The Running Gods have something to tell me…

…and I’m not liking it.

I started training for the Salisbury Marathon early this year. Things have been going well, considering most of my training runs have occurred on the treadmill because I am a fair-weather runner.  Then I decided to do incline/hill work during one of my interval training runs.  When I finished that run, I felt a minor strain in the back of my right ankle.  So I took it easy the next couple of runs.  I didn’t notice any problems.

One night, while sitting around at home recovering from the day, I was fiddling around with my training schedule and trying to coordinate local runs with my training plan.  I hopped online and registered for both the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run and The Run for the Animals half marathon.  I had myself pumped!  Very much looking forward to both runs preceding the marathon.  About a week later, I got sick.

When you’re training for something like a marathon, you just don’t have time to get sick!  It was a severe upper respiratory thing, and I had to take a break from running until my lungs cleared of all the mucus so I could breathe.  I ended up taking 8 days off.  During the first week after recovering from my URTI, I eased myself back into the runs.  I shortened my scheduled training runs by about 25%.  The next week I was pretty close to being back on track!  Then that pain in the back of my right ankle started to creep up again.  It wasn’t severe or debilitating, but I do know that when your body is eliciting pain, it’s telling you something is wrong.  When I lift weights, the next day or two afterward I feel pain, but there isn’t anything really wrong going on in this case, right?  I (foolishly) took the same approach to the pain I was feeling in the back of my ankle.

I had a 12 mile training run to complete this week.  The weather was gorgeous on Tuesday so I decided to get it in since I had the day off from work.  I did my usual 10 minute warm-up which consists of a lot of dynamic stretching through yoga techniques.  I took it nice and easy since I had that slight tinge of pain in the back of the ankle, and by mile 6 or 7 I started to feel more pain.  At that point I started to add in some walk breaks.  During the walk breaks my ankle felt fine.  Then, almost immediately as I started to run again the pain came right back.  I had to make my way back home so continued my run/walk intervals.  I finished my 12 miles.  I did my usual post-run stretching, foam rolled and took a hot shower.  I teach SoulBody Barre Unhitched at our local YMCA on Tuesday evenings, so I needed to clean up and I continued to stretch and move around so as not to tighten up prior to class.

I felt good, and my ankle seemed fine, but there was a very minor dull ache.  When I started teaching class that night, as soon as I had to do a toe-point, I felt the back of my right ankle.  Then, while performing a plié jump, OUCH!  Yikes.  That really hurt.  So I modified throughout the rest of class.

When I got home I started to panic a little, not gonna lie.  So I did what we are ALL guilty of when something like this happens…I jumped online and posted in my running groups on Facebook for advice, then googled ankle/achilles injuries and how to handle them.  The more I read, the more freaked out I became.  I even pulled out my Netter’s Musculoskeletal Flash Cards.  I self-diagnosed myself with Achilles Tendinitis.  I am not going to be able to run my marathon, I feared in my head.

The Achilles

Conditions of the Achilles Tendon

 

Before you go on to chastise me for consulting with “Dr. Google,” like so many did in one of my Facebook running groups, I work in the veterinary field (and blog myself) and I know better than to take the advice of any web-based recommendation without first consulting with my Physician.  I was merely seeking advice from others who have experienced similar injuries, and I appreciated all of those who shared their experiences.

The next morning I called my Doctor’s office to get an appointment ASAP to get an official diagnosis and, hopefully, a prescription for Physical Therapy.  My appointment isn’t until Monday (I am writing this on the Saturday prior to my appointment).

In the meantime, I’m “on the bench” and not running at all until I get some answers.  I’m following the standard RICE procedure for injuries.  As I sit here writing this post, my right leg is elevated with a cold compress on the affected area.  I currently have zero pain, but I do have some swelling and a little “bump” in the middle of my Achilles.

