Runners are Crazy; Injured Runners are Crazier

Have you ever had that feeling like you are out of control? A feeling like your life is just getting away from you? I feel that way lately and I know why. It’s because I am supposed to be training for a 10 miler in late March, a half marathon in mid-April and a marathon in late April. However, an achilles tendon injury has me sidelined, so all that planning and scheduling I did for February, March and April was all for naught. I’m trying to stay active and moving, modifying strength-training workouts and cardio workouts to keep my achilles happy, but I feel lost since I’m not running. Those workouts cannot replace the feeling you get after finishing a long run, or a fast 5K, or just an easy run.

I’m having a really difficult time with this. I know I am not the only person in the world to suffer an injury during training, and others have suffered much worse injuries than what I’m dealing with! My friend Jen was training for an ultramarathon last year and slipped during a training run and broke her ankle. She was sidelined for a very long time, but after her doctors gave her the okay to start again, she did. She trained safely, she trained intelligently, she listened to her body and she completed that ultra this year! I respect her and look up to her and hope that I can be as strong as she was with my puny little injury. She’s a hero in my book.

My appointment for Physical Therapy isn’t until March 13, 2018. It’s just a few days away thank goodness, but I’ve been waiting since mid-February. It’s the waiting and wondering, “am I going to be able to run any of my upcoming races?” that’s making me feel out-of-control and lost. Am I crazy? Of course…I’m a runner.

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Time to get back on track!

This recent bout of illness, whatever it was, has really thrown a wrench in my marathon training. I am a week off and my lung capacity is diminished some because they still contain crud. Also, my energy level and motivation level are both in need of help.

Today I did a slow, short bout of running followed by strength and balance training. I’m glad it was nice enough for me to run outdoors because once I got moving, the coughing started. I would hate to be in the gym hacking on everyone around me! I’m hoping that all the coughing got rid of a bunch of that lung crud so that I can go a little further tomorrow. Then further yet on Monday.

Part of my training has been to learn how to fuel my body most efficiently. I thought I had it figured out for my first marathon, but I obviously did not because I totally hit the wall at about mile 19! I know what I need to do, but want to be able to test it before race day. However, again with the illness, my diet got thrown way out of whack over the past week too. I am sure that has a lot to do with my energy level slump.

When you prepare your training for an endurance event, you prepare as though everything will be hunky-dory throughout the training period. When you are forced to halt your training for whatever reason, you have to spend time revamping your training schedule. I should probably go do that now!

I’ll let you all know how I fare in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations or would like to share your experiences with training for an endurance event, please do so! How do you fuel your body in preparation of the event? What do you do to maintain your energy level during the event? Have you ever had a hiccup in your training plan; and, if so, what did you do to get back on track?

Off to edit my training schedule for the coming weeks…

Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run

About 6 weeks or more ago, a friend and fellow runner let me know about this local 5K that was going to happen in early June at the Wildlife Loop at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The race was free and was limited to 100 participants. I jumped on it because 1) you can’t beat that price for a race entry, 2) the location is a lovely one and 3) it will ensure that I get up early and get a run in that day. race33288-logo.bxeQDw

I signed up along with several other runner friends. At the registration page they were taking donations to go toward the Assateague Island Alliance (a non-profit friends group of Assateague Island National Seashore that helps to raise funds to go toward preservation of the island while also supporting educational programming). Of course I donated, though it was a small amount.

A week prior to race day all of the participants received an email that gave details of the run; when and where to pick up your race packet, how to get into the park, where to park your vehicle, how to prepare for the race due to its location and abundance of bitey bugs, rain date info, and a little note of appreciation at the end.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service granted each participant free admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  Therefore, if one chose to do so, race participants could stick around after the run and make a day of hiking, beaching, lighthouse visiting, pony watching, whatever they choose, all for free.  I thought that was absolutely awesome and generous, especially given that the race entry fee was free.

