I paced this really slowly prevented me from ever feeling tired, sluggish, or overheated. I had fully expected those last few miles to be very difficult, but they weren't. This run was actually relatively easy. I did not push myself, but that wasn't the goal. My goal was to run 10-14 miles safely and I accomplished that. I attribute my success to:

  • Careful planning
  • Positive attitude (excited for the challenge vs. dreading it)
  • Very conservative pacing
  • Smart hydration
  • Having been conservative with my return from illness earlier in the week, so I wasn't beat by the time today arrived
  • Letting myself enjoy the run and the new music with no pressure to run at a certain pace or heart rate.

Just goes to show what a little planning can do. Yeah-- I beat the heat!!!!!!

This was actually faster than I expected, given my recent illness and the heat!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


As mentioned in previous posts, my sports psychologist likes me to do "reviews" of my weekly training. (Also reviews of individual workouts, races, or anything related to running). They don't have to be fancy, but he wants me to get in the habit of ensuring that I gain proper perspective on what I am doing, and that I continue to build my confidence.

As you can imagine, it's pretty difficult to gain confidence when you are sick and unable to run for nine days in a row. But I'm up to the challenge, so I will do a "review" or "postmortem" of my illness and return to running. I'll start with a summary of what I am reviewing.

Monday, June 18:  Easy run of 6.8 miles in the morning, throat started to hurt later in the day
Tuesday, June 19: Hill workout with my team, feeling sluggish and lethargic
Wednesday, June 20- Thursday June 28: Nine days of no running
Friday: 2.5 miles at 9:54 average pace
Saturday: 4.3 miles at 9:48 average pace
Sunday: 6 miles at 10:30 average pace (4 outdoors, 2 on a treadmill) + 1 mile walk on treadmill incline.
Monday: 6.7 miles at 10:41 average pace
Tuesday: Rest

Note: The paces are getting slower, but the distances are getting longer. This is due to having to slow down in later miles to keep my heart rate low.

What went well? What improved?
  • I took care of myself while sick-- tried to get plenty of rest
  • I am now well enough to go to work
  • I am now well enough to run
  • I was extremely disciplined about keeping my heart rate in my easy zone so as to not over stress my body, even though that meant running ridiculously slow
  • I enjoyed getting outdoors and running, even though it was very hot
  • I slowed my pace to ensure that my heart rate stayed within the target range
  • I enjoyed being able to wear my favorite running clothes
  • The runs felt energized, despite the slow pace (except for Friday) I didn't feel like I was fighting against my illness.
  • I didn't take my slow paces to mean that I was out of shape, rather that my body was still using its energy to fight off the illness
What Worked?
  • I ate healthy foods while sick (easy-- because my husband is such a great cook)
  • I kept well hydrated in the heat-- particularly important because I am on antibiotics
  • Focusing on things like my form when I knew I wasn't at all challenging myself with my pace
  • Powerwalking up an incline on the treadmill when my heart rate got too high for running- which was a good glute workout
  • Not overdoing it when starting to run again-- I would rather feel "good" at a 10:30 pace than overly fatigued at a 9:00 pace. 
  • Checking my ego at the door and run/walking up hills to keep my heart rate down
  • Reminding myself that I put my health first, and I was doing the best I could to return to running healthfully
  • Doing a modified version of my planks and other strengthening exercises while sick
  • Keeping up with work email, but not letting work stress make me feel guilty for taking time off
What didn't work?
  • Coming home from the run and getting upset that I had to adjust my pace so much to stay within heart rate range
  • Doing the hill workout after not having gotten much sleep and feeling like I was getting sick
  • Getting depressed about the fact that I had this huge setback
  • Looking at my training log and realizing that June was my second lowest mileage month of the year, when it had been on target for the second highest.
  • Getting upset about missing my trip to San Diego and the fantastic running I would have had
What did I learn?
  • If I feel like I am getting sick-- no hard workouts. (Hill workout was a mistake)
  • I am still very much emotionally affected by how my running is going. I need to work more on separating my running from my overall self contentment and happiness.
  • I can be very patient. . . but I also have a threshold. For me, being sick for more than a week is my threshold. I would like to learn to not have a threshold!
  • The rule of thumb is that when you are coming off of an illness, it will take you the same number of days as you missed to get back to the fitness level you were at pre-illness.
  • Being a good athlete is about so much more than being fast.  It's about discipline, patience, motivation, confidence, and self-awareness. As I was going along at my 10:30 pace (a pace which is even slower than what I ran when I first started running back in 2000), I realized that patience and process are the keys to success. I've known this for awhile, but I felt like I really experienced it as I was able to truly enjoy running at a pace that I might otherwise be embarrassed and ashamed of.
I kept saying to Greg: "a 10:30 average!" and "My last few miles were in the 11's! Can you believe that!!" He thought I was beating up on myself, but I think the obsession over it afterwards was the realization that I actually could swallow my pride, go on a run at that pace, enjoy it, and realize that it was all part of me getting healthy again. It was upsetting to me because my patience was wearing thing and I desperately wanted to be running at my regular paces, but I was also pretty impressed with how I kept a positive attitude during the run, and was happy just to be outdoors and feeling semi normal again. It was a weird spot emotionally-- to be proud of how I was taking care of my body, but also frustrated that I wasn't 100% well yet.

Greg and I are registered for a 5K tomorrow and I know I'm not ready to handle speedwork, let alone a race in the heat. I will be at the back of the pack keeping my heart rate in the easy zone while Greg kills it at the front of the pack. I hope to get some miles in before and after and start working on getting my mileage back up there. I would love to be able to do the tempo intervals (or just one set) with my team on Friday, so that's the tentative plan, depending on how I feel.

It was not easy being sick for so long-- but hopefully I can use it as a learning experience.