Saturday, May 27, 2017

sitting is such a pain in the butt

so... the week before i went on vacation to florida i was hella busy.  so busy in fact that i went to crossfit once (it hurt and i was SOOOOOPPPPPER sore the next day) and ran zero times that week.  this proved to be my downfall as i would find out a few weeks later.

because i did basically nothing for the 4 days before we left my glutes (which were in a shitton, yes that's a word, of pain after that crossfit class) got really really tight which then transferred that tightness to my hamstrings.  all of this was unbeknownst to me until i tried to run 20miles upon my florida arrival.  (strava data here)

that run started a domino effect of ailments that have now culminated into some serious pain in the ass.  i'm literally UNABLE to run without pain and certainly not at the level i've grown back to over the past 6 or so months.

notably, i also think that the fact that i have a sitting job attributes to the nerve pain i've been experiencing again.

today i went to see jerome for a sports massage at body wise milwaukee.  it was fantastic.  some of my pain is relieved, and i'm interested to see how running is tomorrow.  i'm not expecting any miracles but i'm hoping that the pain is lessened.

it is so amazing to me how, as i've gotten older, my body no longer recovers like when i was in my 20's.  of course, i rarely moved my body in my 20's other than to walk a lot of places (necessity not choice) and to shake my rump-ah in a well lubricated white girl way.

now... if i don't stretch an appropriate amount of time after physical activity... my body rebels and i'm in a world of hurt a couple of months later.  aging is a bitch.

i have bryce in approximately 3 weeks (20 days to be exact).  i'm working on transferring my 50K entry to the 1/2 marathon distance.  we'll see if i get to do that.  i've been patiently working with someone at vacation races but the communication is sporadic at best given that they are always gone on location at other races.  we'll see... if i am unable to transfer to the shorter distance i am going to stick it out for the 50K and hope to god my body holds up.  i am not ready for that distance given i've run only a handful of miles since my ice age DNF.  life is cruel sometimes.  *sigh*

i mean... worst case scenario... i walk the whole 50K.  the cut off is 11 hours.  that's like 21min/mile pace.  i'm pretty sure i can manage that with some running thrown in there for good measure.  do i WANT to walk a whole 50K?  hell no... but if i don't have a choice i don't have a choice and i will tough that shit out like a champ.

next year i think i might have to strive for short(er) distances and see how my body tolerates that.  until then... i will take this race season and try to run/race for love and not be so broken up about the competition aspect of it all.  i always want to win so maybe this is a lesson in humility, slowing my roll, and learning how to love the journey.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - DNF

Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - May 13, 2017
DNF'd at 19.9 miles

this was not my first rodeo... i had a solid plan for this race.  based on the last time i ran it, and the data that race provided i decided to run the first out and back slower.  my research showed that i needed to run a steady 10:37 min/mile pace the whole race to meet my goal of a 5:30 time.  that is totally doable and the strategy was to run faster than goal pace for flats and downhills to make up for the walking i would be doing.

sounds easy peasy lemon squeezy... right?

yeah... not so much.

within the first 1.5 miles of the race my left foot and calf began to cramp up.  this has happened before on training runs and i believe it's all connected to the menagerie of issues that have plagued the left side for years now.  i have no idea how to remedy what ails my body as the issues are always different but seem to also always crop up on that side of my body.  *sigh*

anyway... i ended up walking for a bit just over 1.5 miles in which allowed the cramp to subside and me to begin running again.  after that... it was smooth sailing.  

the issue i've been having with my butt caused me not to run at all the week leading up to this race.  after my last long run two saturday's ago followed by beartrax... i was in a great deal of pain.  i cut several runs short the week before last due to the pain so i figured it was better to let that pain subside prior to iceage than to force the short training runs (4mi, 3mi, and then 2mi)  i had planned leading up to the race.  maybe that was the wrong decision?  i dunno. the pain in my butt seems to be coming from maybe tight abductor muscles?  i am really at a loss... the pain is on the inside of my butt near the crack but sort of underneath. from this diagram it seems that's where the adductor muscles connect under the glute.  

