Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, You Were Great!

This has been a wild year.  I went from just toying with the idea of running a half marathon to running 4.  FOUR!  Three "official" and one virtual/justbecause one.  I accomplished everything and more that I'd planned to during this year.  It was not entirely easy or smooth sailing the entire trip, but I did it.  Even though I'm still waiting out what I hope to be the final stages of this injury, I can still look back and amaze myself with all that I've done.  I think if I had to pick one thing, I'm most proud of the fact that even when times got tough, I never gave in to "I can't do this".  Heck, that's part of the reason WHY I'm injured at the moment - I just don't have the "I quit because this is too hard" thing in me!  LOL

I ran 1076 miles in total! Wow!  For someone that couldn't even run 1 mile at the beginning of 2012, this is huge!

In addition to running, I also reignited a fondness for strength training as well as intense cardio (T25 was great).  I planked for over 100 days straight and got to being able to plank over 5 minutes at a time!  Once I'm back to normal (whatever that means!) I really want to do the new P90X3!!  It's killing me that I wasn't able to just order it and start right away.  I mean, I could have half assed it, but that's not me.  I don't half ass anything.

A few months back - I became a certified personal trainer!  I didn't make a big deal or whoopiedo announcement everywhere about it, but I did take the online course through NASM and I passed my test no sweat!  Really... it was pretty easy for the most part, but I think that's because I have a medical background and have had Anatomy & Physiology shoved down my throat so much.  I honestly felt bad for the people in my class that had to learn all the bones and muscles and planes and positions from scratch.  Oof.  But anyway, I'm hoping to really use the info for myself and maybe get into teaching some classes/sessions somewhere once I'm back on my feet if I so desire.  It has already impacted my personal workouts and how I envision my recovery going from here.  Until then, I'm loving being the "health and fitness expert" of the family.  ha!

Here's my 2013 fitness journey in a nutshell:

I started off the year being named the very first Runner Girl of the Week by the Runner Girls Podcast!

A week later, I ran my first (and only, thus far) five mile race: Frigid Five Miler that didn't end up being so frigid at a nice 60 degrees.

I began a love/hate relationship with 400m repeats.

I learned the importance (and decadence) of GOOD running socks - hello Swiftwick and Smartwool!

I ran my first 10K for a great cause... one I would definitely consider running the marathon for. RSG1 Foundation

I had an IBS flareup that thankfully didn't last long, but did hinder my crosstraining a bit.

It became apparent that varying my routes was necessary to keep from being bored out of my head, especially on the longer runs.

I did double digit long runs for the very first time starting in February and by the end of the year I was doing them consistently!

MyFitnessPal became a godsend to me as I came to the realization that 1) I wasn't eating nearly enough for my increased activity level and 2) I wasn't eating the right macro-nutrient ratio to support my goals.

I started and finished a health and fitness challenge though RunToTheFinish which helped me stay on the right track with eating better.  I'm still embracing the concept of "getting all my freggies in" on most days.

After spending countless runs (and dollars!) on experimenting with various running supplements/gels, I came to the realization that what works for me is a combination of GU Espresso Love, GU Roctane Chocolate Raspberry, and Hammer Gel Apple Cinnamon.  Oh, and lemon lime Gatorade mixed with equal parts water.  Not G2, no Powerade Zero, but straight regular Lemon Lime Gatorade.  I have no idea why this is what works for me, but it does.  So I'm not messing with it.

I ran FOUR Half Marathons Between the end of March and end of October.  The slowest was 2:12 (ran at long run pace, in the pouring rain, while another race was going on that I didn't know about) and the fastest was 1:39 (on a morning when I was sick and had other issues happening).  I'm still just "wow" that I even finished one.

My kids both caught the running bug and did a few races themselves!  We also ran the Liberty Mile together and that was just a wonderful experience to do something WITH them instead of worrying about my pace and time.  They're already talking about the Kids' Marathon in May, which just might be the only part of the Pittsburgh Marathon I get to be a part of this year, but if that's the case I'll be just dandy with it.