I awoke early June 4th, the morning of the race, to get there on time as Chincoteague was about a 40 minute drive from home.  I didn’t have to get there too early since a running buddy already picked up race packets for all of those in our troupe.  The weather was warm, a little foggy with overcast skies.  The humidity was mild.  The drive in was smooth and once I got on the island I was surprised to find it as calm and quiet as it was.  It was pretty early and many of the shops were still closed, but it is summer around here so I thought there’d be more hustle and bustle going on.  Perhaps they were anticipating rain?  I made it to the park gate earlier than I had expected due to the lack of traffic and pedestrians (and I might have a slight case of lead foot at times).  Almost immediately after I entered through the gate there was someone on the side of the road directing us to the parking area for the race.

Arrival was welcoming and easy.  There were a few participants there by the time I had shown up, but most of them poured in almost immediately afterward.  There were park rangers at the registration table, happy to answer any questions and excited about the event.  One of the rangers was perusing through the crowd taking photos.  I gathered with a group of my running buddies to take a “before” photo in front of the banner on display.

A fun photo before the race began

A fun photo before the race began

In our race packets there were pamphlets about the area, a temporary tattoo (which we all were happy to sport), a decal for our vehicles, a race bib and a t-shirt.  Did I mention that the registration for this race was FREE?

All tattooed and ready to run!

All tattooed and ready to run!

As the start time neared, I ran into several other friends and fellow runners from our community!  I was elated to see each and every one of them.  There were participants of all ages, some seasoned runners and some first timers.  After a brief welcoming and intro at the start line, we were off.

The route was a paved, flat, scenic loop filled with coastal flora and fauna.  It was peaceful; only the sounds of birds and frogs in the distance, the pitter patter of shoes on the pavement, and the occasional spoken words of encouragement from one runner to another.

Before I knew it I was almost at the finish!  I wasn’t paying much attention to anything other than the beauty that surrounded me.  The park rangers, as well as those that had finished before me and some other supporters, were there to greet all of us with high fives, congratulatory messages, and a finishing patch.  There were bananas and water at the finish for all of us too.  All of this for a registration fee of $0.00.

Our finisher patch!

Our finisher patch!

This was the first event of this type for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and they did an absolute perfect job putting it together.  From the ease of registration to the final minutes after the race, everything was well organized and the race bling was generous given the cost of registration.

If ever there is a race such as this in your area, I encourage you to take part.  And if they are accepting donations, remember that every little bit helps their cause.  I for one will happily partake in another of these events, and not just for the “bling,” but because of the sense of community it creates.

The Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run has raised just shy of 50% of their goal as of the date of my blogging this.  They are still accepting donations if you wish to help the cause.  Visit their donation page here to help them raise funds for preservation and education.

The Run For the Animals 5th Anniversary

For those of you who have followed my blog, (first let me thank you for hanging with me and my paltry writing skills) you know a little bit about The Run for the Animals and how much it means to me.  If you’re a little behind you can check out this post.  Today was the 5th Anniversary of the race and I did partake yet again, and will every year for as long as I can help it.  I ran the half marathon today.  I PR’d by under a minute from last year’s half!  Hey, any improvement is still an improvement.  I’ll take it!  And I finished first in my age group.  But that is not what made today’s run extra special for me.IMG_9441

The inaugural Run for the Animals was my very first race after I decided to take up running to get healthy and fit.  So that makes today my 5 year “RACE”iversary!  I will toot my own horn and pat myself on my own back to congratulate me for sticking with it, even when things got tough.  I finally followed through with something and plan to keep up with it for as long as my body will allow.  This is not to say that there aren’t others responsible for where I am today, because all of those times when I wanted to throw in the towel they were there to keep me motivated and to remind me of why I started running in the first place.  They pushed me further than I ever thought I could go and stuck with me throughout the process.  You all know who you are and I am forever grateful for each and every one of you!IMG_9446

That is one thing that made today extra special.  But there is so much more.