whatever, back to the race.  so once the premature cramping subsided and i fell into my groove i was running really strongly and having a great deal of fun.  this is my favorite part of the course.  the out and back... i love the iceage trail and in particular this section of it.  it is a lot of fun to run.  i got stuck in a couple of conga lines since i fell behind a slew of people when i walked so early in the race but that was ok as i kept telling myself i was trying to pace this portion and go slow.

unfortunately, there were even a couple of times where i actually WALKED on a down hill because i couldn't get around the more careful people in front of me.  i don't know if you know this about me, but I LOVE BOMBING DOWNHILLS!  love it!  seriously that is so much fun to me.  the pure abandonment of all safety concerns.  i don't care about falling... i love the feeling of running so fast and free.  tiptoeing with the swiftness of a lithe and dainty hippo through and around rocks, branches, roots, and other obstacles.  it is so much fun.  i like that i can still do that fearlessly.  

my alter-ego: smirk savage of the rushin' rollettes...
not sure what season... maybe 2007?
i attribute my trail confidence to having played roller derby for so many years with women so much larger than myself.  i've gotten hit so hard in a bout once that i flew clear off the track and under the dj booth.  i fell so much in derby that it no longer phases me.

roller derby taught me how to be fearless and own my space in the world.  

so when i run downhill with complete abandon and fearlessness... this is why.

as i was saying, the out and back went smoothly and i finished that portion feeling really solid.  my hip flexors started talking to me near mile 10 but the conversation was so benign that i ignored it.  everything else felt surprisingly good that i just thought the hips were conversational given the pace of my race so far.  by the time i came through the start/finish to begin the first loop i was still feeling good but my hips were beginning to be painful.  i thought i could push through.  my easy flat pace on the 1.5mi section of ski trail back to the start/finish was pushing a 9min mile so i believed that the loops were going to be a breeze... 

i was wrong.

i stopped at the start/finish to use the bathroom and to take off my shoe a second time.  i had stopped a few miles before on the out and back because it felt like there was something in my shoe... possibly a little stone or my sock was folded or something.  the underside of my foot felt like i was stepping on something painful and i thought that before it got worse i should remedy it.  when i took my shoe off the first time i found nothing and carried on.  this time i took both the shoe and sock off because i thought maybe a small stone had gotten in my sock and under my foot.  again i found nothing but the fold in the middle of my foot just below the ball was hurting and felt like it was not flattening out or something.  i put my shoe and sock back on and took off on the first loop feeling good.

my hips were still chatting away to each other and me but again... it wasn't painful enough for me to pay them any mind.

a couple of miles into the loop tho' and i knew there was something very wrong.  both of my hips were becoming more and more painful with each stride.  not just the front flexors now but the outsides of both hips too.  i decided to walk it off.

as soon as i tried to start running again my hips were screaming at me bloody murder.  there was a fire and i was not doing anything to put it out... or so my body was telling me.  i pushed on.

the flats were good and i was keeping a 9ish min/mile pace, but that all changed on the downs.  i had to slow my roll considerably to go downhill without making the pain sharper.  which was compounded by the immediate ups (these ski trails are rollers and i loathe rollers)... walking up and then immediately having to go back down was murdering me.  when i would finally hit the flat it was becoming more and more impossible to pick my legs up to run.  once i got running the pain was bearable... for awhile.

by mile 14 i knew in my heart it was over.  i called my husband and immediately burst into tears.  i asked him to come early as i knew i was going to drop after this loop.  he was supposed to meet me for the finish and i was asking him to come a clear 2.5 hours earlier than expected.  i got off the phone with him and pushed on.  a few minutes of running and i thought i could do it so i called him back and told him maybe he should wait.  then i started crying again.  he asked what he should do and through my tears, i told him i didn't know.  he said he was coming and i knew i was done.

i wasn't crying just because of the pain... i was crying because i was so disappointed in myself and my body.  i was crying because i missed every goal i set for this race.  i was crying because i simply couldn't do it.  i spent the next 4 miles in agony run/walking/crying (more walking and crying than running) just counting the miles down trying to get back to the start.

the final miles
there is a place on the course at mile 19 where the course goes right for another 2ish miles loop, but the start is left about a mile away... i cut the course and went under the barrier to get back to the start as fast as i could.  the idea of run/walking that extra 2 miles, if i didn't have to, was more than i could bear.  it was the decision that ended my race.