I dabbled in heart rate training after the Pittsburgh Half, but wasn't a big fan.  Staying slow and easy when it is hot as hell outside and your heart rate is already getting pissy over the humidity and heat sucks.  It was hard for me to accept "having" to run at a 10-11 minute mile when I'd gotten used to running 8-9.  I'd also developed a bit of a leg niggle around this time and after resting it a bit I really just wanted to run again, so I scrapped the HRM.  Maybe I'll give it another try in 2014.  I don't know.

In July I started Focus T25 and it changed my body and got me into the best shape I've probably ever been in!  I dropped a running day to make the workout schedule work for me, and boy did it.  I'm still wondering if I'm not just someone who does better with 4 days of running and a lot of cross/strength training.

I absolutely annihilated my 5K PR at the Steelers 5K.  It was a hot race but it was awesome.  This was another event the kids were part of too!

Believe it or not, I've gotten some great recipes, workout, and general tips from Pinterest.  Yes, it can be a time sink of gluttonous proportions, but if you use it well (haha) you can actually get something from it.

I returned to the Great Race with a goal of running a sub-45 minute 10K -- my main goal for the fall racing season and what all of my training was based around.  I did it! 43:53!

I learned my lesson in bad decisions when I chose to run the EQT 10 Miler anyway after barely being able to get through any runs during the week prior.  I finished the race in a painful manner and was diagnosed in the days after with a stress fracture of the pelvis and stress reaction of the femur.  I have not ran a single stride since.  Word to the wise?  No medal is worth that.  Like I said - lesson learned.

My final weeks of 2013 have been mostly spent resting and working up to doing simple core and bodyweight workouts.  Just a couple of weeks ago I started a new weightlifting plan without legs and just this week I added a light leg day to the rotation.  I'm already feeling stronger, but very unstable.

BUT - I think I rocked 2013, all said!  In 2014 I'll come back from this injury and rock some more!  My goal is a fall marathon.  Until then, it is strength and balance training.  I'm not saying that I want to be Dana Lynn Bailey or anything, but damn... just a touch of those arms and abs would be nice!  I'm hoping for a return to cardio by the end of January.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Stay safe and happy!

Medals EARNED in 2013!

Friday, December 20, 2013

I can't run, but I'm still winning!

I'm not even kidding when I say this has been the most productive holiday season ever.  EV-ER.

Usually we're the last minute types.  We're lucky to have the tree up the week before Christmas.  Other decorations may or may not happen.  We wait until 2 or 3 days before Christmas to throw the cards in a mailbox and hope they get there on time.  Cookies for Santa may be partially store bought.  We're still picking gifts on Christmas Eve and we wrap until the wee hours of the morning knowing that we will not sleep more than an hour (if that) before the kids are jumping on us wanting to rip everything open.  You get the point.  We're those "way too busy and can't slow down and actually enjoy the time" people.  Which is sad.

This year, however, I have pent up energy to get rid of and a lot of spare time on my hands.

Our tree has been up for quite some time:

That Cars poster is essential.  See this kid?  You don't want to break his heart.  Oh, and he's been wearing that hat constantly! lol

We also have a second tree in our office/gym/misc room as well as Christmas lights in the window!  The nativity is on the mantle!  We have other things on the walls!

There's a wreath on the door:

Cards have already been mailed and even include pics of the kids!  I've also been playing the role of Betty Crocker and have been making everything from gingerbread to stuffed chicken breast.  So, this year Santa will have plenty of homemade goodies to much on.  Well, there will still be some Candy Cane Joe Joe's, but come on.  How can there NOT be?  I've reclaimed my love for being in the kitchen but loathing of the one I currently have (I need Pioneer Woman's! Size matters here!).

Our shopping is done (thanks mainly to Amazon and my husband's willingness to take my detailed lists to these crazy local stores) and everything except one package I'm waiting for delivery of is wrapped.  Yes, totally wrapped, tagged, bowed, organized, etc.  There will be no all nighter happening on Christmas Eve this year!

We even accomplished standing in line for over three hours to see Santa.  I admit to being totally worn out after this, having had to crutch it through the busy mall and then stand there.  In fact, I'm taking a rest day today because I am feeling a little weaker than I'd like... that was the most I've been vertical and on my feet at one clip in almost 2 months!

My brood.  Getting too big! <3

Speaking of rest days and whatnot, I've started a new weight training plan, and to be honest, it's great to have a schedule to check off again.  I'm definitely feeling it.  I love being sore in all the right places and the right ways!