Since running the Shamrock Marathon three weeks ago, I have not seen my marathon training buddies.  All of them showed up today for the Run for the Animals.  It was a great reunion with an amazing group of ladies.  I’ve missed them so much!  I ran the half marathon with my training buddy Sarah.  The others did the 10K or the 5K.  Sarah’s husband and oldest son ran the non-competitive 5K (a first run for both of them) and did an awesome job!  If it was timed they would have gotten first and third overall.  Jennifer ran the 10K with her two sons, a first 10K for one of them and the other placed in his age group!  Awesome job Sage!  Lisa and her dog Chessie ran in the 5K and did great!  Becky and her dog Stark ran the 10K and placed in her age group.  Everyone did a fantastic job!IMG_9429

This was another extra special thing about today.  Still more though.

I have yet another running family.  I attend a local boutique gym called Attitudes Fitness as often as I possibly can, and I teach a class there once a week called Pound.  (You can learn more about how that happened here.)  I have met so many awesome ladies (and a few gents) during my time at Attitudes.  Just over one year ago, Sheila, the owner and trainer-extraordinaire, decided to give running a try during one of her stays at her second home in Florida.  She learned to enjoy it.  Even after she said she would never be a runner!  Sheila totally smoked her first 10K and earned first place in her age group!  Jen and Jean are two awesome ladies that took up running and actually took part in the Run for the Animals last year.  They both PR’d today!  Liz is another instructor at Attitudes, is 7 months pregnant, and finished the 5K in just over 30 minutes!  Then there’s another Liz,  Liz W.  Liz W. just started running with us about 6 months ago.  She has been doing awesome.  She signed up for the 10K a couple of months ago, but this morning had a bit of pre-race anxiety.  She told me she just wanted to finish at a respectable time.  She was hoping for a time of around 1:20:00.  She finished in 1:04:??!!!  Her first race, a 10K, and she smoked it!  Patty is another one of those OMG amazing women.  Patty is not new to running.  She’s been running for a few years at least. She has overcome so many obstacles over the last few years and she is still out there with us every chance she gets!  A cancer survivor, finished the Dirty Girl last year with 4 (or was it 5) broken ribs that happened during a collision on the first obstacle, then had a foot injury recently.  This woman is my idol.  She is one tough cookie and the most genuine spirit you could ever know.  She is always there for support when she can’t run, but she’s always finding a way to get it done-No Excuses!  I could go on for probably an entire blog post in and of itself about all of the amazing ladies (and few gents) from Attitudes, but I wanted to let these girls know just how proud I am of them and how much I love them.  They are all RockStars!IMG_9417

Today was extra special because I got to take part in all of these wonderful ladies’ victories!  And yet there is still more.

I have my running “families” which are those groups of friends that I run with on a somewhat regular basis, or those that I get crazy with and sign up for things that I wouldn’t normally do without their arm-twisting.  Then I have my running friends; those friends who I only see during races or special events, but not on a regular basis due to scheduling differences or location.  I was able to see several of my running friends today and that always makes me happy!  One of them, Laura, won the overall female for the 10K last year and again this year.  She improved on last year’s time by about 5 minutes!  How awesome is that?  I am so happy for her.  She is an awesome lady and a badass too.  She completed the Spartan Trifecta last year and placed for her age group.  She also leads a group fitness class and motivates and inspires people on a daily basis.  I saw several other of my running friends and regret that I couldn’t catch up with everyone as much as I would have liked to.

The Number One reason I enjoy running so much is all of the fantastic individuals I meet!  Every year my running-friends list grows and I hope it continues for decades.

Lastly, I am so thankful and grateful to the race director Andrea, all of the volunteers, sponsors and fundraisers.  Andrea created this awesome event and it has grown by leaps and bounds in its 5 year history.  The cause is something that I hold dear, and the venue is absolutely superb.  This year they added a 5K non-competitive run/walk and had almost double the number of participants from last year’s event.  That is amazing!  My only regret is that I did not do any fundraising this year.  I have every year in the past and have done rather well.  This year there was just so much going on that I didn’t have the time to get it done.  Thankfully everyone else stepped up to the plate and was able to raise a ton of money to help out our local needy animals!  ALL of you fundraisers ROCK and deserve huge recognition for your efforts.  And the volunteers.  You are the backbone to the event.  Without you it couldn’t go on.  Thank you for all of your support and your hard work.