If the running Gods do have it in for me, I’ll find out for sure next week.  If they’re just trying to challenge me, they’re doing a pretty damn good job of it!  I will (begrudgingly) take a DNS over a NRA.  Who knows, maybe I won’t have to worry about either!  Please feel free to share your running injury experiences in the comments, or whatever else you’d like share.  I’ll hopefully have some good news to report early next week.  Stay tuned…

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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…

JUST SAY NO! to the Retractable Leash

Having worked in the animal care field for over 20 years now, I have learned a great much about animals and their health and well-being.  I am fairly well acquainted with most pet toys and gadgets too.  Some are great, while others make me think “what in the heck were they thinking when they developed this thing?”  Retractable leashes are one of those gadgets that make me cringe.  I truly hope they, along with chain leashes, go the way of the dinosaur.

Retractable leashes are leads with plastic handles that contain a reel system.  As a pet advances, the leash unreels and the pet is able to move farther from the handler.  If the handler wishes to stop the pet from being able to advance, the handler typically has to push a button that “locks” the leash to prevent it from unreeling.  The only way that the leash can shorten is if there is some slack between the leash handle and the pet.  The first 12 to 24 inches of most retractable leashes is a flat nylon-type material.  The rest of the length of these leashes is typically a thin cord.  In some cases the entire length is a thin cord.

I can understand only one benefit of the retractable leash.  Oh.  Wait.  I lied.

Why am I so down on these ever-so-popular gadgets?  Let me tell you!

  1.  They teach your dog to pull.  If you have a tiny little teacup chihuahua at the end of a leash, the pulling isn’t usually a big deal.  However, if you have a 75 pound lab or a 120 pound mastiff pulling at the other end of a leash, you’re going to have some pretty serious control issues there!  Teaching your dog leash manners is crucial in any case, but especially when it comes to muscular breeds or large and giant breed dogs.
  2. The locking mechanisms are not trustworthy.  As your pet pulls at the retractable leash to check out the flattened squirrel in the street while a car is approaching, are you going to trust that little plastic latch to save your dog from being struck by that oncoming vehicle?  I sure wouldn’t.  And for good reason.  I’ve seen what happens in such a case far too often.
  3. The thin rope cord is dangerous to you and your dog.  Imagine, if you would, the following scenario:  A woman is taking her 60 pound pointer for a walk in the park when a squirrel crosses the dog’s path.  The dog begins to chase the squirrel so the woman attempts to press the “lock” button, but the momentum created by the dog is able to overcome the lock!  In a panic the owner reaches and grabs for the leash.  BIG MISTAKE!  There are cases of dog owners losing fingers in cases similar to this.
  4. At the vet clinic:  All too often I see pet owners come into our office with a dog on a retractable leash and that dog begins to explore the entire waiting area!  We see both healthy and sick patients at the office.  I don’t want your healthy dog fraternizing with another waiting sick dog, or otherwise.  Also, your dog’s roaming creates a snag-line to other patrons or staff members!

These are my top 4 reasons for banning retractable leashes, but I could easily come up with 20 more reasons to ditch them.  Folks, if you have a dog, you need to properly leash train that dog.  If the dog pulls or is too “strong” for you, please talk with your veterinary staff about head halters or no-pull harnesses.

Half Crazy for the benefit of the Animals

Yesterday was the 4th annual Run for the Animals Half Marathon and 10K on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The weather was beautiful, the crowd was huge, and the bling was fabulous. I have trophies from every year prior and I really wanted one from this year to add to my collection! This year’s trophy was a cool cat design.  But if I didn’t win a trophy it wouldn’t be the end of my world, just being able to finish my first Half Marathon would be enough for me.

My training over the course of the past 2 weeks was lax because of traveling and a nagging pain in my left hip.  I was hoping/expecting to finish with a time somewhere around 2:10:– judging by my training pace.  After breakfast I downed 800mg ibuprofen to, hopefully, keep any hip or other pain at bay to make the run bearable.

I arrived to the event later than I had hoped, since I had some fundraising stuff to set up.  I managed to get the majority of the items in order before my “helper” arrived, but I had to bolt on him and hit the potty before the race began!  Thankfully some seasoned volunteers of mine were nearby to help out with the fundraising table while I was out getting my run on.