All I have left to really do is just enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and deliciousness of these coming days!  So, even though I have no training reports or running tales to tell, I'm still feeling accomplished.  Sometimes when I'm feeling great (or really down) I like to wear a race medal around the house to remind myself of what I've done and what I CAN do.  Today?  I'm wearing the 10 miler medal.  It may have been the race that broke me, but I've been blessed with a wonderful start to a great holiday season.  Maybe next year I won't have to have an injury to accomplish the same.  :)

If I don't get to post beforehand, I hope you have a Merry Christmas.  Be safe, be joyous, be you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One month and Nine Days

That's how long its been since I've ran.

Oh, hi!  My name is Nichole and I used to run a lot.  Well, a lot for me - not a lot compared to those 50-100 mpw types, which I will most likely never be.

Why have I not been running?  And why have I not been posting?

I'm going to try to lay that all out here without heading into a novel (did you laugh?  I did!).  But, in the spirit of the shortest answer possible, here's why:  Stress fracture of the inferior pubic ramus and stress reaction of the femoral shaft.

Yeah, when I do myself in, I do a damn good job of it.  So how did this happen?  Well, you tell me!  I have my theories, my doctor seems to agree, but at the end of the day, who really knows the exact time or reason.

Here's what I do know:

After Buffalo Creek I felt great.  Best I've ever felt after any race and I stated that many times in many places to many people.  My runs in the week after that race were so stinking easy it blew my mind.  I even felt good enough that I threw in some strides during one of my easy runs, which I have never EVER done that soon after a half.  I even referred to my long run that Saturday as being "the easiest 10 miles I've ever ran".  That night is where it all started falling apart.

While I was getting ready to go out that evening with my family (we were headed to Living Treasures for their Halloween event as well as Trunk or Treat) I noticed that I was sore going down the stairs.  This isn't too atypical post long run, though so I didn't think much of it.  Standing in line at Trunk or Treat I started to get really stiff... almost like I had to keep moving like I do after races.  By the time we were done walking through Living Treasures I'd developed a limp and felt like I was really having to work to keep the left leg from locking up.  That hip/butt lock/cramp that I tend to get on long runs was kind of there too.

I was happy to have the next day off of running, and of course I was sure I'd be ok to get out as normal on Monday.  I was ok, but after the first half of the run I had this weird pinching twinge happening in the crease of my leg right near where the, well, lady parts are.  It just felt like a bunch of tissue was being crunched.  I wasn't in extreme pain, and I made it through the run, but I knew this wasn't normal, especially after a day off, so I figured I'd take another rest day.

I headed back out on Wednesday, and felt like someone was kicking me in the crotch and ass with a steel toed boot almost the entire 30 minutes I ran.  Why did I keep running after the first block?  Stupidity, I guess.  But I felt so smart when I made the announcement to my husband that I was going to take the rest of the week off and then just run an easy run on Sunday for the Pittsburgh 10 Miler.  I did toy with the idea of just taking a DNS, but I'm stubborn and cheap and didn't want to lose out on the fees I paid.  Again, stupidity.

I lined up for the 10 miler around the 8:30 pace group.  I felt pretty good and figured this would be a easy spot to just trot along and have fun.  I ended up feeling really good and had lost my group by the 5K point.  Stupid...stupid... I continued to feel really great until right after 6 miles.  Then I was being kicked in the crotch again.  By 9 miles I was in agony and it was sheer willpower and the need to be done that pulled me across the finish (in 1:19:46 - I'd signed up for the race hoping for 1:15).  Standing in line for Finisher pics was the worst thing ever.  My leg just locked up and I literally had to hobble up to get my pic taken.  I grabbed a bottle of water and a bagel and sat down on the corner.  DUMB IDEA.  I could barely get back up.  I couldn't even walk over to Market Square for the finish party event thing.  Nick had to darn near carry me to a place where I could wait for him to bring the van around and get me.