in hindsight (cuz, of course, i am in a different mental state today) i wish i would have toughed it out for the whole loop so that i would have had the option of taking a moment to breathe, reassess, and still be able to continue on the last loop if i was able.

that last mile walk to the finish was very demoralizing.  when i cut the course it put me just in front of the group i was running with before it all went to shit.  as each one ran past me they all said some semblance of "good job" or "great effort" which just made me feel so much worse.  as i cry/walked back to the start i felt so defeated.  rounding the final corner to the finish i saw my husband and son right away and immediately started making a crying beeline to them.  my friend laura came out of nowhere... she intercepted and hugged me on the course.  then i got to my husband and bawled into his chest.  i felt so angry, disappointed, and defeated.  i was probably a little embarrassed too at my performance (or lack-there-of).  i'm still trying to sort out my emotional response to the DNF.  my friend dave came over too for a hug and some reassurance.  he asked if i wanted to just sit for a minute before continuing on... i never even thought about that being an option until he said that.  hence the 20/20 hindsight about when i cut the course.  my other friend denny came and hugged me too.  i saw several other friends after that and all the support was so necessary and so welcomed.  i am very fortunate to have a great group of people who are willing to lift me back up when i fall down.

i don't know what this means for utah.  i emailed the race director to inquire about dropping to the 1/2 if they will allow it.  i do not want a repeat of yesterday.  utah is going to be much more challenging with the factoring in of above sea-level issues, the heat, and the fact that it's a mountain and i'm basically a flat-land runner.  i feel so heavy hearted about the whole thing.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

4 more sleeps...

the last time i ran this race i had an injury that sidelined me for the 3 weeks prior to the race.  this time around i'm definitely more prepared but nursing a different injury altogether that cropped up approximately 3 weeks ago.  maybe a bit longer ago but it didn't hurt enough for me to count it as an injury... more of an annoyance.

today i feel ok.  it still hurts but not enough for concern.  i'm stretching a lot every night and also at crossfit.  i've made the conscious decision not to run at all this week.  as always... my training is there so the one week of no running prior to the race isn't going to make that much of a difference in my performance.  in fact... it might be the thing that helps me perform better... it certainly isn't going to make or break me.

my strategy this time around is to temper my pace, not go out too fast, and try to stay steady for the out and back.  it is going to be difficult because i LOVE this section of trail.  LOVE IT!  i tend to bomb the downhills and this, in turn, fries my quads and wrecks my toes.  i need to go moderately effectively saving it for the loops.  the loops are deceptively difficult.  they're difficult because of the rollers.  it's hard to run up and down and up and down and up and down... hard on the body.

right now a friend of mine is running the entire length of the iceage trail in wisconsin.  1,200 miles with the goal of completing it in 19 days.  she's on day 8 right now.  you can read about her progress here on her boyfriend (and crew support) brian's blog.  it's really such an impressive, inspiring, and amazing feat of the human spirit.  i will be channeling annie's strength on saturday for sure.

in order to meet one of my goals for this race, i need to maintain a pace of 10:37min/mile.  so the strategy is to run the first 13 closer to just under 10 to make up for the ascents.  the theory is that at this pace i should feel pretty comfortable on the loops and maybe just maybe i will feel good enough to push the pace on the final loop.  we will see.  i'm really going to try and keep that strategy.

i suppose that's all i can do now... it's a wait and see.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Beartrax 20K

Beartrax 20K - April 30, 2017
time = 1:58:14 (chip time)
pace = 9:30
placed 7 in my age group (40-49) out of 15
placed 11 in women out of 36
placed 36 overall out of 76
link to strava data
(i'm not 100% positive on these numbers as i had to tally them myself)

pre-race sporting my dirtbag runner's trucker hat
i ran this race last sunday and the plan was to utilize it as a training run and not race it.  i had run 19mi the previous day (strava data here) on the iceage course and my legs were feeling it.  i want to mention that it's really challenging to change the race mindset but i was happy that i did it.  the weather was less than awesome in that it had been raining all night and now was lightly misting with a temperature hovering around 39ยบ.  when i woke up i was still on the fence about going to the race but since i had a generously comped entry from instep physical therapy & running center (who's trail team i am on) i felt more inclined to go than not.  besides lapham peak is one of my very most favorite places to run.