There were just over 150 total participants this year (10K and Half Marathon combined).  By the start of the race, the weather was at a comfortable temperature in the upper 40s/lower 50s with just the slightest breeze.  Perfect running weather!  I’d have run in shorts if it wasn’t for the fact that I had just gotten the coolest pair of running tights ever…just in time for this run!  So I had to wear them.

I’ve only ever run the 10K portion of this race in the past, so I’d bolt out of the starting gate and push as fast and as hard as I could for as long as I could.  This time I had to remind myself to take it easy!  When the start airhorn sounded I just took off at a gentle, comfortable pace, a little faster than my average training run.  I felt great!  Made it to the 3.1 mile mark (the 10K turnaround) and kicked it up a bit.  Just a tad.  After 2 more miles I slowed it up a bit for a mile or so.  By mile 7, I started to get a hint of side stitches.  I hate those!  So I slowed down a wee bit at that point and started some breathing exercises.  After another mile the pain went away.  So I picked up the pace just a bit.

At mile 10, I was ON FIRE!  My legs felt great and I was able to speed it up and pass a couple of people on my way down the home stretch!  Damn!  I can do this!  That’s what was going through my head.  Then I hit mile 12.5.  My legs started to give in.  I’d try to do the “mind over matter” thing and convince my legs to keep moving, but they needed a break.  So I stopped and walked for about a minute.  Then MIND won as I told myself “the finish line is right there and then you can rest all you want!”  So I started running again, not super fast, but fast enough to finish with a time of 1:54:15!

I DID IT!  Finished my first Half Marathon!  Woot!

I DID IT! Finished my first Half Marathon! Woot!

Holy crap!  I just finished my first Half Marathon in LESS THAN 2 hours!!!  I could hardly believe it!  And I actually felt pretty good afterward, as long as I kept moving.  I was welcomed by my friends, dogs and other awesome folks at the finish line!  I DID IT!  FINALLY!  Another milestone reached!

My running buddy, trainer and coach!

My running buddy, trainer and coach!

 

Today I’m a bit stiff, my left hip is nagging me, hamstrings are a little tight, and my knees are not quite up to par.  But I still feel great.  After a few weeks of rest, I’ll be back at it.  This time in shorts and a tank top.

The Final Results:

  • I finished 17th overall out of 65 Half Marathon participants
  • I finished 1st in my age group for women 40-44
  • I earned 3rd place fundraiser, raising $751.00
  • I FINISHED MY FIRST HALF MARATHON at a venue that I hold very near and dear to me!

I did get a couple more trophies to add to my collection of Run for the Animals bling.

My Trophies for this year for top female finisher in my age group, and for 3rd place fundraiser!

My Trophies for this year for top female finisher in my age group, and for 3rd place fundraiser!

Now to work on improving my pace for next year so I continue to collect trophies from each year!  🙂  Thanks for all you do Andrea D. putting this awesome event on every year!  Can’t wait to hear what the final fundraising tally was (it was EPIC this year!)!  Love what you do, and I’ll see you again next year…

Me and my post-race bling :)

Me and my post-race bling 🙂 wearing some awesome tights!

A Great Finish to a Fun Weekend in O’Nancock, VA … and it’s not over yet

It all started last weekend.  We visited our local Irish Pub, The Blarney Stone, as we usually do to say farewell to the week that has just come to an end, and to say hello to the weekend.  It’s a great place to have a drink or a few, some good food and to meet some fun and interesting folks.  If you’ve never been, you need to go.  It’s a fun and friendly atmosphere!