If you ever find yourself on the Eastern Shore of Virginia during your travels, consider taking part in the Run for the Animals if your travels happen during the event.  It is always a wonderful time, supports a great cause, has awesome race bling and you will meet a lot of awesome people.

Marathon Training

I had been planning on attempting my first marathon while I was 40. That didn’t happen due to 2 running injuries. The first was tendinitis in my left lower leg and the second was an ankle sprain in my left ankle. I spent many days, weeks and months cursing my body! But I did get in to see a Physical Therapist to learn what I was doing wrong in my running that was causing my injuries (the sprained ankle not being one in question…I stepped on a pinecone and wrenched my ankle due to my not paying close enough attention to what was in front of me).

My PT examined my gait as well as my hip flexibility. My hips were tight as could be! And my gait was all wrong because my hips didn’t move like they’re supposed to. My upper body would compensate for the balance required to remain in walking or running motion. After working through a few months of PT exercises I was ready to take on long distances again. Long distances for me being anything 5 miles or more. The farthest I’d ever run was a half marathon in April of 2015.

I started to plan my marathon options and training near the end of 2015. I really wanted to run the St. George Marathon, but that is one of those lottery runs so there would be no guarantee that I’d get in for 2016.  So I kept my eyes peeled, seeking out a run that I thought I would enjoy.

In November of 2015 I had met two new running mates, Becky and Sarah, through another runner friend of mine, Lisa.  Sarah was new to running and lived only 15 minutes from me.  I was so excited!  Finally!  A running buddy that lives nearby!  And to make it more fun, Sarah had signed up to run her first marathon, the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach.  Lisa and Becky were signed up for this run as well.  This was awesome because Sarah would need to run a lot for training which meant that it was that much more likely that we’d be able to run together frequently.  Additionally, I could get some marathon training tips by helping Sarah, and maybe get a better idea about when I want to give that milestone a shot.

After a couple of runs with all of these gals, they suggested that I sign up for the marathon as well.  We could ALL run it together!  I said, “no thanks.”  I thought that there was no possible way that I could be ready, mentally or physically, to run 26.2 miles by the coming spring.  I needed more time to prepare myself for that kind of a commitment.

So I signed up for the run a few days later.  They twisted my arm.  Though it didn’t take much.  I figured, why not?  If I sign up for it I will have to train diligently, and the bonus was that I’ll have a great support group to train with and on race day.

Training has been going quite well.  We were able to coordinate most of our long runs so that we could all train together.  I even met yet another running mate, Jen, who also had her arm twisted like mine and will be running Shamrock with us.  Sarah and I ran several of the shorter long runs together, and we were also able to meet up for a few other small runs here and there as our schedules would allow.  The long runs were definitely much easier and more enjoyable with the company of this crew than if I had to run them alone.  Especially during those times when conditions were much less than ideal.  We ran through rain, snow, wind and cold!

15 Mile Run in the snow and slush

15 Mile Run in the snow and slush

I did end up having to do the 20 mile training run solo.  Everything went okay up until about mile 17.  My hamstrings started cramping up on me and made it really difficult for me to push through those last 3 miles.  I managed to finish all 20, and then started to have thoughts like “how on earth am I going to be able to run 26.2 miles when I could barely finish 20?”  I was starting to worry, until the next day when I was still able to move and was without pain.  I’ll find a way to make it to the finish line, even if it takes me 6 hours!

On the shorter run days when my schedule wouldn’t cooperate with Sarah’s, I relied on CJ to keep me company.  He’s been quite the entertaining running partner!  I’d try to keep up with him on my speed training days.  On longer run days he’d wander off ahead and find surprises for me.

"Look what I brought for you!"

“Look what I brought for you!”

It’s hard to believe that this time next week I’ll be able to call myself (hopefully) a marathoner!  Whether or not I ever do another will be decided after I finish this one.  Stay tuned…