By that evening I couldn't walk anymore and I was utilizing an army crawl technique to get through the house.  It was time to head to the hospital to see if there was something horrific happening.  Well, you know ER docs don't know much about sports medicine (even though the resident claimed to have run a marathon before - "but it was very hard on the body"), and after some x-rays and a CT scan (I knew the CT scan was a stupid idea, but I went along with it - I hope he earned some extra credit or something), he said I just pulled a muscle in my groin and gave me some pain meds.  Then he shared his one speck of brilliance - stress fractures don't show up in scans for a long time (no kidding, buddy).  So I should go see my orthopedic doc and get further assessed if the pain is still there in the coming days.

Well I knew this was more than a pulled muscle so I was on the phone with sports med the next morning.  I got in for an appointment a few agonizing days later and again, x-rays didn't show anything in the office.  But now I was dealing with someone who knows bones (lol) so he sent me for an MRI, which did in fact reveal my stress fracture and reaction.  The reaction was actually a bit of a shock because our initial impression was that it would be my femoral head that was the problem, but nope - right in the middle of the shaft!  I'm a weirdo.

I was put on crutches and told no weight bearing activities, rest, don't stretch, and don't do anything that hurts, tugs, twinges, etc.  Which pretty much means most of my time has been spent on the couch... pinning random crap on Pinterest, scrolling through Facebook, looking forward to the new World of Warcraft expansion and trying not to obsess over this injury.  I've spent a lot of time cuddling kitties.

Calloway and Mimi always make Mama better!  They're my two oldest "kids"!

I just had a followup appointment yesterday where now, you can see the fracture site on the x-ray because it is highlighted in lovely new bone growth!
Oh, snap! Groan.

I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping to be off the crutches and off to PT and getting back on a routine after this appointment, but my doctor says the fracture is at a tender point right now.  Yes, he could send me off, but it would make him feel better and be better for me in the long run (pun kinda intended) if I were to wait a couple more weeks until this has filled in more solidly.  So, for the remainder of 2013 I'm still "resting".  I do some ab work and upper body strength with dumbbells just to do something and not go out of my mind.  I'm getting tired of what seems like endless crunches and pushups, but it's what I can do and I'm happy to just be able to do something pain free (those first few days were BAD post race when I could hardly get out of bed).  I'm allowed to transition to a crutch free life after January 1st.  My birthday is the 2nd, so I guess that'll be a good gift.  My next appointment with my ortho is January 8th and from there I'm in the PTs hands.  My hope now is that shortly thereafter I'll be able to at least go on a power walk... maybe even a walk/run.  I miss being outside and active.

So, what happened?  Well, more than likely I had something brewing after Buffalo Creek - even though I felt great.  And... being the idiot that I am, forgot that "uh, you just ran a half marathon.  let's not forget you've been sick too" and instead of doing what a normal person would do and take some recovery time (go slow, don't do speed work, maybe lay off the mileage a little) I just went all out like it was any other day.  Then, once the inevitable happened, I ignored by body's cues and literal kicks in the ass with the twinges and pains and still ran a race I shouldn't have - and not only that I went way faster than I should have given the circumstances.  Pride and Ego are terrible things.  Looking back through my last few weeks and months of running (which I've had plenty of time to do), I also realize now some mistakes I've been making like running my easy runs way too fast.  Doing too much speedwork than what I needed and at the time, could tolerate.  Running long runs way too fast too often.  Ignoring random aches and niggles even when they seem minor and not taking a day off when I probably needed to.  Races too close together.  I could go on and on, but there's no point really.  I'm injured.  I need to heal.  Then I need to move on to other things.

Here's the interesting thing.  According to my doctor, I have very tight, short hamstrings which seem to have at least had a hefty contribution to the pubic ramus fracture.  I know I've whined about the butt/hip cramp I get pretty often during longer runs.... well DING!  Hamstring problems.  One of my "prescriptions", so to speak, for PT is to lengthen out the hammies to prevent this from happening.  Who knows... I could have been a ticking time bomb with this all this time.

I'm trying not to beat myself up over my mistakes or things I've just neglected to realize but I do still sometimes.  This pretty much seals the deal that I will NOT be running the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I'll drop down to the half or even the 5K and not worry about having to PR in either.  I'd rather spend my early year getting stronger and rebuilding base.  Heck, at this rate I just want to be able to simply WALK again!!  I don't want to reinjure myself by being stupid again.  There are many fall marathons that are talked highly about and I can look forward to that.

2014 will be my year to focus on getting stronger and going longer.  In time.  I gotta build some more bone first!