Saturday afternoon I did some fundraising for the Run for the Animals outside of the Book Bin in Onley, VA.  For 2 hours “work,” we did pretty well!  I sold 44 feet of duct tape, several raffle tickets, and some dog toys and other miscellaneous items.  Saturday night we met some friends at the pub for dinner and drinks.  While there we were told about the “Selfie Scavenger Hunt” that was taking place in the town in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  Last year was the first year of the O’Nancock St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  It was a hit!  So they were doing it again this year and adding some fun new additions to the weekend’s celebration (like the scavenger hunt).  No matter what “prizes” were involved, I just thought it sounded like FUN!  There I go again, just looking for anything to do that might be fun.  Wandering around town trying to figure out which business or landmark was being described in the clue, then taking a selfie in front of said business/landmark…um, yeah!  I can make that fun!

Fundraising in front of the Book Bin

Fundraising in front of the Book Bin

Sunday came along, I ran 12.5 miles which is my longest run to date, then went to bed early.  My Run for the Animals Half Marathon is only 4 weeks away!  Monday was uneventful.  Tuesday after work I finally made it to Attitudes Fitness for a Pound class!  I really need to start getting into a groove with that since my Pound Pro Camp is next weekend!  I want to start teaching classes ASAP, so I need to get busy getting a clue as to how to construct and instruct a class.  It just so happened that Tuesday was The Blarney Stone‘s 10 year Anniversary so we had to go and give our blessing!  And have a couple of drinks and dinner.  Also it was my mom’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

So much to do, so little time!

I spent all afternoon Wednesday getting supplies and putting things together for the O’Nancock St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  I, along with some friends, were taking part to help promote AnimalWhiz’s fundraising for the Run for the Animals!  I didn’t have anything big planned.  I mean, I had all kinds of ideas!  But with such little time and not enough resources, I just planned on dressing up CJ in some celebratory green garb and made some t-shirts to promote AnimalWhiz for myself and anyone else that wanted to sport one.

Thursday after work, it was such a nice day, I thought it’d be perfect to go for a run and then wander around Onancock to get my selfies done!  So, that’s what I did.  I went home, picked up CJ and Chris, dropped Chris off at the pub while CJ and I ran 5 miles, then wandered around and took my selfies for the selfie scavenger hunt.

The first place we stopped was Kerr Place.  I tried to get a good selfie of myself, but have come to learn that I’m not very good at taking selfies.  So I took a nice photo of CJ in front of the historic landmark!  Then I attempted to get one of the two of us.  Not so good. Oh well!  I had a nice picture of CJ at Kerr Place!  Kerr Place

Our second stop was the Roseland Theater.  Again, I made a miserable attempt at a selfie, but got a great shot of CJ with the theater behind him!  Lightbulb moment.  CJ should be the star of this selfie scavenger hunt.  So the rest of the photos were CJ selfies, with a few here and there of the two of us.  It was so much fun!  People would stop by and say hi and some would ask what we were doing.  When I told them they thought it was great!  CJ was a great sport and has since been a feature at a couple of the local businesses where he selfied.  If you want to see his selfies just look for the #stpatsonancock tag on social media.  You’ll see all his photos!17 Roseland

Me and CJ at the Historic Cokesbury Church

Me and CJ at the Historic Cokesbury Church

CJ at the Chesapeake Bay Pizza Company

CJ at the Chesapeake Bay Pizza Company

CJ outside the Blarney Stone Pub

CJ outside the Blarney Stone Pub

Today, Sunday, was parade day.  I had a long run to get done, so I planned on heading out early this morning so I could get back and have plenty of time to get a few things done and to get prepped for the parade.  I ended up getting off to a late start, decided to run 10 miles instead of the 8 I had “scheduled” (it was just too nice and things were going so well!!!), and when I got home I had to stretch and foam roll for about 15 or 20 minutes.

While I was in the shower I thought of something I wanted to put on the t-shirts I made to wear in the parade, so I had to try to get that done real quick because I only had about a half hour before I had to get on my way to line up.  I was able to get one t-shirt completed.  Good enough.  Gotta go!