when i arrived the weather wasn't as bad as i expected it to be and i came prepared with a raincoat & trusty trucker hat.  i would have never worn that jacket if i had been racing the race because it was much too hot... but since the plan was to run it comfortably... i was not concerned and just wanted to stay as dry as i could.

i've never run the 20K before but have run the brownie shuffle several years.  i love this race.  the 20K course is fantastic.  you get a little bit of everything in the park and that was fun.  it begins in the middle of the park at homestead hollow and heads uphill right away.  the first two miles course through a bit of trail near the butterfly garden, and then loops back through the start.  once back through the start, the race goes backward on the black loop down to evergreen grove and then winds back up on the iceage trail where it again loops back down on the black loop towards two-tier turning off on the blue loop connector hopping back on magic carpet ride towards evergreen grove again.  once passed evergreen grove it's back on the black loop the right way back to the start/finish.  while my pace was all over the place my heart rate stayed pretty steady until the last little burst.

because of all the rain, there was ankle deep standing water and mud in the lower sections of the park.  i managed to not submerge my feet until the second time through those sections with less than 1/3 of the race to go.  i was jack rabbit-ing two women for most of the race and some strides behind a man the whole time.  when we hit the ankle deep section i was in front of the women and had caught up to the man.  we commiserated on having both gotten submerged and then we chatted for a bit until he got away from me heading up gut buster.  again i traded places back and forth with the two women until we hit a good downhill and i got ahead.  i caught up to the man, scott, and we ran together and chatted.  just before the finish was in view i blurted to scott that i just didn't want the two women to beat me.  he glanced behind us and said "they wont", and we rounded the corner to the straightaway before the finish.

scott & i at the finish
as we ran towards the finish he said to me "you're not going to let me beat you are you?" and that's right there was all the push i needed to sprint to the end.  (he still beat me).

i remember thinking to myself as he said that... "man, now i really have to go!"

i cannot stress enough how much i love racing and running at lapham peak.  it is a beautiful place so close to home.  lapham is where i learned to love trail running and it will always be my home trails.

i'm glad that i didn't try to race this per se.  my legs were so shot at the end and in mile 11 i rolled my ankle on a downhill and it was really throbbing once i stood around for a minute waiting on the results.  i was worried that i had actually hurt it but by monday it was fine.

i have the iceage 50K next and have decided to reassess my goals.  i've developed some really strange pain at the base of my left glute where it attaches to my hamstring (and a myriad of other things).  i want to enjoy the race more than i want to kill the time.  the original goals for iceage were as follows:

A goal = 5 hours
B goal = PR 2015's time of 5:34
C goal = finish the race

i want to finish the race with a smile on my face and enjoy my time out on the trails that i love.  i always always want to be fast, but under the circumstances, i don't think that's in my cards for next weekend.  running has become quite painful and i'm not sure that the two physical therapy appointments i have lined up next week are going to help all that much.  it is so hard for me to let go of those goals.  so hard...

so the new goals are as follows:

A goal = finish with a smile on my face
B goal = PR my time
C goal = finish the race

best picture of me from the race, feeling awesome!
but i digress...

all in all, beartrax was a lot of fun (as is evident by my face in the picture to the right).  it waited to really rain until i had completed the race which was nice.  this race is now run by silver circle sports events.  sometimes i wonder if these guys are even runners.  this is the 3rd race i've run of theirs and honestly... it's hard for me to want to run another.  their timing leaves something to be desired.  as a runner, it is important to me to have the stats from my races.  quite frankly, i like that shit.  for each race i've run of theirs there was some sort of issue with the timing.  i'm tired of hassling them for the information that every other race i've ever run has provided as customary.  they don't post overall results and it is frustrating to have to add up the people in the race and try to figure out what everything means so that i can get accurate stats. *sigh*

beyond that... the course support was great, volunteers are always great, and obviously, the location of the race is beautiful.

dave, myself, and nichole pre-race

a little stretch of the painful butt at the start

a bear-y fun high five as i ran back through the start around mile 2