When we got to Onancock, there were people everywhere!  So much for getting there early to get a decent parking space and to have a drink beforehand.  My fault!  But CJ and I made it to the line-up with plenty of time to spare.  I got CJ all dolled up in his parade gear, then we took some pre-parade photos with ourselves and some of our parade “neighbors.”  The parade itself was fun, there were tons of people, and CJ got to visit with dozens of kids and other people along the way.  Some people even recognized him from all of his selfies.  He’s kind of famous now I guess!

CJ selfied in front of the practicing bagpipers before the parade

CJ selfied in front of the practicing bagpipers before the parade

His Handsomeness all decked out for some O'Fun!

His Handsomeness all decked out for some O’Fun!

Me and CJ posing with Elroy the Elk!

Me and CJ posing with Elroy the Elk!

After the parade was over, my friends and I headed to the pub, and so did everyone else!  It was PACKED!!!  The inside was packed, the outside was packed, it was the place to be! We had dinner and a few drinks, then headed home.  CJ was spent.  He’s been sleeping all afternoon.  He did run 5 of the 10 miles with me and then there was all of the parade excitement.  I can’t say I blame the poor fella!  That’s one heck of a busy day for a 9-year-old senior puppy.

One Last Selfie pair outside the Pub with Gus the Bardic Troubadour playing in the background!

One Last Selfie pair outside the Pub with Gus the Bardic Troubadour playing in the background!

Tomorrow should be a nice rest day for all of us, then it’s back to being busy come Tuesday.  I should be able to make another Pound class in the afternoon and then it’s back to the pub for some corned beef and cabbage!  Wednesday through Friday will be busy with preparing for a road trip, baking because I plan to hold a Bake Sale for the Run for the Animals the following week, and then we’re heading to Philadelphia for my Pound Camp.  More excitement awaits…and you’ll all hear about it soon.

5 weeks to my first half marathon

Only 5 weeks left until my first Half Marathon (finally)! Today I ran 12+ miles, of which my running buddy CJ was able to finish the last 5 miles with me. He is almost 9, so I only allow him to run with me for up to 10Km. More than that is just too much. And when the weather gets warmer, unfortunate for him, his distance gets much shorter. Today he joined me at mile 7 and we ran for 5 and walked the last half mile.

Not only am I preparing for my first half marathon, but two weeks from today is when I go to get my POUND certification! I’m really excited about this because I really enjoy Pound, and I am looking forward to sharing the fitness phenom with others.

I’ve been asked to teach Pound at my local fitness facility during the month of April. It’s so soon! There’s no way I’m going to be ready to teach a class by April! But I have been working on songs and routines and think I might just be able to come up with something in a month. Playlist is set, now I just need to get the routine set…in my brain…so set that my nerves won’t F*%k it all up when class time rolls around! So I agreed to do it.

Why do I do this to myself? I’ve got a half marathon I’m training for, I’ve got tons of fundraising to accomplish for the Run for the Animals between now and my half marathon, and now I have to learn a Pound routine and have it ready to go by April! And there’s a trip to visit some friends in PA smack-dab in the middle of all of this. Oh, yeah, and I have a full-time job. I do this to myself because it helps to motivate me to get stuff done! Yes, sometimes I get stressed out, but nothing so serious that a beer or three can’t take care of.

Oh, yeah, and I’m still taking classes for my AFAA certification too. But I have until November to get that finished…

We are given this one life. I am trying to make the most of it. For myself and for others. That’s what makes me go. If I don’t get all of it accomplished on my schedule, I hope that I am given enough time to accomplish whatever it is that I am here to do!

Facebook “Silent” Auction

In an effort to raise money for the Run for the Animals (visit runfortheanimals.com for more information, or see my previous blog post), I am hosting a “silent auction” of items with 100% of the proceeds going toward my fundraising efforts for the event!

The items I have available are primarily dog, cat and runner-related that have been donated by outside parties or myself.  I don’t mean to appear discriminatory against pocket pets, horses, reptiles and other animals, but I just don’t have the donor support from those other animal venues at this time.  Please check out my Facebook page for more information!

The Run for the Animals is an event that hold very near and dear to my heart, and you can read about it more on my previous blog post linked above!